“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
“You look winded.” Seria calmly observes me as I wave goodbye to the last guest. It's the guy who looks like an imp, and this evening he tried his best to drink me under the table. But I managed to resist. The ambassadors from the other realms really took their time before they decided to retreat for the night. And it's kind of hard to throw someone out of the party if a lot depends on making a good impression.
I drop my hand as soon as the imp-guy is out of sight. “That's because it's really hard to smile despite the fact that you don't feel like it. At all. I wore the same expression for over seven hours!”
She frowns and reaches up to tug at my cheek. “But you are still smiling. If you don't feel like it, then why are you still smiling? The room is empty, except for us.”
I reach up to feel my face and it's no surprise that my hand encounters the tugged up corners of my mouth. “A cramp.”
“Must be one hell of a cramp then. I've had cramps, but never in my face. How does it feel?” She gloats and reaches for my face to pull and rub, but without achieving anything.
“As if someone used flexible stickers to rearrange my expression to his satisfaction. Please stop that, it feels demoting,” I answer the question sullenly.
It's bad enough that we have to endure the whole ordeal again. Shade and Elona decided to postpone the attack on the enemy base until all the negotiations are over. They hope that we will get some more assistance aside from Beth. Surprisingly, she agreed readily enough to help us, even though her discussion with us was nothing more than an informal meeting. It felt like she was eager to prove that she is on our side.
I wouldn't have done that, had I been in her shoes. There wasn't a real plan to begin with. So far, it is just an idea. And I am still not entirely sure of what to think about Shade's idea to involve Adea. The girl has her own problems. Fighting in a real war should not be part of her troubles.
There is also the issue of involving a student in the state's affairs! No matter how you look at it, she is still a child. So what if she regained some of her old memories? That doesn't mean that she suddenly reached mental maturity out of nowhere. Shade wants to toss her into the fire nonetheless. We have to protect her at least long enough to give her a chance to get a grip on herself. Seria mentioned often enough how dangerous she can be.
“I hate being ignored.” Suddenly Seria leans in and starts nibbling on my collarbone. “Do you mind teleporting us to my apartment?”
“Ahem, why this sudden interest? I thought you don’t like this form?” I try to clear my throat, but fail miserably. The sound turns into a choked croak, but at least I dealt with the smoke problem. Her hand is simply too distracting. What was I thinking about?
“Something wrong?” She leans in closer, pressing up against me.
“I can teleport us. As soon as you take your hand away. It's distracting.” I reach for her shoulders and try to concentrate, but that isn't easy if a beautiful woman has her hand inside my pants. “Are you sure that you want to do it right now? Aren't you tired?”
Her eyes flash golden and she smiles, letting out the succubus in her. “I am just trying to make good use of this new form of yours. This whole day was so tedious that I simply need some time off. Everyone else already fled the scene, so why should we wait?” Then her expression turns smug. “Seems as if I am able to perform some transformations on your body without the use magic. Do you really want to tell me that you can't do something as simple as teleporting us?”
I groan as a shudder runs down my spine. She is using her succubus abilities on me, that's for sure. Enough is enough. If she wants to play dirty, then so can I. Flicking a wrist at the room's entrance, I seal it with a barrier of raw force. It's a dirty and inelegant job, but it will stop unwelcome intruders from stumbling over us.
Flipping her around, I force her to the ground and push up her dress. It helps that she didn't hold back and undid my trousers, freeing me. Pulling her panties aside, I position myself and push as far and deep into her as I can. She gasps in surprise and tries to get up, but I reach for her neck and push her down. “Do you really think that you can tease me after a day like this?”
To my own surprise she isn't disturbed by my aggressive behaviour. Instead she giggles and reaches backwards, gaining hold of my trousers and pulling me closer to grind against me. “Apparently your transformations have an effect on your mind. Who would have thought that my lovely Marcus can be this forceful? And to simply take me in such a public place. Aren’t you afraid of someone walking in on us?”
We are behind a barrier. If someone enters the room it would be akin to breaking down a door. I say nothing and force one of her arms behind her back to keep her in place. Answering her movements, I follow her rhythm for minutes until both of us reach the peak of our union.
Seria is still under me when I feel my barrier shudder and crack. Two people appear with a flash inside the room. The damned woman had to call it!
“Marcus, we need to talk! There is an emergency... By the gods! What are you two doing in a public place! And what are you doing to Seria! That's no way to treat a woman! Get off her!” Clarity shrieks with a high pitched voice.
Damn! I realize that the way I am holding Seria down surely looks like it happened without consent by the other party. And surely enough, my parents had to teleport right into the room. That's the one thing I didn't completely ward against. I thought that it would be abundantly clear that I don't want to be disturbed if the whole room is warded.
Seria moans and circles her hips, not caring in the slightest that we got company. “But I am not entirely opposed to being held down. It's so rare that he is the aggressive one. Can't you give us a few more minutes? I've a feeling that he isn't quite done.”
Charles clears his throat and gives me a thumbs up, carefully avoiding to be seen doing so by Mom. Losing no time, he reaches for Clarity's shoulder and teleports the both of them out of the room.
I stay there, frozen, with Seria wriggling under me in an attempt to get me moving. I groan. “This is the most awkward moment I've ever had.”
“Shut up and move!”
A few minutes later we are back to a somewhat presentable state, if sweaty clothes can be counted as presentable. It can't be helped though, especially because I can feel the auras of several important people in front of the room. Four important people to be exact. Our parents.
Grumbling, I break the damaged remains of my barrier and open the door. Then I step aside to allow them entry. “I hope there was a good reason to interrupt us.”
Mother wrinkles her nose in disapproval and Father studies me with a conflicted expression. Shade and Elona are openly grinning at Seria and me. Why are they grinning!? They didn't see anything and my parents would never talk about such an incident.
Seria leans closer and whispers, “Don't you remember that they spied on the meeting with the ambassadors? I bet both the conference room and this room are bugged!”
Gods! I feel myself reddening and recognize their stupid expressions for what they are. And why does Seria know what I am thinking!?
“You are so upset that you are shouting all your thoughts over the wedding bond.”
Just great. I take a deep breath and count silently to ten. “So. What happened?”
Charles is the one to inform us of the bad news. “It's your brother. He escaped!”
I blink and reach up to massage the bridge of my nose. “It had to be something like this. So how the hell did he get out? And where did he go?”
My father shrugs. “We don't know. He simply vanished out of his cell and the surveillance camera failed a few seconds before he escaped. So we don't know how he did it. We thought that he holds a grudge against you two, so we rushed to get to you in fear that he is after revenge. It was you to who got him locked up after all.”
I squint my eyes at my father. “By that logic, wouldn't you two also be targets? You were the ones who subdued him.”
“But he didn't go after us, so we thought he went for you. But if he didn't seek revenge, then where did he go?” Clarity kneads her fingers. Her expression is stressed and her skin is pale.
I reach up to run a hand through my hair. If Perseus wants to create trouble for us, he could become a real problem. As if we don't already have enough on our hands. Then I listen to a lengthy explanation of what my parents deduced from the state of the prison cell. Which isn’t much. According to them we are facing a mystery with a locked room.
Seria wandered off during the conversation, showing her disinterest in this new dilemma. Instead, she attacked the pitiful remains of the buffet. As if Perseus doesn't concern her. I didn’t pay her behaviour that much attention up until now.
Then the sound of someone who is retching draws my attention. I turn around just in time to find Seria barfing into an empty bowl. It’s one of the big ones which were holding the stewed fruits. I can only think of one reason for her to feel sick and suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. We broke our limit a while ago. But isn't it too early to show symptoms? Ignoring the scene, I turn back to face our parents.
Mom and Dad are looking at her with pity in their eyes, whereas Shade's and Elona's expressions show malicious joy. Today it's just one thing after the other.
“I suppose that we all need a drink,” I mumble to myself, not actually talking to anyone.
Seria returns to our side, holding a new bowl in her hands. It’s empty, so I suspect that she isn’t done. “Mom, maybe you should tell the servants that they don't want to bag the leftovers. And I may be ripe for a preliminary examination in your lab.”
“Of course, Dear. Do you want something against feeling sick? It won't harm the baby and the medicine takes effect fast.” She smiles gently at her daughter and a pill appears out of nowhere in her open palm.
Seria takes the pill and swallows it without question.
“Ah, I forgot! There might be the side effect of becoming overly emotional, but that will last only for a short time.”
Sure enough, big tears start rolling down Seria's cheeks and she sobs. “I hate this! I am not cut out to be a mother! Just look at how I acted in front of my parents-in-law just a few moments ago! I could die of shame! It's all your fault, Mom!”
Shade tries to say something, but Seria is just starting to gain momentum. “And you! You betrayed me! Without you she would have never managed to trick me like that! I thought that I am your darling daughter! Never would I have thought that you would betray me like that.”
“Now, now... Isn't that going too far? They are your parents.” I reach out, but she steps back and hisses at me.
“You are the one who is ultimately at fault! Without you, I wouldn't be in this state! Just look at me! I... hic... I hate this! Gods! What a horrible medicine!” She turns away and puts a finger into her mouth. One moment later the retching starts again as she goes to her knees.
Shade chews on his lower lip. “Maybe you should fine tune that recipe of yours. I shudder at the thought of you taking that stuff; the multiverse might end. The side effects certainly don't outweigh the benefits.”
Elona snorts. “I thought that being a little emotional wouldn't make a difference to a pregnant woman.”