A Dinnertime Reunion — Part 2
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
If there was one thing I learned from the dinner party, it was that Elven cuisine was delicious. The taste was distinctly foreign, and I’d never had anything like it, but I was happy to eat until I was full. Even the glutton of a gourmet known as Enne was satisfied. She happily munched away at everything she was served.
Her cuteness was, of course, fully appreciated. Many of the elven maids serving as wait staff dedicated as much time as they could to attending to her, their faces decorated with huge smiles all the way through. I totally get you. All the dungeon’s kids are cutiepies. Just being around them is enough to make you smile.
“Oh, that’s right!” Phynar used a handkerchief to dab away at his face in an elegant manner before he spoke. “Thank you for saving my men on your way here, Yuki. They were out on a very important mission, and I owe you a great deal for the favour.”
“Just make Nell’s life easier whenever she ends up having to do shit in the demon realm, and we can call it even.”
“Why, of course. That’s an easy request to accommodate. She saved our lives, after all.”
“U-uhm… you really don’t have to go out of your way for me, Sir,” she said, clearly ashamed of my request.
“There’s no need to be so reserved,” said Phynar. “I’m sure anything you’re involved in will wind up finding its way into the history books.”
“Your achievements are already remarkable in Our eyes. We shall recall your name for many long years to come. It has already made its mark in elven history.”
“Wow, Nell, would you look at that? Your legend’s already begun.”
“Geez, Yuki. You really don’t have to tease me like that…”
She lightly punched me in the shoulder as she turned to face the opposite direction, which prompted me to laugh heartily. I love you too, Nell.
“We must ask you one thing, oh great Supreme Dragon.” Napholahz put down her cutlery for a brief moment. “We understand that one as powerful as you is capable of changing forms at will. But why have you taken one like that of Ours? Of the races?”
“Oh, that? You see, she actually has this huge sweet too—”
Lefi cleared her throat and interrupted me before I could finish.
“I shall answer her myself, Yuki. I see little need for you to respond in my place.” Like the monarch, she also stopped eating for a moment to speak. “There is no reason of great significance. Our relationship,” she glanced in my direction, ”began with an agreement easier to fulfill in the form that I have now taken.”
“She liked chocolate,” said Enne. “Wanted t—”
“Enne, I shall offer you a slice of meat. I know well that you have already consumed all of yours.”
Enne’s silence was immediately acquired for the low, low price of some more food on her plate. The sword girl slowly chewed on her ill-gotten gains, savouring the sweet taste of victory. Seems like Lefi doesn’t want people to realize that the whole dignity thing she’s got going on is just a huge facade.
Nell and I exchanged glances, stifling our laughter to the best of our ability. The elven queen, on the other hand, seemed incredibly surprised.
“You have truly changed since We last encountered you, Lady Leficios.”
“It is only natural. I cannot remain as I was, not with this idiot as my mate nor with the family that I have surrounded myself with.” She smiled softly. “Have you wed?”
“No, We have refrained. It is… difficult, for as queen, Our partner is sure to find himself upon the political stage.”
“Oh, you silly little thing. You gave the exact same answer when I asked you that question 100 years ago.” said Phynar.
“T-the state of Our love life is not your business, Phynar!”
Looking around the room, it was fairly obvious that many an elf had something to say on the matter, but that they were intentionally refraining for the sake of being polite. And I can pretty much guess exactly what they’re thinking too.
The queen was beautiful, undeniably so. Given the combination of her looks and her position at the top of their hierarchy, I was fairly certain that she was capable of getting any man she wanted. The whole politics thing certainly did make it more difficult, but not to the extent where she was unlikely to have been in any relationships for so long without some sort of reason.
“I’ve got a really nice idea,” said Phynar. “Why don’t we, say, we throw together a nice, lovely event for singles open to members of all three of our races? Living with someone from another race is sure to be hard, so we’ll have to help them along where we can, but I’m sure it’ll be great for international relations.” He smiled in his usual, hard to read manner. “I don’t think there’ll be any better way to foster goodwill and cooperation between our countries. And of course, Naffy, it goes without saying that you can grab anyone that happens to catch your eye.”
“A mingling event for the unwed? That is an excellent idea,” said Reiyd. “But it does bring up the issue of our relative lifespans. With that in mind, why don’t we begin by hosting an event limited to soldiers?”
“That’d be wonderful,” said Phynar. “Everyone here seems to be playing nicely after everything that’s happened. We could totally start with them.”
“We agree, but first, We must state that you are also unwed, Phynar. You have no right to complain about Our lack of a spouse unless you also begin to seek one.”
“Well, I guess I certainly can’t argue with that,” he chuckled. “I guess it’s about time I start looking for a wife. I’m not going to be able to do something as crazy as Yuki and have three at once, but I certainly don’t see why I shouldn’t have one.”
Their conversations led the soldiers to start buzzing with excitement. Some of them were glad that their respective monarchs had finally declared their intent to seek wedlock, while others were looking forward to finally breaking free of the curse of loneliness.
I, however, shared none of their excitement. I was too busy looking over my family. While contemplating an inevitable concern that I had always tried to actively avoid thinking about. Their lifespan.
According to what Lefi and I had discussed, I was likely to have an unnaturally long life. I would have no trouble living a few thousand years at the least, and she would do the same. In her case, it was a combination of dragons being long lived and her having become powerful enough to be, in effect, immortal and unaging.
But we were the only two that were likely to live for that long. I didn’t know much about how things worked for Shii, Enne, and the wraith girls, given their less-than-orthadox racial traits, but the others were sure to die before us. Being human, Nell had the shortest amount of time remaining. As a beastkin, Lyuu could potentially live to two hundred if she stayed healthy enough. Illuna and Leila were a bit longer lived given their demonic nature, but not even they would be able to last a millennia.
Almost all of my loved ones would die before me. And so would the vast majority of my acquaintances. In the end, only Lefi and I would remain. Only the two of us would be able to slowly watch as time passed and the world around us shaped its future. How will I feel when the inevitable happens? Will I still be able to keep living on without them?
I was fairly confident that I would be able to at least bear with their eventual passings with Lefi by my side. But at the same time, I didn’t want to. A part of me was almost convinced that I would much rather be the first to go.
“Yuki? What is the matter?” asked Lefi, quietly, such that only I could hear.
“Nothing. It’s nothing.”
She had caught onto my sour mood, and in all likelihood, realized that I was practically on the verge of tears. But I decided to brush her off. At least for now.
What followed dinner and the accompanying chatter was a self-driven exploration of Elfland. I was walking around aimlessly with Enne sitting upon my shoulders.
It was already late into the night, but there were still guards stationed all over the place. We were, in all technicality, still in a high state of alert, but it didn’t seem like anyone was feeling all that tense anymore. The atmosphere as a whole was much more laid back. Most of the soldiers were chatting the night away and even actively interacting with members of the other races. They seemed fully aware that the alliance that arose from this gathering was one indicative of a long and stable era of peace.
“This village… It’s pretty,” said Enne.
“Yeah, it’s nice,” I agreed.
I had already been impressed during the day, but the scenery that came with the moon was a whole different beast, one that was almost magical in nature. There were firefly-like bugs fluttering about, illuminating a beautifully crafted path with their dim, yellow glow. It was almost impossible for me to tell if the road was natural or artificial. Though it almost seemed to blend into the background, it remained clear and easy to follow. An architectural masterpiece.
The scenery that the Wicked Forest offered was awesome in its own right. It impressed upon any that gazed upon it the beauty of nature untamed. It was different here. The scenes the elven village offered simply had to have been manipulated and managed. But still, they remained just as beautiful and pristine.
“Master. The bugs. I want some at home.”
“Can’t say I disagree. They’re very pretty,” I said. “I’ll see if we can get some with DP when we get home.”
After we walked for a little bit longer, I found myself with a familiar pair in my sights. They were located within a tent, one that looked to be some sort of temporary HQ.
“Hey, Sword Saint! Carlotta!”
Oh wait, are they discussing stuff while looking at a map? Oops, I guess.
“Why, if it isn’t Yuki and Zaien. It’s nice to see you again,” said Remiero.
“Masquerade? Hello, it’s been a while. Or has it?” she frowned. “It feels like we saw each other just the other day. And would that be… your sister?”
“Oh, I never realized I never introduced her. I’m actually pretty sure you guys have met already, and several times at that,” I said, as I put Enne down. “She’s my daughter, Zaien.”
“I’ve met her? Odd. I can’t seem to recall…”
I bet she’s only confused because she’s only met her sword form. Lol.
“Oh, and uhhh, my bad. I only just realized I probably interrupted you guys while you were in the middle of something.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s getting late, and we were just about to wrap up for the night anyway,” said Remiero. “I feel like I should be the one apologizing. I knew you were here, but I hadn’t even stopped by to greet you.”
“Nah dude, don’t sweat it. I can tell you’re busy as hell,” I said. “And besides, it’s not like I mind in the first place. It’s not like it’s been all that long since we got here in the first place.”
“I was informed that you defeated the undead dragon on your way here,” said Carlotta. “And I was also very… surprised to learn that you’re a demon lord. You certainly do seem powerful enough to back the claim up.”
She gave me a bit of a stare.
“Looks like you found me out,” I said with a bit of a chuckle. “My bad for hiding it. I figured you’d probably have attacked me if you knew. Or at least right off the bat.”
“I most likely would have,” she admitted. “If you introduced yourself as one immediately, I would have decided to cut you down there and then, even if it cost me my life.” She looked me right in the eyes, speaking without hesitation. “But now that I know you, I think I’ll have to refrain. I don’t care what you are, as long as you continue to treat Nell with love and respect.”
“Sounds like we’ll be getting along plenty well then. The kids and my wives are the most important things in the world to me, after all.”
“I suppose we will, and for a long time to come at that,” she said with an amused snort.
Once we were done with a brief exchange of pleasantries, she approached Enne and slowly extended a hand to give the girl a gentle headpat. Is it just me, or does she seem used to dealing with kids? This is going to sound rude as fuck, but honestly, I figured she’d be the type to hate them given how much of a stickler for the rules she is.
Further consideration led me to realize that the place she had taken me during my first visit to the Allysian capital was an orphanage. I guess that means she’s probably used to dealing with them because she plays with the orphans or something?
“Her hair colour and facial features resemble yours,” said the paladin. “I know Nell is not your only wife. Is this one of your other wives’ kids?”
“Kinda, not really. Remember this?” I pulled out Enne’s real body.
“I believe that’d be the sword you normally use. What of it?” she asked with her brow raised.
“This is Enne’s real body. She gained the ability to take on a human form because some weird demon lord shit happened.”
“A sword… gained the ability to take on a form akin to a member of the races?”
“Because of some weird demon lord shit?” she asked
“Because of some weird demon lord shit.” I said.
She silently looked at Remiero, who nodded with a bit of an awkward smile. Unlike her, he’d already known exactly what Enne was for quite some time.
“I always did think you were somewhat absurd,” grumbled the lady knight. “Having learned this, I don’t think there’s any point in me questioning you anymore, no matter what you say or how insane it sounds.”
“Yeah, that do be how it be sometimes.”
“Even at my age, I’ve never met anyone else quite as unique,” said Remiero with a chuckle. “I’m convinced, now more than ever, that you’re the reason Nell’s changed so much over the course of the past year.”
“I feel the same,” said Carlotta. “She’s been making great strides in the right direction, and I’ve always suspected it was because your brazen personality has been rubbing off on her.”
“Has she really changed that much?” I asked.
“She has. As her boss and someone who’s known her for a long time, I can say for certain that she’s grown much stronger as of late.”
I know she’s been getting cheekier lately, but I didn’t really think it was my fault. Honestly, I’m kinda happy to hear it. Thinking about it, she’s probably rubbing off on me in some way too, huh?
“That reminds me, Yuki. Do you recall the promise I made?” Remiero, who’d been carrying himself like a kind old man this whole time, suddenly made a more serious face. “I apologize for not seeing it through any sooner, but if you would still like me to instruct you in the way of the sword, I would be glad to offer my services.”
Promise? Oh! Oh shit!
“Oh, hell yes. Count me in,” I said, excitedly. “Any opportunities to get better at using Enne are always welcome.”