Hi everyone. It's your beloved Captain Felicia again! How are you all doing? Just to recap, we are on a voyage to ransom all the people who were captured in the Battle of Harrow's Passing. That includes my father, the baron, and my brother, Yucks. Our journey wasn't really smooth sailing.
We encountered some incidents, such as that battle against the five pirate groups. We suffered some casualties, but the good news was that the battle bonded everyone together. They were now working much closer and functioning well as a team. I had everyone practice using the three ballistas on board and hopefully, they would be able to use it properly if we were attacked by an armada of enemy ships. We're going to Lytis after all.
I also acquired the services of an experienced river pirate group as well as two pirates well-versed in night warfare. I planned on milking those black-clothed pirates for all the knowledge and skills they had. It was my hope that we wouldn't be taken by surprise at night again in the future. If things go well, we'll probably even be able to perform night raids of our own.
You probably recall that I knighted two people, but that's not important. I wondered why the pirate captain and his crewmen kept addressing me as 'princess' though. Did I look like a princess in their eyes? Or was it sarcasm? If that was meant as sarcasm, I would definitely kick them off my ship into shark-infested waters.
Now as for our destination, Lytis, to put it simply, it was an enemy city. Despite being an enemy city though, it was designated as a neutral port city, where ships regardless of affiliation could dock and trade. Due to this policy, the city attracted all manner of people, such as merchants, mercenaries, pirates, slave traders, entertainers and many more. It was said that if you wanted something and it was of any value, you would be able to find it in Lytis.
Currently, the city is being governed by Surfes's second prince, Prince Hans of Lytis. He was the one in charge of Surfes's army during the battle at Harrow's Pass. Due to that, all the prisoners were his to do with as he pleased.
You're probably asking, "Just Hans? What's his family name? His middle name?" Unlike us Forlendians, Surfesians don't use family names or middle names. They are practical people and in a way, I respect that. Instead of the useless middle names and the clan-like family names that us Forlendians use, the Surfesians went for practical ones, such as Prince Hans, second son of King Garren The Mighty or Potter Leif, son of Mista the Weaver. Prince Hans is still considered young, so titles like The Mighty or The Courageous or the like haven't stuck to him yet. In Surfes, these titles are granted by the people and the popularity of the title depends on how many people call them by that title. Therefore, it is in their own best interest to conduct themselves properly lest they acquire embarrassing titles such as The Cruel, The Lame or The Stupid. The former king of Surfes, father of King Garren The Mighty was even called King Sacres The Bumbling Fool by his own people.
We arrived outside Lytis the day after the funeral service following the battle with the river pirates. On the way there we were stopped by numerous Surfesian river patrols for flying Forlendian flag and I had to keep taking out the ducal decree stating that we were on a diplomatic mission to ransom the prisoners. Of course, they didn't fully trust us, what with us sailing a large warship into their waters. So they provided an 'escort' the moment we went through the first checkpoint. It just kept adding up every time we passed through another checkpoint. By the time we reached the sixth checkpoint, we had a fleet of fifteen triremes escorting us towards the port of Lytis.
That was really annoying. I can now understand how kings and princesses feel.
Then suddenly a port official came aboard on a trireme and told us not to approach further. Apparently, my ship was simply too large to fit into their ports. So we'd have to set anchor outside the port and send either a boat or one of our smaller ships instead. Sigh, the pain of being too awesome. Non-awesome people will never understand the hassle of being too awesome among ordinary people.
Luckily, we were towing two of the pirate longboats that we appropriated from the dead pirates. One of them was a longboat of sturdy construction once owned by the "River Snake' pirates, all of whom were dead. The other was a fast and silent longboat owned by a group called 'Night Raider" pirates. The rest of the longboats were scuttled, since we couldn't bloody well tow five longboats behind the ship. This is a warship, not a 'just married' carriage.
So it was decided that we would enter the port using the armoured longboat once used by the 'River Snake' pirates.
Of course we also have two small boats of our own. Seriously though, can you imagine me, Felicia, taking a small swaying rowboat to enter the port like a common peasant? No man, I'm going to enter the port by ship and I will enter it standing all the way through. If I can walk on water, I will freaking march into the port from my ship. I'm not some small time noble who can only sneak in like a rat. I'm Captain Awesome Felicia! I own the biggest ship on this continent.
Well, maybe not the whole continent, but definitely the biggest ship in this part of the continent.
That was why, when the chief negotiator by the name of Count Suletrius told me to hand over the wooden chest containing 200 gold coins for father's and brother's ransom, I was confused.
"I will ransom everyone together. It's possible I will be able to arrange a smaller ransom with the amount we're paying him," he said as he watched the men load up the chests containing all the gold collected from Renus and the nearby counties back home.
"How much is the total ransom?" I asked.
"5400 gold," he stated.
My face turned into ('0') upon hearing that amount. With that much gold one can buy a small barony, a large fleet of triremes or even pay for ten prostitutes a day (not that I've ever tried) for almost fifteen years. Such a staggering amount!
"You're a smart girl, I knew you'd understand. I think I can probably persuade the prince to accept a lower amount of ransom for everyone," he said as he gently laid his hand on the chest in the boat. As always, he didn't even bother to make a smile. All those times I saw him aboard the ship, I had never even once saw him smile.
"You will bring home father, brother and everyone from Mruna?"
"Okay," I said as I allowed his assistants to pile the chest onto the carriage they rented.
As I watched them leave with my money, I felt a little lost. I mean, I had come here to ransom father and brother, and even imagined myself being in a heated argument with this prince for a lower ransom. Now that I had lost my purpose though, I had no idea what to do.
I was even dressed for the occasion, damn it! Maybe exploring the city would be a good way to pass time. With that decided, I jumped off the longboat, grabbed Lili's hand and took off into the city. Of course, I told the pirate captain that I didn't want to be disturbed.
"Uwaah, so pretty," Lili said as she admired a pair of diamond rings in one of the stalls at Lytis's southern marketplace.
It was a pair of matching rings consisting of a gold band and a diamond half an inch in diameter at the head, along with smaller diamonds along the length of the band near the head. Unlike my previous world, bastards like deBeers don’t exist in this world, so the price of diamond accessories isn't as inflated as that of its other world counterparts.
"So you can show a girl's adorable expression after all, Lili," I teased, while noting that there was only one pair of diamond rings in the whole stall. The rest of the merchandise were either made of pearls or colourful stones.
"It's diamond, my lady, diamond! How can anyone not like it?"
"I told you to call me Felicia here, Lili. Low profile, remember?"
"I-I'm sorry, my la-Felicia," she said as her face turned red.
Come on, Lili. This isn't fair! How can you expect me to control myself when you're acting so adorable? Learn to be less obvious, please! You're making me want to eat you, you know?
"This paired ring would look elegant and emphasize your beauty with it around your graceful fingers, beautiful young lady," the merchant said.
"I-I'm sorry, I was just looking, I don't have money."
"How much?" I asked the merchant.
"For this beautiful lady, only 5 gold. It would be an honour for me to help make-"
"Yes, dear lady?"
"You're selling glass for 5 gold? Even scams should know moderation," I said with my arms crossed at my chest.
"No, I don't know what you mean, my lady. This is real diamond. Straight from the place called the Diamond Mountain of West Pharus."
"Oh really?" I raised the rings to his eye level, "Have you even looked at it under sunlight? Did you not see the imperfections, the discolouration? Do you still dare to tell me that this is actually diamond?"
"I assure you my lady, this is diamond!" the merchant argued, but I could tell that even he was starting to waver. He was sweating terribly and his eyes were looking unsure of his own words.
"Then would you mind going through the hammer and chisel test? If it's diamond, it won’t scratch at all, right?"
"You-if you break it, you'll have to buy it."
I grabbed 5 gold from my pouch and spread it on the table. "As you can see, I can afford it. If I'm wrong and it's really diamond, I'll pay you the full price, plus 5 gold."
I took out 5 more gold. "But if it breaks, I'm not paying a single copper. So you can keep it."
The merchant looked at the gold on the table and bit his lips. Eventually he relented on a discount instead of a hammer and chisel test. I got the paired diamond rings for 1 gold in the end.
"Amazing, although it's just glass, it shines so brilliantly. Thank you very much, my lady," she said as we took a seat on a block of stone that functioned as a park bench in a nearby park.
"It's not glass."
"It's real diamond."
"Eh??? But you said just now it was glass?"
"It was a psychology trap. I think someone probably pawned it off on him, telling him that it was diamond but the merchant himself doesn't really know."
"What is sai-ko-lo-ji?"
"I made him think that it could be nothing more than glass, then I played on his fear of losing money. I ended up getting him to see things that don't exist."
"But what about the imperfections and discolouration you mentioned earlier, my lady?"
"Natural diamonds always have some discolouration, though perfect diamonds are perfect so that's not really an indication of whether or not it's real. And if someone says that there are definitely cracks on something, you will start to think there are indeed cracks on it too. The rest, your own imagination will supplement."
"You're ruthless as always, my lady," Lili giggled.
"I take that as a compliment. Anyway, why are you still calling me that? I told you to call me Felicia, remember?"
"I-I'm sorry, my lady," she whimpered under my glare, "I mean, Felicia. Umm, Fe-Felicia, it's a paired ring. Would you like to... umm... wear one of it with me?"
"Wear a paired ring? Me?"
"I'm sorry if I went out of line. Please forget it."
"I don't mind. But don't you want to do something like this with a boyfriend or maybe your future husband?"
"That will probably be far in the future, my lady. Besides, you were the one who bought it."
"Are you sure you want to wear the same ring with me? And you slipped again."
"Yes, Fe-Felicia. If it's okay with you."
Who can refuse that cute face, especially when you look so hopeful and about to cry from fear? This is so unfair, Lili. You're too adorable. So you're seeing this as something like an unofficial wedding in your mind, aren't you?
"Is it fine?" I asked, knowing full well what this meant to her.
"Yes, if it's okay with you, my-umm... Felicia."
"Alright, hold out your hand, Lili."
Lili held out her left hand.
Damn it, Lili. Your intentions are way too obvious. Or is it because I'm too aware of your feelings for me? Wouldn't people hold out their right hand if it's a friendship ring?
Without saying a word, I put the ring around her left ring finger. Just that simple act raised her mood greatly. It felt like a happiness that radiated from her whole being. She looked so radiant, so bright like the sun, but now it was my turn. So I held out my right hand. She looked a little sad, but she still put the ring around my right ring finger.
Please don't make that look, Lili. You know I can't accept your feelings, don't you?
I grabbed her left hand with my right. Palm to palm, fingers intertwined. The paired diamond rings glittered brilliantly under the early morning sun. Lili looked at our diamond rings being side by side and her face brightened immediately. It was irresistible.
I pulled her left hand to me with my right. My left hand moved behind her, holding up the middle of her spine. With her face showing an expression of not understanding what happened...
I kissed her. I couldn't help it. In my eyes she was the most beautiful creature in this world. You would've kissed her too if you could see how beautiful she was.
She looked shocked. Her face red. Her eyes wide. I wondered if I did something wrong.
Shortly after, she fainted.
Eh? Lili? What's going on? Somebody help? Anyone?
I heard Lili stir in the other bed.
"Thank goodness you're awake, Lili. You scared me to death when you fainted just then," I said, putting down the book I've been reading.
Thank goodness it wasn't something like a curse. I was afraid that the ring was taken from a pair of murdered lovers or something and that it was cursed by their ghosts. Thankfully that wasn't the case.
"Umm... my lady? Where are we?"
"An inn. What's the last thing you remember? And don't forget, call me Felicia."
"Umm... I seem to vaguely recall having a nice and happy dream."
Damn it, Lili! That wasn't a dream! But I'm not going to tell her that. That was out of line for me. I can't accept her feelings and I shouldn't give her hope. It would be too cruel for her. Hopefully this is just a phase.
"Did you carry me here, my-Felicia?"
"You kidding? I, who can't even raise a longsword, carry you here? Of course not! I hired someone to bring you here."
"Oh, I'm sorry, my la-Felicia. I don't know what happened."
"Don't worry about it. I'm more pissed off that an inn of this level set me back 4 silver. If even a peasant's room cost 4 silver, I wonder how much their deluxe rooms would cost."
"I am sorry, Felicia. Not only did you buy me a diamond ring, you also had to spend extra money for my sake."
"I can afford it. Don't worry. This is probably the last time we set foot in Lytis, so let's have fun, okay?"
"Yes. I don't know what people do for fun here, though."
"Let's find that out slowly. Anyway, if you're up for it, would you run to that pirate captain Kaito or Kairo or Keizo and give him this letter? I don't want them to get worried and start turning over the whole city to find us," I said as I handed her a folded paper.
"Yes. I'll be right back," she said as she left the room.
Later Lili arrived huffing and puffing. She said the pirate captain was so afraid of 'the princess's' safety, that he sent three of his men to escort us. Thankfully, neither of the three pirates could keep up with Lili's nimbleness and small frame. Lili managed to lose them in the vicinity of East Market, which was another part of the city.
As a result, we could sightsee as much as we wanted without any worry that we would be found. The first thing we went for was of course, shopping! No matter which world you go to, girls will always enjoy shopping.
Strangely enough, for a ruined city at the heart of a war, Lytis prospered. Or perhaps Lytis prospered because it was a city at the heart of a war? Being the only neutral port in the region, a center of administration of the River Country and sitting on top of the main travel route for soldiers and mercenaries, Lytis perhaps prospered due in part to the high traffic it enjoyed. Supposedly, Lytis also sold everything. Looking for slaves? Just head to the eastern markets. Looking for mercenaries? Simply head to the mercenary encampments outside the city walls. If it can be bought or sold, then you can find it in Lytis.
Unfortunately, everything here is expensive. For a dress that would have sold for only 6 big copper in Renus, you'd have to spend at least 2 silver to get a similar one. For a sword that would cost only 2 big copper, in Lytis it would have sold for 1 silver.
In the region of the old empire, 3 small copper equals 1 big copper, 20 big copper equals 1 silver and 15 silver equals 1 gold. Considering that five cups of wheat grain in Renus costs only 1 big copper, a dress in Lytis costs at least 200 cups of wheat grain in Renus, that's 'at least', not 'around'. To make it worse, this isn't anything like a designer dress, it's just a normal everyday noblewoman's dress, so it's incredibly expensive.
Regardless, I bought one for Lili. It cost me 3 silver, but watching Lili's bright face made it all worth the price. She refused it at first, but after I teased her with the threat of throwing the dress into the drainage pipes, she finally accepted it. However, from then on she refrained from showing any interest to any other stuff there, probably out of fear that I would buy everything she touched.
As for me, I didn't buy anything. There was nothing I particularly needed. I have plenty of dresses. I have plenty of weapons. I have plenty of books. I also have many ships. What more would I want from this 'anything goes' marketplace?
Of course, I can buy slaves. They're not sold in Renus, but why would I want to buy one? Especially when I'm getting slaves for free?
Satisfied with our shopping trip, we then headed to some of Lytis's famous landmarks. First we went to Lytis's haunted castle. It was formerly home of the Luneris royal family who were slaughtered to the last child and had unspeakable things done to them during Surfes's successful invasion of the River Country many years ago. Some years later, stories of the first ghost sightings started circulating among the citizens. It was speculated that the ghosts of the former royal family couldn't rest in peace. With their entire bloodline extinct, there was no longer any possibility of reincarnation, as the conditions for reincarnation require the birth of a descendant or descendant of closely related family members. It was said that nobody survived the massacre, not even the branch families. It was a fate worse than death.
All throughout the visit though, Lili stuck close behind me, keeping contact with me by holding a small part of my dress. She looked so cute like this, like a frightened small animal. Still, why would she be afraid? It wasn't like we were exploring the mansion by ourselves. There were other people besides us here, since the mansion had been converted into an art museum. Besides, ghosts wouldn't come out at day time, right?
Next we bought some takeaway food, consisting of roasted squids, pieces of roasted lamb and fruit punch. We took a seat on one of the large rocks that littered the shore of Lunis River, one of Lytis's three rivers, and sat with our backs resting against each other. This river may look pretty and be considered a romantic spot now, but it has a grim past. Its original name was Funeral Stream, because during the city's imperial days, the last emperor had the whole city torched and its citizens beheaded for attempting to rebel against the empire. This river, which had its name changed to Lunis River was where that same emperor dumped all the bodies. The bridge from which he had them thrown into the river was long gone, but at one point, this river that was about 100 feet wide had so many floating corpses that it was said you could cross the river without even using the bridge.
Of course, Lili didn't know that. Else she wouldn't even want to get close. That's fine, though. This Lili who is afraid of ghosts is very adorable.
Hi everyone, it's Ai-chan again. How are you all doing?
Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been busy preparing my LN for publication. Never knew getting an ebook published is such a hard work.
Just want to inform you guys that the light novel is already up lol So there's no longer any point in editing the webnovel. I'll just post these quickly every day or every two days, once I edited out the more glaring mistakes.
By the way, that banner is clickable.
Thanks to everyone for their kind words so far.