“I don’t really understand.” Lydia frowned. “You already warned us she might have mood swings.”
I had brought Elaya up to the mansion where the girls were all packed for our journey. Salicia was looking as serious as ever, but the other girls were fairly relaxed. I had already drunk another potion, and returned to my male form. I sat to the side and let Elaya talk. She had explained that things might be more serious than they originally thought.
“It hasn’t even been a week yet since he chopped off a piece of his soul. He had done it to save the lot of you, but in the process, he also seemed to have saved himself as well.” Elaya explained. “What I hadn’t realized was that by cutting off his soul, Deek was also cutting off a piece of himself.”
“I suppose I would be the one to understand this the best. I am not Elaya. I was created based on Elaya, and further refined by the soul fragments captured by the dungeon. My body, my form, and my personality were all shaped not by the true Elaya, but by the idea of her. I’m a reflection of how people had perceived her. Whether I am similar to Elaya, or not, well, that’s an answer we’ll never have, since that woman died long ago.
“When Deek severed me from the dungeon, and then resurrected me, he gave me life, but not Elaya’s life. My soul was created from memories and soul fragments. It’s a completely unique soul that didn’t exist before. In a way, that is the nature of dungeons. They shuffle things. They rearrange and reorganize life. Some believe this is destructive, like a cancer, but as someone who was born from a dungeon, I believe they are somehow necessary for life!”
“What does this have to do with Deek?”
“When Deek cut off a piece of his soul, only that small piece survived. He cut off everything he had to. In short, he cut off everything he associated with you girls. He needed to do so to sever the bonds. As a result, all of the things he placed with you, his decision making, his self-control, his sexuality, his insecurities, his emotional need and worry, those were the parts that survived. What he lost was his anger, his bravery, and his determination.
“When Miki saved him, she rebuilt his soul, cobbling what was left into something new. This Deek is as much the original Deek as I am the original Elaya.”
“You’re saying Deek is dead?” Lydia stood up, a flash of anger on her face.
“I’m Deek!” I said, feeling like I could cry.
“You are…” She said, reaching out and touching my cheek. “But you’re also injured. It’s not just your body and soul, but your very essence.
“Deek is Deek.” Lydia finally declared. “It doesn’t matter who Deek is, he will always be Deek!”
Elaya nodded. “In time, he may regain some of his old personality, but he will always be a bit different now. I just wanted you to all be prepared.”
“It doesn’t change anything!” Miki said. “I could see his soul back then, and I can see his soul now. It’s the same!”
“I love Deek!” Celeste cried out.
Shao nodded. “Deek has saved us all so many times. It’s time that I look out for Deek.”
Terra shrugged. “If Deek is hurt, we will just fix him. Always.”
With all the girls banding together, I felt a warmth inside. Together, we could handle anything.
“Elaya… about earlier…”
“Do you still want to enslave me?” Elaya asked, not meeting my eyes.
“Yes, more than anything.” I admitted.
“It looks like you saved your honesty.” Elaya responded, turning to me and smiling. “I don’t dislike your possessive side. There is no reason that I wouldn’t happily be your slave, but only if you promise to have me forever.”
“I mean it… forever is forever. I don’t mean the rest of our lives.”
“Well, I mean, when we die…”
“Exactly! You have to find a way to live forever, and for me to live forever. I will be your slave for eternity, not a day less.”
“Hmph…” Although she said that, she had a smile on her face and seemed genuinely happy. “The day isn’t getting any younger. Don’t you have a mission? I’ll be here when you get back. Think about it. Because once you take me… I’ll also take you, and I’ll never let you go.”
“Okay, I’ll think about it.”
I wanted to say yes right away. Every impulse in my body wanted to jump on it. What was the point of waiting? Would my mind really change? Thankfully, I managed to keep myself from jumping ahead. After offering to have babies with Ruby, I learned my lesson. I left Elaya, and then walked over to the rest of the girls.
The old team was back together again. Thankfully, the girls didn’t use our recent revelations as a reason to postpone the trip. Perhaps, they even understood more about why this trip was necessary. I raised a hand, and then summoned a Portal. The group of us stepped through, and found ourselves in a town that was nearly unrecognizable from the one we had left two weeks ago.
“Come… this way.” Shao said.
I had sent Shao to scout a couple of places the last three days, and she had stopped here. She hadn’t said how the once small and quaint town that seemed oddly filled with incest had grown to the point where it was larger than the original Chalm. There were a few hundred residents. They had built a dozen more buildings, and even put up a small wall. It was an impressive feat, and more than I had expected of them.
We stopped soon, and I saw the familiar old man who was the leader of the village back when it could still be called a village. “My Lord returns!”
He bowed, and everyone around him bowed. It was enough to make me feel shy.
“Hey…” I said, feeling a bit awkward. “The place has changed.”
“After you encouraged us all to gather, and even went out of your way to save us, we have redoubled our efforts. We pushed the bandits out of our area and reclaimed as much as possible. Rather than form a bunch of small villages once again, we decided it’d be safer if we kept together. Thus… this city was born. Impressed?”
I had felt like I had kind of abandoned them, although, if you thought about it, it had only been a few weeks. Under normal circumstances, movements weren’t that fast. Most people didn’t have Portals that allowed them to jump around the country. Had I just made a round trip to Alerith and then back without any time in between, it probably would have taken a month. So, being back in two weeks probably felt like barely any time for them.
That also meant that although they cleared out the bandits, the reason the bandits haven’t retaliated yet might be because they’re waiting for a better time. This might be the best time to relocate.
“It is impressive,” I responded. “But, all of you need to…”
“Yes, welcome to the city of Deeksville!” He seemed to have been waiting to announce that.
“Yes, since you are the lord that came and resurrected us like a phoenix, it seemed only fitting that we picked you as the name.” He announced proudly.
I had desired to start more cities for some time. A place that had as much territory as mine could not survive with only one city. Yet, it seemed like the west of Aberis was a notoriously difficult and unlucky place to be. Bandits had ravaged the countryside, and that which wasn’t taken out by Bandits was destroyed by the monsters flooding in from the west.
It was important to build a network of cities along the west not just to consolidate trade, but also to act as a protector for the rest of Aberis. Although it was unclear to me how Alerith had managed to hold out for the last thirty years, it was likely that Lord Reign had made some kind of treaty with Imperial Cloud Meadow to lend him protection. As for the south, it had been the combination of the ghost dungeon that had been restrained by priests that had kept the wilderness at bay.
I once had the chance to build a city with my name already. The Mining Town just out of Alerith would have been named after me. However, the Dungeon dried up and was defeated. The Orichalcum mine was nothing more than an elaborate trap. In the end, I had wiped out the entire city to defeat a group of Knights I now knew were demonic in nature. Perhaps, that was why they converted into miasma so fluidly. At the time, I had thought it was just something I could do. Now, I was realizing for everything I thought I understood, there were two things I didn’t.
Suffice it to say, that the thought of destroying a city that already had my name irked me. I wasn’t trying to be the sentimental type, but this was my second city. If I just gave it up here because of a fear of Bandits, then what was I even doing? The girls seemed to be able to detect my reluctance to announce my plans.
“Master… the plan was to relocate…” Miki began.
“Time for a new plan!” I declared, and then laughed, scratching my head. “Isn’t it fine to be flexible? We never should be too rigid in our plans, right?”
The girls looked at each other. I tried to play it off as a joke, but I had already decided that we were not going to relocate and risk losing this city. That meant I had a new task for everyone. I didn’t think about it too much, but I had already decided.
“This is the spot. Terra, erect a better wall than what they got. It doesn’t have to be like our wall made to withstand high-level monster attacks, but something that will keep the Bandits out. Shao, meet with Raissa. Decide who she feels is qualified to train new troops. We will bring them here and start turning this village into a military.”
“Are you sure about this?” Shao asked uncertainly.
“Of course!” I gave her a thumbs up.
That was… until I changed my mind again.