The pain, the suffering, the burning… those kind of dreams plagued me for eternity. The heat kept increasing. It kept burning. From the inside to the outside, every sense was on fire, and then it stopped. I sat within a realm of blackness for what could have been an eternity. Then the feeling started to return. I felt cold, ice cold. My body was being dragged. I could feel the pavement as my naked skin was moved over rock and stone.
Time seemed to move on. That cold feeling lasted for a lifetime, but then it started to warm. The smells changed and became familiar. The feeling of warmth, instead of causing me to be afraid, caused me to feel comforted. I could feel touch. The touch felt like it was separated from me by a film, but tiny fingers were ripping away that film. They worked over my body, peeling away the barrier, digging towards the true me underneath. Besides these tactile sensations, it was my hearing that returned first.
“Can’t possibly be…”
The feelings continued, the sensation of comfort, always touching me. The smell of comfort, always around me. I wanted that comfort, I couldn’t get enough of it. The pain didn’t seem to return. Instead, more and more of the fake me disappeared, and it was replaced with more and more of the real me. Finally, I was able to open my eyes. And they snapped to the first person in the room, and of anyone in this world I’d want to see, it would be my absolute top pick.
“Min…” Min had some soot on his cheek, and he was looking down at me with a smile on his face.
“Mm!” Min said, water starting to swell in his eyes.
“Mm!” Min said again, tears starting to follow.
Before I could say another thing, he threw himself at me with a tight hug. Before I knew it, he was sobbing into my chest, his body weeping harder than I had ever seen before. I weakly lifted my arm and patted him on the head.
“Iltriwed…itwed.” Min’s muffled voice was in my chest.
I lifted Min’s face and looked into his eyes. Even though he had tears in his eyes, he had a smile on his face.
“I tried… I did as vessë said, I wiped away the ashes… just as vessë said,” he said in between sobs.
“Mm, Min did good!” I smiled, then brought his lips over to mine and kissed him.
It ended up being a weak kiss since I had no real energy, and after a moment, I flopped back down, fighting from letting out a groan that would worry Min further. However, with my 2X recovery speed, I seemed to be getting better rather rapidly, and it didn’t take long before I felt good enough to sit up.
It appeared like Min had been peeling away a layer of ash that was around my entire skin. When he had found me, I had been encased from head to toe in burned ash, looking more like a corpse than a person. I didn’t understand how this had happened, so I took a look at my skills.
Under my special skills was a greyed-out skill called Phoenix rises. The description merely stated “Rise from the ashes.” I didn’t need to read the description to know what it did. I had played video games enough to know that phoenixes died in fire, and then came back to life. If that was the case, then that is what happened to me. I had died in a fire, and thus, I was reborn.
I also had gained the ability limit break. The description read something like “surpass your limits.” That was certainly something I had done the previous night, but I had no clue how it functioned as a skill. In video games, it’d be some really powerful attack ability where a hero could move faster and hit harder than should be possible. I had no clue how that translated to a seductress’s power set.
I also had several new titles that had accumulated from this single action. I had not gained this many titles this quickly since the first week I had been to this world.
Title Obtained: Dragon Layer
+5 Wisdom, +10 Damage Resistance, 2X Experience With dragons and lower lizards.
Title Obtained: God Killer
+5 All Stats, +10 All Resistance, +50% Experience where experience is earned.
Title Obtained: The Reborn
+50 Charisma, +100 Mental Resistance, 2X Experience on Beguiled target.
What was with those last two titles, they seemed to be completely overpowered. The Reborn title just amplified my seductress powers up to eleven. Meanwhile, God Killer seemed to just overall make me stronger. Dragon Layer made a little bit of sense, but when did I kill a god? I seemed to remember them attacking me with Bahamut’s cock so did I really just get experience for sleeping with a dragon god?
“Dear me, she’s actually waking up!” I voice came from the door.
I looked to the side, realizing for the first time that we weren’t inside the castle. In fact, I wasn’t familiar with the room we were in at all. However, I was familiar with the person in the doorway. It was none other than Sandor. Pratter poked his head in after Sandor talked, and the two men looked excitedly as I gave them a weak smile.
“When he brought you in, looking like a burnt corpse, and him not doing much better, I had feared the worst.” Sandor shook his head. “I’m glad to see you’re okay. We owe you everything, so stay as long as you need, and if you need any help leaving town, we can get that arranged.”
I gave them a nod and assured them I was doing alright, and they, thankfully, didn’t ask any uncomfortable questions. They almost took it for granted that a princess might find herself being burned alive. Finally, I couldn’t take the lack of questions and needed to find out the truth.
“Ah, well, you’re not a princess, right? Some kind of spy or something? That’s Pratter’s guess.” Sandor dropped that mine as an answer.
“What do you mean? How do you know?” I asked flustered.
“Ah, well, we make artifacts for a living. You couldn’t say we wouldn’t recognize a cursed ring if we ever saw one. That, and your frank attitude, we just kind of figured. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we knew, we only suspected.”
I shook my head in annoyance. Once again, my ring had completely failed to hide me. Nova’s supposedly great ring had been completely seen through by two different people in the city. It was incredibly frustrating, but I supposed I should count myself lucky that both decided to keep their mouths shut until the end of the mission. Speaking of which, I went to touch my ring, reminded of Nova’s death curse. A second later, there was a click on the nightstand as Min put it down.
“The ring, the death curse is gone.” I breathed a sigh of relief.
“How can that be?” Sandor looked surprised. “A death curse can only be removed by… well, death…”
“Before that, how did I even make it here?” I asked. “The last I saw, Min was collapsed in the forest!”
Min made a noise of surprise, and I had to end up explaining my latest ability that allowed me to peak in on people for 30 minutes a day. He seemed surprisingly shy when I mentioned what I saw. I told him he looked really cool when he forced Nova to retreat, and he turned beet red. Even Sandor and Pratter were excited by the story of a 2nd tier bringing a 3rd tier to retreat. However, after embarrassing him enough, he filled in the blanks, which just like Min, were short and succinct.
He had woken up and managed to make his way back to the castle around 2 in the morning. He had went into the room where he had found Jenai’s dead body and the note. He used the mask I had taken from Reinhart to get a trip to the party on a return carriage, and then snuck in and found me. When I asked him how he possibly knew I was at the party, let alone found me in the back, he merely smiled and said ‘secret’. I suspected it was some kind of skill. He did seem to oddly know where I was at any given time. If I had an ability that could spy anyone I’ve ever slept with for 30 minutes a day, it seemed to reason he could have a skill that could find me.
So, he took my body, and remembering what Sandor and Pratter had said, brought me to their place. When he finished his story, he put the letter and amulet on the nightstand next to me. Upon hearing of my friend’s death, Sandor and Pratter patted my shoulders.
“Does… vessë want revenge?” Min asked.
I looked over at the ring, no longer on my finger. I was no longer under the death curse, and with Jenai gone, every hold Nova had on me was gone. For all intents and purposes, I could just run away and never have to face the man again. However, after what he’s done, could I just walk away? He had more tricks up his sleeve, and I was just a tier 1. Of course, my powers were much stronger now, but would that be enough to beat someone even the kingdoms struggled to catch.
There was someone banging downstairs, so Sandor went to tend to the store, and it was just Min, Pratter, and me now.
“Pratter, can you guys… remove the death curse from that ring without affecting it?”
“Wha-oh… yes, I believe my husband can do that. Would you like us to remove the no-remove and the detection spells as well?”
“No…” I said slowly. “I have other ideas.”
Pratter cocked his head, but before he could ask, Sandor poked his head in again. “Ah, you have a guest. Um… he says he knows you’re here.”
I shot Min a look, but he shook his head indicating he didn’t think he was followed. Why did it feel like I had absolutely no secrecy at all?
“Did you get a name?” I asked.
I nodded, thinking that he’d be the only person who could know I was here who wouldn’t burst into the place with the intent of putting me under arrest. I moved to sit up, some of the ash still cracking as I started to move.
“Tell Reinhart, fifteen minutes. Tell him, Min orders.” There seemed to be a spark of a smile on his lips when he said that.
Sandor and Pratter nodded. “There is a back stairway here, we had a dinette you can use. Come down once you’ve cleaned yourself up.”
I still felt a little weak, but my energy had recovered marvelously. As a result, I was able to clean myself mostly, with Min only helping a little bit. It turned out to be a lot more work than we had estimated, needing nearly three washbasins worth of water and nearly half an hour before I was clean of ash. I threw on a dress Min had brought with him, and the pair of us started walking down the stairs.
“You took enough ti-“
Reinhart stood up as soon as I came down the stairs, but when his eyes met my face, he stopped, and his mouth hung open. He wasn’t the only one. Sandor and Pratter were staring at me too, seemingly in shock.
“What is it, is there more ash on my face?” I said, putting a hand up to my cheek.
“That is… how?” Reinhart asked.
I gave a confused look, then turned back to see Min who was watching me with a relatively expressionless face.
“Vessë… beautiful,” Min simply remarked.
Of course, Min would think I was beautiful. As my wife, she was sort of obligated to see things that way. However, what did everyone else mean? There was a mirror at the bottom of the stairs, so I turned and looked at it, and my eyes widened too.
“If I wasn’t gay, I’d be tempted,” Sandor said as he watched me. “Heck, I’m still tempted.”
“Sandor!” Pratter gave a hurt look.
“Oh, hush, Pratter, you know you’re the only one for me.”
What the men were seeing was that my face was perfect. That didn’t have anything to do with my own pride. My face just had absolutely no flaws. The nose was perfect, the skin was white and flawless, everything. It was like my body after plastic surgery, but with none of the side effects of plastic surgery. It was just my face, optimized to the best my face could ever possibly look while still being my face.
I reached down and touched my body, realizing that my body had done the same. The seductress class had molded me into possessing an alluring body, but my body now lacked anything wrong with it. The skin was softer than it had ever been, the curves were perfect, my scars were gone. The fire had burned away my old body, and in its place, I had been reborn in my idealized form, a seductress literally grown from nothingness.
I explained to Reinhart an abridged version of what had happened to me. It was the first time Min had known the extent of what had happened. No one here truly understood the words Sacrifice, and I didn’t share the gory details of what had happened, but considering it had ended with my body covered in blood, my hips broken, and my body burned, they didn’t have to guess all that much.
“That is… I’m sorry girl. Humans…” He stopped himself. “There is good and bad among all of us.”
“What are you doing here anyway, Reinhart? I thought you would be a day’s travel from the capital?”
“Ah, well, I planned to, but then I realized I had something else I needed to give you before I left.” As he said this, he handed me a letter; I looked at the letter with confusion.
“That is, but if you can find me…”
“Don’t worry about that. I found you through certain… extraneous circumstances. If anyone who wanted to find you thinks you’re still alive, they probably won’t be able to use the method I used.”
“It seems like everyone has a skill to locate me these days.” I frowned, then held up the letter. “What is this, anyway?”
“Ah, well, I’m guessing your previous deals, whatever they are, went belly up, so if you need a place to stay low… I thought I could help.”
“For…” I read across the letter, “Distropia?
“Ah, that is a letter of introduction. Take it to the local lord and he should be able to help you get situated.”
“Distropia? That’s not one of the seven king-“ Sandor started.
“On the demon continent… the port of Nevier secretly runs a trading line with the demon continent. Show this to the port authority and he’ll get you on a boat across the sea.”
“Demons? Why would you have a letter of recom-“
“Let’s not ask any such uncomfortable questions.” Reinhart smiled faintly. “I just wanted you to have that. The demon continent could use a capable person like you, certainly more than, well, let’s leave it at that.” He was already turning to leave, but I reached out and grabbed his arm.
“Wait! I have one last thing I need from you,” I somewhat demanded.
“That is, I really should be going.” Reinhart seemed to be mildly uncomfortable as I pushed myself forward in front of him.
My appearance had never put him off before, but the way he nervously twisted seemed to be like what someone sexually attracted to me might act like if they were nervous. My body was better, but it couldn’t have that much of a different effect, could it?
“Please! You have some way to track me, right? I need to find someone. Someone I hate.”
“Hate? That is…” Reinhart leans closer. “What are you planning, girl? Do you plan vengeance on the noble family? It’s not like I can say anything against it at this point, but-”
“What has happened, has already happened.” I shrugged. “I can’t change the past. What they did to me… that’s not important. I’ve cut off my ties with them. I am no longer Cornelia. However, I have a few loose ends I need to tie. One of them is Nova.”
“The bandit king, he’s the one who put that ring… I supposed something that expensive, it’d have to be someone that notorious…”
“I’m thinking it might be a good time to plan to visit our new opening store in Raiven,” Sandor said worriedly. “But what are you planning?”
After explaining what I needed from Reinhart, he started to shake his head. “I’m afraid I might not be able to help you…”
“Really, is there nothing?” I asked.
Reinhart snapped his finger. “You said that he has some kind of magical escape spell, right? It’s always concerning when you put magic against an unknown special skill, but I think there might be a way. If you can get him to use that ability again, you won’t be able to track him, but you might be able to bring him to you. I’m… not sure if that would be helpful at all.”
I thought about it for a few moments and then nodded. “I can work with that.”
“I’ll need to get back into the castle. Pack your bags, Min, we’re leaving after tonight.”
“What do you plan to do in the castle?” Reinhart asked.
“I already said. I’m going to be tying up loose ends.”