Side Story: A Nice, Cozy Bath
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
Dusk had come to the dungeon. The cloud-laden evening sky was dyed a brilliant shade of orange as the sun made its way beneath the horizon. Having played their fill, the kids were exhausted. They were more than willing to comply when I told them that it was time to head back for dinner. The thought of food had at least temporarily restored their energy, however, as all six girls ended up in front of me on our way back.
Upon tearing my eyes off the dungeon’s pseudo-sky and spinning back towards the door to the true throne room, I found myself struck by a sudden wave of nausea. The world span much more dramatically than it should have from such a shallow turn. The attack led me to raise one hand to my temple and press the other against the nearest wall as I leaned over and groaned.
“Master? Are you okay?” Shii happened to turn around right as I somehow managed to fight off the urge to vomit, so she ended up asking me about my condition with a worried gaze.
“…Yeah. …I’m alright.” I managed to squeeze out a few words after a moment’s delay. “…I’m… just a bit dizzy.”
I clearly wasn’t okay, but I didn’t want her to worry, so I told her otherwise as I took a series of deep breaths and filled my lungs with much-needed oxygen. Each inhalation seemed to help, even if only a bit. Slowly but surely, the sudden wave of lightheadedness faded away.
“What the hell was that…?”
A realization overcame me as I opened my mouth to speak. My voice was back. The high pitched squeaks I’d been speaking in just five minutes prior were nowhere to be found.
Relief flooded my system as my eyes darted to my arms and legs and confirmed that they had reverted to their original form. Detective Yuki was no more. The case was closed. My woes had finally been banished to the void. The clothes I had been wearing, little boy-sized articles I’d bought with DP, had torn and left me in an unpresentable state, but that was my least of concerns. I was far too preoccupied with the pure joy wrought by my return to bother with something as insignificant as my appearance.
“Finally! Fucking! Finally! Real Yuki’s back, baby!” I fell onto my knees, raised my fists, and shouted a cry of victory as would a soccer player after an epic, game-winning goal.
The outburst startled my companions. Enne, the first to turn around, reacted with disappointment. She was less than happy to find that she had lost the opportunity to play the role of an older sibling.
“You turned back? So Yooksie’s gone?” Likewise, Illuna also broke into a sad frown.
“Yeah, Yookie’s dead as a doornail and gone for good,” I said. “Say goodbye to that dumb brat, and hello to your resident demon lord!”
“Awww… That’s too bad. You were really cute when you were Yooksie.”
I was feeling a bit bad for the two girls given that they’d been deprived of their fun, but I’d already made up my mind. Yooksie was never coming back. Period. I’ve had way more than enough of that shit for a lifetime.
Alright, fine, I will admit that it wasn’t all bad. I started to enjoy it a bit halfway through, but only because nostalgia was kicking in. It kinda felt like I was reliving my childhood. But still, never again. I’m done.
“Thanks Shii,” I said. “Anyway, we should get a move on. We can’t eat or bathe if we don’t get back inside the castle.”
“Oh yeah, it’s dinnertime!” said Illuna. “I can’t wait! I’m starving!”
With the girls in tow, I kept my head held high as I triumphantly returned to the throne room.
“Oh man, what a day…” I sighed as I allowed myself to sink a bit deeper into the tub. It was the perfect temperature. The hot water vein that ran beneath the bath had been configured such that it was just warm enough to provide me with an environment in which I could kick back and relax after a long day with the kids.
By long, I meant long. I had effectively spent the whole day with them. They had even joined me for a quick dip in the bath. The only reason they weren’t still by my side was because they’d gotten too tired or bored to sit around and let themselves soak.
Illuna and Shii were the two marked as tired. I suspected that the former had already been tucked in, while the latter had returned to slime form and passed out on her favourite cushion.
Enne, on the other hand, had simply been bored. She’d decided that hanging out with the dungeon’s other residents was ultimately a better use of time than sitting around in a tub of water. In other words, she had most likely sought out Leila for a couple games of shogi. Though we had a whole plethora of board games sitting around on the shelves, Enne would almost always pick the classic game of generals over any other. The position it held as her favourite pastime was solid as stone. The sword girl loved challenges and didn’t mind failure. She wasn’t the type of gamer to throw a fit or call hax the moment something didn’t go her way. That was why she always opted to face off against Leila if possible. She never bothered challenging Lefi or any of the other easy wins unless no one else was available. So I know this is only kinda related, but seeing a girl who’s basically dressed in a kimono playing shogi makes for one helluva sight for sore eyes. It’s like the perfect combination of cool and cute, and probably adds a thousand or so to her elo straight up.
While we didn’t actually have any elo-based rankings set up, we did have something along the lines of a local leaderboard. The rungs were as follows:
The shogi rankings were fairly reflective of board game skill in general. The top half of the leaderboard quite literally never changed regardless of the game, whereas the bottom half would occasionally shuffle around based on a wide variety of different factors.
Leila was naturally the top seat. She was more than capable of outwitting the dungeon’s other residents and crushing them beneath her with nothing more than the power of her mind. Illuna was also surprisingly good at using her head. She was capable of making plays that were so dirty they were borderline demonic, all whilst smiling in as innocent a manner as any child her age. The way she’d bait her opponent in and devastate them was enough to make any overconfident victim pass out on the spot in shock. Just saying, that was just a metaphor. It hasn’t actually happened. Yet.
Illuna hadn’t always demonstrated such soul-crushing strength. In fact, she used to be amongst the weaker contenders—at least until I realized that she was just going easy on us. A brief lecture on boardgame manners was all it took to convince her that losing on purpose was, in fact, more discourteous than not. And that was when everything changed; the vampire began plowing her way through everyone that wasn’t named Leila with a smile.
Like our all-knowing maid, the young blonde seemed to have a fairly good head on her shoulders. Further evidence of this could be seen from her play. She would typically act as the commander whenever it came time for the girls to do anything involving teamwork or coordination.
Another surprising entry was our resident dragon girl. She was notorious for simply being bad. But though Lefi wasn’t exactly what one could call talented when it came to exploring the tabletop realm, she wasn’t actually the worst at it either. Shii was—mostly because the adorable little thing didn’t quite seem to remember all the rules. She would always end up gasping and declaring that she’d messed up after making her move and seeing its consequences. You see, this is why she’s the dungeon’s healer. She’s got both our bodies and our souls as soothed as they get.
I put a hand to my chin to contemplate the benefits that we derived from the slime’s presence but was pulled from my thoughts by the rattling of the bathroom door. Spinning around, I found myself witness to a sight straight out of heaven. Three beautiful angels, clad in nothing but towels, had entered the room.
Each conducted herself in a unique, easily identifiable manner. Lefi kept her arms crossed and her grin smug. Lyuu was also smiling, albeit in a much more embarrassed manner as she held an arm against her waist. Nell was the most abashed of the three. She directed her gaze towards the floor as she kept both hands on her towel to make sure it didn’t slip.
“Wha!?” My jaw dropped as I made a noise that bordered the boundary of incoherence. The way their beautifully shaped limbs, free from excess fat, poked out from beneath their towels was so erotic it started giving me ideas the moment I laid eyes on them. I’d seen Lefi without clothes on so many different occasions that I’d effectively become desensitized to her naked form. But the towel changed everything. The skimpy outfit, if you could even call it that, emphasized the girls’ curves and directed my eyes towards the few parts that were just barely kept out of sight.
I soon realized that I was staring, so I forcefully tore my eyes away from the treat before me and repositioned my jaw as to not look like an idiot.
“W-why are all of you in here?”
“I see not why you are acting so surprised,” said Lefi. “I was under the impression that we often bathed together.”
“I mean, yes we do. But we don’t,” I said as I directed my gaze at the two behind her.
“L-Lefi pressured us into tagging along,” explained Nell.
“Y-yeah. She just told us that she was gonna join ya, and that we were comin’ too,” agreed Lyuu.
“Do your people not bathe with their mates?” Lefi raised a brow in wonder as she led the trio to the pre-bath showers.
“W-we didn’t really have any huge baths like this where I used to live, so I’m not really sure,” said Nell.
“All we warwolves ever do is drop ourselves in the river and do a little bit of scrubbin’. Bathin’ in a huge space like this wasn’t ever somethin’ we’d ever thought up,” said Lyuu. “But livin’ here’s changed me. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without a bath anymore.”
“I feel the same. I cannot help but feel filthy in every case that I forget to bathe.”
The girls’ towels, which had been white to begin with, turned translucent as they were moistened by the shower. And that wasn’t the only thing the water did. Each drop served to make their outfits more skintight. I could sense the man in me rising. But I couldn’t let it. I had to keep calm. Knowing that I was about to lose myself, I once again tore my eyes away from the girls and looked to the grassy plains and the night sky beyond. Alright Yuki, deep breaths. Come on. Let your mind be clear. Calm as the surface of a mirror. And enlightened as a saint. Wait, is it just me, or did a few of those statements seem a bit off? I’m pretty sure they’re more related to martial arts and religion than they are to—oh whatever. Who cares? All that matters is that I calm the fuck down. Not reacting is key. They’re only doing this because they want me to say or do something. Losing control is a big no ‘cause the kids are still around.
Wait. No they aren’t. They’re all either fast asleep or hanging out somewhere else. It’s just me and the women in my life right now. Huh. Weird. That almost never happens. Does that mean that… it’s actually okay for me to lose control for once? That we can use this rare opportunity to do the thing men and women do together when they take off their clothes?
Wait. Wait, no. Bad Yuki. Down, boy. Get a grip. You can’t go jumping on people unless they give you the green light.
We’re bathing. They’re here because they wanted to wash up. That’s it. This is just a totally normal thing. Husbands and wives get in the bath together all the time, and not necessarily to do the deed. Not that I even really think of Nell or Lyuu as my wives just yet.
Lefi was still the only one that I really felt that way about. The other two were more like girlfriends. There certainly was a degree of emotional attachment there. I valued both girls, but didn’t think I was really ready to truly commit to them just yet. We were still in that phase where we were testing the waters to figure out if we were really all that compatible with one another. You know what’s really weird? Calling someone my girlfriend makes me feel way more embarrassed than calling someone my wife. I’m not really sure why.
My internal discord was brought to a halt as my back was met with a sensation that could only be described as soft. Incoherent, surprised demon lord noises left my throat as I reacted with a start.
“What are you mumbling on about this time?” Lefi’s arms wrapped themselves around my chest as she placed her head on top of my right shoulder. Directing my gaze sideways led me to realize that she was grinning as would a playful imp. She made sure to keep her eyes on my face in order to enjoy whatever reaction I might give her. And give her one I did.
She was naked.
My heart kicked itself into hypershift and accelerated far beyond its normal rate. The sensation of her chest against my back, the warmth of her cheek against mine, and the bliss that came with inhaling her scent all assailed me at once. I’d thought that I was already desensitized, that I’d built up an immunity to Lefi’s antics. But the circumstances being what they were made her usual theatrics infinitely more exciting. You know, now that I think about it, Lefi has always had a bit of an impish side to her. She’s always loved poking fun at me and teasing me whenever I’ve given her the chance.
“N-nothing important,” I said.
“Really?” She cocked a brow. “Well, whatever the case, I must say that it is too bad you have lost the form you obtained this morning. You had become quite the adorable thing. But now, you are not. It has once again become impossible for you to be described as cute in any capacity.”
“Oh, well, I’m sorry I’m not cute anymore.” I rolled my eyes. “I can try acting like a kitten and meowing or something if you really feel like you’ve missed out.”
“You have my curiosity piqued, but I must refuse.”
The other girls had finished showering and started heading over, so she let go of me with a laugh as she got into the tub and on my lap. Nononononono! That is NOT a good idea right now!
“Hey what?” she asked.
“What do you mean, what? I should be the one asking you that! What the hell are you doing on my lap!?”
“I fail to see the issue. Is this not precisely what we have always done?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s not!”
I could feel it. I could feel every curve, every muscle, every last bit of her firm perky butt as it pressed itself against my legs. I couldn’t let her sit in front of me. For reasons that didn’t need explaining.
“I’m starting to get a little bit jealous of how close you two are,” said Nell.
“I think that’s just somethin’ we gotta expect,” said Lyuu. “Lefi’s known Master for much longer than we have.”
Both girls slipped into the bath as they spoke. Unlike Lefi, they’d at least kept their towels on. That, however, wasn’t exactly helping. The only thing the thin layers of cloth did was serve to emphasize the girls’ chests, especially since they sat right at the waterline.
Thinking of chests reminded me that there was, in fact, a leaderboard for that too, one from which the kids were naturally excluded. It went as follows:
Leila’s top seat was as indisputable as it was when it came to board games. She was simply unrivalled. There was nothing any of the others could do to even come close to putting up a fight. Nell seemed fairly slender when she had clothes on, but actually had a decent pair of knockers. The competition was actually fairly tight when it came to Lefi and Lyuu. Both their chests were of a much more moderate nature. It took a careful side by side comparison for me to discern that Lyuu’s were very slightly bigger. …I’m glad none of the girls can read minds. ‘Cause if they could, I could easily see myself ending up six feet under. Hell, they’d probably take it a step further and bury me in the middle of the forest just to make sure I’d never be heard of ever again.
“A-alright girls, you mind telling me what is going on? Because this is really embarrassing, and I’m really fucking confused.”
The bathtub was one of the larger models. While the four of us did in fact fit, it was starting to get a little too cramped for comfort. The way everyone’s bodies were basically glued to mine only made things worse. Or in this case, harder.
It felt like I was in the middle of a minefield. Even the slightest movement would lead to me touching something I wasn’t supposed to.
“W-we’re probably just as embarrassed as you are, but…” Nell’s voice trailed off in the middle of her explanation, so Lyuu took over the role of explaining the status quo.
“It ain’t everyday that we get the chance to spend some time in private with you, Master. I ain’t complainin’ about how things normally are. I still think livin’ here’s real fun, but this, this is different. It’s special, y’know?”
The two girls exchanged a glance before smiling shyly.
“That, in essence, summarizes my intention,” said Lefi. “I chose to invite them after coming to the realization that this would be one of the few rare opportunities we would have to speak in private.”
Looking back, I realized that our family had grown far beyond my expectations. At first, it had just been Lefi and I, and I’d honestly expected it to stay that way. But things changed as time came to pass. The number of residents had only continued to grow. Personally, I didn’t mind the noise that accompanied the change in the dungeon’s population. We were, in effect, all one big family. We ate together, played together, and lived together. But that was precisely what made it so difficult for the girls and I to find time alone. It was almost never just us.
“Speaking of everyone else, how are they? Did Illuna and Shii get to bed?”
“They’re both sound asleep,” said Nell. “And Enne’s off playing shogi with Leila.”
“Yeah, I figured as much,” I said. “Man, I owe Leila big time for all the shit she puts up with.”
“Indeed. this abode of ours likely would not function without her. It is she that keeps lives in line, and she who has allowed us to put this event together,” said Lefi. “Ah, yes. That reminds me, were you not going to wed her? I see little reason for you to leave her as the sole adult estranged.”
“Lefi’s got a real point there, Master. Were you just not gonna marry Leila?”
The tone in which they made the suggestion was so casual that I couldn’t help but allow it to elicit an awkward chuckle.
“I don’t think it’s right to marry someone because you don’t want to make them feel left out. That just isn’t how that works,” I said.
Plus, I’m pretty sure wives are the type of thing that you’re only supposed to have one of. I’m getting the feeling that the girls are starting to get a bit desensitized to this whole harem thing. And I’m not sure I like where this is going.
“I think that you two make a good point, but Yuki does too.” Unlike the other two, Nell still seemed to be in possession of her common sense. “I think that this is more about how he and Leila feel about it than how we feel about it.”
You tell ‘em girl. See, this is how normal people are supposed to react.
“Nell, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I’m really glad you’re here right now.”
“Huh? Where’d that come from?” she asked, puzzled.
Rather than answering the question, I chose to laugh it off as I went back to facing the forward direction.
Warmth embraced me from all sides.
It was comfortable.
Just having them near me put me at ease.
Even my heart, which had been beating at a thousand miles a minute, had slowed itself down to something just a tiny bit faster than its usual pace.
A strong emotion slowly worked its way through me. It was bliss. Happiness in its purest form. Alright, so I know thinking this while I’m literally surrounded by women is going to make me sound like some sort of degenerate, but I gotta do it. Having a bunch of girls touch you all over feels super good.
I could, quite literally, feel their affection.
Knowing that they were girls that had promised themselves to me only served to elevate the sentiment whirring about within my chest.
We were just messing around, nestling up to each other, and talking about whatever. But that alone was enough to make it feel as if I had everything I ever needed. Like I had been fulfilled.
After a brief moment of silent reflection, I raised my arms, wrapped them around Nell and Lyuu’s shoulders, and pulled them closer while placing my face right next to Lefi’s. It was the exact thing she’d done to me just a little bit earlier. Both the warwolf and the hero squeaked in surprise. The dragon, however, had a bit more sass to her.
“One moment, you are a coward. The next, you are suddenly acting with bravado. How awfully suspicious,” said Lefi with a teasing grin. “Was the change driven by a sudden urge to be fawned upon?”
“Nah, not even close,” I laughed. “I just, you know, had a sudden thought.” I paused for a moment to smile, gently. “I really do love you. All of you.”
The girls’ faces turned red. And not because they’d been in the bath for too long.
“W-where’d this come from all of a sudden, Yuki?” asked Nell,
“I-I know, right? T-That was like a bolt right outta the blue. I’m real shocked right now, Master.”
“…I was not aware you were capable of delivering such a line,” said Lefi.
I mean, you’re kinda right. I’m not, at least not normally. The only reason I’m saying it now is ‘cause of the mood. There wasn’t really much I could do about the mood of all things. Cuddling with the people I loved in a nice warm bath had basically set it in stone. Anyway, that’s enough rambling out of me. I’m pretty sure you already more than understand just how good I feel right now.
I stopped thinking about happiness and allowed my mind to wander yet again. A sudden thought popped into my mind, so I allowed it to give itself voice.
“…Where exactly did that potion come from anyway?” I wondered. ‘Cause that shit was weird. Both its effect and the way it wore off were super weird.
Much to my surprise, the casual question I’d directed at no one in particular elicited a twitch. My eyes were immediately drawn to the reaction’s silver-haired source. “Wait a second…” My eyes narrowed. “Why so jumpy, Lefi? You got something to tell me?”
“I-I know not what you were talking about.”
“Talk. Now.” I said in a flat, unamused tone.
“I-I have very little of note to say. I simply believe that I may have a slight idea as to the potion’s origins.” Cold sweat dripped down the back of the dragon’s neck as she gave her schpiel. “I may or may not have recalled seeing it once,” she said, nervously. “But only after you consumed it.”
“Do you remember the instance in which you attempted to investigate the possibility of crafting your own potions?”
I recalled the exact experiment Lefi was talking about. I’d felt that potions were eating a bit too heavily into my budget, so I’d done a few quick experiments in order to determine whether or not I could craft my own. In the end, the idea had been a flop. All I was really able to figure out was that the mana they contained was of a different nature to the mana that most living things possessed.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“The concept of crafting one’s own line of potions piqued my curiosity, so I took the opportunity to do precisely that whilst you remained away from your desk.” She laughed awkwardly as she did everything in her power to avoid my gaze. “I poured my magical energy into a bottle alongside a random assortment of materials. However, I soon grew bored and placed the bottle back amongst its peers without verifying the fruits of my intervention.”
“Wait. Weren’t you the one saying that everything I did today was entirely my fault?”
“I-I suppose I was,” she stuttered. “A-and I stand by the statement. While I was certainly was responsible for the potion’s synthesis, it was you who chose to drink it despite lacking knowledge of its effects.”
“Oh, you know what, I think you might be righ—NOT! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, MY FAULT? IT’S TOTALLY YOURS!”
A series of panicked dragon sounds ensued as I shot to my feet and sent Lefi flying off my lap and headfirst into the water.
“What was that for!?” she sputtered indignantly. “Your actions led me to consume an entire mouthful of bathwater!”
“Shut up! This whole goddamn thing is your fault!” I yelled back. “I had to spend a whole goddamn day as a kid because of your stupid bullshit!”
“And what is wrong with that!? Did you not eventually forget your concerns and begin enjoying yourself!?”
“Enjoying myself? Enjoying myself!?”
“Precisely! You were able to not only cope, but also adapt!”
“You think I was enjoying myself!? Naw, bitch! You crazy, fool! That shit was so bad I was finna shoot someone!”
“And now you are not only in denial but also adopting an infuriating manner of speech! This is precisely what I meant when I declared that you’ve once again become as far from adorable as one could possibly be!”
Our argument was so intense that it didn’t leave much room for anyone to calm us down. Knowing that, Nell turned to Lyuu and made a suggestion. “…I think we should probably leave.”
“That’s a good idea, Nell. Stayin’ in the bath for too long ain’t all that good for you anyway,” said the warwolf.
Meanwhile, I continued to shout. “In denial!? You’re the one in denial! You can call me uncute all you want, but you know what? I don’t fucking care! I never fucking wanted to be cute. You think anyone would want to be tiny and helpless like that? I couldn’t resist, no matter what you fucking did to me!”
“The childish charm that accompanied your form was all you had! Without it, you are but another irksome imbecile with a tongue as vulgar as a harlot!”
The warwolf and hero laughed awkwardly at one another, stood up out of the water, and left the bathroom. But neither Lefi and I stopped. We continued to yell at each other and demonstrate that we were the very epitome of a loving couple.