A middle-aged woman slowly entered the throne room while being led by one of the keep servants. She was moving so slowly and so carefully, that it was obvious to all that she was a bit nervous.
Her beige skirt was quite frilly for her age, but it worked well with her loosely tucked button shirt. Her fashion sense reminded Daz of Madison's a bit, though he had to admit, this woman was far less attractive than his girlfriend was. No fault of her own since Madison was a high bar to reach.
"This is so surreal..." she accidentally mumbled out loud. How often was it that you were being summoned to meet your 'lord' to petition a request to him? It was like she was living in a fantasy. A fucked up and frightening fantasy where the future looked a bit grim, but a fantasy nonetheless.
It took her a moment to realise that she was in the presence of six or seven of the keep's advisors, the head advisor included, and three of the most powerful fighters and defenders of the fort. She tried her best to ignore the intimidating Crusher and to glance over the fact that Daz was cuddling Madison as he was sitting on his throne.
She coughed lightly. "It's nice to talk to you face-to-face like this, Da- Em, My Lord?"
Daz smiled softly. "You can call me Daz if it makes you feel more comfortable. I'm not bothered."
"Thank you." She breathed out a sigh of relief. She had been told what to do, so now that she had greeted Daz, it was his turn to look over her request and return the greeting.
Crosius picked up the first scroll from the table and read its contents aloud. "Sally Fender. No current official job, though she had taken it upon herself to look after the children who have lost their parents. Her request is to give them a space to live comfortably and to set up some form of education that isn't wholly reliant on the system simply feeding them information when asked." He carefully placed the scroll in Daz's hand, the one that wasn't wrapped around Madison, before he looked down at Sally. "If you have any more details to state before His Grace asks you some questions, please say them now."
"H-His Grace?" Sally echoed in a whisper before she shook her head to regain her concentration. "It's not a huge concern. The kids are healthy, they all have a place to sleep and food to eat. Worse comes to worst, we can move into the dungeon or just keep waiting until Sandy builds us a bigger home. I just think it'd be good to have a school for them. You know? Get back some normalcy in this crazy world for the kids. Y-You don't need to buy it from the system! I can wait if you want to add it to Sandy's list of things to build!"
Daz frowned slightly at how the woman had started to panic halfway through. His thoughts brought him back to the times when he was at school. To him, schools were useless. It only served as a place to go and get beat up or to beat up his attackers. Rose never even went to school, but she was still a genius. Granted, her esper power afforded her a lot of leeway there, but it was still a sour topic for him.
Sally's face paled when she saw Daz's expression. She hadn't seen him at the time, but she was at the military camp when he essentially raided it. He had been protecting them since they fell under his control, shouldering the burden on their attacks with his fights. She also felt some instinctive loyalty for him which she knew was coming from the system, but regardless, the last thing she wanted to do was test this young man's patience and ask for what he might have thought was too much.
"I-I'm s-sorry!" she fumbled over her words. "I... I'll leave."
A loud sigh filled the chamber. Daz exerted his Archreaper's Aura. Everyone stiffened, Madison and Crusher included. A certain type of respect and veneration filled their eyes as they gazed at him. 'Maybe this'll calm her down a bit?' he thought before he rescinded the aura. "I'll build a school today. I'll put you in charge of it. That should give you the privilege to upgrade it and tinker with it like with Chris and his mine, I'm hoping."
Sally looked left to right and held her hands to her chest in confusion. It took her a moment to process his words, but once she had, she bowed her body and tears started spilling out of her eyes. "Thank you! Thank you! I'll work hard! I promise!"
The keep servant that had brought her in slowly led her back out and returned alone.
Crosius stroked his beard thoughtfully. "An incredible aura, Your Grace. I've never seen anything like it. Her type can be very hard to deal with at times. Always bumbling over words, cowering back in fear at the slightest gesture. You performed magnificently. Shall I call for the next guest?"
Daz shook his head. "In a minute." He looked into Madison's bright green eyes and suddenly kissed her. "Am I really that scary?" he asked her. The rising blush and her returning struggle in his arms for her freedom make him happy. 'Am I a sadist? Teasing her is just too fun. Why does she always react so cutely?'
Madison thought long and hard and decided that the only option here was to not let Daz win! She almost leapt forward and planted her lips on his, surprising the living hell out of him. Once she was done, she scowled with her eyes and jabbed him in his side. "Me, bully, too. Two, play, game."
"Hahahaha! You two are such a show, really." Crusher was slapping one of her thighs repeatedly as she wiped the tears out of her eyes, a result from laughing too hard. "To answer in her place, yeah, you're a scary bastard, Uriel. That was a pretty sweet party trick though. I wanted to bend the old knee and all that. Weird. Never felt like that before."
Crosius looked annoyed, Madison coiled back into Daz's embrace in embarrassment and the reaper himself was simply wearing a thoughtful expression.
Once Crusher had collected herself, she forced her gravity hammer to grow until it's handle was level with her neck. She placed both of her hands on it and rested her chin on the back of them. "So, you're gonna buy a school? Aren't you usually really uptight about savin' points to gather dust and interest in the bank? Changed your mind?"
"Getting her loyalty is worth the price. I checked the system, and a decent school only costs fifty-thousand merit points. We probably have the materials, to be honest, but it's best to leave those for Sandy. I can buy it with the base's taxes, though I'll probably get a better one than that." Daz tapped the armrest of his throne a few times. "A lot of people don't like me, or at least, they're afraid of me. Rightfully so since I fucked up so badly. Crusher."
"Hmm?" The massive woman was listening.
"I need to start thinking about the end game. It's dangerous. We're gonna be forced to scrape by the cycles with the bare minimum, or at least, I'm going to have to. I need to build trust. System bought loyalty only goes so far." Daz looked right into Crusher's interested and amused eyes. "What's the point of wanting to take over the world if no one respects me enough to honour my greatest achievement after I'm gone?"
Crusher closed her eyes and nodded in a sage-like manner. "You wanna be a Justinian, not a Hitler. I can dig that."
"Was that a pun?" Daz asked in full seriousness. He had no idea who Justinian was in reference to, but he assumed that it was a slightly askew reference knowing her, so he cared very little. Her joke caught him off guard though.
"Was it a bit of a grim one? Potting was pretty boring. Dorian grew the balls to refuse to model for me, so I'm breaking out into the comedy scene now. I'm not that funny, but hey, when you're shovelling for shit, sometimes you might find a gem." Crusher seemed happy at simply drawing out and forcing in words that related to Daz in some way.
If she was happy, he supposed that he was too. "Best of luck with that, Crusher." A chuffed nod was her only reply. "Crosius, I'll hear out the second guest now, I suppose."
The next two guests were fairly straightforward with their requests and how Daz managed them.
The first was the more complex of the two. A soldier under Greg's command wanted to be freed and allowed the chance to be his own person again. Supposedly, General Miller was keeping a tight grasp on his men now that they had settled in a bit. The only ones he let do anything in the base to help were the ones at the mines.
The soldier who had petitioned for Daz's help stated that a lot of his comrades were equally dissatisfied. Daz wasn't letting them fight, but he was letting them work. Greg wasn't letting them do anything. He'd been a good leader back at Camp Waterford. A few were still loyal to him, but with the system interfering on that front, on top of the one-hundred-thousand merit point gift from 'Daz', many more of them were willing to take the extra mile to pursue normal lives now that it was an option.
Daz had promised that he'd deal with it. The soldier hadn't lied even once. Sure, he might have told some half-truths here or there, but if Daz could get his hands on more people willing to help in the mines, help with Sandy's efforts, help Bobby, maybe help at the school when that was set up, would he mind ruffling a few feathers for such a boon? No. No, he would not.
The second guest was actually a pair of guests. Twins. Two young girls no older than eight or nine. They came into the hall holding hands and Daz had to hold down Madison with a good chunk of his strength to stop her from launching herself on the girls and cuddling them or something akin to that. She always did love cute things, especially children. It was helpful with raising Rose, but it was showing how much of an issue it could really be.
The twins, Cathy and Katy, their request was very interesting to Daz. Apparently, a lot of the children had been sneaking out of the keep's outer wall when they could get away with it and when Rimmy was outside.
They all loved the crystal giant supposedly and they wanted to start showing that appreciation by making some sort of dedicated group and activities centred around him.
Daz didn't see the harm. He was annoyed that Will's men had somehow allowed children to slip past their watch, but he was happy to see people taking warmly to his best friend. He was also advised that being loved by the children would be a good way to regain the faith of the adults by Crosius.
He told the girls that they could come up with a more solid plan now that they had his approval and that they should bring it to him when they had one.
Madison was upset when they left. She'd wanted to squeeze each of them at least once, but Daz didn't let her, so she was doing her best attempt at a pout with her blank face as she could muster while staring at him.
The second that the fourth and final guest of the day walked through the doors, Crusher's somewhat bored attitude immediately roared to life. The man that had walked in had confidence in his step, no, more than that, he had swagger. He was acting like he owned the damned place with his appraising eyes. "Heh, finally interesting again..." Crusher was looking forward to how Daz would deal with this now that he had a more peaceful head on his shoulders.
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