“Huh? Nanya? What are you doing here?” I asked when she came into view.
She was standing in the middle of the platform labyrinth in the second room, but the harpies weren’t attacking her, and none of the traps triggered. It was like she wasn’t there at all.
“Oh? Illsy! I came by to see how you are doing and also to give you some books. I convinced the old geezers to give me some, but they are quite rare, so you should be careful with how you handle them.” she told me and patted the leather bag on her side.
“I’m doing fine, thank you. Books? But wait a second, why aren’t my harpies attacking you or the traps activating?” I asked.
Did something happen when I repaired them? I asked myself as I looked at the [Magic Thread] connections to the power crystals, but there was nothing wrong with them.
“I don’t know. As soon as I entered, the traps and doors simply activated or deactivated at my will. For example…” she pointed her hand at one of the fire traps, and it immediately spewed out a jet of flames. “See? It must be because of your ring. Maybe the dungeon recognizes me as allied to its master?” she hypothesized.
“I think more like the wife of the master, otherwise, it should have reacted the same back when you first ventured into this dungeon.” I said as I looked at the timed fire trap and then back at her.
“Hm, well it’s good to know that I don’t need to worry about your traps when coming down here. Anyway, here are the books. All three of them are about enchanting.” she said and opened her bag. “This one is about various room enchantments found in an old Demigod dungeon. The dungeon doesn’t exist anymore, but one of the Supreme adventurers who ventured inside wrote about it in detail.” she picked up the book and offered it to me. I absorbed it. “This one is about trap enchantments. It uses similar spells we use on weapons, even Master Rank adventurers can mimic it, but they have a lower number of uses than those found in a dungeon.” she gave it to me and pulled out another book. “This one was written by Tuberculus. It’s about item enchantment. Using the spells written here, you can give various properties to a weapon. It lasts for only one use, unlike Godlike made items or dungeon made ones.” she explained.
“I see…” I said as I absorbed that one as well. “I’ll need to get back to my crystal core in order to learn them.”
“Good! Let’s head back then.” she told me with a smile. “Still, I can hardly believe how simple it was to reach this place when all the traps were deactivated…” she said as she looked at one of the harpies leisurely flying around us without showing even the slightest desire of attacking her.
Before we headed back, I checked around the dungeon for one last time to make sure there wasn’t anyone else who sneaked inside, and once Nanya was out, I sealed the entrance to keep intruders out.
“Nanya, you said Godlike made items back then. What did you mean by that?” I asked.
“You don’t know? You actually don’t know?” she asked me with a stupefied look on her face.
“Erm… no?” I replied.
“Sigh… Well, it’s you we’re talking about. I shouldn’t be surprised. Anyway…” she sighed again and scratched the back of her head. “Beginner spells usually represent basic skills anyone can do. Intermediary skills… erm, let’s take [Fireball] and [Ice Spear] for example. At Intermediary, you have the basic version, afterwards the spells grow in complexity and power until it reaches Master Rank. At Emperor Rank, you have what we call Fusion Skills. Basically, they are a combination of two spells. An Emperor Rank [Fireball] with [Ice Spear] fusion is basically a big fireball with a spiked iceball in the middle, or which shoots ice spears randomly. The reverse, meaning an [Ice Spear] with the [Fireball] fusion is actually an ice spear covered in normal fire or liquid fire, depending on the spell. At Godlike, you enter a different category of skills, the creation skills. A Godlike skill is any skill capable of creating a permanent item, not a summoned one. In general, you just need the right materials to make it, but if you managed to improve the spell quite a bit, then you need not worry about materials, anything you can grab is transmuted into what you desire. These skills are also called Stolen Skills because they resemble a Dungeon’s ability to create items or rooms. Here’s something I made.” she explained and showed me her steel gauntlets. Being items created through her Godlike skill, they were quite powerful when compared to their standard version.
“But I can’t create items…” I told her, and in that moments, she stopped in her tracks.
“What? That’s not possible! That’s absolutely not possible, Illsy! It’s a basic skill…” she told me a bit shocked by what I told her.
“Erm, nope, I don’t have it.” I said as I looked through my skills again.
“This is a bit bad… A dungeon is usually valued because of that skill. If you can’t make items… Urk, I don’t want to think about that. Illsy, promise me you won’t tell this to anyone else, alright?” she showed me a rather serious look in her eyes.
“OK…” I replied.
“I’ll make them for you when we need to, but it would be best if you learned yourself… Maybe your level isn’t high enough? We should go and hunt more for you… I’ll even feed you some of my Magic Energy, but we need to get you that skill.” she was quite serious and worried about this.
“I understand. I’ll do my best.” I told her.
“Good…” she let out a sigh and then continued to walk.
“What about Supreme skills?” I asked.
“Those are mass area destruction skills. They are primarily a combination of multiple lower ranked skills but with a more devastating area effect.” she explained.
I gulped “What do you think Dankyun’s skill is?”
“Probably [Fireball Storm]. As far as I remember, it had a range of 1km radius and could cast down fireballs of 1 meter to 3 meters diameters. They also exploded upon impact, so it’s quite a dangerous spell…” she told me, but just by listening to the description of that spell made me realize what sort of monsters the Supremes were.
A single attack like that could decimate the entire academy. It could quite literally wipe off the map the entire area. As for a dungeon’s ability to survive that, I guess that could only be possible if it had many many levels to hide under. That being said, wasn’t I in danger by staying above the ground?
“Still, that’s not the most powerful one. I guess it’s categorized as weak.” and with that she dropped the bomb right on top of me.
“You’re telling me that there are Supreme ranked adventurers out there with an area destruction skill categorized as strong or incredibly powerful?” I asked a bit shocked.
“Yes. But as I said, these are Area spells. The reason why it’s called weak is because those fireballs can defeat Master Ranks, maybe even some Emperor Ranks, but that’s about it. If you cast it inside a dungeon, you can instantly kill all the monsters in there and maybe destroy all the traps, but only for one floor.” she explained, and I could breathe again.
Even so, that was a terrifying power. They could just destroy a floor, wait for their Magic Energy to recharge and then restart the whole thing, however, it appeared that humanoids regenerated slower than I did.
Curious about that, I asked Nanya “How often can they cast that spell?”
“Hm, it depends on their mental fatigue. While Magic Energy may regenerate fast, if the individual doesn’t have the concentration need for it, then it will be hard to cast. The only exception to that appears to be you…” she raised an eyebrow and looked up at me. I flew to her left, and her eyes followed me.
“Sigh, I see… hm? Can you by any chance see me now?” I asked.
She turned her gaze to the path ahead.
“Is it because of the ring?”
“Mhm. You look like a floating orb of light, it’s kind of hard not to spot you. I don’t even need to ask if it’s you or not, I just feel it… If I ask in my mind, the answer comes back: It’s my husband.” she told me.
“Hm. That’s interesting. So, are you upset about me making you my wife?”
Asking that question felt like crossing a tightrope above a swamp filled with hungry crocs.
Nanya shook her head “No. I guess it’s just fate, maybe? Honestly, I would have preferred something romantic, maybe after a few years of dating and knowing more about each other. A ‘not not’ joke was a bit harsh. Hehe!” she laughed a bit.
Her answer was rather quick, showing that she may have given it some thought, they both probably did. It was a major change in their lives, one which was cast down upon them by chance. Rather than fate, I think it was me who had to be blamed. Who knew a simple question was enough to close the deal? If Ayuseya really wanted to go with the plan, I was expecting some more planning, thinking, eventually a way to fool Dankyun and set her free, not a magic tattoo ring.
“I’m sorry…” my voice was low and apologetic, although, deep inside, I still remembered Shanteya’s words about me doing the right thing even if it may not look like it.
“I won’t deny it, Illsy. I’m a bit afraid of this future… I may be a Godlike, but before that, I am woman who is now married with someone she doesn’t share a mutual love with. Who knows? Maybe I’m just cursed when it comes to love?” she said with a rather sad tone of voice.
Those words hurt and dug deep inside my heart, pointing out at what I had done. I knew myself, I wasn’t the type who would deliberately cause a woman to be hurt like that, but in the end… that was what I did.
A mutual love, huh? I guess… I may have made a mistake… I thought to myself as I silently followed her through the forest.
What woke me up from that state was the silent tune of a violin. Looking up and perking up my ears, I recognized the song. It was one Ayuseya played often.
Ah! Speaking of which, what about her? Chased out of her home, hunted down by her fiance, cursed, threatened, and now the victim of my stupid joke… Maybe she doesn’t show it, but it could be that she hates me now? What if the draconian tradition asks for the husband to be loyal? Does she consider sharing me as being unfaithful? Wait, before that… How does she see this marriage? Aaand I’m back to the other question… Does she hate me for forcing her into this marriage? I asked myself as I followed the sound of her violin.
I stopped before coming into view and looked back at Nanya.
“Can you do me a favor, please?” I asked her.
“It depends. But a fair warning, I’m not going to give you my panties.” she replied tilting her head a bit to the left.
“I’ll use a certain spell on you if I want them, but it’s not that… Can you… can you go over there and ask Ayuseya what she thinks about her current situation… no, what she thinks about me and this marriage? I’ll be out of view… ” I requested, but I couldn’t hide the worry hidden in the tone of my voice.
“Sure.” she nodded and showed me soft smile.
Nanya walked past me, and I stayed as far away from them as I could. I tried to keep myself hidden from Ayuseya’s sight, but at the same time in hearing reach.
Since it was getting dark, the male fireflies were showing off their lights and flying around the place. Bathed in the light of the rising moons, surrounded by the small flying insects, and wearing a delicate yet simple white dress, Ayuseya was calmly playing for the forest. It was a soft tune, slow, and peaceful. It reminded me of a late serenade dedicated only to the stars above.
Without disturbing the beautiful scene, Nanya approached the draconian princess and waited patiently for the song to end. Once the last note was played, she approached her.
“As I would expect of a royal princess. That was beautiful!” said my teenage-looking wife.
“It’s a simple song, and my talent is just one among many shining stars out there. I would only fade away if I were to be placed on the same stage.” said the other wife, taking a small bow in front of Nanya.
“Maybe, who knows? What’s the song called?” she shrugged and then asked.
“Midnight Tears, by Lorence Astunov.” she replied with a smile.
“Lovely, but a bit sad. Is it because of the marriage with a certain perverted crystal ball?” she asked bluntly.
I’m not a ball, I’m a polyhedron… I think I may be a bit of a pervert, but I won’t admit it! I muttered in my mind.
“No…” she replied shaking her head and then looked up at the moons, “It’s just a small song to lament the countless misfortunes I was met with throughout my life.”
I guess marrying with me counts as the biggest one yet? I wondered.
“You’ve been chased out of your country, turned into a puppet princess, forced into a marriage with a man you didn’t love, cursed, targeted by assassins… and now married to a perverted dungeon core.” said Nanya, enumerating only those few events we knew about so far.
“Hm, there are a few more things that happened to me back in my country as well.” she said with a smile.
“Why didn’t you fight back?”
“The curse of the Pleyades family isn’t one to joke about. It made us incredibly weak… I think among the top ten most horrible things I experienced was being poisoned. At that time, the el’doraw boy you fought with the other day was the one who saved me.” she placed her violin inside its case, carefully so as to not damage it by accident.
“What about Illsy?” Nanya popped the question.
I gulped and perked my ears up, listening to Ayuseya’s answer.
The draconian woman didn’t reply immediately, she kept looking down at her violin and gently moved her pointing finger across it’s edge.
“Illsyore…” she said and looked back at Nanya. The draconian princess showed her a soft smile “At least, he asked me… even if it was a ‘not not’ joke…” she looked down “With Dankyun, I had no say in the matter, I was his the moment Paramanium decided so… I just had to nod and act like a good girl. With Illsyore… with him, I was allowed to experience the beauty of having such a question addressed to me. Part of the reason I said yes was because I longed for a normal marriage as well, with a partner who could love me and not care of how cursed I was…” she confessed.
“So, deep down, you wanted to have a normal marriage, huh? Guess the same applies for me as well, although, brutes such as myself rarely get the loving dolt.” said Nanya shaking her head.
“Hehe, maybe Illsyore will prove to be the one?”
“Nyahaha! He does have the dolt part, but he’s missing the other! Guess we both lucked out.” said Nanya and shook her head.
That hurts, you know? I thought, but I couldn’t deny those words. I know already, Nanya, that unlike Shanteya, you don’t see me as anything but a… Wait, how do you see me, exactly? I thought to myself.
“You need not worry about me if you wish to give him a chance. I’m not going to stand in your way. For me, just knowing that I can talk freely and that my curses had been lifted is enough. Asking for love would be too much.” said Ayuseya shaking her head.
“You are giving up on him?” asked Nanya.
“No, I’m giving up on me. I’m too broken to feel a passionate love for another… Besides, I understand he asked the question out of pity for my situation. If I can survive this trial, that’s enough for me, but if by chance he…” she stopped and looked down at her violin for a silent moment “No, even married, I won’t expect to be loved by him…” she shook her head and showed Nanya a sad smile.
I watched them head off as they continued to talk about less depressing things. Meanwhile, I stayed behind in that small clearing, watching the fireflies dancing around me.
“I’m an idiot…” I said and then let out a sigh. “They are hiding their pain behind a smile, and I just added more pain to it by getting them married to someone they don’t love…” I looked up at the moon and didn’t move for another half an hour before I finally returned to the academy.
Note from the Author: Thank you for reading! I hope you liked this chapter and let me know what you think about it in the comments below! 🙂
I’ll try to upload a sketch on how the fourth floor looks like, but the one I have at hand is… erm… let’s just say it’s better off hidden. >.>
I understand that some of you may have perceived the Marriage ability of Illsy as a sort of a Deus Ex Machina thing, rest assured it’s not, and it will be properly explained at the right time. The story is mostly from Illsyore’s point of view, meaning that he doesn’t know EVERYTHING about his skills or the world, therefore, he may get confused or be wrong about certain things. Nonetheless, if you feel like I’ve omitted or forgot anything, let me know. 🙂
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