My head was still reeling from Teia's thanks as the knight and I were walking down the stairs of the keep. I knew she'd thanked me from what sounded like the bottom of her heart, but my stomach still felt like it was twisting in knots at the idea. I was kind of aware that the age of consent was far lower before the 21st century, but to think I had this sort of reaction to it…
My mind told me it was wrong. I don't think I had a choice though, since I can't even imagine what might have happened if Inks had gone on her instead. I'm not entirely sure if she was strictly a Lesbian (as if a hikikomori-turned-normal-worker could keep up with all those terms), but 'convicted pervert' was definitely in there somewhere. Teia definitely needed someone back there, but I seriously have no idea what is going to happen to the both of them.
"Those two girls were real beauties, weren't they?"
"Oh. Uhh, yeah they were both really cute." I said, the idea of beautiful not something I felt like I could even legally say.
"You kidding me? Any man would have loved to have the both of them in their retinue! They not to your liking?"
I couldn't say no, because that could range from 'maybe my own tastes are different' to 'I fucking hate those birds, they deserve death'. The last one was going a bit far, but what with how they had been captured only a few days ago, I seriously had no idea what people thought of Harpies beyond that.
"Maybe the younger is a bit too young, but she still likes me quite a bit so I have no issue."
"Don't have to worry about that too much, she's old enough for you to do it with."
"It's just… where I come from she would need a few more years is all."
"Everyone has sex at some point, you don't need to rush it with her when you already have the older girl. That kid was perfectly fine to drink from, it's not chivalrous to watch another drink is all."
Our walk took us outside the castle into the surrounding village, packed to the brim with Pestials making out their living in the castle's shadow, an assortment of Canines, Felines, Harpies and Rodiens. Rodiens were the general term for humanoid rodents with mice and squirrels being the most common from what I saw, but there were others I wasn't an expert on like voles. Rats were our opponents apparently, claiming the title of Rodiens like the Planar Elves had claimed the Elven Empire as theirs. With a name like 'Planar', I kind of don't blame them.
We took a path to the right of the moat and along the reed-lined riverbank.
"Captain!" The knight shouted, "Here's the Outworlder!"
A rustle in the autumnal reed-brush stood up to reveal a bushy brick tail and a young woman with the top of her dress undone, red blood dripping from the base of her neck as she quickly tried to hide the bite away. Scurrying up the way we came, we must've found a vampire.
Wiping the droplets of blood away from his black beard with a splash of water from the river, Captain Herzt rose up with his ironclad abs on full display.
"Sorry about that, girl had to be taught a lesson." He chuckled for a moment.
"Sir Ash, as you requested." He said, before patting me forward on my back. "If you would excuse me sir."
"Very well Nathaniel," he waved to Nathaniel before reaching into a bag and handing me a set of plain clothes and boots. "Change into this will'ya? Give me those clothes while you're at it."
"Plenty of cover in these reeds. Might want to make it quick though. A few quick breezes and your tackle'll get all shriveled up."
I quickly changed to avoid your embarrassment and handed him back the clothes I used in the keep. I was an NPC now, save my black hair and LN protagonist face.
"Alright, I'm going to head back to the castle. You head the opposite direction."
"The other way sir?"
"Aye, I want you to loop around the castle in any way you see fit. I'm telling the guards that if you don't head back to the Gate Village from the left road, I'll send you out again. There's one more thing I'll need from you today, so head back as soon as you can."
I gazed up at the keep and the castle walls, followed the battlements around to the back and thought to myself:
"By the way, I'll send you round once more if you don't come back panting."
Outside of the breeze it wasn't particularly cold, rather that having nothing more than a long sleeve shirt and an equivalent to sweat pants was the problem. The only way to keep warm was to head into a jog, hoping that it wasn't cold enough for my sweat to freeze in the process. I had gone on hour-long walks before I'd gotten my job, mainly on orders from my parents, and once I had my job it wasn't like I hadn't been exerting myself on the trip to my apartment, but the wind-chill was really fucking cold. The distance was something I could let my mind wander on, trying to figure out what was going to happen from hereout, but thinking and jogging aren't things I can do simultaneously, so I shut my mind off and let the distance pass me by.
Before the bridge around the dozen-meter wide river, I'd disturbed several other vampires with their local prey, but once I crossed there was an eery woodland silence save for the crunch of frozen dew under my shoes. I could probably stave off a few wolves with my aura alone, but those minutes felt like they lasted longer than I'd wanted them to.
Coming across a human village, I was greeted by the aging folk with well-water, although I decided to set off once one said they'd get their 'dutiful daughter', which caused the rest of them to seek their own 'dutiful daughters' out.
Sorry, but I'm not looking for any when I had two girls dumped in my care only this morning.
Once I came back to the opposite bridge, civilization returned with it. The Gate Village was creeping towards me into the afternoon sun, so behind me must've been West or something? Maybe… I don't know. I should ask for a compass. Then the thought of going back popped into my head. Back to Japan.
With a heavily mechanical magic system like this, I imagine it wouldn't be impossible especially since Inks had been cheap with my ritual. I'm very sure that I could go back so the question of whether I wanted to in the first place was more important.
"Hello Sir!" an aging Squirrel said, breaking me free of the thought, a bucket of well water in his hands. I guess I kind of need to help out.
"No Sir, I can carry it just fine. Rather surprised you'd go to such an effort to aid one like mi'self without a word."
I didn't really do charity except when I was in a good mood. Shit, I'm in a good mood.
"You alright Sir?"
"It's fine. Why're you calling me Sir?"
"Oh, I'd heard from the guards that that madman Herzt was training someone new. Your hair… stands out, but you're the only one I've seen running so I was rather surprised that Herzt would be training someone like you."
"Well I'm a bit special honestly. I think someone else said I was the one who came with the vermillion sky or something."
"By Artemis," the man staggered slightly, "You're the one the Demon summoned?"
"I've had that pleasure for a few weeks too many honestly. They finally got me out of studying magic and now I'm being forced to run around the castle by an apparent 'madman'."
"Herzt isn't a madman, he's just… rather unconventional in his training. Comes with the title of Rat-Cap Herzt from how many of those wozzops he's killed, and rightly so!"
"The Rats are that bad?"
"AYE! GRAIN THIEVES ALL! Gutted quite a few back in the old days with me old butcher's knife, back 'fore all the kids got 'relocated' into Vladimir's shadow! They don't make warriors anymore, just cogs in their damn army-" The aging Squirrel prattled on about 'the good old days' of slamming a staircase beam into your neighbor's head to settle things between families. That entire escapade had made his family infamous, leaving only him on the periphery of town to smoke salted game.
"Thanks for listening to my tales lad! Been saving up those tales for who knows how long! Here, for your time." He said, ripping apart a piece of jerked beef with his bare hands and handing the veritable slab to me.
Any normal gamer would have made a joke here about "You obtained Beef Jerky!", but between my siblings and my TV-bound father, that kind of childhood had passed me by.
Remember kids, be- Look, just give them the console for once.
"Go along lad! Those Rats are waiting for 'yer sword in their guts!" The Squirrel said, slapping my back out of his house while his dumb ass grin gleamed out of his smoke-billowing hut.
As I made my way into Gate Village, a few guards had glanced down at the slab of meat with an acknowledging 'yeah we know what he's like' sort of smile. A few others cheered me on as I ran past them in the gym tradition of 'I was running the whole time', leaving me panting as I entered the armory grounds.
"Oh hey looks like you brought some of Higg's jerky with you!"
Shit, please don't tell me that this is the gum of the medieval era.
It is. It fucking is.
It took a few minutes to dole out the jerky before Captain Herzt spoke up.
"Alright, Amshy. You've had your fun. You see that suit of armor over there?" He pointed with his thumb to a ramshackle set of dented armor. "We're going to get you in there even if we have to hammer it open."
"Don't worry, this one is what Mr. Gerild calls the Rust Bucket. We can literally do whatever the hell we want with it."
Getting into the armor took… a while. It was obvious from the word go that the armor didn't fit me, being both too loose and too tight in even the same piece. The gambeson and other pieces of cloth armor were stopping the steel from chaffing my skin, but this was about as uncomfortable as it could get. If a blacksmith or any armor geek walked by, they'd probably have a heart attack.
Somehow I managed to do a lap of the training ground, but the weight discrepancy around my right shoulder and left leg left me slanting a few millimeters to the left to try not to fall over. This was the least amount of fun anyone could have with medieval plate armor.
Giving me a weighted wooden sword and shield, Captain Herzt then gave another three team members, Mejg, Kern and Igthri, a set of three wooden poles.
"The objectives are simple. Amshy will win if he gets on Mejg, Kern and Igthri and the rest of us can clearly see that Amshy touched them. Mejg's team will win if Amshy gets knocked down."
"Wait! You haven't even told me how to use a swor-"
The first pole struck my chest full on as I staggered back, the small weight discrepancy turning my armor into a crashing car as my back hit the ground.
"First point Mejg! Continue!"
Once again I hit the ground.
WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK…
This… continued until sunset.
The team pried me out of the armor as the sun dropped below the horizon and I tried to make my precarious way back through crystal-lit stairs, although I really was too exhausted to think about the arcano-geological notations of such a method.
"M-Master are you-"
I dumped myself on the bed and slept.
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