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Chapter 18 | Riverside 5

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Reinold went to the site on the road and collected his merchandise after a couple of hours. Tasha was true to her words and went looking for Samuel. She declined the offer from Louis to have his men search too. Despite his frustration and ill feelings towards her, Reinold went along with her. She didn’t refuse Reinold’s offer. Tasha was on the edge of tears the entire time.

They killed monsters in their way and protected each other but Tasha couldn’t look at Reinold without feeling shame. And so, she evaded his gaze.

After a short search between the two, they found Samuel unconscious near a small creek a few miles from where they were yesterday. Tasha ran to him and finally let loose her tears. She sensed a pulse and immediately started her healing spell. Reinold carried Samuel when it became obvious Tasha wouldn’t be able to without exhausting her mana on strength enhancement.

After arriving back at Riverside, the militia transferred Samuel to the hospital. Reinold and Tasha waited for a bit until the doctors came back with a positive prognosis. Samuel lost his left arm but was clean with no infection. His recovery would be difficult but he’d survive.

When they exited the building, Tasha finally spoke to Reinold. “Thank you for your help.”

Although they still avoided each other’s eyes, they both knew how the other felt.

“Yeah,” Reinold simply said and walked away. He couldn’t say anything more because of how he felt about what Tasha did. He would just yell at her. Reinold didn’t forgive her but he wanted to because, in his own way, he understood why she did it.

Reinold went back to the freelancer tavern and immediately got a job as a server. Being a Merchant Lord’s son was convenient because his father had a hand in financing many businesses around town. However, even without his father’s name, Reinold knew the owner quite personally.

Reinold liked his new job as a waiter, not like he hated being a traveling merchant but this was a good change of pace for him. Everyone there from customers to the employees was nice. He got along well with the freelancers there, sober or drunk. Near the end of the night, the customers were particularly entertaining to watch and listen to.

Aunt Elise worked here on the night shift and helped him with adjusting to the work. She wasn’t upset about what happened this morning. Elise just didn’t want her niece to be put in danger at such a young age, she had the right to be concerned.

Yuli came to the tavern this night on her Aunt’s suggestion. Elise offered to treat her niece to dinner so they could catch up. Alisha vaguely remembered meeting her yesterday after school was over. Yuli tricked her with jerky again to have Elise caress her fur.

The tavern was a beat-up inn made of rickety wood and makeshift lighting from mana crystals. And stranger still, there was a brewery in the room adjacent to this one. They had advanced pressure-powered equipment so they could brew faster and control the temperature in the different brewing phases so they could brew regardless of the season.

This place had a lot of character and sentimental value. They could’ve gotten one of those newer and larger buildings with this many patrons and an amazing machine like that.

Yuli was only eleven-years-old in a room full of scary-looking tough guys. They also spoke in a very vulgar fashion. Her spying missions with Jun were paying off here. However, many did change their tone with Yuli here, the innocent-looking daughter of a prominent Merchant Lord.

Everyone seemed engrossed in their conversations until they weren’t. Many of those dangerous-looking people were staring at her. Herself or Yuli, Alisha couldn’t really discern their line of sight. There are also active magic circles to inhibit her Monster Sight etched into the walls. It was curious how this was the only building downtown to do so. The eyes on her made her feel uncomfortable so she made herself look small unconsciously, curling into a furball. Seeing that, some of the eyes turned away.

Yuli’s story about killing a monster three times her height was interrupted by a stranger as he walked over to her table. Elise seemed to know him. He had a rough and scary resting expression as if he’d strangle cats for a living. Alisha stopped chewing and stared at him while frozen in fright.

“Gale, what is the matter?” Elise asked the large scary man.

“What is this adorable little creature?” He said in a voice used for children. This guy just became even more frightening!

“Yuli saved it when it was hurt in the forest.”

“Her name is Alisha!” Yuli said with a smile. She wasn’t even fazed by his appearance!

This interaction repeated itself throughout the night. The testosterone-filled crowd of potential killers melted in her paws just as everyone else did, minus Reinold. Her cute and fluffiness was unmatched!

They bribed her with food but she only allowed three other people that night to touch her. It became evident that a limit had to be placed unless she wanted to dirty her coat. These guys weren’t as bad as she first thought but she was embarrassed for them.

The tavern was where everyone came to yap about the ‘going-ons’ of the town and world. Ever since the attack on Yuli’s and Reinold’s caravan, people were becoming nervous about leaving town. They thought she, the Devil Sime, was responsible for the attack and the increase of monster activity in the area.

This was contrary to the public statements made by the two Alton siblings but they were less inclined to believe Commander Dustin or the Altons. People would always reinforce their own beliefs over someone else’s.

She understood that but what kind of reasoning was that? Stupid meatheads.

The increased Imperial presence was because of her, wasn’t it? Apparently, the Free Association and the Vultian Empire were currently in a tense relationship. Relatively small towns like Riverside didn’t have a strong Imperial force stationed because of the forced annexation a century prior. Only towns established by the Empire were supposed to have an Imperial garrison. Her presence in the area became an excuse to increase involvement in the town.

The tension in this town could be cut like butter and it was worse because elves were here in a human country. The chatter was way too political for her liking so she just ignored them after a while.

“This young child can talk?” Elise said in disbelief. Alisha could do nothing but watch this unfold.

After dinner, Reinold and Yuli took her and Elise to a room upstairs. It was the attic of the tavern. It was half storage and half office. Reinold and Yuli explained the situation to Elise away from any unwanted ears.

“She saved us from the ambush yesterday,” Reinold added. “She’s the Devil Slime the Empire is hunting but she’s as human as we are.”

“She is also a reincarnated person from Earth!” Yuli said. “Aunty, you know plenty of reincarnated people. Do you not?”

“I have not heard of a human reincarnating into a monster,” Elise spoke. “Yuli, how can you do something so reckless? And Reinold, how can you allow her to do something like this?”

“I’ve decided to trust Yuli’s judgment,” Reinold said, not knowing how to explain further than that. Alisha caught onto his wording and felt offended. Was she not to be trusted?

"I wanted to help her. I could not leave her alone like that…” Yuli said.

After a long pause, Elise smiled and patted Yuli’s head, “We most certainly cannot.”

Alisha was a bit confused. Aunt Elise just accepted it and gave up her resistance after a few words. She ultimately decided that holding true to your beliefs was more important than the risk. This was the power of elves, Alisha thought. They had a silent conversation with complex ideas while only staring at each other.

Elves generally communicated feelings through aura instead of words so their speech relied heavily on context. To humans, this might’ve seemed like a disjointed conversation. Even to Reinold, who knew them very well, had a bit of trouble. However, with a race that could read each other’s emotions, a barrier of communication was inherent between elves and non-elves.

Yuli was talking fine when speaking with others but she wanted to make her feelings known to her Aunt with no ambiguity. Yuli must’ve been adapting her speech when talking with humans.

Alisha understood this to an extent. She could sense aura very well and make a deduction on a person’s feelings with their expressions, gestures, and intonations. With humans, making assumptions on a person’s feelings could be harmful, which was why proper conversations were necessary.

This ability from her elven side was what convinced Yuli of her humanity and led to her successful encounter. This was also the reason Reinold could trust in Yuli’s intuitions about people.

“Hello, little one. Please do not be afraid of me.”

Elise was using a cutesy tone with her and Alisha felt a bit degraded. In response, Alisha introduced herself in a way that was overly formal to sound mature, “Hello, Aunt Elise. My name is Alisha. It’s a pleasure to meet you. You have a wonderful family here and I am so grateful to your niece.”

“My name is Elise Sune, it is a pleasure to meet one as cute as you,” Elise said and raised her hand to pet her. Alisha didn’t resist and was enraptured about how gentle and comforting her touch was.

It was already late so they had to go home. Elise told Alisha they had something they needed to discuss come tomorrow. They went home to the manor and were greeted at the door by the Lord and Lady. They had a short discussion about how their day was before heading to bed. It seemed like everyone had fallen into a routine already with the family together again.

As much as Alisha wanted to smile as wide as Yuli has now, she couldn’t. The sense of urgency she felt was still there. Was this reality? She was alone two days ago and felt she would be alone for the rest of her days here.

Now, she was in the care of a loving family and had a very understanding friend who had seen and accepted her various vulnerabilities. Alisha had something similar to this on Earth. With Samantha and a few others, they supported her and were her friends. The world was against her but they pulled through difficult times together for no other reason than they were friends.

Yuli was different than Sam but Alisha couldn’t help but make the comparison. What did they see in her?

Alisha was shown her room by Hans. For her Earth standards, it was a normal room of a middle-class family with appropriate furnishings. She could tell things have been moved around a lot for her. She had nothing to unpack so she went downstairs and joined the family in the dining room.

The family meal was prepared by the chef and cooks. The servants were there standing beside the family with their silver serving trays and lids, preparing the commencement of the meal. Alisha strolled into the room in her human form with her small finger intertwined in a nervous jitter.

The dining room was much larger than the other room with the small kitchen that they had breakfast in. Breakfast was a bit hectic but dinner was a somber and reflective experience. Everyone, even Reinold, was waiting for her to sit down. She was touched by the simple gesture.

Alisha couldn’t help but remember the time when she came back to her New Jersey home after running away for a few months. Back then, no one noticed she was missing and so she heated up some leftovers and went to bed. Again, the contrast with the scene in front of her with her own experience was so vast that she couldn’t help but feel a little anxious.

“Do you like your room?” Sophia asked with a grand smile.

“Yes, it’s very nice,” Alisha with a wry smile. It was a great room, not that she really needed it now that she was a slime.

“How do you like Riverside?”

“It’s very rustic in nature. It reminds me of towns across the sea in my old world.”

“Your old world? Do you mean Earth?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

Alisha proceeded to talk about Earth and how things were. They heard stories about Earth before but it usually got muddled because of suppression from the Church. She grew up in the United States and died on May 2037. There were many promising advancements in technology at the time of her death which would assist in all sorts of problems. From establishing a Mars colony to diving into a virtual world. The Altons and the servants were enamored by her stories of Earth, although she kept most personal details to herself.

“Wow,” Benas exclaimed.

“Is Earth so amazing for you?” Alisha asked him.

“It’s just that…The way you’re describing your world, it seemed as if you lived amongst the Old Gods themselves.”

Alisha turned to look at everyone, including the servants, and they had nervous smiles on their faces as if to say that there was nothing wrong when there clearly was. Reinold’s expression was far more serious.

“Reinold is being mean to me again!” Alisha said teasingly.

“W—What?” Reinold was stunned.

Yuli giggled and said, “Brother, you should not pick on Alisha. She is family now.”

“I wasn’t picking on her!” His flat rejection made him look guilty.

“Now Reinold is being scary!” Alisha cried again.

“You little…” Reinold stopped himself as everyone chuckled.

It surprised Alisha to learn that they all knew of these technologies before, they just never seen them in person. Why they knew this was because of the Scripture, the book of the world religion everyone followed. The gods of Theia existed and they created the planet and its three moons. Very suspicious, Alisha thought.

Dinner was mainly salmon and side dishes. Again, the food was bland to Alisha but she didn’t let it show. She sat there listening while chewing on the meal provided for her as Yuli and Reinold recounted their day. Benas and Sophia commented about how they were now that they were back in town. They would mention names of townsfolk she never heard and laugh now and then.

Alisha didn’t know what to say after the conversation shifted away from her. She sat silently nodding occasionally while chewing. There was something about this meal that she couldn’t put her tongue on.

“Do you not like the food?” Yuli suddenly said to her. Everyone’s gazes were upon her in an instant. Alisha was absentmindedly picking at her food for a second and Yuli caught her!

“I’m sorry, I don’t. It’s… human food.”

“What do you eat?” Benas questioned. “If it’s within our power, we can provide you something you can eat.”

“Oh, I can eat human food. It’s just very bland tasting to me. As a slime, I absorbed a lot of meats and plants but I never had to taste what I ate,” Alisha said sadly. “To be honest, nothing really tastes good with my human tongue.”

All the creatures she absorbed satisfied an unspecified hunger within her no matter if she stored or dissolved them. She didn’t feel satisfied over plants but she had her fill with plant-based monsters. She began to suspect she was consuming their souls but there were no souls left in many of the corpses but it satisfied her nonetheless. But she couldn’t say to their faces that she ate souls. That was too demonic.

Regardless of what satisfied her hunger, her sense of taste was unlikely to recover. It was a human quality to taste their food to check if a certain thing was editable. As a slime, she wouldn’t need a sense of taste.

Benas suggested, “How about we get the kitchen to prepare a sampling to see if there’s anything you like?”

Everyone around the table agreed that it was a good idea. Alisha hesitated because of his generosity but declined, “I appreciate your suggestion but I don’t believe a tasting will help a slime with no sense of taste.”

“You’ll never know unless you try it, Alisha.”

“I’m sorry, Benas. But I’m afraid that it’ll only remind me of the taste I don’t have anymore.”

“Then how about this?” Reinold said and pulled out a mana gem. He then casted an unknown spell. A blue circle with patterns admitted from him as expected but then a small piece of his soul from the far edge came off and absorbed into the gem.

Everyone observed Reinold with curiosity. He requested one of the servants to give him a fine grater and he proceeded to grate the gem onto her food. Her meal was now infused with some mana and small pieces of soul.

Alisha and the others were confused about what Reinold was doing but he reassured them. He waited for her to take a bite of her plate of food with soul shavings. When Alisha brought the salmon-like fish to her mouth, she tasted substance! It was as if her taste buds only had stale unsalted hard-tack biscuits all her life!

Reinold could see the results on her face and she smiled, wholeheartedly. Alisha was close to tears as she continued to eat her meal with a vigor no one had ever before seen.

“Brother, what did you do?” asked Yuli.

Reinold explained, “I read that monsters eat peoples’ souls. But that’s only half correct. Alisha said she absorbed the bodies of many monsters and humans. They both have soul essence still within those bodies even when the souls depart for the afterlife.”

“I see,” Benas said while in contemplation. “But more specifically, it’s the Dungeon Master that consumes the essence of the soul.”

Alisha nodded in agreement.

The meal was nice and filling. Soul essence was the thing that was sustaining her but this discovery had opened a Pandora’s box for that she would never close again.

Alisha found today to be a productive and insightful day. She hopefully didn’t annoy Yuli too much with her constant questions about this world’s norms. She seemed very welcoming to her questions, actually. In the next few days, the class would begin their magic training. Apparently, many people hold off on their casting lessons until they become at least Yuli’s age. Herself being the exception, of course.

Yuli went to sleep that night after a quick bath, Alisha included, and used her like a hug plushie again. Alisha didn’t mind too much about it. She needed a good rest after today and Yuli made a cozy heater.

Alisha was strangely optimistic about the future.

The next day, a knock on the front door was heard as the family was in the open kitchen area having breakfast. A maid opened the door and saw Samuel with Tasha carrying him over her shoulder. Benas was receptive to them both and allowed them inside. They sat on the comfy sofa in the reception room.

“I wanted to see how you guys were doing,” Samuel said to Yuli and Reinold. Out of their eight-person freelancer party, only the two of them survived.

“They’re doing fine, thanks to you. Please, if there’s anything you want, just name it,” Benas said. Samuel asked about the medicine for Elliot’s sick wife. Reinold had already put the order in. Once it arrives, it needs to be transported to her. Samuel and Tasha would be the ones who will fulfill the last wish of their captain.

The two freelancers would be staying in Riverside during that duration and while Samuel recovers his strength.

Yuli ran over and hugged the weak man. His voice was raspy. He looked over her shoulder and spotted Alisha. She immediately knew in his eyes that he remembered their exchange. She made no attempt to hide and sensed recognition from him despite her being in human form.

“We should probably talk.”

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A note from XeroDK

It's been another crazy week and I thought I was going crazy in my house because of the coronavirus. I hope everyone is faring better than me out there!

In other news, I have a website and Patreon now! My website isn't much to look at now but I plan to add more content there soon! This is something I'm trying out so let's see where this leads to!


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