Leaving Elaya behind, the group of us headed back to the mansion using the backdoor entrance into the basement. As we reached the mansion, Garnet and Bernice looked around at the lavish hallway with wide eyes. The pair had never really been in a mansion or palace before. Bernice lived the life of a poor person and Garnet typically moved to small towns and slept in the dirt more often than not. Only Carmine was comfortable with this kind of lavish environment, although I didn’t think she’d ever seen my manor before, since I had previously left her at my properties in the Capital or Alerith.
“Y-you really do live in a mansion?” Bernice’s mouth fell open. “I know you said you were a lord, but…”
“Yeah… I guess, since you’re my slave, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you want. If you’d like to stop being my slave, then I’m happy to release you, but then you also wouldn’t get to stay here.”
“A-are you trying to bribe me?” Bernice demanded.
“I’m just being clear on our relationship.” I shrugged, just trying to make sure everything was handled.
“Carmine, why don’t you find Garnet and Bernice a room? The mansion still has plenty.” I tried to redirect them.
“Isn’t Master just asking that so you can play with your girls without us watching?” Carmine asked wryly.
“Th-that’s not true!” This time, my face turned red.
Since I had taken her to bed, Carmine had grown more territorial and a bit more willful. She was usually the strong, silent type who took all her pain on the inside, but since her mind had been invaded from the karmic infection and we had gone through a life and death battle together, only for her to end up as the only girl with me in my world, well, our relationship had changed. She was someone I cared about deeply, and who I trusted to keep me safe. That’s why she was more comfortable with teasing me about these things as well.
“Animal…” Bernice gave me dark eyes.
“Ahh… even though Master has me, he’ll run into another woman’s arms.” Garnet jokingly added.
They didn’t linger to torture me though. Carmine took the two women and walked off toward one of the unused wings. The wing I slept in had been filled up, all of the women closest to me wanting to sleep closest to me as well. They all slept in my room most nights anyway. I guess they hadn’t been doing that the last few months… no, it had only been weeks for them, I had to keep reminding myself.
I went toward my wing, heading for my bedroom. It felt strange not being able to feel where any of the girls were. I supposed I could locate them using the map and sense life, but I felt like I lost something doing that. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far. Upon opening the door to my room, I found one of them waiting for me. As soon as I saw her, my heart nearly beat out of my chest.
“Ah, Master?” Lydia smiled at me.
“Welcome back,” Lydia responded. “Ah… from where?”
I frowned at her words. Of everything I expected from appearing, I didn’t expect Lydia to barely react at all. She was as lovely as always, but she wasn’t upset, excited, or confused. She might as well have seen me just a little earlier today.
“Ah, Master, why did you just tell us to meet you in the War room if you’re here?” Lydia suddenly asked, cocking her head.
“War room?” I blinked. “What war room? Lydia… I’ve been gone for weeks.”
It was Lydia’s turn to be confused. “What do you mean? I just saw you this morning…”
I took a step forward, and Lydia suddenly looked even more doubtful.
“Elaya… she was trying to say something.”
“You’ve seen Elaya?” Her eyes flashed.
“Lydia… I’m Deek. The last time I saw you was when we were in Lord Reign’s castle. I cut off a piece of my soul, and then teleported all of you home. Lord Reign tossed me into a dungeon, I only recently escaped with Carmine.”
As I spoke, Lydia’s eyes grew wide, and her alarm seemed to grow as well.
“I… the slave bond.”
“I cut off the slave bond.” I shook my head. “I had to do it send you away. I’m… just glad your safe.”
“You… don’t understand. Deek came back with us.”
“Deek, I mean… he’s been here all along.”
“That…” I looked down for a second, and then back up. “The Demon Lord!”
“Do you know who attacked us in Alerith? The person that forced me to cut my soul? It was Demon Lord Aberis! He’s the power behind Lord Reign, not Imperial Cloud Meadow like we thought.”
“Th-the demon lord died…”
“That’s what we thought, but when Xin and Elaya killed him, he made himself reborn. Since then, he’s been gathering power.” I explained. “Don’t you understand what this means? He sent back a copy with you! This Deek, he must be some kind of spy created by Lord Aberis to confuse all of you!”
“N-no… that can’t be true…” She shook her head, her eyes filled with confusion and worry.
“Think about it. Is there anything questionable about him? Had he acted strangely?”
“That is…” Lydia’s eye started to flash with realization. “He… it was a she?”
“The one who came back was a female version of you. She takes potions to remain male. As for their behavior… they can be a little cold sometimes.”
“Don’t you see, it must be some kind of fake! Lord Aberis must have done something to send it. The soul piece that was cut off was far too weak to have survived on its own.”
“Look, how much of my soul went with you? Almost nothing. All of it was me, I’m the real Deek.” I had started to approach her, and soon I was right in front of her, my eyes filled with passion. “Even if that Deek was me, it’d only be a shadow. I’m the true Deek.”
“M-m-master?” Her eyes looked into mine with realization.
Suddenly, I felt the bond between us snap back into place. With a smile, I grabbed Lydia and kissed her. As I passionately held her, Lydia melted into my arms. It seemed like things were far worse than I had hoped. It was fine. I’d fix everything. I was home now.
From the moment Lydia suddenly ceased to be connected to my bond, I immediately began looking for her. It didn’t take long before I thought to bring up the map. I had to reset my dungeon points to bring out a skill, Sense Life Plus. I hoped I’d gain it in one of my job titles soon, but it was extremely useful as a dungeon skill too. I had found that if I used it, then any dot I selected on the map would also display the information regarding that person. I quickly located Lydia. She was in my room?
She also appeared to be next to someone. However, when I attempted to click on their name, it brought up question marks. It was someone I couldn’t identify? What kind of creature would be able to confuse my Sense Life? It left me rather terrified.
I quickly ran to my bedroom, and behind me, all of the girls followed. We were supposed to be discussing war matters regarding the appearance of Lord Reign. Now, I was dealing with the loss of Lydia. Was this some kind of trick Lord Reign came up with? Was he stealing my slaves now? That question mark was that the strange man who had attacked us in the castle. If Lord Reign had sent him, then we had a major fight ahead of us. If he also could break the bonds between my women and me, even despite my blessing, it left me feeling afraid.
My mind worked quickly through a million different possibilities. I’d even considered just casting meteor and destroying the entire mansion. No, that was perhaps too impulsive. However, that could be a possible plan B. I could always resurrect everyone later. On the other hand, if this mysterious monster was allowed to wipe us out, it could mean Lord Reign won without a single shot fired. It’d be horribly embarrassing.
“Master, is Lydia okay?” Miki asked worriedly.
Of all the girls, Miki and Shao were the closest to Lydia. There was a time it had just been Miki and Lydia. They had fought together in Karr’s dungeon when they thought they had lost me and even had to drag my corpse back together when I unexpectedly died retaking the city. As a result, the girls formed a closer bond. Celeste was a bit of an airhead, and Terra liked to keep to herself. Shao, on the other hand, saw Lydia as a repository of sexual knowledge and her ideal to strive for. Either way, all of the girls respected her as the leader and scout for our group, and if she was lost, our fighting potential was also lost, as well as a close friend.
Rather than answer, I opened the door to my bedroom and looked in. My eyes landed on Lydia, but what I saw was far worse than her being dead. If she was dead, I could summon her back to life. Instead, she was in the arms of another man. They were kissing passionately, his back to me. A cold feeling spread through me, and I pulled out my blade. Whoever this man was, he would die!