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After we finished eating, the group continued on. Bradrick finally called for a stop come evening.

“If the reports are correct, the goblins are just beyond this hill,” Bradrick stated as he handed his horse to Rio to do all of the proper work, and then looked at me. “Don’t start a fire. They’ll see it.”

I nodded. “Yes, my lord.”

Bradrick gave an empty smile. “You can just call me Brad. We’re teammates now.”

“Yes, Brad.”

Of course, I didn’t believe that at all. We were there to make Lord Brad look good. I was very clear on our place. I still did my best to make dinner, but it was a little better than dry bread with a seasoned oil to dip in it. Still, compared to nothing, the oil took the edge off the bread and made the meal comfortable. Of course, I had also slipped ingredients into the oil that would temporarily increase vitality.

“Are we waiting until the morning?” Rio asked once he finished with the horses.

“No. We’ll rest until it’s pitch black, and then we’ll approach the fortress.”

I raised my head. “Fortress? Not a cave?”

I had assumed we would be walking into a situation not much different than the goblins I had encountered an eternity ago. It sounded like that wasn’t the case.

“Goblins settle in whatever shelter they can scavenge. There was an old abandoned fort located here from a previous war. Father should have knocked it down, but he stupidly left it up.”

“Makes sense,” I observed. “This area sits between his main territory and the Capital city of Dragon’s Mount. If the Demon King ever turned on him, he’d be able to quickly reactivate the fortress as a means of protecting his lands.”

“What are you saying? Are you saying my father is treasonous?” Bradrick frowned.

“No, it would just be a precaution… ah… sorry, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Apologies, my lord.” I bowed my head, and he readjusted in his seat.

This time, he didn’t bother to correct me about calling him my lord. Rio gave me a cautioning look, and I immediately understood my mistake. Party members weren’t supposed to think or make Bradrick appear foolish. His father was a careful man. Choosing to deal with the occasional monsters that took up residence in this fort was a small price to pay to have it as a security and deterrent. Of course, if he had manned the fort, he could be accused of showing aggression toward the demon king, so this was a strategic choice.

None of that went through Bradrick’s mind. He didn’t have it in him to think of such things as a betrayal. He was a hero who did what was righteous under the demon lord. The politics that had surrounded Lord Typhoon were lost on his children. Perhaps Seris understood some of it, but that probably came from being paranoid and suspicious of everyone.

Bradrick quickly allowed the event to pass, but like always, it was never abundantly clear how much it bothered him. I didn’t think it was at a level where I was in danger, but you wouldn’t know he was dropping you until it was too late to do something about it.

“Anyway, we’ll attack at night.”

“We’ll need to be careful. The goblins have good eyes at night,” Rio said.

He shot me a side look as if to say that this was how I needed to approach Bradrick. He didn’t show Bradrick’s mistake with wanting to attack where only our side was disadvantaged, but he pointed it out anyway. That didn’t seem to matter to Brad though.

“Goblins are lazy and sleep a lot. They’ll be more likely to sleep during the day.”

I wasn’t sure that was true. It was certainly daytime when I was captured by a goblin hunting party, but after that, I had spent the rest of my time in that cave. I never knew when it was day or night outside. I also recalled that there seemed to always be some goblins doing something. However, Bradrick said we were going to attack at night, so that meant that was what we were going to do.

After we finished eating, I pulled out a blanket and wrapped myself up. I hoped to get a few hours of sleep. The rest seemed to have the same idea. Only Bradrick decided to stay up and take watch, seemingly sitting stoically as the rest of us slept. However, the night was still chilly, and we didn’t even have a fire. No matter what, I didn’t seem to be able to get warm or comfortable.

That’s when a rustle caused me to look behind me. Beedle had a slightly pink color to her cheeks as she moved to get into my sheets. Rio sleeping a distance away gave a longing look as if he wished one of us had crawled into his blanket instead.

“I-it’s just because it’s cold.” She insisted, pushing her away inside.

“If you insist,” I smirked, causing her pink cheeks to darken.

She still slid into the blanket, hesitantly pushing herself against me. I noticed that she didn’t press her back to me. We could have been back-to-back, but instead, she pressed her chest into mine and wrapped her arms around me. I was always more comfortable with a playmate in bed with me, so I didn’t complain at all. My only regret is that there wouldn’t be anything hard pressing down below when I woke up. I liked the feel of a morning wood poking my ass.

Morning woods gave the best sex. It grew erect for reasons that even the man couldn’t explain. They would appear, making it seem like the man was ready for sex, but as soon as anything like that initiated, the man would begin to wake up and his erection would begin to disappear. You had to work extra hard to keep him hard. I always liked a challenge.

With women though, you had to start from the beginning, slowly teasing her until she became an unstoppable machine. It required a lot more time and effort. I could start playing with a guy and take him to climax in under ten minutes. Most women took at least an hour, and then she’d be wound up for several hours after, requiring aftercare snuggling and affection, at least if you wanted her to leave happy and not regret her actions.

“What is your story?” Beedle whispered in my ear.

I opened my eyes and stifled a sigh. I thought by the way I had ditched her this morning, she would have regretted things and kept her distance. I guess some girls were a bit harder to shake, no matter how cold you acted. She was making another attempt to get closer to me. I remained silent, not giving her anything to cling on to.

“I mean, are you really just a prostitute Brad’s brother brought home? You’re smart. You know alchemy. You can use magic. You can heal. I heard your level sixty! How could you be anything so… so…” She wisely closed her mouth before saying something rude as she remembered who she was talking to.

I finally let out a sigh and turned back to her. “If a man sells wheat, do you call him a fool?”

“That depends how much he sells it for…” She furrowed her brows.

“Okay, what if he has more wheat than he knows what to do with. What if it’s so much wheat, that if he doesn’t unload it, then he will be swamped with rotting food, which would bring in rats and other animals and end up causing him more trouble than it’s worth?”

“Then… I guess he’d have to sell it… that’s if he didn’t give it away.” She responded, and then she glared at me. “What does that have to do with my question?”

“I’m like that man. I have too much wheat, and the only way I can keep the vermin from taking advantage is to give it away to whoever I can, as cheaply as I can.”

“Huh?”

I chuckled, reaching out and patting her head. “It’s nothing.”

She squirmed under the sudden attention I was giving her. “When we go in there, just stay close to me, okay? I’ll keep you safe.”

“You will?” I licked my lips. “Then I’ll just have to get as close to you as possible.”

 I knew this would only encourage her to be more intrusive in the future, but with her body pressed against me, I was finding myself containing excess wheat once again and I needed to unload it. Some people may like the feel of a fireplace on a cold night. I find nothing better than the heat emanating from an aroused woman climaxing. Once she got going, her body radiated heat.

My hands worked their way down into her clothing as I gently nibbled on her ear. Just as she had trapped me so that I couldn’t leave, I trapped her so that she couldn’t either. My fingers plunged in her warmth while I teased her skin with my tongue. I used my deceptive techniques. I was very skilled at Sleight of Hand, so all of my actions went unnoticed by Bradrick and Rio.

Of course, what couldn’t go unnoticed was Beedle’s squeals and moans. She tried so hard to keep herself quiet, but in the end, the sounds coming from under our blanket was unmistakable. Bradrick sat in his spot with his back so straight that one thought he had a stick up his butt. No matter where he looked as he served as the watch, he never turned his head in our direction. As for Rio, he didn’t have Sleight of Hand at all. He couldn’t hide the tent forming in his blanket, nor the movement of his hands as he took care of himself solo.

Dark overtook the camp, and while I couldn’t say I got a lot of sleep, I did feel very refreshed and satisfied. Bradrick waited a good hour after Beedle’s noises settled down before he finally spoke up.

“I-it’s time!” His voice came out as a croak.

I rose from the blanket and stretched comfortably. As for Beedle, she struggled for some time to get her clothes back on while the men made sure to be busy elsewhere. I was far more skilled at taking her clothes off than she was at putting them back on. As for how this would affect her relationship with Bradrick in the future? That wasn’t any of my concern. It didn’t take long for us to pack up again, since we had never officially made camp for the night.

“You stiff?” I asked Rio with a smirk.

He jerked. When I pointed to his back, he coughed and blushed.

“R-right… the campground was…” He stopped and then looked around for Bradrick before leaning to me. “Well, it was downright awful, wasn’t it?”

Bradrick had chosen a rocky area for them to get rest. He was the only one who didn’t lie down in it, so he was the only one who didn’t suffer the repercussions of it. Still, even if Rio couldn’t say that he messed up, or potentially face the wrath of Bradrick. That was the kind of party that it was.

However, up until now, all we had done is ride and camp. Everything had been risk-free. Now, we were going to face real danger. How everyone handled true combat was about to be revealed.

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