I only managed to dodge my sister by a narrow margin. Olivia, who hadn’t been expecting this let out a cry. She tried to push Lucy, but she seemed to be expecting this and easily dodged the less athletic girl. After regaining my footing, I leapt back. The elves that were with Lucy encircled us, but they didn’t attack. It seemed like they were happy letting me be dealt with by someone in my family.
I’m sure many of them were happy to see a devil like me die. None of them would try to do it themselves, but they couldn’t be held accountable if it was my own sister who did it and one that wasn’t even living in their country but was merely visiting.
“Lucy! What are you doing, Nya?” Olivia cried out.
The circle of elves had been made distinctly to keep Olivia out. She was looking over their shoulders, trying to get through, but the elves were much more imposing than she was, and it was useless.
“What I should have done before!” She snarled. “This devil used an army of the dead in the human territory and killed many beastkin!”
“Nya? How could that be?”
“Do you deny it?” Lucy snapped.
“Of course, I don’t…” I responded back, drawing my blade.
I had lost my good steel back in the cave, so what I had now was a shabby sword given to me by a goblin. It was short, thick, and beaten. It lacked any balance and quality-wise; it was complete trash. Unfortunately, it was the only weapon I had on me at the moment. That didn’t seem to matter to Lucy, who was brandishing her best weapon and waving it intimidatingly.
“See!” She shot a gloating look. “He’s a monster!”
“Perhaps it would be better to ask why there were so many beastkin in the human territory?” I responded calmly.
Olivia blinked and then looked over at Lucy, who wore a sour look on her face. That was the cost of telling half-truths to try to manipulate people. You create so many holes in the logic. That’s why I typically landed on honesty. It could be harsh, but it was always stronger.
“Sister… don’t listen to him!” Lucy begged while keeping me at bay with her blade. “He’s a two-timing trickster! He seduces many women! He’s a pervert who even diddles the elf princesses on his knee!”
She really had grown flustered, because those words instantly caused distaste to form in the eyes of the elves surrounding her. She wasn’t an elf, and to hear her badmouthing their princess caused them to lose respect for her, even if some of it was true. On the other hand, the King had officially sent Saria to be my wife. There was no denying this fact either. Her words caused a few of them to become uncertain that they were in the right, and their grips loosened on their hilts, and their ring weakened.
Worst of all, her words which were aimed at Olivia were taken in a completely unexpected way. It wasn’t very long ago when Olivia and I had been playing together. Olivia was closer to the elf princesses than anyone. They could be called close friends. So, in a way, she was the other woman and mistress, while Saria was my proper fiancée. There was a flash of guilt and embarrassment on her face. Lucy had unwittingly stumbled into a shameful admission before even Olivia herself had a chance to cope with it.
Lucy wore a confused face as she saw Olivia suddenly turn uncomfortable and teary-eyed. Then, her eyes narrowed, and she shot a glare at me. Oh yes, I remember this look. When in doubt, blame brother. That was the kind of person that Lucy was. Well, Olivia wasn’t much different until very recently. However, where Olivia was pouty and cute in a childish kind of way, Lucy spoke with her fists, or in this case, her swords.
“Did you touch sister?” She snarled, regrettably jumping to the right conclusion so easily.
“Ah!” Olivia broke out of her thoughts and made a noise of surprise, which was all the confirmation that Lucy needed.
“You bastard!” She lunged at me, this time using her will and moving at top speed.
I had a few weeks practice since our last time, not to mention I had defeated another will-user. However, that still didn’t mean I was anywhere at Lucy’s level. She was a beastkin type known for speed, and she had the training of the beastkin nation under her heel. If it came between her and Bala, I couldn’t really say who would win. The best I could do was illusions that confused her senses, and even these were typically useless against a heightened and well-trained soldier.
Then again, Lucy was still a young girl, and she was being driven by rage. I managed to perform a slight on her first strike and narrowly avoid her attack. The second came, and I blocked with my sword and then leapt back. However, when I glanced at my sword again, it was no longer there. Her single attack using a fine beastkin weapon was enough to cut the goblin iron in half. I was just holding onto the hilt now. Lucy wore an expression of triumph as she raised her blade again.
Meanwhile, I heard a familiar chant from Olivia. She was about to unleash a spell. She didn’t have the control that Baba did. Unleashing a spell in this crowd could potentially hurt her sister, or even the elves surrounding them. That was how desperate Lucy had pushed Olivia at that moment. She had a look of anguish on her face, but she wore an expression that would have froze the people there if they had been looking it. It was something that said if I was killed, others would soon follow. For the typically pouty and carefree Olivia, this expression was especially shocking.
Lucy brought her blade down, but then a force struck me and flew back. I slammed into the elves circled behind me and slid through two of them before slamming into the trunk of a tree. Lucy’s slice missed me, and then she looked surprised and confused for a second. Someone who hadn’t been closely looking might have thought she had done it with her blade, but her blade strike had been meant to gut me open. The force came from someone else.
“Enough… enough… can’t you see you’re upsetting dear sister…” A voice came as another group of elves rode up on horses.
I didn’t know the elves to ride horses typically, but this group of men did with clear signs of experience. The one leading in front was an attractive male elf with long blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He had a somewhat gentle smile on his face, but there was a look in his eye that suggested a fierceness that he kept under control. Those eyes were locked on Olivia.
Olivia dropped her spell and, rather than pay him any mind, immediately ran over to me. “Brother! Are you okay?”
Seeing this, his smile turned ugly for just a moment, but then he covered it up and smiled again. No one seemed to notice but me. I noticed that his eyes hadn’t left Olivia. By the way the elf soldiers regarded him, and the way he dressed, I instantly identified him as one of the princes. When Olivia reached me, her lips went near my ear as she helped me up.
“He is Prince Gantar, brother. He has asked the King to wed us, but I don’t like the way he looks at me. He’s a pig who plays with many girls, Nya…” Then she looked down at me and blushed. “Not that brother is a pig!”
Now that I noticed, of the soldiers who had ridden up with Gantar, the two in front were actually women, and they both gave Gantar protective and affectionate gazes. His own sister had described Gantar as a womanizing playboy, and the reputation seemed to be well earned. As Olivia grew more flustered, I casually put my hand on her shoulder and gave her a gentle smile. However, out of the corner of my eyes, I was watching Gantar as his hands tightened on the reigns.
“Prince Gantar!” Lucy snapped stiffly, causing the elves around her to stiffen or back away. “This is a matter between family! How dare you get involved and help this cretin!”
Help? He could have easily blocked her blade to break us up but instead tossed me back with enough force that I slammed into a tree. It was a spiteful and he intended to embarrass me, at the very least. Furthermore, I had a plan to deal with Lucy. Saying he saved my life was wishful thinking.
Although the two women next to Gantar were shooting Lucy disgusted, and hateful looks, the man himself smiled and dismounted from his horse.
“My lady, I see that Olivia’s beauty runs in the family.” He bowed to her, grabbing her hand and kissing it.
Olivia made an annoyed noise softly and spoke so only I heard. “That’s how he is, acting so smooth. Even sister will fall for it at first.”
“I’m not so sure…” I responded back.
Although, on the surface, Lucy was blushing and looking away shyly. This seemed to embolden Gantar, who moved even closer to her. It was too close for two people who had only just met. The beastkin that had travelled with Lucy was giving the young prince a frown, but he still occasionally shot me side looks. Even though my clear disadvantage in this situation, that old beastkin seemed to be the wariest of me compared to anyone else there. However, we’d never met, so I didn’t know why he acted as such.
He reached out and grabbed one her hands in both of his, giving his most charming look, “You need not worry about that devil… I will take good care of your precious sist-ahhhh!”
With her spare hand, Lucy had pulled out a dagger, and it was now pressed against the man’s genitals. His face twitched as he backed away, letting go of her hands and putting them up. Several of the elf guards pulled their weapons, and the two women on horseback stared with their mouths open. As for the other beastkin man, he barked a laugh as he looked at this, further increasing Gantar’s embarrassment. He dropped the seductive act.
“Please, princess, we’re on the same side!’ He begged, sweating just a bit.
“Hmph!” She finally pulled her dagger away and sheathed it. “That is yet to be seen.”
Gantar let out a breath of relief as the pressure was removed from his family jewels, and he, for some reason, shot me an angry look before turning back to Lucy.
“Still, my statement stands.”
“He has already enslaved my sister!” Lucy glared in my direction.
Gantar looked at us too, and suddenly all eyes were on me and Olivia who were standing together. She was very close to me, closer than Gantar had been when he set Lucy off. She was all but holding my hand.
“Are you sure?”
“Look at her! She even tried to defend him! Clearly, she’s under his control!”
“That’s not true!” Olivia stepped out and cried.
Technically, they weren’t wrong. I had enslaved her. I also enslaved Bala and Aeryn. As for Saria, I hadn’t finished with her, but that was because we became distracted when I went to do so. My list of slaves was growing. Although I hadn’t forced Olivia to do anything, she would be compelled to do what I asked if I but asked for it. There was no official law that made enslaving women illegal, but devils and their ability were generally reviled.
“She’s lying!” Lucy accused. “He ordered her to.”
“From what I understand about devils, they can force an enslaved person to do what they want, but it can’t overtake their will.” Prince Gantar said cautiously while moving closer to Olivia, “Women who were enslaved still can make it known that they wished to be free. Short of complete brainwashing, Olivia can speak the truth now. Tell me, Olivia, if this devil has enslaved you, let us know. We will be able to free you of his grasp. It is a simple magic.”
The magic he spoke of was simple, abortion. The embryo inside her keeps Olivia permanently pregnant, and also under my enslavement. Aborting that embryo would break my control over her in an instant. At this moment, he had offered her the chance to be free of me. If that was what Olivia really wanted, then she could abandon me and then I’d truly be on my own. The week we had spent together, her actions could have been performed out of fear and worry. Now that she was no longer trapped down there, had her attitude changed?
“I’m… not his slave…” She said that, refusing to meet his eyes and speaking with little energy.
I fought the urge to groan. She couldn’t have told a less convincing lie. Unlike Lucy, Olivia was very honest with her beliefs and feelings. How could they change so easily? Yet, at the same time, being put in a situation where she needed to lie, she could only just manage. There was no way anyone who just heard her would believe that to be the case.
Gantar slapped his hands together, causing everyone to jump as a big smile formed on his face. “Great! I’m glad that this devil isn’t so despicable as to lay his hands on his own sister. Then, I must apologize for the accusation.”
Gantar spoke with such certainty that even Lucy looked around doubtfully as if wondering if the matter was truly settled. At first, I had thought that Gantar was playing some kind of game, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was just his character. He’d rather believe a woman than become inconvenienced.
If a woman said she was willing to sleep with him, but was secretly repulsed, and the repulsion was clear in her eyes, he’d push her down and have her with a clear conscience. It was that kind of mindset. It was easier to believe the prey he was trying to acquire for all this time hadn’t had her purity snatched away from him by a despicable devil, so he decided to believe that instead. It was somewhat an amazing temperament.
Some might say that this just made him stupid. I had to disagree. It might be foolish, but it also made him extremely dangerous. Because, when he was forced to have his illusion shattered, he would definitely become extremely enraged. There was no saying to what level this man would go at that point. At best, he’d try to kill the both of us, but I think even that wasn’t the limit to what he would do in such a situation.
He put his arm around Olivia familiarly. She managed to sneak me a forlorn look, but she was afraid to resist him now. Her actions thankfully put Lucy at ease too. She was still glaring at us suspiciously, but her anger had subsided for a bit, and she was in a position where she couldn’t just attack me if she wanted to. She had no choice but to put up her sword. As for me, I could only bite my tongue here. If I put up a fuss over him touching Olivia now, then I’d only be creating trouble for us.
“Prince David… we haven’t officially met. I’m sorry about the previous business. Your sister’s claims caused me some worry.” With one arm around Olivia, Prince Gantar approached me and held out his hand, wearing the fake smile that didn’t meet his eyes.
I also was good at these kinds of deceptions. I took his hand and smiled in turn.
“Well met, my good friend. Would you by chance have any word from Fort Divine Path?”
He squeezed my hand a bit too hard before letting go, his smile slipping into the hint of sneer for a moment. “Yes, you must be worried about your fiancée. Father got wind of the princesses’ return. He ordered their return and sent an escort to bring them back to Greenvale.”
“And what of my people?”
“It’s possible that they returned with the princesses. I do not know. I was sent here just before they arrived. My orders were to greet the dignitaries from Benatang. It was only by chance we encountered you here. I have to say; I am curious how a devilkin and his sister ended up half-way on the other side of the country. There are many currently out searching for Olivia. I’d be with them if not for father’s order. I haven’t heard the details, but I did hear you were the last person with her. If she wasn’t by your side clearly fit, well excuse my impoliteness in saying we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
He was a pretty good prince. He had a clearly practiced way of speaking. He was threatening without blatantly stating a threat. His words were both information, warning, and inquiry. I could see the resemblance with Saria, who had a sharp tongue as well. The idea they were siblings was something I could believe, even if I didn’t see a familial similarity between the two.
“We were trapped underground when a cavern collapsed. At first, we were trying to avoid the monsters down deep. There was a mistake, and we ended up in an underground cave system. It’s good that we’re both creatures of the night, as we had to wander around in the darkness for some time. Without Olivia’s magic, we definitely would have died. I owe her my life. Unfortunately, there is not much else to say. We travelled for a week until we luckily found an exit.”
Even in Prince Gantar’s arms, Olivia blushed at my words. I hadn’t meant it to be flattering. Fortunately, Gantar was oblivious to her look. Lucy, who was approaching us, was more observant. She saw how Olivia acted, and her frown grew even more. She was stroking the hilt of her blade as if she wanted to use it.
“Hmm…” Gantar’s response gave nothing away, and then he turned away as if to dismiss me, perhaps another veiled slight, and looked at the elves. “Since Olivia is well, as is the prince, and we have done our mission, let us return to Greenvale!”
He got back on his horse, and the rest of the men mounted. Olivia ended up being brought up to sit behind Gantar. She had to put her arms around him to hold on. She kept shooting me looks. Perhaps she thought I’d be jealous. I admit it didn’t feel pleasant, but I wasn’t so easily enraged. The time would come when I made my move; it just wasn’t today.
In the end, I realized that everyone had a horse except for me. I noticed the beastkin man was mounted and he had one extra horse he was holding. Lucy, the only one who hadn’t mounted up, started heading for that horse. I beat her there and then leapt up on the horse. The man holding the reins made a surprised noise when he saw me right next to him.
“Hey! This is my horse!” She snapped, grabbing her hilt and only just keeping from drawing it.
“Sister is kind for sharing.” I held out my hand, helping her up.
“You! How dare…! You ba…” Every eye was on her, and she was the only one who wasn’t mounted.
She’d have to drag me off the horse, making a massive scene. Realizing the place she was in, she made an angry noise and then slapped my hand away, jumping up onto the horse with ease. She ended up in front of me. I went to wrap my arms around her, and she elbowed me.
“You touch me; I’ll kill you!”
I let out a soft laugh and grabbed the back of the saddle awkwardly. It was at that moment I noticed Olivia was watching us from the back of Prince Gantar’s horse. As soon as our eyes met, she gave an angry huff, shot me an angry stare, and then looked away, suddenly hugging Gantar tightly. The man, feeling her grab him tighter, formed a cocky smile on his face.
I felt a bit flummoxed. I thought we were on the same wavelength. Now, she’s angry at me? What gives?
At that exact moment, Lucy kicked the horse, moving to a gallop in an attempt to cause me to fall off and embarrass myself. That wasn’t so easy for a will-user, as I had great balance. However, the sudden burst of speed did cause her hood to fly back. I ended up taking two bunny ears in the face. Trying to spit her flopping ears out, I felt like this journey was going to be a big headache.