“Shit! I need some help over here!” Shouted a young man wearing armor that was a mixture of leather and metal. His face was covered in blood and sweat. A goblin was firmly seated atop his head, violently bashing it with a rock. Fortunately, the man was not dead. The helmet he wore for nearly five years proved to be of good use. Thanks to the soft padding inside, the shockwave was not so great to damage his head. However, the problem for this man was not the said goblin. It was the fact that he was facing three others that wore fully plated armor. If he made an incorrect move here, he would be chopped into pieces by their double-edged ax.
“God damn it! Lucas, my [Fortification] is about to run out. Help me you son of a bitch!” As he said this, a *swoosh* sound rang in his ears. The goblin fell off his head; sturdy arrow planted in its head.
“Finally!” He exclaimed, sturdily holding his shield, and stepping back a little.
The goblins attempted to move for an attack, their battleaxes ready to chop the man. However, this did not come to pass.
“Think twice!” Came a loud voice that belonged to a different man. He was charging at superhuman speed; his giant kite shield raised to cover his entire body. Not slowing down, he smashed into the goblin that failed to move out of his way, driving him into the nearest terrain of the ruins and crushing its bones. Seeing that the opponent was not quite dead, the man used his mace to finish it off. “Salia, help them out!” He ordered the woman who was standing some distance away, chanting [Fireballs], [Icicles], and [Minor Heals].
Salia was a backline mage, specializing in dealing damage. Having studied Divine schools of magic for a while, she could also cast healing spells. Due to her potency, she quickly found good teammates in adventurer’s guild. The name of the man who just smashed the goblin was Brunor. He was a man who had been in business for nearly ten years. There were four more party members, Lucas – an archer who was good at long range combat, Kornel – an assassin, Hayden – a warrior, and Janek – a recruit who had been with them for a year now but was not assigned a role.
Finishing her business with the monstrous hounds, she quickly changed her position and began casting [Fireball]. “Janek, fall back from that area! I am casting my spell!” She warned her companion, frustrated by the developments thus far.
The goblins proved to be formidable opponents, much stronger than usual. Who would have thought that such vicious foes would spawn from the dungeon of Tratmul? The party was not weak in any way. However, they lacked a proper healer. Of course, picking up recruits was a possibility, but they would require adequate experience in working with their current setup. Newbies were not welcome. After all, being in such a dangerous place meant that everyone was risking their lives for exploration and treasures. A novice would drag the rest of the team down. Despite Janek being a recruit, he had been with them for quite some time and did not lack teamwork.
Janek’s [Fortification] expired as he nimbly moved back, avoiding the massive ball of flame that scored a direct hit. The goblins screamed in pain from the intense heat, running around while being charred, and dropping dead soon after. Looking around, Janek found the rest of his teammates who had finished dealing with the enemies. Relieved, he started walking back to the party members.
“Fool! Don’t let your guard down!” Screamed Hayden, but it was too late. A goblin jumped out from the shadows running towards Janek at high speed. It was not using any abilities. Lucas was quick to react, drawing his bowstring, and shooting an arrow. However, the goblin nimbly evaded it and jumped onto Janek’s head.
“Ah, kyak! Human, kyak! Tasty, Kyak!”
The man was unable to react in time, and as a result, the goblin stabbed his neck with its dagger. Janek’s body fell, and the creature immediately started retreating. It avoided every arrow launched in its direction.
Salia wanted to cast another [Fireball], but her mana reserve was low, and she needed to recover. If more enemies were to present themselves and she was unable to help her party, they would be wiped out.
“God damn it!” Exclaimed Salia. “What an idiot!”
“You could not have done anything there. It is the night. We all agreed to go to the dungeon during this time of the day to avoid competition. He knew the risk he was taking,” said Hayden, trying to comfort Salia.
“Kornel, you bastard! Why?! Why didn’t you save him?! You are an assassin! An adept at using Psychic and Martial schools of magic, so why did you not use them you piece of shit?!” Shouted Salia at the man who had not done anything so far. Anger was boiling within her body, so much that the girl walked up to the man and assaulted him. Fortunately, Hayden quickly intercepted and divided the two.
“Salia, cut it out! He could not have made it in time. Please, stop it. We hired him to guide us through the dungeon, not to combat on our behalf. Even Lucas was unable to do much, yet he is our best fighter. What do you expect against such foe?!” Said Hayden, desperately trying to beat some sense into her party member and neutralize the situation. Calming her anger a little, the girl apologized and stepped back.
“We should retrieve his body,” said Lucas, pointing at Janek’s corpse. However, their captain returned without it.
“Brunor, is something wrong?” Asked Hayden upon his arrival.
“Correct. There are multiple goblins down there that are adept in concealment. If we take the corpse, then they will certainly ambush us. I think we just stirred a hive’s nest. Look over there,” said the man pointing towards the dungeon behind the ruins.
At first, nothing was visible. However, this changed in a few minutes as twenty goblins moved out. They walked in a formation, not standing too close to each other. The front lines wore fully plated armor, followed by archers behind them, and three mages at the very back. While not engaging in combat with the exhausted party, they did take Janek’s body and retreated to the dungeon. Despite the human’s inability to read the creature’s facial expressions, it was evident that they were grinning in satisfaction of obtaining the prey.
“Oh god! That is not good! We should retreat for today and warn other adventurers of the danger.” Whispered Lucas, his face pale from what he had just seen.
“I completely agree. This situation cannot be tackled just by us,” replied Hayden.
Brunor and Salia nodded in agreement.
“Let’s go back to the camp and rest for the day. We will explore a little tomorrow morning and talk to other adventurers about teaming up,” said the captain, removing his helmet and checking on his members.
“Kornel, you said that there are a lot of treasures guarded by different creatures other than goblins inside the dungeon?!”
“Y-yes,” replied the assassin.
“What sort of creatures?! What else inhabits that place?” (Brunor)
“There are some undead skeletons, goblins, death hounds, elemental worms, and few harpies.” (Kornel)
“That is nothing we can’t deal with. However, what are those goblins doing here then? They clearly live in the dungeon.” (Salia)
“No. I have not seen anything like that during the day,” rebuked Kornel firmly.
“Regardless, we have to go rest right now. We can think about what we saw tomorrow morning. Right now it is futile.” With this statement, Brunor and his party members headed back to their camp.
“Ah, good morning there Brunor. Has Ironmight finished the dungeon raid this quickly?!” Asked the man by the entrance, who was performing the guard duty for the night.
“No, we faced fierce adversaries and lost a member. Because of that, we retreated,” replied Brunor.
Hearing his words, the man removed his hat and gave him his condolences. Without any delay, he let them into the encampment, where the party separated. Kornel wandered off someplace, while Lucas and Hayden went to their tents.
“Brunor, I…” tried Salia to speak, but was stopped by the man. He gently caressed her cheeks, slowly moving his head towards her, and landing a soft kiss on her lips.
“Keep it quiet, kiddo. It was not your fault,” said Brunor firmly. “If anything, it is my mistake for not taking proper measures. I should not have relaxed, but I did. I am sorry Salia, I failed you as a captain,” he added with a saddened voice.
Looking at the man in front of her, Salia could not help but feel guilty. “No, please don’t say foolish things like that. Brunor, I love you for more than just being a captain. Please, don’t blame yourself. It is as Hayden said. We could not have done anything.”
Brunor sighed. “All right. You know what, it is getting late. Let’s sleep for the night. Nothing good will come from us thinking about something that we could not have changed,” he said, gently grabbing her by the waist and landing a deep kiss. After a few minutes, they went to their tent.
Salia helped in removing the plated armor from the man, carefully placing it on the armor stand. She then proceeded to check on the man’s wounds, but Brunor objected. However, arguing with the girl was pointless as she was overly stubborn by nature. Seeing that he had minor scratches and bruises, Salia cast [Minor Heal] that slowly cured the man’s condition. Satisfied, she landed a kiss on his cheeks and went on to boil water. Afterward, she prepared the bathtub.
“Brunor, the water is ready. Please step inside,” said Salia after the water temperature became warm.
He did as told, stepping into the bathtub and sinking in for a few seconds. The warmth of the water relaxed his nerves and muscles. After a minute, he moved his hand and started washing his body. Salia helped out a little, gently scrubbing his back. Brunor enjoyed it. He was in love with this girl ever since he first saw her. Not even hesitating once, he offered her to join his party – Ironmight. A few months later, he got a chance of saving her life in one of the dungeon raids that went wrong. Eternally thankful, the girl got attached to the man and refused to leave his side. After some time, Brunor confessed to her, and as a result, the two of them ended up together.
Thinking back to the fact that it had been five years since then, the man could not help but let out genuine laughter. Salia, who was looking at the man’s behavior, could not help but think what made him change his mood so suddenly.
“Brunor, I do not under…” before Salia could finish her sentence, the man quickly turned around and grabbed her wrists, catching her by surprise and pulling her towards him.
“W-what… you idiot! Why?!” asked Salia, whose clothes were completely soaked in water. Fortunately, she had removed her battle garments and changed into her nightwear, so only her white pajamas were wet. “Imbecile! Idiot! Moron!” She kept cursing the man, trying to hit him with her frail fists. However, the man elegantly stopped her hand mid-air and moved closer to her body. Salia could hear the man’s breathing getting closer, as a tickling sensation jolted through her body. *Pant, Pant.* Brunor was licking her left ear, slowly making his way towards her neck and kissing it. She could not help but give in. “You idiot. If I catch a cold, I will force you to take responsibility,” she said with a pout, her face blushing like a tomato.
Brunor chuckled and embraced her. “I am sorry, Salia. I love you too much. Let me warm you with my body tonight instead. Would that appease you?”
Hearing his words, she blushed even more but did not refuse the offer. And so the two of them spent entire night making love to each other.
*Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock*
It was 2 am in the morning. Mira and Janine were deep asleep when Alviona opened her eyes.
Ack! I am too restless now. I wonder how those wolves are doing. If only I could play with them a while longer. They were overly adorable! Ah, I can not fall asleep today. It has been five full days since we left the city. Five full days without me extending my wings! I am not feeling well right now. Grandma, I am sorry, but I have to fly for a bit, thought Alviona as she carefully slid out of Mira’s embrace and walked outside of the carriage.
The first sight that came into the girl’s view were the skies. Bright, beautiful stars of various colors were visible from Dedrillon. This sight hypnotized Alviona, her eyes sparkling from the excitement of witnessing such a portrait. The distant moon lay its moonlight on the girl’s soft, pale skin. She resembled a real goddess right now. A gentle wind that carried cool and crisp air gently touched her cheeks. The sensation was refreshing for her.
It will be even better once I am air-born, thought Alviona, extending her wings and preparing for take-off. However, she was soon stopped.
“Excuse me, Mistress. Why are you not asleep and what are you doing?” Asked Solomon who sensed that the child was up to something.
I am going to fly for a bit, came a quick and excited reply.
“Would Mira approve of it?”
“How long?” He asked, not trying to stop her.
Ten minutes at most.
“Mistress, I will sit here and count down the time. If you are not back within it, I will chop your head with my hand,” replied Solomon.
Owie! You are a meanie! No, don’t do that, please. I will be back in ten minutes. I promise, said Alviona, the pupil of her left eye lighting up and turning into a clock that moved backward. There, the countdown has begun, she continued, ascending into the skies and flying away.
“Agh! I really love my mistress, but why did she have to be so disobedient? If Mira wakes up, she is going to kill me. Goddess, I pray that you return before that happens,” mumbled Solomon, ready to start crying from being separated from her. Was it the link that caused this? Or were these Solomon’s true feelings ever since his rebirth? Whatever it was, the man loved Alviona beyond reason. He was willing to carry out any given request given by her. Thinking about his current self, he could not help but grin and chuckle.
In my past life, I was a man of power who served a King. A fearsome enemy, but I would never say that I’d die for my liege. But why is it that right now, I am willing to do anything for that girl? Why is there a nagging feeling telling me that I must protect her like my own daughter? *Sigh* I do not know what the rules will be in that academy, but no matter what, I must stay by her side. Being separated from her even for two minutes makes me feel uneasy now, thanks to what happened in that city, he thought, brushing his chin and waiting for the child’s return.
Meanwhile, Alviona was soaring through the skies, curiosity overflowing through her body. At some distance, she could see the light illuminating small black dots that were moving around. Deciding to investigate, she flew towards their direction. It was an encampment of sorts. Seeing that nothing exciting was going on there, she decided to move a little bit further. After covering some distance, a shout for help rang through her ears. Curious, Alviona flew over to see what was going on.
The sight she witnessed was of a small, green creature hitting a man’s helmet with what appeared to be a rock. Excited, she decided to fly down and play with them. However, she quickly redecided.
No, me! I need to control myself. Grandma Mira would get mad if I played with unknown things again. I will observe for now. I think that the encampment we talked about is the one I just went to. Since we will be here tomorrow, I will ask for permission to play. Of course, grandma will question me and say that it is too dangerous, but I will say “Pretty Please.” I will also ask her to pet my head. This way, I will not be scolded, thought Alviona as she formulated a flawless plan that was flawed beyond comprehension. Besides, Solomon will be with me. Together, we will play lots and lots! She giggled, imagining how fun tomorrow would be.
Witnessing Brunor charge at the goblins and make them into toothpaste, Alviona was awed. Oh! That was cool! I don’t think I’d be able to do something like that though. Oh, that lady there is casting [Fireball]. Ah, the tiny green dots died. Hmm, the man is walking back. Mister, there is a thingie behind you. Should I warn him?! No, it would be unfair if I revealed the location of that creature. It is waiting so patiently. Now it is trying to hug him. Aaw, so cute! Oh, that guy is using a bow to greet it. Hmm, he missed. Ha, ha, ha! That is funny. Oowie! The man is dead now. Meanie! I thought you wanted to hug him. Why did you lie to me?! Demanded Alviona, watching the battle unfold.
Hmm, there are more of them now. Danger! Danger! Run away! They will kill all of you, said the child, watching goblins march towards Ironmight.
Huh? They stopped now. Oh, they are dragging the body back to their home! Ah, they probably want to play! I should go check it out… No! They are meanies. They lied to me! Huh? These people are saying that they will gather more Adventurers to raid the dungeon. What do those words mean? I am interested! If they want to play, I will go with them too!
Deciding to follow the party, she ghosted them. However, Alviona quickly stopped, her face shocked and panic overtaking her body. Nooooooo! Ten minutes were gone thirty minutes ago! I must hurry back! She thought, accelerating her flight speed.
Mr. Solomon! I apologize! I got carried away and did not notice the time, she told Solomon upon her arrival. The man seemed to be in a state of shock; his body violently trembling. I am here. I am so sorry! She said, approaching him and hugging his body. As she did this, the man seemed to ease up a little. His pale face returned some color.
“M-mistress, w-why were you gone for so long? I was so nervous! I wanted to run after you the moment ten minutes were up, but my body would not let me. Why would you do such a thing?” Asked Solomon, his eyes tearing up. Separated from his goddess for over thirty minutes at such a significant distance, caused the man to get so nervous that his body fell into shock. It was an odd phenomenon, for his [Anti Magic Coating] did not seem to work on the paralysis that was self-inflicted.
Alviona thought that the man would chop her head, as promised, for breaking her word. However, nothing like that happened.
“Mistress, may I hug you and pat your head?” Asked Solomon, slightly blushing.
Seeing that the man was all right, Alviona rejoiced. Oh, yes! She replied, happy that she was about to get spoiled.
Solomon immediately moved the girl closer to his chest, tightly hugging her, patting her head, and landing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Mistress, I beg you to not leave me alone for so long again. If you really wish to fly for an extended amount of time, just destroy my body and resummon me when you land.” He declared firmly.
Alviona was not happy hearing this, as she was utterly against killing her closest friend. I will never destroy you! You are my friend! I can unsummon you, but I will not trade you for another person via <Subjugation>. She declared mentally, her face displaying dedication.
Solomon did not understand what she meant by these words, for he did not know about the ability’s restriction. However, he was happy hearing her response, so he nodded.
Folding her wings, Alviona walked back into the carriage, undressed, and slowly crawled back into Mira’s warm embrace. Aah! Bliss! I wonder how my two mommies and Piu are. She thought, falling asleep soon after.
Later in the morning, Mira woke up and looked at the child in front of her. She was startled by an oddly pleased expression that the child’s face harbored. Not knowing of anything that occurred earlier, she landed a gentle kiss on her granddaughter’s cheeks and walked outside.
“Ah, good morning Solomon. How are you today?” (Mira)
“Good morning, Mira!” Replied the man with an oddly cheerful voice.
Why does everyone seem to be so chirpy today? Thought Mira, but then decided that it was best to not know. The day previously had made her head boil, forcing her to make a medication as a remedy.
“All right. Let us make breakfast then,” said Mira, gathering dry wood, putting it into the pit, pouring oil into the frying pan and starting a fire.
“What are you going to cook?” asked Solomon curiously.
“Ah. Well, I will make eggs and potatoes. It should be good,” said Mira, gathering all the ingredients necessary. First, she cut the potatoes into small square pieces. The elf then proceeded to place them in the pan, adding a pinch of salt. While roasting, she moved some chopped onions and carrots into the mix. Lastly, six pieces of eggs (thanks to Alviona’s insatiable appetite) were added atop the dish that slowly started to bake. As a finisher, she applied some spices. The aroma produced from the food made its way into the nostrils of the two girls that were asleep. Janine and Alviona both jolted up, getting dressed and hurrying towards the source of this incredible smell.
“Ahha! Woke you up, did I?” Teased Mira, seeing that both of them were in the same situation. “Well then, wash your hands and faces, and we can have breakfast,” She told the two, especially Alviona who was attempting to dig her hands into the frying pan. “Child, do you want me to get mad?”
Owiee! Thought Alviona, as she rushed to wash up. Finished, the four of them enjoyed their meal. After cleaning the dishes and moving them into the magical compartment of the carriage, they set out towards the encampment.
“Greetings travelers! Welcome to the Adventurer’s camp of Tratmul. How are you today?” Asked the man who was standing guard.
“Good morning, sir. We would like to request entry and permission to stay here for a few days. I would like to teach my granddaughter of dungeons, and provide her with some combat experience,” said Mira, smiling at the man.
“Oh! Good timing. The dungeon of Tratmul has a lot of loot that spawned a week ago. Nobody has wholly claimed it yet. Currently, the adventurers are recruiting healers and front-line assailants for their groups. What is your profession?”
“I am a druid. The girl beside me is a Psychic user. That man there is a sorcerer, and this child here is, well… a newbie,” said Mira with a chuckle.
“Ah. Well, that is fine! Step right through. Welcome to our camp,” replied the man with a grin.
Moving towards camping area, Janine parked the carriage. With the help of Solomon and Mira, they transformed it into a tent once again. She then walked the oxen to the stables and adequately fed them, instructing nearby caretakers to look after them.
Alviona was looking around, trying to look for fun activities. A tent not far away from her opened, and two individuals walked out from it – Brunor and Salia.
Oh, aren’t those the people from yesterday?! Mr. Solomon, mind coming with me for a few minutes?
“Why of course!” Replied Solomon immediately.
“Grandma, may I go out for a moment? I will not go far, and Solomon will come with me,” said Alviona with a chirpy voice.
Mira did not see any problems with that, so she allowed it.
Yay! Thought Alviona, as she grabbed Solomon’s left hand and went after the two individuals who walked into the large tent.
Upon entering, Alviona saw many people of various heights, ages, and ethnicity. Nobody had quite the same equipment, and some seemed to be in a possession of better pieces than the others. While excited, her goal was set. Ignoring all the goodies and shinies, she approached the man who sat by a large table, talking to his comrades and eating breakfast.
“Did you sleep well Lucas?” asked Brunor to the man in front of him.
“Yeah, how about you Brunor?”
“I won’t say that I slept much, but I can’t complain.” Said Brunor, forcing the girl beside him to blush.
“Ah, I see. So that is what you were up to last night Salia?” Teased Hayden, her face carrying a bright smile.
“I… Shut up!” Said Salia, irritated by her action. However, the girl simply winked at her. “God damn you, Hayden!” Continued Salia, but stopped when she saw Lucas’s and the girl’s face frozen. Brunor seemed to pick up on it too.
Turning around, the two of them saw why the faces of their companions suddenly ceased any motion. A tall girl, with curly, and dark crimson hair stood in front of them. Her body figure could not be described as anything but extraordinary. Her face was that of a goddess. Who was this girl? Why was she here?
Seeing that she had their attention, the young girl grinned and opened her mouth.
“Good morning. My name is Alviona, and I have seen everything that happened yesterday night. I know of your problem, so would you like me to join and play alongside you?” Asked the child chirpily, her voice filling the ears of the company like a melody.
The Ironmight was confused and unable to respond. After a few minutes of silence, Salia mustered up the courage to speak in front of this girl. However, she could not compose a proper sentence. Instead, only one word came out of her mouth: “H-huh?!”