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“I’m… alive?”

Alysia’s eyes snapped open. The sky was orange and purple as the sunset just beyond the horizon. She could hear the sounds of seagulls and the beating of waves against the beach. Rather than waking up filled with bruises and cuts, she actually felt completely relaxed and refreshed. If she had been reincarnated, she would have felt at least a little weak and seen a priest. If she hadn’t… even though her high regeneration was strong, the amount of damage she sustained couldn’t be resolved so quickly.

High regeneration wasn’t something that just worked continuously. There were limits even to healing. Only priest’s spells could speed up this process, and that’s all they did, speed up the healing process and remove chances of complications. Although, if she recalled, Deek had a different method of healing. His healing was almost instantaneous, although the mana consumption of that sort of healing had to be insane.

“Deek…” she said out loud.

The last thing she had seen was Deek falling towards her with his arms outstretched, a white light surrounding him like he was some kind of angel. He had flung her off a cliff to her death and then jumped in after her. How ridiculous. She noticed her cheeks growing hot. It was just the sun! She let out a cough and sat up.

As soon as she did so, she realized she was lying on the beach on a towel. Her skin was darkly tanned as if she had been under the sun for a while. Her kind didn’t burn very easily. She realized she was dressed in something. A swimsuit? It looked provocative, with a small top piece and a thin bottom. It didn’t leave much to the imagination, but Alysia refused to shame herself by covering up. In her culture, shame didn’t come from being embarrassed, but by acknowledging the embarrassing thing.

There was a saying that if someone from the Ost Republic farted and no one acknowledged it, then it never really happened. At its worst, the person who mentioned it would be chastised more than the person who dealt it. That was just a part of their way.

“Boss!” One of the girls from Titan Fall called out.

Alysia’s S class party, Titan Fall, was made up of five women, all Osterians, who were said to be descendants of giants. She wasn’t the tallest in her group, sitting more around the middle. Her largest companion was one of her two knights, Disandry. Her other knight was Mio, who was smaller, but also quicker. Then there was Marice, who was a spellcaster, a strange class for the usually physically strong Osterian. Then, there was Diane, who typically functioned as the scout, although she was much better at it in the dungeon than on the battlefield. Finding traps was her specialty, but she was usually too distracted to be a good lookout.

All four women appeared to be in swimsuits, and they had the look as if they had been swimming for the last few hours. Mio was still kicking water at the shoreline, but the other women appeared to be packing up their stuff to go.

“Ah! You awoke just in time!” Marice said happily. “I was starting to worry that we would have to carry you.”

“I would have carried her.” Disandry sniffed. “You’d have complained about it.”

Alysia ignored their bickering to ask some questions. “What happened?”

 “Ah! After the fight, Deek healed you!”

“So… he did win…” Alysia knew he did, but it was still a hard pill to swallow.

It wasn’t that she didn’t know that Deek had puppetry being used on him. It was Octius she was fighting in the beginning. However, it wasn’t like he was able to push Deek past his own limits. The body, it’s strength, it’s speed, it’s abilities… all of that was Deek. No… it was actually weaker than Deek because the real Deek knew all of his skills and could use them better than Octius could.

Octius might have been able to use his knowledge and experience to fight on a level Deek didn’t possess, but he wouldn’t have been able to manage it if the raw material wasn’t there. The basic reality of it all was that Deek was able to fight Alysia and win. It should have been impossible, yet the result could not be denied.

That meant that Deek was far more powerful than she had ever predicted. She couldn’t even fathom how a guy so young and fresh had such strength. Five tattoos, she had managed to count them this time. He had five tattoos on his body unless one of them was fake, and she didn’t think Deek was the kind of guy to act so phony, then he had completed five different dungeons and was awarded their blessings.

No one in written history had ever managed this feat that Alysia was aware of. That meant that no one really knew what a blessing did. She had a feeling that Deek knew though. He had five dungeons he had completed, while Alysia had only managed to destroy one. Between the two of them, he was a true dungeon diver, and she was the phony playing the hero.

“Ah! It was so awesome when he came out of the water with you in his arms. He was holding your naked body in a princess carry, and it was totally like one of those heroes in the story…” Diane giggled.

“Wh-what? Naked?”

Marice’s eyes flashed mysteriously. “Oh, you were passed out all day so you didn’t know, but Deek carried your naked body from the beach to this towel. He then set you down, and I was expecting him to have his way with you, but he was far too noble to claim his prize now…”

“Wh-what prize! What are you girls saying!”

Diane, sharing mischievous looks with Marice, continued. “He even worried you’d burn in the sun. That’s why he oiled your body with his fluids.”

“Fluids!” Alysia immediately touched her skin, realizing it felt slightly greasy to the touch, she sniffed it. “It smells like… coconut and mango?”

“Ah… it was so romantic, we would have intervened but you were even making naughty noises in your sleep, so we assumed you must have enjoyed it!”

Alysia had forgotten that her friends were the worst. Not only would they acknowledge a fart, but they would also talk about it endlessly until they made you want to die! Alysia’s face was completely red and she wanted to flee immediately.

“They’re both lying.” Disandry sighed. “A big-titted girl in a hood gave you her swimsuit because it was too revealing for her to wear, and I put the lotion on you myself because they mentioned that besides blocking the sun, it might be good with scaring.”

“Hmph! Spoilsport!” Marice wined.

Alysia took a breath of relief. “That’s good, so I wasn’t completely naked and carried onto the beach princess-style by a man…”

“Geh!” Disandry looked away. “O-of course not… m’lady…”

“Eh? That part totally happened though!”

“Where are Deek and his party now?” Alysia decided to change the subject without delving too much into separating fact from fiction.

“Ah! That… they stayed for a while and played with us on the beach. We even had a grill out, but it was the hooded lady who cooked everything and I don’t think her cooking is as tasty as Deeks.” Marice explained. “Then they left. They said they only had tonight. They would be back tomorrow morning to pick up something and then they had work in western Aberis. Do you want us to check the local inns? The way they were talking, it didn’t sound like he planned to stay the night here. Perhaps he’s using those portals you said he could make?”

“Yeah… maybe…” Alysia couldn’t stop the disappointment from showing on her face. “Don’t bother searching after him. We finished our mission. We’ll be heading back to Ost Republic now.”

“Ah… that reminds me… this has been flashing non stop since a bit ago…” She pulled out a device from Alysia’s pack, which thankfully hadn’t ended up being destroyed in the fight like her weapon and outfit.

“You! That’s a communication stone directly connected to the royal house! Someone is calling us!”

“Oopsie! I forgot…”  Alysia smacked Marice upside the head before taking the device and activating it.

An arrogant, mature voice suddenly sounded out from the stone. “Finally, you answered. I was just about to prepare a small squadron to fight their way into Aberis to rescue you.”

“N-no!” Alysia said in a fluster, hearing the dreaded voice she least wanted to hear right now. “I’m fine! I just was indisposed for the last few hours.”

“Hmph… well, whatever. I’m here to send you orders. As the nation’s King, it’s my royal decree, so don’t think you can ignore me on this one.”

“Y-yes… of course,” Alysia said, her face turning flushed.

“You are to return to the Capitol at once.”

“What? What about my mission?”

“Why? Did you find out the source of the rumor’s behind that dungeon’s destruction?”

Alysia thought for a second, her mind dwelling on Deek. He told her it didn’t matter if she revealed how strong he was. However, he didn’t know how vindictive foreign nobles could be. A rising star like him may be able to change the entire power structure of the five kingdoms. They would assuredly want him dead, and not in the resurrecting sense. Although tricking someone into a dungeon was the easiest way, anything that killed or trapped the soul would prevent a resurrection. There were any number of ways to do that, although they weren’t accessible to most normal people.

“No…” Alysia lied, feeling a bit of pain over lying to her trusted King.

“Hmmm… first, you claimed to have an artifact that would reshape the nature of war, but it was conveniently destroyed before anyone else got to see it. On top of that, you lost the entire border Fort and caused countless deaths and a loss of resources. Now, you have a chance to redeem yourself, and you can’t even manage that…”

“I can do it!” Her voice choked. “I just need more time.”

“Time is up… you must come to the Capitol.”

“Why?” Alysia demanded in a voice that shouldn’t be used toward a king.

“Because the High General Nova has taken an interest in you. While you have been gallivanting around the country in shiny armor, some of us have been trying to keep alliances together and keep this country afloat! Now, it’s time for you to do your true duty to this nation. You will marry Nova, and give him children.”

“What?” She shouted. “Nova? That philandering, lazy bastard!”

“ You shouldn’t speak so negatively of your betrothed. The wedding is already set for the end of next month. All you need to do is be a good girl and come home and accept your place as a housewife.”

“You… you…”

“Watch it. We wouldn’t want your next words to sound treasonous, yes?”

Alysia froze, and the Titan Fall girls who were now all there and listening were covering their mouths with eyes full of tears. However, they would never speak up in a conversation against the King.

“Yes…” Alysia responded, the light leaving her eyes.

“Yes… what?”

“Yes… my king. I will do as you ask.”

“Now, now… why so formal? You know what I want you to call me.”

“Yes… Big Brother… Princess Alysia obeys.”

“Good! I’ll see you soon! Remember, just two months!”

The light went out in the communication stone, and so did Alysia’s spirit.

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