Chapter 48
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While the others were sleeping, Akatsuki was carving a piece of wood with a sharp dagger with Reylom at her side, looking at the fire. She spoke in a low voice, without looking at him.

 

- You seem distracted. Care to share with me your deepest thoughts?

 

- Sorry… I was just thinking… Your new look is still puzzling me.

 

She stopped with the dagger still touching the wood and looked at him.

 

- Why? You don’t like the way I look now? Because I sure do!

 

- No… I mean, of course I like, you are extremely beautiful, and you didn’t change inside, where it really matters. It’s just… no, never mind…

 

- It has something to do with your preference with little girls, and because I am now a grownup woman, I am not so appealing?

 

- Nothing like that, I kind of got used to you being a cute little girl, and seeing you like this, it’s… I don’t know, I think I may need some time to adjust.

 

Akatsuki nodded and continued carving the wood while speaking.

 

- So, you think that I am cute as a little girl and extremely beautiful as a woman… Reylom, Reylom, if I didn’t know you, I might think that you are interested in me.

 

- Well, I… and if I was?

 

Akatsuki disguised a smile while continuing on carving.

 

- I guess I would be happy if you were… But what about Mahrii? You know she is interested in you, right?

 

Reylom jolted.

 

- She is? I got the feeling it could be something like that, but I assumed she was just grateful for what I did with her children, and I was misinterpreting it.

 

- It can also be because of that, but I noticed she smiles a lot more to you than to anyone else. That and the fact she disguises an angry look when I am near you. Not that I am worried…

 

Reylom frowned.

 

- Another woman interested in me and you are not worried? Well, I guess that’s expected. I know that a woman like you could get any man she wants, and I am not…

 

Akatsuki placed her index finger over his lips.

 

- You are not so confident as you pretend to be when you are near me, are you? The only problem so far that I see in you, is that tendency you have for little girls, but considering I can become little any time and for how long I feel like it, you should think very well what you want from me. Do you prefer the cute little me, with a flat chest and tight “muffy”, or the big me, with big, squeezable breasts and well trained “muffy” muscles? Because if you like to “frilt” a tight “muffy”, I can be a big woman. But if you like little girls just because they are very cute, I can also be like that. You need to think about your preferences, dear Reylom, and tell me. I can become what you like, for as much time as you want. I guess that with a woman like me at your side, that can easily become little or big, you will stop that weird tendency towards little girls, because you will have me every time you feel like it, and with any size you prefer.

 

Reylom gulped.

 

- You… are saying that I can have you, any size…?

 

- Yes, but I would prefer to be with you in a room with my grownup form, just so that you get healed of your weird tendency. During the day I can be little, for you to enjoy the company of the cute little me.

 

- You want to… heal me at night… looking as you are now?

 

Akatsuki approached him and stared closely at him.

 

- My “muffy” is not my only well-trained hole, my dear Reylom. My bottom can make some amazing tricks and if I use my mouth and tongue, you will get crazy. I can take you all in my mouth, without throwing up or feeling nauseous. But any of that, is up to you, if you decide on what you want, who you want and for how long. Mahrii, little me or the big me.

 

Reylom slowly nodded. At that distance, he could smell the sweet scent from Akatsuki’s hair, and see the reflection of the stars in her eyes. Her white face and red, pulsing lips were so close that he felt his heart bumping wild. Without realizing, he was caressing her face for a while now, in complete silence, and like if it was the most natural thing in the World, he went near those lips and kissed them. Reylom closed his eyes and felt Akatsuki’s hand caressing the back of his neck, and her tongue gently touching the tip of his. He felt a hand caressing his chest and gently pulling the hair on it. Slowly, Akatsuki backed away and smiled, while still caressing his chest and playing with the hair on the back of his neck.

 

- My, my, Reylom, you are full of surprises, aren’t you? Did you decide already, or it was just in the heat of the moment?

 

- I think I have decided the first time I saw your grownup form. I felt my heart melt, at that time. And when you so quickly stole a kiss from me, I instantly knew that I was doomed… I didn’t know if you like me or not, that’s why I never said anything… That, and because you scare me!

 

Akatsuki slowly went up with her hand and caressed his left cheek.

 

- I fought against this feeling because I also didn’t know what you felt about me… Well, I was also doubtful about my feelings. I came to realize that I fell for you some time ago, especially since I noticed the way Mahrii looks at you. But this puts us in a dilemma. Who do you like the most? Little me or big me?

 

Reylom made a gentle smile.

 

- Like you are now, it’s just perfect. When you are little, I just want to hug you and put you in my lap. I like to play and fool around with you when you are that size, but when you are looking like this, I want to kiss you and scream out loud how I feel about you.

 

Akatsuki made a kinky smile.

 

- What, you don’t want to “frilt” me when I am a grownup woman? You meanie…

 

- Of course… Of course, I want! That goes without saying! But… I also like to be like this with you, just talking and kissing…

 

- Yeah, I like it as well…

 

Akatsuki leaned her head on Reylom’s shoulder and they stayed like that in silence, for a very long time, just holding hands. Every once in a while, they kissed or talked about what they like to do, their favourite things or deepest dreams, taking the opportunity to learn more about each other. With that, they even forgot to wake up Conan and Ini for their shift, and when the sun appeared, they were still enjoying each other’s company.

 

While Duza and Ronald were talking with the little God Seya and Mira was trying to sleep, wondering why that assassin from the Kornarian Empire came after Eden and Suju, a group of three female warriors from Bringia were riding across Loriath, to arrive at the City of Qoshahr, the same City to where Mira and her group were heading.

In the lead, was Rinne Ryanpeje, a female Bringia Commander of the Ryanpeje Clan, pulling the rope tied to the reins of the two horses behind her, where Chirria Dard and Norle Icerun, two female Bringia warriors of her Clan, were sleeping, firmly tied to their horses. Their voyage was urgent, that was why they were using the normal Bringia method of sleeping while riding, to arrive at their destination as soon as possible, stopping only for the time needed for the horses to eat and rest. They didn’t even stop for eating, they only gathered or hunted food for the voyage while the horses were resting, so that they didn’t waste any time. They were riding along the side roads, avoiding at all cost the busier ones and using the night to travel faster and without being spotted. According to her map, Rinne Ryanpeje knew that they would arrive at the City of Qoshahr in the middle of the morning, giving them plenty of time to search for their target. Rinne Ryanpeje was hoping to find that elusive assassin, or at least, save his targets. If only the horses could run faster…

 

In Rediorumia, Mahrii woke up at the first rays of the first sun, and when she stopped rubbing her eyes, she saw Akatsuki and Reylom seated on a rock, very near to each other. She mumbled in a low voice.

 

- It seems I lost my opportunity…

 

She slowly got up, trying not to wake Omi or Joji that were still sleeping next to her. Carefully, Mahrii went to the top of the carriage and slowly searched for the tableware, bread, tea and wine for the breakfast, looking at the Spider that was standing guard. She jumped to the ground and went to the fire, taking care of the breakfast for everyone.

Akatsuki heard the noise and signalled Reylom to join her. When they approached, Mahrii greeted them in a low voice and with an awkward smile.

 

- Good day. I thought of taking care of breakfast so that Mister Ronald could rest. I hope I can replace him in the cooking so that I can become useful. I don’t know what else can I do, to help…

 

Reylom nodded.

 

- I guess he won’t mind, although everyone likes his food. If you are a good cook, I think no one will object.

 

Mahrii nodded while preparing the pot to boil water for the tea.

 

- I know how to cook, but I am not as good as he is. I hope he can teach me like he is doing with Joji. She used to help me cooking back at our home, but she became quite good and I bet it’s because of Mister Ronald.

 

Reylom smiled and Mahrii couldn’t help on noticing that Akatsuki was still holding his hand, and she looked happy. Mahrii focused her attention on the bread and tried not to think about her feelings towards that kind man.

 

At lunch, and against all warnings from Ronald, Joji approached the female wolf to give her some food, with Woof watching. Joji was puzzled by the way the female wolf was tilting her head and bumping the tail on the ground. Joji was still thinking of a good name for that female wolf, but she couldn’t find a suitable one.

The day went by with no worries whatsoever, with everyone enjoying the peaceful travel and laughing by watching Woof and the female wolf running after one another. The walls of the small City of Lulana were already visible, so Ronald dismounted from his “Big Rat” and carefully tied a rope to Woof and the female, grabbing the other hand and mounting the Rat again. Like that, they didn’t have any problem at the front gate, to convince the Guards stationed there that the two wolves tied to the rope were tamed and peaceful.

While riding along the main streets, they all noticed the small changes in the City, mostly in women’s behaviour. They were looking up and smiling at them, with a few women disguisedly sending kisses to the strangers in their small City. A woman was talking with a male seller in front of his shop while pointing to a box of fresh lettuces and with a smile on her face. Ronald noticed the seller making a forced smile, while a couple of City Guards was near them, watching his behaviour. It seemed the Prince’s message was already making changes, even in a small City such as Lulana.

After leaving the horses, the Bulls, Woof and his partner at the stable, Ronald made sure the rope tied to Woof and the female wolf was firmly secured to a large and strong wooden pole. Ronald placed two bowls of water near them, together with two big pieces of roasted meat and two roasted maniocs, to see if they liked it. Ronald joined the others outside, right at the moment that Mahrii, Ari and Taly were leaving the Inn, after taking care of the rooms for the night. While they were all seating at two joined tables at the Inn’s dining room, Mahrii explained the distribution of the rooms.

 

- I hope I didn’t make a mistake with this. One room for Miss Ari and Mister Taly, Mister Ronald and one woman, one room for the other two women, Mister Ini with Mister Conan, one room for Akatsuki and Mister Reylom, one room for Mister Ovaidel. I hope I and the children can join someone. There is still one free room, but I didn’t want to rely on Mister Reylom’s kindness…

 

Ovaidel raised his right hand.

 

- I don’t need a room, I intend to sleep in the company of a beautiful woman, in this City’s brothel.

 

Reylom disguised a burst of laughter.

 

- Ovaidel, that was too much information… I can pay for the room for Miss Mahrii and the children, that will not be a problem. You and your children are my responsibility. Besides, I earned a lot of money over these past few years, and I can afford the rent of a room for you and the children, for the entire duration of our journey.

 

Mahrii made a worried look.

 

- But Mister Reylom, I can’t possibly accept such generosity! You already did a lot for us!

 

Akatsuki pulled Reylom’s right arm.

 

- Talking about money and such, take this, go sell this cloth with Blue Brittlebush leafs, I need to fill my purse. I didn’t saw an Adventurer’s Guild, but maybe the Innkeeper knows someone.

 

While Reylom went to the front counter, Akatsuki made a slight smile to Mahrii.

 

- As for you, I think you can pay Reylom’s generosity by not talking so much about it, he seems to consider what he did as a normal thing, without any kind of second intentions. If you are still worried about your usefulness, you can become our official cook and give Lord Ronald some rest. One good thing would be if you could become our counsellor because, among all of us, you seem the most normal. Everyone here is a little too crazy for my taste!

 

Shigure punched Akatsuki’s head, like if she was a nail.

 

- Who are you calling crazy, stupid? You think just because you are a grownup woman every day, you can mock me?

 

They all laughed by seeing the angry look on both women. Reylom returned with the remaining leaves and some money. After a suggestion from Duza, they left to visit the orphanage and to deliver the Priest a purse of money.

 

At the City of Qoshahr, Ma Yangfa and his group were sitting at a long table in a hidden corner, behind some dark curtains, in the Adventurer’s Guild. They arrived by the end of the afternoon and after taking care of their rooms for the evening, they went to the Guild, for dinner. Mira was in the Guild Master’s office with Eden and Darre, getting the reports about the Adventurers that were doing the Patrol Quest. Like what happened in the City of Vasvika, the Guild Master was expecting them and had every report already pilled on his desk.

When Mira, Eden and Darre joined Ma at his table and were looking at the reports before the food arrived, the sudden silence inside the Guild made them to open the curtains and look around, trying to figure out what made everyone go quiet. At the main entrance doors, three female warriors were standing, looking at the surprised Adventurers and servants. They were all lightly dressed, with only a cape made of bear’s fur, a metal bra, and a fur tong. The three muscular and curvilinear women gathered the attention of every male inside. The leather straps across their chest that connected to the sheath at her backs, held their big swords, and a belt with throwing daggers, decorated their muscular waists. A daring Adventurer approached them with a smirk on his face, that quickly vanished when the young girl at the front quickly pointed a dagger at his throat, without saying a single word. The Adventurer gulped and slowly backed away, going to join his surprised friends, at a table. The girl put the dagger at her waist again and her eyes focused on Mira. She looked at the others at Mira’s table and after a moment of hesitation, she signalled with her head for her companions to follow. She approached and made a slight bow with her head, after looking around to make sure no one was near that could hear her. She closed the curtains and after a stare towards Mira, she loses the straps of the sheath at her back and removed the belt with the daggers, placing them against the wall. Her companions did the same, and after confirming that Mira and the others were more relaxed, she spoke in a low voice.

 

- I am Rinne Ryanpeje, a Commander of the Ryanpeje Clan. She is Chirria Dard and Norle Icerun, both are warriors of my Clan. We came in search of Mira Sonanji and Ma Yangfa. I bring a serious warning and a plea for help on my demand. According to the description I got, I am not mistaken in thinking that I found you.

 

Mira nodded.

 

- You are right, I am Mira Sonanji and he is Ma Yangfa. Who are you and why are you looking for me?

 

- May we sit? This can take a while.

 

- Please do. I am rather curious why three warriors from Bringia are looking for me.

 

Rinne Ryanpeje made a slight smile while sitting.

 

- Maybe I should have disguised myself a little better, but time was against me for that. We are after an assassin, sent by the Kornarian Empire to kill Princess Eden Thrirdrin from the Loriath Kingdom, and Prince Suju Dokabo from Kwoghia, that I was told was in your group, disguised as Royal Guards from Loriath. Those two, over there, I believe.

 

Darre asked with a serious look.

 

- Why you immediately supposed that I am not Eden? Probably because my disguise is very good?

 

Rinne Ryanpeje made a slight smile.

 

- Your body language showed me that you are a warrior, not a Princess. You immediately grabbed your sword when we entered this Guild and you still have a dagger in your hand, up until now. The Princess over there is looking at me with surprise in her eyes, unaware that behaving like that, she is revealing herself. Foolish, I would say. You should learn with this Knight, Princess Eden.

 

Darre shrugged.

 

- That’s what I always say, but she is too stubborn and keeps on saying that she can’t learn anything from me. I guess you could explain a little better why you came after us, from so far away.

 

- Indeed. Some days ago, a group of five men from the Kornarian Empire was near our borders, searching for a powerful Mage Summoner, a woman named Ari. A scout from my Clan was sent to spy on them. That scout reported back that an Eagle delivered a message to one of them and they changed their course, exiting our lands. A group of fifteen warriors was immediately sent to catch them, but only three were captured. One of them killed himself to avoid capture and the other one managed to escape. The ones that were captured, were tortured for days until they spoke. We have some very good methods to make a male talk, including some serious damage to his “prick” or butt. Those bastards were stubborn but eventually, they talked. It seems they were going after Princess Eden and Prince Suju, because a spy from the Empire that works in the Loriath Castle, saw Mira Sonanji and Ma Yangfa in an audience with the King and a group of Royal Knights. That spy recognized the Princess and the Prince and sent a message saying they were travelling along the Cities in Loriath, and it would be a good opportunity to damage two Kingdoms at the same time. He even sent a list of the Cities your group would visit and the approximated time of arrival.

 

Mira gulped. That could only mean the spy was someone the King trusted, to be able to find out so many details. Rinne continued after noticing that everyone was waiting for her.

 

- We were sent to catch that assassin, to find out why that Mage Summoner named Ari is so important for the Empire, and to start friendly conversations with Loriath and Kwoghia. The Empire is getting too restless for our taste, and we are looking for allies. Even though Bringia always had good relations with Loriath, and we do our best to keep the Breidan Kingdom occupied in our borders so that they don’t have any free time to annoy you. During our travel, we discovered that the Breidan Kingdom tried to invade Loriath, but you miraculously managed to defeat them before any of our warriors could arrive. We passed by them while we were travelling here, they weren’t very happy about missing the opportunity to fight. Because Bringia is too far away, we had to ride day and night to reach here today. Fortunately, we arrived in time, considering the Princess and the Prince are still alive.

 

Mira nodded.

 

- Yes, we managed to survive an attack this morning, it seems he was an assassin from the Empire. Sorry if you came this far to warn us but thank you for doing that.

 

Mira gave a gentle smile to Rinne Ryanpeje that made her froze, lost in a stare towards that smile and reviving a dream she had since she was little. Rinne didn’t notice for how long she was frozen until Chirria Dard was able to wake her up, after a good and strong shake.

 

- Wake up, Commander Rinne! Are you sleeping with your eyes open? I told you we should rest before coming here!

 

Rinne Ryanpeje looked at Chirria, unable to recognize her. Mira got worried and asked, only to receive a blank stare from Rinne.

 

- Are you ok? You seem lost in your thoughts.

 

Rinne Ryanpeje finally blinked and looked around, facing the puzzled looks. She made an awkward face and answered.

 

- I am sorry, but I don’t know if its because I am tired or if it was because of you. When you smiled, I saw an image of a baby smiling at me in that way. I sometimes see that smiling baby in my dreams, but this is the first time it happened while I am awake.

 

Mira was surprised.

 

- That’s the first time someone associated me with a baby, that’s for sure!

 

Rinne Ryanpeje looked down, staring at her fingers over the table.

 

- Well, normally it's during my sleep. Its either a smiling baby or a little girl training, and she is using a small wooden sword. I don’t know why, but they always seemed familiar. It never bothered me before, and their image keeps me company during my sleep.

 

An awkward silence followed her words, with the two warriors next to her staring at the table, in silence. Eden was the first to break that silence.

 

- Sorry for asking, but you look rather young to already be a Commander. How old are you, anyway?

 

Rinne made a slight smile.

 

- If I am not mistaken, in this country that’s not a very pleasant thing to ask. But I am sixteen years old.

 

Eden was surprised.

 

- That’s… strange and surprising, a Commander at such young age… You must for sure be an amazing warrior!

 

Norle Icerun that was in silence until then, spoke with a low and harsh voice while disguising a smile.

 

- Commander Rinne is not only an amazing warrior, but she is also the daughter of our Clan Leader and she enjoys a fight way too much. She is the undefeated champion over these last three years, of the Clans Gathering Tournament, among her age rank. Even with painful wounds all over her body, she smiles and continues on fighting, asking for more pain with a glow in her eyes that inputs fear into the hearts of our strongest warriors. Some of us think that she goes crazy during a fight, while others refuse to battle her.

 

Mira had a lot of trouble to prevent laughter.

 

- Pff… Just like my sister Duza! She also enjoys battling, and she never stops, even if she is hurt. Yeah, she is a bit crazy…

 

Rinne looked at her fingers again.

 

- Yeah… I always liked to fight… not even pain stops me. In fact, I like to be hurt, it makes me feel that I am alive…

 

She then raised her head and smiled at Eden.

 

- That’s probably why I am so good in a battle and I became a Commander so soon, while others only achieved that recognition way older than me.

 

Ma Yangfa interrupted because something was still lingering on his head.

 

- Sorry, but do you know anything more about that woman the Kornarian Empire is looking for? Ari is not a very common name around here, and the only one I met, is a young Noble girl that is now travelling with a friend of mine.

 

Rinne shrugged.

 

- I don’t know much more and those assassins didn’t have any information besides her name. They could only tell that she escaped from the Castle at the Capital, defeating everyone on her way out and she even raided a treasure room, taking with her everything valuable.

 

Mira looked at Ma Yangfa and asked.

 

- Do you think it can be Miss Ari? She didn’t seem like someone able to fight, she was very nice and friendly.

 

Ma Yangfa nodded.

 

- Yes, but anyone that looks at you, may think the same. And then they get knocked out… I guess we could send an Eagle, warning her that the Empire is looking for a woman with her name and they even sent assassins. At least you could warn her to be careful…

 

Mira frowned.

 

- Do you think she is in any kind of danger with that crazy bunch? I pity the ones that try to go after her!

 

Rinne interrupted.

 

- I don’t know if that woman is the one the Empire is looking for, but they could go after her, thinking she is. Maybe a warning would suffice, is she near?

 

- No, she is in Rediorumia by now, travelling with my sister’s Party.

 

Rinne took a map from a hidden pocket in her cape and studied it. She made a smile after noticing where Rediorumia was.

 

- A very good distance, indeed. But an Eagle wouldn’t do any harm, I suppose. Better safe than sorry.

 

Mira looked at the map and pointed at three small Cities.

 

- I will send a message to these Cities, they are bond to go there, sooner or later. I think my sister will visit the orphanages there and deliver them some money like she always does when she is nearby. It’s probably better if we also send a message to King Essor, warning him about that spy from the Kornarian Empire.

 

Ma Yangfa asked Rinne.

 

- So, you also said that you want to start conversations with Loriath and Kwoghia, regarding the strengthening of our long-lasting alliance. Do you intend to go immediately to the Loriath Castle or to Kwoghia, to speak with the King?

 

Rinne slowly shook her head.

 

- I really don’t know. The voyage to arrive here was very tiring, we need to rest before we endure another one. I hoped the conversations were not an urgent matter so that we could travel in a more normal speed, but those assassins trying to come here, and a spy in the Loriath court, makes me wonder if it’s a good idea to delay our arrival to meet the Kings of both countries.

 

Ma glanced over Eden and Suju and asked Rinne.

 

- Well, considering that we have here the heirs to those Kingdoms, what do you say if you accompany us for a while and rest while doing it? It won’t hurt becoming friends of the Prince and Princess, right?

 

Rinne blinked a few times, she wasn’t expecting such a direct invitation. Darre frowned and asked.

 

- Mister Ma, do you think it’s wise? We don’t know these women and the fact they arrive when they did, don’t reassure me of their friendly intentions.

 

Rinne nodded, while her companions became restless. Norrle Icerun spoke with her low and harsh voice.

 

- Doubting a group of Bringia female warriors is a good way to get killed, girl.

 

Ma Yangfa quickly stopped Darre from getting up by pushing her down by her left shoulder.

 

- Calm down, we don’t need a fight in here. Maybe I need to explain why I trust them.

 

Ma Yangfa took a dagger from his belt, adorned with the beautifully carved head of a bear on the hilt, that was made of smooth white bone and placed it on the table.

 

Rinne Ryanpeje frowned while looking at the dagger.

 

- I know that Clan… On my last tournament, one of the warriors that were paired against me used two just like that, when we fought with double daggers.

 

Ma nodded.

 

- Yes, the strong Ban Clan, that has a bear’s head on their crest. After leaving Kwoghia, I lived in Bringia with that Clan, for half a year, and I learned their ways.

 

Rinne made a kinky smile.

 

- So, you were a breeder? Nice…

 

Ma Yangfa shook his head strongly.

 

- Never, I refused to be used like that! I had to fight a lot to put my pretenders at bay, but I managed!

 

From a frown, Ma’s face changed to a sad one.

 

- I learned their ways, and I even fell in love… She died in a fight against members from another Clan that attacked our new settlement and I wasn’t there to help her, because I was with another group, hunting. I mourned for weeks, and I decided to leave Bringia because the memories were too painful. I went to Loriath and it took me two years to gather the courage to fall in love again.

 

Mira frowned.

 

- If I remember correctly, I was the one that had to gather courage and invite you to go with me to the Market, because you wouldn’t do anything…

 

- Hey, I declared with that Magical Card!

 

- Yeah, after Mister Ronald mocked you…

 

Rinne smiled at the arguing couple.

 

- You get along quite well. Judging by your conversation, you both…

 

Ma Yangfa nodded.

 

- Yes, we are, and because I know Bringia female warriors, I must warn you all that I am already taken.

 

Chirria Dard was looking in turns at Vukrus Tarrengust and Cruriman Sidkos, evaluating them, and she spoke with a serious voice.

 

- I guess that after we take a bath and rest, those two could provide some company, helping on heating the sheets on our beds… I could take the big one, and Norle could have some fun with the other. Commander Rinne can’t do such a thing, she is way too young.

 

Darre opened wide her mouth. The nerve of that woman, going after her men! Vukrus was dumbfounded but Cruriman spoke with a serious look on his face.

 

- I am honoured by the interest of such beautiful women, but neither I nor Vukrus will accept your kind invitation. Our hearts belong to Darre, and no one else.

 

Chirria made a slight smile to Darre.

 

- You are indeed a lucky woman. Fine male specimens as these two seem to be, are hard to find. I hope you value them because many women in Bringia would be more than happy to have them in their bed.

 

Darre blinked a few times, trying to wake up from the initial shock.

 

- Thanks, I guess…

 

Ma Yangfa smiled.

 

- See, Darre? Bringia female warriors are powerful and have a very strong sense of duty, and they protect their friends with their lives if needed. They only care about battles and lust at night. That’s why I trust them. Well, that and because I know how they think. More or less, I mean. A man can’t really understand the mind of a woman, but Bringia female warriors are very straightforward. So, what do you say, Commander Rinne? Want to join our little group for a while?

 

Rinne looked around, thinking. She then nodded with a slight smile.

 

- I hope we can be of use. By the way, why are you traveling?

 

Mira explained the King’s orders, making the Bringia warriors nod in admiration for such an honoured task. The idea of making sure the people of a City was protected from bandits and criminals was very appealing to them, considering that was one of the duties the Bringia warriors had, when in their villages and settlements.

 

While Mira was talking with the Bringia warriors, in the throne room of Breidan, the Ministers were gathered together with the representants of the richest Merchants families, and the most prominent Noble families, the sons of the Captains that died at the attempt of invading Loriath. An envoy was seated next to two Guards from Loriath, gathering a lot of animosity from the young Nobles. The Minister of Internal Affairs was trying to start the conversations, without being successful. A young Noble was almost spitting in anger.

 

- Why are we together in the same room as these despicable people from Loriath? Does everyone forget that because of them, our fathers died?

 

The Loriath envoy frowned.

 

- Who are you calling despicable? Your country was the one that tried to invade us! I bet that if your army was not defeated, we would not be here offering a peace treaty, but we would be gathered in a rumbled Loriath, begging for our lives. You just harvested what you sow. Now, can we get over with this, our does Breidan wants to lose their freedom to Thetria or to the Kornarian Empire, because a couple of spoiled brats are too stupid to realize their country is more important than their petty and unasked for, revenge?

 

The Nobles frowned while the Minister of Internal Affairs stroke the wooden hammer to the side of the pedestal where he was, serving as a mediator.

 

- Hear me, hear me! Can we stop wasting more time and hear the envoy? You were all chosen to join this Parliament to help on the ruling of Breidan! If you can’t look past what happened, how can we even think about looking forward? We were all at fault in the attempt of invading Loriath, and since our army was so easily defeated and even God Seya advised us to create this new form of government, the least we could do is try to think on a way to save our country from a terrible fate under the clutches of Thetria or the Empire!

 

The young Noble asked.

 

- But how can you ask for us to trust them?

 

The envoy asked back.

 

- Trust goes both ways, young one. If my memory doesn’t fail me, Loriath never once attacked Breidan, while the other way around culminated on the last attack, that put you all in this situation.

 

The Noble frowned.

 

- Who can reassure us that Loriath won’t attack us with those Magical Beings, now that we lost our army?

 

The envoy shrugged.

 

- I don’t need to reassure anyone. I can only say that my King told me the group that used those Magical Beings, did it to defend Loriath, and he doubted they would agree on attacking this country. Unless Loriath was provoked, I mean. Besides, considering that you don’t have an army, our regular soldiers and Mages would be more than enough. If you remember your history, Loriath never posed any threat to Breidan because we always preferred peace, even when your ancient ruler, the Mage Summoner Riattus, was ruling. But when it was needed, we went to war and gathered a huge army by joining forces with every Kingdom in this region, that managed to overthrow that despicable Mage.

 

The young Nobles stood silent, feeling awkward. The Minister of Internal Affairs cleared his throat to try lightening the mood.

 

- So, considering that Loriath offered their help on defending us from a possible Thetria or Kornarian invasion, and the easiness our army was defeated, perhaps Loriath shouldn’t be taken lightly, as we always did over all these years. Or did all of you forgot that despite the deceased King’s efforts, Loriath was never conquered?

 

The same young Noble answered with a frown.

 

- Probably because the Deadly Forest was always on our way! I am sure that if it wasn’t for that…

 

The Minister of Internal Affairs raised his hand to stop more foolishness.

 

- You forgot your History lessons. Even when our deceased King sent our troops across Kwoghia to reach Loriath, they were either defeated in midway or at the walls of a border City. Or you never heard about the siege of Eseymock, where our troops were stopped by Zu Zasha until the main Loriath’s army arrived? Or when a huge special force was sent to infiltrate Durant and was defeated by Sholma Cuss’ Squad? We must never forget our past because it always contains valuable lessons for our future. But we drift away from the main subject. We must decide for the sake of our country, what should we do. Do we form an alliance with Loriath or Kornarian? Or we accept that “friendly” offer from that envoy, for a peaceful invasion by Thetria?

 

Everyone went silent, for a moment. The envoy from Loriath noticed the angry looks on the Nobles and he spoke.

 

- Perhaps there is too much animosity among you towards the Kingdom of Loriath, to accept our offer. I must then assume these conversations will lead to nowhere and I shall retire, leaving you to your biding. I just hope you won’t be foolish enough to condemn your country and your people to a horrible fate under the dominance of Kornarian or Thetria, because of your stubbornness.

 

One Merchant stood up.

 

- Wait, please! Before leaving, I have a question! Will Loriath be willing to trade with us, or you won’t do it like what happened for all these years?

 

The envoy looked back, before finally leaving the room with his Guards.

 

- We shall not have any kind of deal, conversation, or agreement with Breidan like we never did until now. I hope you can do it with other countries besides Loriath and Kwoghia if any of them is willing to forget your attempts to conquer them.

 

The envoy left and the Merchant that asked was the one to voice out their worries.

 

- Then, we are doomed… All this was useless because some spoiled brats couldn’t see past their ambitions or foolish attempts to seek revenge!

 

The young Nobles began to shout, only to be shouted back by the Merchants. The Ministers looked around among them, knowing what was about to happen because they had thought about that since the invitations were sent to the Nobles. The Minister of the Internal Affairs gave an order for a Guard to try to call back the envoy while ordering the immediate arrest of the young Nobles. Before their surprised looks, he explained.

 

- You were not here when a huge Eagle brought the heads of your fathers, with a warning note for us to never attack Loriath again! A small country like Loriath was always a matter that made us and the King worried because we could never find out why they were always able to stop us. Recently, a light was shed, by the discovery of two Magical Beings and four warriors, that defeated our vast army! God Seya himself created this room and advised us to invite you to this Parliament, hoping that you would be able to help on taking care of our country! You just proved that you can’t be trusted, because your lack of judgement made us lose the support of our only hope, to prevent our country to be completely dominated by the Empire or by those fanatics from Thetria! You will be arrested until we decide what to do about your treason against this Parliament and our country, and other families of Nobles will be invited in your place. We will order the immediate incorporation of what remains of your soldiers into our nation’s army and your lands and wealth will be confiscated. Your mothers and younger siblings will remain in those lands, as administrators. Guards, remove them from here!

 

The shouting youngsters were restrained and dragged to the Castle’s prison before the surprised looks of the Merchants. One of them asked.

 

- Is… is this right? If we, the Merchants, were the ones making a fuss about the treaty with Loriath, would we be arrested as well?

 

The Minister of Internal Affairs nodded.

 

- Yes, we discussed what we would need to do so that this Parliament began working with members that really care about our country. This is not the time for petty behaviour. We are at the end of our rope, and even God Seya is looking to see if we fail and give him a reason to destroy us! We, the former Ministers of the King, were asked by God Seya to invite to this new form of Government the richest Merchants and the most prominent Nobles families because those were the ones most used to solve problems. It was never our intention to accept members that care more about their interests, than our country. We also knew that we needed more members to help on finding options and to support us, on changing the dark destiny of our country. Because believe me, dark times waits for us, if we are conquered by the Empire or by Thetria!

 

The envoy from Loriath was standing near the entrance, and he heard the last part of the speech. He slowly clapped his hands a few times.

 

- Very well said, Minister! So, can we now discuss what Loriath can offer and what your behaviour will be, towards my country?

 

The Minister of Internal Affairs pointed to a few empty spots at the row of seats at his left.

 

- Yes, if you please. I just ask for you to be patient because we will need to discuss everything again with the new Nobles representatives that we will invite to the Parliament, so that we can gather a consensus. We must vote on our next actions, and the Nobles should have a chance to know our options and to help us decide.

 

- I agree because I also believe that if Breidan is more open to living in peace with his neighbours, it will also benefit Loriath and Kwoghia.

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