~ Chapter 81: The stowaway ~
[Two years and six months ago]
[Seryanna's point of view]
The soft breeze of the Zarvarea Ocean washed over me as I took a deep breath in and listened to the waves below crushing into the hull of the Scorpion Dream Galleon. The crew moved about the deck, taking care of their daily chores, but for me, they were nothing but mere background noise I let fade away in the back of my mind.
As I sat here on the quarter deck, leaning on the rail, Kataryna walked up to me and said “If I didn't know any better, I would say our duchess here was trying to seduce the sailors.”
“Hm? Seduce? What are you talking about?” I furrowed my brow and looked back at her.
“Smiling, looking all peaceful and pushing your chest forward like that is bound to attract the attention of these dragons.” she flicked her tail towards the deck.
When I turned my head, I saw several of them looking away and moving faster, pretending to be hard at work.
“I don't think I have anything to worry about, but if anyone tries anything funny, I am willing to test out the sharpness of my blade on their scales. After all, I often wonder if I had grown dull since the last time I chopped a dragon in half. What do you think?” I asked her with a smile.
Kataryna showed me a wry smile and then shook her head.
“I think it's impossible for anyone other than Alkelios to tame you.” she replied.
“Of course. I doubt anyone could satisfy me like he does, and I am not willing to offer them the opportunity to try. Those who assume so will find out that having an affinity for Fire isn't just for show.” I winked at her.
“Alright, but don't burn down our boat. I'm not swimming all the way to the Relliar Continent.” she laughed.
“Don't worry, I won't!” I smiled back at her.
“So what were you thinking about?”
“Hm?” I looked back at the endless sea “This journey... It's the first time I'm leaving the Dragon Continent, and I don't know what to expect, yet I can feel this desire, this fire in my heart that burns strong with curiosity.” I closed my eyes and smiled.
“Isn't that called the spirit of adventure? Maybe you felt it back when you were first looking for the Bloody Mushrooms in the Seculiar Forest?”
“No. I felt urgency back then... The first time I felt this was...” I stopped and blushed.
“Oh? Does it have to do with Alkelios?” she asked and although I couldn't see her, I knew she was grinning.
“Yes, when I kissed him... and maybe that night when I was sick and he took care of me.” I replied and then opened my eyes. “I'm going to go below deck to grab some fruits to eat. Do you want some?”
“Are you running away?” she asked.
“No.” I shook my head and then walked away from the rail.
“Get me some lemons then. I feel like drinking some lemonade.” she said.
I walked down to the main deck and used the door here. The hold was all the way down, paste the bilge. Unlike human ships, dragon ones were made to accommodate our size, so I had no problem to fit my wings through the doors.
When I dropped down, I noticed there was a bit of water collected in the bilge. On the right wall was marker which showed the ammount. As long as it was still below the red sign, it was still safe. If it got past it, then there was a change the water could enter the hold and spoil our food reserves, so someone with water magic had to go down and take care of it once in a while.
There was another door I had to pass through before I could enter the hold. The guard here gave me a bow and let me pass without saying anything.
The cargo was placed towards the back of the room, away from the door and the bilge. There were numerous crates here filled with all sorts of things we might find ourselves in need throughout this journey. Of course, we also had our exclusive [Purse] rings which held a decent ammount of supplies on their own, including some materials for a raft in case we were forced to abandon ship and take flight.
Humans often drowned on sea voyages, but dragons just took flight towards the vast sky above and just made sure to rest from time to time. Bad weather and strong winds were the only difficulties we had to face.
“Let's see... Where's the fruit crate.” I said as I looked around, but just then, I spotted something strange.
A silver-scaled tail was peeking out from behind one of the crates.
Last I remembered there weren't any dragons of that scale type on board this ship with the exception of my friend Kataryna. Unless she rushed down here before me, I highly doubted this was her.
Tilting my head to the left, I continued to look at the tail and wonder what to do. After a moment it moved. The tip curled up and then relaxed. The person hiding behind the crate probably realized that I was here, but maybe they didn't know if I spotted them or not.
That being said, I was a bit at a loss...
“Should I just... chop it off?” I wondered as I took a step closer.
The tail was pulled back.
“Come out. No use hiding.” I demanded in a firm tone of voice.
There was no reply from them, so I got closer to the crate in question. I kept my senses on high alert because I didn't know what sort of enemy I could be facing and a single mistake could have proven to be fatal even for me.
When I was about to peek over, someone jumped out. I tried to grab them, but he, no, she leaned back and avoided my hand. Using her tail and wings she balanced herself and slipped past my side.
She didn't try to attack me, just to run away.
“Stop!” I shouted as I ran after her.
The dragoness had shoulder-length light purple hair and red eyes. Her scales were of similar silver color as Kataryna's but more towards the pastel nuance. I was expecting to see her wearing only simple clothes, but she had leather armor gauntlets and leg protectors, while the rest of her body was covered by a white cloak with an inner layer made out of brown leather.
The moment when I realized that these clothes were definitely not those of a normal stowaway, I immediately thought of Princess Elleyzabelle and this dragoness possibly being an assassin. She was small enough to sneak into places after all, barely as tall as Kleo.
“Stop!” I shouted again after her, but she definitely had no intention of doing so.
After I climbed up another level, I shouted “Kataryna! Catch the stowaway!”
She was almost there, but my friend should have heard me.
Right when this possible assassin was about to slip onto the deck, she bumped into someone, allowing me to catch up to her.
The one who stopped her was Kataryna, but it wasn't with her hands, it was with her chest...
The stowaway bumped into her, face first into Kataryna's chest and for a moment she appeared to have been too shocked to understand what happened.
“What's this?” Kataryna asked with a raised eyebrow as she pointed at the petite dragoness.
“T-that voice... this feeling... Mistress Kataryna?” she asked as she looked up at her.
“Huh?” the dragoness appeared to be even more confused.
“KYA! It's really Mistress! And this... this ample bosom is definitely hers! This feeling I shall treasure it!” she said and then rubbed her face on Kataryna's chest.
Looking at this outrageous scene... I simply had no idea how to react.
Was there a need for me to react? At least, this dragoness didn't seem to be an assassin sent after the Princess.
“I don't know who you are... but stop it.” Kataryna said as she grabbed her by the neck and peeled her off of her.
“Umu? Mistress?” she tilted her head a bit confused.
“Stop calling me that.” she retorted and then froze the dragoness from the neck down, turning her into a big ice block. “There. Stowaway captured.” Kataryna declared.
“Ah... yes... Let's take her to a room and interrogate her.” I said with a nod.
With the help of the captain, we were able to use one of the empty rooms and stuffed the dragoness inside. Afterwards, Kataryna removed the ice around her and had her stand on a chair.
She was shivering really bad and her cheeks were flushed. This meant that she wasn't of the ice element but of lightning or maybe a cross of light. We removed that cloak of hers, and she was indeed wearing a leather armor, but it wasn't the type that would help you in a sword battle. At most it was meant to protect you from a very close slash, but not stab or full-on slash. It was the armor of a scout. As for weapons, she had a pair of daggers enchanted for speed and durability.
“So, what's your name?” I asked.
The dragoness didn't reply to my question, she simply glared at me.
“What's your name?” Kataryna tried.
“Yes! Tanarotte Narnyesall, age 174, Lightning Element specialization, Power Number 712! And I love everything about Mistress Kataryna!” she replied in an energetic tone while raising her hand up.
“The last one is unnecessary information.” Kataryna narrowed her eyes at her.
“Uuu.” she lowered her hand and flattened her wings on her back, looking like she was about to cry.
Isn't her behavior a bit weird? I wondered.
“Are you under a spell of some sort?” I asked.
She didn't reply.
“Answer her.” Kataryna let out a sigh.
“Erm... No. My clothes are enchanted to keep me safe from charm-type spells.”
“Alright, then why are you on board of this ship? Do you have any idea where we are going? How did you get on board?” I asked.
“Erm... I only knew that Mistress Kataryna was here... I have no idea where this vessel is heading. I just jumped on the anchor and after two days of hanging there, I finally managed to get inside. One of the sailors forgot to close the hatch that night.”
“You... hung on the anchor for two days?” I blinked in surprise.
That's not something any normal dragon would do... I thought.
I for one would have tried to infiltrate by working as part of the crew or use my sword to climb to one of the windows. Given her speed, I could have just knocked out the night watch.
“Stop calling me Mistress. I don't remember having a subbordinate like you!” Kataryna glared.
“I know! I tried to join the Twin Daggers organization thirty years ago, but the idiot who held the test said I didn't fit the bill. I wasn't able to join because he was a bastard who tried to grope me and I punched him in the dragon nuts! I did manage to pickpocket him as well, so it wasn't a total loss. Tehe~” she said showing us the tip of her tongue.
Is she trying to be cute? I think it's just making Kataryna more annoyed. I thought.
“Well, he's dead now.”
“That's good! I never liked him!” Tanarotte showed us a toothy smile.
“So what have you been doing all this time and why are you so obsessed with Kataryna?” I asked her.
“Kataryna is the greatest simply put! I know all about how she fought in the war 500 years ago and defeat more enemies than you could count. Then she kept low and not even the King tried to mess around with her! She even founded the Twin Dagger organization and never backed away from a fight or anyone who tried to hinder her fun! She's my role model! As for what I've been doing, I've been peddling, enchanting here and there, stuff like that, nothing much.” she said all of this in single breath and then shrugged.
“Hm~ I've heard enough. Let's tie her up to a couple cannonballs and toss her over the edge, shall we?” Kataryna suggested with a smile and Tanarotte turned pale.
“That's a bit extreme, isn't it? This dragoness is just one of your fans, isn't it?” I asked.
“Alright, we'll toss the cannonballs...” she said and Tanarotte let out a sigh of relief “Let's tie her to a cannon, it's heavier!”
“Mistress~! Don't toss me out~!” she cried out.
“Two cannons?” she showed me two fingers.
I let out a sigh.
This is going to be a very long journey... I thought and then let out another sigh as Kataryna increased the weight to another cannon and Tanarotte kept crying and begging her to reconsider suggesting that she would make a great pet for her.
[A page from Tanarotte's Secret Diary]
12th day of the 2nd Month of the year 6489 of the Drakartus Age
Today, we finally dropped anchor in the Knitkat Port on the Relliar Continent. I almost jumped off the deck and embraced the ground. I missed dirt. I missed solid ground.
Just thinking back at what I went through in these past few weeks on board of the Scorpion Dream Galleon made me shiver in my boots. Not only was my perfect hideout discovered by Lady Seryanna, but I nearly ended up with half a tail short because of that. What did she mean by 'chop it off'?! Is that normal?! That's NOT NORMAL!
I wanted to cry, but it turned out for the best! I met my idol, my goddess, Kataryna Greorg.
Well, I doubt she remembered me, but maybe one day, I planned on telling her about the time when I first met her... It was such a long time ago, and I was so young. If not for her, I would have certainly not survived until now. It wouldn't have been strange if I ended up selling my body to dirty old men just to earn a few coins for food. Thanks to her, however, such a dreadful thing never came to pass!
I always pitied those poor women in the slums who had to resort to something like this. Those I could help I did by pretending to buy their services only to have them come with me to eat a warm meal and take a warm hot bath.
It wasn't something I did very often. The life of a peddler was harsh for me as well, but whenever I was in need of of some quick coins, I could always snatch them from those rich dragons. If I stole their purse, they were bound to find out, but if I stole only one or two coins from it, it was highly unlike they would make a fuss.
When I saw Lady Kataryna on the docks, I was in the middle of borrowing a few coins from a wealthy-looking ship captain. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the one I stole from was actually the captain of this here Scorpion Dream Galleon!
During my interrogation, what I told Lady Seryanna was the absolute truth though, I never intended to board this vessel, but when I saw the dragoness I aspired to be like, my body simply acted on its own, and then I found myself hanging on the anchor like an idiot wondering what I should and praying no big monster wanted to take a bite of the dangling dragoness. Lucky for me that sailor forgot to close the hatch, and I used it to sneak in.
Then I was caught and Lady Kataryna nearly threw me off the ship with three cannons strapped to my back. Lady Seryanna saved me. This meant I owed her one! But how cruel my beloved idol was! She wanted to throw me off just like that! I didn't even do anything to her besides trying to be right there, breathing the same air as her... as close as possible... maybe enough to steal a kiss? Hehehe!
Anyway, they were kind enough to let me stay on board after listening to my story. I think they accepted the fact that I wasn't lying when they saw my reaction upon hearing who the VIP on board was. Never in my dreams did I think I would travel with a princess!
Well, Lady Kataryna was a bit more difficult to convince, but I was determined to win her over and peek while she was bathing! I mean... gain her trust! Yes, gain her trust! Then her permission to get in bed with her... then... Hehehe...
They let me stay under the condition that I was going to be supervised by three dragons. Two of them were Baron Knights going by the names Quran Van and Amarondi Shellar. The third one was a simple Peasant Knight who went by the name of Attrakus. There were very few peasants who had a family name, but quite a lot who managed to get within the Knight ranks.
I was told these three were part of Lady Seryanna's Knight Order, but she tended to ignore them completely. During our time on board of this ship, I never saw her once giving them an order.
My job on board of the Scorpion Dream Galleon was quite simple: scrub the decks and wash the clothes of the sailors. It was standard stowaway treatment. If this had been a pirate ship, I would have been either enslaved, used for my body, or made to walk the plank with a cannon strapped on my back.
It wasn't bad, and this way I got to stay close to my beloved idol! I had a lot to learn from her! Maybe in time, she will come to accept me as her pupil! Kya! I couldn't wait!
Meanwhile, I just had to make sure that all she ever saw was the slightly perverted and energetic Tanarotte. There was no need for her to know about my past, my fears, and the tears I shed when no one was looking... The happy go lucky little Tanarotte was all anyone had to see...
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!
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