In a matter of minutes since my first message to Dyson, there was a quick exchange of messages, and even though it is already started to get late in the evening he is here, knocking at my door.
Dyson: “And the xp cost you are sure?”
“Yes just the standard sword costs 600,000xp”
Dyson: “For one to equal the quality of my armor though. Even for me close to 4 million xp is astronomical.”
“That shows the difference in us. Just the fact saying ¾ of a million is close to a million is in a completely different league them me.”
Dyson: “Surely you broke the million mark when you returned from Laura’s dungeon?”
“I did, but I was shocked with how little I was able to accomplish with it.”
Dyson: “Summoning things like dragons and griffons will do that.”
“You heard about that already…?”
Dyson: “You forget, I can see all. I was interested to see what you would do with that kind of xp. I can’t say I would have placed something that powerful that close to the surface though. A couple of adventurer groups band together and they can take it out.”
“I can’t say it wouldn’t hurt to lose one of them, but the secret to get though my dungeon lies in more than any one monster.”
Dyson: “Back to the topic at hand. I have prepared a xp jewel so you can summon the sword, but be mindful I also am monitoring your xp total, so if this sword costs far less to summon then you are letting on I will know.”
“That’s fine, but what about my end of the deal? I believe per the agreement you are supposed to supply me with something for helping? Not only am I making the sword for you but though great risk to me and my monsters acquired the ability to summon the sword for you.”
Dyson: “Name it.”
“The only reason we went to Exeter was to train to ready us for when we take out Laura’s dungeon. I fear it will take years and years of training before I am strong enough to stand against her. You however can change that.”
Dyson: “As an elder…”
I cut him off. “If you want the sword, that is my condition, I want Laura’s dungeon.”
Dyson looks conflicted and somewhat angry.
Dyson: “Something like that is a complicated matter. Lucille and Laura always seem to be at each other’s throats, but I am sure if something happened to Laura, Lucille wouldn’t take it well. Asking something like that for just a sword is too much.”
“If my understanding of our agreement is correct the reward is to equal the request. The standard sword at 600,000xp is copying a one of a kind item, but you are asking me to take a one of a kind item and make it over 6 times as valuable, and all I ask for in return is merely an object that is 1 of 799.”
Dyson: “I never thought I would see the day Two-Twelve would ask for such a thing…”
“Some of Two-Twelve’s memories have returned, but I assure you I am far from the same person as I was before.”
Dyson: “Very well… I will have to give this matter more thought.”
“When you decide, you know where to find me.”
Dyson then starts to leave but before shutting the door he turns back to me saying. “But remember this. You are a valuable assist to have around, but once your demands get higher than your worth then you just become a liability.”
He then slams the door, raddling the house, cracking the doorframe. I watch him though [Menu] till he teleports away. I let out a deep sigh, and Belinda then arrives from upstairs with a concerned look on her face after hearing the racket. “Is everything alright?”
“I may have made Dyson mad.”
Belinda: “After everything we risked for him he wasn’t happy with the sword?”
“I didn’t make him one.”
Belinda: “But why not?”
“I asked for Laura’s crystal in exchange.”
Belinda: “Two-Twelve you didn’t…?” –She says as she reaches the base of the stairs.-
“I may never be the Two-Twelve you remember, but I owe at least that much to Listel. As long as Laura is still around the Arngrim part of me will never be able to rest.”
Belinda moves over wrapping me in a hug while saying. “Two-Twelve, or Arngrim, I don’t care. I see the man I love inside both, and I don’t want to lose you. Listel gave her life so you could live free, if you throw away that life on revenge she died for nothing.”
I get angry snapping at Belinda. “How could you know anything about Listel wanted?!”
Belinda hugs me tighter as she says. “Because we both love you enough to be willing to sacrifice our lives for you! I would have done the same thing in her position without question, but if I knew after sacrificing my life for you, that you would throw it away out of revenge instead of living on. Then I would think my life meant so little to you that you threw away the thing I gave my life to save!”
“It’s not like that at all…”
Belinda: “Then prove it! Live the life she wanted for you! If you still feel that Laura must die, I will stick with you to the end, but don’t live only for the revenge. If that is your only purpose you are just as enslaved to Laura as you were before Listel died to free you!”
I don’t know what else to do, but pet her head, as she starts to cry with her head buried in my chest. It’s not for a long time before she quits and she still doesn’t let me go until the front door starts to open, but it crashes to the ground off the hinges when it does.
Doug and Aria are standing there with shocked and confused looks on their faces.
Doug: “What’s wrong with sis? What happened?!”
As Belinda stands up straight wiping her cheeks and eyes I say. “Nothing, I think everyone is going to be alright now.” I then take Belinda’s cheek in one hand, as she closes her eyes and leans into it I lean forward and kiss her.
After a few seconds she pulls herself away, takes a deep breath, and then opening her eyes saying.
Belinda: “It’s been a long day. I am going to go start working on dinner.”
“I guess Doug and I will fix the door…”
Before anything else is said Belinda grabs Aria’s wrist and pulls her into the dining room, but as they disappear I notice something.
“Well I said that, but how does one fix a door in this kind of shape?”
Doug: -still wearing a confused look on his face. – “I… Don’t know…”
“Maybe we should go find Katie? She could probably take care of it.”
Doug and I then set out heading towards the blacksmith’s building with Doug still wearing a confused expression. Halfway there Doug finally pulls himself together enough to ask.
Doug: “So what did happen?”
“I made someone mad.”
Doug: “Your front door is 3 inches thick with steel hinges… Who could you make mad enough to cause that much damage to it…?”
Doug: “As in the legendary hero’s descendant Dyson?”
“You know him…?”
Doug: “Of course, he was at your wedding…”
“Really? He doesn’t seem the type.
Doug: “Well you are both good friends, or at least I thought you were… What did you do to make him that mad?”
“It’s not important… But what about you?”
“Aria, I noticed there at the house she wasn’t wearing her collar anymore. Was it what your brother said when he was here a while back?”
Doug blushes brightly stuttering as he says. “Of course not… She was meant to be a gift, but now that it isn’t needed I just thought it was time…”
“But you took off the collar and she is still here. Doesn’t that say something?”
Doug is blushing enough now that even his ears are changing color. “Do you mind if I ask an extremely personal question…?”
“Well we are practically brothers right?”
Doug: “That is actually what makes the question a bit harder.”
“Well what is it?”
Doug: “When you were gone, and with the hero Listel, you guys… I mean you did right? I don’t mean I blame you for cheating on my sister under the circumstances, but you did right?”
“You mean sex? Well yes a few times.”
Doug: “Was it weird? I mean because she was a beastkin was there anything about it that was weird…?”
“I can only partially remember things from before, so…” -I start thinking about the mismatched memories that returned of Belinda and I quickly shake my head.- “Anyway it’s kind of hazy, but don’t think it was any different.”
Doug: “I mean they don’t have extra parts or anything like that?”
“Extra… What are you talking about?”
Doug: “Well a cat has like six nipples or something like that right? Do beastkin women…” –It looks like if he blushes any harder he will pass out form the blood rushing to his head.-
“What? No… Have you never seen a naked woman before?”
Doug: “Of course I have during your bachelor’s party! But there is a lot from that night I don’t remember…”
“Well other than the obvious things, tail, ears, in Listel’s case she was a feral beastkin so she also had the claws and bits of fur. I think the most different thing about it was the claws… That was intense…”
Doug: “Aria isn’t a feral beastkin so she doesn’t have the claws… Just the ears and tail.”
“Well I don’t know about all beastkin but Listel liked it when I squeezed and pulled on her tail, I had to find the right amount of pressure but once I got it, it seemed to do wonders for her… Her ears seemed pretty sensitive as well, but from what I can remember of Belinda she is the same way, just not as much.”
Doug: -mumbling to himself.- Tail… Pressure… Ears…”
“Are you alright…?”
Doug starts to panic. “What do I do Two-Twelve?! I’m going to screw up and she is going to hate me!”
“Well I can’t help you there… But I doubt even if you mess it up she’s not going to hate you… As long as you don’t force her to do anything…”
Doug: “But they cry the first time right? I heard they cry…”
“Wait… Aria was a slave, a dancing girl no less. You really think it will be her first time?”
Doug: “But she barely started. She said she was only a few days old when she was bought by the club, she said they manhandled her a bit, but said they could get a lot of money off of her that way, and she was pretty expensive…”
“A few days… Nothing about that seemed odd to you?”
Doug: “She said she was born in a dungeon… Is that not normal for beastkin?”
I quickly look around then drag Doug into a nearby area off the main path.
“Where did you hear that?”
Doug: “I was surprised when she said it, but it was so matter of factly I thought it was normal… isn’t that why people are so hateful towards beastkin?”
“It may be true that most of beastkin’s ancestors came from dungeons not even most beastkin know that… Belinda and I are going to have to sit down and have a chat with you and Aria about this.”
I can always message Katie about the door, but this needs to be taken care of quickly so I grab Doug’s shoulder and transfer to the small dining room attached to the kitchen. Belinda and Aria are in the kitchen, Aria has a terrified look on her face while blushing brighter then Belinda’s hair, while Belinda is holding a cucumber in one hand.
They both are startled when we arrive and Belinda quickly sets down the cucumber. I get a flash of a memory of Roxy and Zoey using a cucumber, and I have to say that is one memory I probably could have been better off without remembering…
Belinda: “What are you two doing back so quick?! Did you just teleport?”
“Aria is from a dungeon…”
Belinda looks like she is about to say something but her eyes quickly land on Doug, so she hesitates. At the same time it seems Aria’s blushing is going away but her terrified look is not.
“She told Doug about it.”
Aria: “You knew…?”
Belinda wears a complicated expression as she nods.
“Wait you did?”
Belinda: “Sofia told me soon after I returned home.”
“What about Doug…?”
Belinda: “Why did you tell Doug? Is there no ultimate command in place?”
“Doug, why don’t you wait in the other room for a minute while Belinda and I talk to Aria?”
Doug: “Ultimate… What are you guys talking about…? No I’m not going anywhere till you tell me what’s going on?”
Aria: “I’m sorry, I couldn’t lie to him.
Belinda: “Doug, we need to talk to Aria for a minute.”
Doug: “I’m not a child anymore!”
“This isn’t about being a child or an adult.”
Belinda: “Doug promise me no matter what you hear it never leaves this house. You tell no one! Not Mindy, Logan, or even father!”
Belinda: “He has come this far.”
Doug: “I promise…”
“We are serious Doug, No one can know.”
Doug: “I get it… I promise.”
Belinda: “Aria, where are you from?”
Aria: “New Leona.”
Belinda: “New Leona… Why would Queen sell you as a slave?”
Doug: “Queen? Logan’s Queen?”
Aria: “She said that I had to wait there and my prince would come for me, and he did!” –She says blushing and looking at Doug.”
“Are you still bound to the dungeon?”
Aria: “Of course.”
Doug: “What do you mean bound to the dungeon.”
Belinda: “Doug if you want to stay, be quiet.”
“I have an agreement with Queen don’t I?”
Belinda: “Well yes, but I don’t think she has broken any of it.”
“What about sending a monster into Tobes?”
Doug: “Aria isn’t a monster!”
Belinda: “He doesn’t mean it that way Doug, I promise. As long as she didn’t hurt any of us or you I think she is still within the agreement.”
“They were training in the dungeon though!”
Belinda: “They were all rift monsters though…”
“We need to have a talk with Queen, and find out what she is planning.”
Doug: “Will someone please tell me what’s going on!?”
Aria: “Don’t worry Doug once they talk to Queen everything will be straightened out.”
“I don’t remember anything about Queen, Belinda can you set it up?”
Belinda: “She says she is busy, but as long as it doesn’t take long she will speak with us.”
Doug: “How do you know that? You didn’t even use a communication parchment.”
Belinda: “Aria, why don’t you take Doug and go have something to eat at the restaurant, and after we get things squared away with Queen. Then we can finish our conversation ok?”
“You sure that’s wise?”
Belinda: “I can tell, Aria wouldn’t ever hurt Doug.”
Aria moves over taking ahold of Doug’s hand, but quickly says. “Hold on nobody has still told me anything! What is going on?”
Aria: “Don’t worry Doug I will tell you.”
“Only what he needs to know, and remember Doug you promised.”
After they leave the room Belinda says “I guess I will go get Queen I will be right back.”
Belinda: “It’s got to be just a misunderstanding.”
“Please be careful.”
Belinda smiles a sweet smile saying. “Ok I will.”
Belinda then casts [Gate] and disappears though the portal.
I walk back into the entryway looking at the door still lying on the floor… This day just keeps getting worse and worse… I look out the front door and make sure there is no one looking and when I am confident I scrap the current door with [Menu] and then replace it.
I then equip my gear and wait for Belinda to return. I thought Queen was a young dungeon core, but when Belinda arrives with her she is wearing a mythril sword and each hip and a medium armor of mythril.
Belinda: “Queen, tell him it’s a misunderstanding.”
Queen: “Good to see you again Two-Twelve, but I guess for you it’s nice to meet you.”
“Why did you send one of your monsters into my dungeon?”
Queen: “Well even though she was still bound to my dungeon, she couldn’t argue with the one that owned her collar, so where she ended up is not my fault.”
“You expect me to believe it was just an accident Doug ended up with one of your monsters?”
Queen: “I didn’t say that them being together was an accident just that they ended up here.”
Belinda: “Wait your saying to set Doug up with Aria intentionally?”
Queen: “Of course, who do you think was the one that suggested to Doug where to take Two-Twelve during his bachelor party? She was meant to catch his eye then, but it seems she caught someone else’s instead. Of course I was able to get things back on track by suggesting he buy her for Two-Twelve so that Two-Twelve would like him. I knew he would have to take care of her months until your return so it worked out in the end.”
Belinda: “Then Aria doesn’t really like Doug…?”
Queen: “I just put them together everything else was their own doing.”
Queen: “Well Logan is likely to never see the throne. Even if he does it won’t be for long.”
“So you’re after the throne?”
Queen: “You’re one to talk you married into the family before I did.”
Belinda: “But I married Two-Twelve because he loves me! It has nothing to do with wanting the throne. I thought you really cared for my brother.”
Queen: “Who says it can’t be both? If I do marry Logan I can’t give him an heir, so to keep his kingdom happy and healthy, why not use one of my monsters to produce a solution?”
Belinda: “But why not just make him one of your boss monsters so he doesn’t grow old.”
Queen: “A hero that lives a few hundred years is acceptable, but once the royalty tries that, well just look at what happened in Leona.”
Belinda: “But Logan is a good man, they wouldn’t revolt against him.”
Queen: “He is a good man, but many find him weak. Once you are on the throne everyone forgets the good and looks only at the bad, a few dozen years and that nitpicking will turn into loathing. After sitting on the throne a few years though and choosing one of Doug’s children to succeed him then we can sit back and watch the kingdom without worry.”
“All while the new king or queen is one of your monsters as well still leaving you in control?”
Belinda: “You promise you are doing it because you care for Logan as well and not just for the throne?”
“She just said she was after the throne.”
Belinda: “She also said she really cared. She didn’t force Doug and Aria together, just let them find each other. I don’t care if she controls the kingdom, as long as my family is happy.”
“If she takes over the kingdom where does that leave us? We are in the kingdom, she could order the army to take us out once she has control.”
Queen: “Then how about we amend out agreement, to include both of us required to come to the protection of the Gowen royal family?”
“You plan on taking over the kingdom, how would that help us?”
Belinda: “Being married to me still doesn’t make you a Gowen, but father made you his son… He made you part of the Gowen royal family, so by the change in the agreement she would have to protect you as well and if something happened to your dungeon that means she has to protect it as well….”
“You would go that far?”
Queen: “I said from the very beginning I wanted to be your ally.”
“I’m looking over the agreement in [Menu] I would also like to increase the penalty.”
Queen: “fine to 200,000xp? 250,000xp?”
“I was thinking more in the lines of 10 million.”
Queen: “10 million?! Are you insane?”
“In 20 or 30 years a couple hundred thousand xp would not be that hard to come by and one might think about breaking the contract, but as I recently learned even for elders that sum would be considered a steep price, so I think it would offer piece of mind for years to come, or is it you don’t actually intend to hold up on your end of the bargain?”
Queen: “Fine… Draw it up and I will sign.”
Using [Menu] summon a contract like in which the first was made and then begin filling it out. Making sure to cover what we spoke and not leaving a loop hole I spend quite a bit of time drawing it up causing Queen to begin getting nervous, she has taken to leaning against the wall, with her arms crossed, and tapping her foot on the floor.
I am not sure how I know, but when it’s done I manage to make it look very detailed and well worded. Maybe it is because Two-Twelve’s experience as mayor of Tobes. In any case I sign it and then slide it across the table.
“Alright, your turn.”
Queen makes her way over to the table reading it over carefully… She takes quite a long time…
Queen: “Can I see your copy of the original?”
I pull our original agreement from the dungeon inventory stretching it across the table. Queen then reads it over and then the new one again… I think she spends more time reading over them then I did writing it…
She eventually reaches forward hesitating for a bit then signs the contract. With light filling the words the page splits into two complete copies, and she takes the first rolling it up.
I look over the pages real quick then roll both of mine up and then store them.
“Now good luck with Logan… If something happened between you it would be quite unfortunate, for you…”
Queen: “What do you mean?”
“Both of us are required to go to the aid of the Gowen royal family, that includes me and my dungeon, but until you officially become a Gowen I am only bound to original contract sans the new penalty.”
Queen: “I have faith in Logan, and after the help I have provided at the border during this war. That should be enough for Logan to ask for my hand.”
“And if he can’t accept a dungeon as a wife?”
Queen: “I have been dropping subtle hints to him for a while now, and so far it hasn’t seemed to worry him.”
Belinda: “Queen, just promise me to take care of my brother…”
Queen: “As Two-Twelve pointed out I am sworn to protect him now.”
“Also be more careful of your monsters, Belinda and I have a lot of damage control to do with Doug because of Aria…”
Queen: “Well I best be off now, Belinda if you please?”
Belinda nods and casts [Gate], and after Queen walks though Belinda closes it.
“First the Exeter queen, then Dyson, then Queen… And we still have to straighten things out with Doug… Can I just go to bed now…?
Belinda: “Being a dungeon monster didn’t seem to matter to Doug, and saying anything about the dungeons would cause harm to me and possibly Logan, so I think we are safe there, but he might be mad at us for a while.”
“Well after today he can get in line…”
Belinda moves over lifting my helmet from my head setting it down on the table. She then gives me a kiss. I sit on the corner of the table sliding back a bit then pick her up siding her into my lap. She lays her head down on one of my pauldrons just staring up at me.
I kiss Belinda’s cheek then move down to her neck, and then from the other room I hear.
Doug: “Hey the doors fixed!”
I sigh and Belinda giggles then hops up out of my lap. She then grabs my wrists pulling me to my feet and dragging me back to the entryway.
Doug: “How did you fix the door so quick? Did you use your dungeon voodoo?”
Belinda and I quickly look towards Aria.
Aria: “You told me to just tell him what he needed to know, I thought he needed to know everything…”
Belinda: “Doug, then you know why you have to keep this all a secret right?”
Doug: “I could care less about Mindy, but I can’t lie to father or Logan, especially with how close Logan is to Queen.”
Belinda: “Did you tell him about the contract we have with Queen?”
Aria: “Well I didn’t have time to tell him about everything.”
Belinda: “Well we made a contract with Queen and just updated it tonight. Queen is required by force of magical contract to protect the Gowen family, the punishment is very severe. She can’t hurt him so give her time to tell Logan himself.”
Doug: “What about father?”
Belinda: “Let’s get this war over with first… He doesn’t need to have to worry about all this too.”
Doug: “…Hey Two-Twelve. Aria said you have a room that shows everything that goes on in the dungeon, can I see it?”
“The dungeon core room? It’s for dungeon monsters only, sorry.”
Doug looks a little disappointed so I say. “But if you like, when I get some time sometime, I might be able to give you a tour of the dungeon itself, of course all you would see would have to be kept quiet.”
Doug: “But won’t the monsters be a problem?”
“Well they are mine, so they won’t attack if I tell them not too.”
Doug: “But adventurers die all the time in the dungeon…”
“I thought you said you told him everything?”
Aria: “Well mostly…”
“Don’t you think that would have been one of the most important parts?”
Aria: “I’m sorry….”
Belinda: “Every dungeon is different, but for ones like Two-Twelve, they don’t actively send monster out to attack people. Adventurers know what they are getting into when they enter a dungeon, so for the hope of acquiring wealth, power, and fame they attack the dungeon. Monsters, items, and just staying alive cost xp for the dungeon, and the adventurers that fall in the dungeon provide that to the dungeon.”
Doug: “But you sent me into the dungeon…”
“Most parts of the dungeon we don’t mind adventurers running around in, because as adventurer’s level up we get more xp from them, and we also acquire xp just for them being in the dungeon. That is a much smaller amount, so if the adventurer just keeps in the safe area continuing to level up it is sometimes more beneficial than a low level adventurer pushing too far and dying inside.”
Belinda: “It’s all about keeping a balance.”
Doug: “But wait your both heroes… that means you have killed your own kind?”
“Not to sound cynical, but don’t humans kill each other all the time. I mean isn’t Gowen currently at war with humans killing other humans?”
Doug: “What about…”
Belinda: “Doug… it’s been a long day. Aria can tell you a lot more.”
Aria: “Let’s go up to your bedroom and I will tell you all about it.”
I sigh as they head up the stairs. “Well I doubt he is going to learn any more about dungeons… At least tonight.”
Belinda: “Well I am going to go upstairs and take a long hot bath… You could join me if you want.”
After a vivid memory flashes though my head of sharing a bath with Belinda I quickly say… “Not sure I am quite ready for that…”
Belinda smiles and says. “You remembered something didn’t you?”
“I’m going to bed…”
Belinda: “Can I at least use our bath?”
We then head upstairs and Belinda goes in the bathroom. I store my things and crawl into bed. I would think with everything that happened today I would of went straight to sleep, but instead all I can do is lie there with vivid images of Belinda filling my head.
I finally roll over stuffing a pillow over my head like that is going to stop it… It keeps going till I hear the door click and creep open and everything crashes to a halt… I just start thinking to myself… Please go to the other room. Please go to the other room. Please go to the other room over and over again in my head. With her soft footfalls on the floor sounding like drum beats.
I then feel the covers move and feel her sliding into bed. When she comes up to rest against me all I can feel is flesh. I then feel her soft lips against my neck, while one of her arms wraps around me entering my shirt moving up till she starts twirling her finger on my chest in a circular motion.
I set the pillow over my head aside and say. “What are you doing?”
She reaches up whispering in my ear “Tell me to stop.” Then she starts nibbling my ear. I grab her hand that’s in my shirt and slowly pull it out, she lets go of my ear and starts to scoot back. She has seemed to giving it a rest, but I don’t think I really wanted her to.
When I feel her start to roll over I quickly roll over and place my hand on her shoulder. Staring directly into her eyes there is no longer any doubt in my mind… I love this woman. I then roll over the top of her and she quickly begins tugging on my shirt.
As long as the day was, and as tired as I felt, just doesn’t seem to matter anymore as it stretches on for a couple more hours before sleep finally gets the best of us and we pass out in each other’s arms.