Later that night, just before I entered the room, I noticed the girls were waiting for me. They were all kneeling on the ground with their heads lowered. I cautiously walked over to them and sat down on the bed. The girls present were Lydia, Miki, Celeste, Terra, Shao, Salicia, and Carmine.
“Okay, what is this about?” I asked.
“Master, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking the last day, and we’ve all decided to leave,” Lydia spoke quickly.
I maintained my calm. “Oh?’
“It’s just, after the battle with the demon lord, we’ve all come to realize something. We’re not strong.”
“That’s… not true.” I frowned.
They were the strongest women I knew. They had even left the armies in awe over their strength.
“We should say that… we’re not strong enough,” Miki added. “For me, it took everything I had to make sure that the demon lord died. If I was a stronger spiritualist, I wouldn’t have had to continuously keep the barrier on him until he died. Every time he tried to pull that bond apart, it felt like I was being ripped apart. If I had slipped up, then all of our sacrifices would have been for nothing.”
“But… you didn’t slip up?” I frowned.
“Master, it’s more than just the demon lord. We believe that eventually, Master might face greater threats, and we need to be strong enough to face them.” Lydia spoke up.
“We weren’t able to save Master. In the end, you had to self-sacrifice both of your bodies to finally stop him.” Miki continued. “It worked out okay this time, but what about next time. We need to become better.”
“You’ll level up faster in my care.” I reminded them of my experience bonuses.
“There are some parts of growth beyond levels and experience,” Terra explained. “There are things we need to learn, and we can’t do that under Master’s protection. The bonuses you give to our status make us feel powerful, but it is a power we borrow from you. We need to become powerful on our own.”
I could only understand too well. We had all earned jobs and levels far faster than this world was designed for us to do it. Some things needed time. They needed to become used to their abilities and grow comfortable using them.
“Master is also outdistancing us,” Carmine added.
“What?” I raised an eyebrow.
“You said it earlier in the hot spring,” Shao said. “You’re changing. You’re growing. We need to change and grow as well, or we’ll never be able to be worth being by your side.”
“You sent us out as a group once.” Celeste continued. “But the truth is, depending on each other keeps us from being able to work on our weaknesses. For example, I learned that as a mana creature, my mana is just far too weak. I wouldn’t have dispersed so quickly in that fight if I had properly trained my body to handle the high-level spells I was depending on.”
“You all feel this way?” I asked.
“We do.” Lydia nodded her head. “When you split your body apart, you were able to see your weaknesses clearly and turn them into strengths. You were able to build the army in the same way. We need that as well. We wish to split up, so that we can see where our weaknesses lie and become a team that is powerful for master, alone or together. Master, please allow us to leave and get stronger.”
As she said this, all of them lowered their heads even more. It seems like my girls had given this a lot of thought. Part of me wanted to hold them close. I wanted them near me at all times so that I could protect them, and perhaps so they could protect me too. They made their point though. I had to give them the room to grow into their own.
“How long will you be gone?” I asked after a long period of silence.
The girls all let out breaths, taking my words as acceptance toward their requests.
“It might be a month, or maybe up to three.”
“Three months…” I breathed.
Altogether, I hadn’t been in this world for much more than three months. I understood though. I had the pleasure of having nearly two months in Twilight dungeon. Even then, it wouldn’t be unreasonable if someone needed years to go on a personal journey. A few months wasn’t much at all. It was just hard to wrap my head around how much had happened in this last half-year, not even that much time had passed for my girls.
However, with the threat gone, there wasn’t a better time for them to do this. Once I got back from the wedding, we’d have finished cleaning up after the battle. The army will then march on Alerith, and I will establish my rule over the western side of Aberis. It will be more politics and ruling, and I wasn’t anticipating doing very much dangerous stuff. I had no reasons to go into any dungeons. Even my money problems would be resolved once we started growing plants. I expected my time here would be smooth sailing in the future.
“What are you all planning to do?” I asked after calming my heart a bit.
“I need to look for a swordmaster.” Lydia declared. “I’ve realized that I’ve taken my sword craft about as far as it can go without one. My levels have become slower and slower to earn, and my skill is still lacking.”
“Is there one in Aberis?” I asked.
“I do not know, but please don’t find one for me. I believe this is something I have to do on my own.” Lydia explained.
“One of the three dungeons in the wilderness is of the undead type,” Miki spoke up. “I’d like to head there to refine my spiritualist abilities. I have spent so much time among the living, that if I want to see my path, I must experience some time among the dead.”
“I see, is this a dangerous dungeon.”
“For me?” Miki raised an eyebrow.
I blushed. “Right…”
Miki feared the dead as much as I did, which is to say not at all. We both had a strong affinity for battling them.
“Mother says she knows a way for me to cultivate my mana body by immersing myself into the fairy spring.” Celeste declared. “While she is helping Elaya and Xin rebuild the dungeon, I’ll be in the spring directly, refining it through my body.”
The dungeon had been mostly destroyed by that meteor. Xin was quite ruffled over it. We had succeeded, but it would be a month before the dungeon was back to normal. Celeste being in the spring was probably a good thing. I didn’t know how it worked, but springs and fairies had a unique relationship where their presence reinforced each other. Celeste said she could gain whatever she needed wherever there was wind, but the fairy spring was still the best place for her.
“Terra?” I turned to her.
“I will be going underground into the deep.”
“Garnet says she remembers a path that leads to the home of the deep dwarves. We’ll be heading down there. I want to do this for a few reasons. First off, to gather unique magical ores. She believes that there are still treasures down there. With my mineral appraisal, I might be able to make the old deep dwarf kingdom’s wealth our own.”
“That would be great!” My eyes widened.
“I also feel that communing with the deep Earth will help me gain a better understanding of my ability to channel Gaia,” Terra admitted. “You don’t need to worry, I spent most of my life underground, and so did she. We’ll be fine.”
“I’d like to go to Earth.” Shao spoke up.”
“Wh-what?” My eyes widened.
“I just… I want answers.” Shao blushed. “I mean, it’s not like I can walk into the demon castle and ask the demon king. I know you said it’s unlikely I can find my family, but I would still like to give it a try.”
“I… I will send you if that’s what you want.”
In truth, Earth was a very safe place compared to everywhere else. If Shao wanted to go there, then she should have that right. Just because I didn’t have any lingering attachment, didn’t mean that she didn’t.
“I’ll be returning to the church.” Carmine shrugged.
“And you’ll be joining her?” I asked Salicia.
“Surprisingly, no.” Salicia chuckled. “My goal is the dungeon that created me. When Calypso restored my memory, I also gleaned the location of the dungeon that spawned me. She never bothered to destroy the place, nor did she take control of it like Bandit’s Respite. It’s in a generally unknown location, used mostly by bandits as a hideout so they don’t get caught. I’d like to go there and destroy it once and for all. It’ll be good closure for me.”
“I see you’ve all put some thought into this.” I nodded. “Then, you may go.”
We spent our last night together. They wouldn’t be waiting until after the wedding. The reasoning for that was pretty simple. They weren’t invited. I had communicated with the prince for clarification on the details, and it sounded like I was coming along as part of the Aberis delegation. However, most everyone had already left with the delegation days or even weeks ago. There were only four spots left. Two spots Prince Aberis had left open for me and Eliana. The remaining two had been left for Lord Reign, but he hadn’t responded to requests after our encounter, so they went to me.
Why was Eliana suddenly going? He didn’t answer that clearly other than muttering something about women. I didn’t argue with him though. I didn’t need a strong reason to go with my pregnant woman. I imagined that she wanted the same opportunity to go out with me while we were both dressed nicely. Anyway, that left only two spots open for me. I asked him about bodyguards, and he said bodyguards were already provided, and that I should use the spots for family and servants. Well, the entire Tibult family was there, and they were more protection than anyone would ever need.
If things got dicey, it wouldn’t be difficult to escape, and besides, inviting people to a wedding and then killing them was unheard of. Maybe a demon would act so horribly, but among humans, this idea would make someone an enemy of the church. Simply put, even the former king felt safe sending Eliana along to the Ost Republic, so it should be fine. Since the girls would just be sitting around bored at an inn, and I needed to be with the delegation, we decided it was best if they didn’t dally another week.
The next morning, everyone prepared to leave. Most of the postwar decisions had already been settled, so I mostly just checked and made sure everything was going according to plan. The malacrum dagger and the silvthril sword were now in my mansion’s treasury. I called it my mansions treasury, but it was the treasure room of the dungeon. Getting to it would be exceptionally difficult with now three old dungeon masters protecting it.
The army and monsters had scattered into the wilderness, but there weren’t the numbers to be a threat. Our men had experience now, and we numbered several thousand. Even though the paladins and nobles returned to their cities, Chalm’s strength had risen drastically. They were making plans to move on Alerith, but they would wait until I came back. I planned to let everyone rest and then portal them to the outskirts of Alerith.
Technically, a hard march would take a week, which was when I should be back from the wedding. This way, I could let the army rest, but keep our portal abilities under wraps. Lord Reign was still alive. He hadn’t been with the army that marched south. However, without his Master, there was no telling how much of him remained. Either way, he wasn’t a threat, and he could wait a week for the army to relax. Once I had finished everything up, I chose the companions that would come with me.
“Faeyna, you have the most experience opening up trade routes. I would like you to join me in Ost.”
“Of course, Master!” Faeyna curtsied. “And then maybe we can finally…”
“What?” I asked as she drifted off.
I knew what she was going to say. She wanted to have sex. In fact, it was best if she got pregnant since her species was nearly extinct and it seemed like I was the only one who could continue it. However, on this journey, I took two other women with me. Eliana and the second was Raissa. Even the new me felt like a bit of a scoundrel thinking about impregnating a third girl on a date with two other women I got pregnant. That was the kind of stuff you ended up on a tv show for.
“Raissa. I want you to come with me too. You have good instincts. You can tell when people are lying, and honestly, I want a reason that the pair of you spend more time together.”
Although Raissa and Eliana couldn’t be more different, it’d be nice if the two mothers-to-be grew closer together.
“Alright, it’s time to go.”