If you find mistakes, pls tell, thx. I don't like mistakes.
I was asked about reading my work on other sites.
The answer is simple: Currently I am not active in any other networks than royalroadl.com. Only here, I correct mistakes and errors.
If you read it anywhere else and have to pay for it, or have to deal with an annoying amount of advertisement, You Are Being Betrayed.
You would do good if you make other people in that network aware of it. This is a free project of mine for the purpose of having fun. And if people try to make money with it you shouldn't bother visiting their website.
I have no problem with translation and reposting of the story, as long as the person in question isn't doing it for money or stealing my identity.
The only one whom I actually allowed to have my work on his website is Armaell who invested the time to compile them into pdf.
“The truth always has several layers.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
“The number of my pets is increasing. I have to be careful. Before I know it they will take over my home and my business,” I mumble.
“What was that?” Adea's mother asks and places a cup of coffee in front of me. “You shouldn't drink so much of that stuff. You will be unable to sleep.”
“Nothing.” I take the cup and empty it in one go. “And I got kind of addicted to the stuff, so... no.”
Adea's mother, Patricia, has chestnut coloured hair. Her oval face is slightly above average, but she does a wonderful job with make-up. That lifts her from average to beautiful. Her body also has curves in all the right places, which promises that Adea will develop nicely in the future.
It has been four days since the invasion and Adea didn't snitch on me. She didn't even ask about my situation and simply accepted that my spirit form looks a lot more inhuman than those of most other people. I had always thought that Adea wouldn't betray me, but it's nice to see my hunch proven right. It was also lucky that the DF didn't forcefully interrogate her. I doubt that she is able to resist strong mind magic.
I still have to do research on how this custom against showing off one's spirit form came to be. From what I've seen and heard so far, it's not much more than a custom. But a very important one.
My eyes survey the shop. When Patricia got in here, she immediately started to decorate and rearrange things according to her ideas. Since then we've been fighting a constant battle about how the shop is supposed to look like. So far, I've the upper hand. My hearth magic guarantees that the items in this house obey me and not some stranger.
Since Patricia's establishment was inside the battle zone, it got completely destroyed. The DF is still counting the dead, reports speak of ten thousand victims and the numbers are rising. Since the portal was opened in a very poor part of the city, there was almost no one above immortal rank at the site. The spirits went through the civilians like wolves through frightened sheep until the DF arrived.
The reports speak about illegal experiments with dimensional travel, but I think that the reporters are just talking for the sake of entertaining the audience. They know nothing concrete and a silent news channel makes for bad publicity.
Be that as it may, Adea's mother lost her home, if she wants to call it that. Until the DF declares the Tandeen district as safe and lifts the blockade, Patricia can't go back. In absence of a better solution, I hired her as a waitress and arranged for an apartment close by. Of course that caused me no end of bowing and hugging from Adea's side. I still don't understand why that girl has grown so much on me.
But I have to admit that Patricia is good for the business. I watch as Patricia beams yet another smile at a male customer, bending down and flashing her neckline for him to take a good look. Of course totally accidentally. Since she started working here, our financial situation is more than green. I didn't realize it until now, but most of our customers so far were female. According to Adea they are here to ogle Jimmy. None of the other shops have such a strict dress code as the Hearth Coffee Shop with its butler. And now we even have a maid.
I am called the Owner, or the Princess for the regulars.
“I am back!”
Adea's voice wakes me from my reminiscence and I watch her skip into the room. “You seem to be awfully cheerful today. Did something good happen?”
“I! Was officially invited on a date by Caden, the third prince! In front of the entire class!” Adea replies, puffing out her chest.
“Kyaa! I am so happy for you!” Patricia charges at her daughter and hugs her. “I told you so. Just strengthen your resolve and talk to him. There is no way that a guy could resist my little girl.”
I smile and pass on pointing out that I was the one who blackmailed her into taking action. Although Patricia thinks that I am just a very good friend of Adea's. I see no need in changing that.
That's when I sense it.
I stop my current task of operating the coffee machine and drop to the ground, using the bar to hide behind. Then I recheck my aura, but there isn't a single leak. How by Dedessia did he get here?
The shop's door opens and a gasp tells me that Adea knows the person who just entered. It also tells me that Adea didn't intend on leading a divine rank to this place.
I felt a very strong aura coming close, so I hid, just in case.
“Hello, Adea. You really seem to like this place.” I recognize Marcus's voice.
“Y- yeah! My Mom is working here, isn't it obvious that I like it?” Adea answers.
How did he catch on? Did they draw a connection between me and Adea? Did someone remember us being together at the ball? There are countless possibilities. How do I play this?
His voice sounds anticipating. “But according to two of your classmates, you've been coming here for more than a month. And your mother was hired just after she lost her home to the spirits. I would like to speak to the owner. My sources tell me that this shop belongs to a certain Seria Havenforst.”
Crap! Crap! Crap! He knows. What do I do? Oh, I know! I just need to look different! Like someone who he has no interest in. Like an old hag. Yes.
I concentrate on illusion magic and cast a glamour spell, turning my hair blonde and ageing myself by about forty years with quite a few wrinkles. That must do for now.
I cough and try to get a somewhat cranky tone into my voice. Then I grab one of the packs with coffee which are stored under the bar. I need a reason for crawling and hiding, then I stand up. “What do you need, young boy? I am Seria Havenforst.”
Two people are at the entrance. One is Marcus and the other is a man with rat-like features. I immediately dislike him. Marcus stops smiling and squints his eyes at me. I think that I actually tricked him... for a moment.
When Patricia's and Adea's eyes bug out upon looking at me, I know that my ruse failed. I can't blame them. A young, virile Seria jumps behind the bar and an old, ripened woman comes back up. They aren't trained for something like this.
Of course Marcus notices their expressions. “That's a low blow, Seria. I've put so much effort into finding you, do you really think that I haven't researched your shop and accessed your files before I decided to pay you a visit?” he asks, then he looks me up and down. “And that appearance? Seriously? Who in this world wants to look old? And I felt a spell being worked behind the bar. Don't take me for a fool.”
The Rat looks surprised as he moves his gaze from me to Marcus and then back again. It seems like he didn't know what this visit was about.
Ok, so my improvised disguise is no good. Fine. I can live with that. But what now? Do they know that I am the spirit which emerged from the mana storm, or is this about something different?
I decide on saying as little as possible until I know what they want. Seria Havenforst didn't do anything illegal as far as they should know?
So is this just about me having a ride on top of the second prince? Dispersing the glamour, I return to my previous form and sigh. “Fine. You have me. What do you want?”
The rat points at me. “She is a rogue!? And teaching one of our students!”
I furrow my forehead? A rogue? Quickly, I search my meatshield wiki and a light pops up above my head. Of course, not literally; that was just a figure of speech.
But being seen as a rogue might not be so bad. Of course I'll repent for hiding myself and crawl and bow in front of the nobles. And then I might even be able to play among them.
Marcus reacts entirely different. He smiles and walks forward. Then he cups my free hand in his own. “I just want another date!”
“What!” the rat calls out.
Patricia whistles and Adea's pale face lights up a little.
I try to get my hand back, but Marcus doesn't let go. Instead he massages it and places a kiss on the back of my hand. It's been a long time since someone did that and I feel myself blush, just a little. “But I am a rogue?”
“Yes, your highness! Think about the scandal!” The Rat chimes in and I have a sudden wish to rip off his head.
“Why didn't you tell me?” Marcus asks.
I use all my acting talent to press out some tears, a skill that was always handy when I was a child. Unfortunately my parents learned ages ago that I can cry on command. “I never told anyone! Just Adea knew, and she found it out by accident. I don't know how I slipped through the test when I was a child. Maybe they messed up. But a year later I got those nightmares and dreams. I didn't think of them as memories at first.
“When I realized what was happening and that I am surely above archmage rank, I was so afraid of being conscripted into the DF to fight those monsters. I simply couldn't tell anyone. I knew that I would slip at some point, but the fact that I kept it a secret for so long...” I let my voice fade out, hoping that I didn't lay it on too thick. Too much improvisation, and the story might sound strange.
Marcus nods, still holding my hand. “It's okay. You were alone, no family. You had nobody to confide to. I will help you in working out an arrangement.”
Oh, boy. Really? The way he looks at me... it's like I took him into thrall or something. If his family finds out, they will make me one head shorter!
“Your highness! Your judgement is clearly hindered! I'll take care of this from now on.” The rat steps forward, producing a handcuff from somewhere and slapping it onto my hand. That, along with his feelings towards me, are enough to trigger a reaction from my house.
The latent magic comes to life and the packet with powdered coffee explodes outwards in a shaped cone, right into the rat's face.
He coughs and screams as the powder gets into his eyes and nose. Then it ignites in a shower of sparks, burning away his facial hair. As he stumbles backwards, one of the chairs moves as if by an invisible hand and the Rat drops into it.
A burst of kinetic energy propels the chair and the Rat with it through the window. Glass shatters and they tumble in a high arc over and over until they disappear out of sight. A distant 'splash' tells me that the Rat just went for a swim in the pond which is located a few metres away in the park.
Everyone is staring at us.
Marcus is completely unfazed by all this. Instead he is smiling. “I was wondering about all the magic this place is brimming with. Hearth magic?”
I reply with a smile. “Seems like you deserve being called a teacher.”