Chapter 01 – A Festival and a Meeting
977 18 28
X
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Width
Reset
X
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

Zaria was careless - Chapter 01 - A Festival and a Meeting

--- Mardiors - Sinas Empire ---

The Capitol

A flourishing city.

A true Metropolis.

A place where innovation met tradition.

The city where humans and other races mingled.

Flanked by two mountains it spread across the valley from one side to the other.

Many would say that the two sides were separated.

Those that said so, did not only mean the river in the middle.

One side was predominantly human. The Empress with her castle was on one side of the valley.

The other side was still mostly covered in forests and shrines.

The south was the domain that changed the most with its human inhabitants.

The north with its many races was slower to change.

What stopped the changes, kept the wars from razing the city, and saved the peace forcefully more than once, was however the north with its shrines and many magical and spiritual inhabitants.

On the side of the northern mountain was one shrine that probably played the biggest role in it. The Shrine of Tamano no Mae with its main shrine maiden Zaria the albino.

More than once emperors had tried to claim the north of the valley for their goals.

It had never worked.

They found themselves dethroned, their supporters' secrets exposed, and flooded with legal documents.

Such was the fate of the last emperor.

His hobbies exposed, his bribes documented, and his assassination plots exposed.

Now a new Empress had taken the throne.

The south celebrated the removal of corruption, the striking of oppressive laws, and her fairness.

The north simply decided "Oh, a new face, I'll check in a few years if she is worth paying attention to."

Despite everything, the north was the safest place to live.

Only the utterly stupid would commit a crime in a place where the old grandfather next door is a smith that hammers the highest quality metalworks into shape with his fists and the nice aunt at the bakery uses fire magic to keep the oven at perfect temperature.

However, this story does not start at the capitol.

It does not start at the shrine and its famous onsen.

No, it starts at a festival two cities further, the main harbour city of the country.

------

It was a nice festival, the festival of the Goddess of the Seas, the great sea serpent Leviathan.

The true reason this festival was so popular was however that traders from other countries gathered. Any pirate attacks or sea battles tended to get punished swiftly around this time. The travel was blessed and many made their trek across the ocean to offer their wares in distant countries under the Leviathan's blessing.

For a certain someone it was the perfect way to check out wares, new products, and see which countries deserved a visit soon.

Her ears and her tail were hidden away, and the shrine maiden uniform was replaced with a nice kimono. She missed the tail, but being an albino kitsune was a tell of hers.

She had no idea why the fishes on the light blue kimono were pink, but since it looked nice and it was a present from a lover many years ago. Zaria decided to wear it again.

When something finally caught her attention, it was the girl that was being followed.

Everything about her screamed 'pampered and sheltered rich girl'. The way she was looking around, the seemingly simple clothing that was too well made, too new, the pure soft looking skin, and the well cared for black hair. With her looks she would have been married or courted long ago.

Something the men following her looking for an easy target were well aware of.

Zaria looked at the fish skewer in her hand, then at the distracted girl. Or rather, she observed the overwhelmed but not showing young Lady.

Eating the last two bites a little magic cleaned away the remains.

Saving a damsel and then teasing her sounded just like the perfect way to enjoy a festival.

Slipping through the crowd Zaria wrapped an arm around her target. "You are clothed incorrectly. Let's get you fixed up." Zaria greeted her target ignoring the way the young lady tensed under her touch. Quietly she whispered the more important part. "You are being followed, you are showing your rich upbringing too much, the tailor two streets down can fix that."

The young lady found herself steered down the main street, and then down a side street. Not one of the small ones, but one of the large ones full of stalls and people.

They really entered a tailor.

"Moo?" The surprised cowgirl greeted, or something, them.

"Young lady, radiates too much the rich and sheltered aura. Get her something that fits a rich lady being casual.

"Moo~"

The young lady thought that this moo had sounded like a yes.

The next hour passed rather quickly as she had mentally entered the being fit for clothing mindset and her seamstress had an oddly hypnotic bounce. She wondered if that was why she had overheard the male servants and officials sometimes whisper about this or that big breasted woman.

But seeing this cowgirl seamstress bounce in the tasteful dress made her wonder if larger was better.

While her kidnapper seemed rather small, or below average if you were polite, this cowgirl clearly showed what the race was so famous for.

"The young lady is ready, and looks like a young lady now." The seamstress called her kidnapper.

The pretty albino in the kimono returned and gave her a look over. "I approve, pack her other dress, she will wear this one."

"Moo~" The seamstress packed the dress, and traded it for a bag containing coins. She had no idea how much was in it, but considering who the albino was, she was sure it was enough for several dresses.

"Now my Lady, let us depart and enjoy the festival. If you are hungry, I have seen a few very promising stalls. If you want to dine in a restaurant, I know one where we can get seats despite the waiting line." Zaria linked their arms. "So, what shall it be?"

The young lady looked at the mirror. Her dress was of a darker blue with a lot of ribbons and bows, she had a light almost completely transparent veil, and a dark blue parasol to keep the sun away. It was one of those goth outfits. She knew that this ribbon and bow style had its own name, but she could not remember it.

She had never worn anything like it before.

"A nice restaurant sounds wonderful." She would have to ask her noble kidnapper how she had gotten outed. Now that she had the time to pay attention, the albino was too pretty, the kimono was clearly too expensive for a commoner, and the seamstress seemed to be familiar with her kidnapper. The shop looked well-tended to, and the quality was at a level that she usually wore even if most of the materials seemed to be of lesser quality.

"Then off we go."

------

The young lady looked down from the balcony at the busy main street.

She adjusted her impression of her kidnapper a few ranks upwards.

One did not simply march into the most famous restaurant of the city without a reservation, then had a bunny maid be awfully polite, and was escorted to a table for two on a balcony on the third floor with perfect view of the festival on the street.

Even when she had asked, her messenger had been told that they were booked full for the day.

Then the cook came, an old dragon, made a personal recommendation, and asked for the order. A cook that according to rumours had been invited to become the court cook by every emperor and empress in the last one hundred years.

The young lady felt reality slip away as her kidnapper had a friendly chat, asked about the great great great grandchildren, and handed over a bag with lemon pepper that had not been there before.

"Stop looking so stunned." The albino admonished her sort of date. "Relax and enjoy, stop wondering, you can always just ask."

"How did you know?"

"You are too pretty, your skin is too well cared for, your hands look too soft, that dress was clearly freshly made and too well sewn to be common, you were too curious about your surroundings, you moved too controlled, and your hair is too shiny."

The young lady frowned. The list was far bigger than she had expected.

"Now you look like a rich lady that is out on a stroll at a festival."

"Who are you?"

"Not telling~"

The young lady blinked at the teasing response.

"I am not asking who you are, and I am not telling who I am. We are just two strangers who went to the festival alone, and will now enjoy it together." The first dish was brought by a maid who then bowed and left.

"Very well, I wished to visit the temple of the Leviathan the Goddess of the Endless Oceans." The young lady decided to go with the flow.

"She isn't going to be in the temple right now. She thinks the masses are too loud." The albino smirked knowingly. "The irony is, she has a stall selling fish skewers, the best skewers you will find in the city."

The young lady almost choked on her soup, only years of training kept her from doing something unseemly.

"The Leviathan has a stall and is selling fish?" She added a healthy dose of sarcasm to her voice.

"Mhm~"

"I don't believe you."

"Then we shall visit her afterwards~"

The Lady felt a spark of doubt. But it was just not possible.

The second dish arrived and distracted her. It seemed to be some kind of fish, it looked almost raw. But she could feel the heat coming off it.

With the fish came rice and as salad were flowers.

"It's not raw."

Feeling doubtful the young Lady tasted it.

It lacked the raw feeling.

It almost melted on her tongue.

The restaurant deserved its reputation.

"You smiled."

The Lady looked at the albino in confusion.

"You actually smiled just now." The albino made an amused smile. "You have a very pretty smile and very kissable lips."

The Lady needed a moment, but then she felt her face burn up. This direct attack had taken her by surprise. She could hear the sincerity.

"You look very cute when blushing."

The albino was flirting with her, the young lady realized.

"Yes~" The albino confirmed. "Yes, I am flirting. Yes, I like women. No, I am not courting. Yes, I am having fun."

"Are you reading my mind?" The young Lady accused the albino.

"No, but you looked as if you had realized something, and then you blushed." Zaria smiled. "You are far too tense. Forget your responsibilities; they don't matter now. I am not acting in my position either."

The young Lady put off thinking about it and returned her focus to the fish.

"A fish is more important than I am, I am hurt."

"Yes, yes. I can deal with you later but the fish will be cold then." Then the young Lady realized that she was actually rude.

"Very true. Then let's ignore each other for now and delight ourselves with our meal." The albino declared. "I wonder what he is preparing for dessert."

The young Lady sipped her wine. Then she frowned. It was a white wine, a certain acidity in the taste, yet a nice mellow note that added to the fish. "Spiced wine, a hint of muscat."

"Mhm~" The albino confirmed. "I prefer sweet wines though."

"I like honey liqueur. I had the luck to taste the 'Honey's Snowy Dream' before."

"It is really good. I like it either chilled or heated." The albino shared her experience.

"Chilled?" The Lady wondered.

"Yes. Imagine the sweetness weakened as the cool honey caresses your tongue, leaving behind more of the sharp sting of the alcohol and the more subtle cinnamon and vanilla flavours."

The young Lady imagined that.

"And ignore the fishy taste."

Now she was aware of her dish.

The albino giggled.

"That was …" She wondered what word was right.

"Evil." The albino giggled.

"Hmpf" The young Lady decided to ignore the nuisance and focused on her fish.

However, she allowed herself a small smile. Playing around like this was oddly pleasant.

The two women ate in a pleasant relaxed silence. They finished the dish and relaxed sipping the wine as the afternoon crowd walked the streets.

"Do you want to mingle or watch from above?"

The young Lady thought for a bit. Looking from above seemed the sensible thing, however she wanted to experience it, not just watch. "I wish to mingle."

"Then mingling and holding hands is our goal. First walk around a bit, then we visit Levi, finally we join the fireworks in the evening. Want to watch them from the sea or the hills?"

"Which one has the better view?" The young Lady wondered.

"The hills have a better view of the fireworks; the sea has a better view of the colours as they explode above us. Either a blanket to sit on or a small boat. The best view is from the 'loving hill' which is a popular place with couples."

"The normal hill will suffice, and I didn't miss your comment about holding hands."

The albino leant forward and placed her white hand on the soft hand of the young Lady. "Are you against it?"

Soft. The hand covering hers was soft and warm. The words of denial were suddenly stuck in the throat as the white thumb gently brushed across the back of her hand and the red eyes calmly looked at her.

Then her hand was squeezed and the contact was lost.

"Have you thought about the souvenirs you want to buy?"

A sip of wine calmed her and she pondered the question. "What are typical souvenirs for a festival like this?"

"Most people buy things from the foreign vendors. Clothes, carvings, spices, books, and other such items. I am generally using this to see what new technologies and trinkets appear. Also, the enchanted items are interesting." The albino pulled a small booklet from her sleeve. "This one for example is a new spell. Someone actually bothered to create a spell to turn fire blue."

The young Lady blinked, blue fire? That sounded amusing.

"I bought a lot of books. Technical books and fiction both. Some of those are not for a maiden like you."

"What?" The young Lady felt the dig and felt affronted. Then she was handed a book. "The Palace Maid is doted on by the Empress" she read. She opened it and found herself looking at a picture of the stylized Empress having her hand in a busty maid’s dress while biting an ear. Embarrassed, she slammed the book shut.

"Told you." The albino put the book away as she giggled at the burning face before her.

"How can you read something like that?"

"It is funny, and honestly all over history nobles have played with servants and others."

"The book is the newest in a continuation of what fans call the 'The Maid Series'. 'The Priestess blessing the Maid', 'The Pirate Queen claiming the Maid', 'The Baroness being served by the Maid', and 'The Noble Maid serving her Mistress'. Most are spanning three to five volumes."

The young Lady felt her face burn. She had no idea where the albino had pulled all those books from, but in front of her were piles of lewd books.

Then, an eyeblink later, they were gone.

"My Ladies, your desserts with compliments from the chef." A waitress entered.

It was a cooled dessert. Sweet fruit with honey, cream, and a splash of egg liqueur.

"Those books …" The young Lady felt suspicious.

"Want the Baroness one as inspiration?"

"What? No!"

The albino giggled. "Maybe you want me to be your maid and serve you? Or would you prefer spoiling me?"

"You tease." The noble Lady accused.

"Are you sure I am only teasing? I might actually deliver~"

The young Lady heard the promise and challenge in the voice. She decided to cool down by eating the cool treat.

It was refreshing. It also cleared out the taste of the fish. "How do you know the cook? He is very famous."

"We met long ago, and I cooked something for him. He got inspired by it."

The young Lady gave the albino a look that clearly said 'I don't believe you'.

The albino gave her counterpart a foxy smirk and then blew her a kiss.

In return the young Lady did something that she had never done before. She took a strawberry, and fired it at her partner. Even as she was doing it her mind imagined a big red stain on the beautiful and expensive kimono, but it was too late to stop the action.

The albino simply bent and caught it, with her mouth. Then picked a cream covered strawberry from her bowl and held it out on a spoon.

The young Lady stared at it. She understood that she should not have fired her fruit. Now the albino offered to feed her. She wondered if she should decline or accept her fate.

"Open your mouth and accept the strawberry." The albino pushed. "I ate yours, so you get to eat mine~" Then she waved her spoon. "Unless you want it on your clothes like you wanted me to do."

That convinced her, somehow, she trusted the albino to shoot her with the cream covered fruit. No way she was going to spend her afternoon in a stained dress.

"Fine." The young Lady leant forward and accepted the treat, or was it threat, with an elegance that made the albino lick her lips as the slightly reddish lips closed around the red, sweet, and covered in white strawberry.

"You know, you looked pretty erotic when eating that." The albino mentioned, and got a napkin thrown at her. "Yes yes, I am evil, I overdo it, I heard it all before."

"You forgot infuriating." The young Lady added.

"That too." The albino nodded. "Now for something more important."

The young Lady waited.

"Do you want more dessert or want to go and visit Levi?" Zaria asked seriously. "We can take our time and walk down a few of the smaller streets, I especially like the 'red street' they have a lot of small trinkets and you can get their homemade cosmetics there, a lot of them are as good as the official ones from the alchemists despite costing a fraction." Zaria gave a mischievous smile. "I think a nice cherry red lipstick would fit your lips very well and make them even more kissable."

"I would throw my spoon at you."

"Please do~"

"Now I am afraid you will find some way to tease me with it."

"I may have a few ideas~"

"You are such a tease."

"Unlike a real tease I don't only promise but also deliver."

"No."

"As you wish~" Zaria folded the napkin then reached across the table to wipe the young Lady's mouth. "Stroll and then visit Levi?"

The young Lady wondered if she was really safe, but her guide seemed serious about teasing and despite hinting at more physical things, she did not push much. "You have been to this festival before." it was not a question but a statement.

"I am familiar with Levi after all. It is a nice day to tease her about how popular she is."

"You are such a tease."

"You have to amuse yourself how you can, the world is far too serious anyway."

The young Lady mulled over that, it seemed off while it rang true.

The albino rose with a grace that bordered on unnatural and helped her not-date stand up, handed her the umbrella.

------

The young Lady was not blushing, but she was close to it. "This is a brothel."

"Yes, but they know their cosmetics." Zaria replied casually. "I found it." She picked up a red lipstick from the stand outside the brothel.

All the brothels had stands. Some were selling lingerie, some cosmetics, others sold snacks served bite sized by pretty giggling women. Even lewd art was sold.

It was rather eye opening to the young Lady.

Zaria opened the lipstick and sniffed it. "Cherry juice, honey wax, and a little sunflower oil. Looks well mixed and it is much cheaper and healthier than alchemical equivalents." Zaria handed over a few silver coins. "Now stop moving."

The young Lady froze as the white hand on her face stopped her from moving and the lipstick was applied to her lips.

It even smelled fruity.

The albino borrowed a mirror and showed off the change.

The young Lady was surprised, the red lips now drew attention.

"See, looks much better. Now it accents the kissable lips." The pretty albino commented.

"I agree." One of the girls from the stand commented. "Since I don't intend to poach, we could go for a threesome. I will even give you a discount."

While Zaria laughed it off, the young Lady finally blushed. It was so indecent.

"We even have some nice see-through lingerie for the occasion." The girl held out what she wanted to sell.

The young Lady thought for a moment it was a transparent veil, but it was too large for that. Then she realized that it was like a short nightgown. "But that doesn't hide anything!"

"Of course not." The salesgirl replied. "It is supposed to show everything while making your lover still have to strip you. Or make your lover watch as you take it off." She winked at Zaria who winked back.

The byplay was not lost on the teased woman. "You are impossible." She accused them.

"We just know how to enjoy ourselves." The albino responded with the salesgirl nodding in agreement. "But she is right, you look good in black, while your skin is not as pale as mine by far, you have a very light skin tone and the contrast would look good on you."

"Two gold."

"Make it one and a half and that small purse over there so she can carry it."

"Have fun with your purchase." The salesgirl agreed and exchanged items and amused grins with the albino.

The black purse was hung over the young Lady's shoulder ignoring all protests with the red lipstick and the negligee inside. Then the young Lady found herself dragged off and pulled through the street.

Further down the street she found something like what had been forced upon her again, only it was presented on a living model.

The succubus in question was winking and blowing kisses as she was showing off her naked body. Naked because whatever that thing was, it did not count as clothing or covering at all being as transparent as it was.

Once she managed to look away, she missed the surprised look on the succubus face, who then bowed to Zaria who simply placed a finger on her lips in a silencing gesture.

The young Lady was relieved when the alley was ending, until she found herself stopped.

"Oh look, dark elven gold jewellery." Zaria pointed.

The sheltered Lady looked, and saw a girl wear beautiful gold jewellery, and nothing else.

"It is the cheap tourism knockoff though. The real stuff is heirloom grade and usually enchanted. Each of the pieces has something carved on it with a meaning."

"How do you know?" Curiosity won over embarrassment.

"Dark elven lovers."

"Lovers?"

"Yes. The twins were especially stimulating when dancing together." Zaria remembered. "But the one who wore my name all over was someone else."

The young Lady imagined wearing someone's name like that. The eyes falling on the necklace that was almost a choker if not collar.

Possession. Wasn't that like declaring your owner? The eyes followed the jewellery that was clearly made in mind with luring the eyes to exposed flesh and bare intimate places.

The young Lady felt her face flame at the indecency.

"It loses a lot of impact when not contrasting dark elven skin." Zaria said with a hint of melancholy. "You know. We should get you a nice choker."

The sudden change in topic that made the young Lady turn and look at her companion and found her looking at her neck through the veil. It reminded her of her realization about the meaning of wearing something named around the neck.

"I think a nice satin choker with my sigil as an amulet would look good on you."

That struck a bit too close to home. "No sigils!" The young Lady denied instantly. "But a house crest could work."

"Is that an offer to wear my crest?"

"What? No!"

"Pity, I think it would look good on you."

"Which is your house?"

"Since you aren't interested, it doesn't matter anyway."

The very different pair entered the jewellery and accessory section.

After skipping most stands after a look or two. The albino found a stand that seemed to interest her.

The young Lady looked at the accessories on the stand. A lot was wood with only a few being silver and most of the stones were not true gems but quartzes and other such common stones or even rocks polished for effect.

"You have a good eye." The albino praised the stalls' occupant.

"Yes?" The man seemed confused.

The albino picked up several wooden hair pins. "Eye for detail and colour composition. You are still advancing your craft, but continue and you will go far."

She handed three hairpins to the young Lady.

"Here, compare them."

There were minor differences. Until she realized that she was seeing progressing skill. The first and third were rather different, the third being finer and more detailed. Even the stone was set better and fitting better.

The albino picked seven hairpins and bought them. "Souvenirs, I know a few girls who will like them."

They continued down the venue. At a stall the young Lady found herself handed a mask with a dragon's face painted on and it even had small horns.

That struck a little close to home for her.

Her companion however placed a fox mask over her face that looked far more ceremonial and detailed to be from one of the stands around them.

"Fox suits you." The young Lady admitted.

"On one hand the dragon feels right for you, on the other hand I wanted to find a cute kitten for you."

"A kitten?"

"Young, curious, just having left the nest."

The young Lady did something very out of character for her.

She smacked the albino with her bag holding that item, or would have if the albino hadn't caught it.

"Is that an offer?" The albino played with the opening of the handbag in a suggestive manner.

And it didn't faze the infuriating tease one bit.

"Hello ladies."

"Shoo, go away. I am busy flirting." Zaria shot down the approaching young men.

"We just want to spend the festival with pretty ladies."

"And I want to spend the festival flirting with this pretty lady."

"Don't be like that."

"I am like that. Not Interested."

The young Lady tensed as one of the men reached out for her.

The young man found his arm grabbed in the surprisingly strong grip of a white hand. "Are you deaf or stupid?"

The soft voice suddenly held a dangerous edge to it. "No does not mean you can grab on and drag someone away"

The young Lady wondered if that wasn't a bit hypocritical.

"Fine." The quartet gave up.

After they left the young Lady asked with a hint of teasing. "No means, no?"

"Different here. I tease, I flirt, and I offer choices. You declined wearing my crest, giving me your spoon, and I held your hand, but you technically didn't decline it."

The young Lady wondered if that was actually true. She realized she was caught up in the fox masked albino's pace. Who was dragging her all over the place and showing her around, with clear intention to tease her.

"No more taking me to places like that."

"Like what?"

"You are trying to make me say it."

"Yes." Came the unrepentant reply.

"I won't say it!"

"Found it~" Zaria grabbed the other girl's hand and pulled her along.

"What? Where are we going?"

"Here."

"Nyelcome! I have ribbon, bows, collars, chokers, and bells. Nyah~" Then the catgirl got a good look at the mask. "Nyah!"

"The blue satin choker over there." Zaria pointed. "No bell though."

"Nyah, here." The suddenly pale catgirl handed it over.

The young Lady admonished the masked albino. "Stop scaring her."

"I am not, well not on purpose." The albino allowed as she accepted the satin strip.

She raised the veil of her companion, who took off her mask to glare at the fox mask.

"Nyah!" Now the catgirl was doubly alarmed.

The young Lady didn't avoid the hands that were gently placing the bare choker around her pale neck.

The catgirl made a weird voice as she choked on her tongue.

The young Lady pointed at a white choker. "I'll take this one."

"Nyah!" The catgirl hurriedly handed it over while sweating nervously.

With a bit of fumbling the white silk of the choker was placed on the white neck and blended almost perfectly against the white skin.

"I will be paying." The albino turned to the panicked catgirl who had just seen something incredulous.

"I will be paying for the one I picked." The young Lady denied.

"Nyot, it's free."

""I insist."" The two customers' voices overlapped.

The teary catgirl accepted the silvers from the albino, then fumbled around trying to get enough change for the large platinum coin the young Lady handed over, and finally accepted the bag of one hundred silver coins from Zaria in tears. She took out two silver coins before trying to hand the heavy bag to the young Lady who was staring at the visibly large and heavy bag in almost horror.

"Want me to hold onto it for you?"

"Where are you even keeping it?"

"Up my sleeve." Zaria took the bag from the straining catgirl and pulled it up her wide and loose kimono sleeve where it disappeared without a trace.

"Enchanted sleeves?"

"Something like that."

The young Lady knew that under the mask there was either an amused smile or a foxy smirk.

------

When the pair left the catgirl curled up and hugged her knees finally relaxing. She had managed not to offend them; she could have easily lost her life with a wrong word. Nobody would ever believe her. "I need a hug." The catgirl complained.

Then she saw a strip of paper lying on her small money box. She lifted it and found a platinum coin under it. She peered at the paper slip and saw the small note written on it.

"Sorry about the scare, here treat yourself to something nice and bring your wares to the main shrine sometime. You have articles of good quality and taste.
"The shrines owner <3
"PS: you are cute too <3"

The catgirl folded the note and placed it in the money box together with the scary platinum coin, she just knew it was the one which had been handed to her before. She had an invitation and was called cute by The White One. The same White One who was clearly courting the young Empress.

This was big.

Nobody would believe her though.

------

The harbour was the most spacious place and it was where the games were situated.

There were magical games, physical games, games of skill, games of knowledge, games of dexterity, games of strength, and so many more.

The young Lady winced when she saw a man try to lift big weights and turn red from the strain, then drop it on his foot.

A dwarf was lifting even more with far less strain.

The albino looked around amused. "If you keep looking at the strong men like that I will have to go there and humiliate them all."

The young Lady thought for a moment before replying. "Jealous?"

"Not really, since I can tell you are curious about the strength and not the people." The albino denied. "But since you should keep your attention on your date, it is a little irritating."

"It's not a date."

"Stroll around together, buy things for each other, have a meal together, and chat with each other. That sounds a lot like a date."

"You can beat them all?" The young Lady decided not to comment on the date, and looked at her companion's slender hand and wrist. She looked up at the mask and had the feeling she was being smirked at again.

"I am not human." The albino replied. "So normal evaluation does not work on me."

The young Lady's head snapped to the mask. "You are not human?" She asked for confirmation.

"No~"

The young Lady processed the information quickly. Certain things suddenly made more sense. "You are old."

"While rude, that is true. I mentioned I cooked for the old dragon a long time ago."

The young Lady nodded. Suddenly knowing the 'Cooking Dragon' and the 'Leviathan' made more sense. "Now then go and impress me with your strength."

"Lift weights, strike to hit the bell, or arm wrestle that guy?"

"Do them all." The young Lady ordered.

"What do I get once I win it all?"

That stopped the human girl in her tracks. What could she give?

"Maybe a kiss?" The hinting voice was amused.

She gave the albino and unamused glare. It didn't help her with finding she could do something that did not have big repercussions. A kiss from her had those. Money was not an issue however from what she had seen from her albino not date. Suddenly the lunch came to her mind. "We can hold hands."

"Then I will win everything in your honour~"

The masked albino skipped to the first game challenge. It was a large pole with a bell on top. You had to swing a hammer and hit a plate that would shoot a weight up to strike the bell.
In the time they had been watching the best was about two thirds.

The albino lined up, waited, paid, took the hammer, swung down, snapped the handle of the hammer, broke the plate, and knocked off the bell with the weight.

Then she groaned and waved her hand as the weight returned from somewhere, the bell reattached itself, the pressure plate fixed the hole in it, and the hammer handle looked brand-new suddenly.

Everyone stared in total disbelief at the albino returning to her not-date. "What is next?"

"Why not try arm wrestling?" The young Lady suggested pointing at a few tables and seats a bit further away.

The pair walked over and saw a few seats with what looked like a muscled human, an amused dwarf and an automaton.

It was clear the automaton was the strongest, but the human was surprisingly stronger than the dwarf.

When Zaria paid and approached the dwarf, he was both shocked and elated.

"Didn't think you'd be interested in this." He told the albino gruffly.

"My date insisted." Zaria replied and indicated the dark blue goth in the ranks of the watchers who made a regal wave when everyone looked at her upon overhearing the conversation.
Most had looks of pity for the albino though.

"That means no mercy, heh, my blood is pumping." The dwarf was clearly psyched up.

Zaria did not even bother holding onto the table when the match started.

"Ggrrrruuuoooohhhh!" the dwarf cried out as he put his full strength into his arm, and did not even manage to make Zaria's arm move one bit.

Then Zaria pushed.

And the back of his hand hit the table.

The dwarf however seemed satisfied. "This is the strength of legends, it's a tale worthy of telling while drinking in the deepest caves." The pain in his arm and his tiredness faded away with a nod from the albino.

The next target was a human arm wrestler. Already bets were changing from the champions to the newcomer.

"Missy you shouldn't, it would be a waste to break that tiny arm of yours." The human didn't believe that the dwarf had really tried his best. "Why don't you and your date join me for a drink later?"

"Why don't you call for a cleric or priest to fix that brain of yours?" Zaria shot back without hesitation. "And your broken arm too."

The man glared at the fox mask. "Hiding behind your mask? And no magic."

Zaria pulled off her mask making the man stare at the pretty face.

"No magic needed."

The two contestants gripped each other's hands.

The judge placed his hand on top of theirs. "On 3. 1, 2, 3."

There was a crack as the large human hand smashed into the stone table and broke the bones in the hand and a snapping sound as tendons and muscle gave way from a force immeasurably superior.

The large human man turned white and fainted as the damage to hand and arm overtook him.

Zaria pulled a damp towel from her sleeve and wiped her hand. She sat down in front of the automaton.

"Analysis: impossible foe"
"Prognosis: destruction of arm"
"Conclusion: I surrender"

Everyone stared at the automaton which had just emotionlessly declared it's surrender.

"Winner is the albino with the fox mask." The judge announced with more than a bit of reluctance. "You receive the main price of a weekend in Raslastan for two."

"Do you want it?" Zaria called out to her date, who shook her head in denial. "Thank you, but we will pass on it, let someone else have it who actually works for it."

She walked over to her date, offered her arm, that the date gracefully took, and they went to the weight lifting.

This time they were followed but a few curious onlookers and several how had won bets against all odds and wanted to try to bet some more.

The pair arrived at the weight lifting.

"Are you going to humiliate everyone again?" The young Lady asked the albino, it seemed like having to hold hands was a forgone conclusion now.

"I thought I'd walk over, pay, lift the heaviest one and be done with it?" The albino suggested.

"Sounds fine, and since you seem familiar with magic, let's check out one of the casting games."

"I'll excuse myself from competing however, that would be an even worse overkill than the strength games."

"Is there anything you are bad at?" The young Lady asked, very curious.

"I have a lot of things I am very good at, want to try them out?" The soft voice now sounded incredibly promising somehow.

The young Lady just knew it was something lewd.

"Now off you go, don't keep me waiting." The young Lady ordered.

"I will be right back; it is nice to see you are so eager to hold hands." The albino moved away before the goth could reply.

"I ran into that one I guess." She lamented. In preparation she transferred her handbag to the hand holding the umbrella.

She wondered why she felt oddly nervous. The albino was a tease but regularly backed off. Now she was going to be on a festival date while holding hands. It was a first for her. Not that it was surprising considering who she was, but it still made her feel shy.
Politicians and nobles were somehow easier to deal with than the affectionate yet polite and mysterious albino.

She watched the albino walk to the game owner, pay the fee, then walk straight to the heaviest weights, and lifted that weight with one hand. Then she got waved at with the free hand. She waved back resigned about the whole situation.

The albino returned and took her hand.

It was warm, soft, and slender.

The young Lady found herself pulled along.

------

"Any games you want to try?" The albino asked. "Or want to see what is popular."

The young Lady looked around, and saw a stand with a lot of people cheering and then making sad noises. "What is that?"

"Magical shooting booth." Zaria explained once they came closer. "Each successive target is enchanted with more magic resistance. In your case probably only the last target or maybe the one before that will have issues."

"And in your case, all of them will get knocked off?"

"Yes"

"Let's try it."

"As you wish my Lady."

The albino's hand squeezed the young Lady's hand gently as the pair approached.

It was a stand with targets that were consecutively further away. Each target was shielded by rings with small barriers inside.

"Warmages, combat mages, licensed mages are forbidden. One price per player." The young Lady read.

"I don't count as licensed technically." The albino commented. "But that is really technicality, I was told to stop breaking magic."

"Breaking magic?" The young Lady asked, confused, she had no idea how one could break magic.

"Bending space, traveling through time, casting without a magic formula, creating and changing spells on the fly." The albino listed.

"Are you casting like a magical being?"

"That is a complicated question. Both yes and no. Some spells are nicely efficient, but others are so insanely convoluted that I wonder why anyone would use them. Besides, free casting is perfect for things you can't put into a formula, but a compact efficient formula uses less magic than free casting."

"Really?" It was actually a better explanation than her teachers had ever given her.

Zaria raised a finger, a tiny glowing mote started hovering above it. "I imagined something like a small ember, now with free casting I can make it brighter and brighter as long as I know what brighter is, and as long as I have mana left. Now it is as bright as a candlelight spell, uses a bit more magic though. So sometimes just casting is better, sometimes a structured spell."

Finally, it was time for the pair to get their turn.

You paid per challenge after you checked your magic on an orb.

The young Lady scored pretty high, high enough that the stall owner was both surprised, and wary. The albino however was clearly smirking under her mask when she placed her hand on the orb and nothing happened.

She smacked her date with her new handbag again. "Stop playing around and do it properly."

"I don't want to break the orb; it is just a simple one." The orb lit up as magic flooded it. "See, I am too strong for the challenge."

"The last one is even difficult for royal mages, if you manage, you can have the grand price."

"You really want to get ripped off." The masked albino sounded a bit resigned.

She paid however.

"You warned him." Her date acknowledged.

"He didn't listen." The albino whined. "They never listen."

The young Lady nodded in co-misery. "You tell them one thing, then someone gets overeager and you get something completely different."

"The worst are fangirls, always so eager to please and thinking what you want is the same as what they think you want."

"Bootlickers. Offer anything you might need according to them, and offer it as soon as they can think of it in hopes of gaining favour."

"Enough favour to court."

"That too." She faced the mask. "A common problem for you?"

"A lot of people seem to think that me liking girls just means I haven't met the right man before, or that I take any female."

"You don't?"

"Only pretty and interesting ones like you."

"I will start shooting now." She raised her hand and fired a small lightning bolt straight through the first ring and into the target. The second target with its two rings was easy as well. The third ring however decreased the power a bit. The young Lady countered by focussing harder and firing a stronger bolt. The fourth target went well, but the fifth again weakened her shot significantly. She concentrated and focussed her magic.

A golden orb gathered in her hand and shot through the six rings of the sixth target. Even the golden orb got significantly weakened by the barrier rings. And all the rings on this seventh target were ornate and probably stronger. "I am satisfied." She declared. "Your turn."

"If you insist." The albino raised her hand and a glowing blue flame appeared. It flew a circle around the young Lady then it darted through the first ring, struck the target and flew back to stop before the 2nd targets rings for a moment.

"Show off." The young Lady accused.

"Want to direct it?" The albino offered.

"Just spoil the challenge."

"Fine~"

The blue fire flew through the rings and struck the target. Then it repeated the action with the next targets.

The stall owner's face was cramped when it easily darted through the seven rings of the final challenge without even shrinking one bit.

"And we have first and second place winners." The owner called out.

"For the second place, a romantic trip to an onsen in the north of the capitol, surrounded by shrines and nature, is between the city and the mountain." The stall owner announced.

"As for the first place. A gold bracelet of beauty." The crowd applauded. "An enchantment to keep the skin young and soft was placed by a witch who wants to remain unnamed, the bracelet itself was made by famous dwarven artisan Growling."

A dwarf in the crowd called out a correction. "It is Grovlimg, not growling."

The young Lady accepted the envelope with the invitation, unsure what to do with it.

The albino accepted the bracelet with a smug 'I told you so' atmosphere.

Then she looked at it, raised her mask, gave it a kiss, lowered her mask, and took her date's hand to fasten it.

"You did something to it." The date accused. "I felt the magic."

"Just changed the enchantments to what I think a bracelet of beauty should have."

"And that would be?"

"You will find out over time~"

"I want to try catching the fish next."

"As you wish."

------

The fish were the colourful type. It was a type of fish scooping game. Most Otherworlders would recognize it as Japanese fish scooping. Something that boggled Zaria's as she had not been aware of any world travellers, Japanese reincarnators, reincarnated otakus, or geeks.

The young Lady stared at the tank for a while before she mumbled "Found you" and knelt with her scoop and bowl ready.

She took a deep breath. Then the hand moved, faster than you would expect from most nobles.

She scooped a white fish with reddish fins into her bowl. She rose satisfied and showed her bowl to the albino. "This one looks like you. White and red."

"Then I need to get one like you." The albino accepted the challenge.

It took a bit but she found it. A black fish with golden fin tips.

She paid and her hand blurred, gently she scooped the fish into her bowl.

Then she bought a glass bowl for the two fishes and poured hers and her dates inside.

"I will carry it."

The young Lady looked at the two fish curiously. "Black for my hair, but why gold?"

"Your magic."

The young Lady realized she had accidentally used her family's golden magic at the magic challenge.

She needed a distraction. She looked at the fishbowl and blinked. "Are they supposed to be so clingy?"

The albino looked down and whined. "How come mini me gets to be cuddly and affectionate, but big me does not?"

"That is what you are complaining about?"

"Is there anything else I should be complaining about? Besides, it is getting darker. Time to head towards Levi."

On the way they drank tea, bought fruit candy, and tried a throwing game.

The young Lady won a red flower she attached to Zaria's hair.

Finally, a bit beyond the festival proper in a less lit area they found a stand. It was a small stand that sold grilled fish. Fish skewers, skewered fish, fish steak, grilled fish, and more.

"You actually bothered to visit?" The woman who reminded the young Lady of a siren with the pale bluish skin and blue green hair greeted.

"I was told by Yuki to fetch fish." The albino responded as if it explained everything, which it did to the two of them.

"That is perfect then."

"Found myself a nice anonymous date." The albino sort of introduced her companion. "A pretty noble Lady that needed a makeover due to how obvious she was." Zaria placed the fishbowl on a nearby crate. "Now two skewers please."

The young Lady raised her veil as she accepted the fish skewer. A few bites later she was impressed. "These are really good, simple yet very delicious."

"Caught it myself, further out the fishers ever go. Far deeper too." The stall owner boasted.
The stall owner started cooking and packing everything she had left and handing it to the albino who kept stuffing it up her sleeves.

"You owe me two gold, three silver and seven copper."

"Here are five gold. Catch me a nice fatty tuna in return."

"Deal"

"And introduce yourself fully to my date, she is sceptical about your identity."

"Let me guess, you were calling me Levi and telling her how nice and tasty I am?"

"Nothing about the tasty part."

The young Lady on the other hand seemed confused. "Tasty?"

"She got me drunk." Levi accused the albino while pointing with a finger.

Zaria raised her mask and licked the offending finger. "Then she insisted that I eat her. Which after a while I finally did, for a week straight."

The siren or something purpled and punched in a movement that was too quick to follow for the mortal.

The albino caught the punch. "It has already been a few decades since then. So, stop complaining."

"I was an innocent maiden back then, and it was 734 years ago."

The number left the young Lady baffled.

"That long?" The albino wondered.

"Unlike a certain someone, I didn't sleep through most of it."

"Old stories aside, this is Levi, the Leviathan."

"Call me Levi, and you have my most sincere condolences for catching her interest." Levi told the young Lady honestly.

"You really are the sea goddess?"

"I was a sea snake. The largest until people decided I am a Goddess; belief is a power you know. Then this one introduced me to her goddess. By now I am used to the position."

"How old are you?"

The young Lady asked her date.

"I have no idea." Came the honest reply.

Levi finished handing over her wares. "To formally introduce myself. I am the Leviathan, the Goddess of the Waters. The seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, and all water are mine."

The young Lady felt the air grow heavy, the smell and taste of water in the air, and an incredibly heavy pressure pushing down on her. She felt the urge to kneel and worship.

Then a soft hand squeezed her shoulder and all of it was gone.

"That was …"

The albino explained. "True divinity. You are of the water, the blood in your veins recognizes the power. Your soul feels the presence of something greater than you."

"Since it is a date, do you two have any plans for the fireworks?" Levi asked.

"I am trying to convince her to cuddle on lovers hill." Zaria admitted shamelessly.

"I wanted to visit your shrine, but now my plans are going to Peoples Hill or watching from the inn." The young Lady ignored the suggestions and the way the thumb of the albino gently caressed the back of her hand.

"Then come with me." Levi suggested. "My head is large enough to house an army and it's time to show myself soon. You won't get a better look from anywhere else. Also, why are your fish so affectionate?"

Everyone looked towards the glass bowl holding the two fish. The pair was clearly touching and brushing against each other.

"They even look like you two." Levi continued while looking at their clasped hands.

The young Lady felt herself blush. It coming from a goddess had a lot of impact.

"That is unfair. You made her blush so quickly." The albino whined.

The sea snake smiled as she replied. "That's because I don't care. I don't need to hold back."

"Now you are bragging. And sure, the view from your head will be much better."

"Let's go."

The confused Lady found herself handed the fish glass and lifted in a princess carry.

Any complaints died when her date and Levi started running across the water.

She felt safe despite the speed that should have blown off her hat and veil. Instead, she continued eating her skewer with one hand and held onto the fish with the other.

When the harbour was only small lights in the distance the water running pair stopped.

"This is far enough; I will be right back." The Levi dissolved into water.

It was already dark, yet she could see the sea underneath them darken as something enormous and ancient rose to the surface underneath them.

Then it broke the water.

Then they rose to the skies.

It was only when globes of water rose and started glowing in a pale blue light that she understood.

They were standing on the Leviathan.

The huge head was maybe not enough for an army, but she could imagine a dozen people sitting comfortably.

"I expect you to announce us." The mental voice resonated in her head.

The albino pulled a strip of paper out of her sleeve, then threw it into the darkness above them.

Then there was light. Shining brightly like the sun. Yet only illuminating the great snake of the deepest waters.

Above the city the fireworks started.

Flashes of light and colourful shapes rose in the sky as the true form of the Leviathan approached the harbour.

"Greetings guests and people of my city. I hope you had a wonderful festival." The Leviathan's voice projected into the minds of everyone.

"Yet another year has passed. An Emperor has fallen, an Empress has risen, a war was won, children were born, elders have died. To me it was like the blink of an eye. Treasure the memories, remember, live, and visit again next year to tell your tales. I will be waiting in the silent waters."

The magical sun went out. Instead orbs of different colours started sailing across the skies.

The young Lady decided to ignore the red and gold heart in the sky.

When the fireworks started to die down the albino asked. "It is getting late. Do you remember which inn you live in?"

"I remember a golden sea snake on the door."

"I know that one." Levi commented as the trio watched impressive fireworks rose and trailed across the sky.

Magic and alchemy really revolutionized the fireworks more than pure chemistry ever could.

One thing however did not change. The fireworks were loud.

------

"There is something on the Goddess's head."

"Is it people?" a man with a spyglass wondered.

As the news spread, spy glasses and far sight magic was used and applied. The few sellers of spy glasses, scrolls and magic items that allowed far sight.

"I have seen that face, isn't that Empress?"

"I have seen that mask, and the hair? That is The Kitsune."

"The Empress and The Kitsune on top of the Leviathan?"

"They are holding hands? Someone please tell me I am seeing things."

"I am seeing it too."

"Aren't their shoulders touching too?"

"I wonder where the Empress got her dress, I want one like that."

"Is that the Kitsune? Explains why she beat the unbeatable challenge."

"I had fish won by The Empress and The Kitsune?"

"Nyuhh~ They nyought nyokers fyor nyech nyother~" A drunk catgirl mumbled.

"I see something on the Empress neck, but nothing on the Kitsune's neck."

"Nyis nyate~"

"Oh, a white choker, naturally we wouldn't see it."

"Ohh ohh, she put her arm around the Empress."

"Does that mean that The Leviathan and The Kitsune approve of the new empress?"

"They never did before?"

Naturally even the ladies from the brothels were present.

"I wouldn't call it approve, I'd say interested, while I can't say what was bought, but it was something to make your lover swoon." Spread rumours, and then retell the tales with a little extra flair while fleecing the customers.

On a roof an old dragon was smoking a pipe and drinking nice spirits of the easily flammable type. "Seems like the world is going to move again, I guess the vacation is over now that the main power has started to move." He took a deep drag of his pipe. "Things are finally getting interesting again."

------

After bothering Levi for directions. The two smaller females were gone.

"This was teleportation." The young Lady observed as she looked around from the roof she was now on instead of the smooth scaly head of the Leviathan. "And it was not short range and there was no disorientation."

"Teleport is the way to travel~" The albino replied amused. "That was a spell actually, and not one of the modern ones, it's an older version. The modern teleport spell is cluttered to be polite."

"Cluttered?"

"Unnecessarily large, bloated, plenty of components in the spell thesis that are unneeded and why incorporate more functions into one spell if it is easier to have separate spells that use less magic and are easier?"

"So, the spell is more versatile?"

"Teleport a few steps line of sight, is a 2nd circle spell. Teleporting a bit further across a village, with some disorientation would be a 4th circle spell, but you never miss. Teleport to a known location with a chance to land somewhere random, is a 5th circle spell. Teleport wherever you want without missing, even with a detailed description or a picture? That is an 8th circle spell. The modern teleport spell can do all of them, power depends on the distance and mode of teleporting, and it is a 9th circle spell since it is so bloated and complex."

"And free casting?"

"Is equivalent in magic consumption depending on how you do it. Teleporting to the other side of a door would be a 1st circle equivalent actually." The albino pulled her mask off and rubbed her nose. "Naturally making it a 9th circle spell lessens the chances for abuse."

"Abuse like you do?"

"Spell abuse is the best way to use spells."

"How would you replace war spells? Like army breakers?"

"Use a banana peel."

The young Lady paled. "You can call upon that menace?"

"Yes?"

The young Lady took a few steps away warily.

"Really, everyone is overreacting, it does stupid things, but it is just a nuisance."

"Right, you have been alive a long time, what did it do to you?"

"Threw me into a volcano, made me slip and fall into a trap into a ruin, and slipped into a portal leading to the succubus queen's throne room."

The young lady was not impressed.

"Why don't I get you down, is that paranoid looking woman outside the door one of your guards?"

"Why do you expect me to have guards?"

The albino gave her date a flat look.

She ignored it, and looked down from the roof. "Yes, she is my head of guards."

"I guess it means our date is over." The albino gave a small smile. "It was fun. If you ever want to meet up again, visit me at home, I have a hot spring we can relax in. I put the invitation and map in your handbag. If not, keep it as a memory of today."

The young Lady wondered about the resigned tone for a moment, then the world shifted. She was in front of the inn and found herself handed the fish bowl.

The albino gave a small wave, then she slipped into the crowd and was gone.

"My Lady!"

The young Lady turned and saw the fretting guard captain approach her. She realized she was going to get ranted at. "Not here, inside. Bring my things." She handed the fishbowl to her guard captain. She saw a bag lying by her side. "The bag too."

Then she stepped to the inn door and entered when the steward opened it for her.

The guard captain slumped, then she picked up the bag on the street and followed her Empress inside.

There they went upstairs.

At the best suite they stopped and the guard captain knocked.

"Yes?"

"The Lady has returned."

The door was opened and the Empress entered.

The guards were perplexed at their Empress returning in a nice goth outfit instead of the peasant outfit she left in. The Empress simply waved and left for her room in the suite.

Once she entered, she relaxed, and found herself facing her teary maid and friend.

"I was worried!" Charlotte, her maid, complained.

"Sorry, but I had an interesting day."

"What if someone had recognized you, or kidnapped you?"

"Funny you are speaking about that. Did you know that my casual commoner clothes were all too perfect to be real commoner clothes?"

"Really?"

"Really. I was found out immediately and I was rescued by a nice lady who made me get this nice outfit, then we hung out." The Empress explained. "Now I want to get out of it, my feet are killing me, and I really need to use the toilet. Stop laughing and help me."

Charlotte kept on giggling but rose to help her friend and superior out of the very nice goth dress.

"So, she took you to her personal tailor?"

"Actually, it was a very healthy cowgirl seamstress just off the main street."

"Very healthy?"

"I think I now understand why some men have an obsession. I am female and I had a very hard time looking away from her bouncing and swaying."

The maid looked at her sort of friend and then at herself. She was less gifted than her Empress, so someone very healthy was hard to imagine. They had seen a few cowgirls before, but calling a cowgirl very healthy meant something.

"She walked and bounced with each step. I tried looking away but it was impossible."

Standing still, raising arms, stepping out of boots, stepping out of skirt, and all too soon she was left in her new, rather nice underwear.

"Are you sure it was a lady? This is something someone might buy for their lover."

"What? Put that away."

"I guess your lover tired you out."

"No! I don't have a lover."

"You went for an intimate encounter? But organizing a Lady to distract us so you can have your illicit date is too much."

"I order you to shut up." The Empress voice turned cold; it was enough of a change that Charlotte actually shut up.

There was a knock on the door.

"Deal with it." She finally went to the bathroom.

A little later there was a knock on the bathroom door. "Someone is asking for you, we were told to tell you 'It's Levi bringing an aquarium for the two lovers'."

"Let her in."

The Empress pondered asking for clothes, but she suspected that the greatest sea serpent wouldn't care either way. She left the bathroom after washing off the little make up she had. The red lipstick, even already removed a bit, was still visible. She decided to leave it on. The girl left the bathroom.

"Lady Leviathan."

"I told you to call me Levi. Or did I forget to tell you?" The Sea Goddess wondered while holding a large aquarium, an aquarium large enough that a human would have long fallen over or wouldn't have been able to lift it at all.

"You know, I don't remember, but I am very sure I'll offend someone if I do that."

"You were much more fun while on the date."

Charlotte perked up. "It was a date after all."

Levi nodded. "A playdate. After all, she is a bit eccentric. You have my most sincere condolences for gathering her attention. It must have been infuriating and exhausting for you. That said, I made a nice aquarium for the two lovers."

"Thank you, can you place it on that table over there? I am not sure anything else can hold the weight. Also, isn't it a bit large for two small fish?"

"Right side has more plants and a little cave, in case they want to hide or sleep, the left side is more open for swimming. Snails for cleaning and plant control, a shard from one of my scales for health and purification, best add a few fly larvae every few days."

"Charlotte, note it down. Anything else I should know?"

"They are both female. So normally there shouldn't be any descendants." Levi placed the large aquarium down, then gently poured the two fishes into it from the fish bowl. "If the plants grow too large; have them trimmed, it is a little like those bonsai trees you nobles love so much."

Levi looked the girl up and down.

She wondered if she should have worn more after all.

"You look tired, sleep soon." Levi pulled a small bottle with rose crystals from somewhere. "Relaxing bathing salt, three crystals for a larger bathtub.

"Thank you very much Lady Levia… I mean thank you Levi. "The Empress corrected herself when the sea snake started glaring.

"Take care and have a safe trip." Then the snake turned into water, and seemingly evaporated.

There was a moment of silence as the Empress went to the aquarium and peered inside. The two fishes were exploring their new home together.

"Victoria?"

"Yes?"

"That was really the Leviathan?"

"Yes."

"What did you really do on your date?"

"Got outfitted in a goth outfit, ate at the dragon, got dragged across the red-light district, got a choker bought for me and bought her one too, then we went to the games, I won a trip to a hot spring and she won me a bracelet of beauty that probably got enchanted with some really weird things, then we met lady Leviathan, watched the fireworks from the top of her head, and finally I was teleported here."

There was a long moment of silence as the poor maid found her mind blown. "Wait, how did you get a place at the dragon, it was booked solid for weeks!"

"She knows the cook."

"And by bracelet of beauty you mean that?" Charlotte pointed at the nice golden bracelet hanging off the Empress wrist.

"Made by Grovlimg."

"Isn't that really expensive? I think you already own a few items of his."

"Yes, but my date said she enchanted it."

"Enchanting is hard."

"So should be teleportation or an impossible challenge. And let’s not forget knowing the cook and the Leviathan."

"Who did you meet?"

"I have no idea."

"What?"

"No names."

"She didn't know who you are?"

"No."

Charlotte started laughing. "She takes her dates to the red-light district and ravishes them."

"I was not ravished."

"Considering what she bought you see through?"

"Nothing happened, we only held hands."

"You are a stingy date."

The two friends continued bickering.


Thank you discord readers and especially editors.

World Setting and Characters:

Spoiler

Kingdom Setting:
Country: Sinas Empire
Capitol: Mardiors

Current Empress: Victoria Anastasia van Sinas
Age: 17 (18 in a few months)
Haircolour: Black
Eyecolour: Amber
Setting: New Empress, daughter of former Emperor. Grew up sheltered and neglected by her father and brother. Had to learn everything under supervision of the strict head maid who was not afraid to use corporal punishment, nothing to intense, to enforce her will. The first thing upon ascending to the throne was firing her and trying to figure out how to deal with the mess left behind, and to have some fun.

Maid: Charlotte
Age: 17
Setting: was the Empress junior maid and playmate when the Empress was still locked up.
Friendly and loyal to the Empress.
Is actually the Empress cousin. (Daughter of the former Emperors brother)

History:
Daughter of the last Emperor
The Last Emperor tried to get the North under his command. His bribes and less than honourable hobbies were exposed. His assassinations of political enemies were exposed and further ones prevented.
Had to resign the throne or face a possible revolt and death.
His son who is a lot like his father had to give up his right to the throne.
The locked-up daughter who was the spare was placed upon the throne and is fighting the corruption and doing a decent job of cleaning despite the opposition. Only has tentative support.
Talks of engagements and other deals are daily business.

[collapse]

Very Spoiler - Future plans

Spoiler

Behind the Scenes:
Zaria: the true power behind the north.
Former Emperors son: is trying to get what is rightfully his, has support of nobles who want to use that for concessions and benefits
Duke: thinks he should have been the one to claim the throne, tries to engage his son to the Empress to strengthen the blood

Plot:
Empress-chan visits Zaria at the shrine.
The two start meeting up now and then.
Start getting affectionate.

Blessings Ceremony:
The formal Blessings of the Gods Ceremony was put off until the Empress reaches 18 years of age and she is at least half a year on the throne.
It is a ceremony where the Gods bless the King, though actually a priestess or shrine maiden does the blessing.
It takes the Emperor or Empress from the capitol to the sea to the Temple of Leviathan, from there to the plains to the Temple of Fenrir, to the mountains to the Temple of Behemoth, to the mountain peaks to Temple of Sylpheed, and finally to the capitol to the Temple of Tamano no Mae.

[collapse]

Discord and story links:

Spoiler

I needed some sugar, but couldn't find anything I liked in the yuri and shoujo-ai sections that was just right. Then I stumbled upon "The empress is my wife" which is not GL but still funny, the non-romantic plot did not appeal to me, so I had to write something I would want to read.

That said, politics will only play a minor role, since I find writing politics really hard and I am only writing it for the sugar. But even sugar needs a plot.

Poll: Do you want to see the single ideas and scenes that were written for Zaria and am I allowed to write non-Zaria stories?
A-1: Yes, even the snippets and single scenes are fine
A-2: No, proper stories only
A-3: Stop it! Work on what you already have instead of starting new stuff.
B-1: Yes, write whatever you want.
B-2: No, you shall be a Zaria only writer forever
B-3: Do whatever you want.

A: Single ideas and scenes that were written for Zaria? B: Write non-Zaria stories?
  • A-1: Yes, even the snippets and single scenes are fine Votes: 54 56.8%
  • A-2: No, proper stories only Votes: 11 11.6%
  • A-3: Stop it! Work on what you already have instead of starting new stuff. Votes: 10 10.5%
  • B-1: Yes, write whatever you want. Votes: 40 42.1%
  • B-2: No, you shall be a Zaria only writer forever Votes: 23 24.2%
  • B-3: Do whatever you want. Votes: 39 41.1%
Total voters: 95
28