It looked like Ms. Pasesi was assigned to direct Ren and Erizora to the dining hall where they’d have breakfast, while Ms. Tephalia and I went in another direction to have ours that her other servants will bring us. The other two handmaidens, Ms. Ashe, and Ms. Salelia, were for some reason, just following us from behind, and I’m not sure if I was hearing things, but it sounded like they were whispering and giggling over something. I wasn’t really interested in what they were talking about, but I was practically hypnotized by how all the Lamias naturally rock their hips while they slither forward. It must be how they were able to have such tight and well-toned stomachs. I get that strange stirring inside me again before I realized I was ogling at them, and then linked together the possibility that the two handmaidens were talking about me and my staring.
“Is something a matter, Jinma?” Ms. Tephalia asks as she slithers at my side while I just have a hand scratching my head.
I try my best to make my eye-contact with the Lamia lord as gentle as possible. “I … must apologize, Ms. Tephalia. A lot of stuff happened last night, and I know I caused quite a bit of damage to the city with that tanto, along with other things. I also couldn’t stop it from taking some of your citizens’ lives sooner. I’ll take responsibility and do whatever I can to pay for the damages I caused to your city.
“Another thing is even when you’ve generously provided a bed and hospitality to a human like me, who I must admit snuck into the city in the middle of the chaos last night, I … well, I’ve heard many times how my ‘stares’ can make people uncomfortable even when I didn’t intend them, or just staring rudely in general. I apologize in advance if I come off that way, and I hope you may forgive me for my rudeness while I try to adjust myself accordingly.”
Ms. Tephalia seems to be taking a moment to absorb what I just said, but despite her surprise, she covers her giggles poorly. “Goodness, you’re much humbler and more of a gentleman now than when I saw you through Damian’s eyes last night.”
“My main snake familiar summoned from Curse Magic. He and a couple of his subordinates I also summoned to watch the city while I was gone relayed to me what they observed over the infiltration last night as I quickly made my way back. I made sure Damian kept a close eye on you, especially.”
“Ah, to keep track of the destruction I caused, huh?”
“Well, that, among other things. More importantly, however, there’s no need to get so tense and self-conscious. Not only are you a guest, but you’re also a renowned hero among the people in my city. Whether you’re a human, demi, or demon, I want this city to be welcoming and thriving with wonders for travelers of all kinds, especially since we’re the closest city to the border between the Human-Kin and Demon-Kin Territories.”
I cringe a little when the word ‘hero’ was mentioned. It may be one thing if it was mentioned in fiction aimed at kids, but I never liked how it’s used in the real world. I don’t know why, I just get unsettling feelings from the word and who it describes, especially me.
“That’s really cool and all, but I’m not even close to what you may define as a ‘hero.’ If you’ve observed last night through your familiars, then you should know that I pilfered the majority of what those cultists carried after beating them. I wouldn’t exactly call that ‘heroic.’ What about you?”
“Hmm … well, it’s expected that one would experience a great loss, in one form or another, after losing a battle in these parts, but I think whether it’s a good or bad thing, in general, depends on the circumstances. You may not have found those deeds heroic, but I think adding insult to injury towards enemies makes one bolder than most, and you certainly stood out in how you handled the infiltrators.”
“Still, I couldn’t stop some of the citizens’ lives from being taken …”
“Ah, yes, about that. While some were certainly mortally wounded, especially those from the cursed tanto, the Immortals’ influence from the monument managed to stop them from going over the brink of death.”
My eyes widen at her news.
“We thankfully have some people able to use Holy Magic to heal those who were wounded, and we Lamias have a history in specializing potions and other concoctions, so we have enough on reserve for any emergencies. The scars made from the tanto, unfortunately, won’t fade away even with Holy Magic doing its work, but once they’ve recovered their energies, they should be able to get back to their normal lives.”
“So, there were no casualties at all? What about the White Rapture?”
“Aside from those in the White Rapture and the monsters that invaded, there were no casualties whatsoever. Some of the cultists managed to escape, unfortunately, but we captured a good number of them, regardless.”
“I see …” I feel as if a great weight was lifted from my shoulders as I sigh inwardly. That’s such a relief. When I get ahold of Ms. Obina again, I’ll have to pay my proper respects if their monument played such a large part in their survival.
I jump a little from the sudden pinching feeling on my shoulder and see that it’s Ms. Tephalia’s hand. “Goodness, that weighed on your mind much heavier than I thought, did it? You’re still tense, but I could see how much you relaxed just now after hearing the news. You really cared and brooded over us, did you?”
“I mean … there are still things weighing in my mind, like the damage I caused to the city.” Plus, what am I to do with Ren and Erizora for the next 36 hours, that foreboding nightmare I had last night, and these so-called ‘Devil Eyes’ I somehow have. Oh, and of course the fact that I actually killed someone for the first time, let alone seven, if I remember correctly. I still can’t believe that happened and I did all of that. It felt like I wasn’t even in control of myself.
“We can worry about that later. For now, you’re our honorary guest hungry for breakfast, and we must provide the best hospitality for you to unwind. Isn’t that right, girls?”
““Oh, yes~!/Certainly~!”” the two handmaidens behind us exclaim before giggling. I can’t see their mouths with the veils, but their eyes seem to smile with certain mischief. It’s when I see their eyes that something hits me, and when I glance at Ms. Tephalia’s, hers are the same.
I’ve become so familiar with people back home being scared and frightened of me that I could tell just from looking into one’s eyes. If I don’t see that, then I can bet that there’s something else going on in their minds, and unless it’s from one of my only two friends from school or Mom’s acquaintances back home, it usually doesn’t mean anything good.
My suspicions may have been confirmed by the time we arrived at the designated room. While there are shelves of books to indicate it as a study, the exotic lounge couch, chair, coffee table with a lidded platter in the middle, and even a bed bigger than mine that I realized was more than a king-size give this incredibly spacious, royal room a personal, intimate vibe.
Can this be …
“Welcome, to my personal chambers, Jinma,” Ms. Tephalia greets with a gentle, but sneaky smirk.
… Yep, this is her bedroom all right. I’m suddenly feeling like being back in that guest room with Ren and Erizora doing who-knows-what to be a much more pleasant option than whatever what I’m about to experience here.
Just as I’m thinking what I’ve gotten myself into, a familiar, slightly annoying female voice rings in my head.
<“Jinma?! Is that you?! Hey! It’s me! The cursed tanto from last night! Get me out of this damn platter!”>
… Well, at least I’m not alone.
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