The Return spell finished, and I instantly collapsed to the ground. I felt like I had been torn apart, and then clumsily put back together. For a second, I felt like I was going to cease to exist. I instantly began casting my strongest heal spells, but I barely managed to cast one before I passed out. As I lost consciousness, I could hear my girls crying out for me.
When I woke up a bit later, I was in my bed in my mansion. I realized that all of my girls were around me. Lydia, Celeste, and Terra had returned. Elaya and Astria were there as well. To my biggest surprise, Prince Aberis and Eliana were there as well. They had various levels of worried and confused looks on their faces.
“It’s that bad huh?” I muttered, stroking my aching body.
My voice sounded high-pitched and strange. Even that had been hurt? I did feel weak. As soon as I opened my eyes and spoke, everyone seemed to let out a collective sigh of relief. It was Elaya though who approached my side and spoke.
“What happened? You used your hero ability Return. Then, what happened?’
“That man! He’s dangerous!” I tried to sit up, but Elaya pushed me back down, but then removed her hand from my chest with an awkward look.
“Yes, your girls have already mentioned him. We don’t know who he is. Perhaps he works for the Imperial Cloud Meadow?” Prince Aberis spoke. “Rather, we want to know what happened to you.”
“Me?” I blinked. “Um… I don’t know… wait… he grabbed my neck. I was afraid he was going to keep us from Returning, so I… did something.”
“Did you cut your soul in two?” Elaya demanded.
“Cut his soul!” Lydia cried out.
All the other girls started speaking at once.
“Silence!” Elaya’s commanding voice did the trick, and everyone else quieted. “Deek, did you use miasma to damage yourself?”
“I think… I think I did.” I finally got out, feeling a surge of fear. “What does that mean? Am I okay?”
“You did something very stupid, and very dangerous,” Elaya said. “What you did was chop off a piece of your soul, and sent it with Return back here. You are that soul.”
“What do you mean? Wh-where is the rest of my soul?”
“Dead. That man, he likely destroyed it shortly after you did it. Your soul was flayed. It’s remarkable you even survived.”
“Flayed… No… Master…” Celeste cried worriedly.
“It was the right action. Whoever this guy was, he’s strong. To be able to interrupt a Return in mid-use, all of you together wouldn’t have been able to defeat him.” Astria sighed.
“This was the right action.” Elaya agreed. “But the consequences…”
I gulped.” What are the consequences?”
“The majority of your soul was left behind and destroyed. We know this because we already tried to summon your soul, and it didn’t come. It’s much like someone who dies too much in quick succession. Your soul has been taxed too greatly. Had it been the other side that was sent, then you’d be in far better shape, but whatever this guy was, he had a grip on too much of your soul.
“For the immediate future, you’ll be weak. You may experience emotional changes and mood swings. Although with time, your soul will heal and grow again, you may never grow back what you lost. Only time will tell how much you did lose.”
“I should also add… under no circumstances can you die again. Your soul in its current shape, there is no guarantee you’d be able to be resurrected from even a simple death.”
Elaya nodded. “Then, it’s best you get some rest.”
“Shouldn’t we tell him?” Miki asked.
“Shhh!” Shao elbowed her.
“Tell? Tell me what?”
Elaya shot Miki an irritated look, but Miki returned it with her sense of stubbornness. There was something she wanted to say and Elaya was trying to keep it from me.
I summoned up all of my strength to made a stern demand. “Tell me… if you want…”
Somehow, I felt embarrassed as soon as I acted that way and lost all momentum. Had my competency as a leader been damaged by this? It was worse than dying, it seemed.
“Your body was in that man’s grasp. Only a small piece of your soul was transferred over.”
“What do you mean? I’m not a ghost?”
“No…” She shook her head and then looked a bit reluctant like she didn’t want to reveal something to me. “What I’m saying… is that your body had to be reconstructed, to finish the return. However, the Return magic didn’t have the proper mana to do it, so it used the only thing available.”
“Perhaps it is best if we just showed him,” Astria suggested.
Elaya nodded and waved a hand, creating a mirror out of seemingly nothing. She handed it to me. I looked at her worriedly for a second, but every eye seemed to be watching me intensely for a reaction. I glanced at the mirror. I let out a breath. It was just me. I was expecting to see some lizard person or something. Wait… didn’t I look a bit… cute? My hair was a bit longer, and… I noticed something going on with my chest, so I tilted it down, then my eyes darted down. I had breasts! I tossed the mirror aside and my hands went to a certain area. Something was missing!
“I’m a girl!” I cried out, not realizing that my high-pitched voice was a girly voice.
“The mana of the girls that were returning with you was used to reconstruct your body. As a result, you were reborn as a female.” Elaya finished.
“I’m a girl!” I repeated the same thing, checking my body parts and confirming once again it was true.
It was a fact that required repeating.
“You’re a pretty cute girl!” Astria corrected, grinning slightly.
“It’s okay, Master, you’re still our Master!” Lydia tried to comfort me. “I’ll still satisfy Master’s needs!”
“It’s possible, I’ll look into an appropriate gender-bending potion.” Prince Aberis explained awkwardly. “As progressive as our country is, I’m not sure I can convince the council to allow the Princess to marry another woman.”
“N-Not saying my feelings for you are any less!” Eliana says teary-eyed. “L-look at it this way, when the baby comes, we can both breastfeed.”
“Uhhh…” I made a noise like I had been punched, and the girls all glared at Eliana, who quickly quieted herself.
“Deek, are you okay?” Terra asked worriedly.
“I’ll be okay,” I said, deciding to not think about what was between my legs right now. “What about Carmine?”
“We’ve already sent her manager a message. They will drop out after the next match. With this mysterious person under Lord Reign’s employ, it’s become too dangerous.” Shao explained. “We haven’t gotten a response, but she should be returning soon.”
“There is also some good news, you’re officially a C-ranked Adventurer now. Ruby put in all of the paperwork.” Lydia tried to give me some good news.
“That’s not the only news. We’ve also made contact with the bandits.” Shao added.
“The bandits?” I blinked.
“The bandits? In the southeast? A message was sent out to every Traveler’s Guild with an open invitation. The Bandit Hero wants to meet Reign’s End!”
“He’s not up for that… I mean she… I mean he!” Lydia chastised, only to grow flustered.
“Guys, I’m fine.” I said, “Just give me some Waters of Life, and a day to heal myself with my White Mage abilities, and I’ll be back on my feet.”
“You shouldn’t walk into danger like that! Don’t be so reckless.” The girls tried to protest.
“We do it every time we enter a dungeon! My soul in its current state is no different. Besides, you guys are my strength. I give you strength, and you fight for me. That’s how it’s always worked.” I said. “It’s okay… I’m scared too, but some things you need to do because they are right!”
“Ah… I guess Master hasn’t changed much after all.”
I managed to convince the girls somehow. I’d spend a day or two resting, and then it was back to the village where our army was starting to form. We talked for only a little bit longer before Elaya ended things because she felt I needed rest. I honestly felt fine. I cast some more healing spells on myself, and soon, I didn’t even feel the weakness anymore, although I did have a feeling like my strength wouldn’t match my level, it wasn’t at a point I felt I needed to worry.
“Shh! The tiger approaches… watch as it stalks its prey. Look at the laid back ears, the twitching tail, the low posture. This suggests that it’s locked on and ready to pounce.” I teased gently.
Several days had passed, and I had recovered from my “condition” with the help of a potion.
“What do you do, Master?” Miki asked nervously.
“Ai… the only thing I can do, when the tiger pounces. Stab it with my spear!”
“Rawr!” Lydia let out a mischievous roar as she leaped on top of me.
Miki and Terra, one in each arm, shrieked playfully, moving to the side so Lydia landed on top of me. Her chest landed on mine, and her hands grabbed my arms, her nails digging into my shoulders as she looked up at me with a predatory look.
“Ahhh, Master’s spear has pierced me!” Lydia cried, sliding it into her, something the experienced tigress could now do without hands.
As long as I was hard, she could move her hips in just the right way so it popped right in every time.
“I-is it over?” Miki asked, peeking out from a break in her fingers.
I shook my head. “No, this battle has only just begun! Ahhh! Lydia, c-c-claws!”
“You know Master is still weak after the accident. His soul energy has only just stabilized!”
“S-sorry…” Lydia’s ferocious look turned miserable and she looked like she was going to be in tears. “Playing king of the jungle just excites my animal side too much.” She pouted.
“It doesn’t excite me.” Miki snorted.
“Well, of course, it doesn’t excite you, you’re a nine-tailed fox. You’re probably excited by ghost games.” Lydia shrugged. “Ah! See, your tail is wagging!”
“It’s not!” Miki reached back and grabbed her tail.
“Animalkin.” Terra shrugged. “Master, I’d never scratch you.”
“You’d just give him a rash, rocky!” Miki stuck out her tongue at Terra.
“Have we stopped?” A voice stopped Terra’s retort.
A small naked body climbed out from between Lydia’s tits which were pressed against my body. She was on all fours on my chest, and as soon as she got out of Lydia’s cleavage, her wings spread out.
“Ah! I squished Celeste!”
“It’s okay! I like tight places!” Celeste nodded. “And being in a pair of breasts makes me feel funny. I want Master now.”
She turned and fell on her butt, and then suddenly grew to full size. The other girls let out a cry as her body push back to fill the space in front of Lydia. The result was that her pink furred pussy ended up in Lydia’s face.
“Ah! C-Celeste! We talked about this! I don’t mind doing it with you since you realized you’re bisexual, but I need some warning and Master’s permission!”
“S-sorry! It was an accident. I was just relaxing, and since I’m big-sized most of the time now, it’s the form I default to!”
“Mmmm…. Mmm…. Mmmm!”
A sound came from under Celeste.
“Ahn! Oh… Master… so dirty! But I like it!” Celeste moaned.
“You’re sitting on his face!” Terra smacked her butt, causing it to jiggle.
“Ah! Master! S-s-sorry!” Celeste stood up, her feet on either side of my head, and then she bent down to look at me.
Her hair fell across my chest and her big chest fell to the point where only her eyes could be seen.
“Master, are you okay?” She said this, her voice muffled on her tits.
“Oh!” Lydia suddenly lifted up and made a startled noise. “Master just came in me!”
“Ah… he likes my butt so much?”
“No! It was Lydia!” I finally got a word out.
“Isn’t it your fault for constantly doing kegels on it!” I fought back defensively.
“Ah… I do it all the time though, it’s kind of a natural thing.” Lydia blushed. “S-sorry.”
Her vagina felt like a vacuum against it, constantly tensing and relaxing on it for the last minute. Along with all the other naked girls, the stimulation was too much and I came in Lydia.
“It’s fine.” I sighed. “At least I have a penis again.”
Suffice it to say, things were back to normal again.
“I kind of liked girl Deek,” Celeste said, getting off me and lying down next to us.
“Of course, you did…” Miki sniffed. “I prefer Master with a dick.”
“I don’t care, as long as it’s Master,” Lydia threw her arms around me and kissed me.
“How is the potion holding up though?” Terra asked.
I looked at the nightstand, where there were a half-dozen bottles of potion, and sighed. “It’s doing good so far. Each bottle only works about 8 hours though.”
“I can make them as long as you need it.” Miki made a fist as she spoke as if it was a personal challenge.
“The Prince said there is a potion that is permanent, he just needs to find the recipe.”
Although Miki, Shao, and Terra were comfortable being with the other girls naked, it wasn’t like they were particularly into women. Miki had gotten used to Lydia’s touch, and didn’t mind her, but she wouldn’t lay with any of the girls outside the core group. Terra was a bit more flexible, but more in an apathetic way. Celeste had declared herself bisexual and had an interest in the girls as well as me. Lydia had an anything-goes approach and was content with girls and guys. However, her ultimate goal with others wasn’t her satisfaction, but to make them aroused enough to seek me out.
Then, there was Shao.
There was a commotion outside the room. The door suddenly burst open, and the girl herself was standing there, breathing hard.
“I knew it! Master was with sleeping around on me again!”
“Shao, we talked about this. We’re all Master’s women!” Lydia defended, her tail lashing.
“We also agreed that any time with Deek was with all of us or at least approved by all of us! Yet, the second I leave for just three days here Master is, in bed with four sluts!”
Lydia rolled her eyes. “Master has been a girl for the last two days and you weren’t interested.”
“She still gets jealous though.” Celeste pouted. “After mother and I played with girl Deek, she gave us both a spanking. I kind of liked it.”
“Either way, he only just got his first shipment of potion today, so we were just… helping him test it out.”
“You… excuses! I’ll curse you all!”
Lydia got off of me, finally, my part sliding out of her. It was already hard again, thanks to her relentless kegel regiment.
“He’s all yours.” Lydia gestured to my lower half.
Shao was always shy when it came to those kinds of things. As soon as she saw it, her cheeks turned red and her angry expression dissipated like smoke. She started pushing her fingers together with her head lowered.
“Ah… now… right away? But I just got home. I’m probably sweaty. I definitely smell…”
“Enough of this!” Another woman shoved passed the shy-acting Shao.
Unlike Shao, she showed no modesty looking at our naked bodies. She was a tall, blonde beauty who wore an eyepatch. However, right now, her expression was grim, and her eyes were rimmed red. She crossed her arms, her body shaking slightly.
I sat up, pushing the girls aside. “What is it?”
“The result of the gladiatorial match was announced. No one came out. There were no winners. Carmine… she’s…” Tears began to fall down her face. “She’s dead!”
“Hmph… I was getting to that.” Shao shrugged.
“Are you sure?”
“It was announced by Lord Reign himself. She went into that portal, and she never came out. We should have gotten there to warn her in time!” Salicia slammed her fist against the wall.
I stood up, quickly pulling clothing out of my Inventory and dressing. Celeste shrank down and flew to her clothing while the other girls grabbed their own.
“My bond to her still doesn’t exist. When she jumped in, it shrank to virtually nothing. I could barely feel her. Then, it suddenly felt like it was severed.” I explained. “We prepared for this possibility.”
“No!” Salicia shouted. “You can resurrect her.”
“I’ve already tried…”
“Try again!” She had tears streaming down her face now.
“I will… but we have to be prepared for the worst.”
It wasn’t that my heart didn’t ache for her loss, but ever since I cut off a piece of my soul, I found it easier to remain calm. I wasn’t prone to being excitable or angry. On top of that, of everyone, Carmine was perhaps the girl I was least close to. She had many irritating habits, and while she was beautiful, I always felt her personality was bad. The sisters had been guards I had hired to protect me. There was always a chance they would die.
I did care about her death, but it wasn’t at a level where her loss would cause me to break. One of the reasons the girls were with me now was to help cheer me up. I had already shed tears in the last few days. The second her bond broke, I knew something ominous had happened. This news only confirmed what I had already known, and what Salicia refused to accept. It just reminded me of how dangerous the things we were doing were. I’d have to be more careful in the future. I couldn’t make another mistake as I did at the Reign Keep.
“If he can’t resurrect her, you know what that means,” Terra warned.
“Yeah… her soul has been destroyed,” Salicia responded bitterly.
“I will use Resurrection with dungeon points. It functions like a level 100 spell. Its success rate is 100%, compared to the other methods.” I explained.
The girls gathered around the bed where I was going to try to bring Carmine back. I had many methods of casting Resurrection, but the dungeon points were always the most reliable in strength and fidelity. The tattoos on my body glowed as I Reset and switched my points to give me the Resurrection spell. I began to cast it, and a glowing light began as I dumped power into it.
A few minutes later, the light dimmed, but nothing was appearing on the bed. Salicia collapsed on her knees, her cries turning to wails as her head pressed into the mattress. Terra and Lydia, who were standing on either side of her, gently stroked her shoulders, giving her time to mourn.
Sometime later, after crying for hours, Salicia finally stood back up. Her expression was filled with righteous anger and fury.
“Salicia?” I asked, meeting her eyes.
“I want to kill Lord Reign…”
“We’ll need an army,” I responded.
“Isn’t that what you’ve been building?” Lydia asked, cocking her head.
“That was when we thought we were battling a small lord. Instead, we’re battling Demonic Knights controlled by a sold-out lord. There is also his supporter, who is really powerful. He’s already almost killed me. They probably think he succeeded.”
“What are you saying?” Salicia demanded.
“We need a bigger army,” I responded. “And I know just where to find one!”