I helped Victoria move around some furniture to serve as the bed, she didn't want me to help her at first but it changed when I casually picked up a forty kilos wooden sofa. Shocked, she stood still when I moved more things around.
There was a king-sized bed in the bedroom, it was filled with more pillows than I could ever find comfortable so I gave them to Victoria. I preferred to sleep with my head laying flat anyway, I only kept a single pillow to put under my legs.
I also gave her the blanket, the sheet was thick enough to serve as one so I kept it for myself. It would have been much easier to just let her sleep in the same bed as me but I didn't trust myself enough, being a horny simpleton and all.
Victoria was on the verge of crying again, she kept telling me that there is no need to do so much for her. A new feeling sprang up in me, unfamiliar but pleasant, like having butterflies in my stomach. Maybe I really had some worth in this life, I just had to realize it yet.
After moving all my things to the bedroom, I told Victoria goodnight and closed the doors. I pushed a small cupboard to lock the doors, just in case she wanted to get chummy after all. The thought of having a cute girl to snuggle with was great and all but my conscience stopped me from taking advantage of her.
I felt that in Victoria's current state she might try to do something stupid, I knew I couldn't stop myself if that were to happen. I was already falling asleep when a quiet knock of the doors against the cupboard woke me up.
Bitting my lip, I ignored the urge to let her in, I wanted to be better than that; even if just to stroke my own self-righteousness.
I woke up earlier than usual, my stomach was somewhat agitated, I probably shouldn't have drunk that much wine yesterday. I found Victoria curled up on the makeshift bed, her eyes were still red but she was breathing steadily.
I gently picked her up, intending to move her to the bed but she woke up.
"Huh?" Victoria squeezed out, disoriented she grabbed my neck.
"Shh, sleep," I said to her and tucked her in.
Her reddened eyes were filled with gratitude, she closed them and went back to sleep. I don't know long I stood there, overcame with emotion. I never had someone look at me that way, like I were the greatest person in the world.
I wasn't, neither did I have the potential to grow into one. This belief was rooted deeply in the core of my being.
There was a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head when I was clothing up, I really didn't know what to do with myself. I tied my hair into a tight bun, didn't want it getting in the way during my training. I fixed the furniture arrangement and thoroughly cleaned my hands.
After digging in my bag of holding I found a shield and sword combo with similar weight and dimensions to Lux Divus.
The blade was five fingers wide but it narrowed to just thumb width at the tip. It was made of bluish steel lined with beautiful black patterns, with three fullers to make it lighter. The handle was small and oval, covered in some scaly skin.
[Coldsteel Cinquedea, Made of Coldsteel which is an imitation of Ice Steel, this simple but deadly weapon is favored by civilians as a replacement for daggers and swords. Features a small but effective guard and heavy blade apt for both cutting and stabbing. Weight. 1,7kg]
The shield was made of the same metal, it was round and flat and had a small convexity with a spike in the middle. It protected my entire forearm when I put it on.
[Coldsteel Parma, Made of Coldsteel which is an imitation of Ice Steel, this shield offers flexibility and protection beyond those of similar shields. Weight: 3,6kg]
Both of these felt good in my hands, I did some test swings and nodded my head in appreciation. Well, I knew jack about weapons but they felt perfectly suited to Marie's hands so I was satisfied. I put them aside and glanced at CoM.
"There it goes," I muttered under my nose and set it to seventy, the same number I used in the palace.
Gritting my teeth, I sat down on the fluffy carpet and closed my eyes, wrapping my hands around my knees. There was a lot to take in, I had to get used to this feeling whether I liked it or not. I could hear a lot even with my windows and doors closed.
A sound of a washer in the neighboring room, complaints of a customer in the restaurant on the lower floor, even muffled sounds of the busy lower streets. I shivered when I squeezed my toes around the fluff.
I could feel and hear the blood flowing through my veins, it spread to every inch of my body with each thunderclap of my heart. My nose was overwhelmed by the new world of scents that I had just discovered.
It was incredible.
Immersed in this feeling, I didn't feel the flow of time until the explosion of footsteps made me jump up. Victoria walked out of the bedroom, shyly looking in my direction. I could hear how her heartbeat quickened when she looked at me.
Smiling, I asked, "Are you okay?"
"Y-Yes, thank you!" Her booming voice coupled with a violent bow startled me.
Luckily, her head was down and she couldn't see my pained expression.
"It's okay, I still want you as my personal maid if you are interested," I said and stood up.
Victoria beamed at me and nodded her head, "Please, Miss!"
I returned the smile and said, "I need to go out soon. The next few days I will spend most of my time in the palace so you will be relatively free."
"Miss is going to the palace?" Victoria asked me, wide-eyed.
"Yes, we are preparing for something with Duke Forthbane. Let's just say that I won't have much free time." I said.
She looked at me in awe, as if I was some amazing hero.
"Miss is so kind and such an important person too." She said shyly, shuffling her feet. "I will bring Miss breakfast this instant."
I grinned, "Not before I fix your hair."
After eating the breakfast I left Victoria with the keys to the room, I carried everything with myself anyway so I wasn't too worried. She was extremely moved by my trust and said that the room would be spotless when I returned.
I met Devin when walking out of the lobby, he nodded his head with a meaningful smile on his face. After taking a calming breath, I sourly returned the gesture and stormed off, I didn't like that man at all.
The morning sun seared my skin, at least it felt like it. I swayed like a drunkard for the first few minutes, amused people shooting me curious glances. Halfway to the palace, I managed to tone down the noise in my head.
I was motivated, for the first time in years, I felt truly motivated to achieve something.
The palace guards saluted me when I approached the gate, one of them said, "Your Excellency, please follow me."
He led me into the palace, to a different room, on the ground floor this time around. It was a large ball hall, the ceiling was really high and the floor was made from black and white polished tiles. There was a row of tall windows on the wall.
The only furniture within was a single table with five chairs.
Two of the chairs were already occupied, one by Duke Forthbane and the other one by a young man I have never seen before. He had thick black hair loosely swept behind his ears, thick and short eyebrows and shockingly orange eyes.
He was relatively handsome, with chiseled features. He wore something that could pass off as a modern coat, red with golden embroidering. Underneath he had simple fitting clothes, black in color.
They turned their heads to look at me, the orange eyed man raised his eyebrows.
Playing with some ball in his hands, he asked Forthbane, "Is it her?"
"Yes," Forthbane confirmed and stood up to greet me.
Imagine my surprise that the first thing to greet me was the ball in the other man's hands. He threw it at me and I automatically caught it. It instantly turned searing hot and exploded in my face, I staggered a few steps back.
"What the hell was that?!" I snapped at the man.
Forthbane looked shocked as well, "Ryse! Explain yourself!"
The man called Ryse looked taken aback as well, he quickly stood up and began apologizing. "This wasn't my intention, please forgive me! It wasn't supposed to explode!"
He rushed over and handed me a handkerchief, I grudgingly took it and cleaned soot off my face and hands.
"What was it supposed to do then?" I asked venomously, returning the handkerchief.
Ryse smiled wryly, revealing a set of perfect teeth. "It's a small toy to help determine someone's magical potential, it was only supposed to shine."
I frowned, what a sneaky person.
Anyone would involuntarily try to catch something that was thrown at them, I couldn't help but praise his ingenuity. Ryse gracefully bowed, sticking his hand out. I saw something like that in the movies before, I was supposed to let him kiss me in the hand.
Disgusting, dirty and disgusting. The mouth was filled with germs, more than anything else.
Ryse must have mistaken my lack of action for a grudge because he said, "Please, I am begging for forgiveness."
I glanced at Forthbane, he discreetly pointed at Ryse's back. With the latter bowing, I could see a golden lion embroidered into the red coat. It turned out that he was one of the Lions, someone who would party up with me soon.
Amazing, truly amazing.
Clenching my teeth, I allowed Ryse to grab my hand, he pecked my palm and I shuddered in disgust. The wet feeling that accompanied it would give me nightmares for days. Emboldened by my reaction, Ryse held onto my hand and looked me in the eyes.
He said, "I am Ryse Fuego, the Fiery Lion of Espain. Miss' eyes are like two moons gazing into my soul, I am awestruck."
"Marie Penn." I hissed through my pursed lips, what a smooth talker.
It took all of my willpower to stop myself from frantically wiping my hand after he released it.
Forthbane chuckled and said, "Please, ignore Ryse's advances. He preys on young ladies, I am sure your Excellency could deal with him though."
Ryse coughed awkwardly and gave Forthbane a side eye, "Andre, you shouldn't interfere with the matters of the heart."
Heart my ass.
I really wanted to punch this guy but there was a risk that I would rip his head off. In the end, I only shook my head in disapproval. I also shot a curious glance at Forthbane, so it turned out his name was actually Andre.
Forthbane must have understood my intention, "We will work as a team soon, it would be best for us to get to know each other better. Please, just refer to me as Andre." He said to me.
I nodded my head, "Of course, just call me Marie."
Ryse said to me, "Marie, Andre mentioned that you would bring some scrolls, may I inspect them?"
"Are you a rag?" I asked.
He exchanged confused glances with Andre and asked, "I beg your pardon?"
I cursed at myself in my mind, on the outside I pointed at Ring of Tongue, "My translating must have failed, I meant spell caster."
"Oh, yes I am!" Ryse said, proudly sticking out his chest, "The best in Espain, the peak of my class in Arcane River academy!"
"Lisa wouldn't agree," Andre muttered under his nose.
Ryse must have heard him because he shot him a sharp look, he then turned to me and asked, "Are you interested in magic, Marie? Who knows, you might have some talent!"
"Who knows." I walked up to the table, "See if my scrolls will be useful."
I pulled out the three scrolls I prepared yesterday, Andre and Ryse approached the table to evaluate their use. Ryse's face instantly went pale, he looked as if he had just seen the ghost of his grandpa.
"Heavens almighty!" His eyes almost popped out of his sockets.
"What is it?" Andre asked, suspiciously glancing at the scrolls.
Ryse's expression of shock quickly changed into a stupid smile, he traced the [Clarity] spell and let out a quiet screech.
"I can't believe this! And these golden ones? Mother of all magic!" He went crazy, hyperventilating and squealing like a child.
I grinned, "Holy Furor, one of the strongest spells I know of."
Andre's face turned serious, he regarded the massive scroll, "What are its effects?"
I was about to explain but Ryse cut me out, "It's light magic! It's actually a light attribute scroll!"
"What?!" Andre lost his cool for the first time since I met him, his eyes jumped between me and the scroll. "Then the other gold one?"
"Yes! It's light too!" Ryse exclaimed.
"Is light magic rare in Espain?" I asked.
Andre looked at me as if I came from the moon, "In Espain? There hasn't been a known light mage in three hundred years. Unless..." He regarded me seriously, some disbelief on his face.
I coughed awkwardly, well, that was a blunder.
"I won't ask uncomfortable questions then." Andre said to me, he shook Ryse's shoulder and said, "Get a hold of yourself."
Ryse pulled up a chair and plopped down, he was heaving rapidly, his eyes glued to the scrolls. He was chuckling under his breath, shaking his head in disbelief. Andre looked at him worriedly, I didn't blame his reaction; Ryse looked like he lost his mind.
"Are you ready to listen to their effects?" I asked them.
"Yes, please!" Ryse exploded.
Andred only nodded his head, he appeared to be deep in thought. I took my time describing the scrolls, I had to improvise because the original descriptions had some game elements. After getting to [Grand Heavenly Intervention] I paused for a moment, unsure how to translate its effects.
Sitting on the edge of his seat, Ryse impatiently asked, "What about this last one? I can't get any better, right?"
"I am not sure," I said and bit my lip. "It has a duration of one minute and is a group boon. I haven't seen it in action yet but from what I understand it's supposed to save from certain death, just once and without healing any wounds."
"We can win, with these scrolls we can win!" Ryse stood up, he looked at me with fervor. "Marie, do you have any other scrolls, for sale?"
"I have another Clarity scroll but I am not willing to sell it. As for the other two, they are supposed to by my life-saving scrolls" I said to him, this was a story I came up with earlier.
"Marie, your background must be amazing, right?" Andre asked me.
Ryse rapidly nodded his head, "Of course it must be! This Holy Furor scroll could be used to stabilize an entire country!"
I awkwardly averted my gaze and said, "I would rather not talk about this."
What was I supposed to tell them? That my father, a suburban doctor, crafted these scrolls when he was bored? Obviously not. I picked the three scrolls up and put them back into my bag of holding, Ryse's eyes longingly followed them.
"May we practice now?" I asked Andre.
"Of course, have you brought a weapon?" He asked me.
"Yes, please tell me if they're any good," I said and pulled out the Coldsteel set.
Andre's face turned serious as he scrutinized the two weapons, he tested the balance and the sharpness, nodding his head in approval. Meanwhile, Ryse sat down and pulled out a glass out of nowhere.
It was filled with something that smelled suspiciously like alcohol.
Andre suddenly said, "Deep in the Western Ocean, there is an archipelago of islands, usually guarded by magical storms. Known as the land of heroes, it's a tropical environment. People of these parts dress in long tunics and sandals, and often favor a combination of short swords and small round shields."
"Huh? I have never heard of this. Lightning magic is only a step below light. To create a storm like the one you described... I can't imagine the magical power necessary to do that. " Ryse said from the side.
Andre looked me in the eyes and continued, "It just so happens that these people have light brown complexion, just like someone in this room."
If there were coincidences in the world then they must have all converged into this room. Alternatively, I was the luckiest idiot alive and the world was taking pity on me by basically handing me a free backstory.
"You are very knowledgeable, Andre," I said.
He handed me my weapons back and smiled, "I promise to stop digging any further, this kind of background is beyond my paygrade."
I received the weapons and said, "Let's not dwell on this matter. I can't fight at all, I've always relied on my natural strength."
"Not even basics?" Andre asked, tracing his jaw.
I shook my head, "I can only wave my sword around, let's just say that I always skipped the training."
Ryse grinned at me from the side, "I can relate to that."
"Alright, we will start from the very basics then!" Andre said.