The town called Whitewinter was quite small, but it was incredibly full and lively. With the peace talks nearby, it acted as a supply depot and entertainment center seemingly for both armies. The city already sat near the border, and the residents turned out to be about half humans and half demons. During times of war, it often became a divided community and one of the worse places to live, with neighbor at neighbor’s throat. During times of peace, it was a location of cultural exchange and cooperation.
At the moment, there was money to be made, and thus humans and demon merchants joined hands to profit off the peace talks. The demons allowed humans to come into the city and spend their money. This aided the idea of cooperation and peace. However, the city also contained a tense atmosphere, and it had a vibe that at any second a fight could break out. In fact, fights did break out daily, and the only option was to suppress them.
Had the demons been left in charge, any attempt to resolve any situations between a demon and a human would instantly result in conflict. Even if the demons attempted to be fair and impartial, the humans wouldn’t feel that way. Thus, the security of the city was forced upon a third party. This was a group that both the demons and the humans trusted. When I saw the conscripted guards and peacekeepers of Whitewinter, I nearly tripped over myself.
“Mm…” Fanreek nodded. “That was Lord Typhon’s mission. That’s why we were in the area of the Cambions and heard about their recent movements. While Lord Typhon was dealing with that, the elves were sent down here to be peacekeepers. They’re quite quick, well, faster than an army, at least. Been here for a week waiting on us. Good gods, woman, do you have to pick the most expensive thing in every store? You’re going to blow a month’s pension in a single day. How will I pay for whores the rest of the month?”
“Don’t you mean pay for food and shelter?” I asked wryly, picking up a pretty looking dress that I thought would look particularly nice on me.
“Priorities, girl… priorities!” Fanreek snorted.
I sniffed, dropping the dress in Fanreek’s arm without any hesitation. He let out a sigh but didn’t show any signs of resisting.
“I did say I’d pay for it, you big baby,” I muttered.
At that, Fanreek tightened his arms like he was afraid I’d pull the clothing in his arms away from him suddenly. He immediately shook his head several times exaggeratedly.
“Absolutely not! Mom will never forgive me if she finds out I made you pay! Then Mom’s ass will be off the table!”
My eye twitched slightly. “Can you get off Mom’s ass?”
“Well, that’s the plan…” Fanreek shrugged.
I let out a sigh but didn’t respond. Clearly, Fanreek had his own motivations and desires. Truly, since I had been to this world, most of my interactions with men and women for that matter had been motivated by sex. However, there was something slightly disheartening and difficult to accept when that sex motivation wasn’t me. Of course, Mom had been in the business of sex far longer than I ever have been, so I guess I can’t compare myself to her.
That day, I managed to buy quite a few articles of clothing and goods. Even though I had the money, Fanreek insisted on paying for it all, so I accommodated him, even as he sweated and complained about how expensive women were. Few of the shopkeepers showed him any sympathy after seeing the quality of the woman he was with. Rather, they all seemed to shoot him jealous glares. To any other man, seeing an ugly guy tote around a beautiful woman while buying her things, they all wrongfully guessed the relationship between us. Few even noticed the slave collar on my neck, although I admittedly dressed in a way that made it difficult to see.
As to my thoughts on having a sugar daddy, I remembered in my old life glaring scornfully at women who would sell their bodies for material things. Now that I had the body and face that made men want to spoil me, my attitudes on the concept were less severe. Of course, my situation was different. Fanreek was trying to ingratiate himself to Mom, who was trying to help me out, seeing me like a lot of the other girls she took care of. So, Fanreek was hardly my sugar daddy. I probably wouldn’t like this kind of relationship normally though. It’d make me uncomfortable. Still, as to people’s misconceptions about our relationship, I long since stopped caring.
There was a point between being gangbanged by goblins, raped to death by nobles, and burned alive as a witch by villagers that you realized how little other people’s opinions mattered. As long as those opinions didn’t put me in any danger, I didn’t feel any need to care about them at all.
“Let’s head to an inn. You can take a bath.” Fanreek sighs, bags of stuff weighing him down to the point he can barely walk.
“Mm… you spoil me too much,” I responded, touching his arm.
“Yeah, yeah… kindly blow it out your ass,” Fanreek growled, eliciting a light laugh from me.
The pair of us picked one of only two inns in town, the larger one and the one known for housing a lot of those higher ranking in the demon army. While General Typhon chose to sleep with his men in the tents, some lieutenants and high-ranking officials, particularly those that came from wealthy noble families, decided that they deserved soft beds when soft beds were available.
Well, I couldn’t blame them. As Typhon’s slave, I was abusing this exact privilege for a warm bath and a homecooked meal. This was better treatment than even some lower nobles received. I was also getting a quick grasp on demon currency worth, and I found Typhon’s daily allowances for me were extreme. I didn’t make any exaggeration when I told Fanreek I could pay for it.
“It’ll do…” I said, breathing in the atmosphere of the inn.
There was a hearth going in the corner, as the nights were still just a bit chilly as summer approached. Despite the name Whitewinter, the city was no more prone to winter than anywhere else north in the northern demon realm. The tables were set up properly, and the waitresses seemed properly taken care of. These were little things I had come to look for on my journey with Min, at least when she opened up her purse strings enough to allow us to stay at an inn. Some inns were quite rough, with the maids being groped or abused, the floors dirty, and the security little more than thugs.
Well, I couldn’t say much about the security, as whoever served as the typical bouncer has been replaced by an elf. Even in an inn, people couldn’t be trusted to be impartial.
“Another ale!” A voice shouted out through the low murmur of the room, “Another ale for the hero!”
“Shut it, elf… we didn’t believe you the first time when you said this scrawny runt was a hero… and we’re not going to believe it now!” A brawny may scoffed.
This elicited several chuckles, suggesting this man had been acting like a braggart for a while now, trying to pump up the person sitting next to him.
“Oh? You don’t say? Then how about a bit of competition? Just a single sword fight using practice swords. Nothing big. Unless a big man like you is only words?” The man laughed. “Winner buys the ales… for everyone.”
The last word pricked up the ears of many of the people nearby. Even if this man was crazy, his proposal meant free drinks regardless of who one. Several shot eager looks at the brawny man, who had instigated this potentially advantageous exchange.
“Well, I’ll be… that crazy as elf is alive? Training a new one? This ought to be interesting…” Fanreek muttered to himself.
I looked over at him. “You know that guy?”
Fanreek nodded. “Best swordsman trainer… well, next to me.”
“I didn’t realize you’re so amazing…” I sighed.
“Why did you say that like you’re looking down on me!” Fanreek growled.
“Of course, I’d never look down on Master.”
Fanreek glared at me with narrowed eyes while I looked away, but he finally slouched his shoulders. “Well, whatever. Let’s put off the baths for a bit. I have a feeling watching this play out would be a good experience for you.”
“Doesn’t master just want free ale?”
“Damn it, Aria! Just sit and watch!”
Fanreek dropped all of the bags on a table, although the table was already taken by two burly men.
“Hey! What the hell, this is our table!” One of the men stood angrily.
I instinctually pulled down my hood and shot him a smile. “I’m so sorry. We’ve been on our feet all day and my bags are really heavy. Would you gentlemen be okay if I sat here for a bit? I’d be really appreciative.”
“Ahem…” The man’s face suddenly turned red. “Well… that is… of course. A proper man always makes way for a lady!”
“Eh?” The other man shut his friend a confused look.
His view had been blocked by the pile of clothing. He was expecting the other guy to handle it, only to suddenly have him concede. It sounded like a woman, could she truly be so fearful. He immediately stood up, giving his companion a pinch before turning to the source of the table stealing. His friend didn’t even look at him, which irritated him greatly. However, no sooner did he turn his head than his mouth fell open.
“Ah… my name is Aria, I’m sorry to intrude!” I started to bow.
“No! Not at all! Fairy Aria… please, sit, sit… we’re sorry we left your table so messy, please excuse my brother and I!”
My smile twitched a bit, but I managed to keep my expression. It was their table, wasn’t it? They were acting like I had reserved the table, and while I was away they had left a mess. The two flustered men kept bobbing their heads and thanking me for some reason. Meanwhile, Fanreek rolled his eyes again and just sat, turning toward the center of the room.
A space was being made to open up for the duel. The innkeeper seemed to allow it, but the elf guard kept his hand on his sword and remained close just in case. This kind of innocent dueling was a form of entertainment too, which would mean more money for the innkeeper. With the first round boughten by the looser, that meant everyone had more money for the next round! Naturally, the man wore a grin at the impending fight.
The strong man didn’t look like he even wanted to be in the fight all that much, but his friends pressured him into it and even covered part of his wager. No one could see how such a scrawny man could win the fight. Of course, I was only vaguely aware that Fanreek had picked the perfect spot to view it. I was still dealing with the two flustered men who were now trying to remove their bears from the table less one spill and sully my clothing. I knew I was beautiful, but I rarely dealt with men who didn’t know how to handle a lady, so I was finding the situation somewhat difficult.
It was at that moment that I felt a pair of eyes on me. It was a strange sensation that shot through my spine. I immediately turned around. The two flustered men took the opportunity to escape in the crowd, while still apologizing to me.
It was at this point I realized the entire common room was in motion as people moved chairs and opened up the space. However, it seemed like only half the eyes were on the brawny man and the pair who an instigated the event. The other half of the room was looking at me. I apparently was catching the eyes of a lot of people there. However, it was two people specific that drew my gaze.
The first was a very short man with long ears. He was clearly an elf, and he might have once been attractive, but now he looked old and gnarled. I knew that elves aged differently than humans. Min was in her seventies but barely looked over twenty. How old would an elf have to be to look as gnarled as this old man? Next to him was a person. They were surprisingly skinny. They had the body of a sixteen-year-old boy. Their face was covered with a helmet. They looked, for all intent and purposes, like a gallant knight. Or perhaps even a hero.
The old man seemed to be the one with the loud mouth, building up this young knight as some kind of hero. He seemed very displeased that I was taking attention away from his knight. Meanwhile, I had the distinct feeling the knight was staring at me too, although with the helmet on he could have been looking anywhere and I wouldn’t know.
The elf smacked the knight’s shoulder, causing him to jump a bit before heading over to us. The knight stood up and followed his master meekly. When the elf’s eyes landed on Fanreek, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
“Well, well… is that Fanreek? I recognized your stench. Still preferring to train with your penis, I see…” He gave me a scornful look which I ignored.
However, many of the men nearby shot elf angry glares, causing him to clear his throat and look away from me quickly. Apparently, I had developed a fan base in this little inn.
“Isaac… how are you?” Fanreek laughed. “I see you’re still taking prepubescent boys into your lonely hermit cave to ‘train’. How’s that working for you? Tell me, is your human companion here the big spoon or the little spoon?”
“Hmph… “ the man called Isaac snarled. “Perhaps you want to put your money where your mouth is… that is if you have any left…”
Isaac looked over at the pile of bags behind Fanreek with a sneer, causing Fanreek’s back to straighten.
“Aren’t you already in a bet?” Fanreek snickered back.
Isaac barely kept his eyes from widening. He had seriously forgotten the burly man behind them, who was tapping his foot impatiently while several other patrons were starting to call out to start the fight. After smoothing out his features, his sneer returned.
“Of course, you won’t be able to laugh after seeing my apprentice’s skill. He’s got abilities you wouldn’t see once a generation.”
“Is that so?” Fanreek had an amused look on his face. “Do tell…”
The short man growled, throwing his hands up the air. “Bryson here is the greatest warrior this world has ever seen! And why shouldn’t he? He is from another world!”