They left the bubble that separated the sea from the dry city. They slowly swam to the seafloor and stood next to each other. Tea looked around smiling, she had told him that she had often not been allowed to head out of the dry palace she called home, away from the Seakin's natural habitat. She was still holding his hand as they walked along the sea floor, she had told him that her father would come looking for her if they were gone too long, she told him to act as if he knew nothing and let her be the scolded one if her father ever found out. He walked with her along the lively corals of the Seakin territory protected from pollution and the wrecks of the human territory. They lived isolated and at peace within their own community, it had seemed to Vidian that, the isolated communities lived in peace, unknowing of others and fearing them, like the Seakin had done when he crossed into their lands. She stopped and let go of his hand. He turned around and saw her standing still, smiling as she contemplated the experiences that she had missed in her life. She looked at him and they continued walking, small fish curiously approached them as they walked through the corrals. She seemed happy, free, and everything seemed new to her. She often tried to talk then realized that all that came out were bubbles. She giggled and then continued to walk around with him, the pressure made them stay on the seafloor. She pulled him towards her and placed her hands behind his head, making him look down at her. She smiled and then began pulling him towards her then stopped and gesturing that they should go back by pointing up at the island. He nodded and began swimming back up to the surface, she was still holding his hand. She swam ahead of him, pulling him, she seemed worried, maybe they had spent too much time together, maybe someone had seen them, probably not, but something was worrying her.
They emerged from the water and she hurried, running towards the palace, she let go of his hand and turned to look at him, before running off. He stood there for a second, looking out into the sea, through the bubble. He heard two men running towards him, coming from the direction opposite of where she had gone running to.
"Vidian, where is Lady Tea?"
"I don't know, check her room, I haven't seen her in a while."
"You were seen with her, in the sea."
"You must be wrong," He shrugged, "I went to sea, but alone, someone down the line must be wrong."
"Excuse us, sir, we must be mistaken, but do you have an idea of where she could be?"
"In her room, I guess? I'll check for you," He said as he began walking, "If that is fine with you."
"Much appreciated, tell her father if you find her, everyone is looking for her."
He pushed open the door of her room, she was sitting on a chair with two servants around her, one doing her hair and the other giving her a manicure. He walked towards her and sat near her, "Everyone's been looking for you, apparently, did you tell your father where you were?"
"One of the servants did, so it's fine," They talked as if they hadn't been with each other while everyone looked for her, "Do you know why I am doing this?"
"The hair and the nails? No, why are you doing that?"
"Tonight is a special eve, it's the cycle festival tomorrow, when all the corrals start growing again, it's very important for us, since the fish depend on those corrals, and in turn, so do we."
"It seems like a lot for you, is this particularly special?"
"My birthday is on the same day," She smiled at him, "So, tomorrow."
"You're going to be 20? My age."
"I know, you remembered," Her voice had returned to how it had been before, without an aspect of excitement or nervousness. He smiled and got up, "Where are you going?"
"I am going to find something to do," He shrugged as he walked to the door, "I am not used to doing nothing, so, I guess I'll catch you later."
"Okay," She sighed. A servant walked up to him and gestured for him to lean forwards.
"When Lady Tea is like this, she wants attention, not from us, I don't know why you are here, but she cares about you, maybe you should stay with her," The servant said before leaving the room, leaving him with that decision, to stay with her, or to find something to do. He stood still for a second, and sighed, he turned around and sat down on his bed, looking at Tea, she thought he had left and seemed a little sad about it, letting the servants to prepare her.
After an hour or so, the servants finished, and left her, she stayed seated for a while looking at herself in the mirror, she seemed about to cry. She stood up and turned around.
"Yeah, I am Vidian, what's up?"
"I thought you went to do something else, didn't you? How long have you been sitting there?"
"I didn't leave, since one of your servants told me that when you were like this, you were looking for attention, so I gave you mine," He smiled, "Do you get presents for your birthday?"
"I do, I also get shown all the men 'worthy' to marry me, like last year and the year before."
"And you haven't chosen one yet."
"I have, but I don't know if he wants to, he isn't in the actual list of worthy men," She shrugged, "Can you stay with me tonight?"
"During the celebration, since I don't want to deal with drunks or anyone too pushy, since they all want to flirt with me, especially the two Aqwatos."
"Well, if that is all you want, sure, I can do that, but don't you want a little more?"
"Not today, you have something important tomorrow, so I don't want you to be tired."
"You seem confident that you'll tire me."
"Will I not?"
"It depends, but forget it, forget it, I guess you will have a different dress tonight?"
"Yes, it's similar, but I don't wear that one every day."
"I am sure it'll look good on you."
"Thank you, Vidian, I wouldn't have thought you would be this kind, only knowing me for so little."
"You did move on me first, I just responded, and I abandoned my idea of not getting attached in my last works."
"What does that mean?"
"I have a brittle heart, that I discovered, nothing else," He smiled at her as other servants walked in, "I guess you have more preparations to do."
"Sir Vidian, Leader Wavanti wants to see you, follow me."
"I'll catch you later, Tea."
"Bye," She was smiling now, her emotions seemed to swing very quickly. He followed the Seakin servant down the hallway. He stopped and then four armed men circled around him. The Seakin servant drew a jagged blade and turned to Vidian.
"Who are you, human?" The man snarled, "What do you want with Lady Tea?"
"I am only here for the works of your god."
"No, that can't be your only reason, you are here to corrupt our people, to corrupt our leadership, to steal her innocence," The men were armed with two blades, sword like blades, with needle like spikes on the blade, "You lie."
"What would you do about if I was?"
"You will die, here, and no one will remember your name, you won't be her husband, that is for another man, not you."
"Try me," The men closed around him, "If you want to die," A man lunged with a blade crashing down towards him. He lifted his arm and stopped the blade. He moved his hand to the man's waist and flipped him over his body, landing him on his back on the hard floor. He turned, barely ducking under a swing. He charged forwards and drove his shoulder into the Seakin's stomach and brought him to the floor. He changed one of his fists into a blade and slashed the man's neck and left him dying on the floor. He rolled off of the man and dodged a downwards strike from the servant with the dagger and rolled towards him, grabbing his leg and bringing him down. He mounted him and went to kill him before a blade bounced off of his shoulder. He jammed his fist in the man's chest as he got up, leaving a massive wound under his right shoulder. He got up, rage in his eyes, and walked towards the man, who held both of his blades up. He went forwards and brought both blades in different spots, one at his knees and the other at his neck. Vidian leapt forwards, dodging the blades and tackling the other man. He rolled on the landing, getting up and parrying the second man's attack. He twisted the blade out of his hand and it crumbled as he held it. He slammed his fist into the man's chest and then hurled him at a wall. He caught the servant's blade toss between his index and middle finger and the blade crumbled. He created a thin, hook blade and walked towards the servant. He lifted his arm as the last man jumped onto his back and blocked his arm. His arm lit up with markings and he swung it violently down and slashed the throat of the servant as the man on his back slammed on the floor. His arm created a tentacle spike that grabbed the man who was at the base of the wall and brought him closer and then tightened, with the man flailing his arms and clawing at the tentacle as he faded away and his beat went dead. His body dropped to the floor, limp and he turned to the downed man and held him by the neck with one arm.
"Don't mess with something you don't know," His arm bound around the man's arms with a tentacle, "Who is this man for Tea?"
"Tell me, I'll break every single bone in your body until you spit it out, if you do, you'll die swiftly, which do you chose?"
"Go to hell!"
"Does Yuihaky Aqwato like me that much?" Tea was standing in the hallway a little bit away from the dead bodies, "Enough to send men to kill a man who just came and who is staying with me? News spreads fast, doesn't it?" Her voice was cold and eerie, "I'll tell him to go to hell instead."
"How can you tell who he works for?"
"The tattoo under his eye, the same one that his family has, but they have it under both, the servants have only one," She walked over the dead bodies, "Kill him, slowly, don't give him a swift death," Vidian turned to her and nodded, "I'll be in my room, I'll have the servants clean this mess."
"You have to talk to me about that family, and why they would do this to get your hand," Vidian said as his tentacle spike slowly wrapped around the vulnerable joints of his body, ankles, wrists, knees and elbows, "You'll hear him scream."
"Good, have fun," She had a wicked smile, "I'll want you to explain his death, I have things to do, I only came because of the noise you lot were making," She turned and walked back down the hallway, "See you later, Vidian," She turned into her room and the tentacle spike tightened, and then twisted the joints as the man began to howl in pain. Vidian strained his arm as the limbs snapped entirely, bones and joints, the man stopped screaming as the pain was too much. The tentacle curved back and jammed itself behind his head, emerging through his mouth. Vidian recalled his tentacle spike and the man fell, dead and bloody, to the floor. He looked down at the men and walked back to Tea's room, she had said she wanted to talk to him.
She was lying on her bed on her side, with her hand resting on her side, she faced him as he entered the room. She smiled, not a wicked smile, but her normal, innocent smile. She tapped on the bed in front of her, gesturing for him to sit down.
"I would've never guessed that you had a dominatrix side."
"Was it a little too much?"
"No, I kinda like it, but, aside from that, you said that you found someone, who was it?"
"Did I say that?"
"Yeah, and that he wasn't on the worthy list, who is it? Maybe I could try to make him worthy if you want," Vidian said as he sat down near her, "Only if you want."
"How would you do that?"
"My work tomorrow is pretty crazy, I have to submit the Abyssal Lord, the strongest abyssal."
"I could have him 'help me', he wouldn't get hurt but he would still have the glory," Vidian shrugged, "Unless you think that is too crazy."
"No, no, it's fine, it is better if you just focus on your quest, you don't need to, it's fine, but I wanted to talk to you."
"Sure, go ahead."
"The person I want to marry."
"Um, what? I don't think I heard that right, what did you say?"
"The person, I, I, I want to marry, is, is, is you," She stammered as she sat up and looked away from him, blushing. He looked at her blankly.
"But, I can't."
"Why not? Do you not love me?"
"I never said that, but I can't marry you, I can't do that, I am not staying here, I have a quest, I have something to do."
"Why not? Are you in that much of a rush?"
"I don't want you to be sad, if I, um, if I die."
"Do you not love me?"
"I do, I already told you, but I can't marry you, here, I have an idea."
"If I return from my quest, I'll come see you, then, we'll see, okay?"
"You are going to make me die of eagerness."
"Is that possible?"
"I don't know, I never tried."
"And about this, um, Aquwo guy?"
"I'll deal with him in a bit, it starts at sundown."
"Well, we should get going, right?" He got up and held out his hand, "Joining me?" She looked at his hand and then at him and giggled, "What?"
"I guess," She took his hand and then let go of it, "Can't have my father see this, thank you for today though," She whispered something in his ear. He looked at her and she nodded, he smiled as they left the room, "Can you be my guard tonight?"
"I normally have Seakin, but I don't feel as safe as I normally do."
"Okay, sure, I'll do that."
"My lady," A servant greeted them at the door, "The celebration will start soon, your father wanted to walk with you."
"And my mother?"
"She will be there as well, of course, my lady."
"Did you find father's list?"
"Yes, I couldn't copy it but I can tell you what is on it, my lady."
"Go ahead, Jeela, tell me who is on it."
"Yuihaky Aqwato and Hentoba Aqwato."
"Rentyibo Coralis, then there is Gillo Abyssal."
"Never heard of him, who is this Gillo?"
"He is part of a family that join the Seakin rule, a Sharq, sort of half Seakin, half shark, he is the son of the head family, a skilled warrior, he is called Gillo, but he took Abyssal for having killed an Abyssal, one of the Swarm Abyssal."
"Meh, tell the guards that I'll have my own tonight, I don't need them, and did you clean the hallway?"
"Yes, it is clean, as you can see, my lady, your father saw nothing," She bowed her head. They entered the throne room where her mother and her father were waiting for her, "My Lord, my Lady, your daughter."
"Thank you, you can have the night off," He walked up to Tea, "You are beautiful, my daughter."
"Tea, this is the stranger that is living with us? Are you bringing him along?"
"Huh?" Her father raised his eyebrow, "We had some ready for you."
"He'll do," Tea smiled, "Let's get going, you are beautiful, mother."
"Thank you, you are gorgeous."
"You, Vidian, if anything happens to my daughter."
"I'll be responsible, I know, nothing will," He smiled, "The blessing of the Conqueror is built with the Work of Protection, among others, so I can handle myself, you need not worry."
"If a god saw in you a worthy defender, then you are good enough for me," He looked relieved, "Let us go, I have to open the celebrations."
"Are you ready, father?"
"He's been reviewing it all day nearly," Tea's mother joked, "I think he is."
"Not all day, but this is important, it's our daughter's birthday," He said as they walked down the tunnels that lead to the largest part of the aquatic city, "The guards are on alert, if an abyssal attacks, it could go bad."
"It won't, I can get rid of them."
"Well, I guess you did kill one, I guess you can have a seat next to Tea, as her bodyguard."
"She decided that," Vidian laughed as they arrived in the largest dry zone in the city, "This place is massive, what in the world," The four sat down at the table at the head of the room, slightly elevated above the rest of the room. Vidian was seated on the side of the table, nearest to Tea. Her father stood up and cleared his throat, everyone turned to listen.
After the speech, he sat down and food began coming around, tables were filled as the servants placed countless amounts of plates on the tables. Her father gestured to a servant and whispered in his ear. Vidian kept his sight where he could see Tea, his left arm was hidden on his lap, ready to morph. She sighed and began eating, she was going to be presented, as she told him, possible husbands.
"What do you think about this Gillo?" She turned and asked Vidian.
"I don't know, I kinda want to test his strength."
"Can I bet on your strength?"
"Sure, how so?"
"If you lose in arm wrestling, he marries me?"
"Um, sure why not, the Blessing of the Conqueror will make me win if I need to," He smiled, "If it excites you, go ahead."
"What are you implying?"
"Nothing, Lady Tea," His eye stopped a man, with two tattoos under his eyes walk up to the table, "There is the man that wanted me dead."
"My lord, I came to ask for the hand of your daughter."
"Well, you were one of my."
"Go to hell, Yuihaky, you don't get that privilege of even being a contender for my hand."
"Tea, don't talk like that."
"This is my choice."
"Very well, well, Yuihaky Aqwato, you won't be able to get her hand this year, I apologize," Yuihaky bowed and left, glaring at Vidian, "What is this about, Tea?"
"You should've asked him," She rolled her eyes, "And tell his brother that he can give up already," She said pointing at him, "He is the same blood, not doing that."
"You are very picky, Tea."
"I am getting married, of course I am."
"Rentyibo Coralis, how are you today?"
"I am fine, My Lord, I am here to ask for the hand of your daughter, as you might expect."
"You have to see what she thinks, maybe she will accept, maybe no, she is picky," Rentyibo kneeled in front of where she was sitting. He looked up at her and opened his mouth to speak.
"I haven't asked anything yet."
"I don't want to marry you, I already made up my mind."
"Of course, Lady Tea," He got up and went back to his table. A half human, half shark, slither up to their table.
"Gillo Abyssal, what a pleasure to have you here."
"Honor," He said coldly, "I came to ask for the hand of your daughter."
"Uniting our two people would be clear with the marriage of the eldest son of the tribe and the only daughter of the Seakin lord."
"You are right, I think you have a-"
"You can have my hand if you prove your strength."
"Of course, if you need more than killing an Abyssal," He smirked, "What is this test?"
"There is another man here that has slain an Abyssal."
"Really? Where is he?" He turned and looked at the room, "I am dying to find a Seakin who is as powerful as I am."
"He isn't Seakin."
"Ah, the stranger, that human," He turned and his eyes flew to Vidian instantly, "I heard of your show of strength, come," He gestured with his hand, "I am dying to see your strength," Vidian stood up and walked down from the small, elevated platform and stood in front of Gillo, he was slightly taller than him. He scanned Vidian and laughed, "You doesn't seem very strong, how can you dare even try to defy me? You'll lose and I'll have her hand."
"You're cocky, my friend, but what makes you so confident?"
"My muscles are built to nearly never tear, too much strain, yours tear, and then you have no more strength, humans are similar to Seakin, I've killed both," He grinned wickedly, revealing sharp teeth, "Nothing stands before me, I killed an Abyssal alone, you only wounded one, you aren't as well build as I am, I am better, simple as that, the gods gave me real power, you, you just have a pathetic body, even if you are her bodyguard, I'll make sure you can't serve anymore of tonight."
"Lady Tea, what challenge does this guy have?"
"I was thinking of something like arm wrestling."
"Of course, Lady Tea, then, Gillo, you've heard her request, do you accept the challenge?"
"Take a guess," He smiled, "Where are we going to do this arm wrestling?"
"Clear a table," Tea gestured with her hand, "Come on," A group of Seakin stood up giving them a place on a table, "Don't break the table."
"I'll beat him before, my lady," Gillo sat down on the bench in front of Vidian, "Left or right?"
"Left then," He smiled as if he had already won. Vidian put his arm on the table and Gillo did the same. They locked hands and held still, "Who's calling this?"
"I will," Tea said as she walked down towards the table, "It is for my hand, nonetheless," She sat down on the edge of the table, "3, 2, 1, start," Both their arms tensed, blocked in the initial position, neither of them moved. Gillo's arm was completely tensed, defining it entirely, from hand to shoulder. Vidian, on the other hand, wasn't going red because of strain and simply resisted Gillo's strength. The room was silent as the two of them output immense amounts of strength. Vidian's arm slowly began moving down towards the table, losing. Tea tried to keep her worry hidden. Vidian allowed his hand to nearly touch the table before slowly straining, defining his arm in turn, and slowly forcing against Gillo's attempts to finish him. He stared Gillo in the eyes as he forced his arm back to the initial position and began tilting it past the initial position.
"How are you this strong?" Vidian slammed Gillo's hand down, "I lost, well, I'll accept it, next year, I'll try again, I have finally found someone stronger than me," He stood up, "I want to hunt with you one day, maybe take on an Abyssal."
"You are strong, but I am no normal human anymore."
"Thank you for giving me this chance, Lady Tea, I'll try again another day," He bowed and slithered away. The rest of the evening went smoothly.
After the evening, they headed back to the room. She shoved him onto the bed, hurling him back onto the bed. She placed herself at the edge of the bed and slowly began crawling over him. She said nothing and looked at him, gazing into his eyes. Vidian let her do what she wanted, until she was lying completely on him. He turned her onto her back and was now above her. She looked up at him smiling, she had regained her manipulative aura, "You are really strong, did you use any of that magic of yours?" He shook his head, "Did you try to impress me?" He didn't answer and moved down and began kissing her neck, "Answer me," She said weakly as he continued, "Don't ignore me," He stopped and looked down over her.
"No, I just did want you told me," He moved his hands behind her back and untied the back of her dress. She noticed it and smiled at him before shaking her head. She pushed him off of her and she gestured for him to sit on the side of the bed, "Now what?" She placed her finger on his lips and untied the dress herself, standing in front of him, it fell to the floor. She sat down on his lap and pulled him into a kiss before he could comment anything.
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