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This was around the time Kenaka left when the girls of Jinma’s party finished eating and were having that girl talk. Mametama ended up being in Lili’s arms and while she was a little nervous to be held by an Arachne’s claw-like hands at first, the cougar in her cub form calmed down when she listened in on their girl talk.

The topic of discussion: men, specifically the man of the hour, Jinma Kotori.

Somehow, they all managed to put in their experiences with their man of interest to where they could formulate a general timeline, from the very beginning two days prior when Jinma got pulled into one of Lili’s traps, to the present. Lili’s mother, Raize, happened to join in partway through while on her lunch break to get filled in on the details, especially the juicier ones that involve Jinma’s sexual escapades.

They wouldn’t get so loud and ecstatic as they had been if Jinma didn’t leave the [Soundproof] barrier on as requested by the girls. Based on what he told them, he should be able to maintain it even if he was from a certain distance, so as long as they don’t step out of it and say something others shouldn’t hear, they could make as much noise as they wanted.

“I must say, you three must’ve had one heck of a time with him in the private bath. I’m envious,” Lili says.

“I’m more amazed that Lady Umeiyon not only did a courtship ceremony with the Immortals and Nyra witnessing it, but she even managed to speak with Master’s mother, all of it taken place this morning. To bring such a male like Master to this world, his mother must be quite the amazing female as well,” Ren speculates while nodding to herself.

“Haha, yeah, she was one heck of a human female, all right …” Umeiyon says before taking a drink to quench her sudden thirst.

While Umeiyon voided details that would reveal her identity as a Dragon, she couldn’t shake off the imposing threat Jinma’s mother, Mikan Kotori, left with her. Even now as she recalls her last words, a chill ran through her bones that she didn’t think was possible for a human to achieve against a Dragon through long-distance communication.

Also, out of getting pressed into it by the other girls, Umeiyon wound up spilling the beans of how her first time her Jinma went but left the details of doing it in the very same meeting room their party was in a while ago.

“Lady Umeiyon, there hast been something on my mind that I have been meaning to say to thee for a while, but could not speak of it while Master Jinma was nearby,” Kalline says after putting down the cup of tea she had been drinking.

“… And what would that be?” Umeiyon asks with slight tension in the air. She can tell Kalline is referring to the harsh ‘criticism’ that Jinma had to step in and stop the flames from getting any bigger, but she honestly thought they were over that already. What more of that could be said?

The other girls gathered around that table direct all of their attention to Kalline as she takes the floor.

“What I have been meaning to say is that … thy accusation about me not having the ‘slightest romantic interest’ in Master Jinma … is wrong.”

““Huh?””

Kalline, suddenly now embarrassed, pushes her fingers together with reddened cheeks. “In truth, I have had … something of a romantic interest in him for some time … a big ‘something,’ in fact. W-While I do wish to go on adventures with him as a member of his party, I mainly wanted to join … as shameful of me as a hardened warrior who is loyal to her master to admit this, in hopes that I get closer to him as a female to a male.”

“So … you actually do like Jin in that way,” Umeiyon states, to which Kalline nods in confirmation.

“If that’s true, then why didn’t you say anything from the very beginning?”

“How’d you even come to like Master in that way?” Erizora and Ren ask, respectfully.

“Well … I mean, look at me. Would Master Jinma even think of having such a relationship with a female having a body like this?” Kalline looks down to her horse lower-body, currently sitting with attention as a noble Centaur lady should, but her matching ears fold back as she grimaces at the sight. “Thinking back on it, it may have been a miracle that he even gave me a chance to be his steed, seeing how conflicted he was when I offered. I cannot imagine how things would be if I told him I … I do not know, find out more of why I was so awestruck and invested in that man since he saved my life from that raid, just like how the Champion hero from the story I read put his life on the line to save the Centaur heroine, the same one who had also sworn allegiance to the Champion afterward before they grew ever closer until—”

“Hold it, take a few steps back and let me process this,” Lili interrupts before rubbing her temples with the joints of her claw-like fingers, avoiding the possibility of scratching herself. “Are you trying to say you like him because he’s a human that resembles the Champion from that story, or …”

“No, no, no! I do not mean it like that!” Kalline answers, looking frantic. “I admit that it felt thrilling to be in the same place as the heroine when Master Jinma saved me but I am not trying to recreate a work of fiction into reality! Dear Uncle scared away enough stallions who have tried to approach me into making me lose hope in finding a mate but this is the first time I have ever felt this way for a male, let alone one who is a human! I just … I do not think this is what hast been termed ‘love at first sight,’ but I just have this feeling that I might be very happy being with Master Jinma, and I just wanted to see if these feelings were true.”

“Ah, I get it. Those might be your instincts,” Ren says as she places a hand to her modest chest. “I admit that I didn’t think much of Master when I first met him, knowing how he was still a Brawler then, but as soon as he stepped up to save Ms. Raize and defeated those White Rapture cultists who threatened her, I gained that same interest in getting to know him more in that instant, just as you likely had when he saved you.”

“My instincts …” Kalline repeats as she rests a hand to her bosom, the heart that dwells inside it beats quickly as she thinks back to the moment when Jinma saved her life.

“Even being the proud Centaur that you are, you’re still as much of a ‘beast’ as I am being a Werewolf, the same can be said for a Minotaur, an Orc, or even a Kitsune. When one has nothing left to turn to in a time of crisis, they follow and act on their instincts, whether their certainty for a good outcome is high or low. No matter what it is, we go by our instincts if we want something to happen, for if we don’t, then we will never get anywhere.

“From one beast to another, Ms. Gallofree, listen to your instincts, even if it’s just a little bit, and decide for yourself whether or not you should act on them. You will know when you get there whether following your instincts was the right call. I’ve not regretted following them even once since it has helped me come this far, to meet Master as well as everyone here.”

“Ren …” Erizora mutters as she looks at her slave companion longingly, being one of the very few who have come to learn of her circumstances since they first met.

Erizora was driven out of her home for being half human, but Ren had to leave her old pack out of her own volition when she felt the life she had been living up to then wasn’t good for her. Ren seemed quite close with that pack as she told many stories and adventures with them to her, so it must not have been easy to leave them the way she did.

To see her grow so much since the beginning of their time together, with Ogre blood running through her veins, Erizora respected Ren’s ‘strength’ very highly, and she couldn’t be prouder to call her a friend and sister-figure.

As if trying to put those words into her heart, Kalline tightens the hand on her chest into a fist. “I see … I think I get it now. Yes, I will consider thy words wisely. I thank thee for thy helpful input, Ren.”

“Anytime, Ms. Gallofree. That’s what we party members are here for.”

“Indeed, and please, call me Kalline.” With that, the Centaur and Werewolf smile to each other.

“Going back to Mr. Jinma’s duel for a bit though, I have to admit, I thought Lili was going crazy when she told me,” Raize cuts in. “Putting the high rank he had just earned and all of his money on stake just so Kalline would join his party. Well, other than possibly losing his niece and some pride, I can’t help but think that Guild Master won’t lose very much if the odds are in Mr. Jinma’s favor.”

“Males certainly take their pride seriously, but I agree that he won’t lose very much,” Umeiyon adds.

“… This deal was only made on a vocal agreement, right? None of the terms have been clearly stated on parchment?” Lili asks.

“It did seem last-minute, but yes, thou art correct, and they shook on it,” Kalline answers.

“Well then, when things like this come up, a proper contract listing the terms in detail with both parties putting things of similar, if not equal value on the table must be accounted for to make things proper and fair. I think I know how I can set things up to even out the playing field …”

“Um, is it normal for your daughter to get like this, Ms. Raize?” Mametama asks as she looks up at Lili’s conniving grin. If possible, one might see how all of her six beady black eyes have turned into gold coins.

“Oh, dear. Of course, when a ‘business opportunity’ comes up during her vacation, you can bet she’ll try to catch it in her web and make it work in her favor. Shall I get a parchment, quill, and ink for you, honey?”

“If you would, please~.”

Coming to an understanding only a mother and daughter would know about, Raize gets up and heads over to the reception counter to borrow the necessary supplies while Lili still smiles.

The other girls gathered around that table turn wary as they gaze at the Arachne’s expression, suddenly coming to learn a new and greedy side to her.

“Well, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say a certain Centaur’s body and his pouch has just been found caught in this web,” Umeiyon says, being the only one unperturbed by this unsettling air before she takes another sip of her drink. Maybe it’s because she’s aware of her nature as a Dragon to hoard whatever that may be of value that she can somewhat relate to Lili’s pursuit for money.

“My, my~, what a large gathering of unique girls we have here today, and if I’m not mistaken, there are a few new faces here out of those I’m familiar with in this group.”

““?!””

The sudden new guest to the table had everyone jolting their heads to the direction of the source.

Hovering above Umeiyon’s head is the face of a mature woman with long violet locks, hourglass-like waist, and a lower body of a snake with scales that match her hair.

Aside from the clothes that were trying too hard to make her inconspicuous, more than half of the girls in the table recognize this new guest all too well.

“Might I inquire one of you ladies to tell me where Jinma currently is?”

““Lady Tephalia?!”” the majority of the girls exclaim. The only ones that had no clue to who the new guest is are Umeiyon and Mametama. Both of them only tilt their heads in confusion.

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A note from Orange_Rain

I wasn't sure whether or not to make this an interlude so I thought, 'it's an intermission chapter. Why not just have two chapters in one day?' and so we've come to this.

Sit tight though, the next chapter will be pretty lengthy.


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About the author

Orange_Rain

  • United States

Bio: Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.

I not only like to read novels of many kinds, but I also like to write them. The stories published here will be in webnovel.com as well, so if you can, I'd appreciate it if you could support me on both platforms. I also like to read any professional critiques people may have on my works in order for me to become a better writer.

Thank you for your time, and I hope you'll enjoy what I have in store.

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