Author's Note: I don't remember taking a proper break in a while and I'm feeling a bit burned out lately, so I need some time to recharge. I'll stop writing for two weeks.
In the first week will be mostly resting, but I'll still try to write the first Interlude then.
In the second week, I'll be continuing the review of the earlier chapters that I'd stopped some time ago. I really need to fix them because they're really bad in comparison to how I'm writing now.
We pass through the Lord's [Eternal Gate] hub, with Yunia sending a wistful look towards some of the portals. They'll all be ours to explore soon enough.
We exit into the main hall of the castle: a huge room covered in white velvet. Painted statues of all of the previous Lords of this castle populate the walls of the hall, with stairs to its "branches" positioned between each set of statues while the ceiling is decorated with a painting of the usual elven-like patterns.
The portrait of the Este family that was above the doorway is now gone, stored away along with the portraits of all the previous Lords. His painted statue and that of his wives have been added to the hall, though, and we stop briefly so that Yunia and twins can approach them.
I look around and notice that all of the statues have completely white eyes.
Yunia's gentle voice whispers into our minds, "It's so that they can't judge us with their gaze. Their presence is to remind us of their existence, but each Lord is only responsible for his own rule."
She stops before Mavel's statue and lays her hands on the twins' shoulders.
Mavel Este appears kind and calm with a faraway look, but his puffed out chest and his hands behind his back exude confidence.
Two similar-looking women with sharp features and square jaws flank Mavel, his wives. The younger one has a hand on his shoulder and her head turned towards Mavel; that's Amarils. The older one holds a staff and has a stern expression with her head turned exactly towards where Yunia stands, that's Zaleia.
The trio stares at their parents in melancholy, but that slowly shifts into determination.
Yunia actually did it, she has acquired the "True Noble" title, and now, together, we'll begin our conquest of the hearts of every humanoid. Our names will be sung throughout the ages and immortalized through epic tales. We'll slowly wipe away the shame of her parents' deaths by replacing it with the glory we'll earn.
Yunia squeezes the shoulders of the twins, then she turns around and leaves. Her heart hurts from the wounds of loss, but the healing has already begun and is progressing smoothly.
The twins follow her a moment later, and we leave the castle.
We walk along a short and fluffy grass lawn that feels like pillows under our feet, and it's even better this time, with us wearing delicate elven shoes, than it did back when we were wearing our shabby boots.
Beautiful hedge sculptures of small monsters and animals flank the comfy path, but most of them are more cute than beautiful.
We reach the dark bark wall separating the private gardens from the inner circle of mansions, then we enter the gatehouse and climb up a set of stairs towards the top.
We exit onto a wide and lavishly decorated balcony that was specifically made for announcements.
Servants prepare chairs for all of us, and we take our seats. We watch as the plaza fills with guards and servants, all neatly organized in rows upon rows. There must be at least a few hundred people here, but I don't know how to accurately count crowds.
We wait for a short while, discussing with Confiel about what he intends to announce. Then they finish assembling, and the battlements before us lower, revealing us all to the crowd.
Murmuring immediately breaks out, and the gaze of every single elf falling on us makes some of the girls nervous. I don't really feel it that much, but Lina definitely just wants to disappear, so we give her a reassuring pat through [Bind] to calm her down.
Confiel stands up, and everyone immediately goes silent. A servant hands him a magic tool that he presses against his throat, and his voice projects far and wide as he announces, "Sirs and Dames, servants and guards, protectors of the Lordship. The awaited time has come, the new Crown Lords of the Western High Forest have finally arrived." He turns around and motions to us. "Please rise so that your subjects may see your faces."
Oh, great. I have to act pompously again.
I give him my best smile, then we stand up and walk towards the edge of the balcony.
I stop beside Confiel and see the elves squinting, clearly trying to get a better look at me, specifically. Only the ones in the front rows have a good view of us, but everyone will get a proper look soon enough.
Confiel faces the crowd again and continues, "This man and these women" -I really like how he didn't single out Aoi as a monster, though I know the crowd doesn't understand this nuance- "have conquered the dungeon Legado, the tomb of the God-Ruler Arreira, and they came back with more than just the title of 'True Noble.' They've acquired subjects, land-bound Chimeric spirits that haunt airships, and they'll be coming here soon to serve the new Lord."
The crowd immediately erupts into murmurs, so he pauses to let them process the news and get their emotions back under control again.
After a short while, he lifts his hand, silencing the crowd almost instantly, and continues, "You may be oath-bound to me, but I order you to serve Escanso's new Lords until they can acquire their own servants. Now, meet your temporary masters."
He motions to me, and I press the small gem against my throat, then I introduce myself, "I'm Wolf Ryder, a commoner blessed by the Goddess of Knowledge, and a Scholar of Rabanara. May we keep the peace in these turbulent times." I nod respectfully, then I lift my draconic hand, allowing all to see its shiny, mirror-like scales. "As you can see, something happened to me inside the dungeon, and I ask that you be understanding of my condition. Everything will be explained in due time, but for now, meet my harem."
We wait for the murmurs to die down again, and Alissa rises next. "I'm Alissa of the Blinding Arrows and also blessed by the Goddess of Love. May we protect each others' safety."
Then Hana introduces herself, deliberately making her voice boom so loudly across the plaza that I think even the men on the wall can hear her. "I'm Hanafuria of the One Thousand Strikes and Wolf's protector. Let our time together be great!"
Roxanne uses a sultry and mischievous tone to say, "I'm Roxanne, his precious lover and most reliable mage. Let our time be lively and pleasant."
We tried to convince her to say something other than "precious lover," but she was surprisingly stubborn about it. At least she didn't say "wife" or "fiancée" because we don't want to announce that just yet… I still need to ask for Yunia's hand in marriage.
Ciel's smile is genuine and bright, and her "Charisma" seems to be having a subtle effect on the elves. "I'm Ciel, a healer and priestess. I pray that our future is bright and peaceful."
Lina nearly freezes on the spot, but her brain enters auto-pilot, and she parrots out her rehearsed lines, "I'm Lina, enchanter and defender. Let us learn from each other."
Yunia grabs the attention of the crowd as much as I did, and some of the elves even recognize her. Her voice is calm and crystal clear since she's very used to situations like this, "I'm Yulania, former Chosen Descendant of Mavel Este, and I've returned to my home." -The murmuring explodes as the elves seem to be shocked about her return- "Help me bring stability back to the High Forest."
The murmuring returns as they think that the introductions are all over, but then Aoi spreads her wings for a moment to call their attention to her and loudly starts her introduction even though they haven't given her the proper silence yet, "I'm called Aoi, and I'm an Azurite dragon. Don't treat me as a pet as I'm smarter than most of you."
The crowd is stunned into silence, and I smile inwardly. It might actually be fun to announce my new race and Aoi's conversion to other people.
The murmuring returns with vengeance, and Confiel and Luz seem quite amused by the situation, but Confiel doesn't give them much time to talk and orders, "It's time to return the proper respects!"
The crowd approaches the balcony and stops for a few moments to get a better look at our faces, then the first row bows and orderly disperses, allowing the next row to come closer for their turn. Considering that the crowd has dozens of rows, this will take a few minutes.
The twins rejoin Yunia, and Mimi rejoins Hana. Bastico gets up and approaches us, then he hesitantly asks, "So… why do you have a Living Armor that looks like Yunia following you…? And also two floating dolls…?" He glances at Jarn and the doll golems confusedly.
"They're golems. Think of them as permanent summons," I tersely explain.
Bastico spares Jarn another glance, Yunia's sharp and stunningly beautiful face seems like a perfect fit for the silent and serious guardian. "And why does she look exactly like Yu?"
"Because she's beautiful," I state matter-of-factly, and Yunia tries to suppress her smugness from leaking through [Bind].
"Well… I can't argue with that…" Bastico admits and shrugs as he smiles wryly, then he looks at Jarn's chest and frowns. He turns around and stares at Ciel's chest for a brief moment, then he winces back when my big, scary, and shiny dragon hand falls on his shoulder.
"What are you staring at?" I ask him flatly.
"I've just noticed something interesting, but I'll keep it to myself," he nervously answers then forces a smile.
It's a good thing that Jarn has taken very well to wearing clothes. I know that she's perfectly copied Ciel's chest, but I still haven't checked if that extends to her pussy, though I know she wanted to copy Hana's muscles and abs.
Does Jarn count as a robot girl? I'll probably be the first man to ever fuck a robot in Rupegia, though I'm almost certain that someone else already did that on Earth.
I focus on Mimi's conversation with Hana while we smile and wave as our temporary Lordsguard gives us their respects.
When Hana's family was split apart, Mimi was made into a criminal slave and given work as an accountant under the empire until she could buy back her freedom. The price was merely symbolic, and it served as a sort of "bail," where the amount varies depending on how much of a danger the given person is to society.
Since her crime was smuggling dangerous and forbidden goods, her price was fairly low, and Confiel immediately bought her freedom once he found out where she was.
"And what was that about Hermann becoming a knight?" Hana asks worriedly.
Klein's shyness suddenly goes away, and she takes a step forward to join the conversation.
"Well…" Mimi awkwardly starts and looks away for a moment. "It seems that Hermann is really good at fighting, and he ended up swearing allegiance to the noble that fostered him."
Luz joins in with a very serious tone, "He demanded such a high price for him that it was insulting to us. He's either a fool, thinks we are fools, or there's a reason that he doesn't want to part with Hermann. We demanded a meeting, and we'll get our answer soon."
Hana frowns in worry and confusion, and we can't even console her properly because we're all just as confused as she is. "And how's Hermann? Is he fine over there?" She asks a bit meekly.
Luz reassures her, "The imperial officers assured us that he's being treated as the law requires for a knight."
I stop my waving to demand, "We'll participate in the meeting when it happens, no matter what."
Luz nods in acceptance, and we return to our waving.
Klein feels like she wants to say something about this, but she just stays quiet, so Mimi moves the conversation on to talking to Hana about our… relationship.
Klein and Mimi have had a chance to catch up, but she still wanted to talk about everyone's sudden shift towards gayness.
"I still like dick a lot more than pussy," Hana proudly states with a smirk.
Klein embarrassedly admits, "I… just really like Hana…" -Osaria gently lays her hand on Klein's shoulder- "and Osaria." She starts to blush heavily.
Mimi raises an eyebrow and questions, "And what about Hermann?"
"I still like him," she shyly admits and sends me a glance.
"I'd never imagined such a thing would happen," Mimi comments, her sharp eyes softened with surprise.
Hana snorts and retorts, "Oh, come on. Klein was obviously horny for me ever since we were small."
Klein finds difficulty arguing against it, and Hana's memories flood through her mind with some very gay moments, even when you consider that they're both women.
They're childhood friends, so Hana's extreme thirst may have had an effect on the development of Klein's sexuality. These kinds of things aren't completely defined from birth, but they aren't necessarily malleable either.
"You were never interested in that sort of thing," Klein comments, trying to shift the focus away from her.
"I guess that's why she never saw the signs," Hana adds with a shrug.
Mimi smiles wryly, and her face softens significantly now that she's realized how her family is slowly coming back together.
Osaria hugs me from behind, and I flaunt a bit by nestling my head against her breasts. She's wearing high-heels that raise her tits to the perfect height for being my pillow.
After a few minutes of smiling and waving, the crowd thins out until only a few rows are left, then a heavily armored elf man comes out through the door to our balcony.
He's wearing a pure, shining white armor that's very similar to Bastico's, though it's clearly less ornate. His golden hair is graying, and his face is full of wrinkles, but he walks with such a poise that I don't need to use [Sense Soul] to know that he has high "Strength" and "Endurance."
Confiel turns around and smiles as he acknowledges him, "Ah, Salbotica. You're just in time."
"Greetings, my Lord," Salbotica hails with a rather croaky voice, then he stops and immediately falls to his knee. "I'm Salbotica, one of Crown Lord Confiel's knights and the one currently responsible for the castle's security. I'm at your disposal, my Lords," he introduces himself while keeping his head down.
"Greetings, Sir Salbotica. I'm Wolf Ryder," I hail back, and since he doesn't move, I quickly add, "please rise."
He obeys and stands up, his posture resolutely straight and stiff. "I was consulting with our mages about the Chimeric spirits that have become your… subjects. I apologize for not being here for your arrival and announcement."
I nod, pleased with his proactive drive, and gently reply, "It's fine, we'll talk about the Chimeras in a short while, so it was good that you got yourself up to speed… uh, I mean, informed yourself about them."
He nods sternly and goes silent until the last of the servants pay their respects. I feel rather happy that he isn't even reacting to Aoi, the golems, me, or any of the many other oddities surrounding our group.
"This is it, Ryders. I'll leave you to your business now. Good luck," Confiel announces, then we share respectful nods, and they leave.
"We'll properly thank you for your kindness to us one day, but I fear that we'll be busy for quite a while," Ciel amusedly muses.
"We'll definitely take you up on your offer, and I'd like to have our duel one day; I'm curious to discover how Wolf has grown," Bastico immediately responds with a shit-eating grin, earning himself a subtle glare from Luz.
Confiel completely ignores him and diplomatically responds, "Take your time. You'll eventually have all the time for celebration that you could ever want."
We chuckle softly, and they say their goodbyes. They also say that they'll send Mimi's belongings through the Gate Network, then they leave.
After they're gone, I call the knight's attention, "Sir Salbotica."
"Yes, my Lord?" He immediately responds.
"Would you like to meet the Chimeras and discuss their accommodations with them? I have a way of getting in contact with them."
He blinks blankly for a few seconds as he processes my query, then he nods energetically, "Yes, that'd be very convenient."
"Come with me, then," I gently order, and we leave the balcony.
We walk towards the castle, and a group of four maids approaches us on the way. Their uniforms seem to be the usual not-bikinis in somewhat more dull colors, occasional simple square cloth aprons when required, and transparent shawls wrapped around their hair.
"Shala!" Yunia happily exclaims and pulls the oldest one into a hug. The woman has a kind and slightly chubby face, and her age seems to barely qualify her as grandma.
"My dame-… I mean, my Lord! Arturus! Antares!" Shala returns the hug with intensity. Even at her age, she has a good amount of "Strength."
The twins happily grin and wave to her.
Yunia extends her arms and the other maids kiss her hands in respectful greetings, then she grabs Shala's shoulders and asks, "Where's Alvira?"
Shala frowns sadly and looks down. "She left. Along with most of the servants. We didn't know that you'd come back," she ashamedly admits.
Yunia smiles bitterly then steps to the side and motions to me. "I've become a Blood Slave. The true Lord is Wolf Ryder, my master."
Shala looks between Yunia and me confusedly, then the maids pale, thinking that they might have just offended us, and bow completely at a right angle.
"It's not necessary to bow," I immediately state, fearing for Shala's back.
"Thank you, my Lord. Apologies, my Lord," Shala meekly complies, and the maids straighten back up. She starts fidgeting, seemingly wanting to come closer, but I don't understand why.
"She wants to greet you, the elven way," Yunia answers my unspoken question through [Bind].
I extend my hand, and Shala immediately comes forward, then grabs it with both hands and bends to give it a very soft kiss, then the girls extend their hands, and the maids start paying their respects, again.
Aoi extends her claws, and Shala hesitates for a split second, then kisses it the same way. She very clearly heard what Aoi had said, and the last person you'd ever want to offend is the big, scary dragon.
They greet the twins, Osaria, and even Klein, who feels very awkward at all the respect she's being given.
Once Shala's finished, Ciel grabs her hand and [Heal]s her. "How's your back?" My angel gently asks.
The old maid becomes flustered but manages to show her gratitude, "T-thank you, m-my-my Lord. I-it's better now."
Ciel smiles and lets her hand go, then graces our ears with an angelic giggle. Yunia and the twins' faces soften as they see the lovable and caring old woman looking so embarrassed.
Yunia approaches her again, and she asks, "Shala, I assume you're leading the maids, then?"
She nods repeatedly as she answers, "Not just the maids, but all of the domestic tasks. While I'm not that experienced at it, there haven't been any guests, so we've only had to attend to the basic maintenance of the castle."
"I see… we'll have to rehire a lot of people, now…" Yunia bitterly mutters.
Salbotica interjects, his serious tone seeming to be his usual way of speaking, "There's a list of candidates with many good choices. As you've requested, they all accept being made into Blood Slaves."
"Oh, that… Alvira didn't accept that condition…" Shala murmurs.
Yunia nods and orders, "I require them all to be called for immediately. Tomorrow, we'll start the recruitment for the Lordsguard, so the day after that will be for interviewing the candidates for higher positions."
Both Shala and Salbotica discreetly look over at me, but I say absolutely nothing as a clear sign that she doesn't need my permission to give orders.
"Understood, my Lord," Salbotica stoically replies and nods respectfully. Shala becomes flustered again and mirrors him, although a lot more awkwardly.
"Shala, could you prepare a bath for us? I'd like to relax," Alissa calmly asks.
Shala quickly recovers and keeps her head low as she responds, "Yes, my Lord. It shall be done. Do you desire anything else?"
"No, thank you." Alissa shakes her head and turns to Mimi, then she looks her straight in the eye. "Would you like to join us for our bath?"
"I'm sorry, but I must refuse. Thank you for the offer," Mimi politely responds with composure. It seems that she has a pretty good idea of what Alissa wanted of her.
"Alright, your loss," Hana adds with a smirk.
Mimi smiles subtly. "I'll just stay in the guests' area."
"Let's explore the castle!" Roxanne excitedly suggests and grabs Lina's hand.
"Can we see the treasury?" Aoi innocently asks. She's been itching to cover herself in some shinies ever since she saw all the treasures that Arreira gave us.
"Arturus, Antares, how about you show them the castle?" Yunia suggests with such a serious tone that it seems more like an order.
"Y-yes, sister," Arturus nervously replies.
Alissa whispers into my ear, filling my mind with wild fantasies that stun me for a moment, then I give her the items she wants and reign the dragon back in again.
We separate here, and I regretfully let Klein and Osaria out of my sight. Alissa goes with Shala towards the bath, the other girls go explore the castle, and Mimi heads off to her new quarters while Yunia, Salbotica, and I go to the meeting room.
Salbotica is Confiel's man, so he should already know some of my secrets. I open a [Gate] to the Chimeras, and we pay them a visit together.
Hall of Fame of Patrons
The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:
Prince Cheamy Spinach.
Lord Andrew Meyers.
Lord Samuel Lim.
Lord Michale Erwin.
Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
Lord Mattirro Draca.
Lord Joshua Tal.
Lord Joxsan Herrera.
Lord Sean Drake.
Lord Brody Haugan.
Lord Mike Bartter.
Lord Cardinal Steiner.
Lord Alexander Nduka.
Noble Salty Panda.
Noble Mild Fracas.
Noble Shawn Plumley.
Noble War God.
Noble Andreas Jörgensen.
If you'd like to support Rupegia, you can become a patron at: www.*******.com/manasong
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