Chapter 248: Ordeal of the Balls
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Ben walked up to the Bridge of the Miss Love Duck. He got to the Bridge and saw everyone besides Kaya gathered there. Nojiko was on the helm of the ship. HQ looked around the window. Alvida, Mikita, Honey, Vivi, Marianne, Zala, Robin, Saphir and Conis were huddled together. They were smiling and laughing.

“Hi all,” Ben greeted.

They all turned around and smiled. They greeted back.

“Did Kaya not come back with you?” Vivi asked.

Nojiko smiled. “She must be tired after treating Ben,” Nojiko remarked. She winked at Ben.

“Kaya takes care of Ben`s health very seriously,” Mikita added. She giggled.

Conis stepped forward, her demeanor a mix of determination and humility as she approached Ben. “You are remarkable,” she began, her voice tinged with genuine admiration. “I am honored to have joined you and help you. I hope that you will not be disappointed by me,” she expressed, punctuating her words with a respectful bow.

Ben regarded her with a warm smile, his eyes reflecting appreciation.”I have no doubt that you will not. You are special,”he responded, his tone filled with confidence in her abilities. As he spoke, he couldn't help but notice the flickering flames that danced upon her wings. They were not doing any damage to anything.

Conis smiled. “He does have his way of words,” Zala remarked.

“I think it's cute,” Robin added. She smiled.

“My love knows how to keep us happy,” Alvida commented.

“Ben, can I request something?” Conis asked. There was a hint of nervousness.

“Sure,” Ben replied.

“I am okay for the harem and happy to help out with the quest but for babies can we wait for a little while. I trust you and father will be happy,” Conis said. She added, “But I want to travel with you and see the world, can we wait,”

“Conis, we dont have to do anything you dont want to,” Ben stated.

“Thank you,” Conis replied.

Conis spoke with a mixture of earnestness and apprehension. “I am okay with the harem and happy to help out with the quest but for babies, can we wait for a little while. I trust you and father will be happy,” she began. ”But I want to travel with you and see the world, can we wait?” she added, her gaze meeting Ben's with a blend of sincerity and hope.

Ben listened attentively to Conis' words. “Conis, we don't have to rush into anything that you're not comfortable with,” he reassured her, his voice warm and reassuring. “Your happiness is the most important matter to me,” he affirmed.

"Thank you, Ben," Conis replied, a sense of relief evident in her voice as she felt reassured by his understanding and acceptance of her desires. She thought he was a good looking man. She smiled.

Ben thought she was cute and pretty. She had a unique charm and was special to him. This was his first Skypiean that joined him.

“Ben, we are approaching the island,” Nojiko pointed out.

They gathered around the window, their eyes drawn to the breathtaking sight that unfolded before them: a vast island adorned with towering trees that seemed to stretch endlessly towards the sky. The trunks of these majestic giants stood tall and proud, their girth substantial enough to dwarf any observer.

The branches extended outward like outstretched arms, their lengths reaching towards one another, creating a canopy of intertwined limbs. These branches, adorned with foliage in various shades of green, intertwined and overlapped, casting dappled shadows across the forest floor below. As they gazed upon this verdant spectacle, they couldn't help but be mesmerized by the lushness of the leaves.

“This island is very pretty,” Marianne remarked, her voice tinged with awe as she gazed out at the lush landscape unfolding before her.

Honey nodded in agreement, her eyes alight with wonder. “It is,” she added.

“But dangerous,” she cautioned, her expression serious as she scanned the horizon for any signs of danger.

Alvida scanned the surroundings “Then they must be here,” she remarked, her voice carrying a note of determination.

“I think so too,” Nojiko added, her gaze fixed on the dense foliage that obscured much of the island's interior. She kept focus on steering the ship.

“Lets keep our eyes open,” Ben stated.

They sailed through a river. They looked around. The river was flowing slowly. However the ship was making pace. “Do you have a dial on the Miss Love Duck?” Conis asked.

“Dial?” Vivi asked.

“Like the waver?” Robin added.

“Yes, the Miss Love Duck, only one sail but it is moving,” Conis remarked.

“No, the Miss Love Duck has its own engine to power it,” HQ replied.

“That is cool,” Marianne said.

“Very impressive as well,” Zala remarked.

“There is something there,” Saphir said.

They all looked up to see a large stone face. It had two eyes and a long nose. It had a long mouth. There was a pattern around its head. Below the statue were four tunnels also made of stone. Each had a few words written on it. “Ordeal of Balls, Ordeal of Iron, Ordeal of String, Ordeal of Swamp.”

“This is the Ordeal, a trail for criminals for the wanted, Ben we should turn away,” Conis urged.

“Turn away?” Robin asked. She was curious about what she meant.

“Yes, there are four priests there who guard the place, anyone who goes through is challenged by them, some of a 0% chance of surviving, they say,” Conis explained. She panicked and looked scared. The flames on her wings got a little stronger. Her eyes widened.

Ben hugged Conis. “I will protect you, we all will, there is nothing to be scared of,” Ben assured her. Conis felt those words again. They resonated with her in her heart. She smiled.

“We have taken a lot of before,” Nojiko said.

“That is right,” Vivi agreed.

“We have but they have observation haki or mantra here,” Ben remarked.

Alvida looked up. “Haki my love?” she asked.

“Yes, they have a different name for it here, however it allows them to predict our attack, the advance forms can even see in the future,” Ben explained.

Alvida and Mikita gritted their teeth. “However, they do not know how to use it effectively and it is limited, if we are fast enough and attack together, even if they can predict it,” Ben continued.

“We can still hit them as they are not fast enough to dodge,” Zala finished off.

“Exactly,” Ben said. They all nodded.

“We would need to be careful and not let our guard down,” Ben ordered.

The girls nodded.

“Which should we go to, Captain?” Nojiko asked.

“Ordeal of the Balls,” Ben replied. The girls sighed.