Nothing brokers peace and smooths over ruffled feathers like a sloppy blowjob. I nearly got hard just thinking back to it.
Arriving just after lunch, I blinked into the courtyard unnoticed, and marched up the steps into the keep. The royalty was staying with Lord Rewt. The guard at the door said nothing, letting me through. I had adapted my attire with a simple jacket to appear like a commoner, but he must have remembered my face.
The large hall with tables and benches was a buzz of activity. A din of conversations and occasional boisterous laughter filled the air. At the far end, situated a step above the rest stood a table sporting a fancy burgundy cloth - the noble's table. There, sat the six, plus Lord Rewt. The scent of a late lunch wafted in the air, and judging by what was being served, I been eating like a king.
A few heads turned, but they quickly went back to their meals and drinks. The simple jacket had done wonders, making me near invisible and gave me a chance to observe. Thirty at the tables wore identical tabards with intricate red crests. The royal entourage? Standing to the side, I scanned through their status screens, but didn't find anything note worthy. Only the six at the fancy table had something they could boast about.
"Ahh, James," said a familiar soothing voice. "Glad you came."
With a smile on my face I walked up to the nobles' table and met her eye to eye. "Well, of course."
Katie brushed a strand of hair back around the ear, then looked down for a moment as if shy. She had likely revealed what she saw about my aura to the six at the table.
Her brother, Prince Gabe looked at me sideways with disdain, grabbed his goblet, downed it empty, then slammed it down on the table.
He glared at me. "You are a cheat! Using tricks and illusions is a coward's way. I want a rematch." He stood up tall and pointed at the court yard back outside. "We'll settle it now, once and for all."
Or perhaps, she didn't say anything about me after all, seeing how he was eager for a fight. Katie winced at her brother's accusation, looking miserable, she silently mouthed 'I'm sorry.'
There was no need to say anything, it would have been pointless anyways because he didn't seem the kind to take to reason. Besides, it'd just upset Katie for no benefit to me.
He swung over the table like a gymnast, landing beside me. "I came prepared this time. You won't win." He marched off to the exit, expecting me to follow.
What did 'prepared' could possibly mean against me? I walked out into the courtyard, contemplating ways of winning without completely humiliating him again. Maybe throw the fight? or somehow tie it?
A throng of people poured out of the keep to watch the fight. He started undressing right in the middle of the courtyard, and didn't finish until he was down to just his knee-length breeches. What the hell was he doing?
Shirtless and barefooted, he brought his fists up to his face. "This time, we're gonna fight like real men. No magic, no tricks." He grinned from ear to ear. "Unless you're scared?"
I groaned. "A fist fight?"
He gestured with both hands for me to come at him. "Come on!"
My jacket and shirt went into a pile beside me. I knew exactly what needed to be done, but didn't look forward to it one bit. Behind me in the circle of onlookers, Katie's face was wrinkled with concern. Recalling last night, a second helping would be worth a little pain.
Instead of slashing my stats, I upped his strength by a lot - enough so he'd leave a bruise or two. I didn't trust any watching bystander to just nuke me with a spell, or shoot an arrow in the eye.
Hands up to my face, I took a step forward. He roared and charged like a bull. A thousand fists flew at me like he was Bruce Lee. This was going to be a bloody affair. Holding back almost all of my strength, we waled on each other blow for blow without dancing about.
Two minutes was all it took. Both equally bruised and bloodied, I timed a light tap to his left eye just as he pummeled me in the lip. He went down to the ground, and I did my best to appear equally knocked out.
He didn't stay down, though. Swaying like a flag in a wind, he clambered up to his knees, attempted to stand then crashed to the ground.
The crowd mostly made up of the royal entourage didn't know whether to cheer or not. I returned his strength back to what it was and I hoped he didn't check mid-fight. A healer ran over to heal him, so I stood up and healed myself. My swollen lip shrunk back to normal and the bruises faded.
They helped him walk back to the hall, as he was still stumbling despite all the healing. It didn't take long though. Once up on his feet, no longer sporting a left shiner and walking unaided, Gabe immediatly boasted to the entire room. "I was the last man standing," he said with a finger raised as if making a point.
I chuckled. "You call that standing? I seen reeds more firmly planted."
"Oh, you want some more?"
I shook my head rolling my eyes where Katie can see me. She mouthed a silent 'Thank you.' I chuckled and winked back to her - I won where it mattered most. He kept his pride, whereas my phenomenal cosmic power had little need for ego - I knew where I stood.
"What's the plan?" I asked.
"We have gathered a worthy team," Gabe said. "And tonight we shall return to the capital. Within a week we'll journey north to destroy the titan threatening our lands."
That evening I returned to the castle's courtyard with the four girls, ready to head out to the capital. Emma was ecstatic to find out we'd be heading there so soon. Sophia kept asking questions about the future and plans to which I had no answers to.
The royals and their crew were assembled, packed and ready to go. We walked up to Katie and I introduced the four girls.
"You can leave the country servants here," Katie said. "I will find you more suitable servants than them."
"My servants?" I chuckled. "Goodness no. They are my .. companions."
Nobody was amused though, perhaps for many various reasons I didn't want to consider.
"No horses?" I asked, changing the subject quickly.
Katie shook her head. "Mass Recall, straight to the capital in a blink of an eye."
"Impressive .. when?" I asked.
"As soon as everyone is in the circle," she said, and we followed after her.
Drawn in dirt with a stick in the center of the courtyard was a circle big enough to fit a crowd. A man in a blue robe stood dead center of it, holding a rolled up scroll.
Once everyone stepped inside, they made a roll call - everyone was present and accounted for. Without fan fair, the blue robed man unfurled the scroll. The ground inside the circle lit up in a magnificent pattern of white lettering and curved lines as if made from pure light. The bright light nearly blinded me, yet at the same time the daylight winked out, turning completely dark all around us. The girls gasped and huddled close together around me.
Flickering lights appeared around us, and as my eyes adjusted I could see that they were candles. The bright ground turned dark, and we found ourselves in a dimly lit catacomb. A smell of dust and decay hung in the air. Piles of bones in stacks laid under carved-out shelves filled with skulls.
"What did I tell you about using the catacombs for the recall point?" Gabe nearly shouted.
The man in blue mumbled something. Everyone quickly shuffled out toward the exit, far down the candle lit hallway. Urns of various sizes and colors were arrayed along the sides. Stray fragments of bone crunched under my boots.
We exited outside into evening light and I found myself in a busy street.
Horse's hoofs clonked on tightly laid cobbled roads, and all manner of carriages rumbled by. A stream of people wove through the crowded streets. It reminded me of New York, with all the liveliness.
The crowds parted in our wake. We walked in the shadows of green domed buildings on both sides. Yet above them all, towered an immense structure, like a mountain. A magnificent white spire jutting straight into the sky, with an enormous glass dome at its peak.
We neared the city wall and entered inside, then climbed winding stairs up to the top. Above the roofs, a strong wind ruffled our outerwear. It turned out to be a massive highway, wide enough for several carriage to travel side by side. This highway cut through the city - a straight shot to the center. A similar highway crossed the city perpendicular to this one, and also joined up in the center. Concentric walls segmented the city, each one rising higher and higher to the center, like steps, or a layered wedding cake. The highway had a slight steady pitch upward, so that by the time we neared the center, we were well above the rest of the city.
As we approached closer, I could make out details. The great white spire glowed orange and red with the evening sun, and its massive base stood several levels above the red-tiled roofs of the city, and interwoven between its outer columns grew magnificent trees. Emma stared out to the sides with wide eyes, while Amelia clung to my arm. Sophia and Charlotte walked ahead of me, arguing about something.
Katie joined me on the side with a satisfied smile on her face.
"You been gone a while?" I asked her.
"It's been months." She shook her head in disbelief. "I'm happy to be home." Her eyes stared out absently forward, before she regained herself.
Spotted from a distance, a mass of servants rushed out to greet the royals.
"Come, I'll show you around." She took my arm as we were encircled by attentive servants.