The banquet returned shortly. As for Lord Tibult and the prince, they naturally had their own seats in an area physically higher than the rest of us. I was expecting angry glares and hateful stares from Tibult the entire time, but he basically ignored me as if I was nothing. I wasn’t sure if they made me feel any better. Now that we were locked into a battle as competitors, it seemed almost more insulting that he didn’t put me in his eyes.
The food was brought out, and I made sure to cast Cure Poison on all of it just in case. It was probably a little paranoid, as I didn’t think he’d go to that extent, but it didn’t hurt to cover my bases. The girls ate joyously. Lydia attacked all the meat on the table. Miki kept trying to get me to feed her. Terra kept eating with her hands until I made her use a fork. Celeste shrank down to her fairy form to eat, causing a stir amongst the nearby nobles and competitors.
“Haha!” Pait said. “Someone even smaller than us, it seems.” He laughed jovially.
He let his maid sit at the table with him, which went a long way to show how much he cared about her. Even though she was pretty much silent unless addressed or apologizing for something rude Pait said, she always remained by his side.
I ate until I was full, which turned out to be a lot less than I remember eating in the past. Rubbing my stomach, I was reminded I had lost quite a bit of weight since I had been to this world. It had only been a few months, but I had walked and worked out, and often didn’t have a lot of food to eat. The deserts they brought out actually tasted too sweet to me. I was definitely changing. Well, the girls all didn’t have the same opinion, and I ended up sharing my dish with all of the girls.
Literally, I had to spoon-feed my cake one bite at a time into four waiting mouths. By the time I was done, there were at least three tables of men shooting me angry, jealous glares.
“This guy definitely wants us to kick his ass tomorrow!” One guy muttered.
There were other sentiments as well, but I could only smile wryly. Sorry guys, the competition is canceled. I won’t be fighting with any of you.
At the very end of the banquet, the Prince himself stood up and explained this fact. There were many angry yells, but no one was going to start a fight with the prince. The banquet ended with a lot of angry people storming out of the mansion while grumbling to themselves.
“Just who is this Deek guy anyway, that he hogs the spotlight from all of us?” Someone asked.
“Ah, I heard he was the guy with all the slave women.”
I decided to quicken my step as I heard conversations like this. It was better if we didn’t linger around. It should be no surprise that our group was the first to leave.
“Deek! Wait up! You still need to purify my house!” Pait cried, racing over to our group with Dav running behind him.
“Ah, that’s right.” I nodded, looking back at the short man. “What do you need me to do?”
The group of us all headed back to the small mansion that Pait shared with Dav. He stared at the place nervously.
“We were previously housed in an embassy building. They shoved us in a backroom out of the way. Two nights ago, they offered us this place suddenly out of the blue. We were ecstatic to take it, even though the smaller size suggested they might be slighting us. However, no sooner had we moved or stuff in when things started happening. Objects thrown quickly became dark shadows. Well, in the end, it actually started attacking us. You saw for yourself.
I nodded and then turned to Miki. “Can you do your thing?”
“Hmm?” Pait looked at Miki curiously.
She stepped forward and then suddenly, her tail split into nine different colors. Compared to a long time ago, they were very clear and distinct now. Dav gasped and then clapped in delight.
“That’s so pretty!’
Miki’s body started to glow brighter and brighter, and then a sudden pillar of light exploded through the entire house. It looked like a holy weapon had suddenly been dropped down. The light was so great that some of the people still walking home gasped as they thought the sun had come up. Other than Miki, everyone had to look away as the glow continued for several moments. Somewhere distant within the house, there appeared to be the howl of some malevolent spirit.
Its scream disappeared quickly, and her glow with it. All that was left was a purplish afterglow. However, the house and everything around it looked exactly the same. I pulled out some sage immediately and began the ceremony we had done a hundred times in Chalm to keep ghosts out. The girls immediately began helping, used to this kind of work.
Pait had only managed to recover after we were halfway done. “Wh-what… that’s… amazing!”
The usually talkative man was speechless for the first time since I had met him.
“Ah, we’ve dealt with a lot of ghosts. A ghost dungeon ended up opening in the middle of our city. Me retaking that city was exactly the reason we’re here now. You just happened to ask the right people when it came to exorcising bad spirits.”
“I’ll say… I knew that nine-tailed foxes were considered practically a myth. Now that I saw it, I truly understand that your kind meets their reputation.”
Miki put on a slightly strange look. “Nine-tail foxes are only rare because we are typically weak and sickly. The only reason I have found this strength is thanks to Master.”
Pait stroked his chin and then glanced at me. “Yes, you seem to be an interesting guy. I thought the most interesting thing about you was the company you keep, but perhaps I was mistaken. Maybe the company you keep is interesting because of you yourself.”
I scratched my head awkwardly. “Ah… I don’t know about that. However, I’ll be finished soon. If you have any more problems, you’ll know where to find us.”
We quickly finished doing all the standard things to ghost proof the Esmere household before we turned to leave. The pair thanked me profusely and even offered to pay coin which we refused. I’d rather they felt a little indebted to us than accept a few measly coins. I still felt like having them owe us a favor was more important. As I reached the gate, Pait ran and grabbed my arm, stopping me in my tracks. I glanced back and looked down at him. He had a worried expression on his face.
“My boy, I know you’re strong, and your team is also quite capable. However, this Lord Tibult comes from a strong house. As much as he appears it, he is no fool. If he agreed to this competition, it is because he believes he can win. You can believe he’s simply being arrogant, but I guarantee you that he will not leave anything to chance. He is likely going to have a trick up his sleeve, maybe several. It’s just, your slaves seem to love you very much, and I can see you care for them, so I’d hate to see you separated.”
I nodded, “I’ll be careful, don’t worry.”
If he somehow cheated, I wouldn’t tolerate it. If it turned out the curse with the girls had to be broken, I already decided. Of course, my decision was to lose my flesh! Let them cut off the dungeon tattoo. If that’s what it took so the girls obtained their freedom, then so be it. Of course, I would prefer if things didn’t end up that way. Tomorrow, since I had some time while they were preparing the competition, I had plans to visit the Slavers Guild. Perhaps, they’d have a better idea than the Prince on how to remove my tattoo, or at least the slaves bound by it.
We bid our farewells and the five of us headed back to the hotel. When we arrived, I was glad to see that the place was booming. The mercenaries that had previously trashed the place hadn’t returned, and the innkeeper seemed to have replaced everything they had broken. One of the maids immediately tried to offer me some food, and when I shook my head, she offered something to drink.
Just the memory of my pounding head made me shake my head more enthusiastically to the alcohol. She seemed strangely regretful that there was nothing she could get me, so I ended up asking for an extra pillow.
“Y-yes!” She said a serious expression on her face that seemed at ends with the task I had assigned.
When I turned back to my girls, they were all looking at me with flat expressions.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Master is a lot of work.” Miki sighed.
“Eh? What is that supposed to mean? I barely ask anything of you girls. Are you saying you don’t want to fight for me?”
The girls shook their head and Lydia spoke up. “Master, it’s just… where ever we look there is always another girl. We can accept if Master finds someone he fancies, like with Terra… but… I mean…”
“Master needs to keep the doki-doki in his pants!” Celeste said.
The other girls started nodding.
“What are you talking about? I haven’t slept with anyone, and I’m not even chasing anyone romantically. You girls worry too much.”
The four girls were giving me looks as if they were unconvinced. I could only sigh and promise them I’ll try to be less… doki-doki… whatever that means. They accepted that and we went to bed, four girls all finding a place to lie while maximizing contact with me.