~ Chapter 89: Return to the present (Part 2) ~
“When I didn't understand what I was giving up on and what I was gaining, I thought of losing my human side as losing my humanity, and I saw this possibility with a heart filled with fear. A friend of mine helped me to understand that not being human doesn't mean not having humanity. Overall, I think I saw a lot more humanity in dragons than I did in humans.” I let out a sigh “Changing my species and accepting my dragon half was probably the most wonderful and best thing that could have happened to me second only to marrying Seryanna.”
“What would happen if you were to find out that humans and dragons are once more at war?”
“I would side with my Queen, Elliessara Seyendraugher, and lead in battle as Duke Yatagai Draketerus.” I replied while looking into his eyes.
My resolve was clear in this matter. My choice and loyalty were already declared from the moment when I accepted to become Seryanna's husband. My age may have been what offered that extra degree of certainty, but in no way was I thinking in an immature way. I understood my responsibilities all too well, and I both accepted and supported my wife's choices in life.
“It's been three years since you last saw her, right? What if she married someone else?” he asked.
While this thought did cross my mind, I felt like it was rather ridiculous when applying it to Seryanna.
“I highly doubt it, but in the case that she did, the Albeyater Kingdom's laws accept the existence of married couples which are in a monogamous relationship as well as those who are in a polygamous and polyandrous relationship.” I replied, but a part of me hoped that Seryanna remained faithful only to me.
“So, it accepts polyamorous relationships?” he raised an eyebrow.
“I think so, but from what I understand, while the polyandrous relationships are often the most common ones, the general tendency is towards monogamous relationships.” I said.
Thinking about it, the King was the same, and so was Kleo and some of the Princes and Princesses of the nation. But as far as I knew, I had never seen same-sex marriages. Of this part I wasn't informed at all, and I never did bother to ask.
“Meanwhile, Ten Swords rejects the idea of polygamy unless the individual is a high ranking noble. Even then, rather than having multiple wives, they have multiple mistresses.” said Kalderan.
“I see. By the way, have you thought about what sort of skill to acquire next?” I asked, changing the subject.
By now, I had gotten a basic understanding of Kalderan's power. Besides the one which helped him act as a walking translator of all known languages, his other ability, which he claimed to be called [Toyman] allowed him to conjure up Magic Energy constructs and with a bit of practice even mold matter in the shape he desired. It was an impressive skill which I found most useful in the hands of an engineer. The reason for that was because it required the user to know every single little detail about the said constructs.
In other words, he couldn't build stuff like plasma rifles he saw in games or copy my Heaven and Hell swords. The SMG he was using was a result of countless trial and errors. They were the latest result of his patience and practice.
“I have no clue, honestly, and I'm a bit afraid to open that window in case I land with a silly skill that won't be of any help to me.” Kalderan replied moving his head from left to right.
“Do you want to hear my opinion?” I asked.
He looked at me for a long moment and then nodded “Sure, why not?”
“Before opening the skill window, imagine the skill you want and wish for it.”
“So play by chance?” he asked raising an eyebrow.
“I'll help you out, so don't worry too much about it!” I showed him a smirk.
“Even if what you say actually works through some law-defying reason, what sort of skill should I be wishing for?”
“Hm... That's the tricky part. You can ask for something that will buff your natural learning ability, such as magic affinities. You could also wish for a physical improvement skill or a crafting one. However, the best skills are those that are capable of complimenting and reinforcing your existing skills. In my case, my weapons and armor are the result of such a skill.” I showed him a smile.
“So... something that could reinforce my [Toyman]?”
“Yes.” I nodded.
“Hm...” he closed his eyes and crossed his arms at his chest.
While he thought about it, I continued to stir the embers and take a quick peek at the other groups. I didn't see the merchant anywhere, but every time I passed by those black carriages, I felt the strong scent of tannin, which was a chemical used in the process of tanning leather. I also felt the scent of some other stuff, including vinegar and lemon, but there were others I didn't recognize.
What was the most prominent scent of them all was that of death... almost as if there were decomposing bodies hidden behind the veils of the black carriages. This worried me, but at the same time, it was also a scent I often felt when walking buy a butcher's shop, so it was possible that it was just some meat gone bad.
My best guess wast that the merchant was probably transporting some sort of food stuffs and tanning products. Yet, I didn't see the need for such suspicious-looking carriages. Then again, was a simple food merchant capable of employing so many adventurers, among which three at a power level far beyond what those four had?
It's also quite curious that he spends almost all of his time inside... I thought.
“I want something that can enhance my weapons. I saw you infuse your sword with Magic Energy countless times, and I want to do something like that, if possible, with my bullets.” Kalderan said after he made up his mind.
“That's great. Then I wish that next time you pick a skill, you will receive one that will help you infuse your weapons with Magic Energy.” I showed him a smile.
“As if that'll happen.” he scoffed with disbelief and raised an eyebrow.
“Mhm~ Just choose one now.” I told him as I kept that calm smile.
Kalderan narrowed his eyes at me.
“You aren't seriously suggesting that I use my precious skill points on something like this now, are you?”
“Actually yes.” I nodded.
“What?” he furrowed his brow.
“Just trust me on this one.” I said.
“...” he squinted his eyes at me.
I couldn't blame him for being a bit skeptical, but from my point of view, this couldn't come at a better time. After all, he had made up his mind on what he wanted, and it wasn't like those skill points were going anywhere. The skills, however, did vanish from the list when someone picked them.
“Do you have anything to lose?” I asked him.
He looked at me for a long a moment and then turned his sight towards the fire. He was thinking seriously about it, but his indecision was clear as a result of the past failures of other heroes as well as his own. Unlike him, though, I knew not such failures. My luck was to blame for this. Any skill I desired, I would receive it as though it was the first and most logical option I could take despite the ridiculous names sometimes.
About ten minutes later, Kalderan finally gave me his answer: “I'll do it.”
“Good.” I showed him a smile.
He opened the window only he could see and then looked around it for a while. His eyes moved fast over the list and narrowed when he felt like he was getting close to something, but my wish and Luck would make it possible for him to 'feel' and take the best skill that met his requirements.
Judging by name alone, though, was a difficult thing to do no matter what. Especially, since we had no idea how many skill points just one of them would cost.
When it was over, he closed his eyes and let out a sigh.
“Well?” I asked.
It was all I needed to know that it worked.
I showed him a smile and then got up on my feet.
“That's great! I'll go patrol the perimeter for a bit. Meanwhile, you can play around with it. If you have enough, you could even enhance and advance it to the next level.” I told him.
“Sure... and thank you.” he said.
“You're welcome!” I replied.
I got up from my spot in front of the fire and went to look around the camp. The other two groups were ignoring me completely, and the merchant was nowhere to be seen. Out of curiosity, I approached one of the carriages and thought about peeking inside. It was then when I sensed one of the individuals from the group of three approaching me at an inhuman speed. I decided not to react for now, but I kept my guard up just in case he tried to attack me.
“What do you think you're doing?” he asked with his sword drawn and held at a distance fo two palms before my face.
I could see my own reflection in the blade.
“What the?” I acted as though I was surprised and moved back.
The mysterious fellow was looking at me with a piercing gaze. Only his black eyes could be seen, while the rest of his head was covered by a hood. Judging by his voice, he was past his thirties.
“I was curious, that's all.” I replied.
“Next time, I'll cut off your hand. Now get out of here!” he ordered sending a threatening wave of killing intent my way.
Hm... It doesn't even tickle. I thought and then walked away.
From the corner of my eye, I saw him sheathing his sword and then returned to his companions by the fire.
They are definitely not transporting foodstuff. I should keep an eye on them... I thought as I resumed my patrol.
After I returned to the fire, I went to bed. The following day, we would reach Lineas Village. If I wanted to find out what they were hiding, I had to do so by the time we reached Leveder City.
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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