... this is King Len?
I thought he'll be a bit.. older?
The man who rules Zezrious is before us. Abdul, along with several others of same or high rank, was right behind him. Zadick backs away, pointing at me.
"We have business with her, your grace. We will get on our-"
"I also have business with Aisha." Len cuts him off, sliding his hands into his pocket pants. "Why do you have an army surrounding these ladies? They're just coming back from a long day, and this is how you do 'business' with these ladies? Please. You were going to kill them. Am I wrong?"
"We heard the news." Abdul steps forward, "And that was your own fault. You committed faults on your own accord. And pissing off Valarie and Brynhild? Are you mad?"
"And also our king." A woman muttered.
"We did not-"
"Ignorance." Another female voiced. Len shakes his head at the Imperials.
"This is pitiful. Because of your family's destruction, you are trying to kill off the sons and daughters of the Graham family. Honestly, you lot do not learn from your mistakes-" In a flash, Len pulls out two weapons from his trench coat. Abdul and several soldiers rush towards us and killed several Imperial knights before they were right behind us. I blinked at this development, amazed at their reaction times. And I knew that they were sending invisible soldiers to surround us, but I guess Len wanted to take care of it instead. " Planning to attack when we are talking? Using Aisha and her friends as leverage? Hostages? Pathetic."
"Lowest of the low." A gruff man mumbled.
"You don't understand how-"
"Ignorance. Because of your attempts on kidnapping, especially on Aisha, your punishment is death." Once Len issues the order, all of his soldiers aim their guns. I can see several figures toss circular devices through the air. In a few seconds, explosions rang through the field, clearing out sections of the Imperial army. Several huge soldiers on Len's side wield a bigger gun. By their size alone, I can only assume that they deal a lot more damage than the usual guns. Hell, they can fire a lot more rounds at a faster rate as well. Staying in place, I pull Esta close to my body and cast [Shield].
"We're safe Esta. It'll be over soon." Comforting the elf a bit, I watch the onslaught. I was hoping to take care of this myself and show off a tiny bit, but this is fine. I will let the king handle this mess. No point in charging into a hailstorm of bullets... and magical ones. This one caught me off guard, seeing the mana infused troopers unleash a lot more devastation with their weapons. Each shot exploded and shredded through the Imperial's armor with ease. When a bullet hit a soldier, their arm would pop off of their shoulder. With such a hailstorm, their bodies were blood splatters. Those bullets are very fast, running faster than a manmade bullet. I doubt I can evade all of them and the explosions. The screams and cries are engulfed by the loud gunshots. I can smell the gunpowder as Len's soldiers easily take down the Imperial soldiers. Any form of defense over their body could not protect them. Magical shields, chi, spells, their armor, shields, these bullets tear right through them. Aside from that, Abdul and his bunch did not shy away from hand to hand combat. Even with bullets whizzing through the air, they charged into their enemies. Most try to flee from these soldiers, but they knew it was futile. They were going to die. In three minutes, they were eliminated. It was a one-sided massacre. King Len breaks the silence, gesturing his pistol in a circle above his head.
"Soldiers, loot what you want from the bodies! My treat!"
"You kidding, right?" A tough man laughed, "What bodies?"
"They can't compare to Len's gifts. No point." A tougher woman stated.
"Alright, if that's the case, just clean up this mess. Don't want our merchants and travelers stumble onto such a mess. Get to it." The special shiny troopers quickly disappeared, leaving the place as the remaining soldiers did clean up duty.
Approaching us, King Len shoves his pistols back into their holsters. I have seen some warriors with their holsters around their waist. With a keen eye, I can see that Len has his holsters around his chest. A strange glint flash in his eyes, looking right at me. It told me that this man was interested in me. In what way, I can't say, but I know that he wanted to speak to me. Yet I do not why this king wanted an audience with me? I mean, we barely talked to each other, I don't know what to say to him, and isn't he famous? Like really famous? A hero isn't a normal person you can just chat with. This hero, who is renowned on so many levels, would go out of his way to personally help me and save me. It should be a great honor, but there are a lot of questions now.
For starters, how did he know who I am and what I looked like? Abdul could have given it away, told the king every detail of what I looked like. Still, it does not answer how King Len KNEW where I was. It was weird to see some fancy armored soldiers appear out of nowhere. Heck, I think I couldn't read their rank. Something was odd with those specific troopers. Plus, these soldiers are not the right size for a bodyguard unit. Two hundred soldiers? TWO HUNDRED!? My eyes narrow at the approaching figure. Noticing my expression, he places his hands up in the air. Surrendering, he says, "Guilty as charged. I really wanted an audience with you, Princess Aisha, but you were being... evasive? Surely, I, a mere king, should not be ignored by you, a charming young-"
"What do you want with me?" I decided to ask this question, wondering what his motives are.
"Stop fooling around Len." Abdul appears beside me, shaking his head, "Out with it. I don't think you are leaving any good impression for the young lass."
"I guess I'll get to the point." King Len nods his head at Abdul, "Your mother, Amelia, along with Valarie and Brynhild, we assisted each other through the Pillars of Gluttony. I heard the news about the unfortunate accident that took place at your estate, so I was wondering if things are alright. I was also curious to see one of Amelia's daughters, so when I heard a strange report of some girl making some trouble in my city, I had to find out for myself. Abdul here did not tell me the exact details about your appearance, but I deduced who you were through Alice. Even if she is a princess herself, she did tell me about you in the past few weeks. Looking at you, I can see the resemblance. There's a spark that reminds me of Amelia."
"You were there? With those three?" I try to hide my shock, but my voice failed to do so. Grinning at me, he explains.
"The Pillars of Gluttony is fiendish, hellish place. People are always trying to kill you, or trick you, and get whatever they can before they leave the place. If there is an event, they try to hold out till the timer runs out. Add monsters into the mix, you're in for a ride! I was quite young and inexperienced during my time inside the Pillars of Gluttony. I took most of my trusted soldiers into that place, hoping to get my hands on a certain weapon. We were doing well till we start to hit the higher floors. Once we bump into obstacles, we ended up grouping up with another party. Valarie, Amelia, and Brynhild were inseparable and dangerous. They, too, entered the Pillars of Gluttony. I dare say, when I first bump into them, they were a force to be reckoned with. I had no idea how dangerous they were till they took down several boss monsters that we struggled with. When I watched them, they reminded me of a goddess bent on destroying everything in their path. Each one of them had their own unique style, but when they fought together, it was devastating and beautiful at the same time. Once they beat the bosses, I asked them for a temporary truce as we press further and further into the Pillars of Gluttony. They had a fancy title as well: the crazy lesbians. Ha, ha, ha!
How old is King Len!? Why do old people stay young? No, I already know the answer to this. I couldn't help but gawk at the hero. Wait, the bastard never answered my question. As a king, he knows how to divert the conversation in a different direction. Clever.
"You still didn't answer my question." I folded my arms, staring at the king. Even if I can't see his face, I feel like I saw a smile from his covered face.
"Yes, I know I didn't. Interesting, you weren't distracted as much."
"It is interesting that you know my mom and her friends, but I think you just wanted to see my expression. I guess I satisfy a bit of it, but I am not going to be blind at your sudden appearance before me. As a hero, you have better things to do than help a nobody-"
"You mean a daughter of a noblewoman who I fought alongside with? Surely, you jest. I am single still. And you are as well, right?" Okay, this threw me off of my game. I couldn't help but choke on my own saliva, coughing at the sudden declaration. This man is single?! What?! I mean... people can stay single for a long time- but he's a king! A hero!? Most of the time, they're married! No! Hold on, the real reason to why I am coughing like a dummy, grabbing onto Esta's shoulder to support me, was because of his statement. No, because of his hidden implications. The last two sentences emphasized his motives. Even Abdul caught on, staring at his own leader with a haunted expression. Well, you can't see it because of his helmet, but still, I bet he is baffled by King Len's proclamation. Esta, being the cute elf she is, has no clue what was going on. It hurts... Seeing my elf try to heal me because she thinks I was in physical pain. No, my dear Esta... this was from a mental attack towards my heart.
I... I mean, I should be used to this? Valarie confessed to me, but I... I...I didn't expect a guy with such a notorious reputation to even look at me like this. Heck, I didn't think he'll approach me. I thought I was used to this. I had a lot of suitors who were above my rank or status. I turned them down, but...
I wasn't expecting a hero to propose to me? Well, not a proposal, but still, he is trying to hit on me. Heck, he may skip the flirting and see if I want to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Get into a relationship. And... from a guy. I can't make out his facial features, but he doesn't look too bad. Oh god, why am I thinking this when I am dating three other girls-
"Oh, I don't mind if you're dating someone else as well. I'm cool with it." HE CAN READ MY MIND?!
"Len... the hell. You barely met her, and you're doing this already!? Are you a doppelganger? A clone? What happened to our leader?"
"What you talking about Abdul," Len turned towards him, "I'm interested in Aisha because of her achievements and who she is. I have no ulterior motives. You hurt me." The armored man said nothing to his king, staring at his ruler with a deadly silence. Turning back to me, he continues, "I just want to be on your good side, Aisha. It may sound fishy, suspicious even, but I know that you'll do great things in the future. And I plan to create a relationship now before you have a lot of competition. I do want to go on a DATE with you."
"HOLD UP!" I shouted, ignoring all formalities. My voice wasn't contained anymore, speaking in earnest now. "D-Do you even know how to approach someone? Like, in terms of dating? You just skipped a lot of fields, mister. Heck, you're-"
"Calm down. I know what I'm doing." King Len interrupts me, chuckling at my outburst, "Don't worry. By date, I just want to show you around my city. Especially in the upper sectors since it isn't accessible to everyone. Since you're a guest in my city, I want to show you all of Zezrious. I fought to protect this land, and it would be a shame if you didn't see all of its beauty. You could bring your lovers as well, even your family and knights." Okay... This just hinted at something. Either Abdul told King Len everything about me or the man has a scary intelligence group. Or both. "So, what do you say?"
"I..." Thinking about it, this could be a trap. Even if he's nice, there has to be something... This is too much. Can a hero really do this? For one person? I would have postponed my response for later, but Esta, to my amazement, answers for me.
"Sure, we'll love it if you showed us around." What? I thought my elf would object to this. Heck, why did she answer for me? And it seems like she's aware of everything now. Yet she did not have a scared expression on her or clueless one. She seems serious.
I'm so lost right now.
Taking Esta's answer, Len lets out a laugh. "Excellent. I will pick you up in the morning then! I would love to chat with you two, but I have things to attend to. I sort of slipped out of my own palace to attend to this mess. I apologize for your inconvenience. I will have Abdul escort you back to Zezrious. Take care, Aisha and Esta." He bows slightly before a group of soldiers accompanies him. Abdul kept his distance, watching King Len's back. While they were distracted, I shifted my focus onto Esta. Whispering this harshly, "Why did you agree to this!?"
I wasn't mentally prepared for this! This was all too sudden!
"Eh... A voice in my head said it'll be good for all of us. And I think he is being fairly nice to us. He did come out of his way to greet us, after all."
"Just because he did that... Ugh. Whatever." This so-called voice in Esta's head is Chaos. I know it, yet this wasn't her doing. And the divine beings weren't supposed to interfere with the world. Pfffffft. Although I am a bit curious about King Len. In terms of personality, it's... I can't say. I don't have enough to work with, but he is interested in me. No doubt about it. He emphasized on it, not beating around the bush. The question is, HOW MUCH does he know? Giving away the little snippet of my family and knights, he has been watching me. Rubbing my forehead, I really wish I had a somewhat normal life. Why am I bumping into famous individuals now? Can't I just bump into nobodies, please?
"Sorry about that," Abdul approached us, shaking his head, "King Len tends to do a lot of stuff. He hasn't offended you that badly, right?"
"Offended? No..." Hell no he didn't offend me. It's a bit overwhelming though. "Was he serious?"
"Yes," Abdul answered with no hesitation, making me blush. "The king doesn't say things like that. He was a bit bolder than usual. I... Uh, I will take you two back to Zezrious if you're ready."
"Where are we going to exactly? For tomorrow." King Len sort of left that part hanging. Abdul shook his head, sighing.
"And he didn't even give you the details... Right. He would have told you if he wasn't so excited. He must have left because of it. Or maybe he just wanted me to fill in the gaps for you... Anyways, you will be attending a banquet." I think I just died... Choking, again, I grabbed onto Esta.
"A b-banquet?" Looking at her eyes, they're twinkling. I guess she hasn't been to one or heard about them. I'll ask later. Back to me, I questioned Abdul.
"Is it going to be big? And is it in Zezrious?"
"Yes. It's an annual banquet where the other two nearby settlements send their own respective leaders to show goodwill. All of the nobles, or those with renowned status, are attending this event. I guess it makes sense that you'll be going there as well since you are a princess." Huh... I am... Right. I wish I wasn't. Damn it. I thought I was done with banquets!
"Can I retract my offer-"
"No. King Len won't take no as an answer now. Or he won't let you change your mind. And I think it'll be good if you spend some time with your siblings." Was Abdul watching over my younger siblings? I wonder how much he knew about me. I know Gallant and him chatted because of my brawl in front of the Adventurer's Guild but did Gallant ask him to watch over them too? So many goddamn questions.
But he has a point. I should spend some time with my younger siblings. I haven't spent a lot of time with them. I mean, I saw them earlier, but we didn't play as much. I miss doting over my younger sisters. And this would also be a good time to befriend Louise as well. Her soldiers will need some time off with all that has happened. Especially Caesar's soldiers. I wonder what will happen to them now? Today has been a hectic day.
I let out a sigh of my own, agreeing with Abdul.
"Yeah, I should spend some time with them. We're ready to go back to Zezrious. Right, Esta?"
"Yep!" Hm, I didn't realize the elf had hugged onto my arm the entire time. Shrugging, we followed Abdul back to the settlement. Looks like I have to find a nice dress to wear... again. At least I'm not alone. I will have my knights with me, my family, and Esta, Charlotte, and Leilatha. Speaking of the latter, was she fine with banquets? Hopefully, she can tolerant them. I could use this event to strengthen my bonds with my girls, get to know them.
As we head back to Zezrious, Abdul avoided us. He walks ahead of us with his comrades, but I eyed at his hands.
Why were they balled up into a fist?