A few months went by, and I have not spotted Elcro anywhere at the Academy. Throughout the months, I studied and continued to increase my magic knowledge. Every week, I even went to teach my magic on coding. The rooms were always full, and the faculty members would always come by to learn. Not a single person dropped out.
Where was Elecro when you actually needed him? I couldn’t help but feel that he was actually avoiding me. I heard rumors of him throughout the city, but the information was always a day old. This game of tag was getting old fast, and I was getting frustrated.
I posted signs, dropped words for his supposed friends, and even scored the whole Academy in the hopes of trying to find him, but so far, not a single clue. Things were just getting out of hand, and I felt a bit overly obsessive to find this one guy. I’m no stalker, I just needed to talk to him to get more answers, but it seems life was not playing out in my favor.
“Berry!” Crow flagged me down with excitement. He ran up next to me with a broad smile plastered on his face.
“Crow?” I turned around to see him panting, trying to catch his breath. For someone so athletic, I couldn’t help but wonder if he sprinted over.
“I’m so glad I found you. I seriously thought I wouldn’t be able too. You walk way too fast.”
“Yea, you didn’t notice? You’re literally like flying across the hallway? Are you in a hurry to get somewhere?”
I was silent. I wasn’t sure what I should tell Crow.
“Something has been bothering you? I can tell you know.”
Crow was quite intuitive. The reason why I was running was because I thought I saw Elcro walking down the hallway. The question was, how did Elcro even get access to the Academy. People couldn’t just waltz in here without a pass. Even the twins couldn’t find his name, making this whole cat and mouse annoying.
“Are you sure?” Crow was rubbing his hand worriedly, staring at me.
“Yes. Thank you for worrying about me.” I gave him a small bow.
“No. No. I didn’t do much.” Crow was blushing red from embarrassment.
I couldn’t help but think that his action was kind of cute. Still, I felt disappointed that I couldn’t find Elcro anywhere.
“Well then, I’ll take my lea-”
I stopped confused at his sudden outburst. He grabbed my shoulder.
“I was wondering…if you could hang out with us for a while.” Crow bashfully said.
“Us?” I asked. He looked so cute, I couldn’t say no.
“Yea.” Crow twiddled his fingers in front of him. “Raven and I.”
I thought it over. Getting to know the twins wasn’t a bad thing at all, plus I had nothing else to do for a while. The class was over, and today was my free day. “Sure,” I replied.
“Great!” Crow excitedly stated, he jumped up in delight.
Is it me, or is he a little too excited? I couldn’t help but tilt my head at the sudden jolly outburst. He suddenly grabbed my hands and pulled me through the hall. We ran out of the school building door and eventually made our way towards the front of the school campus.
“Wait! Wait! Wait!” I called out. My wrist was slightly stinging from the rough pull. “You’re pulling too hard on my wrist!”
“Ah-” Crow suddenly stopped and dropped my hand. “I’m so sorry. I was just too excited that I forgot that I was too rough.”
I rubbed my hands and gave him a gentle smile. “It’s alright, but what’s the sudden rush?”
Crow’s eyes brightened up on cue. If he had a dog ears and tails, I swear he would look like an excited puppy. “We have some tickets to the Autumn Festival.”
“Autumn Festival?” I was confused. Maybe I was stuck in the castle for too long that I completely forgot about the festival that was in progress for the next three days. It was a festival similar to harvest festival or Thanksgiving back on Earth, such a thought didn’t hit me until now, making me realize that today was that day.
“Did you forget?”
I was silent, unsure if I should tell him.
“Really?” His eyes became wide.
“I’m embarrassed to say that I forgot.” I looked away.
“It seems so. Well, it doesn’t matter now, come on. Let’s go, Raven is waiting.”
I followed behind him, wondering what my first ever Autumn festival would be like. The moment we came to the town square, everywhere was vibrant with life. The red and orange lantern lights were hanging up on lines. Already it was becoming dark, and the lanterns gave off a beautiful soft glow. Music played through the crowded town square with vibrance. I couldn’t help but slightly bounce in rhythm to the musical notes that were playing all around us.
Delicious smell of lamb, chicken, and roasted beef lingered through the air, making my throat salivate with hunger. Tents of different colors were pitched up on all sides as far as my eyes could see. Everywhere I looked, there was always Something new to look at. Gaming stands, people selling delicious hot food, kids running around with small flags, and colorful fish kites sold not too far away from my right.
If I could have an extra pair of eyes, this would be the best time for it, I just couldn’t stop looking around me with awe. From right to left, I could see people from different races wearing similar costumes that the people of this world wore.
It reminded me of ancient medieval clothes mixed with traditional Japanese clothes. The strange combination made me tilt my head, wondering where such a strange fashion sense came from.
Up ahead, Raven was in a beautiful dress that seemed to hug her voluptuous body. I swear the amount of curves on her made every male turn their heads towards her. They were sneaking in glances that made me shake my head.
“Raven!” Crow waved Raven down. She turned around with a smile that even I rarely see plastered on her face, but when she saw me stepping out from behind Crow, it dropped into a scowl. I wondered why she disliked me, so far I haven’t come to a single conclusion as of yet. All I could do was silently wait for Crow to speak out first.
“Raven, Berry came to join us today.” He happily crowed in excitement.
“I see.” Raven gave him a dry reply.
“What should we do first? Should we go try the test of courage or maybe eat Something?”
“Whatever you want.”
“Then, the test of courage it shall be!” Crow pointed towards the direction of where we needed to go. He strutted forward in excitement as we made our way towards a large tent.
It was a giant brown and red tent that towered around the height of a two-story building. The moment we got close, I could hear the people screaming inside from fear, making even me slightly nervous. One thing that came to mind was the haunted houses that people go to during
Halloween. I’ve never been into one, but it made me curious why such a thing was even put up during the Autumn Festival. Still, I was scared of pants when it came to ghosts, and for someone like me, that was quite embarrassing. Either way, Crow wanted to go in, so we came forward towards the tent door.
A young adorable humanoid male beastkin with cat ears stood up with his hands crossed in front of him. He pouted when the customers passed him and rubbed his head.
“Hey! Don’t rub my head! I’m not a kid!” He threw up his fist in anger. The customer smiled and went in without taking much to the young beastkin’s shout.
“Salim!” Crow waved and came over with excitement.
Salim turned around and saw Crow, he gave him a smirk. “Why if it isn’t the trouble maker Crow. Are you here to test your courage, or are you here to show off to the two beauties behind you?”
“What are you talking about? I’m here for the test.”
Salim chuckled. “I highly doubt that.” He raised his cute paw up to his mouth, covering his chuckle.
“At least I’m not being seen as a shorty here, you know.”
“Shorty? Hmph! That’s where you are wrong. I am a grown man, and eventually, I’ll grow taller than you. So, when I do get taller,” He smoothly transitioned over towards Raven and grabbed her hand. With a gentle kiss on the back of her wrist, he smiled. “I would like to date Miss Raven.”
Raven didn’t flinch and gave him a curt smile. “If you do, maybe I will.”
“See that!” Salim snapped his finger at Crow. “I still got the charm.”
“Hardly, she sees you as a pet.”
“Watch your tongue brat!”
Crow ruffled his hair. “If you say so.” He whistled and grabbed my hand, pulling me in through the tent. Once again, he couldn’t help but frown at the rough treatment.
“Hey, my words are true!” Salim cried out from behind.
“Yea. Yea.” Crow waved his free hand above his head.
“Don’t forget! If you succeed in passing through the Test of Courage, you’ll win five gold coins! So far, no one had come out the other end and instead ran away before finishing it!”
When I heard gold coins, my ears perked up. The thought of winning such delicious candy was calling my name. I had to win this and get those gold coins that I wanted to eat, so I let Crow lead me in through the tent in excitement, completely forgetting that I was actually scared.
We both continued to walk through the darkness. I pulled my hands away from Crow’s tight grip. The numbing feeling was starting to finally go away.
“Watch your step~” Crow grabbed me by my shirt, pulling me back before I could stumble into an open hole.
I couldn’t help but be startled at the unexpected hole. “Thanks.”
“It’s a bit difficult to see in this darkne-”
Suddenly ghostly blue lights turned on all around us. A strange metal scraping sound could be heard from the side. I whipped my head to see a man tied up to the table. A scary, rated R scene was happening before me as the person was supposedly getting dismantled by a doctor. Screams could be heard, erupting from the man’s mouth that all I could do was stare in a daze.
The lights flickered on and off until finally, the scene was gone. Instead, the resounding sound of the man’s scream echoed in my ears. I could feel the bile rising up inside my stomach, and I turned away, ready to hurl. Test of courage? This should be a test of holding in your barf!
Even more horror movie scenes were played out as we continued to walk through the darkly lite passageway. Raven was not phased a single bit by the grotesque scene. Right now, she looks like she was just taking a normal stroll in the park, while Crow, on the other hand, seems to be shaking just like me.
Instead, he grabbed my hands into a fist and shook. Yep, I definitely don’t want to be here, watching such a nerve-wracking scene. If I hadn’t been through the terrible goblin invasion and tore through body limbs, I probably would’ve run out screaming at the top of my head. From the looks of it, Crow didn’t seem like he had experienced such a grotesque scene before until now.
All I could do for him was feel sorry for him, I, on the other hand, was half closing my eyes not to see such disturbing scenes. Torture was something that I didn’t want to see or ever go through. Who would?
“L-let’s k-k-keep going.” Crow stuttered. He gripped my hands harder.
“Are you sure?” My face was green. I wasn’t sure, going through any deeper was worth five gold coins anymore. It was already a miracle that I didn’t throw up by now.
All of a sudden, a ghostly female apparition popped up in front of Crow.
“Gaaaaah!” He jumped backward in fright.
The ghost swept through the air and went past Crow. Crow froze up and paled, unable to move. “I-it went through me!”
I nodded, understanding what he meant. Ghost was also not my specialty either, but the special effect here was perfect that one would’ve thought these ghosts were real. That’s what I had to keep reminding myself, right? Oh no, it’s coming back!
The ghost swept, flew upwards in a shrieking voice, and flew back down towards Raven. Raven didn’t move and instead seemed to sigh. Her hands rose up in front of her. With a flick of her wrist, she smacked the ghost across its face as if it was nothing.
“Are you seriously going to be such a fool, brother?” Raven’s voice became deathly cold as she gave him a disapproval. “We didn’t come here to play.”
“Y-you just smacked a g-ghost.” Crow was amazed at his sister’s courage.
“Are you an idiot? That was an illusion magic, you should know better than that.”
“Oh, come on. I know you’re a muscle brain, but seriously? Let’s get on with it.”
“Wait. Wait. Can’t I enjoy a little bit more of this date?”
“Date?” I confusedly stared at Crow.
“Yep.” His grin split into a smile, showing his teeth. “I thought hopefully you’ve jumped in my arms in fright.”
“Quit fooling around. If not, I’m going to start!” Raven rushed forward towards me. She struck a deadly strike towards my neck.
I was able to move just out of harm’s way, though a small red streak of line appeared from where she struck. My steps didn’t falter, I would’ve been able to fully dodge the attack if it wasn’t Crow’s hand that was still holding on to me.
I yanked my hands backward, trying to pull out of his grasp, but he fell towards me. Cursing in my head, I grabbed his shoulder and stopped him in front of me to block from his sister’s attack. Luckily Raven didn’t attempt to harm Crow at all and tried to maneuver around him.
Using every little fighting skill I had, I tried my best to use Crow as a shield. I knew it wouldn’t last long, but this gave me enough time to yank my hands.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Crow grabbed me from the front, hugging me into his embrace.
“What? Why are you doing this?” I squirmed hard. Everything was just happening way too fast for me to understand quickly what was going on. Raven was trying to hurt Crow and me…I wasn’t sure what his purpose was, but I put my bet with his sister.
With a sharp intake of his breath, he breathed in my scent. I felt a sickening shiver run up and down my spine. Was this possibly a rape case too?!
“You smell nice.”
My hands balled up into a fist. Magical energy was swirling around my hand, changing it into a scaly dragon claws. I knew that magic control was horrible in my human form, but for some reason, in my dragon form, I seem to expertly control it without too much trouble. The problem was that the jump between one to the other body made it difficult to control my powers. I had to be eased into it to fully grasp my magical power.
Ice started to form around my dragon claws, and with a quick punch, I aimed directly at Crow’s face. I wasn’t going to get killed or rape today!
Crow let go before my fist could contact his stomach, jumping backward a good couple feet away. Raven leaped over Crow’s head with a black energy sword over her head. I don’t know how she was able to jump with that dress or where that sword came from, but she did it flawlessly.
My scaly iced hand made contact with Raven’s sword, causing a strange clashing of familiar energy. I didn’t like this at all, but it was the best that I could do. Changing into a full dragon form here and now was a terrible idea. I didn’t want to scare off the residences of this city, the best option right now was to escape.
Dancing out of harm’s way, I dove forward towards the rate R scene of death and gore before me. My body passed through the illusion as if it was nothing, and I ran. I wasn’t going to stick around these two crazy heads any longer.
“Where are you going?” Crow chortled with glee. “Our date is not over~.”
“You’re nuts! I don’t date a rapist!” I yelled back with such a loud shout that I was surprised where such a gruff voice came from.
“Rape? What are you talking about? It’s a date!” Crow dashed behind me and was getting closer and closer until finally, he was side-by-side.
I really needed to improve my speed and fighting abilities in my human form. This was genuinely pathetic that my fighting skills were so low. Reality was harsh, and I was not a genius fighter. The best I could do was jumping around dodging and putting in a couple of hits and kicks. Magic was not my forte in my human form either, and my dragon form right now appearing in the middle of the city was a very bad idea.
“Brother, please focus on killing her!” Raven’s hand glowed with magical energy. “Eagle’s claw!”
A burst of black energy of a giant bird claw shot forward towards me at rapid speed. My hands quickly went into my pocket as I threw a high-level C magic stone in front of me. “Barrier!”
The words activated the magic stone, and a pure blue light appeared before me, covering my back from getting shredded. With a swift but powerful attack, the black claw broke through the barrier, cutting the power in half. Even still, the magic came flying my way without stopping.
My dragon hand raised up in front of me as blue balls of ice appeared. In that instant, the ball of ice shot forward, striking the black claw from causing me harm.
“I thought so. She’s the one! The dragon that we heard about!” Crow was excitedly saying. He jumped upwards, and a magical black rope formed in his hand like a lasso, casting it towards me. The rope came falling down around both my arm and waist.
I was not fast enough to break away from the lasso and was caught by Crow. Twirling around so that the rope was wrapped around me, Crow stepped backward and pulled.
I used the momentum of the pull and jumped forward. I did a perfect spinning kick that landed squarely on Crow’s stomach, making him reel backward in pain and stumbled onto the ground.
“Useless, brother!” Raven seethed in annoyance. Her hands took the rope from Crow’s hand and roughly pulled me towards her. I spun around in a circle from the sudden yank and stumbled from the dizzying effect.
With a sickening thud, Raven’s hand snaked in around my chest. I swear I thought I heard my bone snap, and intense pain followed after. Falling over onto the ground in pain, I felt a threatening aura from behind me.
Raven viciously stomped downwards towards my back in the attempt to dislocate my spines. My instinct saved me just in time by rolling out of harm’s way. The throbbing in my chest made me cringe, but it eventually faded away. I was glad that my bones didn’t break and were quite sturdy.
With a harsh tug, the roll was halted, and before I knew it, something hard hit me in the back of my head. Once again, I was welcomed with unwanted excruciating pain, followed by bright white spots dancing in front of my eyes.
All I could do was fumble around, trying my best not to get hurt and stay conscious. My instincts were in overdrive, helping me dodge three-fourth of the strikes and kicks. The other one-fourth connected through, giving me a rough beating against my body, until finally I pulled up an extensive amount of magical energy from my core and blasted it outwards.
The ground froze over, large icicles formed, covering all around me in a protective barrier. The twins jumped out of the way and stood far away from me in alarm. I could now use this chance to gather up the magic as fast as possible before they could attack.
“Why are you doing this?!” I yelled out towards them, trying to stall for time.
“Why not?” Raven replied angrily. “You attempted to kill our father. So before you even kill him again, we’ll kill you first.”
I was utterly lost. Father? Did I really kill someone’s father that I don’t know about? Not to my knowledge that I know consciously that I killed with my own hands. The only real fight was in my dragon body, but during that time, I was destroying the goblins that were invading the beast-kin’s kingdom. Maybe I accidentally squashed a beast-kin warrior in my rampage, but I don’t remember exactly.
Looking at both Raven and Crow, they definitely look human. Nothing about them had the trait of a beast-kin anywhere.
“Who exactly is your father?”
“How could you say that? Did you already forget?!” Raven was seething in anger. “I thought all dragons have impressive memories, but it seems that I was wrong. Your completely stupid.” She scoffed at my intelligence, which I quietly simmered.
“That’s a bit harsh. Seriously, you need to back down and tell me exactly who this father of yours you’re talking about, and how did you even know I’m a dragon? Who told you?”
“Our father did. He said he fought head-to-head with you on that fateful day.”
“Faithful day?” I wasn’t sure what they were talking about, and it was getting stranger and stranger by the minute.
“Yes, the day when he had awoken to this world to wipe out the feeble lifeforms that exist in this world.”
Feeble lifeforms? Awaken? The words were not truly getting through my head, and it made my head hurt.
“The Black King Azazel!” Raven haughtily replied with pride.
“Azazel?!” I shouted at the top of my lungs in disbelief. Then everything clicked. “You’re his child?!”
“What do you expect?” Black wings sprouted out of Raven’s back like a majestic coat.
“You gotta be kidding me.”
Twenty-five years missing in this world was truly brought out the unexpected. A child of the Black Gryphon was unheard of. Even the ancient textbook wrote nothing about legendary creatures conceiving children.
Crow walked over, he was ultimately better, and he too had black wings sprouting out of his back. “Sis, did you have to spit it out so soon? Wouldn’t it be better that she doesn’t know?”
“It doesn’t matter. Berry at least needs to know who is going to kill her. Plus, she’s not going to escape from here at all.” Raven’s hand was once again brimming with power and confidence.
“Wait. Wait. Wait.” I pulled up my hands to stop her. “Are you guys, half-breeds?” I know I was just stalling for time, but this was a question that I wanted to know.
“Half-breeds…” The words gritted on Raven’s mouth.
“Yep.” Crow crossed his arm over his head, nonchalantly. “Half of us are human. Supposedly, the story goes that our mother saved our injured father. They lived together for eight years before we were conceived.”
“Why are you telling them this! That story is taboo!” Raven hissed. “We are not part human!”
“Stop being so cranky. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be part human.”
“This is why the father saw you as trash!”
“Ha? No, he didn’t. He treated both of us equally. I just went through rougher training.”
“Believe whatever you will. Now move it!” Raven was getting annoyed with his whimsical brother.
“You’re very rude. Father loved mother very much, you know. Not only that, but he also saved her many times.”
“Oh, please. That was not saving that was keeping her close as a pet.”
“Why are you so negative about everything?!” Crow threw his hands up in the air with disgust at Raven’s tone of voice. “Not just about mom, even about your whole life? Are you sure you’re not okay? Are you hiding something from me?”
Raven sighed at her idiotic brother and placed her hand on her hip and the other on her head, slightly rubbing it because of a forming headache.
“I can now completely see why dad stated that you took after mother, while I took after father. You are an idiot. An idiot!”
Crow was silently fuming under Raven’s words. Instead, he threw a punch infused with magical energy at his sister. Raven dodged it, a large crater formed on the wall that was behind her.
“Are you a fool?!” Raven screeched.
“Take it back.” Crow seethed in anger. His wings shivered, opening up into its full scale. “Take it back!”
“No, this isn’t a time for this!”
A powerful gust of wind shot out from his wings when he flapped it vigorously in front of him. The wind picked up around him, causing the large tent to sway back and forth. Even the people outside wondered what was going on inside to cause such a rough shake. They heard explosions and yelling, but no one entered because they thought it was just another test that was going on inside.
Watching the two siblings, I couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Their bickering gave me a chance to slip out of the tent. My dragon hand changed back into its original form, and I dashed into the thick crowds of the people.
Staying any longer with the destructive siblings was a very bad idea. Not even a couple minutes later, the whole tent collapsed, causing a lot of people to panic. Either way, I slipped away and headed straight towards the castle.
The supposed festival that I thought I would enjoy was quickly dampened, and instead, the home was the safest place to be right now. Coco’s warm food, Tart’s cheerful laugh, Moca’s sweet cup of jasmine tea, the scribbling of Don’s pen, and even Philip’s mischievous grin was something I unconsciously missed. Holy crap! This is the one time I actually miss the Demon Lord.
Such thought zapped through my mind, completely stunning me. I eventually made it to the castle that opened up its magical doors for me to enter. Out in front of the lobby, Coco gracefully bowed.
“Welcome home, young mistress.”
“Hi, Coco.” I breathed in a sigh of relief. The intense fight back there wasn’t something I wanted to go through any time soon. Living a peaceful and calm life was something that I wanted to do for my whole life as a dragon.
“Are you okay, young mistress?” She peered up towards me with concern.
“Yea. Where’s Tart? Has he come home yet?”
“Tart’s not with you?”
“Well, no,” I remembered that I went out in a hurry that I completely forgot to meet up with Tart. This was my own mistake in leaving Tart behind on such a day.
“That little pup!” Coco growled. She balled up her fist and glared. “When he gets home-”
“Young mistress~” Tart burst through the door with a sweet voice. He ran up towards me with open arms, half crying with a half worried expression.
Suddenly, I saw Coco do a splendid drop kick that made Tart into a pancake. There was one thing that I always admired, Coco’s perfect execution of her kicks that seem to land one hundred percent of the time. Tarts seem to never learn to dodge out of harm’s way and always seem to fall for the same trick repeatedly.
Tart was lying on the floor, groaning in pain. He gave me the most pitiful look, a handsome grown man could give me. If he was the same child the last time I saw him, I would’ve rushed over and coaxed him, but now it’s a bit weird doing that, so I held myself back.
“W-why did you hurt me?”
“Idiot pup. Where were you this whole time? Don’t you see that young mistress is injured?” Coco’s voice roared.
“Injured? Where?!” Tart bolted upright and rushed over towards me.
Wait, how did Coco know I was hurt? I did feel a couple aches and pains on my legs, chest, and arm, but I don’t see any visible cuts anywhere. Looking around, I tried to find where I was supposed to be injured.
Coco walked over with a frown, she lifted my bangs in front of my eyes. Her face scrunched up into anger when she saw something that I could not. “Here.” She pointed towards my forehead.
“Go get me the medicine bag, quickly!”
Tart darted away, leaving us behind.
“I’m okay, Coco.” I tried to console her raging fury.
“No, you’re not, young mistress. I can tell that you went through some kind of trouble. You’re not the type to trip and fall. This wound on your head is from a sharp object. Not only that,” she pushed aside more of my hair and touched a bruised behind my neck. I winced when she pressed down.
“You have bruises all over your body. This is not the only place for a young mistress.” She stated with concern. She was checking every inch of my body, and all I could do was flinch every time she pressed a sour spot. “Please, let’s go to your room.”
I nodded and followed her. We eventually came to my room that was now decorated with dolls and famous expensive artworks. I’m not sure when I started to collect them out of the habit of one day pawning them into gold coins when needed. The whole castle was honestly a treasure trove of items, luckily nobody had attempted to steal anything from the castle.
There’s even rumors, stating that statutes start moving, magical traps activating, and even ghostly guards coming out to fend away the thief from stealing. I don’t know if it’s true, but many Adventurers who came to visit stated such things about the residence, and now it became some kind of fabled legend.
It’s not like the five humans that came out from the Earth were the last ones, they were already over two hundred, roaming around in this world from my understanding. Coco had personally directed them over, though she stated that the number of people coming over was dwindling these past five years.
I didn’t completely understand something about how there wasn’t enough magical energy to power the fountain or something like that.
With an aching body that I didn’t notice until now, I hobbled over towards my large canopy bed with fluffy sheets and pillows that were nicely kept in order. Coco does a splendid job in keeping the castle immaculately clean. I swear, so far, I haven’t found a single speck of dust. I don’t know how she does it.
A couple of maids that I didn’t even know appeared from the door. Did we just hire more maids? I tilted my head confused. They were bringing in a large bucket that could fit two people inside the tub. One after another, hot water was poured in the tub, creating a steamy room.
“I forgot to tell you, young mistress. A couple of years ago, the castle had accommodated us with a couple new maids and butlers. The roaming monsters had changed to human form to serve you.”
I had a bit of difficulty in hearing what Coco just stated. More monsters? Castle accommodated, what? My head is spinning from the sudden influx of information. I knew that the castle had turned Coco, Tart, and Moca into servants as well, and now they were an increase of them running around the castle.
“Fifty, young mistress. Is that not to your liking?”
“F-f-fifty.” I was completely dumbstruck. This was like having a personal monster army living inside the castle. “N-no. It’s alright.”
“I’m glad to hear that young mistress. I needed a couple of maids to help me take care of the castle.”
“I see. I’m sorry for putting you through such a burden.”
“Absolutely not. I serve only you.”
Her words were like honey, my lips curled into a smile. Coco, Tart, and Moca were my favorite people, but they never ever saw me as friends and instead of owner and master. I have tried numerous times to change such a mentality, but it failed horribly. They wouldn’t budge their opinions. Instead, I gave up, even trying.
“Your bath is ready.” Coco motioned me over.
I started to undress, but Coco came over, helping me. “Young mistress. Let me help you. Please do not take our jobs from us. It is our pleasure to serve you.”
I held back in a groan. Being way too much pampered makes me uncomfortable. It’s like if I get to indulge in such hospitality, I swear I’ll probably become fat and lazy!
“It’s alright, Coco. I can do this by myself.” I winced when I peeled back my clothes that seemed to be stuck onto my stomach.
Once pulled, I noticed a huge purple spot and even a couple of cuts streaked from one corner of my belly to the other.
“Young mistress?!” Coco gasped in shock when she saw my body.
I didn’t know that cuts and bruises were this severe. The twins really did a good beating on my body, making me cringe. I was glad that I wasn’t completely black and blue, bleeding my guts out on the side like when I fought the Black Gryphon. His children seem to be just as strong but not as strong as the Black Gryphon himself.
“How? Where did you go to get such cuts and bruises.”
I slipped in the hot tube slowly. The moment my cuts touched the water, I held in a gasp from the pain. Warm water and cut skin definitely didn’t go well together, but getting over the pain was a huge relief that escaped my lips. Yep, hot water was truly the best relief there is for pain and aching bones.
Settling in the water, I closed my eyes to enjoy the bubble bath. “I was attacked.”
“By who?” Coco’s voice was deadly.
“The Black Gryphon’s children.”
“The Black Gryphon’s children? Is that even possible?” Coco asked, she was getting the soap ready.
“I honestly don’t know.” I dipped myself into the water, wetting my hair. Coming out, I started to pour shampoo in my hair, but before I could get started, Coco began to wash it for me.
“This is grave news. The barrier put up around the city shouldn’t allow any of the Legendary monsters to get through. Even the descendants of the Black Gryphon shouldn’t be able to step foot.”
“The barrier. Can you explain it to me? I never really learned about it except from Phil briefly; after that, I completely forgot that it existed.”
“Yes, young mistress. The barrier that is set around the city is a special barrier. From my understanding, your blood has activated an ancient civilization magic. The defensive plant wall is one of the features, and the magic castle is another. I’m not exactly sure how you were able to find this place and contracted with it, but you did. In history, there are many ancient civilizations with old magic out there in the world, but no one has been able to activate it.”
Coco washed the soap away. “From my understanding, the magic in this castle only listens to you. It has the power to convert your magic and tame the necessary amount of surrounding monsters to serve you. When you left the castle, traveled into the other world, the time magic activated, keeping anyone living inside the castle unaging. Not a single one of us grew older unless we left the castle itself. The stupid pup constantly went outside and gained a couple years.
A special invisible barrier is put around the whole city, casting a perfect illusion of magic. I’m not sure how people can find us, but I heard rumors that people who mean no ill will to the city can come through. That includes the legendary creatures. I’m not sure how the Black Gryphon’s children could bypass that. This city is your domain, young mistress. You have control over your home.”
“That’s quite a lot of magic.” I was utterly dazed at the amount of magic that was continually being used unconsciously. I don’t know if I’m a genius or stupid in wasting such a lot of magic. This could be why I felt like I didn’t always seem to have enough magic in my body. I always felt I was only using half of my power and not my full potential.
“Yes, young mistress. You are truly amazing.”
I couldn’t help but blush from her flattery. I don’t usually get compliments, but it was nice to hear, though I reminded myself not to be arrogant and proud. Such thoughts would get me killed if I wasn’t careful. I read many books with the downfall of those characters that died off in some gruesome way or another.
“So the ancient civilization, can you tell me about them? So far, I haven’t found any books on these so-called ancient civilizations.”
“Well, that is to be expected. The ancient civilizations are mysterious people. For some odd reason, text written about them would disappear in a year or shorter, leaving barely any information. Most of the time, it’s spread from mouth-to-mouth.”
“Wouldn’t that be more of a rumor then? The story changes when transferred from person-to-person.”
Coco shook her head. “That is not the case. There is one being in the Divine race that keeps a record in their mind of all the stories of the ancient civilizations. She is called the Priestess of Myst, and every Priestess must learn from mouth-to-mouth the stories of the ancient civilization memorized perfectly. She is the keeper of stories and ancient knowledge.”
“I see. So that was the solution in stopping the nonappearance of the ancient civilization text.”
“Yes. Any new findings about the Ancient Civilization, the Priestess is there at the forefront, learning and memorizing the stories.”
I got out of the tub, and Coco wrapped a white towel around me. Drying myself, I sat down on a chair to listen to her story.
“So, from my understanding, the Ancient Civilization had created the castle and the barrier.”
“Yes. They have been legends that stated that they were the ones that actually created the six legendary creatures that wreak havoc every thousand years. From their powerful magic and technology, they were able to help quell the rampaging races that seem to go to war often.”
“The ancient civilization sounds like they were gods.”
“They are not.”
“Then, do you know anything about the Lady in white?”
“Lady in white?” Coco was thinking over what I said.
“How about the Goddess of Light?”
“The Goddess of Light.” Coco gave off a beautiful smile that even I felt my heart flutter slightly. Coco’s lovely personality and appearance made it that much more appealing to anyone who talked with her, giving a slightly charming effect that I noticed when I was around her. Even Tart had the same charming effect that he would give off constantly without even trying.
“The Goddess of Light is the creator of the universe. She has taken part in many wonderful things, but she doesn’t intervene in the world anymore, and instead leaves her creations to choose their own direction in life.”
“Is there any connection to the Goddess of Light and the Ancient Civilizations?”
“No. She wouldn’t create such things to harm her creations, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Corrupted One might have some connection to the Ancient Civilizations. It sounds exactly like what they would be doing to destroy the Goddess of Light’s Creation.”
“Corrupted One? I’m guessing that would be the enemy?”
“Yes, the Corrupted One, Dark Liar, The beautiful one, Two-Face, and even The bastard.”
“Quite a colorful name.” I chuckled.
“He was considered the lover of the Goddess of Light till he aimed for her position: to become the ruler of the universe.”
“Why does that story sound familiar.” I scratched my chin, thinking over what she had said.
The door was suddenly opened, and Tart ran in with a handful of items that seemed to cover him from head-to-toe. I wondered why he was taking so long to bring the medicine bag, but now I knew why. He seems to bring a mountain of things with him: bandages, scissors, tapes, fresh herbs, multiple medicine bags, a tray of food, and even quite several blankets.
I couldn’t help but stare at the ridiculous sight before me. “Tart?”
“Yes, young mistress?” He straightened up, while a couple of medicine bags fell from his clutches.
“Why so many?”
“I-I didn’t know what you needed to heal yourself.” He stuttered in embarrassment.
The overbearing worry was cute enough that I couldn’t even hate him. He was one of those who worried over and got flustered over it, but he did it out of concern and loyalty.
“Stupid pup. Didn’t you even hear what I asked for?” Coco growled and walked over. He snatched the medicine bag from Tart’s hand. Tart wobbled a little, trying to keep everything from spilling over.
“Never mind. Go put that down.”
Tart listened to Coco’s words and went back out to put everything away. Not too long, he brought over a tray of hot food with chicken soup. The smell tickled my nose as I could hear my stomach rumble with hunger.
“Thanks, Tart. You’re a lifesaver.” I beamed up at him happily. The hunger in my stomach only got louder from the delicious smell.
Coco came over and helped me apply the medicine in difficult to reach places. I could feel a stinging itch familiar to the Health Potion that one would drink, but the medicine content was in a paste form.
“You did one thing right.” Coco curtly nodded towards Tart.
Tarts seem to slightly blush from Coco’s compliment. This was one of those rare instances Coco gave out compliments to Tart. In a sense, I couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of Tart, who always seems to mess up on almost everything except food. His food making skills were professional class. I swear it can even rival a five-star restaurant or even above.
“Are you okay, young mistress?” Tart asked worriedly.
“Yes. Thank you, Tart.” I sighed in satisfaction as I finished eating all the food that Start had made. This was indeed a blissful end of the day.