In general, the sword seemed to be ignored. It wasn’t that surprising, because it didn’t look like a particularly impressive sword. From what I could see, it was extremely rusted and damaged. It looked just as likely to break in half as you tried to pull it out than be released from the rock. There were two or three people around it, trying to pull it, but I got the impression they were tourists.
“There is a festival once a year where locals embarrass themselves trying to pull it out, but for the most part it is ignored except out of city visitors,” Eliana explained, excited that her knowledge on this country was proving useful to me.
“Would any of you like to pull it?” I asked.
“Master… I couldn’t…” Raissa blushed. “What if I did?”
“Ah… we’d probably have to use one of those expensive formations so that you could stop being my slave.” I laughed.
The girls looked horrified by the notion. I grabbed Faeyna and Raissa’s hands and gave them a reassuring look.
“Whether you’re my slaves or not, I will always care about you. Besides, if you were queens, wouldn’t that mean that you’d be in a position where it’d make sense if we got married?
“I mean, as the queen of the new Osteria, our countries would become allies. I’m sure the King would be eager to marry us to secure the alliance…”
“Ahhh! Come on! Draw!”
The three of us looked to see Eliana desperately trying to pull the sword.
“E-Eliana! You’re already a princess, and we’re already engaged!” I cried out.
She slipped and fell back, landing on her butt. The nearby tourists, who were Esmeres by the look, chuckled to each other. I didn’t know what they were laughing about. Every single one of them was only three to four feet tall. It looked more ridiculous seeing one of them try to pull a sword that stuck out a few inches shorter than themselves. Even if the sword started moving, they wouldn’t be able to draw it unless they stood on each other’s shoulders.
I ran over and helped the blushing Eliana off the ground. She blushed as I healed her elbow and instinctively checked on the baby. I admonished her softly about how she shouldn’t strain herself like that. Perhaps I was too lenient, as I ended it with a soft kiss. As this happened, both Faeyna and Raissa gave it their best. I guess my incentive had highly motivated them. I made sure Raissa took it easy though.
Naturally, everyone failed. A few store stalls across the road trying to get the girl’s attention with jewelry and outfits now that they had their try. I had a feeling this was a tourist trap set up exactly for that purpose. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire story was just made up. People came to pull the sword, but perhaps disappointed they failed, they then went shopping to cheer themselves up. It was no coincidence that the sword was in the middle of a courtyard filled with merchants.
“Master, you should try.” Raissa declared as she recovered, her ears peeled back like she found the sword to be a personal challenge.
I had shifted the attention to the girls just because I didn’t want to try. I had too many serendipitous moments occur. If I was capable of pulling the sword, wouldn’t that be too much?
Now that Raissa had asked, I couldn’t come up with the right words to explain my complicated feelings regarding pulling the sword. I decided that I just wasn’t going to try very hard. Surely, if I gave it a light pull, it wasn’t going to slide out, right?
Licking my lips, I reached down and put my hands around the blade. The hilt felt surprisingly warm. Countless hands had grasped this blade desperately trying to pull it, so I guess their lingering warmth made sense. They had also seemingly worn the handle to the point where it felt surprisingly comfortable, even welcoming to touch.
There was also another feeling when it came to this handle. There was a certain feeling of disorder within this sword like something was off about it. Slowly, I started to pull. Originally, I had planned to just give it a little tug for show, but I started to apply more and more pressure to it. I had this feeling like if I just did a little more, it’d come free. I stopped thinking about how strange it would be, and I started desperately pulling on it.
Wasn’t there some kind of skill in my dungeon skill points that increased status? Maybe if I accessed that, I’d have the power to pull it. I was much stronger than most normal humans, I should be able to claim this sword. Just as I was going to give it the strongest pull I could, a light, feminine voice sounded in my ear.
The sound was so soft and sudden that I let go of the blade in surprise as I pulled up. I stumbled back just like Eliana had. I just managed to keep from falling on my butt, and a second later the girls grabbed my back to stabilize me. The esmere giggled as they watched before heading over to a merchant who had been gesturing to them for some time.
“Master… are you okay?” Raissa asked.
“Hehe… I bet you thought you could pull it too.” Eliana laughed, feeling less embarrassed after I had made a similar folly.
“You got that feeling too?” Raissa’s ears perked up. “I also had this feeling like if I just tried a little harder, I’d succeed. Yet, no matter how much I pulled, it didn’t work.”
I let out a breath. So, it was like that. This sword did have some kind of magic compulsion. It was no wonder the locals avoided it. You could hurt yourself if you got too obsessed with pulling it out. Now that I looked at the stores nearby, besides the typical tourist stores, there were also a few people advertising they could help with back and shoulder pain. Even that had been accounted for. They probably weren’t priests or white mages. White mages were rare and priests were all controlled by the various church sects. However, witch doctors, alchemists, and masseuses could all help with ailments too.
I reached out-touched the blade again. The girls widened their eyes in surprise that I was trying to give it another shot. That wasn’t what I was doing though. I was listening for that voice. I spent about five minutes trying to pull the sword in various ways, but the voice didn’t return.
“Deek, we need to get to the wedding.”
I nodded as I gave up on the sword. Well, not everything was meant to be.
“You really like to cut things close.” Otto laughed when he saw me.
The first time I had met him, back when he was Lydia’s slaveholder, Otto had been a fat guy a few years older than me. He was arrogant, childish, and immature. A few months under his father’s command in the war had seemingly changed him by a lot. He had slimmed quite a bit and had seemingly grown a permanent haunted look in his eyes. He looked more mature now and seemingly saw me as one of his few friends.
He seemed glad to see me now, since he had been forced to meet up with his brother and sister a few days ago, and had thus had that to deal with.
“How much time do we have?” I asked.
“You were supposed to present the couple with a gift sometime in the last two weeks!” Otto sighed. “No matter, I guess you’ll have to give it to them during the reception.”
“You do have a gift, don’t you?” His eyes widened in surprise.
“Yes, we have prepared an appropriate gift,” Eliana spoke up, stroking a storage ring on her finger.
“Ah… yes… that.” I gave her a thankful look.
I didn’t know the first thing about attending a wedding, let alone a wedding in another world.
“It’s best if you freshen up and get ready. The ceremony is in only two hours.” He declared.
I had noticed Otto was already getting dressed.
“Where is the rest of your family?” I asked.
“Father is already at the castle. He’s had treaties to sign and meetings to attend almost since he got here.”
This was a unique opportunity for Aberis to touch elbows with the powers of the Ost Republic and even the dwarves and esmere. The general had been busy trying to create treaties and alliances. Usually, Aberis would have been left out, so this created a unique chance for us to gain some stability. I had kind of dropped the ball on that, but no one would argue that the threat in the west wasn’t more important.
Officially, it was an eternal dispute between Lord Reign and myself. The rumors that Demon Lord Aberis had appeared in the west likely would take months to spread, and would mostly be ignored as unbelievable anyway. Only those that were at the highest levels in Aberis knew the truth, like Otto here. As for the Ost Republic, we had no intention of telling them. Thus, I was just a late comer showing up at the very last second, and a small player in the events that would transpire.
This didn’t worry me too much. My territory didn’t touch the Ost Republic, so there wasn’t too much in the ways of meaningful trades and alliances I could establish. We were still new, and I hadn’t even taken out Lord Reign yet. We consisted of two towns that had barely even become cities yet. My territory was far too small and underdeveloped that I wanted to take anyone’s notice.
I had already gained too much notice in the Ost Republic since they had once sent one of their units to kill me. We had ultimately separated under amicable circumstances. Now, with the cease-fire in effect, it would be impossible for them to attempt anything on my life. However, I was curious about what had happened to Alysia. She probably would be pretty shocked to see the current me. Maybe I’d see her at the wedding. Only time would tell.