That night, I slept with my mother…. As if! Even though I now understand who and where she came from, I was hardly someone so impulsive. Rather, I gave Mother a massage, and then we slept in the same room. In a way, you could say we slept together. It was difficult sleeping with her big chest pressed against my arm and her hot breath on my cheek. If I wanted her, I could have her at any time.
However, this woman was a doppelganger of my mother, created from my mother’s mind. When I thought this was my mother, driven insane by mixing with my devil blood, then I would possibly be giving her relief by having sex with her. This was not the case, according to Aeryn. This mother loved me because that was how she was created.
For as much as my true mother hated me, she created this woman to love me. That meant, for all intent and purposes, that she was still a free woman. Her love may border on obsession, but it was still a matter of free will. If I had sex with her, I’d be turning the woman who raised me into my slave. This was not something I was interested in doing. At the very least, I needed to understand more about devil biology before I’d even consider it.
Aeryn came to the bathtub that night to wash me, and I freely pushed her down. She didn’t act surprised in the least as I stripped her of her clothing and then had her over the side of the bath. Her wet skin looked very tempting as her breasts splashed against the hot bathwater, and while she didn’t have the ample features that my mother had, she was a beautiful woman in her own right. After I finished inside her, she dutifully washed my body and left.
Now a bit cleaner and refreshed, I slipped back into bed next to my mother without waking her. She grabbed on to my arm almost instantly.
“Mine… my baby…” She muttered, lacking any restraint.
The next day, Aeryn arrived in the morning with a plate of fruit and yogurt for breakfast. She was back in her maid outfit and showed no signs of her previous resistance. She had taken to the role I set for her, and even if her emotions were turbulent, there was something inside her that kept her going. I hoped, one day, that Aeryn could come to not resent and hate me. Until that time, I would continue to use her in the way I had to. If she didn’t like it, she only had this world’s shitty god to blame.
Mother was already up and gone. I could never tell how earlier she got dressed and left, but it was always earlier than me. I drank a cup of tea while I ate breakfast. Before I had finished, Aeryn placed a letter on my table.
“An answer?” I asked determinedly.”
“Yes, Master.” Aeryn nodded, fulfilling her duty properly.
“Open it and read it to me. It’s possible that she poisoned it.”
Aeryn blinked. “I’m sorry, what? She’s your fiancée?”
I just stared at her, so she sighed and grabbed the letter, opening it up. Had I truly thought it was poisoned, I wouldn’t allow my one ally to risk it, but I still put my own life over hers. After ripping open the seal, she pulled out the letter and began to recite what she read.
“Dear Fiancee, a meeting at lunch would be splendid. I will not be staying much longer. I must return to the elf kingdom in a few days. We should cherish these times that we have together. Your loving fiancée, Saria.”
Aeryn shot me a defiant look as if to prove the fact that my fiancée was both loving and compassionate because the letter she wrote was flowery and gave her sentiments of love. I merely rolled my eyes and continued to drink my tea. The letter said to meet her at noon, so I spent the intervening time continuing to read various books from the library. When the time came, I left with Aeryn following in close proximity.
As we walked, I considered that it would be nice if I had a bodyguard as well. Ideally, I could train Aeryn to become one of those bodyguards. She could be like those ninja maid’s certain eastern stories had. However, realistically, anyone with a good eye would be ideal. I felt dangers all around me, and I couldn’t account for every possibility. It was remarkable that my life had lasted as long as it had as David, considering how many people wanted to see me dead.
The elf princess had decided to meet outside today. She had a table and chairs set out in the garden, where she was sitting and calmly drinking tea. Her expression was perfect as always, showing no indication of the sinister person underneath. Standing next to her was the woman who had killed the previous Prince David. It was supposed to be the elf prince, but I now knew that this was actually a woman dressed as a man. Having never seen the effeminate features of an elf before, I lacked the knowledge to be able to tell, however, her cuteness was quite obvious now that I knew. She was taller than her sister, with short cut hair and long ears.
“My fiancée.” I made the best bow I could. “You’re radiant this afternoon.”
Saria responded with an obligatory smile, even managing to blush and look a little embarrassed. Her acting skills were top-notch. Had I not seen her sadistic side and known how she treated her sister in public, I might have bought into her public persona eventually.
“I must say, fiancé, I am a bit surprised. You’ve never contacted me before in such a manner.”
“Perhaps it took nearly dying to realize what was truly important to me.” I shot back, giving an equally fake smile.
“Then you are blessed, a man who can learn from his failures?” Saria smirked.
“I do…” I knocked on the table. “Which is one of the reasons I came to you today. Your brother, he’s a very powerful swordsman.”
Saria’s smile froze, while her sister shot me a side look. “So, I’m told.”
“Then, I would like him to teach me some of his swordsmanship,” I requested.
Saria blinked. “That… can be arranged.”
“Good then,” I chuckled. “Then before we leave in one week, I will require his company every day.”
Saria’s mouth fell open.” What?”
At this point, the other girl had turned to look at us both, her forehead ruffled as she looked on in confusion. She truly hadn’t expected to be dragged into the conversation. It was clear to me that Saria’s sister was used to being a wallflower.
“We leave in a week, yes? Then before I’m on the open road, I’d like your brother to teach me as much as he can about swordsmanship. I want to let bygones be bygones, right? I feel there is much to learn from him, and much he can teach me.”
And much I could deprive her of. As her footman, making her bodyguard busy would keep her from being able to hatch many plans. It’d allow me to keep an eye on Saria without having to do as such. Admittedly, I was curious about swordcraft and wanted to improve and learn the ability to fight, but it was mostly about disarming my fiancée for the next week until we left.
“We…” Saria looked down. “You still plan to come to the elvish nation?”
“Of course,” I smiled while taking a sip. “As long as you’re willing to take me.”
“The prince is always welcome in the elvish nation, of course.” Saria’s expression looked just a bit wooden.
“Then, it is settled. I will practice with your brother.”
“I am willing…” the girl stepped forward, looking uncertain and shooting her sister looks.
Saria smiled, downing the rest of her cup. “Then it is settled. I shall send Prince Bala this afternoon.”
After enjoying the outdoors and some pleasant words for another twenty minutes, I left the location and headed back to my room.
“Why do I have a sense that Master has done something clever.” Aeryn frowned thoughtfully.
“Conversations with that girl are so taxing. Too many hidden words and meanings.” I muttered to myself while scratching my chin. “Even if I was to enslave Princess Saria, who knows how much control of her I’d ever really have.”
“You wish to enslave your own fiancée?” Aeryn spoke with a disgusted expression.
“No,” I sighed. “But perhaps I can enslave the prince.”
Aeryn blinked. “Enslaving someone involves putting your seed inside… oh…
“What? What is it?” I demanded.
“You’re one of those kind of guys…”
I let out a snort. “You’re hilarious. Prince Bala is no man. I’ll bet my dick on it.”
“Mm…” Aeryn didn’t seem to care much one way or the other.
I sat and continued reading, but it didn’t take long for another knock to come from my door. This time, it was Bala, dressed in pads.
“The princess had sent me… as ordered.” Bala spoke, her expression showing displeasure.
She made it clear that she was only doing this because her sister ordered her. As for Saria, I’m sure she was excited by this. If only an accident could happen during training, then perhaps there would be the opportunity to kill me. I was sure that was why Saria was so amendable for this plan. Seven training sessions meant seven chances to kill me.
We headed to a sparing room, with a padded floor and a circular line on the ground which seemed to denote the so-called sparing range.
“I wish to understand your level before I start teaching you,” Bala explained. “To do so, I’ll need to spare with you a bit. Just try not to get hit, and block when you can.”
“Very well,” I responded, putting on some pads hung on the side of the room, and further picking a thin, light sword, closer to a rapier.
I wouldn’t have walked into this situation if I was completely clueless. I had taken fencing courses and was proficient in knife work. Simply put, I wasn’t truly a novice at all. I couldn’t guess as to how good Prince David’s sparing performance was until Bala blew him away with an elemental sword strike, but I was confident in my abilities.
“Here I go!” She cried out, immediately vanishing and reappearing next to me, swinging her sword with reckless abandonment.
So fast! At the very least, considering Bala had almost been responsible for my death a few days ago, I thought Saria would have made her act more careful. At worst, I expected her to take some time, allow me to build up my confidence, and then attempt to try some way to injure or kill me. Killing me right now in a training accident the first chance she got would put a great deal of shade on the elvish nation. I hadn’t anticipated how direct and open Saria’s sister would be.
The fact she always wore open disdain for me should have made me realize she didn’t hold back. She was Saria’s dog, so she should be following Saria’s more nuanced commands. I had miscalculated. I barely managed to bring my training sword up before hers collided with enough force that I flew back and hit a wall.
“Geeehhh…” I let out a moan.
“Hmph… you’re even worse than the last time we sparred.” Bala sneered, holding her sword menacingly.
I was alive? That meant that that was just a normal strike for her, not her trying to kill me! I coughed, covering up the shock in my eyes. I had been looking down on Prince David. Perhaps he did have some swordsmanship skills. I now knew that my fencing meant nothing in this world.
“Perhaps you can go lighter on me?” I offered, “I’m having trouble matching your strength.”
Bala frowned. “Of course you didn’t match my strength, you didn’t even bother to use body strengthening techniques.”
“Body strengthening techniques… of course.” I chuckled. “I thought perhaps we’d focus on pure technique. Finesse, not power.”
Bala cocked her head, her expression giving away nothing. “If you’d prefer.”
I stood back up rubbing my ass. Aeryn was sitting on the sidelines watching. She didn’t have to look so pleased that I was just blasted into a wall. I held my sword in one hand. It was already clear the two of us were a completely different type of swordsman. She held her sword with both hands and focused on powerful, damage-inducing strokes, while I focused on extreme speed.
Yeah… speed. I remembered how quickly she moved. Maybe I lost on all fronts.
Her speed movements exploded again, but this time I shot my sword forward in a single thrust. Her attack was much wider, and she expected me to meet it. My sword slammed into her gut, and then her sword struck my neck. I found myself flipping before slamming into the floor.
“Oh… shit…” I cried out, as I realized I just took a hit that could have broken my neck right then and there.
“I win…” Bala sniffed.
Aeryn walked up and kneeled next to me. I didn’t realize what she was doing until she jammed a vial in my mouth. The liquid was bitter, but it immediately exploded with warmth. Immediately, my sores and aches dissipated like smoke. My eyes widened as I instantly felt like I could move again. Aeryn stood up, dropping my head back to the ground, and then walked away without a single ounce of concern.
Rubbing my neck which might have even been broken, I realized that this was the so-called healing potions. Aeryn must have prepared a bunch. Perhaps they might be expensive to some, but for a prince, I could likely drink as many as I needed during practice. As I sat up, I shot a look at Bala, who was standing there while holding her sword, still expressionless.
“I hit you first,” I said. “I win.”
Bala shot me a look like I was an idiot. “You would have stabbed me with your sword in my gut. I could have easily taken a potion and recovered. I hit you in the neck. You would have no head. You died. I won.”
I frowned. It looked like this world had different rules from my old world. This truly wasn’t fencing. A strike didn’t count. The only thing that mattered was life or death. I decided to fight it anyway.
“If I had stabbed you, you wouldn’t have had the strength to bring your sword down on my neck. I would have won.”
Bala’s expression grew irritated. “That is ridiculous logic. Had you had a real blade, I wouldn’t have recklessly charged you. By all accounts, I chose my actions based on the knowledge of the sharpness of your blade. I would have defeated you in some other way.”
I grinned. “So, we’re in agreement then.”
Bala blinked, “What?”
“We cannot say who would win in this situation. The fact we are using practice weapons caused our actions to differ. The only way to remove all doubt would be to use real weapons.” I explained.
“Hmph… if we used real weapons, you’d already be dead.”
“Perhaps we should try it then?” I suggested, my eyes twinkling.
Bala glared at me suspiciously. “If we used real weapons, I won’t be responsible if I accidentally kill you.”
“I think I’ve gotten the feel for this swordplay now. I have a distinct feeling I’ll win this next round.”
Bala stared at me for a solid minute before nodding slightly. “Very well, it is your funeral. This maid can act as a witness.”
I nodded and headed over to Aeryn. She pulled out and handed me a sword. It was thin, just like I liked. Perhaps, Aeryn did no me well. As I turned to leave, Aeryn grabbed my hand.
“Bala is many times stronger than you. With real blades, he will kill you.” Aeryn’s expression looked worried.
“Concerned about me?” I suggested with a grin.
Aeryn let go and sniffed. “You have enslaved me. My fate is tied to yours. I just don’t want to die because my master wanted to get some petty vengeance.”
“All vengeance is petty.” I sniffed. “I seek other goals. Just have your potions ready.”
“As you command.” Aeryn curtsied, but her expression looked dry.
Heading back to the center of the ring, Bala had already found a new blade. “Are you ready to do this?”
“Your blade better be sharp.” I shrugged.
“Then… begin!” Bala didn’t immediately explode forward this time.
Instead, she shot to the side, her body blurring with each movement. Rather than a direct attack, she kept moving from side to side, making it difficult to determine where she was coming from. I took a breath and then leaped forward. I slashed in the place, striking her perfectly. Then her body disappeared like smoke.
“An afterimage!” I cursed.
Her body appeared at my side, and I just managed to bring my sword up. She didn’t put her full strength in her blow this time, so I didn’t go flying. Rather, I lost my balance entirely. Stumbling to the side, I struggled to regain my control. Her attack was coming at any moment. Out of the corner of my eye, I predicted it. Without a moment’s hesitation, I chucked my sword. The flying sword caused Bala to need to duck. Her momentum was destroyed, but she carried through with her attack any.
“Gah!” I cried out as her sword slashed across my stomach. “That’s sharp.”
Bala stared at me in surprise, realizing her strike had hit. A moment later, bloodshot from my stomach. I spit out blood from my mouth and then fell back, collapsing on the ground. Looking down, I could see a pool of blood already forming under me. My innards were completely exposed. At that point, the pain shot through me and I started to lose consciousness. The last thing I heard was a voice screaming, ‘Master!’.
I awoke to a bitter fluid being forced down my throat. I gasped, bring in liquid, and then coughing it out. Forcing myself up to a sitting position, I could see I was in Aeryn’s arms. Her eyes were strangely puffy and a little red. She was shaking and her expression looked bad. As soon as I was conscious, her expression changed into one of disdain. She dropped my head back to the ground with a thud.
“I had to use five potions to wake you up. If I was any slower you would have died. You clearly lost!”
I looked up at Bala. She had discarded her sword. She had an expression on her face that wasn’t exactly worried, but uncertainty. Her armor had a spray of blood across it, with various speckles of red on her face. Her eyes had a strange light, and her cheeks were starting to grow a bit pink.
“No…” I said in a whisper. “I think I won this one.”