~ Chapter 103: Up in the mountains ~
[Illsyore's point of view]
The villagers were most definitely pleased with the quality of the food prepared by Tamara. It wouldn't be wrong to say it resembled the meals of certain prosperous nobles, something a commoner's family could only dream about tasting in this world. For us, however, this was normal, everyday food. But although not special, Tamara always cooked with all of her heart and enjoyed every moment of the process. Maybe that was the main reason it tasted so great.
After everyone had their fill, the villagers thanked us with tears in their eyes and then returned to their homes. It was a touching moment that made us smile softly. I was beginning to like the idea of somehow making it possible for those who lived on my Dungeon Territory to have plenty to eat and a safe place to spend the night. This way, they could focus during the day on their individual work and increase the quality of their own skills.
This, however, was something that could only happen after people got used to the idea of my Magic Academy and began to accept the idea of moving there in order to lead a better life. Of course, I would need to find a way to accommodate hundreds if not thousands of souls. I couldn't have Tamara cook for all of them, but maybe she could start a cooking class through which she passed on her skills.
Regarding the meal we had together with the villagers, I was happy to see that none of them were glaring or looking displeased at my slaves or wives, especially Ayuseya and Nanya who had their own unique humanoid appearance. Being impoverished and finding themselves counting the days until they died off of hunger or illness may have kept any human supremacists in a tight leash. They wouldn't have wanted to anger me, after all.
Well, with everyone turning in for the night, we also headed off to bed, so we could rest in a comfy bed and meet the new day with a smile on our lips. Or... so I thought.
When it was around 1:30 AM, Ayuseya got up and woke me up as well.
“Sssh! I don't wish to wake them up.” she told me as I was yawning and rubbing my eyes.
“What's wrong?” I asked.
“I want to talk to you about something... It's about Teslov...” she said and looked down.
I had no idea what she wanted to tell me, but I nodded and carefully got up. The problem was the drooling cat who was clinging to my right arm and the demoness' tail that was wrapped around my waist. They were both half asleep, and one of them was most certainly dreaming about fish.
Carefully, I unwrapped Nanya's tail and slowly pulled my arm out of Tamara's lock. Once I was free, I got out of bed and changed my clothes. In case they woke up and wondered where I was, I left them a written message on the nightstand to stop them for worrying.
“Let's go.” I told Ayuseya, who nodded back to me.
We left the house and began to walk towards the forest. Both of us wore clothes that would keep us warm during a normal spring day, not on a cold winter night: cotton pants and a long sleeve shirt, a leather jacket, thin leather shoes, and a leather overcoat. Normally, we should have been shivering our teeth out, but all of these articles had thermal regulation enchants set for a minimum of 22 degrees and a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius. Because of this, neither of us felt any discomfort while walking outside.
If we wanted to, we could also set our Magic Armor to regulate our temperature as well.
“We need to reach that peak over there.” Ayuseya told me, pointing at a mountain far off into the distance.
“What's there?” I asked.
“Nothing, but from there, we can see Teslov.” she replied.
“Alright, lead the way.” I told her.
She nodded and then vanished from my sight, well... not really, she jumped up. I followed after her. Using a chantless Wind Spell, she pushed herself forward to the tip of the pine tree in front of her and used it as a foothold, pushing herself forward. Like this, she began to run on top of the trees like some character from a martial arts Chinese movie. The big difference was that those characters had a light step, while hers completely pulverized the tip of the tree after jumping off it. The same went for me.
We ran like this for about twenty minutes or so until we reached the stony edge of the mountain. Here, we ran out of trees to jump off, so we continued on the ground. The intimidating strength we gave off by simply running like this scared off all the monsters on our path. When we touched the ground, the rocks shattered and dust was raised to the sky, but each step propelled us forward up to 30 meters.
While I ran like this, I honestly felt like some character from a shounen manga. It was awesome.
Jagged cliffs, giant cracks in the ground, and packs of monsters in our path that normally would have made many adventurers turn back or struggle to go across meant nothing to us. The way we climbed cliffs was by simply pushing our body upwards on the rocks we grabbed hold off like an astronaut moving on the side of his space station, but at a faster speed. When we encountered the giant cracks in the ground, we simply leaped over and if that wasn't enough, we used a wind spell to throw ourselves further. As for the monsters, they were the one who made way and stayed clear of our path. The beasts could feel our strength and didn't dare confront us. Too bad certain individuals didn't feel the same earlier this week.
Out here, the scenery was beautiful. The lands were covered in lush, green forests, while the peaks of the mountains were pure white thanks to a thick layer of snow. There were no such things as winter sports, so it was highly unlikely that we would come across tourists, but this place would certainly make a wonderful spot for skiing and snowboarding.
Hm. Note to self: introduce the Olympic Games once the Magic Academy is settled. I thought as I took another look at one of the snow-covered slopes of the mountain.
Ayuseya continued to run in front of me, but I was not far behind. There was no need for me to go past or maintain the same speed as her. This wasn't a race, and from this height, we could enjoy a wonderful view.
Far in the distance, our gaze caught sight of several towns and villages scattered over the hills and plains below. They were like tiny patches of light blinking here and there, few in number, but they brought into perspective how isolated Ils village was when compared to them.
Something told me the authorities abandoned this village just because it was hard to reach. The isolation would push it to slowly die off and vanish over the years. It was a sad fate, but one met by many settlements all over the three continents.
When Ayuseya reached the peak of the mountain, she stopped right on top of it and gazed towards the other side. After my last jump, I landed next to her and looked at the same scenery she was. The lands of the Teslov Kingdom were spreading far and wide to the left and right, spanning to the end of the horizon.
From up here, we could see several settlements, most likely large towns and cities. The forest on this side was thick and filled with trees, but it was cut off at the base of the mountain. To our right was another mountain range, which separated the country in half, but it wasn't like we could see the entirety of the Kingdom. It would have been absurd to think so. The planet was round, therefore, the horizon hid more than half of this land.
“Teslov was once a prosperous Empire, but draconians became greedy and just as it seems to have happened to Paramanium in the recent decades, a certain type of mentality came into light.” Ayuseya said as she gazed at her motherland.
“Supremacists?” I asked.
The draconian nodded slowly and then clenched her fist over her chest.
“Right now, I'm standing between Paramanium and Teslov. This peak is called Maroon Peak. It is one of the tallest in this mountain range and acts as a natural marker for the border between the two countries.” she then made a small jump forward, landing a few feet in front of me. “Just with this, I'm back in my country, but... I'm not happy about it in the slightest...” she said shaking her head.
I walked up to her and gently embraced her from behind. She coiled her tail around my waist and leaned back into my arms. The difference in height made it look like I was holding the tower of Pisa, but that was just a minor detail.
“With my current power, I could run all the way to the capital and see my siblings... or claim the throne.” she said.
“Why don't you? It's just over there.” I pointed towards the blinking lights in the far.
“I thought about it... more than once, but... this would mean leaving your side. I don't want that.” she shook her head.
“Is that really the reason?” I asked her and planted a small kiss on her nape.
“Your lips are cold.” she gave me a small smile.
“I blame the weather.” I smirked.
She let out a soft sigh and looked up at the starry sky.
“It's part of the reason, but... during the time we were on that island and even now after we reached Thorya continent, I thought about politics seriously. I thought about what I would do if I were to ever have the chance to return to Teslov or if I were to be instated as the Queen there. All the laws I could change, all the things I could improve, but then...” she turned around, and I saw the heartbreaking sadness in her eyes “I saw that in such kingdom, you would not be there with me. I would be alone... Trading you and my friends for the entirety of Teslov is not something I will do.” she shook her head.
“What are your honest feelings about this kingdom?” I asked her.
She closed her eyes and pulled back from me. I let her slip out of my arms and watched as she walked all the way to the edge of the cliff. After she stopped there, she gazed towards the land that was her home for so many years. Where she was raised from a child and taught everything she knew. This wasn't something she could just toss away, so no doubt about it that her feelings for it were complex.
Without disturbing her, I walked up to her and looked at the same scene as she did. Tonight, we were in luck for there were little to no clouds in the sky. The stars were shining brightly above and the cold air was a delight as well. Thankfully, we weren't at a height where the lack of Oxygen would become a problem.
In this moment of meditation, I also wondered about what I would do if Ayuseya ever wished to return to her kingdom. A while back, I would have told her to go and do as she pleased, but now there was a part of me that didn't wish for her to leave my side.
I loved Ayuseya, and I wanted her to be happy and feel free, but in Teslov Kingdom there was nothing to promise me that she would come to have such a fate. She was sold off by her own country to Dankyun and more so by her own family. Continuing the bloodline became a desperate matter for the Royal Family and because of this, they lost a great amount of influence, to the point where Paramanium could do anything it pleased with them.
In the eyes of those governing such a country, it was highly likely that they would only come to look at her as nothing more than a simple tool for them to use and play with as they pleased. To such people, be them her own family or not, I would never hand over my beloved.
Yet, deep inside, I was a bit afraid of the fact that she might wish to return and try to help them in a way... even if I knew she had no reason. This was a matter of morals, feelings, and her own desires.
“You asked me what my honest feelings are about Teslov Kingdom...” she said after nearly ten minutes of silence “I hate it. I hate how they used me and treated me. I hate how they saw me and behaved with me. I hate how my own family thought of me... But even so, I don't hate the draconians who struggle to live off this lands, who try to live a better life no matter what those above them do or declare. I can't hate them... but if I could... I would destroy the Royal Palace myself from here.” she said and lifted her palm up, aiming it at the brightest light on the horizon. Magic Energy gathered in the middle of her palm, and a sphere of fire formed.
Those with untrained eyes would come to believe that it was just a simple [Fireball], but they couldn't have been more wrong about it. What Ayuseya held in her hand was nothing more than miniature star. If she unleashed it, it would have traveled all the way to that blinking light in the distance and destroy it completely. Everything within 200 km of Point Zero of impact would have been blasted away by a shockwave and melted by an extreme heat. Radiation would soon follow, but this too would have been controlled by magic, aiming only certain organic forms, eradicating them and leaving no trace of them behind, while sparing the others.
Once the attack was over, all the radiation would have been sent towards the sky and into outer space, while the remaining Magic Energy would have dissipated into the air around Point Zero.
Someone like me could survive a direct hit from this spell, but the dragons in that city would have met a terrible fate, especially since none of them would have suspected the incoming attack. At the very least, they would have died in their sleep and not suffer while awake.
Still, Ayuseya didn't unleash this unforgiving Over Supreme attack. She reabsorbed the Magic Energy within her and canceled the spell.
Lowering her arm, she let out a sigh and then said “Them, I could kill... maybe, but the innocents that live within the city? The maids who only work there to make a living? The teachers hired from the Magic Academy as a result of a given royal order? My sister... No, I don't think I would.” she shook her head.
“I am pleased with your choice, my love.” I said.
“I know...” she closed her eyes and let out another sigh.
“Then... why did you come all the way over here?” I asked.
Opening her eyes, she looked at me and then back at Teslov.
“I wanted to say farewell... and I wanted you to be my witness, for today, I officially cut ALL of my ties with this Kingdom! I'm no longer a Pleyades! I am just Ayuseya Drekar DEUS!” she took a deep breath and then let out a powerful shout “I AM NO LONGER A PLEYADES! I AM A DEUS! I AM AYUSEYA DREKAR DEUS! DID YOU HEAR ME, PEOPLE OF TESLOV! I AM NO LONGER A ROYAL! I AM AYUSEYA DREKAR DEUS!” she huffed at the end as she recovered her breath.
Out here, on top of the mountains, on the tallest peak that separated Paramanium from Teslov, Ayuseya said her goodbyes to the Kingdom that raised her and gave up the name of her family. No longer a Princess, she was now merely my beloved draconian wife.
For this act, for this bravery, I admired her.
While for others, giving up on the power and authority one could hold within a kingdom like Teslov was something unthinkable, for her it became a choice she wanted to make. The Pleyades name vanished even from her status screen.
“Let's head back, miss Deus. We might still be able to catch a few hours of sleep if we hurry.” I said as I offered my hand.
With a soft smile, she took my hand and nodded.
Ayuseya looked one last time at Teslov before she made the jump together with me. We ran back and to the others, but neither of us said anything on the way.
Once we arrived, we changed back to our sleeping clothes and tucked up under the covers, she embraced me and fell asleep quickly while Nanya and Tamara reattached themselves to me, most likely because they sensed that their hugging pillow returned.
“Nya~ Fishy is back...” the cat grumbled as she rubbed her cheek to my hand.
I don't even want to know what you are dreaming about... I thought as I allowed myself to drift off to sleep.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
Seeing how things have been a bit hard for me lately, I will try and focus around posting only at the end of the week, during a Friday or Saturday(ish). I'm going to try the weekly chapter dump version of the schedule to see if this fits me better.
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