In the sky above Gate City, the capital of the Salor kingdom, I appeared with Tsubaki. When I mentioned wanting to come, she insisted that I let her join me. Not out of any signs of favoritism, or because she thought that I needed protection, but simply because that is her place as a Servant, to be by her master’s side in public. As such, I had sent a quick message to the two other residents of the Citadel to ask if they wanted to join us, but they had declined.
Bracken was still too busy with his studies and attempting to create the Perfect Self, and Solis… not really sure why he didn’t join, but he politely refused. Given that he was in the library, he might have been doing some studying of his own. Either way, the end result was that Tsubaki and I left alone to journey to Salor. The Sky Citadel was ‘parked’ not far away from us, but we had still needed Aurivy’s power to bring us out of the barrier.
Whether it was Tsubaki or myself, neither of us had any problems with flying, and we simply stood on the air above the city. “So, this is the place…” I could see the castle, which was built nearest to the Fairy Gate, and a fortress built on the other side. However, the area within one kilometer of the gate was empty, except for the cannons that Tubrock had installed.
“Would you like me to clear the area?” Tsubaki asked from next to me, and I could already feel a power building within her body.
“No, let’s handle the discussions first. If they do not cooperate, we will simply replace the king. If the entire kingdom shares his opinion… then we will move the gate.” I waved my hand to stop her, and cut off the ki that I was using to support my body in midair.
I felt the wind brushing against me as I fell straight down, my hands behind my back. I had already unsealed all of my Keeper levels, so everyone below was able to feel my presence. They had all turned to look at the sky, seeing me dropping down to crash in front of the palace.
When I landed, my body sank six inches into the ground, but quickly rose back up when I lifted the ground beneath me. As for Tsubaki, she had a far more graceful landing, appearing soundlessly behind me as I began to walk forward. “We’re here to see the king.” I spoke to the guards as I neared the door. They didn’t try to stop me, their bodies trembling. One immediately turned and fled inside, no doubt to alert the king that I was coming.
The king was not on his throne when we arrived, showing that he had not expected any guests today. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen at all. The guard that had run in was standing next to the throne, his body still shaking. He was a demon, so his eyes were hidden behind protective glasses, but the appearance on his face clearly showed his fear.
“Where is he?” I asked calmly, glancing towards the throne.
“He’s… not here, Your Highness….” The man spoke, barely able to keep himself from stuttering. Sighing, I activated my world sight, and spread it out to the area around us. It only took me a moment to find him, fleeing through a secret passage. Nervous sweat was dripping down the kitsune king’s brow as he tried to make as much distance between us as he could.
“Well, this turned out to be a little more troublesome than I thought.” I muttered, while Tsubaki took a step forward.
“He’s lying, my Keeper.” She spoke seriously, clutching her fists at her side.
“I know. I already found the king.” As I said that, the passage the king was running through sealed itself, walls appearing both in front of and behind him. “I’m bringing him here now… oh? What’s this…”
I was surprised, seeing the king pulling what appeared to be a chakram from his robe. He placed it against one of the walls that I had created, and then pushed a card into it. Immediately, the chakram shattered, forming a black gateway in front of the king. Some kind of life saving escape treasure… and he wants to use it to get away from me?
The thought of simply killing him before he could get through the portal crossed my mind, but I held off. Instead, I made the earth around his feet rise up, holding him in place. He struggled, trying to break the stone bindings, but any cracks that formed were immediately repaired.
Once again, I began pulling him towards the throne room, opening up a hole in the ground in front of his throne to lift him up. When he found where he was, and that his portal was no longer within reach, he began to panic. “U-uh, sir Keeper. What a pleasant surprise. I was afraid that someone was invading the castle when I felt your presence…”
“He’s lying.” Tsubaki said from next to me, her eyes narrowed in anger.
“I-I am not!” The king retorted, staring daggers at Tsubaki. “If I had known that his grace was personally coming, how could I dare to flee?” Though he said that, I didn’t need to look into his thoughts to know that he was scared. And I didn’t need Tsubaki to know he was lying.
I let out a sigh, shaking my head. “You can’t lie to me. It has come to my attention that you wished to tax travel through the Fairy Gate.” He winced when I said that, as if he had been struck.
“C-can you blame me, sire? It has been the Kingdom that has defended the gate for hundreds of years, has it not? We need the funds in order to pay for damages caused by the creatures which emerge through the gate!”
I tilted my head, raising an eyebrow as I heard his complaint. “You have defended the gate? And, may I ask how you have done that, when the cannons were installed by the dwarven god? If there are damages being done, then would it not be best to simply not build in the vicinity of the gate?”
Each word appeared to stab deeply at the man. “W-well, you see… that’s not an option. Even with the cannons, there is still the chance for something to get through, right? And we can’t leave the area that our ancestors built for us.”
“I see, so I simply need to move the gate, then.” I nodded my head, while the kitsune king’s face paled visibly, as if he had never imagined such a thing was possible. “If the gate is causing damages to the kingdom, and the kingdom can’t be moved, then it is a simple matter, no?”
“W-wait!” He shouted out desperately. “Please, sire, don’t be rash! You need people to manage the gates, don’t you? If not us, then who?”
“You’re mistaken about something.” I said calmly, still keeping my eyes on him. “You are restricting traffic between the three worlds with your tariffs, and thus preventing proper diplomatic relationships to form without the representatives of each race acting directly from the Citadel. That is not why I placed the gate here.”
I was already thinking about where to send the Fairy Gate, if I did end up having to move it. The elves had already created a world-wide hub for travel between continents, so putting it in their land might be for the best. Aurivy, Tubrock, how long would it take to relocate the gate and its defenses?
Tubrock’s voice was the first to respond after my question. That’s up to the little miss. The key won’t change, so nothing new needs to be built. They can just be picked up and moved any time. But only the little miss can really do that, given how heavy the thing is.
Huh, what? Oh, uhm… yeah, I can do that. Just let me know where you want it put. Aurivy’s voice came in a few seconds later, seeming distracted.
I lifted my head, looking at the king who was still quivering within the stone restraints. “You have three days. If you cannot convince the nobles of your kingdom to open all traffic, the gate will be moved somewhere more suitable.”
The king was frozen, unable to form a proper response, so I turned and began walking out. “Let’s go back then, Tsubaki.” I spoke up, and a portal appeared in front of us. Tsubaki’s portal led to the sky in front of the flying citadel, forcing the two of us to activate our flying techniques until the barrier was taken down and we could enter.
“My Keeper, may I be allowed to speak freely?” Tsubaki spoke up from behind me, once we had touched down and our feet were on solid ground.
“Of course, Tsubaki.” I nodded my head, continuing to walk forward.
“I know that it is not my place… but I believe that you were not harsh enough in this confrontation. He repeatedly lied to you, and attempted to flee from your presence upon arrival. Pardon my rudeness… but, why did you not simply eliminate him for those offenses?”
I chuckled softly, shaking my head. “I wonder what you would have done if you saw the portal he created to try to escape through?” Tsubaki’s footsteps stopped when she heard that, likely surprised. “Don’t worry, I just didn’t feel like killing someone today if I didn’t have to… I’m not fond of taking lives, Tsubaki, and I don’t want to give the impression that I am.”
“I understand, my Keeper…” Tsubaki spoke up, picking up her pace to catch up and follow behind me once again. “In that case, should such a situation arise like this in the future, please allow me to act as your blade.”
I gave her request a bit of thought, before nodding. “Only if it is something beyond redemption. I don’t want to see you killing people just because they didn’t bow to me or something like that. Not everyone who is simply rude deserves to die.”
“I understand. I shall act with discretion, so as not to disgrace your name.” She bowed as we entered the throne room of the Citadel. “Are there any other matters that you wish to attend to for the evening, or will you be retiring to your room?”
“I think I’ll retire for the evening, and we can handle Bracken’s matter come morning.” I answered, suddenly feeling the urge to get some proper sleep with a mortal body. “In the meantime… you can act as the heroc representative, since it seems they are quite stubborn about choosing a new one of their own.”
Tsubaki gave a brief nod of her head, though her ears drooped slightly. “Shall I inform the Beastkin Kingdoms that they will need to assign a new representative to replace that position, then?”
“Huh?” I glanced back to her, shaking my head. “No, you will be filling both roles, until such time that the heroc are ready to select their own representatives again.”
“Understood, my Keeper.” Tsubaki gave a sharp nod, following me through the halls as I made my way to my own room.
I had grown used to this behavior during my previous stay here, having had her follow me around nearly everywhere I went. If not for me forbidding her from entering my room uninvited while I was inside, I was quite certain that she would try to stay near me even while I was sleeping.
Father. Leowynn spoke up from within my spiritual realm.
I would like to spend some time increasing my own strength as well, during this period. If I am to fight by your side in the next invasion, I need to be strong enough that I won’t be a hindrance. I could feel the determination in Leowynn’s voice as she declared that. It reminded me that it had been a while since we returned to the Underworld to allow her to consume more spiritual energy.
Very well, once we’re done taking care of the situations here, we’ll start working on training you. I promised, a small smile on my face at the thought of fighting side by side with Leowynn.
Thank you, Father. With your permission, I would like to set the Ten Disasters Tsubaki mentioned as my goal. My training will be complete when I can slay one of those without your assistance.
I nearly tripped mid-stride when I heard that, my eyes widening. Those were monsters that even Tsubaki wasn’t sure she could defeat without one of her special abilities, and as far as I knew she was still the strongest mortal alive… Are you sure..?
I am. I know it may take some time, but that is the strength I believe is needed to fight with you.
I let out a sigh, shaking my head slightly. Alright, but we’ll do this the right way, and we’ll be careful.