Honestly, it wasn’t just me. All of the druids had practically collapsed once the storm had finished passing. I couldn’t feel anyone tampering with the natural energy around the ships, so every captain had likely given their druids a break.
Though, to say that I was completely allowed to rest was also a lie. “Mind if I join you for a little bit?” I heard a soft female voice speaking to me while I had my eyes closed, and recognized it as the ship’s bard. I gave a slight nod of approval, and felt the blanket beneath me shift slightly as she sat down.
“That was really cool, what you did with the tornado.” She admired, though I kept my eyes closed. “I figure it’s probably one of your secrets, so I won’t ask how you did it. I just thought you might like someone to talk to, since you’re always by yourself.”
If only you knew just how wrong you were… I thought inwardly, but shook my head. “It’s fine. But, might I ask, why are you here? Surely, there were bards that had more time to practice their trade, so you couldn’t have been the strongest bard.”
There was a moment of hesitation before she answered, but I could tell that she was talking with a grin from the happier tone she used. “Ah, guess that you didn’t hear about who all is on the mission, then. You’re right, there are plenty more talented bards than myself. We actually debated on who to bring for a while.”
“In the end, it came down to a simple decision. We didn’t need a bard for their combat abilities, but their ability to accurately document events and support the crew. At the same time, it was decided that a member of nobility had to accompany the mission to see it through.”
I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but I raised an eyebrow without opening my eyes. There was a light laugh from next to me, before she continued. “So, allow me to introduce myself. Princess Dis’ni, fourth in line for the third throne of Terraria.”
Okay, that got me to open my eyes, her name as much as the fact that she was actually a princess. Something that I had learned recently was how the kingdoms had shifted over the generations. There were still the four kingdoms of Accal, Terraria, Keliop, and Udonia, but now there were three of each. Even though the kingdoms weren’t connected, they took the same name.
The First Kingdom of Accal was the northernmost country on the beastkin continent, followed by the First Kingdom of Uronia, the First Kingdom of Keliop, and then repeating, all the way down to the Third Kingdom of Keliop. Being the heir to the third throne meant that her mother was the Third Queen… the one that had sent me the quest to join the mission.
I swear, I had nothing to do with this. I heard Terra’s voice quickly enter my ear. Dis’ni isn’t one of mine, nor is her mom.
I couldn’t help but nod slightly. “So.. how much do you know about me?” I asked quietly, glancing towards Dis’ni, who smiled happily.
“About as much as anyone else, really. Word travels on silver wings, you know? I know that you’ve always pretty much been alone, and nobody really knows where you came from. But when we were looking for the best druid, your name was the only one anyone could think of. There might be stronger druids out there, but they stay hidden from the world, so we never hear about them.”
“Honestly, I had been a bit skeptical about how strong you were. No offense, but you really just look like an old geezer. I can’t feel all that much power coming off of you like I can with people like Kelly. But maybe that’s just how things are with druids. But.. when you did that whatever it was before, I could definitely feel your power. So, I have a request!”
I glanced at her curiously while she placed her hands in her lap and looked at me with a wide grin. “Will you be my husband?”
Processing…. Processing… unable to compute. Initiating reboot sequence. “I’m sorry, what?” I could faintly feel Terra gritting her teeth in the back of my mind… though that might have been my imagination.
Dis’ni nodded her head quickly, not showing the slightest signs of embarrassment. “It’s always been tradition in the royal families to marry strong individuals, that way the strongest child can be produced. You might be a lycan, so we wouldn’t really be able to have kids, but if you become my husband then you can meet with the lycan princesses, and maybe even their queens!”
Processing… unable to compute. “Uhm.. thanks… but don’t you think that I’m a bit too old?” Please, for the love of all that is holy, why must you tempt me like this! I mean, yes Dis’ni is cute. Who wouldn’t think that a golden-haired, curvy catgirl was cute? But I already had enough on my plate as it is!
She thought about that for a moment, but then shook her head. “People at the pinnacle are still able to conceive children even when they reach their eighties. Even longer if they’re a monk, and I can feel a faint bit of ki in you. So it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Well I… I appreciate the offer, but I’m spoken for, already.” By the goddess you worship, who is probably busy coming up with horrible things to happen to you the longer this conversation goes on.
“Spoken for…?” She tilted her head in confusion, before a look of understanding flashed across her face. “Oh, you mean you already have a wife? That’s only natural.” She nodded her head again. “Any man or woman worth wanting is wanted by many. If you want, you can bring her with you. I’m sure mom won’t mind.”
It took me a long moment to remember just what kind of culture the beastkin had. Apparently, it wasn’t unusual for one person to have many spouses, and their many spouses to have many more… Why wasn’t that included in the background information?!
Accalia coughed awkwardly within my mind. Well, how was I supposed to know you’d be hit on as soon as you met a young woman?! Seriously, Aurivy is the Goddess of Love, not us! Speaking of…
I had no hand in this! Aurivy’s high pitched voice joined Accalia’s in my mind. Since when did my head become a conference call? She doesn’t love you or anything like that, really! Well, not right now. Royal marriages are weird in the different cultures. Usually love doesn’t develop until after they get together.
“...Let’s get this voyage over with, and save any topics like that for after it’s all over, agreed?” I looked at Dis’ni, who had been patiently waiting for a reply to her proposal. Oddly enough, I could hear Kelly suddenly break out laughing from below deck… Guess she’s more deeply connected to her incarnation than Udona is.
“Sure. I know about mom promising you nobility if this all works, so there shouldn’t be any problems with it from any side. Who knows, if we find an uncharted land, I might become queen of it, with you as my first king.” She grinned happily at that idea as she stood up, leaving me in a daze while she walked back towards the mast. I could hear a faint humming from her while her tail swayed behind her.
Terra, no planning any catastrophes for her future.
As soon as I sent that thought out, I could vaguely feel the sensation of a child being caught with their hand in a cookie jar. B-but… I wasn’t going to do something like that, honest! Maybe just a tiny little sprained ankle… or a small stampede. Nothing serious!
No. Bad Goddess of Fate. I’m not going to be doing anything with her. I mean seriously, I’ve got enough girls on my plate as it is. After this is all over, and I go back to the admin room, the most that will happen is that my host takes her up on the offer. But it’s not like I’d be coming back down in his lifetime.
I let out a long sigh after I sent that message off, closing my eyes once again. Alright… fine. But I can’t be blamed if something bad does happen to her, and I didn’t do it!
Deal. Now can all of you please be quiet for a few minutes? My head is still killing me. Thankfully, they went quiet after I asked that, allowing me to rest in peace for a little while.
Thankfully, the journey through the ocean was surprisingly easy after the first few days. After we passed by the storm, we didn’t hit a single monster, all the way until we found a small island the next day. It wasn’t a large island, and certainly not the same one that Aurivy’s dungeon was on. Nonetheless, we dropped anchor and approached the island.
Once we were there, each of the twelve druids created a gate on the island that led back to the mainland. With the portal established, I was able to see my first glimpse of Emona’s personal aeon.
Emona stood in front of the swirling vortex of water that had risen from the ocean at the shore, and simply extended her hand. “Go and send the report.” She muttered, a white cross appearing on the back of her hand.
Just like when she summoned the kraken, the white cross shot out from her hand, turning into a small sized version of herself… if she was a foot tall and hand white, feathery wings. The small Emona smiled as she flew through the portal, while Emona herself closed her eyes. “Best be keepin’ the portal open till she gets back.” She spoke out, just loud enough for me to hear.
With that instruction, I shrugged my shoulders, simply keeping the portal open until the little aeon came back an hour or so later. “Alright. Good to go.” She smiled, causing the aeon to return to its symbol form, and fly into her body again. “We bet not needin’ any supplies, so there be no point in us stickin’ around here. Our journey takes us to much… wider shores.”
As she said that, she glanced around the island, which was smaller than even the Jolly Dodger. “Hopefully, much wider.” She grinned a bit, shaking her head before leading us back to the ships.
Back aboard the ships, our journey continued. We met many strange and powerful creatures along our way, but the careful preparation of the beastkin assured that none of the ships had been damaged beyond repair.
Just over a week into the journey, we had encountered a giant bird which flew in storm clouds, controlling the storms to attack at random. The mages aboard the various ships proved able to shoot it down while we kept the ships afloat.
A few days later, we thought that we found another island, only for it to be the back of a great two-headed turtle. Our monks and fighters leapt onto the shell of the turtle as it tried to attack the outer ships in the formation, and jointly brought it down. This was the first time any of the ships actually needed repaired.
The further into the ocean we went, the larger the creatures became. But at the same time, they came more and more seldomly. That said, the islands that we encountered likewise became more and more rare. Roughly two months at sea after we had left, we had finally found an island, but it was too far away from any other that we had encountered to form a portal. Even though we had been establishing portal locations at each island we passed, the chain had been broken after only a short two months.
With this, we were now truly on our own. Granted… if this were a normal journey, we would have been on our own from the moment we left dock, so this wasn’t as big of a blow to me as it was to those who had been hoping to establish a portal chain the entire distance of our trip.
One of our warriors, Kiran, voiced out his worries when they realized what this meant. “What are we going to do now, Captain Bote? We don’t have any way to contact home or request supplies anymore!”
I glanced around, and I saw a few people who seemed to show similar concerns, as well as others who were completely unfazed by the matter. Emona, on the other hand… laughed. “Hah! And, what’s yer point? Did ye think that we’d be gettin’ everything handed to us? Nay! We brought all these supplies with us because we knew that we’d be getting cut off! Sooner or later, bound to happen. As for contact… The only contact that they be truly needin’ is to know whether we are alive, dead, or have reached our goal. Isn’t that right, Dis’ni?”
The golden-haired catgirl nodded with a smile. “That’s right, captain.” Saying that, she reached into her bag, and pulled out two papers, holding each one firmly while displaying them so that we could see.
“My mother gave me two quests before we left, so that she could track our progress. One will be completed upon my death, and the other, like all of yours, will be completed when we settle on a new land.” With that explanation done, she promptly put the two papers back in her satchel. “If we manage to find a new land, then our home will find a way to communicate with us. But if we die, then the ocean is still a far too dangerous place for us to cross, and this idea will be abandoned until a new method is found.”
Her words caused the atmosphere of the ship to sink, the realization that we were truly on our own settling in to those on the ship. I could see some shifting back and forth, glancing towards the other crew members uncertainly. Good grief… find out we can’t phone home for two minutes, and people are already growing paranoid.
Grumbling, I infused mana into my voice, still sitting in my bench while I turned back to look out to sea. “We can’t contact home, but what does that matter? We came on this journey to make a new home. And I won’t let anyone get in the way of that. If you don’t think you can behave, I’ll send you off the ship now. We can see how well you fare on your own.”
I could feel the gazes of the crew turning towards me, but there wasn’t a single voice of complaint. Leowynn had long since woken up again, her energy fully restored. If there were people that insisted on a fight, I wouldn’t mind bringing her out again, or activating one of the other classes to settle things.
That… was actually kinda cool. I could faintly hear Aurivy speaking in my mind as we left the island, once again on our journey.
Please tell me we’re reaching your dungeon soon? I want to stretch my legs.
There was a faint laugh in response to my hope. Just a few more days now, and you’ll be there. I think you’ll like how its grown.