Exhausted, and tired, I managed to sneak to the VIP section just before anyone could really spot me. But as I got past the dwarf, everyone on my floor began to clap. Many joined the clapping as they understood what was going on. But it was mostly only those who I saw still sitting there. I raised my hand awkwardly.
I took sharp few steps towards Bill’s family, which consisted of a mother, a father, and three children- all girls. Some were almost adults, while others were merely kids.
“I can’t thank you enough. I never expected… any of this!” the father immediately said as a family’s preventative.
“This is nothing. I only wish I could give return you Bill. But I do hope that this will soothe your mourning and pain, even if so slightly.”
Mother took a step forward, giving me a surprise hug. “Thank you,” she murmured, taking a step back afterward. Bill’s father reached out his hand. I reached out mine to shake hands.
As I looked around the father and mother, I could see the smallest two girls hiding behind the mother’s skirt. I knelt down. “I don’t bite. Want to give a hug?”
Both of them looked at their parents, who smiled and nodded. They ran to me, hugging me as well. Well, at least those kids can say that they hugged the hero at school.
As the kids returned to their parents, I looked at their oldest daughter, and she looked at me, hesitating. “You don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” I said, giving her a small smile. The girl blushed slightly, but it was enough of a boost to push her to hug me as well. “Thank you,” she whispered as well.
As she got off, she smiled as well.
As they were walking away, I finally got a look at Elbert and Alice, who were seated in the very same table as last time. Both of them were looking at me, smiling.
I stepped closer to them, sighing. “It’s supposed to be a sad day, you two.”
“But the way you hugged all those kids was so cute,” Alice said.
“It was really awkward,” I mumbled.
Elbert laughed. “You’ll get used to it.”
I got myself seated on a free seat, noticing a drink in front of me.
“For you,” Elbert said. “I thought you might come here.”
“Thank you very much,” I muttered, taking a sip. It was a sweet beverage.
“She left,” Alice said immediately. “She asked me to thank you.”
“If it helps you - when she came, her eyes were full of despair. But when she left, she left the despair behind, now full of hope.”
I looked down at the stage and all those seats that were still filled with people, waiting their turn to stand up and leave. It was all over, finally. I turned to look at Alice, who happened to just stare at me. But she had that wide smile on her face. “What?”
“Nothing. I’m just proud that you really did it,” Alice said. I only snorted.
“Even I’m impressed and surprised. As a hero, you’ve definitely had the strongest start, compared to any other. And I don’t remember the last time when the theater was that full.”
I chuckled. “I’m more surprised that the king and the others agreed.”
“Why shouldn’t they?” Elbert said. “You saved Cornwall and presented them with a good reason why they should allow the reformation. Perhaps the only surprise was that it got this far as fast as it did.”
“Yeah, I had to annoy everyone and all the time,” I said, sighing. “But I’m thankful for you and Aldrynte. Without you two... It would’ve been impossible.”
Elbert nodded. “It would’ve.”
I laughed. “Like father, like daughter, I guess?” Elbert chuckled, understanding what I meant. “They’ll hate me, for sure,” I said after a short pause.
“Oh, there will be many, for sure,” Elbert said, nodding. “But they’ll get used to it. And if anything, you’ll find more support if anything. There probably were many who felt that reformation was needed, but could do nothing. And there are many who got inspired by today’s evening. You might even meet him.”
“You’ll see. I won’t spoil it.”
I took another sip from the drink. “Well, I’ll hope for the best.”
“Many heroes in the past have thought of what you did today. But none of them dared to touch the system. It was after all… a legacy.”
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah. Sure. I can get behind why some things shouldn’t be changed nor touched. But if something doesn’t work…”
I sighed, looking finally at Alice, who was just looking at me, slightly blushing. “Alice?”
“Eh? Nothing!” Alice responded quickly, looking away. To be fair, after the clothing she had gotten from Lu, she had begun to wear slightly more revealing clothing. But nothing crazy. Just more revealing and… pretty? It also helped that both Arryn and Alice got a crazy amount of coins for the quest, so she could buy them.
“What are you up to now? If I understood correctly, your party-”
“...is done for,” Alice finished it for me, giving me a weak - but sad - smile. “Arryn apologized and said that without Bill there’s no party, and then there are things she needs to do. Of course, without me. And me alone is no longer a party,” she continued, sighing.
I frowned. I wanted to say something. Anything. But there wasn’t much I could say. “Have anyone asked you to join their party?” I asked.
“Too many,” Alice said, sighing. For a moment, I felt disappointment. “It’s honestly annoying. Suddenly I’m this huge wanted merchandise.” She looked away, watching down at the stage. “Yet the only person I’m waiting to ask me isn’t asking,” she mumbled very quietly.
Elbert began laughing next to me.
“What?” I said the second time, now looking at Elbert. Yes, I was that dumb and deaf.
“Nothing,” Alice said, shaking her head.
“Nothing,” Elbert said, shaking her head, as well.
“Well, first of all, you’re not merchandise. You’re a person.”
“Thank you for clearing that up,” Alice muttered, looking still down at the empty stage.
I frowned, looking at Elbert, seeking for some support. He kept smiling but gave me a sharp nod. I frowned a second time. She was definitely going to decline. Why would she want to join with someone who had gotten their friend killed?
“Alice,” I said, leaning towards her.
“Yeah?” she said, facing me. Suddenly our faces were really close to each other. We both blushed slightly, but I stayed still.
“If you want to, you could join my party. My party is still awful, and empty, and terrible, and full of weirdos - which means me. And we’ll be doing some very weird things and many weird decisions. And I have no idea what I’m going to do next or in the near future. But… after everything you told me in the…” - I quickly glanced and Elbert, who was even more amused than before, slightly leaning back to take it all in - “...bath…” - Elbert’s expression changed, and he got this serious ‘oh my’ face on - “...I’d love if you’d join the hero’s party. If you want, and you’re willing, that is. I’d… love that… very much.” I wanted to kill Elbert. He seriously didn’t even consider giving us two some room. And he was supposed to be this old elder dragon, wise and smart.
Alice and I looked at each other, both of our cheeks were extremely red. I normally could keep myself in check, hide the blushes, but not this time.
“I-I-I-I-I-” she began, then looked away for a moment, breathing heavily. Finally looked back at me. “I’d love that very much.”
“Aldrynte is going to be sooooo jealous,” Elbert murmured at the side.
I turned my ignited look at Elbert, roasting him with my gaze.
“Oooh, scary,” Elbert said, raising his both hands almost as he was surrendering, eyes almost in tears. He had a truly hard time to keep himself in check.
I looked back at Alice, cheeks still red. “Then, I’ll look forward to working with you.”
“Likewise!” Alice responded quickly and sharply. “Well, I’ll go now. Thank you for everything. I’ll see you later at the adventurer's guild!”
“I’ll look you up later. Cheers!” I responded as fast as she did, standing up and helping her up as well. She began to walk away, leaving me and Elbert behind. I got myself seated, looking at how she was slowly getting further and further away, until she was out of sight, walking down the stairs.
Elbert burst into laughter the moment she was out of sight. “I can’t believe what I witnessed!”
“Couldn’t you give us some room?” I said, still blushing, looking at the crying dragon.
“And miss this? Not even in a million years. Ah,” he said, clearing his tears. “I can’t wait to tell this to Aldr-”
“You won’t!” I hissed, looking at Elbert with deadly eyes.
“You’re right. It’s a lot better if she notices those sparkles herself, and she feels jealousy for the first time. It’ll be a fantastic thing to see.”
“Are you a demon?”
“No. But I’m a fire dragon. That’s pretty close, I guess?” He still had a hard time clearing his tears. “I can’t believe I’m seeing the beginning of a harem.”
“Harem?” I said, raising my eyebrow. My cheeks began to turn red once more. “W-what are you talking about?”
“It’s a totally normal thing, Hero,” Elbert said, nodding. “You’re the hero. You got every girl’s attention. And you have this charm. So they’ll fall in love left and right. And you’re young as well, right? How old were you? Twenty?” - I gave him a hesitant nod - “See, you’re the youngest hero of all time. It’s totally fine to fool around. With the title comes women. It is part of your life, now. So go have some fun”
“Fun?” I said, looking away. “I don’t know what you-”
“S E X”, Elbert didn’t even try to sugarcoat it.
I laughed, nervously. “And according to you, your daughter is supposedly in my Harem?”
“Yes,” Elbert said, nodding. “And it’s even more reason for me to enjoy it. If you end up marrying my daughter, I’ll always be close to your adventurers, and keep an eye on you. As your father-in-law, of course,” he said, chuckling once more. Suddenly I felt some shivers going through my body. It felt like I was talking with some kind of boy.
“Anyway. I have no plans to fool around with women. The world needs saving, after all,” I said, as I tried to sound like a hero.
“Well, I can tell you that much… you don’t want to die as a virgin.”
“But I’m looking forward to seeing who you end up choosing, and who you will allow joining the race to your heart,” Elbert said as he raised his finger. “But we can continue men talk later. Aldrynte is coming. And I have a show to watch.”
He smirked, pointing his two fingers at me and Aldrynte. This old fucker, I thought.
I frowned and sighed. Somewhere in my mental mind, I made a note to ask serious questions from Lu.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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