--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
Victoria woke up to giggling.
She ignored it and buried her face in the nice smelling warmth she was hugging.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, it was shaking her, and she pushed it off.
Then she felt the blanket being taken away.
She gave up.
Opening her eyes, she glared at Charlotte.
"Good morning Victoria." Her friend and maid greeted her. "You can take a few more sniffs of the pillow if you want, but it is time to get up."
Victoria threw a pillow at her maid, naturally not that pillow.
"Oof!" Charlotte found herself knocked over. "Using magic so early in the morning is not fair."
"Yes, yes." Victoria released the pillow, looked around and saw more plants than she could remember having, and was there a large mushroom growing in the corner of her room? She rose and walked over, there were fairies sleeping on it, the plants held sleeping fairies, and she saw vines hanging from the lamp and fairies sleeping across them. Some had already woken and were flying around her in what felt like a morning greeting.
"Do you want to take a bath as well?" She asked the flock. That caused them to flutter off and start waking the sleeping ones.
"Say, is it just my imagination or are there even more than before?" Victoria asked Charlotte.
A few nearby fairies started pointing at the royal garden through the door outside.
"I had fey in the garden? Interesting, I think I am the first ruler to know there are fey in the royal garden." Victoria put it out of her mind and left with Charlotte to take a bath.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Royal Dining Room ---
The food tasted rich, Victoria realised, it was intense, but it lacked something.
She frowned, causing several servants in the room to shuffle nervously.
"Yes, your Majesty?" The secretary prepared herself, the ahoge perking up visibly.
"Plans for today?"
"Mail that arrived over the weekend, from ten on there will be requests in the throne room. I suspect that many complaints will come from your announcement that office days are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and that nobles are only allotted time on Wednesdays. By your order, I cancelled your party today. The count will probably try to convince you personally."
"Not interested." The empress denied and watched the ahoge do some kind of happy wiggle, it seemed that the count in question was very unpopular with her secretary.
"After lunch more documents that require your signature, officially everything was sent just to be confirmed."
Maria's ahoge started vibrating in annoyance. "Most of it is a waste of paper and should be burned."
"Are my administrators finally doing their work?" The Empress wondered.
The secretary and her ahoge nodded. "They pre-sorted it into rubbish, has issues, has potential but needs more work, almost workable, and we are still waiting for something for the 'can be approved as is' pile."
"I feel like it will be a long day." The Empress sighed, "Time to face the horde."
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Bedroom ---
Zaria had decided to skip breakfast.
Instead, she decided to lie in and bask in the remaining scent.
Something about that girl just relaxed her and made her interested.
A nap sounded wonderful.
She had been careless, she had fallen for a royal or high noble, and she just knew that it was going to cause many issues.
"Love sucks." She complained into the pillow. "You can't pick who you fall in love with."
She buried her face in the pillow and relaxed.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Throne Room ---
The Empress was in a decent mood. "Denied, I am still waiting on proper explanations on who pays what tax to whom, and until I get a proper explanation I will not approve any tax increases."
"But your Majesty, the budget needs more money."
"A budget that nobody can explain what it was used for? I asked for an explanation and a proper listing over two months ago. Only last week I finally got a notice that we are already far over budget. Until now, nobody managed to explain why. I am not approving any more money until I get a proper explanation."
"Your Majesty, we need the additional budget to work."
"Where is the listing on the expenditures? I am still waiting for budget accounting."
"We don't have one yet. That is what the Ministries of Finance Reallocation, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Accounting are for."
"I can't approve a budget I don't have." Victoria decided to cut it short. "No additional budgets or changes to budgets will be approved until I get the full listing of budgets and their accounted usage. Dismissed." She glared at the official.
The official clearly wanted to complain, but that dagger on her waist that was glowing golden was a good deterrent.
The next few meetings were less drastic, but still frustrating.
"The Ministry of Bridges." The herald announced.
The Empress remembered the bridge. It had been on her mind when she had declined the budget for a new pedestrian luxury bridge earlier today. She had not even been sure what a luxury bridge was. The Empress knew they were going to try to convince her otherwise.
"Our Greetings to her Majesty." The officials all knelt.
"We ask that her Majesty rethink her stance on the luxury bridge proposal connecting the north and south." The senior official of this group said what she had suspected.
"The Ministry should have enough funds to repair and maintain the current bridges. Like the pedestrian bridge a little west of the main bridge."
"That budget is still pending."
The Empress waved at one of her aides. "It says here that I approved fifty thousand gold for urgent repairs almost one and a half months ago. I am still waiting on the report on the inspection and the quote on the repair costs." She handed the paper back. "There will be no further budget allocated until I get a proper report."
"I must protest your Majesty, such things take time."
Suddenly the air started to warp and a shape seemed to step into reality.
Victoria was so surprised that she said the first thing that was on her mind. Which was something she had heard from Zaria. "Tama?"
Everyone else planted his or her faces into the ground in a perfect dogeza in a hurry.
It was Tamano no Mae. The pink hair and the nine pink tails were giving the nine-tailed kitsune a cute and rather harmless look. Especially with how fluffy they were the cute pink kimono with embroidered sakuras, and the bells held by cute ribbons on her neck and tails. She was the absolute image of adult cuteness.
At least until you felt her presence. Power, magic, and divinity.
The fairies immediately swarmed the pink floof happily.
The people shuddered a goddess had descended. The pressure of her divinity was pressing down on them. They had felt such oppression not long ago and now had to feel it again. If a goddess appeared, it could only mean that she was there for the Empress.
"You must be Victoria~" The Kitsune Goddess gushed, and then looked around. "I have to admit you look absolutely fetching and regal in those formal robes."
"Thank you Tama." Victoria had been worried that saying what had been clearly a pet name was a bad move. "Give me a moment to send everyone away." She rose to welcome the Goddess properly, she had to force herself actually, and withstanding a goddess at such closeness was not easy. Deep inside her, the dragon responded.
Everyone else was face down and realised that for some reason this sounded weird. Their Empress was calling the goddess with a nickname.
"No no." Tamano no Mae frantically waved her hands, causing several fairies to dodge out of the way. "I guess I caught you at a bad time, it seems you are working, but I couldn't resist and just wanted to meet her mate, it is so rare that she shows true interest in someone."
"We are just courting." Victoria corrected.
"Mhm~" The look the pink kitsune gave the girl spoke lengths about how much she believed that statement. "You are part of the family now, so I decided to meet you. Just ignore me until you are done with work."
"Not happening." Victoria declined. "That would be rude; I can't do that to my family." Victoria placed emphasis on the word family and was very happy that everyone else in the hall was still facing the floor. She did not want them to see her blush.
The Empress and the Kitsune Goddess were family. The Empress and someone close to Tamano no Mae were courting. This was big news, this was actually enormous, or it would be if there were not that oppressing power of the Goddess now mixing with the already familiar feeling of dragon.
"Let's compromise." Tamano no Mae declared as she marched over, and pushed Victoria back onto her throne. Then she draped herself comfortably across the throne and the Empress. "What are you doing right now?"
"Listening to excuses." The Empress responded dryly. "You know that pedestrian bridge near the main bridge?"
"The one in need of repairs?"
"Those there on the middle of the carpet were about to explain why they haven't done anything about it when I approved the budget one and a half months ago."
"That does sound interesting; it pertains to my people after all." Tamano no Mae shifted around a bit to find a comfortable position that allowed her to look at the prostrating officials. "I think I know part of why she likes you so much, you are really comfortable and smell nice."
The people from the Ministry of Bridges broke out in cold sweat and panic. Everyone else started to pity them.
Victoria felt her face burn up. "Not now Tama." She poked a fluffy ear in revenge.
"Nyu?" The kitsune quickly covered her pink fluffy ears with her hands.
Curiosity started to grow in those not preoccupied with trying to find excuses, that last noise had been very weird.
"We can chat over lunch. Maria? Tell the cooks to prepare their best." The Empress looked around. "Everyone who has no reason to stand, kneel. Valid reasons I will accept are being a guard, being one of my aides, or if you are entering or leaving court."
Maria quickly rose to fulfil the order; the ahoge was standing at attention. Not all of the aides managed to follow the example of the secretary, a few decided to crawl off instead of possibly being asked to do an impossible order.
Everyone else knelt, while the royal guards forced themselves to stand. The guards honestly envied those being able to kneel, well maybe not the fools in front of the throne.
"Actually I brought her cooking. I thought it would make a good present since I am sort of invading without warning."
"Maria belay that, tell Charlotte to prepare the table in my chambers." She looked down at her lap where the pink floof was currently using her thighs as pillows. "What did you bring?"
"Soup, a pasta, that is a noodle dish, this one has a slightly lighter taste, then if you prefer I have trout in herbs, salmon or tuna grilled. For dessert mint and lemon ice cream."
"Is that the tuna Levi brought?"
"You met Levi?"
The Kitsune Goddess had brought food, food that the Empress was clearly familiar with and sounded eager for. This was something really confusing.
"Yes, at the festival."
"She is a nice snake; I remember when she was still a smol snek." Tama remembered.
"I remember you two were introduced." Victoria decided to ignore the Leviathan being called a small snake; it was something she just could not imagine.
The officials were worried they were being ignored, while that should be an insult, they were actually extremely grateful for the stay from being questioned.
Something that everyone wondered about, aside from the familiarity with someone called Levi who was a snake and somehow reminded everyone of the Leviathan, was the way Tamano no Mae was rubbing her cheek against the Empress' thighs.
"Mhm~" Tamano no Mae decided she approved of the lap. "Your lap is very comfortable."
Victoria wondered if being physically affectionate was a floof thing.
"Yes, we are way more affectionate, tactile, and loving than humans." The pink floof bragged.
"Is reading the mind also a floof thing?"
"No, that is a powerful being thing." The Kitsune Goddess raised a hand and traced the white choker around Victoria's neck with a knowing smile.
Due to being stared at by everyone, Victoria fought down the threatening blush. "Now, we want to hear your excuses." The Empress focused back on the officials from the Ministry of Bridges.
"There were delays." The most senior official declared.
"Lie." Tamano no Mae chirped.
"You are really lying before a goddess?" The Empress demanded.
The official paled. "I am not." Deny everything.
"He lied again~"
"Take him away, have him confess to everything he has ever done later, make sure he stays alive." The Empress ordered as her annoyance started rising, and the air around her started to shimmer with a golden glow.
The guards rushed to grab the fool and drag him to a dungeon where they would watch over him until the Goddess was gone and their Empress had calmed down. They would make sure he stayed alive through his confessions. It was a simple survival instinct.
Tamano no Mae blinked, then she poked the golden aura. Her Zaria had found herself a cute dragon, and the dragon was clearly very appreciative of her Zaria as well, if the smell and mutual traces of power were any indication. The pink floof adjusted her opinion of the mostly human girl even higher.
"You, explain." She pointed at one of the other officials.
"I don't know, I am just a scribe, I only confirmed the arrival of the gold, and wrote the entry into the ledger." The man explained.
Since the floof was not saying anything, the man had probably spoken the truth, or at least had not lied. "Your turn." She pointed at the next one.
"I only know that several nobles who own construction and material companies, as well as a few noble architects and bridge builders have been coming and going a lot lately. Only seniors and the Minister are allowed in the meetings."
The Empress personal Guard Captain saw her chance and knelt beside the throne. "I am overstepping my bounds, but shall I procure the Senior Minister of Bridges?" It was out of order, but she hoped the Empress allowed her to leave.
"Yes you are, fetch the junior minister, their secretaries, and any senior administrators and officials you find. Take everyone with you."
"Do you think anyone could harm us?"
"I made sure no other gods can peek~" The floof had taken one of the girl's hands and had placed it on her head; it was time to find out how good the little dragon was at head pats.
Looking at the pink kitsune who closed her eyes as their dragon empress started running her hand through the pink hair, the pair looked like harmless lovers or something like that, and that is until you felt the power radiating from them. Anyone attacking the pair would probably die messily, and if the rumours about Tamano no Mae were true, any survivors would wish they were dead. Death was quick, humiliation lasted forever.
"Move out." The Guard Captain ordered. The relieved guards vowed to do their best.
The remaining officials and court servants envied the group that was leaving.
"Is it always like this?" The pink floof asked.
"No, often it is worse, useless platitudes, and paperwork being lost. I honestly envy you for your ability to read minds sometimes." Victoria looked down. "But then I imagine what they are thinking at times and …"
"... and you realise that it is a terrible idea~" Tamano took a hand and rubbed it gently to calm the irate little dragon down a bit. "Currently they are all very worried and very confused. They wonder who your mate is."
"We are courting." Victoria corrected.
"They wonder who you are courting and suspecting that either I am taking advantage of you or if being family means that your mate is sharing you with me."
"What?" Finally, Victoria lost the fight against the blush. "But we only met for the first time today!"
"I never said human thoughts, or those of most beings, make sense~"
The crowd in place decided to look away, they saw nothing, they heard nothing, they said nothing, and they thought nothing. Pure thoughts.
"Perverts, all of them." Victoria complained.
"Well, I approve though, if she hadn't found you first I would have made a pass at you myself." The pink floof teased. "Jokes aside, you have my approval. Welcome to the family, or families."
"Aside from the kitsune, I think Levi will like you a lot."
"Does getting an aquarium with her scale for fish we caught on our date count?"
"Scratch that, Levi clearly likes you."
"So the scale is a big issue?"
The officials started fretting. Their Empress was friendly with the Leviathan, family to the kitsune and their goddess. That meant she had backing, huge backing that they could not disregard.
"Yes, that she mentioned it, means it is an active one probably, no it is an active one, I found it."
"That's good to know."
"She will probably visit soon."
"I heard that she would, just like I was warned you'd drop by."
"Maybe I should have announced my visit, but I wanted to meet you~"
"It is fine Tama." Victoria patted the head with a 'what can you do' smile.
Things were worse the officials understood, you could not be this affectionate as an Empress or Goddess unless there was some kind of mutual trust, and no goddess would ever lower herself for some sort of power play. Either this was a huge play, which was kind of hard to pull off with all the power swirling through the throne room, or that mate the Empress was courting was someone very important.
It was then that they realised something when they tried remembering any details.
The pair had always spoken about her, a female.
"They are coming~" Tamano no Mae warned. "Want to make more of an impression?"
The Empress saw the look on Tamano's face. She had seen that mischievous look on Zaria's before. "Do it."
"There, I limited our power to this room before. Now it is only to around the throne~"
The Empress smirked.
"You are taking lessons from her, that smirk looks so familiar~"
"None of you speak a word." The Empress ordered the kneeling crowd.
"Your guards did their job well, the lambs are clueless, they only know you demanded their presence~"
"I guess I will forgive her, for being so eager." Victoria leaned back.
"No, come on, sprawl lazily across the throne, yes just like this." The floof adjusted the Empress into a casual and dismissive position. Then she curled up against her. "Now a small illusion so they don't notice me until it is far too late. You girls, make sure that the walk feels far longer than it should."
The fey moved, they seemed to be dancing through the air, finally settling down on the decoration on the sides of the throne room.
"Are they twisting the space?"
"Oh, you are familiar with it~"
"I have walked a wild path."
"I am impressed, it is something like it, but far simpler~"
Then people appeared at the entrance.
Once again, the Empress wondered about the uniforms. The one the Senior Minister was wearing was rather formal and style wise looked like something slightly less regal than hers. It was far too ornate for someone who should be just a senior official and administrator.
The Senior Minister was impressed at the kneeling servants and court officials lining the carpet. He approached the throne where the empress was sprawled out.
He walked, and walked, and wondered if the throne room had expanded.
"Your Highness, what is the meaning of this?" The man demanded as he finally arrived. His subordinates made agreeing noises. He saw a few of his officials kneeling. "Get up." he ordered them.
Everyone who had been in the hall cringed.
"They are kneeling as they should, you are insulting me however." The Empress was being fed up with her administration; maybe she should just remove them all.
"Where is my senior secretary?"
"Imprisoned." She nudged the nine-tailed kitsune who was giggling into her shoulder at the way this minister was digging his grave.
"I must protest."
Tamano no Mae expanded the barrier back to cover the whole throne room.
The divinity and the draconic rage were back; they washed over the group and knocked several weaker willed and physically weak officials plainly out.
The guards felt that the heads hitting the ground made hollow sounds.
"Urk." The Senior Minister found himself grasping his chest as he felt power, he had heard and felt the power of the empress, but as he had been far away, he had dismissed it. Now it was all focused on him. As his legs gave out, he realised that lying on top of the Empress was a pink fluff with many tails. His mind tried to remind him of something as it fought against the fear and dread invading his brain.
"You see Tama? This is what I have to deal with." Victoria complained.
"You could always just kill them all, or imprison them and sell them back to their families?"
Those that had fainted were lucky. They still awake officials now knew of their disrespect against a Dragon and a Goddess.
"You are not allowed to faint~" Tamano no Mae told the most important officials at the front.
The officials watched with dread as a mask formed on their Empress face, it was a dragon mask. Then the power spiked even more.
Tamano no Mae giggled, and let more of her power leak, it would not do to be outdone by a cute little dragon. "Everyone, wake up."
"Why aren't you grovelling with your head on the ground?" The Dragon decided that the group was not showing enough reverence.
The group forced itself to kneel with their heads on the ground.
"We ordered you to come because you tried to force a bridge project, while you didn't even do the approved repairs. What happened with the budget I approved for that pedestrian bridge near the main bridge connecting the South and the North? Explain now."
"Your Highness." The Minister started.
That felt familiar, the Dragon decided. "What is my correct title?"
It took the Minister a few moments to understand what he had done. "Your Majesty!"
"I do not know."
"Lie~" Tamano no Mae supplied helpfully.
"I wonder why they think lying to their Empress before a goddess is a good idea." The Dragon wondered sarcastically.
"Because they are brainless wastes of air that think they are entitled to do whatever they want?" The pink kitsune offered.
"Remove that. Junior Minister, explain."
It was funny how the two guards closest to the Senior Minister perked up and dragged the man off.
"The money was spent on gifts to various companies."
"You spend fifty thousand gold on gifts?" The Empress wondered how that worked. "Who was gifted and why?"
"Count Ardur has a rock quarry with high quality marble, we needed to secure the exclusive rights."
"Why do we need marble for bridges?"
"The luxury bridge Earl Higgins proposed requires it."
"That project was never approved."
"That does not matter, we need to secure access to the resources in case we need them or the Ministries of Streets, Construction, Architecture, Houses, Housing, and Trade outbid us and snatch them away."
The Empress wanted to drop back in her seat.
"The whole budget and many others were spent on bribes for things you did not even need right at the time?"
"It is not bribes, it was gifts."
"Name everyone who accepted bribes, gifts, consultation fees, donations, incentives, contributions, handouts, or any type of favours."
"That is against Ministry policy."
"Wrong answer, take him away."
Two more happy guards eagerly dragged the fool out.
"Your turn." She pointed at what looked like a senior official kneeling in a puddle of piss.
"I do not know most names, but we have ledgers for that." The man felt the focus shifting on him and cried out.
"Escort him, and get those ledgers." She ordered. "Anyone else have anything worth mentioning before I have all of you incarcerated for bribery, corruption, wasting national and royal funds?"
The officials had been in their positions for a long time. They knew the rules, only it was obvious that their new Empress was not playing by the rules they did, then again, the golden power choking them was that of a dragon, and dragons did not play by normal rules. They started calling out various information they had.
The Empress saw her staff, or at least those capable of taking notes, write down various points of interest.
"I heard nothing immediately important. Take them all away." She moved towards the throne and sat down. "Have them interrogated."
"You work too hard, isn't it easier to have them all killed and start over fresh?" Tamano no Mae asked, as she was very glad that she was a Goddess instead of an Empress.
"She said the same, the 'you work too hard' part at least."
"Move over." Tamano squeezed herself onto the throne next to the annoyed Empress. "Anything you need to do before we can take a break?"
"Another hour of this." The Empress replied.
"Victoria, you need a vacation."
"Last weekend was the first time I had real time off in a long time."
"You need better help." Tamano no Mae took Victoria's hand and rubbed it.
"I do." The Empress agreed as she calmed down a bit. The draconic power started receding as the last officials were escorted out towards prison.
"Maria? Who is next?"
"Uhm? The royal lawyers were about to give some proposals." She read off a scroll.
"And where are they?"
Nobody moved or spoke.
"There is nobody waiting outside? I think you scared them off?" Tamano no Mae giggled.
"Says the Goddess who appeared and scared people by telling when they lie."
"I did not go angry dragon on them."
"It just happened."
"But you look really great with that golden aura and the mask."
"Mask?" Victoria touched her face, and felt the mask on her face.
The kitsune started giggling. "You are fun~"
"Your Majesty!" Someone entered and called out to her, before running straight into a wall of power. "Urgh"
The Empress decided to make another example. "Throw him out, then he can return and explain why he ignored all etiquette."
It was amusing to see four eager guards grab the noble, carry him to the doorstep of the throne room and then literally throw him out with a swing.
Everyone ignored the complaints and the cry of pain.
"You should have shot him." Tamano no Mae complained.
"Unlike you I don't have servants capable of cleaning with magic."
"You don't?" The pink floof seemed shocked.
"No, I don't."
"If you don't mind snobs, I know the Goddess of High Elves was lamenting about her people being too secluded. They might be snobs, but they are polite about it, and you would find them very polite to you, your official, not so much."
"Maria, make a note that I need to write a letter to the Goddess of the High Elves."
"And I think you can stop the court now, the scary dragon made them all run and hide."
"I think it is the unannounced Goddess that made everyone remember prior engagements."
"No, it is definitely the evil Dragon that is imprisoning people at fault here."
"I haven't imprisoned any Princesses, so I am safe from heroes."
"Want to go eat now?"
"Why do I feel you are hungry?"
"It is her cooking~"
"You convinced me, let's go eat. Court adjourned."
This caused a mass evacuation of the throne room.
Outside the roughed up noble finally calmed down enough to plead his case, if the Empress did not arrive at his party, it would be a disaster.
He had dusted off his clothes, straightened them, and marched in and stopped at the doorstep, waiting for the herald to announce him.
Only to see a deserted throne room.
He had been rude, he could admit, but this was a bit much. He shuddered as he felt the power lingering in the throne room, then again, he had heard about the last time the Empress had gone dragon, maybe he should be happy he had not been imprisoned.
Poor fool did not know that he had simply been forgotten after Zaria's food was mentioned.
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Party Room ---
Zaria looked around the room.
There were things to be cleaned on the ceiling, walls, and floor. She decided to start with the ceiling, the pillows and table could be packed into her storage space, the garbage could be bagged, and she would only have to be more careful with disassembling the bottle pyramid.
Fetching another garbage bag she walked up the wall and then started removing everything destined to be garbage, maybe she should lay out a carpet next time, the ceiling was not meant to be walked on after all.
Luckily, magic could clean away all stains.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
"Moo?" Maries was very surprised when she saw Tamano no Mae.
Tamano no Mae focused on the rather obvious and healthy cowgirl chest. "That is what I call very blessed."
Maries proudly stuck her chest out. She only started inching back when the goddess started approaching her with her hands doing creepy squeezing motions.
"Tama, no molesting my tailor."
"But they are so big!"
Victoria tried to remember what Zaria had told her. Grab an ear? She looked at the pink fluffy ear. Then as her seamstress' back hit the wall and she got cornered, she decided to do it.
The ear was warm and soft.
"Hii, I'm sorry."
"That worked." Victoria mumbled surprised.
"You two are totally suited for each other." Tamano no Mae complained as she twisted in place.
"No molesting my seamstress." Victoria ordered.
"But they are huge."
"They will definitely feel wonderful."
Victoria blushed, and then quickly explained. "They keep on bumping into me whenever she does a fitting."
The three females looked at the cleavage in question.
"Let's go." Victoria decided to go to her dining room and pulled Tama along.
"My ear, I'll be good. Stop that."
Victoria released the fluffy ear but made sure to keep an eye on the pink floof.
"And take your mask off; you are not in the throne room anymore."
Embarrassed Victoria took it off, and commanded it to go away, which made it disappear.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Dining Room ---
"This is terrible, I only returned yesterday, and already the thought of eating Zaria's cooking is making me hungry and happy." Victoria complained.
The pink nine-tailed kitsune nodded in agreement. "I get what you mean. Her cooking is so good it is addicting. It is known to tame even wild gods."
"Yes." Tamano no Mae started pulling out dishes from somewhere and lining them up. "You know, she is the pampering type, if you ask her I doubt she will mind sending you snacks or dishes."
Victoria thought about it. "Pampering and skinship, but wouldn't it be a bit much too just ask her to cook for me?"
"More like she will be very happy to cook for you, she likes it when people like her cooking."
The very different pair decided to feast.
The dishes had that gentle taste that was unique to home cooking meant for those you want to cook for.
"Dragon in love~" Tamano no Mae giggled amused.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Office ---
"The prisoners are secure, but they are influential people so the interrogators are hesitant to torture them." The Guard Captain reported. "And like everyone else, the normal guards can probably be bribed. My guards are not meant to guard the prison, and the normal guards answer to the military." The Guard Captain decided to lay out the issues.
Victoria took her quill back from two fairies who had used it as something to lie down on. She poked the fairy with the feather, getting a giggle in return. "How many trusted guards do I have?"
"Uhh, completely loyal to your Majesty?" The Guard Captain clearly did not want to reply. "Out of the one hundred probably only around forty would act against their own families when commanded."
"Want a couple of fully trained Shrine Maidens?" Tamano no Mae offered from where she was resting on a couch.
The Empress, the Guard Captain, the secretary, and the maid all turned and looked towards the Goddess in surprise.
"What?" The kitsune shrugged. "Family helps each other out." She stated. "Oh, right I forgot, human noble families love backstabbing and such like dark elves do. Speaking of dark elves, do you need a few dark elves to interrogate people? It should be easy for you to get several."
The Empress looked thoughtful, the Guard Captain cringed, the maid decided she was serving and was hearing nothing, and finally the secretary's ahoge froze like its owner.
"Not yet, I hope that a few days of terrible food will tame those snobs. If not I can always call in the big guns. There are a few other plans in the works too. Worst case, I might need to hire an army."
"Are you a good drinker?"
Victoria turned red when she remembered her escapade in the hot spring.
"Ohh, a fun drinker~" Tamano commented on the memories.
The Empress decided not to comment on it.
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Party Room ---
Zaria was humming to herself as she had finished cleaning everything finally.
She ignored the hungry look from Yuki as she calmly started looking through her supplies.
When in doubt go easy.
"Yuki? How does fish with herbs sound to you?"
"Salmon? Let me check, yes salmon is fine, potatoes or rice?"
"Rice it is."
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
Victoria was lying face down on her bed.
It had been a long day.
After she finished work, the pink floof had left.
Later eleven shrine maidens arrived. She had quickly changed into the miko coloured dress and the dragon mask.
As she had greeted them, she had just known where they had been looking. Having the white choker stared at was oddly satisfying and embarrassing.
When she had accompanied them to the prison, she had found a noble trying to lead a senior official out. That noble was now arrested as well.
After a nice dinner that had tasted good but had been lacking that small final rounding that made the taste comparable to the one from that terrible white kitsune.
"Kitsune are evil and definitely fey." She reached out and pulled that pillow closer.
Hugging the pillow and letting the soothing smell wash over her calmed her a lot.
She felt sleep claim her.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
Victoria woke up, she was not sure what woke her, but something deep inside her was on edge. It took a moment for her to realise it before realising something, she was holding the warm dagger, she felt anticipation and anger from it, and the mask was on her face.
She released the pillow and felt her pulse spike; her body was readying itself for battle.
Then her sight changed.
She was not sure how, but she could see someone carefully approach the patio door to the garden. She now saw the fairies. Some were following the intruder, many were around her, and the others had moved away from the door.
A male, moving carefully, holding a dagger and a throwing knife, somehow she felt or rather tasted something on the weapons that told her that they were bad news. She was not sure why, but she felt an instinctual aversion to the weapons.
The locking spell on the patio door was disabled without a moment's hesitation, the barrier that was meant to keep her safe even with open doors.
The assassin simply raised something, tapped the barrier with it, and the barrier faded away.
The Empress was incredulous.
The Dragon was angry.
The assassin was a professional; he was only stunned for a moment. He quickly moved to stab his target, his target that was furious that the place that was supposed to be her sanctuary was being invaded.
Then she found herself pulled against a white body as face pressed against a shoulder covered with white hair.
A snapping sound, a ground of pain, and weapons dropping to the ground.
"You can calm down now." The soft voice of Zaria called out to her. "As for that, mind letting me take care of that. I know people who would love playing with someone who is supposed to be trained to withstand torture.
"Dark elves?" Victoria asked her white floof.
"That is for when you have time. I am going to send him to hell; there are plenty of Fallen Gods that would do anything just so that I stay away.
Victoria giggled as power and adrenaline receded.
"Why don't I stay over? And fix the enchantments here."
Then seemingly, a dark red and black circle burned into the floor, the floor broke away and a small figure seemingly made from glowing hot and cracked rock appeared on a throne of flames.
"He sought to harm mine." Zaria explained simply. "I want to know everything."
The figure radiated evil, murder, and destruction. After the statement there was however a large amount of worry. "Let me deal with it and look after your mate."
"My mate is the reason his mind is not shredded and laid open." Zaria replied. "Fine, I want this over however by morning, Those planning in your care, those in the know weeping as they know why everything they own is burning and taken, and those standing by watching as their precious possession fall into the hands of the one they were about to watch removed."
The Devil God of Carnage nodded. Kill those that threatened the mate, take the valuables and burn everything else of those that knew and did nothing, and finally loot those who heard about it, but did not care to do anything against it. "It shall be done."
Then the door was wrenched open and several shrine maidens fully combat ready stood in the door.
Zaria threw the struggling assassin at the Devil and turned towards the mikos. "You can return to your posts, whatever they are. I will take care of her."
The girls gave each other understanding looks as the red figure and its throne sunk into the floor and back to hell with the assassin who seemed to have caught on fire held tightly.
"Have fun you two." "We will warn her maid that she will be sleeping late." "Remember to act weak and shocked to get pampered more." "Sleep well, once you sleep."
Victoria blushed badly, and picked up a pillow and threw it at the giggling shrine maidens who quickly closed the door.
She turned towards Zaria. "Uhm hello?" Somehow having Zaria in what was her bedroom, even if it seemed to be a fey bedroom now, felt oddly embarrassing.
"Hello to you too." The kitsune greeted as she watched the girl shift a bit in her arm. "So you are the resident awakened dragon?" Zaria asked.
"Yes, but this is only my third time."
"Third?" Zaria wondered if she had missed something. She had felt the anger and preparation for danger through the choker, so maybe it had been a minor outburst before.
Zaria went through several possibilities. The most probable one being that the nine-tailed pink kitsune had blocked perception. Now she had to upgrade the choker so it would not only stay at the back of her mind, but also actively feel how Victoria was. "Did she behave?"
"For the most part, do you have any idea how useful it is to have a Goddess capable of reading minds and discerning lies? She also made most people stay away from my office instead of barging in as they usually do. She even lent me the shrine maidens to watch the prisoners after the Ministry of Bridges was gutted for corruption."
"Ah, and that was the retaliation?"
"Then she really behaved?"
"She tried to molest the future royal seamstress."
Zaria laughed and pulled the masked girl closer before removing the mask. "Missed you." she gave the girl a quick kiss.
"I missed you too." The girl admitted as she blushed.
Then there was a loud explosion.
"Carnage works fast; then again it probably dropped that guy off with Pain."
"The Devil Pain?" Victoria had heard about that Evil God.
"Every moment is an eternity."
"Now let's make this the most secure room in the south. Who aside of you enters here?"
"My personal maid, the other maids on her day off and for cleaning."
"Then let's make this intent based and mentality based. Those with the intent to harm, deceive, insult or anything negative cannot enter. Nothing meant to be dangerous to you can enter. No one not wanted by you can enter. No one you dislike can enter. So I declare. This is your home, your nest, your place of rest. May you find peace in these walls, may you find rest on this bed, and may your sleep be sweet and secure from the worries of life."
Victoria immediately felt calmer. The room looked much livelier, only one thing was out of place. "Why are there even more plants in my room? The walls are covered with vines and flowers now, even the ceiling has branches with sweet and relaxing looking flowers."
"I used fey magic; if you have issues they can help you. Oh and do not be surprised if a fairy ring starts growing sometime. Or the garden outside starts becoming a bit wilder."
"That is the royal garden that has been cared for over a century."
"Well, not my problem, any royals wanting to complain, I'll send them your way." Victoria threatened jokingly. Since it was her garden, she saw no issues with it changing a bit.
"Have mercy." Zaria begged with an amused smile.
"I'll think about it."
"How about a bribe?"
"Oh, bribing an official?"
"Yes~" Zaria picked the slightly shorter girl up and carried her back to bed, where she placed her down. "I will start with a massage."
"That is a good start, you may proceed."
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
It was morning and Charlotte had let Victoria sleep in after a clearly amused shrine maiden had informed her to give her more rest. It was now time to work however.
Charlotte opened the door, and froze.
The room had changed overnight, it looked like some sort of wild growth of plants and flowers had happened, it smelled very nice and very soothing. Looking at the bed, she was met with red eyes staring at her.
She had never seen the albino holding her Mistress before.
She had known about the two of them courting.
Finding them clearly bare in bed together was a bit much.
Charlotte felt her face heat up.
"Uhm, it is past nine, unfortunately she needs to get up."
"Ahh, what a pity." Zaria started nuzzling her lover.
"Mhh?" Victoria made a questioning noise as she started waking.
"Good morning." Zaria claimed a deep kiss that made the recipient wake up, and made the maid burn in embarrassment and jealousy.
After the deep yet loving kiss, she separated. "See you this weekend? And I will have the spoils delivered to you."
"Spoils?" Victoria felt confused for a moment before remembering. "Oh that. I'll need a list of victims."
"Don't worry, those are devils, you will get a list that will even name the pets."
"Too much detail."
"Devils." Zaria rose, ignoring the blushing maid. "Now I am off, you have a long day ahead of you, simply send a dragon if you need anything, and send a dragon when you want. I'll send a fox."
"Can we take a trip somewhere far away this weekend?" Victoria remembered.
"Naturally, any place you want to go?"
"Surprise me? Something different from a city or town like we have here?"
"I might have an idea, let me check, but I think you will enjoy it." Zaria stole another kiss. "See you~"
Then the kitsune was gone.
"You aren't married yet!" Charlotte exclaimed.
"And?" Victoria rose as well. "A lot of royals had lovers before marriage. Besides, overprotective girlfriends with a tendency towards skinship and pampering are nice."
The maid looked at her long-time friend, how had that kitsune corrupted her sheltered friend so quickly? Maybe it had been years already? It was said that time and the White One had a weird relationship. Then again, it was said that she was a playful monster pretending to be civilised, that she was a goddess, and that she was Tamano no Mae pretending to be someone else. There were endless rumours and legends.
No matter what, her friend and Mistress was clearly very fond of the White One from the North.
"Breakfast in bed?" Charlotte wondered as she saw a breakfast table standing next to Victoria.
The Empress looked to her left, and then pulled it closer with a fond smile. "Crepes are a good way to start the day." She handed the red rose decorating the breakfast to a few curious fairies who flew off with it and placed it in a flowerpot that a few others brought. Looking at the pot, it was clear that humans, did not make it the shape and colours were all wrong for that, the rounded yet not regular shape reminded the little dragon of a seed, and the green and dark green colour was something she'd expect from expensive porcelain.
She covered one of the crepes in that sweet smelling brown fluid. It tasted sweet; it had a taste she could not quite explain.
Maple syrup, the next one will be chocolate.
Yes, it is a sweet breakfast.
"Have you tasted this before?" She let Charlotte taste it.
"No, it is sweet, but it has a different taste from sugar or honey."
Victoria opened a small pot, and instantly the rich fragrance of cocoa filled the room.
"Chocolate?" Charlotte was surprised; it was rather rare in their area and a top luxury item.
Curious Victoria opened the other warm pot. "White chocolate?" The smell was also that of cocoa.
"I have never heard about white chocolate?" The maid wondered.
The fairies clearly approved, they were almost all surrounding the breakfast table.
"Do you have spoons?" Victoria asked them and caused a mass exodus into the garden. "What just happened?"
"You asked them about spoons?" Charlotte reminded her friend. "Maybe they went to fetch spoons?"
Soon the fairies started returning, armed with small wooden spoons.
"Fine, line up, three rows, one for this sweet syrup, one for the white chocolate, and one for the dark chocolate. Say Charlotte, isn't this chocolate a lighter brown than we saw before?"
"I want to taste it too." The maid complained.
"Fetch a spoon." Victoria shot her down, only to see her friend rush away.
The liquid chocolate was warm and sweet, the white one tasted similar but a little different.
She was amused, the fairies all clearly had their favourites, and a few shared their spoon with others.
Charlotte was a fan of those two cocoa or chocolate sauces. Victoria herself was unsure, she liked them all, but the white one was her favourite, even if the transparent brown syrup was better with the crepes.
The coffee had offset the sweetness nicely.
She felt ready to start the day.
Well she needed to wash up first.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Throne Room ---
The Empress entered the throne room, and found everyone visibly nervous, their nervousness felt off somehow.
She carefully checked if she had the mask on again.
It was not the mask, but they had seen her yesterday with the pink nine-tailed goddess. Maybe that was the reason.
She waved at the herald to announce the first nuisance.
"Envoys from the Goddess of Justice, the God of Carnage, and the God of Pain, led by the Archangel Irrtarry of the Goddess of Justice."
Now she understood why everyone looked like they wanted to be somewhere else.
"Greetings from my Goddess, may your reign be just. I am the Archangel Irrtarry, you may call me Tarry."
That was not what she had expected. "Welcome to my palace. Please call me Victoria, I'd offer a nickname but I was only called Vicky by my brother and that name has bad associations."
"I understand, certain people call me Irate, Irritate, or Irritated."
"I understand Tarry." Victoria overlooked the large procession with a feeling of surrealism.
"Since a horde of devils would normally cause mass panic, they asked my Goddess for assistance."
"So that's why I see so many angels."
"And why is that bridge being carried into my throne room? Or that large tree behind it?"
The Archangel pulled out a list. "The bridge is made by a master artisan and priced at 15623 gold coins."
"That's not what I meant, Tarry."
"Oh, they were ordered to take all possessions or something along those lines." Tarry waved at two devils behind her. "This is the Archdevil of the God of Carnage, its preferred name is Slaughter, and here is the Archdeviless of the God of Pain, her preferred name is Sadism."
Slaughter who looked like a humanoid with glowing cracks spoke up. "The ones who deserved death were simple for us, but to punish the others and to break them for information we enlisted help from the God of Pain." This simple explanation even made sense, in a devilish way.
The large Archdeviless spoke up with a seductive yet dark voice. "So to break those who deserved it we joined, it was so much fun seeing all those pampered and entitled nobles cry as secret after secret was uncovered and one thing after another was taken." The female shuddered in ecstasy. "It was glorious. Making the damned souls spill their sins was so much fun, it took decades until we had every little bit drained from them."
The Empress suspected her floof was seriously overprotective and far better connected then she had ever suspected.
The Archdeviless licked her purple lips that were a nice contrast to her dark red skin. "I heard that you have a need for interrogators?"
The Empress nodded slowly. "I do, I need them to be sane enough to stand trial afterwards however."
The Archangel spoke up. "I would like to offer the services of my Goddess; we will make sure that they are sane enough to face Justice. For the trials, as much as it pains me to admit to it, the God of Damnation has excellent lawyers. They will make sure that the Judgement for those deserving it will be eternal damnation."
"I like that." Victoria admitted. She waved at the servants in the throne room. "Open the door to the courtyard; I hope there is enough space there. If not, borrow the training ground of the palace guards."
The three supernatural entities quickly gave commands to their subordinates, and the Empress started looking through the lists.
"Where do you want the sex slaves?" The Archdevil Slaughter asked, he hoped that he had estimated the little empress correctly.
There was a snapping sound as the now angry Empress pulled off the armrest. Slavery had been outlawed for centuries. "Explain."
"Magically bound slaves, sex slaves, torture slaves, and two of the nobles had enslaved their family."
That struck too close to home.
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Kitchen ---
Zaria looked up.
Her cute dragoness was furious, furious enough that she felt it here without the help of the choker. She guessed that the angels and devils had brought her bad news.
Going over was tempting, but she needed to have everyone believe in Victoria.
She had an idea.
It was time to send a message.
Thinking about what she wanted to say she gave her thoughts voice, and then she gave her voice form in the shape of a letter.
Like the message spell, it was a white translucent fox.
Zaria nodded satisfied.
Then she saw the tea she had made. It was a nice relaxing apple tea.
She filled a cup and stuffed it into the translucent fox.
"Off you go." She ordered it.
The fox jumped through the wall and disappeared.
"Just you wait until the next time you find a girl you like. Then I will make fun of you."
Yuki looked away, but the foxy smirk on her face was very telling.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Throne Room ---
Slaughter and Sadism were cheering inwardly.
Compared to them the little dragon was just a child. However, she had just started her true growth, and that temper. She held no disgust towards them, and that righteous anger.
"There are people branded with slave magic, a magic that was outlawed years ago?" Victoria was furious.
"Yes, two of them are already dead. Their souls have already spilled everything." Sadism explained.
Irrtarry stepped forward. "Those not exterminated by decree, I had my angels bring them along. The victims are all healed, the magic has not yet been purged from them, but it is suppressed."
"Bring them and their 'masters' here."
She found a welcome distraction in the procession going through the throne room. Like that rather nice painted door that she wondered where it had come from, it looked familiar for some reason.
Then the group of humans and a few of other races arrived. The slaves were mostly young and beautiful, with the majority being female. Though that group of young boys was clearly from one owner if the way they huddled together was any indication.
Then in dark chains, several nobles appeared. Most male, but a few females too.
They saw her and paled.
She gave them no chance to speak. "Slavery? And I don't want to hear excuses." She wanted to rip them in pieces; several were clearly related to the victims.
Then a translucent white fox appeared and jumped into Victoria's lap.
Everyone looked at the glowing fox that radiated calmness and relaxation.
Victoria knew who had sent it, what she did not know was why.
Once she calmed a little, she found it replaced by a floating cup of what smelled like apple tea and a sheet of paper.
She picked up the sheet and started reading:
<To my sweet yet angry dragon~>
Victoria was happy about her mask; she knew she was blushing again.
<Now take a few deep calming breaths, take the mask off and take a calming sip of tea, It's apple with a little ginger and cinnamon, sweetened with a little honey.>
She waited until she was sure the worst of the blush was gone then she took her mask off and grabbed the floating cup of tea.
It tasted relaxing and sweet yet it was strong, no taste overpowered the other, instead they all accented each other. She looked at the sheet.
<I wanted to visit and check on you, but I suspect you are working. However, stop being angry so often. It is not healthy! If you need help, you can simply ask. Even if you piss off royals, emperors, nobles, or the world. It does not matter.>
To everyone supernatural it was clear who had sent the fox and the letter. The blush going down the angry dragon's neck when she had started reading was very telling. Slaughter had a feeling that good times were coming. Sadism just knew that joining this endeavour was going to be glorious. Irrtarry suspected that a time where justice held meaning again was coming, and the south and the empire were going to face huge changes.
The human servants and officials that their patrons were going to listen to knew it was important. The awe everyone supernatural was showing was a good indication. After all, a fox came to deliver tea, and yesterday Tamano no Mae had appeared.
The captured nobles saw the Empress calm down, and saw hope, they were all rich and important. Now that she was calm again, there was hope for them.
<Now I have no idea what annoyed you so much, but deal with it calmly, if you need help, ask. My help would be rather final, but if you want it all dealt with, ask the angels and the devils, if they manage to agree on something, you can be sure that it is at least the way that some justice or something like that is served.
<When in doubt? Remember you are my dragon. Do you want something? Make it happen. If you cannot make it happen? I will.
<I will drop by tonight
<PS: Now everyone knows that there is a dragon in the palace unless someone is hopelessly dense. I am sure that at least most of the south knows. Anyone with at least some sensitivity in the North will know as well. Yes, I felt you clearly all the way up to my shrine though the magical forest and all the magic in my shrine. I could clearly tell it's you~>
Victoria knew her face was blushing again; she tried to hide it by sipping on the tea before she finished the tea.
<PS: Do not forget your tea!>
Victoria put the sheet aside and finished the tea. The angry golden aura receded some and changed. Now it was just an aura of draconic power. "Slavery, be it magical or not, has been outlawed by my Ancestors long ago. I suspect that these people are all victims of magical enslavement. It is clearly defined what the effects are, my ancestors were smart enough to classify that magic by 'effect' and not by 'spell'. Even if you have magic and rituals that are ancestral, that does not place you above the law." She looked at the angel that she was failing to remember the full name of. "In your opinion as the Archangel of the Goddess of Justice. Are these people all guilty of enslaving people?"
"As you say, these are all Slave Masters, guilty of deriving others of their freedom through magical means." She was the Archangel of Justice. "There was simply no reason for one being to have absolute power over another. You can submit to others, as we do to our Gods. However, our oaths are given willingly. Magically forcing someone to obey? That is against free will."
"Sadism." The Empress called out.
"They are all yours, feel free to keep them and share them with Slaughter. I want them spilling everything on how they got their slaves. Slaughter?"
"You want everyone involved handed over to Sadism. I am in."
"Only those trading them, owning them, and enslaving them. Those who knew and did nothing kept it a secret or enjoyed them. They are going to court."
"Victoria, if I may." Irrtarry interrupted.
"I will join in. It could be someone freed a slave, owns a slave they saved, so I offer to help determine the situation. I will ask devils from the God of Damnation to join and angels from the Goddess of Healing. They can dispel the enslavement too."
"That's impossible." One of the captured nobles denied. "Their lives are tied to mine, kill me, you kill them."
The Empress frowned. "Tarry, can you do it?"
"It is not my speciality, but due to my rank, I can."
"Let me do it!" Sadism denied. "I have a neat trick; it will force all the pain and wounds caused during the enslavement onto the Master."
The Empress pondered. She just knew it was going to be terrible. However, as the Empress it was something she needed to go through with.
The Archdeviless summoned her power. It felt dark, ominous, evil, and tainted. The slave marks glowed, then faded.
Then the screaming started.
Some held their genitals.
One was clawing at her face as it shrivelled and burned.
Victoria felt sick.
She hated it.
She wanted her floof.
It had to be done.
More than one of the servants and officials paled. This was ruthless. One of the people writhing in pain was a Duke. Now he had soiled himself and was screaming as he held his ass. This Empress did not care for rank. With Gods, Angels, and Devils on her side, she did not need to. She could do as she wished.
"Take them away. Rather than making it quick, make sure you find out everything."
"I heard your commands, the contract is sealed." Sadism replied gleefully. "Slaughter, I will call you when we are ready to move out."
"Why are they bringing torture equipment?"
"That is not torture equipment." The Archangel denied with a slight blush. "Ask your mate."
--- Maridors - Dragon Mountains - Biggest Volcano ---
Sylpheed froze. She felt it, a human of dragon blood was very angry. Moreover, the human had had something of hers, some connection aside from the small amount of dragon blood.
There was a chance that this small dragon that felt female was this Victoria.
It could also be another dragon.
However, it was a big chance that she was.
Then again, it was Zaria.
That dragon seemed to come from the capitol.
She remembered that the royal family had some dragon blood in them. Some remnants from before she had taken over the Goddess role.
Zaria getting involved with royals seemed rather implausible.
Someone else but some dragon descendant being the little dragon Zaria had announced was even more improbable.
When were her subjects going to come back and tell her more about that unknown Victoria?
It was fine that there were gods with various degrees of omnipotence.
It was in times like now that she really wanted to trade her far superior combat power for some scrying and knowledge abilities.
She picked up a gold coin.
"Heads, I go there now. Tails, I go there tomorrow."
She flicked it up.
Then she saw the impossible.
No, not impossible, just improbable. However, probability and Zaria were something that you should not mention in one sentence anyway.
"I guess the day after tomorrow. Unless you want to fall over now?"
The coin remained standing on the edge stubbornly.
"Fine, I understand."
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace ---
The Angels and Devils were gone. Next to the throne room a small and cosy love shack now stood.
The royal courtyard next to the throne room was filled to the brim. The training ground was filled as well. The path and ramp to the throne room were now lined with trees, flower beds, and had useless bridges.
The devils had raided the slave owners as well.
The Empress was confused as to what to do with the scared slaves. A few of the more, broken or confused ones had started calling her Mistress and offered themselves. Some were just staring ahead, not reacting to anything. She had no experience with such a situation. She was going to have to ask her royal physician maybe she had an idea.
As much as she disliked it, she had ordered them to eat, the good food had made more than one disbelieve what was going on, and others were convinced that they were fed just because something terrible was awaiting them.
She missed normality.
In addition, she had the suspicion that she would get a lot more slaves soon.
She faced her lunch, but her stomach was rebelling. Maybe her floof was right that all that anger was bad. She wanted to be done with it all. She wanted things to make sense. She wanted her country to be one she did not have to be ashamed of.
She decided to skip eating and went to her room to calm down.
The sweet and relaxing smell of all the flowers and the fairies flying around were soothing. It was her sanctuary.
Then there was darkness.
She felt warm and comfortable.
No, someone was disturbing her, it was noisy, and her shoulder was being shaken.
"Victoria, please wake, it is time for the afternoon shift."
Victoria, that was her, the voice was familiar, who was it again? Ohh, right, it was her friend, Charlotte. Who was also her maid.
She was the Empress now. She had to work, and the day was downright annoying.
"I am awake."
"Really?" Charlotte sounded doubting.
"Yes, really." The Empress rose and allowed her maid to go about fixing her clothing. "I have an idea, the slaves that were forced, or the families were forced to sell them. Send them back to their families with a high compensation. Those that were sold by their families or enslaved by their families. Have people speak to them about the abuse and that they are now free. I know myself how disconcerting a large change can be."
"Ah, like when you were basically under house arrest and then became the Empress." Charlotte understood. "You were confused and buried yourself in books for a week while trying to find out what former emperors were like."
"Only they were abused and who knows what else." Victoria added. "They will need those mind healers. We need to find out what to do about the victims of slavery that died. Aside from compensating their families unless they sold them willingly."
"It's not going to be easy."
"No it isn't."
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Office ---
Victoria looked at the ahoge. The ahoge was currently shaped like a question mark.
Just from looking at it, she knew that whatever Maria wanted, was going to be a headache.
"What should we do with the fish?" The secretary asked.
Victoria looked at the aquarium; the two fish were as cosy as ever.
"Not them, I mean the ones from the nobles. Aside from taking plants, even animals have been taken. The dogs and horses are looked over by the guards. But there are aquariums, buckets, floating water balls full of fish."
Victoria rubbed her temples. "Please tell me that's all from the rampage."
"We gained another 82 slaves for a total of 139 now."
"If the owners weren't in hell already, I'd throw them there myself."
"Then there are five owners with eight slaves that need special care. The slaves being family members or loved ones that found themselves being the possessions of their loved ones."
"Dispel the magic and leave them in their family’s care I guess." Victoria wondered. "I need to visit the mages and shrine maidens. We cannot rely on angels and devils to do our work for us. I guess I'll ask Levi to help with the fish?"
Maria wondered if penning a letter to the Leviathan was as easy as her Empress was making it out to be.
The letter was folded and sealed. Then Victoria concentrated. Letter to dragon, dragon flying to Levi.
Maria stared as the message turned into a small transparent and glowing golden dragon that then spread its wings and flew through the closed door.
Moments later the guards posted outside opened the door and looked inside.
"I sent a message." The Empress declared.
The two guards decided that everything was fine and that they did not have to worry.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Ministry of Humans ---
Irrtarry rubbed her temples. She was looking through paperwork from the Ministry of Humans and she was getting irritated herself. She clearly understood why the Empress was pissed off. Her own Ministries were implicit in the slavery movement.
A few even were slave owners. They used their position to organize and catalogue human slaves. They even had people who did the enslaving for select people, meaning rich nobles.
"The other ministries for races are all the same." Another angel reported.
"The masters and magicians are all to be sent straight to hell. Have them drained of all they know. At least they have lists about all slaves reaching back the last fifty years."
It was all going to be a huge mess, which was going to cripple administration. The more any of them looked the more corruption, laziness, and law breaking they found.
"This is going to change the Empire. Maybe we should all take more direct action in this world. I will ask our Lady." The Archangel suspected that they were going to spend a long time in the palace.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - An unnamed Noble's Villa ---
He looked at the branch member that was a servant at the palace.
"So Tamano no Mae calls her family, and according to the Empress she is courting while according to Tamano no Mae she is already mated. There are shrine maidens guarding the imprisoned ones. And for some reason during the night devils and angels invaded and ransacked several nobles that were never to be seen again. Now she is going on a rampage against slavery with the help of those devils and angels."
The branch member nodded.
"If she is officially courting then we still have a chance." The noble mused. "Now you reported that from their talking it seems to be a female that she is courting?"
"She was never named." The branch member reminded him.
The noble pondered for a moment. "Probably to protect her identity until the Empress has a firmer grasp on everything. It would explain why she waited until the Goddess accepted them." The noble paced back and forward. "I have a son and a daughter. If she does the proper thing, she will marry a male and keep her lover or share her. If she doesn't like men, then my daughter is pretty well educated."
The noble waved at one of his servants. "Send for my oldest son and my oldest daughter, no, send for my most beautiful daughter."
The servant bowed. "As you command."
The noble turned back to the branch member. "Return to the castle, and report everything that happens."
"As you command." The branch member acknowledged.
The noble pondered the changes. "A dynasty backed by Gods." If he managed to push his family into this, then they would reign forever.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - A different unnamed Noble's Villa ---
The paid off servant was clearly nervous. "The Empress is clearly draconic and either courting or mated to a member of the Family of Tamano no Mae." The noble recapped. "Then for some reason she has Angels and Devils from other Gods working for her, shrine maidens are guarding the prison, and she has looted and broken several families."
The noble paced.
They had gotten complacent with the former emperors.
"The Ministry of Secretaries and the Ministry of Bridges have already felt her wrath."
The noble paced some more. He thought about his son. Before he was on the way to getting a place at a ministry, with his entitled behaviour, he was a bad choice for the ministries and court. Possibly, he could try to court the Empress.
No, bad idea. Dragons were possessive and dominant, something that would not work with his son who thought he was the greatest. His younger son could get a stricter education.
His daughter was at the age he could engage her. Adding her as a consort or concubine to the Empress' harem might work. First, he had to stop the engagement negotiations with the other nobles.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - Yet another worthless Noble's Villa ---
He did not want to admit it, but he was worried.
His neighbour on the left had been pillaged. The neighbour on the right had the mansion razed and the family was gone.
The children and servants were currently in a panic and in his garden.
His neighbour on the right had taken part in organizing an assassination on the Empress.
Obviously, that had made the Empress angry enough to summon an army of devils.
The noble went down the hidden stairs.
He entered the underground room.
"Rejoice my dear sacrifices." He laughed in glee. "Two more days then the stars align, and I will be able to wrest control of the devil armies from our Empress."
He smiled at the five virginal sacrifices.
"As usual, I order you to stay pure and healthy. Eat and sleep enough."
He left and went to the normal mansion.
Five sacrifices were unfortunately not enough. According to the book, six were needed for devils. He checked on his daughter. It was easy to check the virginity of a daughter. Her noble blood would make up for the commoner blood of the slaves.
Soon he would have devils looking up to him.
Two hours later, they were indeed looking up to him. However, that was only because he was taller than they were.
--- Oceanic Depths - Leviathan's Lair ---
Leviathan was in her true form. One that was large enough to put mountain ranges to shame in length, height was only one of a smaller mountain.
The reason she was resting was that she had swallowed an island. In her defence, it was perfectly understandable to be shocked when hearing that her long-time friend and sometimes lover was actually interested in someone. Moreover, that someone was that small draconic human girl that she had given skewers to.
Now that she had finished digesting the island and was feeling sated, it was maybe a good time to visit the girl. She could simply flow to her scale.
In the eternal darkness she was resting in, a golden light approached her.
Her first thought was it was one of those glowing fishes that lived down here, but gold was a rare colour.
Then she felt the power on it. It was draconic.
She had beaten up enough dragons to know that feeling. At the same time, it felt less primal and more human.
Did Zaria's girl send it? Victoria had been the name. She looked at the tiny dot. Clearly, it was not meant for her true form.
She changed into her siren form.
As she changed, the golden light vanished.
This was awkward.
She swam closer, hoping to be able to read the fading magical trace.
Then she found it.
A drifting letter.
One that was oozing ink.
This was awkward.
She gently picked up the floating piece of paper.
She could try to fix it after returning to the surface.
Or she could use it as an excuse to visit.
Somehow visiting sounded far better.
She focused on her scale.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Office ---
The Empress was checking more lists. Whoever made them was very detailed. They had everything including the copper coins down to the single copper.
She wondered where to put them.
Sending them to the treasury was a possibility, but until she sorted everything and confirmed it all, it did not seem right to add them to their budget.
"So I need space for money, fish, slaves, more space for trees and flowers, I have enough furniture for the whole palace, I gained land deeds to several territories, enough books to fill several libraries, enough art to fill several museums, and enough food to feed villages for weeks."
The Empress was especially worried about leaving so much outside. The fish might die in the heat from the sun, the food could spoil, if it started raining art and furniture would rot, if the flowers and plants were not watered then they would wither.
"There are rare herbs and plants for creating drugs." The way the ahoge seemed to flinch indicated that the secretary did not want to mention it. "Several of those are outright banned or at the least restricted."
The Empress rubbed her temples. She turned towards the fairies that were happily raiding the cookies on the coffee table. "Girls, can you help take care of all the new flowers and herbs? If you need help, just ask."
The way they happily swarmed her and then left through the window probably meant that they agreed to take care of the plants.
"I guess the plants will survive, message to Levi sent, open a warehouse for all the furniture, find some shelter for the slaves, and find a secure room for all the money and jewellery."
Then a puddle of water jumped out of the aquarium.
Victoria felt that something about this felt familiar.
When the puddle grew upwards and started changing shape and colour, she finally remembered. "Levi?"
The soon siren looking sea snake greeted the human girl. "Hello Victoria. Did you send me a message?" She held out a dripping letter.
"Eeep" Maria was not ready to face another Goddess directly.
"Yes? There was something I wanted your advice or help on actually." Victoria peered at the soaked letter.
"I was deep under water. So deep that your message was the only thing that made some light down there."
"Sorry, did I disturb you?"
"No, it is fine. I had just finished digesting that island."
There was an awkward moment as Leviathan realised what she had said, and the others had trouble with the 'digesting an island' bit.
"It was an accident." Leviathan tried to defend herself. "The announcement made me inhale a bit too much."
"I want to really ask you how big you actually are that you can accidentally inhale islands, but I have the feeling that it would be too much for me to understand."
"Considering whom you are dating? Things like this are going to be the least mind blowing things." Leviathan cheerfully poked fun at Victoria. The obvious topic change came afterwards. "So you need advice?"
"Yes." Victoria welcomed it. "I found myself in possession of a lot of fish. Various types, and nowhere near enough space to keep them separate. So I wanted to ask you if you knew someone who could help."
"Since I am here, why don't you show me what is going on?"
"Want some tea or snacks first Levi?" Victoria asked.
"No, I am good, let's go."
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Palace Garden ---
"This is bad." Leviathan looked around. There were aquariums all over the place, floating balls of water with fish inside were hovering, and the ponds and streams were overfilled. "This is a mess."
"This is why I wanted help." Victoria admitted as she watched a fish jump from one water bubble jump into another.
"Who had this bright idea?"
"That's complicated. It started when Tama visited yesterday, I destroyed the Ministry of Bridges, and before that the Ministry of Secretaries. I also have enough nobles and officials imprisoned that they sent an assassin."
Levi stopped looking around and turned towards the girl. "Since you are alive and I can feel several relics on you I guess Zaria overdid it or helped."
"She helped, then called the God of Carnage and told it to basically make a point. Those involved directly are probably dead and looted; those implicated lost everything, and so on. Then the angels and devils went to work on the slaves issue, and gathered more stuff. Since slavery is banned explicitly, the offenders were handed over to the devils for interrogation. More things from their confiscated assets arrived. When angels and devils are given orders, it seems they take them very literally. I have enough things to fill several manors and create a few more gardens, flowers for entire fields and more fish then I know what to do with." Victoria had started ranting and she knew it, but she could not help it.
"Well, some I could take with me, like that blue one over there and those over there. They are actually forbidden to be in possession since they were overfished due to their beauty."
"Take as many as you want." Victoria offered. "I don't know what to do with them. The two fish I have and the koi in the garden are enough."
"I could actually make a larger aquarium, and put it somewhere to look impressive. Like making one that is covering a whole wall."
Victoria opened her mouth to decline, and then she looked thoughtful. "That sounds lovely actually."
"If you want I can also make more streams, but you'd need more bridges then."
"I have bridges to spare." Victoria grumbled.
"They took everything, literally."
The girls shared an exasperated look.
"Where do you want it then?"
"You know, the Palace has those mansions or something for concubines, why not store it all there?"
Victoria grabbed Levi by the hands, startling the sea snake in disguise. "Do you want to work at the palace as the voice of reason?"
Leviathan wondered how bad things were if someone like her, who lacked common sense had been offered a job. "I am a Goddess, and the One who governs the Seas and Oceans, so working at an inland palace would be weird."
"It is fine to just say no." Victoria giggled. "Actually, mind if I ask something personal?"
"Were you really once a smol snek?"
Victoria saw the great sea snake blush a deep blue.
"Why don't I show you what I had in mind?" The not smol snek changed the topic.
She led the blushing goddess to the throne room and then outside.
The path up to the throne room looked very different with four additional bridges of very different styles.
"I like that one." Leviathan found herself drawn to a marble bridge with carvings of fish and mermaid statues holding the handrails.
"Feel free to take it." Victoria offered without regret.
"In the courtyard there are two more. If you want any trees or fish, or pets, or furniture, or anything at all, I would really appreciate it if you took a lawn or two and some of the flower beds too."
"And the whole mess landed in your lap."
"I think I saw some nice blue roses back there, the sirens at my temple like them."
"I think I saw a mermaid fountain somewhere, want that too?"
"Sure, why not?"
The bridge was sucked into a portal made from water, and then the hedges with the blue roses, the fountain followed, a flowerbed with some blue flowers that neither of them could name immediately, and finally various types of fish.
"Are you sure you don't want more?" The Empress asked hopefully.
"No." The Goddess knew that her new friend wanted to get rid of more. "But I can ask around if other gods want some things."
"It would really help if you find someone who likes pets."
"Animals actually, the training ground of the palace guards is full of pets. Cats, dogs, tigers, horses, snakes, lizards, butterflies, moths, spiders, turtles, and so much more."
"Ask Zaria, she knows pretty much everyone." Leviathan did the sensible thing; dump all problems the waifu has on the husband. "Make a list and then give it to her, then be surprised how she solves it all."
"Like unleashing demons on everyone involved with an assassination?"
"If it isn't urgent or she isn't angry, she tends to get creative." Leviathan shuddered. "Really creative."
"Like handing over a banana peel that scares everyone including gods."
The Goddess froze. "She gave you the Banana Peel."
"If you ever have to scare something powerful, simply show it off, that should make everyone, even those disbelieving, rethink whatever plans they have." The sea serpent shuddered. "Not even gods would risk that monstrosity being unleashed upon them. Why don't we settle your fish now? Some of them need an indoor aquarium."
"Since the noble seats are too large and rarely used, would a long one work?"
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Throne Room ---
Victoria was happy.
The fish that could stay outside now had more and larger streams in the private royal garden, royal gardens, and palace gardens. They had several new ponds and a small lake as well, as for the water supply, Victoria had no idea what to make of the large blue glowing crystal that was spilling clean water. "This is an artefact or national treasure, right?"
"No?" Leviathan was a bit confused. "This is just a water crystal; you take some pure water, some essence of water, a lot of mana, and shape it into a crystal that will drip water."
"That is not dripping." Victoria denied while looking at the stream that was fed from the suspicious crystal in question.
"It's not permanent." Leviathan denied. "After a few hundred years it will run out."
The time scale the two were living in was just too different.
"If you want it moved, larger or smaller, you can always ask your mate or me to adjust them. Was it all right to redesign the throne room? I mean the noble seats were made smaller, and the path to the throne now has streams on the sides with connecting streams that have bridges. The royal courtyard now has less space as well."
"I think the new pond with the small pavilion connecting to a marble path and the marble bridge looks very nice. I still have two more bridges and plenty of trees and flowerbeds left to place."
"Ask your mate for an introduction to a dryad who might help. Worst case, dump it all on her and she will either find a way to auction it off, hand it out to random gods and beings, or put it in her realm to be forgotten."
"Rumour has it that she has a realm where she dumps everything inside that she doesn't need but wants to keep or belongs to her. Or thinks shouldn't be left lying around, naturally having it lying around in a different realm … She once showed me a cursed ship, and I mean cursed, pirate ghosts, zombie parrot, and holes everywhere but it still floats. That thing creeps me out."
Victoria decided to quickly forget that, something that creeped out a goddess like Leviathan was not something anyone sane would ever want to see. "So don't ask about creepy things, I understand."
"The banana peel is worse, how it made me slip while swimming, I will never understand."
"She told me she gets affected by it.“
"Her favourite story is how it dropped her into a volcano. Not that it harmed her, the volcano I mean, but generally the banana peel is not lethal, embarrassing yes, but not lethal, at worst shattered pride and small scrapes or whatever the equivalent is. I rammed face first into the wall of an underwater canyon. The resulting tsunami caused zero deaths but a lot of damage, or right, never use the banana peel near fragile things, you can be sure sooner or later someone will slip into them."
"Sounds like a great way to get out of a banquet."
"Or stop an army, it stopped a war, both sides were scared to move."
"You have no idea, if you want to run, you still have time. She won't coddle you, but if someone manages to harm you or threatens you?"
"Lady Leviathan." It was Slaughter and Sadism.
"You sound far more polite." The Empress realised.
"I may have smacked him around when he asked for a fight." The sea snake mentioned.
"It was glorious, aside from your mate and Sylpheed I was never defeated so soundly." The devil bragged. "It took me weeks to heal up completely."
"What brings you two here?" Victoria had a bad feeling.
Sadism licked her lips. "I have bad news, terrible news, and good news."
"Terrible first." Victoria just knew she would get another headache.
"The Ministries of Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Beast People were in on the whole slavery thing, they made sure the slaves were properly processed and were on the lookout for slaves."
"The bad news?"
"You will get a lot more properties and possessions."
"The good news?"
"They kept huge lists of all slaves, buyers, and owners for blackmail reasons. The lists span over fifty years."
Leviathan felt the anger rise. "Send a message when more fish arrive, I need to settle my new ones." She turned into water and splashed down in a puddle that disappeared.
"That's it!" Victoria had enough and went full dragon again. "I don't care, ask around in heaven and hell, anyone who wants a piece of action is allowed to come." She turned around and faced the fairies flying around. "I heard that the fey like to play with people, I invite all fey that want to bury people who deserve it to come join and destroy those of nobility that need extinction."
The swarm zipped off in random directions.
Sadism orgasmed standing.
Slaughter started cackling. "You must really hate them."
Victoria suddenly had a bad feeling about it.
No, she had spoken, and whatever was going to happen, it could not be worse than what currently was.
--- Mardiors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Kitchen ---
Zaria felt the shudder run from the tips of her ears, down her spine, and up the tail to the tip causing the tail to go poof.
"Someone just did something very stupid; I guess things will get very chaotic." She pondered for a moment, but decided against reading the weave to find out what was going on. Surprises made life interesting after all.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Private Dining Room ---
Victoria was laying in her seat. She was exhausted.
Despite being exhausted, she giggled at the fretting cowgirl. It was probably mean of her to drag the commoner seamstress into her private rooms, but she wanted some normal people around her.
Charlotte did not count, not with her eagerness to get all the juicy details of her relationship with her floof.
"Are love, relationships, and romance really such an important topic for girls our age?"
"I don't know?" The cowgirl replied. "For us it is difficult, we are rather picky with our mates. I mean for cowgirls it is hard to find someone who is not just after our breasts." She stuck her chest out.
Victoria found her eyes following the bounce. "Evil moo."
"Even gods get seduced by those." Victoria reminded her tailor.
Maries paled. "Will you protect me?"
Somehow seeing the busty, curvy, and tall cowgirl look at her with teary eyes was both amusing and disconcerting.
"Stop seducing her, she has a lover." Charlotte rebuked.
"Mate." Maries corrected. "I am not seducing her."
Victoria watched the two bicker. "Charlotte, if you want to get your hands on that chest you have to be more proactive."
She was rewarded with two blushes and a lot of excuses and stammering. It was fun to be on the teasing side, the Empress decided. "You can even have her make matching lingerie, and a nude fitting, with a lot of 'accidental' touching."
"I heard many of the races dislike underwear."
The cowgirl blushed more.
"Speaking from personal experience?" Charlotte tried to return fire.
Charlotte coloured more. "Shameless! When did you become so shameless?"
"When a needy, touchy, affectionate, and overprotective floof started courting me."
"You are calling her a floof?" Both other girls had trouble imagining Zaria being called a floof.
"Considering how fluffy her tail is and how she seems very proud of it?"
Empress 1 : Others 0
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Office ---
"What the hell were my Ministries doing?" The Empress looked ready to kill the messenger; she didn't because she had the feeling the messenger would enjoy it. He had complimented her on her bloodlust after all. "Don't answer that." That was for the demoness, who really lived up to her name.
"Yes?" Even the ahoge turned into a question mark.
"How many palaces or mansions do I have for wives, concubines, and mistresses?"
"Three Palaces, six mansions, and the cold palace."
"Is anyone actually living at the cold palace?"
"No, just servants."
"For now put families in the mansions. Nobles in the palaces with those who know how to be servants. Single men and women to the cold palace. The children in mansions with some mothers or servants, near the families. Give them the pets to care for."
"Which nobles do you want in the Palace bordering your garden?"
"Make it all younger girls, with some others who know how to serve them."
"Uhm." The ahoge seemed to be twitching nervously.
"What do you want to do with the crocodiles, snakes, tigers, and lions?"
"Ask a scholar what they need, and put them in the garden of one of the mansions we got from nobles. Maybe not the snakes." Victoria suddenly had an idea. "Send a letter to the lamia café." She fetched her enchanted bag and pulled the business card out. "Ask Lizzy if she can help with snakes or knows anyone who can." It might be a bit rude to associate lamias with snakes, but it was the closest thing she could think of.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Office ---
Over an hour later, she had a very confused lamia in her office.
"Aren't you the one who was looking for the oldest shrine, who is mated to the White One and is a dragon according to rumours?" The pretty lamia asked, confused.
"Yes, I am."
"And you are the Empress?"
"Worst job ever." Victoria complained.
"The one who sent heaven and hell on a rampage?"
"That sort of happened, and it was my floof who started it."
"Wow, I spoke to the Empress, and didn't know it, I mean there were rumours, but nobody believed them."
"We are courting." Victoria explained.
The lamia wiggled in place. "That is so romantic! The White One and the Empress!" Lizzy gushed happily.
"It simply happened." She rubbed her temples. Her guest was clearly fangirling. "I asked for advice, I did not expect anyone to come immediately." She ignored most of it, that Zaria had a title like White One did not surprise her at all.
Lizzy seemed far more relaxed now. "I blame the others. When they heard that the Empress was looking for someone who could handle snakes, they pushed me out since the business card has my name, and told me not to come back until everything is resolved, and that I was on paid leave."
"That's …" Victoria wondered what to say. "As you heard there was some rampaging, pillaging, and ransacking. Now I find myself in possession of a lot of pets, which includes snakes, and I hope you know either how to deal with them, or know someone who does, or even better someone who wants them and will care for them properly."
"How many and what types?" The lamia slithered closer to the desk.
Victoria simply handed over a list.
"There are a lot of different snakes." The lamia mumbled as she read the listing. "A few seem like the type that are possibly trained. Like for snake dances."
"Could be, I mean I have a lot of slaves, might be worth asking the servants about entertainers." Victoria then imagined what type of entertainers some of them probably were. Most would probably be easy to track. "Maria, have them find out if any of the entertainers are missing their things or working with pets and such. It wouldn't be right to separate them."
She would regret that order later, as perverted nobles had very weird tastes.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Office ---
"Do you have assassins?" The lamia was back, and covered in several snakes.
"I have a Ministry of Assassination. Why are you asking?"
"These are poisonous types that want their venom milked. Some can be used for medicine, but others like this one have no medical use." Lizzy gently caressed one that was lazily hanging off her shoulder and disappearing under the dress.
"Have them milked and labelled, I'll send the royal medic over, as for those that are purely venomous, I have no idea what to do with their venom. Actually, I have an idea." She wrote a note and did the magic to turn it into a dragon message. She felt very weird sending it to a fox, but considering the arctic fox was the guild master of the information guild, she probably knew someone who had a 'proper' use for it.
"Wait, don't go there."
Victoria felt very weirded out when she watched the lamia prying a snake off that was being a bit too intimate.
Then she glared at a long bright green one that had fallen off the lamia and was making its way towards her terrified secretary.
The snake stopped and coiled up.
"You lost this one, and I think I saw one go under the couch."
"Ahh, don't run away, bad snakes!"
Then shadows moved and a person stepped out of them.
The guard captain drew her sword.
"Did Yuki send you?" The Empress asked.
"Yes, I am a poison master." The shadowy figure responded, it sounded male.
"We have several snakes needing to be milked; some of them seem to be only venomous without any medical applications." The Empress explained as she summoned her mask and placed it visibly on the desk.
It was clear that both waitress and poison master knew what it meant.
"Actually, a few can have their antidotes made with alchemy." The poison master explained.
"Make sure we get three antidotes for all of them, the rest of the poison is yours to use."
"As you wish." The poison master gathered the green coiled up snake from the floor and pulled a blue one from under the couch. "My Lady, if you would lead the way to a room where we can work." He offered the lamia his arm.
"Unfortunately I don't know, I just arrived not long ago."
"Someone get them a room." Victoria ordered, ignoring the innuendo of what she said.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Private Bathroom ---
Victoria relaxed in the large bathtub.
She felt tired. There was so much work left.
She got so much work done, and she still had so much more to do.
"You are thinking too hard."
Victoria opened an eye, and saw her blushing maid move away as her white floof was moving in. "You are going to wash me again." she accused.
"Yes, naturally, you had a long day. Have you eaten?"
"No, I wanted to relax first."
"Good, I cooked." Charlotte found herself handed a box with their dinner. "Now move over, I'll join you for a cuddle, then after bath we eat, and finally a nice massage with more cuddling afterwards."
"Affectionate touchy floof."
"Overworked stubborn dragon."
The maid fled.
"You are a bad influence." Victoria accused. "I am starting to be informal and even teased my maid and tailor."
The albino did not pause in undressing and lowered herself into the bath beside her cute dragoness, then pulled her into the white lap. "It’s fun, isn't it. Remember to be a serious one when needed and to relax when you can. Now lean back and tell me how bad was your day?"
"Did you know that there are slaves despite them being outlawed? Real magical slaves and the Ministries did the rituals and kept track. I may have declared war on that, also Levi visited and helped with organising the fish and making more ponds and streams for them. There is a long aquarium in the throne room now."
"When it comes to fish, she is probably one of the best you can get." Zaria admitted as she massaged the tense back.
"Then there is the fact that the angels and devils took everything. There is no space for it."
"Designate one of the villas that is amongst the loot as storage? Or a ministry, since I doubt several will ever make a reappearance from what you told me."
"Actually a good idea, what about all the gold? It seems wrong to put it in the national treasury. And the treasures."
"Want me to take them?" Zaria offered.
Victoria stopped for a moment. "Right you have a realm for things. How much do you have in there?"
"Enough to fill several countries."
Victoria had trouble imagining that. "Would you take it? It would really be a big help until things get sorted."
"As you wish my cute little dragon."
"Not teasing, I intend to deliver."
Victoria was not sure what the floof intended to deliver. But it was probably perverted. "Pervert."
"Yes, hard not to be with such beauty in my arms." The albino pulled the girl against her and wrapped her arms around her. "Feel free to ask for help when you want it, send whoever complains my way, be it noble, god, empress, or whatever."
"That sounds like cheating."
"And? What is wrong with making life easier? If you want something and can do it without inconveniencing anyone that doesn't deserve it, why not?"
"It's not that simple." The human complained.
"Actually, it is." Zaria denied. "Does it harm anyone? Even if for some reason those that deserve it get some of their things back, it will be a negligible amount and mostly heirlooms and personal effects. Or those that tried to have you assassinated, the moment they made the order, their lives were forfeit. After all assassination and murder are illegal. They would have been executed anyway in a fair and just court. The death penalty is a thing in this country. I think that old rule executing their families and their servants is on the books too, but that is too much. Most of the servants and younger or extended family have nothing to do with the culprits after all. If a clan thinks that, they can decide if someone lives or dies without proper reasons? I have removed plenty of those types myself. You'd wonder how many assassins, slaves, arrogant asses, obstinate people, religious zealots, misguided heroes, and others I had to remove over the years." She gave the girl a squeeze. "Now don't worry. Up until now, all the gods liked you, the devils and angels seem to approve. Those that do not are too scared of me to go against you. The fey are very fond of you too. So no worries about overdoing it or going down the wrong path. If you are still worried, I can get some Gods to talk to you."
"I want to complain, but when you explain it like that, it is hard to be worried." Victoria turned around and hugged her floof.
Despite them being both nude, it was more comforting than erotic.
After a while, Zaria pulled out a washcloth and an almost white soap.
"Don't fall asleep, you haven't eaten yet."
"You just want to wash me."
"That too, but after a long day you need to eat, and then I'll give you a massage."
"Don't want to move."
"That's fine, I'll carry you afterwards. I'll even feed you."
"That would be embarrassing."
"Does it matter?"
Victoria simply shifted into a more comfortable position and let herself get pampered.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Private Dining Room ---
After the bath, the dragon did not agree to being fed. It was one thing to share dessert or such; it was another to be fed a full meal.
Just clad in a soft bathrobe that she knew she had never seen before she was eating Zaria's cooking "I don't know why, but whatever you cook simply tastes better." Victoria complained.
Zaria visibly preened and took it as a compliment. "That makes me very happy, I like cooking and I am very good for you. Cooking for you simply makes me want to do my best."
Victoria blushed. "And the bathrobe? It is so soft."
"It is a material similar to the one I use in towels, and no, it is impossible to make without magic. It is possible to make it with machines too. Its name is terry cloth, actually dryads in the ancient forest make it, and it’s made from cotton."
"It is really soft." Victoria inspected it closely.
"And the threads are easily pulled. Fixing that is impossible without magic; if your tailor can't do that, use a scissor to trim the hanging threads."
Victoria looked at it closely before remembering whom she was talking to and how much she tended to overdo it. "How much did you enchant it?"
"Not much. Just softness, self-repair, pleasant temperature, damage reduction, magic nullification, relaxation, mind soothing."
"I understand the softness and pleasant temperature, but why combat enchantments?"
"I had plenty of fights in baths, or after baths. Really, assassins love any chance to get you. Bathing is for relaxation and stress release, not to cause more stress."
"Sounds messy, all that blood in the bathroom."
"They are easy to clean by nature, and there is no problem if you evaporate them or throw them in a portal."
"Sounds like something you are used to."
"There is a reason my baths are heavily enchanted."
"Mine too now." Victoria wondered when the floof had done it.
"Naturally." Then Zaria reminded her mate of the important thing. "Don't forget to eat."
Victoria did not comment and simply went back to eating.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Bedroom ---
After the delicious dinner, the pair freshened up and were currently relaxing and watching the garden with a cup of tea.
"I like it more now." Victoria admitted. "It feels more natural, the larger pond is nice too. I am not sure where the pavilion on that island in the middle came from."
"Probably from your assassination attempt." Zaria pulled Victoria closer, placed her arm around the other girl, and wrapped her tail around them.
"Your tail is longer?"
"Yes, tails get longer once you get past a certain stage. You can change things once you hit seven tails. Anything above five tails gets a bit annoying, unless you shapeshift. Here are seven tails."
"Really?" Vitoria asked, only to realise that the albino was giving her a foxy smirk. Then she had seven fluffy and long tails covering her. "I see, you probably have to watch where you move too."
"Keeping them all so fluffy and clean must be a lot of work."
"Are all of them sensitive?"
"Want to find out?"
"We should sleep, do you even need sleep?"
"Really need no, but it relaxes the body and mind, so I guess I can meditate instead of sleeping, but sleeping is simply far more pleasant. Especially when holding someone."
"And switch back to one tail."
"Yes, do you shed actually?"
"Barely, it happens when I can't brush my tail for years."
"Something about that time span is weird."
"I sometimes sleep for decades or more when nothing interesting is going on."
Victoria tried to imagine it.
She could not imagine it. "Lazy floof."
"Whenever I can get away with it. I like it clean and comfy, so getting there is often a lot of work." The kitsune pulled her mate into her arms and lifted her. "Let's go to bed, we can cuddle more there and you are already tired."
"Is this wanting to pamper, or wanting to get me naked?"
"Why can't it be both?"
Being carried to bed and gently stripped was oddly sensual; being held in the slim arms felt far more secure then was logical. But she knew the power in those arms. She knew they could easily break her. Yet, Victoria simply buried herself in her future mate. After the long day, she decided to ignore proprietary, and to simply enjoy being pampered. She had sicked angels and devils on her nobles, then she had invited the fey to join the fun. She had gone far beyond what an empress probably should, but it was needed. Tomorrow was going to be another long day.
"You are thinking too hard."
"Tomorrow is going to be terrible."
"Don't worry, Goddess of Healing, Goddess of Lust, and the God of Craft. Sounds good?"
"Why the Goddess of Lust?"
"Slaves are often used for sex. The Goddess of Lust is also the Goddess of Sex. Ignore her teasing, and worst case remind her she is behind on her writing."
"She wrote the Maid series."
"Why am I not surprised?"
"And if she makes too many offers, remind her of her deadlines, and show her around the palace for inspiration."
"Your friends are weird."
"So am I. Too late to escape after you accepted me."
"It's fine; I can always cuddle your tail in return."
"You just want me for my tail."
"It is very pleasant against skin and fluffy."
"Guess I will have to take extra good care of it in the future so you can always enjoy it."
"And don't forget I will jump you if you overdo it."
"I trust you to control yourself when needed."
"Where is the fun in that?"
"Behave, you needy floof."
"But a goodnight kiss first."
After the goodnight kiss that included tongue, body against body, maximised skin contact, and entangled legs Victoria wondered if what they did was really kissing and not foreplay or sex with their mouths.
She put it off as she tried to calm her heartbeat and arousal.
The human simply made an agreeing sound since she did not trust her voice.
--- Kingdom East of Sinas Empire - Middle of Nowhere ---
They were knights.
They were the best of the best.
They were in over their heads.
They had been supposed to kill a few ogres.
What they found was a war band.
They were surrounded and while nobody had died yet, their demise was only a question of time.
Then suddenly she stood before them. A floppy eared rabbit woman. "Is the Capital of Sinas Empire that way?" she pointed in the right direction.
"Watch out!" The Knight Captain saw the club approach the bunny. He wanted to save her, but it would only weaken their formation.
Then the club shattered and the bunny spun in a circle as the ogre's legs flew one way while the torso splattered against a tree.
"Murderbun" slipped from his lips.
"You met my Saint?" The bunny wondered while peering at the man curiously.
The knight captain froze. Her saint, which could only mean "Moon Hare"
The eyes opened, silver eyes finally looked and peered at the man properly. "That is not the Empire's emblem. I remember it having a dragon?"
"No, you are in the Railer Kingdom, sorry, I need to concentrate on surviving."
"If that is all." The Moon Hare blurred for a moment.
All the over twenty ogres died as body parts flew in all directions and blood splashed over the knights and the surroundings.
"Is the Empire's capital that way?" The Goddess pointed again.
"Yes, may I ask why you are going to the Empire?"
"Zaria found herself a mate, and I appeared at the wrong shrine, it seems she forgot to move the ring in the last two millennia."
"The White One has a mate?"
"Yes, do you know anything about a dragon named Victoria?"
"No." The Knight Captain decided that this was important; he would have to hurry and report to his King.
"A pity. Safe travel young knight." The Moon Hare disappeared, only a trail of dust showing where she had gone.
"One moment, isn't the name of the new Empress Victoria?" One of the exhausted soldiers wondered.
A marriage between the White One and the Empress?
This was very big and very bad news.
"Men hurry, we have to report now!"
--- Sinas Empire - Somewhere northwest of the Capital ---
They were traders; they were now resting in their caravan.
Then a bat flew into their circle and turned into a small purple haired catgirl.
"Vampire!" A man jumped out with his sword, found his sword shattered, the arm broken, and dizzy staring at the night sky as the vampire goddess countered the attack.
"Please spare our children."
"Nyuuh! I don't need to feed; I want to know where I am?"
The traders and escorts shared looks.
The caravan leader stepped forward. "You are in the Sinas Empire, in the far northeast, about a week from the northern border and five days from the sea at caravan speed."
"Nyah~ I got lost." The vampire complained. "Zaria still lives in the capital?"
"Zaria? You mean the White One of the North?"
"Yes, she resides on the North mountain of Maridors, the capital."
"Which way is that?"
The traders and escorts shared looks, before shrugging. A vampire should not be an issue for the white One. "Follow this street south, then once you reach the main street, it is the large stone paved one, follow it left. After two days of travel you will arrive at a town, ask for instructions there." It was not right sicking a vampire on a town, but if it spared them, it was perfectly acceptable.
Everyone watched as the catgirl turned into a bat and flew off into the night.
"That really happened?" One escort asked.
"You mean a small catgirl being a vampire and asking for the way to the White One?"
"I would say so, or we all shared the same hallucination or illusion."
"I have a jar of some dwarven spirits, no matter what, I am going to get very drunk now and celebrate my survival after facing a vampire."
Everyone was in agreement.
They regretted it in the morning though.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Bedroom ---
Waking up warm and comfortably felt nice.
If there weren't that knocking on the door.
"It's me." Charlotte's voice came.
She opened her eyes and looked at her blushing maid and friend who was not looking at her. "Why are you looking away?" Victoria looked down. Arm hugging white fully tail against her body, a white arm around her, and the blanket was covering everything the tail was not. Charlotte had seen her naked a lot, so why was she blushing? Victoria leant back and felt the soft yet firm breasts against her back.
"I didn't want to disturb your time with your lover?"
Victoria looked back over her shoulder and saw Zaria smiling like a fox. "Stop teasing my maid."
"She needs to get used to it. I suspect she is coming here because something important happened, like all the clutter disappeared."
Victoria turned to Charlotte.
"All the gold, treasures, art, and furniture disappeared. The angels and demons say everything is fine."
Victoria turned back to Zaria. "You already took them?"
Zaria gave her mate a small kiss. "I can be in two places at once as you know."
Victoria remembered, especially the embarrassing moment she was trying hard to forget. She blushed a deep red.
Charlotte who saw that and had read more books then her friend and Mistress, blushed harder. She wondered if it counted as a threesome or orgy if one of the partners was present several times.
"I'll write if I need any of the things." Victoria acknowledged. "If there is something you or the other helpers want, feel free to take it."
"I am good, all I need that I don't have, is currently in my arms."
"I'll leave, ring when you need me." Charlotte stopped when she saw something. "Why is there an almost ceiling height mushroom in the corner with doors, windows, and vines holding what looks like small homes in the corner?"
"It's a fairy mushroom." The albino explained. "It means they feel at home here."
Victoria gave the tail a squeeze and felt her almost lover shiver. Then she released the tail and sat up. She ignored the appreciative look her bare upper body got and looked at the very large mushroom. "Shouldn't they normally ask if they may build their home here first?"
"You never said anything when they moved in." The kitsune explained.
"Well, my room is far too large anyway." Victoria decided that the light blue and dark blue mushroom looked oddly fitting in the corner it was growing. She waved when she saw several fairies peer at her.
They waved back and flew over to greet her. "What do you think? Shall we go wash before breakfast?" She asked the lively swarm.
"How about breakfast in bed? I made freshly baked rolls, eggs and bacon, fresh bread with butter and chives. After that, for teatime I prepared some warm cheesecake with vanilla ice cream."
"Evil floof, trying to fatten me."
"You really believe that you can get fat after you awaken to being a dragon and with all the training I will have to put you through?"
Victoria shuddered at the mention of training, but she agreed it would be a good thing. "Evil floof, slave driver!"
"Yes, I am so terrible, I intend to exhaust you, and then pamper you."
"I'll leave now?" The forgotten maid reminded them.
"Pour the bath for her, use this." Zaria threw a bottle with golden bathing salts. "Ten crystals are enough for the small tub."
"I will prepare it, will you be joining her?"
"Naturally." Zaria responded as she pulled out a large bed table with breakfast arranged for them and the fairies.
Victoria realised that she was actually hungry.
Charlotte bowed and left the room. Once outside and the door was closed, she started blushing heavily. Her Victoria, formerly a sheltered clueless girl, was now flaunting her love life. It was scandalous. It was shameless. It was hot. She marched off to prepare the bath and then to hide somewhere where she did not have to watch the pair. Courting was Victoria called it; hot loving was what it probably was. Maybe Victoria had gotten her hands on one of those books and gotten the wrong idea?
Inside Victoria saw the sweet syrup again. "What is that?"
"Maple syrup. It's sap from a tree that grows on another continent."
"How far away?"
Zaria created an illusion. "See this is us, now we make it smaller, over there is Levi's temple. Now we make it even smaller, the sea and then the ocean, finally the other country, and now even smaller, and up there we have the place where they grow."
The Empress looked, saw, and had trouble believing it. "On a map like this the distance to Levi’s temple is nothing, and it is still so far away."
"I heard that traders need about half a year to get there."
"Doesn't that make it really valuable?"
"If we were to buy it in a shop or trading house? Probably worth its weight in gold or more. For me it's just a teleport away."
"Is that normal for gods and beings of power?" The Empress asked as picked a crunchy piece of bacon.
"That normal common sense does not apply to us? Yes. If you want to go far, there are far greater distances. The Goddess of Darkness lives on the back of the red moon. Take the distance I showed you, do it over fifty times, and then you can reach the moon. The blue moon is the home of the Moon Hare."
Victoria frowned. "Is it true that her Saint is …" She wondered how to explain it.
"Yes, her nickname is Murderbun; she is fiercely protective of her Goddess and hates loud noises."
"And the nickname?"
"Loud monsters, obstinate bandits, annoying knights, and entitled nobles. They never shut up, so she makes them."
"That sounds extreme." The girl crunched on the bacon and accepted the sliced tomatoes.
"Are we still on for the weekend actually?"
"Yes, my schedule is free on the weekends, I managed to arrange it. Unless there is some official function I need to be present for or a boring banquet."
"Still want to go somewhere different?"
"Yes, I admit I am curious about all the places I would never see otherwise."
"So something completely different from here."
"I have an idea; I will check it out later."
"Should I be worried?"
"No, they are all perfectly nice. I just need to remember to sew appropriate clothing."
"Yes, the climate is very different there."
"Is this a way to get me into one of those bikini things I heard about that are practically underwear you show off."
"Oh good idea, I hadn't thought of that."
Victoria decided she needed to focus on eating before she gave her floof any more ideas.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Throne Room ---
After breakfast, there had been the bath, which had luckily been one that had been more comforting than sensual.
The kiss after had been very needy and sensual however.
She still had to fight the blush when remembering their bodies moulded against each other and the tongue rubbing against hers. It had been so possessive and full of desire. Being held after it had been comforting and necessary. How a kiss made her weak and needing to hold on was a mystery. She had read about them in novels, but being the recipient in reality? That was a different matter. There had been nothing about the arousal written in the books. Unless they were those steamy, ones like the maid series.
The floof had then left to prepare for their weekend date, including overnight stay.
She was a bit worried about the overnight part. However, she hoped to make it through without being ravished as the novels called it.
Now she was in the throne room preparing for the noble audiences.
She already knew they were going to flatter her, talk a lot, and say little.
"Yes your Majesty?"
"Have you had any romantic experience?"
"What?" The secretary blushed.
"Have you had any romantic experience?" Victoria repeated.
"No." The secretary looked away with a red face.
Victoria needed someone to talk to about romance.
The ones who came in first were however Irrtarry and Sadism.
"Tarry, Sadism." The Empress greeted them. "Give me a moment." She took a few deep calming breaths. "Give me the worst news first."
"We found more slaves, the total is 1172 now."
Victoria felt it bubble, the anger, the want to destroy, the ruthless power. She closed her eyes. "Have the obvious offenders been dealt with?"
"Yes." Irrtarry confirmed. "There are several that need input, and a lot of the noble lines were impacted. There are issues."
"Lines of succession, properties for those left behind, what about those that were enslaved yet are noble?"
"I will deal with it on a case by case basis."
"I can probably help." A voice from the left interjected.
Victoria looked at the unannounced guest. It was a shapely dark elf wearing very little, and most of it was mesh or see through. It reminded her of a parody of what those ninja outfits had been described in books. "Welcome Public Guild Master, I was awaiting you."
"Sorry for the late arrival, but your rampages invalidated a lot of information."
"Maria, bring that information to my office, I will go through it. Miss Guild Master, there should be a pile of one million gold waiting for you in the national treasury."
"Actually there isn't, the treasury is empty."
When Victoria crushed the throne in cold rage Sadism once again orgasmed on the spot when the wave of power hit her.
The officials that had survived the purges started inching away from anyone related to financial matters.
"I want all the ministries that are supposed to handle the budgets and the treasury before me now." She watched the blushing dark elf. "I'll send Yuki a note so that Zaria transfers the money."
"Actually, I have a note from Yuki here."
"She can write?" Victoria imagined the white fox with a brush in her mouth tilting her head this way and that way to pen a letter since imagining her with a pen or quill did not work.
"Yes, we have yet to find a language she can't read or write. She can also change shape, she looks like your mate, only with black ear tips, black tail tip, the ends of her hair are black, and her eyes are blue."
"Good to know." Things made more sense now, but not much.
"The note says: Don't worry, you can pay back once you have everything under control. Yes I know, no she does not, do not worry I will keep your secrets. You are family and do not need to hurry. We trust you. Love Yuki~"
"That is both sweet and disconcerting. Do you have the information at hand I need to bury the ministries involved?"
"Folders on the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Spendings, Ministry of Treasury, Ministry of Accounting, Ministry of Finance Reallocation."
The annoyed Dragon saw about knee-high piles of paper. Some taller, some lower. "Are all of them like this?"
"No, those are just the excerpts; the originals are two to five times that."
"I need more short term administrators and officials." The Empress decided. "If you know anyone who can be trusted, refer them to the palace. That goes for all of you; naturally, I will be paying you. I forgot to mention, but note down the time you were working. I will pay you on an hourly basis at the end of the week."
"Gold is not exactly useful in heaven, but we can probably make some sort of arrangement."
Sadism giggled. "Actually, in that case I want a few of those whips I saw being brought in, some were really deeply cursed by those they were used on."
"I wouldn't mind that lawn with the pretty white flowers." Irrtarry admitted with a blush.
"Feel free to take more than one; I suspect I possess even more to give away now."
"Only about four times as much and that is not counting everything you will get back from dealing with those ministries. Overall? Compared to being about 32 million in debt, you will go to having about 65 million in gold, and about 250 million in property, pets, art, artefacts, and other assorted things." The dark elf listed from a note she had pulled out.
"Are you telling me that officially the Empire was 32 million in debt?" The draconic power surged.
"The last sort of report had the Imperial Treasury being worth 27 million."
"They 'forgot' to list the unofficial or not officially used spending."
The Empress tried to understand. "And the Family Treasury?"
"Has around 240 thousand left as opposed to the supposed twenty millions."
"And the National treasures and artefacts."
"Are mostly lent out, the royal ones are mostly present."
"Officially or unofficially?"
"They were never approved with the Imperial seal."
Irrtarry interrupted. "Unfortunately that is not all. We found evidence that certain parties were acting as spies for other nations, were acting as spies for families, and some were downright committing treason."
"I should have never taken this job." Victoria lamented. "The spies and treacherous people can be dealt with by court, depending on what they were spying upon and for whom." She called for the mask and placed it on her face. The dagger was glowing suspiciously.
The angry dragoness was waiting.
Then there was a flash of white. "Being angry is no good."
Victoria felt the calmness radiating from the figure. "Another Goddess I suspect."
"Yes." The silver haired woman confirmed. "I am Ifirn, Goddess of Healing, and the warm protective snow. You may call me Firi."
"You are the second person to tell me that."
"Because it is true."
Victoria pulled her mask off. "They need to be reprimanded and shown power so they don't try to escape."
Ifirn however shook her head. "Why don't you leave that to us? Normally our kind would not interfere with mortals so much, but this is a special occasion."
"Zaria." It was obvious to Victoria; she suspected that she would meet the great nine-tailed Zaria of the main shrine soon.
"Yes." Ifirn simply confirmed with a gentle smile. The goddess stepped closer and rubbed Victoria's forehead. "If you keep frowning so much you will get wrinkles."
"I do?" Victoria touched her forehead.
"Probably not, since I can feel the enchantment on your choker. But it will make you tense and irritable. Stress is not good for the body and the mind."
It was hard to say no to Ifirn.
"Firiiiii!" Then a pink figure jumped the Goddess.
Tamano no Mae had appeared, and was rubbing her cheek against the silver haired Goddesses cheek. "You never visit anymore!"
"Mother!" The silver haired Goddess whined.
The pink kitsune nodded without stopping her very affectionate actions.
"Mother, stop that."
Victoria had a feeling that the two had not seen each other in a while.
"So is Ifirn a kitsune?" Victoria wondered.
There was a surge of power and silver fox ears and many silvery tails appeared.
"Eight tails." Tamano no Mae proudly declared. "She is the sweetest girl I have ever had, out of all my daughters she is also the only one without showing an interest in a mate."
"Mom!" The younger kitsune goddess was clearly embarrassed if the blushing was any indication.
"Her tails and ears are very sensitive and fluffy." The pink kitsune continued bragging.
Victoria reached out and gripped a pink ear. "Tama" She growled.
"Ahh, I'll be good?" The kitsune released her daughter.
Victoria pulled the pink menace across her lap, where the nine-tailed goddess wriggled around to find a comfortable position once she was released. Victoria started petting the pink floof. "What brings you here, Firi?"
"Ahh." The Goddess was staring at her mother and Zaria's mate. They looked very cosy.
"I was about to tell you to leave it to us? The Goddess of the Dark Elves sent an offer to lend her favourite assassins, the Goddess of Darkness offered a bunch of vampires in case we needed to do something at night, the Goddess of Light sent some paladins, and so on. Is it really alright to cuddle my mother like that when you have a mate?"
Victoria looked down at the kitsune who was being petted. "I suspect Zaria would understand, then she would tease me."
"Mhm~" The spoiled kitsune made an agreeing noise. "She is really good with her hands. If you ask nicely, they might share." She told her daughter.
"Mother!" Ifirn was clearly scandalised if the blush was any indication.
Victoria tried to imagine it. "The Emperors often have concubines, but a Goddess as a concubine would be a bit much I suspect." She saw the amusement radiating from the floof in her lap, and the embarrassment from the floof before her. It hit her that she had just implied that she was possibly taking a concubine. "Your daughter has nice tails."
"Yes, she is such a maiden though; you would have to teach her everything."
"I might sick Zaria on her, she is the succubus." Victoria declined.
The pair on the throne was blinded by a flash of white magic as the silver kitsune escaped.
"Too much?" Victoria wondered if they had overdone their teasing.
"She was always the sweetest and shyest of my daughters." Tamano no Mae lamented.
"How many children do you have actually?"
"Fifteen daughters." Tamano no Mae bragged.
"Fifteen." Victoria repeated.
"Yes. Why don't you visit my home sometime? Unlike most gods I actually live here in this realm enough to have my own home here." Tamano smirked foxily. "The town is known for its many hot springs, massage parlours, and long sled trails. It is a very popular spot for romantic and steamy weekends and vacations for couples."
"I know at least three of my daughters would like you, four if you count the shy one that just escaped. Well it is six if you count the triplets separately and ten if you count those that would do anything to have a night with Zaria."
Victoria flicked a fluffy pink ear.
"Stop trying to set up a harem, orgy, concubines, or whatever it is you are doing for us."
"But I haven't even started on all the cats, succubae and yuki-onnas who would join. You being a dragon and already this powerful would also impress a lot of dark elves."
"But I want more grandchildren."
"Zaria is family."
"Yes?" Victoria was confused but agreed.
"So you are family."
Victoria did not hesitate. "Yes."
"So your children will be related to me. That means more nieces and granddaughters for me." Tamano made a thoughtful face. "Actually I don't think any of my kitsune ever married a dragon before."
Victoria felt far out of her comfort zone. Children? How? Both Zaria and she were female. She decided not to ask, since the answer was probably magic. She decided to return to the important and annoying part. "Tama, how do you feel about helping me to bury my financial ministries?"
Victoria waved at the Dark Elf that was watching the goddess byplay silently.
"She just found out that the treasury for the country is empty instead of having 27 million, the family is short some 20 million, there is a national debt of 32 million, the private family debt is 5 million, and most of the national treasures are lent out."
"You didn't say anything about the 5 million debt before." Victoria complained.
"Technically you now own those to yourself since you had them raided and sacked."
"Wow that sounds terrible." Tamano no Mae sounded oddly impressed. "Raiding nobles so you get out of paying them back."
Victoria was about to defend herself before she suspected that the floof was teasing her. "Actually I did not know about the debt. Did they get raided for trying to get me assassinated or for being slavers?"
The elf checked her documents. "One for the assassination, two for slavery, and one for both actually."
"That was stupid." Tamano commented.
"Very stupid." Victoria agreed.
"And your money was given away to people like that?"
"Yes." Victoria's draconic side told her that it was all hers. Her Empire, her treasures, her gold, and naturally her precious on the other mountain.
Tamano no Mae rose and with a wave the documents from the Information Guild were all in her hands. "Now let's go. Let's ruin everyone who harms the family."
Being serious did not suit the pink kitsune at all, Victoria decided. She took a deep breath and summoned the draconic power again. Then she put on the mask. Controlling it was really easier with the mask.
"Thank you Tama, but first I have to explain to them why I dislike being lied to and being cheated."
"You know that you being all angry is sexy?" The pink floof mentioned.
Victoria was very happy that the mask was hiding her face.
"Your ears are red." The floof had no problems with finding ways to tease the little dragon. "And don't worry, teasing is a family tradition."
"It's too late to escape." Victoria slumped as she realised it. She then smirked and pulled the pink floof to the throne. "Actually, why do I have to go to them? Someone bring me everyone from the financial ministries. Tarry and the Dark Elf probably have names and lists."
Victoria sat back in the throne and pulled Tamano across her lap, and then she started petting the tails.
"Hau?" The pink floof froze wide-eyed.
"I heard it is fine for the family to do some grooming. Bring me a hairbrush, or a tail brush."
Sadism threw a silver brush towards the dragon. "It is a new one; I kept it in case I got someone to use it on. It is properly enchanted to."
Victoria managed to catch it with a little fumbling with one hand. The other was busy keeping the pink kitsune in place. It was obvious that the kitsune could escape at any time, but was choosing not to for some reason.
"I heard that proper grooming is important; if I do something incorrectly, tell me."
While guards hurried away to fetch the officials in question. Everyone else could only see a sadistic dragon playing with her pet floof. That the dragon in question was their Empress and the pet floof was the Kitsune Goddess.
The noises did not sound innocent at all.
After an eternity, for the victim and everyone watching or listening, Victoria stopped. "This is harder than it looks despite the tail being so soft."
Tamano no Mae quickly rose and sat beside the girl with a red face. "Sadist. Tail molester. Floof Abuser."
Victoria made a thoughtful sound. "Does hugging a tail all night long count?"
The kitsune turned a darker red. "The whole night?"
"Best sleep I have had in a long time."
"You are evil."
The court knew that it was not meant, as the evil type of evil, but that could easily be misinterpreted.
"I can only imagine how nice it must be to sleep cuddling your tails."
"Eeep." Tamano no Mae looked ready to bolt.
Victoria started giggling. "Revenge is mine. I understand why you all like teasing so much."
The kitsune froze. Then a foxy smirk appeared. "Well done young dragon, but you have much to learn. And if you play with tails, tails will play with you." The kitsune faded away and returned to reality on the lap of the girl. "Now that you had your fun, it is my turn." And started nuzzling and rubbing against Zaria's mate.
Victoria was doing her best to ignore the very physical affection. "If you overdo it, I'll tell Zaria."
"And I will tell her that you went for my tails instead of hers."
The opponents were facing off.
That the officials and ministers entered now and were protesting against their treatment was bad luck. "You Highness, I must protest against this treatment." "You can't just order us around like that."
""What?"" Divine and draconic power slammed into the fools who were incapable of reading the mood. Or felt too entitled to understand that the Empress was not happy.
Sadism orgasmed on the spot yet again when most of the pampered officials fainted on the spot. Tarry decided to ignore everything and continued correlating her information with the document from the blushing dark elf.
"I heard something very interesting." Victoria started after Tamano no Mae waved her hand to wake and clean the victims of their little spat. "That instead of finding millions of coins and national treasures in the treasury, I can walk freely through the rather empty vault. Why don't the Senior Ministers explain?"
"The vault is filled as it should be." One of them, Victoria did not bother remembering the name or exact ministry, responded.
"I did not ask that, I asked where the over twenty millions that should be there and our national treasures are."
"Everything was done correctly."
"He is lying~" Tamano chirped.
"Why do officials keep on lying before gods?"
"While it may be correct according to his standards, he knew perfectly well that it wasn't how it is according to law and proper expenditures." Tamano explained.
"Your turn." Victoria picked another victim.
"We only transferred and reallocated the sums according to the orders we got. We took records of everything. We emptied the treasury and took loans as we were ordered."
"The treasury has kept all the orders and requests. Since we couldn't pay up, the treasures were taken as collateral."
"We financed the nobles as needed and made projects possible. Paying everyone is expensive."
"Paying the relevant people their bonuses and presents to the right people are expensive."
"The other ministries always come with demands, never depositing anything."
Victoria clapped loudly and caused a shockwave that knocked most people closer to her over. "Legitimate budgets don't include gifts, presents, bribes, appreciations, or however you want to call them. Bonuses are not given freely, and especially not to those outside of the ministries. I want records on who got how much. If I find errors when comparing to the lists the Information Guild gave me, there will be heads rolling." She pointed at the dark elf who gave the officials her best feral smile. "Remove the Senior Ministers, and find out what they know."
Sadism raised a hand.
"Can we torture them? They have such nice black souls."
"Have fun." The Empress knew she should probably let them have their trials first, but having so many that needed trials and taking in consideration how long those trials usually took. She should not stop caring for proper procedure. "I am making an announcement." She declared as the draconic power spiked. "Until all the corruption, theft, and illegal dealings are dealt with, I will fight fire with fire." She rose, lifting the floof in a princess carry. "Trials will wait for those in power. The Gods will judge, angels, devils, fae, and the Information Guild will provide evidence. As your Empress, I am deeply ashamed of my Ministries. As a dragon, I want to crush all that harms what is mine! You better let them deal with you, or you can throw yourself to my mercy."
Victoria left the throne room while carrying Tamano with her.
Once they reached the private rooms Tamano took the dragon mask off Victoria and hopped out of the arms. Then she hugged the human girl. "You did well. Now it is my turn to pamper you, you might not have a tail or fluffy ears. But I am very good with massages and bathing."
"Is it normal that you all want to wash me?"
Now Victoria found herself picked up. "Which way to the bath?"
"I still have a lot of work, a short break is enough."
"Fine. Ifirn!" The floof called her daughter.
The silver kitsune appeared a bit later. The situation looked odd, but she soon realised what was going on. "Overdoing it is no good; you drained a lot of your strength." She chided the human girl.
"It's not my fault I have so much work and obstinate, corrupt, and useless officials." The Empress tried to defend herself.
"She won't let me bathe her." Tamano no Mae whined.
"She is mated, and you would just tease her." The silver kitsune took the Empress from her mother. "I'll deal with her, why don't you make yourself useful and actually work?"
"Work is boring."
"I'll tell Zaria." The eight-tailed kitsune threatened.
"I'll go and annoy some random Minister." The pink kitsune waved and faded away.
"Can you walk?" Now that they were alone Ifirn started blushing.
"Yes, thank you, your mother is so …" Victoria was not sure how to explain it.
"Your mate is worse."
"She is my mate." Victoria blushed as she realised she had admitted it openly. "I can always play with her tail or ask her to stop it."
"If you say so?" Ifirn did not seem convinced.
Victoria simply sent a dragon.
"Wait, did you just call her?"
"Yes. Since everyone seems to tell me to rest and be pampered, why not? She is very good at it."
"I am very good at what?" Zaria asked as she faded into reality behind the silver goddess.
"Eeep!" The Goddess jumped and darted behind Victoria. "Don't do that!"
"Do what?" Zaria asked with a foxy smirk.
"Zaria, I was ordered to take a rest and take a bath. Tamano offered a massage, and Ifirn saved me so be nice."
"I am nice." Zaria countered as she pulled her mate into an embrace and then a long deep kiss.
When the kiss finally finished they saw Ifirn blushing and covering her eyes with her fingers, she was peeking through them though.
"For being Tama's daughter and knowing you she is even more innocent than I ever was." Victoria remarked.
"Yes, it is rather curious, but she is also one of the nicest and most caring girls I have ever met. She is a good cook too. She is going to make some girl very happy once she unlocks her hormones."
"Why girl?" The silver kitsune countered. "I could find myself a nice man."
"Find one and prove me wrong." Zaria stepped forward and ruffled the silver hair.
"I am not a little girl anymore." She complained but did not move away.
"Compared to me you are." Zaria pulled her into a hug. "No hurry though, when you fall in love it will happen."
"Now I'll pamper my little dragon."
"Have fun~" The kitsune walked off.
"You are far too eager." Victoria complained when Zaria picked her up and the world shifted to the onsen at Zaria's shrine.
"What, and let someone else spoil my fun?"
--- A few hours later ---
Refreshed, fed, and having napped and cuddled after eating; Victoria felt much better.
She was now visiting the palaces.
Mostly everyone seemed confused.
A lot were waiting for their families to be found or to be assigned to some home or mansion. Angels and sex demons were dealing with the victims of that type of use, abuse, and conditioning. Vitoria found herself steered away from the cold palace where the hardest cases and those going through withdrawal were placed.
There was a lot more confusion with the girls that were in the palace. Several seemed to be of the opinion that she was their owner now, and they had to serve her. The serving ranged from stripping to offering to cook, dance, massages, and offering their first nights. In this case, Victoria was really happy that she had met her floof, that teasing had sort of prepared her some. Telling them that she was only checking on them, and was still busy with work had worked. That they offered themselves without the slave crests spoke of brainwashing and deeply ingrained teaching.
And some of them were now the heirs to their families, or what remained of them.
At least they were in good hands.
Now if only Ifirn would stop blushing each time they met.
Now on the way to her office she already dreaded her paperwork.
She found a black snake sprawled on her desk.
It was clearly not a normal one, considering it was oozing darkness.
"I guess you are not a normal snake."
The snake was staring at her.
She debated calling for Lizzy, but decided against it, since a long magical snake was probably out of the range of the waitress lamia. "Now I need to work, so you either move away, communicate somehow, or you stay and get used as a document prop."
There was no response.
The Empress sighed. It had been a few hectic days.
She approached her desk.
As she walked, the snake observed her.
When she sat down it struck.
It struck faster than she could react or call onto her power.
She felt the teeth touch the skin.
And then there was a snapping sound as the pressure on her skin faded away as papers flew everywhere.
The poofed out tail looked familiar.
The empty space in front of her did not.
Her confused mind recognized the shattered remnants of her desk strewn across the room.
"I guess it was a wise decision to up the enchantments on the choker."
Zaria sounded angry.
"I had thought I had made my intentions clear. But it seems that a Snake Goddess did not listen."
Victoria felt her energy leave her. The Goddess of Snakes had tried to kill her. That was bad.
"Don't worry." Zaria's voice went into a growl. "It won't happen again."
From the corner of her eye, the overwhelmed girl saw the long tail swing for her, only for a white hand to grab it. The crushing noise as the hand closed more than it should have indicated shattered bones.
"Excuse me; I have to teach a stupid snake." Zaria and the 'stupid snake' disappeared.
Then her guards came in.
Followed by angels and devils.
Victoria felt rather disconnected. She giggled.
This caused even more worry.
Finally, Ifirn came in. She walked over and started checking the slumped girl over. "What happened to you, the desk, and the office?"
"Snake Goddess tried to kill me."
There were gasps and shocked exclamations.
"Zaria came and took her away."
Anyone not human seemed to cringe.
Ifirn fidgeted for a bit before slumping. "I guess we need a new Goddess of Snakes."
Victoria gave a blank look.
"Well, Annoyed Zaria is the type that makes the problems go away, drastically. She clearly tried to kill you, and her poison works on soul level, something that not even I can heal. Probably we will never see her again." Ifirn rubbed Victoria's hand gently. "It is weird though, she is a nice girl normally."
"Zaria or the snake goddess?"
"Snake Goddess, she is good friends with Leviathan. Also very pretty to look at with her rainbow scales."
"That was a black snake oozing darkness." Victoria corrected.
"Oh." Ifirn seemed to pale. "That one is not a loss; she is actually the Goddess of Poisons and Venom, and Assassination. She is also the Goddess of snake demons and monsters. Her venom also works on a soul level, but causes absolute agony as well."
"No big loss then?"
"Not at all." Ifirn confirmed.
Victoria looked around her office. "Someone help me to my room, I will make her fix the mess later. I am going to sleep, today was too much."
Ifirn picked the girl up and teleported them from the room.
--- A newly Created Realm made for Battle ---
Zaria was pissed.
A Goddess had tried to hurt her mate.
Maybe it was time to remind everyone that she was a Godslayer.
"I haven't killed gods in a long time." Zaria explained calmly yet the voice had long left the normal language. Each word spoke of power. "I guess it is time to remind everyone who and what I am."
Her eternal nondetection faded away. Tails faded into reality.
Zaria then went further.
She called upon all of it.
"I am so far beyond a tiny stupid snake like you."
Zaria pulled and ripped the snake in half then flung the part with the head away.
"You will die, bit by bit, piece by piece." The part she was still holding then died. The power in it stopped, the flesh died.
The other part shifted. The removed part regenerated,
"You overgrown piece of fluff. You will suffer. My poison will make sure of it."
"Do you worst." Zaria called upon her fans, not the normal ornate ones. Not the new ones, but ancient ones inhabited by a pair of twins, former lovers a long time ago.
The Goddess of Assassins had finished her change, she was now a hydra. "You will pay for what you did."
"You will pay for what you tried to do." Zaria realised that there was clearly a backstory to this, but honestly, she did not care. Her goal was to make sure that another situation like this did not happen.
She had reacted quickly, but had she taken longer, she could have lost her.
That was unacceptable.
The battle was on.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
Victoria was feeling better.
She was also feeling irritated.
Ifirn was clearly fretting and worried.
Tamano was clingy and growling at anyone coming closer.
A dwarf with a grey beard was quarrelling with fairies over securing her room.
Leviathan had been pulled into the mess by someone and was currently being brought up to speed.
It was pure chaos.
Paranoid angels and devils were running all over the place and world trying to figure out more plots against Victoria.
"Can you talk Tama into releasing me?"
"No." The snek clearly knew her limits. "We will have to wait for Zaria to finish killing that stupid snake first."
"Overprotective floofs." Victoria complained fondly as she reached out to pet her fluffy captor. It honestly felt nice to be fawned upon and having everyone care for her.
It was family.
"Come sit you two." She patted the bed with her free hand.
Ifirn hesitated but then sat carefully. Leviathan simply plopped on the bed, not caring that she was lying across several of Tamano's tails.
"So can anyone explain why the Goddess of Snake Monsters, Poison, Assassins, and whatever tried to kill me?"
There was a moment of silence.
Finally, Tamano no Mae started talking. "One of my shrines was the start. It is one of those where Zaria lived for a while to set everything up, she taught the first shrine maidens there herself. They were unwilling to overcharge for healing and were not at the local nobles' call. The noble did not like that." Tamano frowned. "Then there was a direct confrontation when taxes were raised to an incredible amount, the shrine maidens under lead of the head shrine maiden helped people relocate and filed a protest with the country. They lost though. Therefore, everyone relocated. The noble was not happy. However, thanks to certain laws it was legal. Angered, assassins were hired by him. They failed and their corpses were delivered as proof. The country then had to look into it, but it was slow going. Finally, the daughter of the soon dead goddess went out. Now you have to understand that a shrine maiden personally trained by Zaria is something like a Saint and Paladin in one for other gods. That meant that the assassin poisoned the children the shrine maiden came to visit. She recognized that it was poison, but it was difficult since it was poison from the daughter of the goddess of poison. That distraction as she tried to save the children was what the assassin used to attack. She, the children and several others were murdered. Then Zaria found out."
Victoria had the feeling she knew what happened. "Zaria dealt with the assassin and the noble, permanently."
"Yes. The country and royals had problems with everyone since they let the nobles get away with everything. They even tried to charge her." The dwarf stroked his beard. "That was really stupid. Temples, shrines, and everyone who could, left the country. Trade with many countries suffered. Nobles might be nobles, but we are above mortals as gods and beings of power. That means that we do not belong to a country. They wanted to claim themselves above us. Then the dark gods started to play."
It clicked suddenly for Victoria. "Intartien. You are speaking about Intartien. The cursed country that was destroyed."
"Yes." Ifirn confirmed. "A sad story brought about by greed."
The group fell silent.
Finally, Leviathan broke the silence. "The loss of the daughter of that stupid snake. She probably intended for you to die, and hoped her stealth would prevent anyone from finding out. It is a good thing Zaria is really overprotective."
"And what about needing a new goddess?" Victoria asked.
"She is dead." "Death by stupid." "A replacement will be hard to find." "A corpse can't be a god." "Serves her right for trying to harm my family."
Victoria was overwhelmed that her mate was powerful enough to kill a full-fledged goddess, and was doing just that for trying to harm her. On the other hand, the floof was so overprotective and it was honestly making her feel warm. She was probably weird but something was telling her that a slain goddess was proof of love.
--- A newly Created Realm made for Battle ---
Zaria ignored the poison cloud.
Her body was just something to give herself a shape.
That the poison was and the venom was meant to attack the soul, body, magic, and essence was ignored.
Such attacks did not work on her.
Apex, Aspect, Transcended.
Her soul was a mess anyway, and held together by her will alone.
Sure, she would have to fix, purge, detoxify, and restore the physical shell. However, currently that was a minor issue. More important was cutting off all nine heads again then ripping the next heart out and crushing it.
There was nowhere to run; there was nowhere to hide in this world she had thrown the obstinate snake into.
"178 heads, 29 hearts." Zaria squished it with her hand. "You are taking longer and longer to regenerate. I'll have to motivate you by making snake slices starting from the tail tip up."
Zaria was almost done with her anger.
Soon she would simply crush the nuisance.
Then everyone with power would know the death of a god and why it died.
She fended off the following attack. Fans sliced through necks thicker than they had any right to if you considered the size.
"My followers will crush you." The hydra hissed. "You can't be everywhere, you can't protect everyone."
"But I can." It was time to end this farce. Torturing was something Zaria was not fond of, but it had its uses. "Let me show you what you challenged." She brought forth the Aspects.
The Aspect of Death killed eight of the nine heads. The heart stopped. Life kept the goddess alive. Power was crushing the almost dead hydra.
"Outer!" The Hydra finally realised just how out her depth she was.
"Not Outer, I am a step beyond. I am an Aspect."
She had directed her anger at someone who stood above the creator. She threatened the loved one of something beyond power. Her daughter had killed someone whom a being from beyond eternity cared for. It was their fault. She still hated them. "I curse you. I curse that foolish mortal you are so enamoured with."
Zaria crushed the curse. She killed it. "May you find peace in eternal Death."
She appeared before the last alive head and touched it.
The soul of the Goddess died.
Through her connection all those ordered by the Goddess of Assassins died.
Across the world, thousands fell over as a being beyond gods ordered their death.
"It is done."
Now Zaria had a different issue.
Shaping herself back into something that would not change reality by her presence.
Purge and purify the venom and poison.
Repair the physical body.
Restart the heart.
Purify the blood from the venom.
Remind herself to actually breathe.
Remove the poison from lungs and purify the air.
Fix the clothes.
Dump the corpse with a note on the God of Creation's desk.
Return to her mate.
--- Mardiors - South Mountain - The Palace - Empress Chambers ---
Every God present flinched and cringed.
Leviathan stretched. "It is done. She is dead, her soul is dead, and a lot of her followers are dead."
"Already?" Victoria wondered if killing a Goddess was supposed to be this quick.
"She probably played with her first. Work off the anger. You and most can't feel it, but she was very angry."
"Ohh." Victoria freed herself from the clingy floof.
Victoria checked her over. "You are not hurt?"
"Well, the clothes were a loss, and I had a lot of poison in me, I had to get it all out before returning."
The human girl hugged the white floof.
To everyone else Zaria's surprise was obvious as the ears and tail rose.
Then she hugged her back. "I am back, and I made sure it won't happen again."
"Want to give up on the day and relax at the onsen?"
"Fix the desk and clean up the documents first."
That caused giggles and laughs from the onlookers as Zaria gave her mate an incredulous look.
"I need them tomorrow." The stubborn dragon insisted.
"Fine." Zaria nodded. "Done."
"Did you think I'd do it by hand instead of going over to the onsen and taking my time to check you for curses, marks, scratches?"
"I am the one who should be doing the checking. Who just killed a goddess? You or me?"
"Alright feel free to do so." Zaria smirked foxily.
Victoria blushed as she realised what she had just promised to do.
"Get a room you two." Leviathan complained.
"Actually it is their room, so you two don't mind us. We are just watching the show." Tamano corrected the sea snake.
Ifirn was blushing but seemed to enjoy it.
"I'll be goin', if ya need some proper fortifications give a call, yer prison cells are now properly secure, and my people will finish fixin' the buildings over the week. If ya need any more dwarves for projects, I will let the king know to give the Empire good rates for public projects." The dwarf walked out the door.
Zaria waved at the other three goddesses and teleported away with Victoria.
"Did they remember to inform anyone of their plans? I suspect a lot of people will be worried if she suddenly disappears." Tamano asked the other two.
"True." Leviathan agreed. "But they should get used to it."
"Seems irresponsible." Ifirn huffed.
""Then you can do it."" Leviathan and Tamano told the younger Goddess and disappeared.
"Hey!" Ifirn complained to the empty room, startling several fairies. "That is unfair."
Several fairies flew over and petted the silver kitsune on the head. A few started braiding her hair.
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Onsen Dressing Room ---
"Straight to the bath?" Victoria wondered.
"And a massage afterwards. Then we eat." Zaria placed her mate back on her feet.
"You are cooking?" Victoria was ashamed to admit to herself that she was hooked on the food. Something about it just tasted better than what her royal cook made.
"Sure~" The ears and tail visibly perked up. It was obvious that Zaria knew she loved it. "What do you want to eat?"
"Something easy, not too fancy."
There was the foxy smirk. "Have you ever eaten pizza?"
"A dish made and eaten over here." The illusion of the planet made its appearance again, only this time she found herself staring at the other side of the world.
"That is far away, the ingredients must be expensive." Then she remembered. "Unless you teleported there again."
"Yes I did, but only to restock on olive oil, tomatoes, types of cheese from over there, and spices."
"So another dish probably worth its weight in gold?"
"You can make it with substitutes from around here. You need flour, tomatoes, oil, cheese that melts, as for toppings, those can be almost everything. That reminds me, what are your favourite dishes?" Zaria gave the girl a squeeze as she helped her undress. "And I mean favourites, not the stuff a royal should like."
Victoria felt oddly touched. "Something light? It has been a stressful day."
"Anything that you don't like?"
"So what is it?"
"Stop reading my mind."
"Just tell me."
"I don't like potatoes too much. And I don't like broccoli or brussel sprouts."
"That is fine, that is nothing very limiting, and there are still endless dishes left. How does a tomato soup with rice sound to you?"
"I am not sure I ever ate it before."
"It can be normal and balanced, a little sweeter, or slightly spicy with more pepper. Though I like the sweet and spicy version."
"That sounds interesting." Victoria admitted. "But not too spicy."
"Very well my lady. I will make it soon, though technically I am already cooking, or will be cooking. Normal language isn't made for time travel."
It was a stray thought. "Do you sleep enough?" The human asked as was led to the washing area.
"Yes, I simply take naps when not busy."
"I feel jealous."
"We can take one together this weekend. Any scent you want to use today?"
"How about something fruity? Citrus like lemon is refreshing. Or vanilla, it is relaxing." Zaria offered both for a smell test.
"Vanilla this time." Victoria decided after a few sniffs. "What will you be using? Actually what are you using? You always smell so nice."
"To tell the truth, that is my natural smell." Zaria admitted. "And it has side-effects. Monsters with a sense of smell tend to single me out, and combined with my taste it makes them want to eat me, or worse. Not that they ever managed."
Victoria wondered how she would find out about the taste. Then she remembered something. "Is that why I want to continue kissing you?"
"That is just a part of it." Zaria pulled her mate into a deep kiss.
When the kiss broke, the girl made a protesting sound.
"Let's wash up, we have a lot of time after we eat."
Washing Victoria went normal with just a minimum of arousing touches. Victoria however had a harder time. It was her first time washing someone.
She got water into Zaria's ears.
Washing the breasts made her blush nervously.
Touching the fur and the lips down there had her wanting to cover her ears and skip.
She managed to get through it with a lot of coaching and instruction.
She lost herself in washing the tail.
Hugging the wet and soapy tail that still felt fluffy.
She also got a better look at Zaria's aroused flower then she was ready for.
She had to admit that there was something very satisfying about seeing her future mate wet, dripping, and needy.
She was not surprised when she got pounced on and kissed when they settled down in the hot spring.
"Needy floof." Victoria observed as Zaria was plastered against her and she felt the hardened tips press against her body.
"I was a bit careless." Zaria admitted. "I did not expect to become that aroused from your touches and looks." Zaria paused to give the human girl a lick across the throat.
"Something felt just right about doing it, and I am sort of satisfied? I just feel I should do more."
"Interesting." Zaria whispered into the girl's ear. "That is your draconian instincts. You want to possess, satisfy, cherish and be cherished." The albino nipped at the ear. "I am your treasure and you are my mate."
It felt just right.
It felt true.
It was confusing.
"Am I really a dragon?"
"No, but your affinity is very high, your magic is deeply tainted by the draconic blood of your ancestors. You could say that you will be as draconic as someone can be without being a true dragon. It is another thing I should have warned you about before teaching you, but I did not expect you to take this well to your ancestral heritage." Zaria leant back.
Amber eyes met red eyes.
"Will you change? Just a bit. You will be more instinctual, more passionate, and your values will change a bit."
Victoria felt that she should be scared, that she should be worried, and that she could be changing into someone that was not her.
"Don't worry." Zaria cupped the slightly red from the hot water face in her white hands. "You will still be you. You will just be more than human. It happened to me over time. At my core I am still the perverted, needy, chaotic, random, sometimes forgetful and careless floof I was all that time ago."
"Forgetful?" Victoria wondered.
"I tend to forget people I don't care about. Then I have a hard time wearing shoes. I only remembered to wear them when dressing up actually."
Victoria tried to remember. Her face scrunched into a slight frown.
"I think I never saw you remove socks or shoes."
"I wore them on our first date."
"And about that careless part?"
"When you are as powerful as I am, or even gods and such. You tend to disregard a lot of things that could be important later."
"Like a snake goddess?"
"Like a snake goddess."
Victoria buried her face into her mate's neck. "Is it normal to crave and fear skinship, affection, and the more lewd things so much?"
"Yes~" Zaria agreed happily. "It is probably worse for you. You are still young, I suspect I am your first lover, and you are inexperienced. Together with your awakening instincts and hormones you want more and more, while your knowledge and mind tell you to slow down."
"This is complicated."
"That is life, but it is fun too. Sleep on it, don't worry too much." Zaria laced their fingers and showed their linked hands to her mate. "We are in this together. While I want to pin you to the bed and then spend a few weeks making sweet and passionate love to you. I can wait."
"Weeks?" The dragon felt her face heat up even more.
"I am kitsune, fey, spirit, and succubus. That makes me very passionate and loyal. Exploring your body sounds very tempting," Zaria purred. "However I think we should get out before you overheat in more than one way."
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Kitchen ---
Seeing one Zaria step into another was weird.
Especially since one was wearing an apron in addition to the shrine maiden outfit.
Victoria found herself in a nice soft robe.
They had arrived on time for a taste test.
Or she had, since Zaria had gone back in time or something.
That still confused her, and would probably confuse most scholars as well.
"I changed the menu a bit. I decided to add noodles instead of rice."
"Tastes good, the sweetness is a bit different from what I expected."
"I used sweeter tomatoes, no need to add sugar or honey."
"And the pepper?"
"Will be added now."
It was a peppermill that got a workout.
Victoria felt the itch in her nose.
Zaria turned away and sneezed.
"Sensitive nose?" Victoria asked to confirm her suspicion.
"Very." Then she sneezed again.
"Let me do it." Victoria displaced her floof at the pot.
Once Zaria indicated it was enough they let it simmer a bit more while they set the table.
Victoria was surprised when Zaria added a bit of milk at the end.
"It rounds it up and gives it a bit of smoothness. Actually that was not milk, it was cream."
"Really? I thought cream was the thicker one for desserts."
"Yes, it can generally be used for some dishes since it has a nice rounding taste."
Victoria admitted she was curious, maybe she should cook more, or expand her knowledge beyond making tea for her future husband. Her teachings were very limited as a former trophy princess. She wanted to learn more.
"I can teach you."
"Stop reading my mind."
"It was obvious how curious and eager to help you are."
"Do you always have excuses?"
"No, sometimes I am just curious. Or do something perfectly irrational like fall in love with a sweet and pretty dragoness who is actually a royal."
Victoria felt her face heat up again at the direct admission. "You …"
"Yes~" Zaria confirmed merrily.
"Is the soup ready?" Victoria wanted a distraction.
Zaria smiled as saw through the forced change of topic. "Let us eat."
"You are making fun of me." Victoria accused.
"No, I just thought about how adorable and cute you are. It made me smile."
The embarrassed girl escaped to the stove.
Zaria followed and made her mate taste their result. Then she helped fill their bowls.
It was time to eat.
--- Maridors - North Mountain - Oldest Shrine - Bedroom ---
"Nnngh" Victoria complained as the tenseness was massaged away.
Vanilla oil and vanilla candles made the sweet and heavy scent permeate Zaria's bedroom. She felt exhausted after Zaria had done unspeakable things to her feet again.
Her legs were weak and powerless after her upper and lower thighs were squeezed, rubbed, and the legs stretched.
Now the knots in her shoulders, neck, and along the spine were being massaged.
"It is fine to fall asleep."
She felt a bit guilty for falling asleep on her lover all the time.
The warm body laid against her back, she felt the bulges with the hardened peaks dig into her back.
"I can wait. However, once we start, do not expect to get any sleep until you pass out. Maybe when we go on a vacation." Zaria kissed the shoulder before sitting back up and continuing her ministrations.
Victoria tried to hold on.
Soon however she lost herself in the warmth and darkness.
Her last semi conscious memory was of being rolled over and her body being covered with a warm shape that felt and smelled like Zaria. Even like that, breasts against breast was something that felt nice.
Then came the warm darkness of a good sleep.
1: Onsen town and Yuki-onnas. Wearing fur clothes and seeing snow for the first time. Votes: 39 39.8%
2: Tropical island. Skimpy bikinis, sun, beaches, private beach, lamia. Votes: 34 34.7%
3: The blue moon, visit the home of the Moon Hare, and chat with the bunnies. Votes: 22 22.4%
4: Underdark. A city under a sky of rock. Oddly polite dark elves. Votes: 14 14.3%
5: Fey forest. The neutral fey forest, relaxing nature, und reality going sideways. Votes: 13 13.3%
6: High elven City. A City in the trees. Nature and elves. Don't be afraid of heights. Votes: 4 4.1%
7: Demon Lord's Castle. Supposedly the evil overlord's home. Loli vs Empress Votes: 41 41.8%
8: Doesn't matter Votes: 4 4.1%
9: I have an Idea!!! Put it in the comments or discord. Votes: 0 0.0%