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 Shahmaran is often depicted as a wise, intelligent woman, having female features above the waist and those of a serpent below. She is described as the queen of the snakes. When the Shahmaran dies, it is said that her spirit will pass to her daughter.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
The familiar flash of light causes me to blink and when I open my eyes again I see... nothing? Did I mess up the teleportation? No. I took my time to concentrate and went slowly through all the steps to cast the spell. I am absolutely sure that I am where Seria told me to go. Not that there could be any misunderstanding if I get pointed into a direction and am told to teleport exactly five hundred and four kilometres straight forward.
Turning in a circle, I scan the landscape, but there is nothing noteworthy in sight. No town, no signs of a settlement. No nothing.
Just a big, green wildlife reserve with hills and grasslands. I guess we can count that for something at least. This environment actually looks pleasant and life supporting. Some trees are mixed in here and there. A river is flowing rapidly to our left, ending in a small lake. It’s really nothing special, but if I had to compare this landscape to the rest of Dedessia, then I would call this a paradise. I hadn't imagined that there is something like this little jewel among the vastness of Dedessia's unfriendly ecosystems. Seria guided me through a desert, swamps and across a sea of acid. This is the first region where I dare to relax a little.
Though Seria had a nice little story to tell about the acid sea. How there was once an island in the middle of it and about the inhabitants who managed to piss off her parents. Now the island is no more.
I wonder if she wanted to teach me something by telling that story. The subtle hint not to piss off either of her parents was definitely there.
“I don't want to sound impatient, but didn't you tell me that this is the last teleport? Shouldn't there be someone or something here?” I ask, doubting my own eyes.
Seria already explained that most of the small settlements put a lot of effort into hiding themselves from spirits or malevolent groups of raiders. This world is harsh and for many it’s survival of the fittest, morals be damned. But from what I understood, it sounded like the crystal sphere is something like a central hub for a large part of Dedessia's society. It's the seat of power from where her parents rule their society, though not all of Dedessia. Nobody can control an entire dimension.
It's obvious that nobody is able to control a whole dimension. The space is simply too large, even for a whole society. In case someone wanted to control a population of several trillion entities, he would have to take some seriously sick measures.
Dedessia has another problem in this regard. The low population density puts a tight lid on the expansion efforts of Seria’s people.
Seria points at the sky. “Right above us. They lifted the whole city into the sky some years ago. Safe zones are very rare, so Mom and Dad decided to make this into a park for people to relax. Everyone who wants to chill can come down here any time they want.”
I see, so her Mom and Dad decided. It didn’t sound like anyone else had a word in the matter. I look up and gape at the floating, compartmentalized construction which is floating above us. There are several interconnected and intersecting discs, which are mashed together. It's almost as if some child decided to create the ultimate frisbee, but couldn't decide on how the toy should look like. Therefore the creator glued things together as he saw fit. Houses, skyscrapers, fields and parks. Though I don't get it, there seems to be order to the chaos. “What's this abomination?”
It’s hard to tell how far away the construction is, but it must be huge. And I have a distinct feeling that the architect of this structure did his best to cause an uneasy feeling to everyone who looks upon it.
Seria pouts and crosses her arms in front of her chest. “That's the crystal city, central hub of Dedessia. There are some smaller branch cities heading out in various directions to explore Dedessia, but this will always remain the centre of our operation. The current population is somewhere between seven and eight million people. We are doing our best to gather people from all over Dedessia. I know that your country has a bigger population, but eight million is quite good for a place like Dedessia.”
“I see,” I grunt. She called it ‘our’ operations, so I assume that she is involved in her parents’ decisions.
If I remember correctly, the mana crystals allow to create a lot of dangerous technology. Once, I heard a story in which an old crystal construct blasted away a whole planet. If that's true, then Dedessia is nothing to be messed with. And they lifted a whole city into the sky. I thought these people have problems with resources?
Apparently my expression was pretty obvious, so Seria launches into an explanation. “I am sorry if you got another impression from my explanation. When I told you that we lack resources, I didn’t mean to misguide you, it is still true. But the fact that we have the mana crystals allows us to compensate for a lot of things. You should have visited us before I was reborn. Dad had just reinvented the crystals by the time of my birth. Of course I didn't see it for myself, but my parents told me that when they reincarnated here, the people of this realm actually lived under medieval circumstances.
“Can you imagine that stealing firewood was more common than robbing someone of their valuables? And that the punishment for stealing firewood was the harsher one?”
I nod. I got a good look at this world. Apart from this safe zone, I didn't encounter anything which could be used to create a sophisticated building. Most acceptable constructions rely on wood. Well, unless you build just from stones, which isn't exactly easy if you want to create a structure with more than one floor.
I sigh and shift Zhon’s weight on my shoulder. I am the one who has the doubtful honour of carrying the drooling idiot. “So how do we do this? Do you go first and talk to your parents while I wait here?”
Seria shakes her head. “No. Everyone in the palace knows me. As long as you are with me there will be no trouble.”
“I see, so it’s normal for you to walk around while someone with a bloody meat-bag on his shoulder follows you?” I ask, smiling at her.
Seria shrugs. “Yeah. My brothers tend to brutalize the guys who are too meddlesome, so the palace guards are kind of hardened when it comes to half dead bodies being carried around.”
Then she steps closer and holds onto my sleeve. “I’ll teleport us the last bit. It’ll spare us additional explanations, so we will take a short-cut directly to the throne room.”
Before I can say anything to complain, Seria teleports us. She should have told me that little titbit about her brothers sooner!
We appear in a large entrance hall. It's nothing more than a nicely decorated room with two opposing doors. The larger one is guarded by four guards and a woman who is currently having a serious discussion with them. No, correction, the woman seems more like their superior, if I interpret the expressions correctly.
“Manti!” Seria calls out and rushes to the woman, hugging her tightly. Manti has brown, curly hair and a definitive liking for make-up. In addition to her black uniform she is wearing dark mascara. She even chose to paint her fingernails black.
“Seria, you are back! Isn't it too early? Your father told me just yesterday that the pathways aren't stable enough.” Manti pats Seria's back.
“There are things we have to talk about. Many, many important things,” Seria calls out.
I frown and step closer, but one of the guards points a blue, crystalline spear at me. Seria raises a hand and waves him off. “It's fine he is with me. But you can take the guy on his shoulder to the dungeons. The deepest parts, and be careful, it's an intelligent spirit and a little insane.”
All of the guards frown, or raise their eyebrows in surprise. Seria’s explanation must sound a little outrageous to them, but nobody questions her. Two of them bow. “Yes, princess.” They hurry in my direction and I lower Zhon to the ground. The guards don't seem to care that much for Zhon's well being. Each of them grabs one of his legs, then they pull him through the unguarded door and are gone.
Soooo, no questions asked?
Then it dawns on me that they called Seria a princess! I am such an idiot, but I suppose that I never really thought about the meaning behind her words. Seria never claimed high status for herself, so I never thought about her as someone who has influence and power.
Damn it. Ever since we fell through that stupid portal I am just stumbling along. Even though there is no other choice, it still annoys me.
On top her parents are fucking legends and the rulers of a developing society. I must be still in shock from all the revelations Seria dropped on me since we landed in her world. My mind is still not working correctly.
“Marcus? Are you alright?”
I blink and return to reality. Seria and Manti are standing at the open door and waiting for me. I sigh and wipe the sweat from my forehead, just to find out that my hand comes away dirty. Awesome, not only that I am going to face her parents, I look like a beggar. At least Seria doesn't look any better. She doesn’t seem to care. “Yes, sorry. I am coming.”
I follow them into a large throne room. It's completely empty apart from two large thrones and two writing desks in front of them. The setup makes this look more like an office, rather than some official reception room.
Floor, ceiling, and walls, everything is coloured in the distinct blue of mana crystals. The people of this world really seem to have no other building materials. I guess it's a high status symbol that the furnishing in this room looks like it is real wood.
A woman is sitting on the second throne, which, from my perspective, was the one on the right. Her whole concentration is on the document in front of her. My attention immediately locks onto her horns, which look like a tiara and are very similar to Seria's.
When she looks up and spots us, her expression turns into a wide smile. “Butterfly!”
Butterfly? I frown as Seria's mother gets up and knocks over her throne. Then she rushes towards her daughter, wings spread and with a wagging tail. She pulls Seria into a tight embrace and starts laughing in relief. “I was so worried about you. You and your adventures. Promise me to never again go on such a long mission.”
So this is Seria's mother, Elona. She is a beautiful woman with a lean face and a sensual body. Not actress-beautiful, but more like a cold, inner beauty which radiates confidence. She is also not relying on a lot of make-up, unlike Manti.
“It's fine, Mom!” Seria tries to push her mother away, but the other woman is far stronger than her. It doesn't match up with her figure, which is definitely very pleasing. In fact, her whole appearance and the black and red dress she is wearing screams lust and sex. No, this woman is definitely not ashamed of being a succubus.
At last, Elona lets go of her daughter and inspects Seria's appearance with a critical eye. “You look like you had it rough. Please tell me that nothing serious happened to you.”
Seria shakes her head. “I visited one of the other realms, like we planned it. Newerth is actually a very nice place, but they also have trouble with the spirits...”
From there, Seria launches into a short explanation how she masqueraded as a shop owner and how she stumbled into a conspiracy which apparently involves spirits and inter dimensional warfare.
Elona's eyebrows rise higher and higher while Seria is telling her tale, which is cut down to the most essential parts. It takes, nonetheless, a few minutes to give Elona a rough picture of the situation. Elona listens to everything, only interrupting with a short, chipped question when something needs more explanation.
In the end the queen straightens her back and purses her lips in surprise. “Well, well. We assumed that Moonray is up to something, but this tops our wildest expectations. At least you caught one of their elites. We should get a better picture once we hear his side of the story.”
Elona's attention turns to me. Her eyes wander from my legs, to my hips and chest, until they find my eyes. “So. That's all nice and fine, but I couldn't help but notice that you didn't introduce your companion.”
Seria clears her throat. “Yes! Ahem, that's Marcus, second prince of Newerth. Some things happened and events led from one to another, so I guess the both of us ended up as permanent?”
Elona turns to her daughter, clearly understanding what she meant, but not allowing her to get out of this with a half-assed explanation. “You do realize that your explanation didn't make any sense?”
I step forward and decide to introduce myself. “Let me explain that, since Seria and I haven't exactly clarified our relationship with each other. I love your daughter with all my heart, and I hope that you aren't opposed if I continue to court her.”
Elona's expression turns from surprised to outright baffled and for a moment I am afraid that I made a mistake by being blunt. Then Elona starts smiling and spreads her hands, hugging me a little bit too enthusiastically and therefore pressing her formidable chest against me. “Finally!”
I try my best to stay calm, reciting the fact that the woman who is hugging me is Seria's mother. But my knees feel weak!
“Mom! Don't suck the life energy from my boyfriend! I love him and therefore he is off limits, or do you want me to tell Dad!?” Seria steps in and separates us with force. As soon as the contact is broken I feel my strength returning.
“Actually, involving your father in this might backfire.” Elona chuckles and pats her daughter's head. “Sorry, sorry. Hahaha. I guess I got a little excited when I heard that you finally found someone to be with. I lost the control over my ability. We have to organize a big party and choose the wedding dress wisely.”
“Wed... wed... dress!?” Seria stutters.
I raise a hand. “One moment, isn't this developing too fast?” Not that I am against tying Seria down, but we barely know each other apart from our affection. We are just beginning to share our secrets. Who knows how this will work out in the end?
A cold, red fire appears in Elona's eyes and I feel myself shrinking just a little bit. “Of course! How long do you think I've waited for this moment? You, my daughter, are the most notorious single I've ever met! For you to declare your love for someone, that's the most important event in aeons!”
Seria raises one finger. “I was married, once or twice.”
“Bah!” Elona slaps Seria's finger away. “You met the poor boy when you were children. And then you educated him as if he was some sort of servant. I'll give it to you, you were friends, maybe even best buddies. But that marriage thing you had going wasn't the real deal. Face it, Seria. If you weren't the goddess of life and death, you would be the personification of loneliness. Your twisted pranks are just an attempt to get attention. If you get the chance at something good, then you have to jump into the pool, even if it means that you risk drowning.”
Seria visibly deflates in front of her mother, but stands her ground. “I am just saying that you are blowing this out of proportion.”
Elona crosses her arms in front of her chest and smiles at her daughter like only mothers do. “I am doing nothing of the sort. You don't even need to do anything. Let me take care of it.” She flicks a finger towards Manti. “Go and tell the others, Seria isn't getting away without a party. It has been almost a year since she took that stupid assignment.”
Manti nods and hurries towards the door, an evil grin on her face.
Ah, I suppose that Seria didn't lie when she said that her parents are strange people with even stranger ideas. Gods, all I want right now is a bath.
“That's all well and fine, but we need to interrogate the prisoner. It has top priority to find out what's going on. Where is dad? I am sure that he'll put a little more priority on the problem with the spirits. And we need to return to Newerth and help them against the spirits. If they fall, it will just mean more trouble for us later on.”
Elona furrows her forehead. “Oh, Shade? I suppose he is in his basement and building stuff. You know how he is. He has this thing with revenge... and Moonray was the first one who actually got away after playing a game with him. But I suppose we could go and look for him. Haven't seen him since last night.”
The queen tilts her head as if she is thinking about something, then she shrugs and walks towards the king's throne. Once there, she presses a button which looked like a piece of the armrest's ornament. With a 'click', the throne swings to the side and reveals a narrow staircase.
How old fashioned. I turn to look at Seria. “Who is Moonray?”