Charlie was still up there? I found myself feeling just a hint of a panic attack. Of everyone, she was definitely the most innocent and in the most in peril of being hurt. Charlie had no real attachment to the country of Matahari, and I’m not even sure if many attached her to the country at all. Given how grandfather had raped and used Veronika, I suddenly had a sinking feeling that the same could be done to Charlie. As soon as I perished even, he might have taken Charlie under his wing, choosing to have her for fun.
A pit of frustration and anger filled my stomach, and even as the girls happily fawned over me as I went home, the feeling like I had to settle things on that island only grew. When the hovercar pulled up to the front of the house, there were three familiar faces standing there. Specifically, Brooke, Kemala, and Lyra. Lyra had an anxious expression on her face. Brooke looked upset about something. As for Kemala, she was as timid as could be. For the woman who had saved my life, she was holding herself, back bowed, trying to make herself as small as possible.
As for why the three didn’t come to visit me, it was clear Kemala and Brooke had both been through a number. Both girls were beaten and battered. Only Lyra managed to get off the island without any obvious wounds. For Kemala, I had seen when she had gotten hurt, so her face now was no surprise. For Brooke, I could only assume that when I was assassinated, she may have caused an issue with some guards and was beaten. I didn’t know what she had been through the last four days, but as long as she was alive, I was happy.
“Cly… I already know what you’re thinking,“ Brooke spoke first, “That island is a death trap. I’m not going to help you get back on it. Even with your current identity, this is just a foolish risk. You’re home now. We’re safe. Let’s just leave things as is.”
By the sounds of it, she had probably been thinking such thoughts and putting those words through her mind nonstop since hearing I was on my way home.
“Clyburn…” Lyra cut in, “I must return to my mother soon. I need to know for certain first though… are you really…”
She stopped, lowering her head. There was no easy way to ask that, huh? I guess the thought still caused her to worry. Was I Caleb? If it turned out she really had just been tricked, it would definitely be a major psychological blow to my woman. I held up my hands and immediately reassured her with a smile.
“It was me. I don’t hold you responsible for anything. That baby inside you is mine as far as I’m concerned, and you are my woman.”
Lyra let out a noise of relief that must be held in for months. Her icy expression finally started to melt, and she ran and hugged me before saying anything else. After a brief kiss, she regretfully pulled away and then looked up at me with teary eyes.
“I thought I lost you…”
I lowered my head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to worry all of you.”
“Please, don’t put your life in danger anymore.”
“I promise, I’ll be more mindful in the future.”
Thankfully, she didn’t notice my wording. I couldn’t promise her my safety, not with the assassination plot still underway. The only thing I could do was promise her I’d be careful. In the past, my recklessness had caused all of these women to suffer. I could see that now. I could see the hurt and darkness on every single one of their faces. I wanted to blame this world for doing that to them, but the truth was that I really had to blame myself.
As Lyra pulled away, she gave me one more nod and then walked passed me. A car was pulling up separate from the one I had come in. That appeared to be her ride. She was returning back to her family, it seemed. Technically, with her pregnant, she had achieved her goals for going to a foreign country. There might be some complaints from Matahari, but Lyra’s mother likely cared more about Lyra’s pregnancy and the child than she did over whatever deals she had cut with the Mataharin.
I took a step towards the house, and Brooke put her hand on my shoulder. “Clyburn.”
I smiled gently at her. “Let’s talk once we get inside.”
I gathered all of the girls in the receiving room. There were just enough places to sit everyone. All of these women were tied to me in some way. Only Lilith was a woman who I hadn’t had sex with. Well, it didn’t matter. She had saved my life and, in that way, she was my benefactor. I didn’t want to keep her from discussions, especially discussions that involved my future. I noticed Kemala curled up in a ball on one of the couches, hugging a pillow. When I walked up and put out my hand, she flinched.
I smiled as encouragingly as I could, “Hey, I’m Clyburn. I’m not sure how to explain this clearly, but let’s just say your brother and I were close. We’re basically brothers, which means that you’re also my sister. Do you understand?”
Kemala hesitantly watching my extended hand, and then lowered her head. I reached out and patted her head where she allowed me. When I pulled back, I turned to the rest of the crowd. A few already knew the bits and pieces of the story, but for my immediate family, they were the ones that were kept in the dark the longest.
“There were rumors before I left. They called me some kind of chosen one. They said I could make equal amounts of male and female children. They were right…”
Rose seemed the most surprised by this, gasping just slightly. The other girls continued to stare at me in silence. Taking a deep breath, I started to tell them my story. I was done holding back from the ones I loved. Thus, I told them everything I knew honestly. Brooke, Mia, and Lilith… who had all seen some of these things personally, we’re there to add support and even explain some of what happened on their side of things.
I started by explaining that I had reincarnated from another world at the age of twelve. I had the combined memories of this life and another life on a world completely unlike this one. It was a world with men and woman, where science had substituted just about everything that was done with magic. Rose seemed particularly interested in that aspect of the story.
I went on to explain everything else I could think of. Lilith’s presence. The attempt to summon demons. The apparent success. My time in the body of Caleb. By the time I got to that, Kemala had already drifted off to sleep. It seemed like she had been through a lot lately, and I didn’t necessarily want to upset her further, so it was fine if she didn’t know all the gritty details right away.
I finished my discussion going over everything that has happened since then. The assassination plot. Caleb’s death. I even explained Kemala’s involvement in all of this. I made sure to address every question when asked, and when I finished, I lowered my head and waited. Although Brooke, Lyra, and Mia had accepted what I said, they all had already experienced some of it on their own. Mia had been cursed by a demon. Brooke had met them. Lyra had run into me as Caleb.
When it came to Hannah, Madison, Rose, Mako, and Aiko, these women had no reason to believe in such a fantastical tale. Rose and Mako were pragmatic women who believed in what they could see. My big sisters could easily decide that I was just seeing things. In short, the chance of me being rejected was present. A moment later, I felt someone’s arms wrap around me. I looked up to see Mako hugging me closely.
“You believe me?”
Mako let out a chuckle. “How could I not? After everything, I’ve felt. Remember, I’m bonded to you. Don’t think you could lie to me even if you wanted to.”
A moment later, Hannah wrapped her arms around me too, and then Madison. Rose remained sitting, but she wore a gentle smile on her face.
“We have no choice but to accept what has happened to you, no matter how hard it is to believe.” Rose chuckled.
“All that brother has told me is that he is even more amazing than I ever thought possible!” Hannah said, pushing her face against my shoulder.
“I don’t know anything about any of this stuff…” Aiko spoke up dismissively, “But I will say that you should worry less about such things and more about your children!”
Even with three girls holding me, I almost stood up and knocked them all down. “That’s right! My daughters!”
“Not just your daughter… Mako made a light chuckle. “Our daughter has been born since you were gone too.”
“Forget those women! You have a son now! That’s definitely most important!”
My eyes began to brighten as I recalled the state everyone was in when I left. Although Mia hadn’t been able to have her child, the same could not be said for Mako and Aiko. Both girls had their baby while I was gone, and in Aiko’s case like Mia’s, it was a boy. That meant I officially had four children now, and 2 of them were over a year in age!
My daughters and son had all been put down for naps, but I didn’t hesitate to burst into their room. The one-year-olds grew excited and started hopping in their toddler beds. As for the babies, I apparently startled them and they began crying. I was scolded while I waited for the girls to calm down my babies. When I finally put the girls in my arms, a sense of happiness and satisfaction overflowed. I really did have a family here. I never would have left this country if I didn’t feel like I had needed to make a deal with Ashton’s mother. Afterward, I had experienced many things, and at least managed to push past my depression. Now that I was back, everything was perfect and there was no reason to leave.
No reason, except my knowledge of the assassination plot. I let out a sigh. While I was playing here, she could be plotting and setting off her plot at any moment. The man who called himself Caleb’s grandfather and the other councilman would die, and it’d seal the fate of men in this world. I spent as much time with my children as I could, but as I held little Kato in my arms, I realized I had to do something. It wasn’t just for my future, it was for his as well.
I also thought I would have liked Kato to have a more western name, but Aiko was the mother and men rarely had a choice in these things. My new daughter was named Penelope as well. Anya, Alyssa, and Penelope were my three daughters. Kato was my son. Then, of course, Mia was still pregnant, as was Lyra. Bernice and Terah were also pregnant. I had to go back for them somehow. They were my children as well.
“You’re not going to change your mind about this, are you?” Brooke said, sensing the sudden change in mood.
Her words caused all of the women to quiet up, and a dark mood hung over the entire room. I could only nod quietly.
“Clyburn… we’re home, everything is back together.”
“There are people on that island that I still care about,” I said.
Bernice, Terah, Charlie… and I found myself slightly surprised to realize I care a bit about the Queen as well. Talitha was a harsh woman, but she had genuinely loved her son. As depressed and broken up as my girls might have been, Talitha would have seen the dead body of Caleb. She was likely more torn up than anyone. I didn’t know if I wanted to tell her the truth about everything, but if I could provide her just a little bit of closure, then I felt that I should.
“I’m coming with you…” Brooke declared.
I raised my head in surprise and instantly shook it. “No… I need to go alone.”
“You’re not Caleb anymore. No one will be expecting you there.”
“That’s exactly why I need to go alone!” I said, “You were known as being one of Caleb’s women. If you were to suddenly show up again after escaping, it would certainly be suspicious. You never did explain how you ended up so wounded.”
Brooke turned away, biting her lip. “Those damn guards thought they knew everything. I was… I was so afraid you were dead…”
So, it was basically something like I had imagined. She had ended up getting in a fight with whoever was investigating my death. Although she was officially my bodyguard, the Matahari didn’t see it that way. To them, she was just a concubine. Not just a concubine. Even a concubine would have respect. She was a concubine to a dead prince. There was no one to retaliate if she was put in her place.
“You did your job…” I tried to relieve Brooke’s worries. “You brought Kemala out of there safely.”
I wanted to add something about how she failed to bring Charlie out, but I didn’t want to sound bitter while I was soothing her. I kept those kinds of thoughts to myself. I remembered after all how slippery Charlie could be. She managed to circumvent her way all around that pirate ship without being seen by anyone. She was like a ghost sometimes. She was probably perfectly fine. I just needed to pick her up.
“Do you really have to do this?” Rose asked worriedly.
“This is Amaryllis and I’m a citizen of this country. I’m safest here.” I said, sidestepping her question. “Don’t worry. I’m just going to go up to the island, and then bring the people I care about back down.”
I decided not to remind them that one of the people I cared about was someone who could be called a terrorist and wanted to kill a bunch of people with a bomb.
“How will you get up there?” Brooke asked.
“Geh!” She ended up asking the question I didn’t really have an answer to.
I was just planning on going to one of the trolley’s and asking nicely. I’m still a man, and if I remember Amaryllis, I could probably bribe a woman with some semen really easily. On the other hand, my eyes found themselves wandering to Lilith and Angela.
Lilith let out a laugh and threw up her hands. “What are you looking at me, for? Just because I caught someone falling from an island once doesn’t mean I have the power to send you up to one.”
“Sorry, kid…” Angela added, laying on one of the couches with her leg stretched over the arm. “Maybe if I had a few weeks I could plan an infiltration of that magnitude, but this place won’t be easy to go to unless you already have a pass.”
“Is that so…” I lowered my head and gritted my teeth.
Was I already defeated so simply? I talked a big game of getting on to the island, but at the end of it all, I really didn’t have any ideas.
“Actually…” Mako sighed. “Given my unique status as an educator, I was given a guest pass to enter the island.”
My ears perked up. “Really?’
Mako nodded, pulling out a lanyard with a card in it from her pocket. “I had to promise a few favors to get it, but at the time, your presence was on the island and I was determined to get up there. The day I planned to enter the island was the day your soul suddenly disappeared. Thus, I decided to wait and hold off. “
“Is that so…”
I let out a breath of relief, reaching out and taking the card that she offered me. It didn’t specify a name on it. It was just a rank and access numbers. It fell warm holding it. Mako had really been working hard to see me. Had Veronika’s kill plan not been so ambitious, there was a good chance I might have run into Mako later that day. I had felt so distant from my family when I was gone, but they were always thinking about me.
“Clyburn… I want you to promise all of us the same thing you said to Lyra. If Brooke can’t come with you, then your life might really be in danger up there. I want you to promise you’re coming home.”
I lifted my head and met each of the girls looking back at me. My hand was tight on the keycard, my light within the darkness here. With this, everything fell into place. I would get on the island, connect with the remainder of my harem, and then get them off the island with me. My plans were as simple as that. There was no use in overthinking things.
“I promise you all, I’m coming back.”
And once I returned, I’d never leave my family again.