Chapter 36: Zeruna Listens To Their Approach
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Aema twiddles her food around with her fork, pondering deeply. Next to her is Tina, silently gorging herself on massive amounts of food and guzzling water. Across the room, Vidir is mingling with other burly and muscular men, their laughs carrying themselves loudly across the food hall as they spoke to one another. The half-drunk Dwarf even tries his hand at getting a girl; however, he is waved away by every woman he approaches. After which, his new friends comfort him.

"He can just talk and befriend anyone, can't he?" comments Tina quietly.

"Yeah, yeah," Aema replies, paying little attention to her surroundings.

"Except for women it seems," continues Tina as she takes a sip of water from her glass.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah."

'Why did Zeruna feel so concerned? I've never  seen her like that; I don't think Tina's has too. I didn't even need to look at her face to know she was worried about something. Dammit, it's times like this when I wished I had some method of psychic communication like Psionics. I guess I could ask Tina, there aren't many people around us and everyone is loud, so I doubt people will hear us. However, I've learnt from my many near misses — I'm not risking it. Maybe some Elf is attempting to listen in on our conversations.. Again, I'm not risking it.'

Aema picks up her fork and takes a small bite of the food on the end. Although the beef steak was high quality and rich in taste, to Aema, the food tasted incredibly stale. It is only now that Aema noticed her hand was shaking. 'What is this? Calm down, calm down! She's fine, perfectly fine.'

After everyone had exited, the King had each of the party leaders introduce themselves to the hero. It started with Koeman, and it ended with Zeruna. It's clear this boy, Ryota Sora, is from another world unwillingly.

"Greetings, Sir Hero, I am Shi Amare, leader of the Mystic Moon," says Zeruna, her mask and voice unnerving the hero who has to bend his neck upwards just to meet face-to-mask with the woman.

For some reason, it kinda hurt Zeruna to call someone Sir. She also felt a similar feeling when she bowed to the King. Was it the pride the body held within? She didn't know.

"H-hello, I'm Ryota Sora. I'm sorry, I didn't expect you to be a female. It's hard to distinguish your gender with that mask."

"No need to apologies, Sir Hero," returns Zeruna. 

The hero returns to in front of the King who has a relieved look on his face as if the troubles of being ruler was lifted from his shoulders.

"So, Sir Hero, have you chosen to fight with us to help us defeat the Orc King, Zeruna Black and the possible revival of Dragon God Avendor?" asks the King.

"First, I have one key question about this world," Ryota says.

"Ask away."

A sinister and menacing chuckle leaves Ryota's mouth, a smirk splits across his face. Zeruna begins to ready a devastating mental attack that will debilitate its target, the Hero, should he say something involved with conquering the world. After the mental attack comes, Zeruna will immediately attack the Hero with her strongest skills and diminish his HP before he has a chance to return strikes. It is the best way to deal with someone with the skill juggernaut. 

"Are there any Elves in this world?!" he yells at the top of his lungs surprising everyone.

The King bursts into laughter, "Yes, yes, there are Elves. Lord, you had me worried for a moment with that laugh. Indeed, this world is populated by Elves. Infact, one of the people you will have to fight is a Dark Elf," the King's voice suddenly darkens. "Her name is Zeruna Black, evil to the core. Some call her a Supreme Being, Elegant Death, Eternal Beauty. About four months ago, she came here, took her necklace and removed four of my fingers."

The King removes his hand from inside his robe and shows his fingerless hand. Zeruna nearly leaks a small giggle. 'Serves you right! I could've killed you, maybe I should've removed his entire hand. He's ungrateful, for which I take great offence to!'

"She sounds smoking hot, except the hand thing," he utters very quietly. "If it's possible, I'll like to avoid killing her. King, after I complete my quest. What will my reward be?"

"A Marquis title, a sizeable castle with its surrounding lands, and a monthly request of whatever you want for ten years. You will become a powerful vassal."

Zeruna connects herself to the Hero's mind. She is half-surprised at his thoughts. 'Ahahahah! Yes, after I manage to turn Zeruna, I will add her to my harem of Elves. I will request female Elves to warm my bed every day as my concubines. I want them with metal collars, maybe in shackles too. I'll have busty elves and also loli elves. Mainly lolis as flat is justice...'

She cuts off the mental connection between her and the hero while repeatedly screaming 'nope' in her head. She doesn't want to continue to listen to that string of thought. Why? Because the Hero is wrong! Zeruna's blood boils, her mouth barely being able to hold back a passionate speech about why bigger is better in every way for everything.

"That seems like a fair deal, does it not?" says the King.

"Wait, hold up," says one of the adventurer party leaders. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you not say that you'd try to redeem Zeruna."

"He didn't exactly say it, but he did imply it," adds another.

"What? Are you insane?!" the King screams.

"Noone is pure evil (especially not Elves). Hey, who knows, maybe I'll even get Zeruna to fight the war with the Orcs for us."

"You've got balls," Zeruna blurts unintentionally, almost letting her hostility slip from her tongue and into her speech.

"In the past, she was known for her unending tenacity and rage. To put things into perspective, after her walking disasters were all slain, she was still around despite her grievous injuries. There are accounts of her destroying entire cities, leaving thousands displaced. If you want to tame a beast like that, you'll need a silver tongue," Gallagher states.

"Not to mention the fact she managed to seduce and trick two members of Azure Azur Azure into sleeping with her after which she killed them in their sleep and sucked their blood."

'Okay, me sleeping with them is absolute bullshit; I only made them lower their guard with lewd implications then killed them. I never actually slept with them, neither did I suck their blood. I'm a powerful and manipulative villain(ess) who formed a powerful city-state, not a horny murderhobo Dark Elf succubus. Okay, maybe the murderhobo part is slightly accurate. I wasn't very landed in my early days.'

"I will deal with her first, getting her on our side–"

Ryota is interrupted by Merrick, "I do not believe that is wise, I think it's better to deal with the Orc King first as they are, as a whole, a much bigger threat. After all, Zeruna is just a single person. Although, we could have resources being directed to tracking and capturing her. Once captured, we will attempt to tame her. If she doesn't yield, she will be tried for her crimes and certainly executed."

"She saved me and my party at the time from Vampire Lord Caspian in the Sevis Dungeon," says Zeruna. "Could this not suggest a change in attitude."

Everyone turns to Zeruna, or as they know as Shi, in surprise and interest. Most of them have most likely heard the stories of them in Sevis. More than fifty slaves being rescued from a hostile while two giants fought with one another. Although they personally didn't slay the Vampire, they manage to fight their way through waves and waves of monsters without a single slave dying.

"Ah, yes, that story," says the wizard girl that was hiding her parties names.

'Her name was Mei, wasn't it? Yes, it is indeed her name. If I remember correctly, she was in the dungeons that day with us. At the time, I never knew she was an A-Rank adventurer.'

"I was in the dungeon and I heard/felt the vibrations suggesting there was fighting. She is a threat nonetheless, better off dead than alive."

"She could've killed me, yet she chose to spare us."

"She's evil incarnate," Mei continues. "Her death is not only deserved, but also wanted by thousands of those whose ancestors were affected by her cruelty."

"Yes, but is this not a possible sign of change?"

"Indeed," King Adrin says. "She didn't kill you, she didn't kill me. Mei, was it? Perhaps she has had a slight change in attitude."

"If there is a more merciful change in her attitude, would it not be smart to exploit it?" interjects the hero. "Zeruna is also likely in the general area. I've read that summoning magic creates a large wave of mana. It's a fantasy cliché used many a time. This means she'll be heading towards this area, in other words, she may be coming to us as we speak."

"We must strengthen you first!" Mei yells. "Zeruna could crush mountains with a single swing, cause tidal waves with a flick of her finger, split the earth with a strike. She killed two of the Rulers of the Underworld at once. You mustn't underestimate her."

"I've read about those fiets in history books; however, whether they exaggerated her strength or not is unknown."

"She's better off dead," Mei states again.

"And extremely dangerous," Koeman mutters.

"Yes, but imagine if that dangerous power was ours to harness, to manipulate, to direct. The Orcs wouldn't stand a chance. If she doesn't show up within a week, then we'll march to the Orcs and defeat them then turn our attention to Zeruna."

"He raises an interesting point," Koeman says. "The war with the Orcs would be incredibly smoother with the Princess of Greed fighting for us."

"Are you sure she can be reasoned with?" another asks.

"We're are playing a dangerous game if we choose this course of action."

"It is a high risk, high reward situation. But we have to try. Maybe, just maybe, we can get the Orcs to stop fighting us and get Zeruna instead," utters someone else. 

"You are forgetting one factor, however. This sorcerer is the main reason for the war as well as the Orcish King's greed and ambition. We should kill the Orcish King and the sorcerer, it is likely after losing both individuals, the rest of the Kingdom will cease their conquest. The Orcs are really into honorable duels and pitfighting. Maybe Sir Hero can entice the Orcs into a duel."

"I think we should do as follows: entice the orcs into a one-on-one duel-to-the-death with the conditions of ceasing their hostilities. Should the Orcs continue with their conquest, we will declare war on them. Then track and kill Zeruna. I believe attempting to tame Zeruna will result in nothing but discord and anarchy."

"I believe everyone can be reasoned with if you appeal to their better nature. Solving a problem without loss of life is much more appealing then a full-blown war with possibly three, or four if Vermillion is to be believed, powerful and mighty beings."

"I will ruminate on this further with my vassals. Your input is appreciated," the King declares. "Please head down to the food hall excluding the hero and Gallagher. I have matters that I wish to discuss with them only. Merrick, please prepare the adventurers temporary lodgings within the city. My vassals should arrive within the week."

During this entire conversation, Zeruna had been conversing with Tina and Aema mentally assuring them everything is fine and also translating everything she is hearing from the throne room. She almost involved Vidir but is quickly told he's in the midst of an important dispute over what the best alcohol is. 

After hearing Zeruna's stable voice in her head, Aema had immediately calmed down, all her worries washed from her system. To her, Zeruna is the older sibling/mentor, guiding her through times. If this guide is lost, Aema would be too. 

(Zeruna) [I'm going to follow them in, reveal myself and try my best to form a friendly relationship with the hero.]

(Aema [Good luck, I guess. Please don't go overboard.]

(Zeruna) [Of course I won't.]