I felt a sudden unease at whoever was in front of the door. Was it my sense that was tingling? Kuhuhuh, for a split moment, I remembered a popular comic that I liked to read, but that was quickly gone when another rough pounding on the door brought me back to reality.
“Are we expecting anyone today?” Phil asked. He was out of his chair in seconds. He rushed over to his bow and arrows that he leaned against the wall.
“No.” She got up and was headed towards the door.
“Grandma! What are you doing?” Phil hissed.
“Answering the door.”
Phil smacked his head with his hands. “Grandma, what if it’s someone bad? You are not who you used to be.”
“I have you don’t I?” She seemed to have great faith in Phil.
I couldn’t help but be shocked at the naivety of Phil’s grandmother. Even I had the common sense to be wary of the unknown guest that was knocking on the door in the middle of the forest.
“Mary!” A rough male’s voice called out as he banged on the door over and over again. “I have news from the Duke!”
“Mary?” I asked.
“That’s grandma’s name.” Phil quickly answered. He glanced at his grandmother, confused.
“Ah, that must be Jeremy.”
“Jeremy? You don’t mean that, Uncle Jeremy?” Phil’s eyes clouded over.
Whoever this Jeremy was, I could tell that it did not sit well with Phil.
Phil’s grandmother opened the door, allowing Jeremy to enter. An elderly man who looked to be in his prime stepped in. He had a curly brown thick beard. Even the clothes that he wore were extravagant and looked out of place. The only thought that came to mind was a noble.
“Thank you, Mary. I am glad to see you doing well.”
“We are.” She gratefully took his words. “I’m surprised that you came out here at this time of night. Is there something going on?”
“My escort is outside.” Jeremy walked over casually like he owned the place. “I need to bring you and the boy back.”
“I’m not going,” Phil spoke.
“Your grandfather wants you to come back.”
“I have a name, and it’s not a boy.”
“Phil, mind your manners,” snapped Grandma Mary. She gently replied to Jeremy. “You must be tired. Why don’t you stay the night.”
Jeremy pulled back a chair and sat down on the opposite side of me. He looked surprised that I was here.
“That’s Berry. She’s been temporarily staying with us starting today.” Grandma Mary was scooping up extra food for Jeremy. “She was wandering around the forest and had come upon our humble home.”
“Berry, is it? It’s strange for someone so young to be walking around this forest without any escort.” Jeremy examined me with suspicious eyes. “You’re an elf?” His eyes rested on my ears and seemed to relax a little.
Was it possible that elves in this world were considered a particular case? I couldn’t help but think of these thoughts. It’s just that whenever I state, I’m an elf. They seem to be more laid back. “Yes, sir. I was just taking a stroll when I saw this house.”
“I see.” Jeremy leaned back. Grandma Mary brought over the soup and a plate of food. She placed the food down and pulled up another chair. “These days, seeing your kind is rarer than selling jewels. How are your people doing?”
“I’ve been reclusive. I don’t know much about what my kind has been doing.”
“Really?” Jeremy was bewildered at what I stated. “I thought for sure that all elves liked to live together.”
“I’m a special case.” I honestly did not want to continue with the lies. I just wasn’t very good at keeping a façade.
“That’s different.” Jeremy picked up the spoon and took a sip of the soup. He glanced over to Phil, who was picking on his food and leaning on his arms, uninterested in our conversation.
“Duke Hon has been sick lately. I was watching over the estate and taking over his duties.”
“He’s been sick?” Grandma Mary’s voice rose with concern.
“Yes, and it’s been getting worse. Duke Hon and I decided to bring the boy back to begin to learn how to run the estate. You know me, I cannot have a child. The only legitimate child that has any bloodline to the Zemrik name is Philip.” Jeremy stopped for a moment and with a gentle tone spoke,
“Plus, Duke Hon would like to see you once again before he passes. He said that he still loves you and wishes that you come back.”
“I-” Grandma Mary’s face fell into worry. “All these years, we bickered among each other since the death of your brother. To see that you are doing well gladdens me.” Tears started to form on the corner of her wrinkled eyes. It seems as if she got even older. “I’ll go.”
“But grandma!” Phil was not pleased with what Grandma Mary had to say. He straightened up, trying to make himself larger.
“No, buts, listen to your uncle. I kept you here so that you won’t be caught up in the political struggle of our kingdom for a little longer, but it seems that it’s impossible.”
“I’ll take care of him, mother. Don’t worry.” Jeremy spoke with a kind voice.
Grandma Mary’s eyes were light up with joy when she heard him say, mother. “I-I-I haven’t heard you call me that name for a long time. It brings such nostalgia.”
“I’m sorry. I just…” His voice stiffened. “I was busy and could not visit you more often.”
“No. No. I know that our people need to be looked after. We are from a strong line of Zemrik that has been serving The house of Zemrick for hundred of years.” Grandma Mary patted his hand.
“We must leave tomorrow.”
“Then, I must get ready to pack.” Grandma Mary got up with the dishes. She was moving quickly for her age.
“Please pack light. Don’t carry anything that you don’t need with you..”
Grandma Mary stopped and turned around. “Berry would be coming with us.”
Excuse me? The spoon stopped entering into my mouth, and I glanced at her dumbfounded.
“Berry? But she’s an outsider.”
“I adopted her into the family today.”
“Grandma, You just met her!” exclaimed Phil. Both males were flabbergasted at her decision.
“Be quiet. It’s my decision to take Berry in or not. I can’t have a young lady running around in the forest. She could possibly get eaten by monsters.”
“Kuhuhuhuhahaha.” Jeremy couldn’t contain his laughter and burst out. His laugh startled Phil and I. “You won’t win with her.” He wiped his tears. “When she’s set on something, she always goes through with it at the end.”
“Give up. No point in trying. You lived with Grandma Mary for a long time, you know what I mean.”
Defeated, Phil slouched his shoulders and pushed away his bowl. All I could do was watch them converse with each other and drink the soup at my leisure pace. It seems the women of this household were unmovable like a rock.
“Get some sleep, Berry. Phil, let her sleep on the extra bed in your room, while Jeremy will take my bedroom.”
“Mother, it’s alright. I’ll take the couch for tonight.” Jeremy waves his hands, stopping her from saying any more.
“Wait, I have to sleep with her in the same room?” Phil was not pleased with the thought of sharing.
“I’m not going to slit your throat when you sleep.” I lazily stated. This kid was way too cautious.
“Phil.” Grandma Mary sternly stated as she eyed him in approval.
“She’s a kid!”
“For crying out loud, you’re not a pervert, are you?” I couldn’t help but voice my opinion out loud. Everyone went quiet with their mouth agape.
Damn. I shouldn’t have said that.
What made me wonder was why these people did not react with my first outburst on slitting one’s throat, but instead the pervert part that got them. All I can do is follow along and just play stupid for awhile.
“No.” Phil clicked his tongue in annoyance. “Follow me.”
With both of us finished with our meal, he directed me to his room. He had a candle in hand as it lit up the darkness. They were one only bed that looked very comfortable and the other that was more like a hammock with a pillow and a blanket. His room would be considered a classical boys room with wooden toy monsters and wooden swords. For someone his age, it was a bit odd.
“You can have my bed.”
For a moment, what he said surprised me. This kid was actually kind enough to give up a comfy bed. I thought he was all teeth and claws this whole time with his rude demeanor, but they were some good qualities for the moment.
“Yea. Take it before I change my mind.” Phil stubbornly stated. He was changing out of his clothes as if I was not there with his back against me. He did not care if he stripped half-naked in front of me.
I did not have any extra clothes with me, nor did I feel like getting out of the comfortable clothes that I had on. Instead, I got up on the soft bed and snuggled in.
Hmm….this bed was not as comfortable as the bed back at the castle, but it would do. I couldn’t help but think this was like some kind of sleepover with friends, but Phil was not a friend, more like an acquaintance I met today, and somehow became a part of his family.
“Hey, Phil,” I called out.
Phil blew out the candle and got up into the hammock. I could hear the squeaking like sound that the hammock made as he got comfortable.
“Can you tell me more about this world.”
“I would appreciate it if you could help me out.” With the best girly voice that I could muster.
For a moment, there was no sound except Phil breathing. “What do you want to know?”
“Well, tell me first about the Forgotten Forest. Why is it called that?”
“I can’t believe you don’t know anything about where you live. Fine.” Phil turned over towards me and began to speak. “The reason why it’s called the Forgotten Forest is because there is no information known about the forest. Everything about the forest is considered a mystery. They say a thick fog comes by every year, making it impossible to travel through. The fog stays in the air for six days and disappears like smoke. Anyone who travels through this time disappears in the fog and never returns. The last known thick fog that appeared was last year.”
“Yes. People who live in the Forgotten Forest understand that leaving during the time of the thick fog is foolish and stays at home.”
“Then how are you and your grandma still here to this day?”
“We found a way to coexist within this forest. A simple doll charm that you keep on the front door to appease the angry gods.”
I had a bit of a difficult time believing that a doll charm would keep something at bay, but this world was magical in some shape or form, so it was not highly unlikely.
“It makes me wonder how you have survived when you don’t know this.”
“I lived on the mountain.” I bluntly replied it wasn’t a lie.
“The mountain!? You don’t mean the Solitary Mountain do you?”
“The mountain is at the edge of the borders of the Kingdom of Dragon’s. Also, it is at the center of the Forgotten forest. Not only that, on the other side of the mountain is the ocean.”
I couldn’t help but be silent. I didn’t go out to survey the land to know what was on the other side of the mountain. Today was truthfully my first day out.
“I can’t believe this. You’re saying you live in a high, densely packed magical area where special class monsters roam?”
Phil was stupefied. “Do you know how dangerous it is to live in those mountains? Forgotten Forest has monsters that eat the intruders. So you’re saying that you live secluded in the mountains where the strongest monsters live and survived?” He didn’t seem to believe her at all, looking at her as if she was lying.
“Yep.” Honestly, I didn’t know what to say.
“Wow.” Phil was shocked to hear what I just said. “You got guts. I can’t even tell if you are lying anymore.”
“The Kingdom of Dragon’s is it the only Kingdom around?”
“No. There are six Kingdom in total. Each Kingdom represents the six Legendary Creatures that tend to wreak havoc on this land. They are Kingdom of Leviathan, Kingdom of Hydra, Kingdom of the Black Gryphon, and finally the Kingdom of Titan. Each is ruled by their respective King.”
“I see. Then your grandfather is part of the Kingdom of Dragon. How far is it away from here?”
“It’s a three-day trip. Duke Hon’s territory is small, and it lives right next to the Forgotten Forest. The land’s not as fertile as the other territories around the Kingdom. I don’t get why Uncle Jeremy and grandfather pride themselves over the pitiful land. Our family is considered the laughing stock out of the whole Kingdom, and they want me to take up that position?” Phil started with disgust. “I rather not associate myself with them at all.”
“Well, from your grandmother’s perspective, it is her home. Wouldn’t that be enough to protect it?”
Phil was quiet for a moment. It seems like I did hit a nerve somewhere in his heart for him to not rebuttal me.
“You’re right. I’m only going to do this for grandma. Not for grandpa or Uncle Jeremy. Nor for my parents either.” Phil stared up at the ceiling. His resolution affirmed.
Phil was an interesting character in his own way. Prickly like a cactus, but soft when it only matters to his grandmother. In a sense, someone that would take time to get to know. Just being in this household was fascinating in itself. In one day, so many different things happened that felt like a hurricane had passed through, but even so, it was a delightful experience. I knew if I stuck around with this family a little bit longer, I could enjoy a lot more of the exciting new things this world had to offer.
Digging my hands in my pocket, I took out three gold coins. Quietly as best as I could, I slipped them in my mouth.
“What was that?” Phil asked.
Gulp. Damn it. That was just the first of the three coins that I had eaten. I had two more that I needed to finish. There is nothing that I can do, but to quickly end this.
Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Gulp. Delicious! I squirmed in the bed, happy.
“Is that coming from you?” Phil was on his elbow, looking towards my direction.
“Hmm? No. I think it was probably from outside.” Dang, it. I had to lie again. Today I’m becoming a habitual liar, and I do not like this at all. I know what happens, when one lies, it gets pretty bad when people find out.
“Are you sure? It sounded like metal breaking.”
“It does? I thought it was something else.”
I couldn’t help but start to sweat. I hoped Phil didn’t find out. If he did, maybe I would have to eat him? That sounds like a dragon, right? Gah, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to resort to violence. For the next five minutes, my mind was in turmoil, until I finally exhausted my brain.
“Good night Phil.” Pulling up the blanket to my chin, my eyes were becoming droopy from sleep. I didn’t even hear him say goodnight, and instead, I spiraled into darkness as sleep took over.
Another beautiful day. I swear the air in this world is cleaner than the world that I come from. I don’t remember how I know this, but it seems like I do. Grandma Mary and Phil finally packed up and put their large bags into the carriage. For a noble son, I’m in awe that their carriage looks so rickety and beat up. Even the paint was flaking off.
With their ordeal over, we finally got on the carriage and left towards the destination. It has been two days, going on to the third. My butt was cramping from the rough ride, and my legs were becoming tight. How were these people able to stay in the carriage without being exhausted? This was a mystery in itself.
We arrived during the setting of the sun. I was half asleep.
“Berry. Wake up. We’re here.” Phil shook me awake. I slurped and looked around, dazed. This was not a lady like at all, but who cares. I’m a dragon, and I’m tired.
“We’re here?” I got out of the carriage with the help of Phil. My legs were shaking from the long, arduous ride, that it was difficult to even walk. “I’m having difficulties standing up. I need your help.”
Phil sighed as he reluctantly took my hand. “How is it that you can’t even sit in the carriage without getting weak. Are you sure you have not been pampered your whole life?”
I thought it over for a minute. Yep. I have been in the castle, but that did not mean I rode carriages everywhere. I could fly, so there wasn’t any purpose in riding one.
“I never rode in a carriage before.” Grabbing his arms to steady my shaking legs, I took baby steps until finally, I was able to hold my ground.
Glancing around, I noticed that we were in front of a large estate. It didn’t even compare to the castle that I lived in. Instead, it looked a bit run down, although the place was well kept. Servants appeared out from the estate and quickly unloaded the baggage.
“Come on, you two.” Uncle Jeremy called out to us. He had on a hat, and a black walking stick dangling on his arm like a gentleman and walked towards the building. Grandma Mary was being helped by Uncle Jeremy as she wrapped her arms around his elbow.
I couldn’t help but be amazed at the place around me. It reminded me of the renaissance building that you would see in Europe. Information about my past life kept streaming into my mind.
We continued on inwards, up flights of stairs, and finally came upon a large room. Compared to the outside, the inside was much more beautiful with hanging candle lights, paintings of lords and ladies, and expensive-looking curtains.
Jeremy knocked on the door first and entered with Grandma Mary. We trailed behind them and noticed an old man hunched over on the desk. He didn’t look sickly at all, but instead was busily working on his papers with a quill pen. Even still, the Duke was in his prime, small streaks of gray hair decorated his head and lines indicate his age. My guess was that he was in his late fifties, just like Grandma Mary.
“Father.” Uncle Jeremy called out. “I’ve brought over grandmother and your grandson.”
The old man with his bushy mustache stopped what he was doing and looked up. His eyes gleamed with delight when he saw Grandma Mary.
“Mary. It’s been a while.”
“I’m surprised that you are still around and kicking.” Grandma Mary eyed him skeptically.
“There was no other way to persuade you to come back.”
“True, but to lie about your health. You know that I dislike that.” Grandma Mary was giving him a death glare.
“I’m sorry. I just wanted to see you once again. I really do feel like my weary bones can not hold on much longer. Is that wrong for me to ask for?”
Grandma Mary’s demeanor changed into a caring old woman. “If you have just called for me. I would have replied.”
“I thought you were still mad at me.”
“Then please forgive this wretched soul. Instead, I would like to talk with you later in private.”
Grandma Mary nodded and smiled. I could see that Duke Hon loved Grandma Mary by his tone of words and demeanor, but just as quickly as it was shown, it disappeared when he glanced towards me.
“Who might this young lady be?”
“This is Berry. I adopted her into the family when we were living out in the Forgotten Forest.”
“Berry, is it?” I could feel him looking me over with skepticism as he glanced over my ears. For a split second, I thought I felt a hostile air around him, but it disappeared in seconds.
“Yes, My name is Berry Drakel. I wish to stay for a while if you permit.” I spoke with confidence and stared back, not shaken by his gaze.
Duke Hon was surprised by my boldness and instead was interested. “Living here is not free. What would you do to compensate for your stay?”
“Hons!” Grandma Marry scolded him. He raised his hands to stop her. “She is part of the family now.”
“I do not mind working honestly. I can also compensate with money for a couple of months. I was not expecting to stay for a long period.” I did not like the thought of being a freeloader to an unknown family, plus I was staying with them because of Phil until I figured out what to do.
“Will you now? Even if the work would be considered unsavory?”
“I do not mind at all. I understand that nothing is given freely. To obtain something of equal value, one must give something back in return.”
“How long did you expect to stay?”
“Um…for now six months.”
“Six months? Berry, you’re part of the family now.” Grandma Mary’s voice was filled with disappointment.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. If we were going to stay at your place, I would have stayed longer, but this place is not something that I can impose myself on when I’m more of an uninvited guest.”
“Six gold coins for three meals a day, a place to sleep for six months, or will you work off your stay for six months?” Duke Hon quietly waited for my reply.
“Would it be possible for six gold coins, three meals a day, a place to sleep, and a contract for me to work? I do need some extra money.” I swear I felt like I was bargaining at an inn just to stay for six months.
Everyone was silent. Phil’s face was staring at me curiously, even Uncle Jeremy was stupefied with what I had to say. My guess was that he did not expect me to have anything on me.
I rummaged through my pocket, which was able to hold a large amount of gold. It did have a unique ability to store away many things. I pulled out six shiny gold coins with the imprint of a dragon head on it and placed it on Duke Hon’s table. They stared in shock at the gold that was in front of them.
My snack. I wanted to cry, but I stopped myself from taking back the gold coin that was present on the desk.
Duke Hon picked up a gold coin and carefully examined it. “It can’t be. Ancient Dragon gold coins.” He stuttered in awe. “To even see six in one place, Miss Drakel, where did you come across these?”
“An heirloom.” I did not want to indulge any further.
“Six Ancient Dragon Gold coins are equivalent to three gold coins for one gold coin in our currency. Two would have been efficient enough as it is, though I did not expect you to even have any gold in the first place.” Duke Hon placed the gold back on the table. “I’m surprised that you did not know this.” He scratched his beard, wondering what I was thinking.
I was astonished.
“You may stay here for two years.”
That was an unexpected outcome that I did not foresee. It made me realize that I was eating something costly for my own health, and I had a massive horde of gold back in the castle. What was more surprising was that Duke Hon did not cheat me out of my money, nor did I sense a hint of greed from him. I felt like this whole time. It was more of a test to see if I was eligible to stay or not.
“Thank you. I appreciate your kindness.” I bowed.
“I look forward to your stay. Phil takes her to the extra room next to yours. She is in your care from now on.”
“Yes, grandfather.” Phil bowed. Even though Duke Hon did not say anything else to him, he was relieved to get out of the place.
We both left the room and made our way to the room that Duke Hon had specified.
“The one on the right is yours. The left one is mine.” Phil pointed. “Though I bet you are hungry from that long ride.”
I nodded. Right now, I really wanted to take a chomp out of a couple of gold coins in my pocket. I was not even able to make a single bite these past three days. I was feeling a bit lethargic and woozy from not eating gold. I swore at this wretched curse for wanting to eat gold. This was the one downside that I noticed until now. I did not want to think about what would happen to me if I did not have gold for a month. I would probably look wretched and weak or something. It was a theory that I did not want to chance upon.
“Stay here for a moment. I’ll go get someone to bring us a meal.” Without further instruction, he quickly left with a goal in mind.
I opened the door to the room that was given to me. It was a simple guest room, draped with luxurious curtains and sheets. They were even a small desk with a mirror standing across the bed.
I couldn’t help but examine everything. My hands unconsciously slipped in my pocket, and I popped in a gold coin in my mouth like candy. They were even a small closet and an empty chest. I walked over and sat down in front of the large metal chest and opened it to see if they were anything inside.
I decided that this was going to be my personal chest. I didn’t want anyone to rummage through my clothes, nor did I want people to steal from me. With my hands against the metal part where a lock should be, I tried using one of the skills that I had. Metal Manipulator.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do or how to activate it.
“Metal Manipulator,” I called out. Nothing.
Scratching my head, I tried touching all around it, hoping that something would happen. Even still, nothing transpired. This time I carefully examined the chest. I imagined a lock appearing before me with a simple combination key that only I knew. Though what happened in front of me was genuinely unexpected. The whole metal chest melted into a puddle. A second later, the metal morphed and changed into a bit smaller chest with a three different combination lock.
What the hell? I cocked my head confused. I felt a massive drain of energy escaping from my body. Once again, I popped in another gold coin and felt a bit of my energy come back.
Click. Click. Click.
The chest opened, and a message appeared in my mind.
Created from dragon magic, this chest can not be opened without unlocking all three locks. Number lock, blood lock, and a key. It can magically store a large amount of items in the chest. No one can move or touch this chest without the owner’s consent.
A key appeared onto the ground, and I picked it up. I pulled out a bag of gold coins and placed it into the chest neatly. Taking out a handful of coins, I put it back into my pocket. Closing the chest, it automatically locked by itself.
Well then, my deed was done in finding a unique storage space that I did not know was even possible to recreate. I got up and pulled out the gold coin in my pocket and popped it into my mouth. When I turned around, I noticed Phil standing in front of the door staring at me, crunching the gold in my mouth.
I’m done for.
“D-d-did you just eat that gold coin?”
Though I’m surprised that he did not see me changing the chest but instead just caught me eating a gold coin.
“I’m not sure what you are *crunch* talking *Gulp* about.” Complete fail. I couldn’t help myself from the sweet taste of gold in my mouth that it just naturally happened.
“You did it! I know you did.” Phil glared towards me. Without any fear that I might be some kind of monster, he grabbed my hands and pulled it towards him. He pried my hands open to see a single gold coin in hand. “See! I didn’t see things!”
“Calm down. You’re getting too excited.” I brush his hands aside. The cat was out of the bag, and the only thing to do was act naturally. As if that was easy enough.
“How are you eating gold like it’s some candy? Wait, does it even taste good?” Phil asked curiously. I could tell they had no sense of fear but more of wonder.
“Yep. It tastes great, though I don’t think it would be even possible for you to eat it. It’s metal, you know.”
“I wasn’t going to try.”
“So, why haven’t you asked the million-dollar question?”
“Million dollar question? What does that mean?”
“That’s,” I stopped myself realizing what I had said. In this world, people don’t have any form of currency in dollar bills and instead still used gold. “What I meant is why haven’t you asked me why I am eating gold?”
“Oh. Well, I was a bit too taken aback to see you munching on gold that I forgot.” He lightly blushed in embarrassment. “So, why are you eating gold?”
“Skin problem.” I bluntly replied with a straight face.
“Just think of it like this. My body has been cursed, especially my skin. So I need to eat gold to replenish it to its healthy look.” I showed him my arm, but he stared at me with confusion.
“I never heard an elf eating gold before. You must be some special kind of elf to be cursed…That means you must have accumulated a lot of wealth.” Phil was silent, looking at me warily.
“Well…” I didn’t want to indulge in any more information. I only met Phil for four days now. Him finding out my secret of eating gold was something I did not expect to be dropped like a bomb so quickly.
“Here.” Without thinking, I handed him a gold piece in his hands. “You can have this.”
Phil looked down, confused. His demeanor changed, and he quickly turned angry. “I do not need gold to stay silent. You can keep it.” His voice rose up in a fury.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean no disrespect.” I took back the gold coin and instead popped it into my mouth like it was nothing.
Ah~ The sweet, savory taste of gold in my mouth could not beat any sweet that I know of right this moment. If I could, I would eat more, but I needed to hold back and keep an ample amount if I wanted to stay for two years. Right now, I only had enough for one year.
Phil started uncomfortably. He saw me just eat the gold as if it was candy. “That look like it hurts.” His anger was abated and instead was amazed at what I just did.
“No. It melts like chocolate in my mouth.”
“Chocolate? You say some strange things, you know.”
“You don’t know chocolate?” I gasped in shock. There was no chocolate in this world at all? The thought horrified me. I love apples, but the next second favorite treat was chocolate. This was a sacrilege. I needed to find out if they were any sweet shops around here that even had one. “Just think of it as some kind of candy.”
“So you are a noble, aren’t you.”
“No. I told you I’m not.” This was going in circles again. Does he not get it?
“But you know only nobles have the wealth to indulge on sweet things and even have Ancient Draconic coins. Not only that, you eat it like it’s nothing. That means you must have a large stash somewhere.”
He had a sharp mind, though they were one incorrect thing. I was not a noble but a dragon. Telling him that I was a dragon sounded like trouble brewing in the making. Was this the effect of Double Trouble or just my bad luck? I didn’t know, but I was getting a headache.
“Please keep this a secret.”
“I will. Though what would you do for me?”
Why this little brat.
“What do you want?” I crossed my arms.
“Three favors that you can not disobey later down the line.”
“It got to be reasonable.”
“I understand. I will hold up my end as a gentleman.”
I couldn’t help but eye him suspiciously. The things this guy can come up with could be dangerous if I’m not careful. I made sure to steel myself for the possible problems that he might bring up to me later down the line.
“Fine. Three favors it is.”
“Great.” Phil stuck out his hand to shake. I reluctantly grabbed it. How I wish he took the gold instead of asking for favors that I could not go back on. All of a sudden, I felt a rush of energy from his hand. An electric shock ran throughout my body. “The contract is complete.”
“Contract?” I was stumped at what he meant.
“Don’t you know, when you shake hands and agree, you set up a magical contract between two people. This allows the contract to stay valid, and one can not go against the contract, or they will have a bad repercussion.”
Was this really the case? Did I just sign over my life to him and herald the beginning of my death?
Colored drain from my face. So this was the mind of the demon lord. I have been fooled! My naivety about this world made it that much easier for me to get an advantage, and this made me angry. I needed to quickly learn more about this world, or I would be dragged around without knowing the consequences, especially around him. I need to be careful. I don’t go into some kind of odd contract.
“I see. I never went into a contract, so I wouldn’t know. Though is magic an everyday thing here?”
“No. Magic is not used commonly for everyday use. Magic is for the nobles.” He said with disapproval. “Even though I am part of the noble class, I do not like how things are run.”
“Then how come you were able to use such magic to establish a contract?”
“Well, contract making is a common knowledge in this world, so people normally don’t shake hands, occasionally they do, but it doesn’t always end up in a contract. There are a couple of requirements for it to be fulfilled. What we do though, is a bow to greet one another.”
“Ah, I see.” I thought over what he said. “By any chance, do you guys have a library?”
“Yes, we do, but what for?”
“I would like to read.”
“We don’t have a large collection of books, but we do have a privately owned one if that’s alright with you.”
A knock was heard on the door. A maid pushed in a cart of food that was prepared for both of us.
“Young Master, your dinner is ready.” A young maid with lovely apple color hair bowed and opened up the metal container containing food. She placed it on a table for us to eat.
“Thank you, Margret. Please leave it there.” Phil smiled.
“I’m glad to see you back, young master. We missed your presence when you were gone.” She giggled.
“I missed you too. Thanks for the food.”
I swear I thought they have something going on between the two, but I stopped myself from even asking. It wasn’t my business anyway.
“Please ring the bell when you are done. A maid will be nearby to come pick it up.” The maid bowed once again and left.
“Apple pie, beef stew, and bread. Looks delicious. Come on.” Phil waved me over. I couldn’t help but slowly started to salivate when the smell of food was strong. For a dragon, I seriously did not need to eat whole cows to be satisfied. Eating a human portion in a human body seems to be alright. I just needed to eat nine gold coins a day to be satisfied.
“Apple pie.” I reached over towards it and stopped myself. I should savor the apple pie later and eat the other things first. Taking up the bread, I tore it apart and dunk it into the soup. Taking a bite, I enjoyed the rich taste of the stew. Was it me or stew and bread a norm even in the noble class? I saw it served often and I missed rice.
“When did you even get cursed?” Phil asked. He was sitting on a chair, chewing on the bread.
“You must be seriously wealthy if you have to eat so much gold like that, though you living as a hermit does sound strange.”
“Let’s just keep it at that.”
“Okay. It’s your business.” He shrugged and took a sip out of his stew.
“Do you mind if you take me to the library when we are done eating?”
“Sure. After the stunt you pulled in placing gold in front of my grandfather, I hardly think he will bother you.”
“Why is that?”
“He probably thinks you are some noble now after you pulled out those coins. If you agreed to do manual labor, you probably would have been working as a maid. I don’t know which is more favorable, though. You’re on my grandfather’s radar.”
I sighed. I should have thought this over before I handed out those six coins, but it was too late to take back what I have done.
With the beef stew and the bread completely eaten, I reached over towards the slice of apple pie. I couldn’t help myself but take small bites to savor it. Apple pies are a beautiful creation of desserts. Whoever thought of this dish, I congratulate you for making my life blissful with good food.
Satisfied with eating, I felt full. Eating bread and jerky throughout the carriage ride was not something that I enjoyed. Having warm food in my stomach made it that much more pleasant.
“I’ll take you to the library.” Phil was done with his. He got up and rang the bell for the maid to take the plates away. Leaving the room, we walked a good minute until we arrived in a large room. The whole wall was covered from left to right with books that I have never seen before. Though the number of books in this room did not compare to the books back at the castle.
Reaching up towards the dusty cover, I pulled one out. Opening it up, I examined it hoping for any clues about this world. Instead, all I could see were funny shapes that I did not understand. “Um, Phil?”
“What language is this?”
“Dragoon language. This kingdom’s language. Have you never seen these words before?”
“Dragoon language? How is this dragon language? It doesn’t seem anything like it.”
“You know the ancient language of the dragon race? Dragoon language is human language, it’s not real dragon language.”
“Oh, can you teach me?” I felt shame. The only two people in this world that I could actually count on was him and his grandmother. I was asking for a lot in exchange for a little.
“Sure.” Phil cheerfully spoke.
“You’re not going to ask for anything in return?” I was on guard waiting for him to pull another one of those contracts on me.
“No. I like teaching, plus I like to read as well. Why, do you want to be in more debt?”
My mouth became an ‘O’ shape. I was glad that he did not take any more favors from me. “No. No. It’s alright.”
Phil went over to the desk and pulled out parchment paper and ink. He smacked the edge of the chair for me to come sit down next to him.
“Come on. I don’t have all day.”
I came over-excited. I was only a year old in this world, and even still, my soul and mind was only twenty-five. Though at times like now, I reverted to a kid, ecstatic in learning something new.
For the next hour, until the candle went out, Phil taught me how to read and write. It didn’t take long for me to understand and memorize the alphabet. By the time we were finished, I was already able to read elementary books.
“You’re surprisingly good at this.”
“It just comes naturally.”
Phil yawned. “We should go to sleep.”
“Yea.” His yawn was contagious, and I yawned right after. “You can go. I’m going to sleep here.”
“It gets pretty cold in here.”
“Well, until I finish reading all the books in here. I don’t really want to leave except for taking a bath and eating.”
Phil stared at me in disbelief. “Okay. I’ll see you later.”
Phil left the room, and I was alone. I once again light up another candle and open up a book to read. It was just one more children book for practice before I would go to sleep, but before I knew it, I was out.