That night, I had a really weird dream.
I was back in my old world, at my parents’ apartment in Romania. Alina was there as well, but I couldn’t see her face very well. I couldn’t see how either mom’s or dad’s, they were all blurry, but I recognized the place. The photos of the old me were up there on the shelf, commemorating various moments of my life.
Suzi, their cat was yawning on the floor, looking as bored as always. It had a white fur with a small black spot on the back. For some weird reason, it kept staring at me with its slit brown eyes.
My parents were talking with me, and Alina was trying to say something as well, but there were no words coming out of their mouth. It was as though I was deaf. In my hand, I was holding an old phone, but on it was a picture of me together with Nanya, Ayuseya, and Shanteya at the beach. I was right in the middle of them, smiling happily, and they looked rather tempting and beautiful in those swimsuits.
“You left me alone…” was what Alina said at one point and showed me a picture of her in a wedding dress.
She was standing in front of a typical orthodox altar, letting the white veil cover her face. I couldn’t see it, but somehow, I knew she was shedding tears of sadness. At first, I didn’t notice anything wrong with the picture, I thought of it as a cosplay picture or something like that, but it wasn’t. She was standing in an actual church, and the most disturbing detail about it was the white marble cross placed right next to her. On it was written a blurry name, my name. That was my cross.
“Just like you left me, you are going to leave them as well…” she said and then pointed at the picture of me and the girls at the beach.
A chill ran down my spine, and it was in that moment when a strange darkness took hold of me and swallowed me whole. I was left floating inside my Inner Mind, crying and trying to break free of it. I panicked and tried to push the darkness away, but it didn’t budge… I wasn’t strong enough.
“I’m going to kill you and them as well…” I heard Dankyun’s voice.
“I’m not going to let you!” I screamed back at him, but I couldn’t reach him.
I was left floating in the darkness, listening to Dankyun’s laughter and hearing Shanteya’s, Nanya’s, and Ayuseya’s screams. My whole body shivered and feared their dreadful fate. Among them, I also heard the battle cries of the teachers at the academy and the screams of the students. Speaking of which, I didn’t really interact with them much, did I? I couldn’t even name one or two…
When I woke up, I was shivering and breathing hard. Seeing myself surrounded by the darkness of my Inner Mind confused me, and for a moment, I thought I was still in that dreadful nightmare.
In the end, it was Shanteya’s warm embrace that calmed me down.
Letting out a sigh, I looked up at her. She was still sleeping, showing me a gentle and peaceful expression on her face. It felt like nothing could ever bring harm to her, but then I remembered the awful screams from my dream, and the fear of losing her resurfaced. I squeezed her tight in my arms and pushed my face in her chest, taking in her warmth and listening to the soft beats of her heart.
I don’t want to lose either of you… I said in a whisper.
Although I felt the need to close my eyes and go back to sleep, I resisted the temptation because I didn’t want to risk returning to that dreadful nightmare.
[Ayuseya’s point of view]
For the past two days, I stayed away from Illsyore. He didn’t call me out to sleep with him either. The only company I had during that time were my tears and books.
After letting go of my mother’s letter, I didn’t try to look at it again. I didn’t feel the need to do so, I couldn’t bring myself to do it either.
In a way, I was waiting all this time for Illsyore to return and kick me out in Dankyun’s claws. That was all it would take to be rid of me. As for this marriage… It was strange, but in this world, the black ring didn’t exist.
For a while, I was wondering if it wasn’t just some illusion cast down upon my mind, a simple spell meant to enslave me to his will, but if that was so, why didn’t he act like it?
I didn’t feel like returning to him, but running away felt even harder. My future was uncertain or rather predisposed only to pain and darkness.
The one thing I never thought about was suicide… Even though life treated me so badly, suicide was something I never considered as a possibility or means of escaping this torment. What would have been the use of it anyway?
Letting out a sigh, I spread my arms and looked up, or where I thought was up.
It’s Illsy’ fault… I said.
I really wanted to trust this Dungeon Lord. I really wanted to think that this marriage could be the actual thing I always dreamed about, but I had no definite proof towards it being so.
How can I test him? I thought and then looked over at my book collection.
There were many stories in which I could find a source of inspiration, but many of them required me to be outside of this place. It wasn’t like there was no way, but the only question floating through my mind was: What’s the first step I need to take?
[Dankyun’s point of view]
Breakfast, as always, was edible, but rather pathetic for one of my rank. The thought of killing the cook crossed my mind, but alas, a good one was hard to find around these parts. On the bright side of things, the tea was made by me, and it was delicious even if the assortments were rather limited.
There was no doubt about this academy being the most boring place where I could spend my time. The academy was filled with nothing but pathetic weaklings of all kinds and of all species. Only the beast folk was missing from here, but they were forbidden to ever leave their continent. Nanya was the only one I could somewhat view as a possible threat, the rest could be annihilated with a single punch.
Still, while I appeared to be doing nothing, I was actually charging up my Supreme Skill. Once I left this dump, a small ‘accident’ was going to happen, and all of a sudden, the academy was going to vanish. The bothersome bureaucratic and political nonsense was going to be handled afterwards. I had many pawns to use as a scapegoat if the blame for this whole thing hinted towards my direction.
Meanwhile, my two el’doraw assassins were keeping me informed of what happened outside the dungeon’s territory. So far, there was no actual proof to support either theory. In other words, Ayuseya left this place, but at the same time it she didn’t. The dungeons were too small and too weak to offer a possible shelter, but until those two finished searching every nook and cranny on this territory, I had no intention of making the first move. My soldiers were already instructed on what to do. As for the draconian students enrolled here, I planned on luring them to my side. There was no need for them to study in such a place. It would only bring to shame the name of our species. Of course, if they refused, the punishment would come later.
When I was young, a draconian adventurer once told me: “We are the most powerful and perfect species out of all of them! We are descendants of gods and demigods! We are the first to conquer a dungeon! We are the oldest and the wisest! To see a species like the humans or any other hold more power than us is a disgrace and a shame a true draconian must try to rectify at all cost!”
I kept those words true in my heart ever since, and I was constantly shown proof after proof that my kind was stronger than any other. At the same time, I noticed that I was better even than my fellow draconians, I was stronger, faster, and smarter! Gaining the rank of Supreme was merely a formality I had to go through in order to achieve greater power. But now,… now I deserved more!
Ayuseya was going to be a good stepping stone for me to achieve it. Afterwards, it would be rather easy to get rid of that pathetically weak royal family that kept relying on others for strength. They don’t deserve the royal blood flowing through their veins, and I was intent on removing every last drop of it! As for my soon to be bride, with or without her, there many ways to gain the throne.
Thinking about it logically, there was no need for me to exhaust so much energy only on this one. If I waited another 10 or 20 years, I was sure another woman was going to be born in the royal family, and I could take her. This time, however, I was going to make sure she didn’t try anything stupid.
Even I had to admit that the trick she used to get out of our engagement was completely unexpected, but even so, just a minor setback for one such as me. I wasn’t called a Supreme for nothing.
The only ones who could actually try to stop my plans were the other Supremes in this country, but none of them had either the strength or will to do so. Together, let’s say they could, but in the end, I would certainly come out victorious. Besides my sword, I had my armor as well. It was… a very useful tool for all sort of situations. Then, I had my rings, my amulet, and spell crystals like the one I was using now to charge my Supreme Skill. When the time was right, I could activate them and use them without expending even one drop of my own Magic Energy.
These spell crystals were some rather interesting artifacts. Although usable only once before the Magic Energy inside them was depleted, they could become a real game changer, depending on the skill infused in them. They had their own limit of capacity, and they were rather hard to charge. Few had the patience to go through the painstaking process of supplying one with Magic Energy. For a Supreme Skill, it could even take up to a few days to charge, which made my wait for Ayuseya to get out of her hiding hole not a waste of time. I did wonder from time to time if Nanya had any, but it was rather doubtful. These things were expensive to both make and buy. There was also another reason as to why she wouldn’t have any. That woman would surely refuse to use something that was once a part of a dungeon’s core.
As such, while no one was looking, I was charging up my spell crystal. I had few others as well, including one with [Flight] and another with [Invisibility]. Although I didn’t have these skills personally, paying a Godlike or Emperor Rank adventurer to charge them up wasn’t considered a waste at all. Of course, I did pay for them, especially when they did a good job with it. The only condition I had was for them to be draconian.
In the end, my schedule at this so-called Fellyore Magic Academy was rather simple: I woke up in the morning, had my breakfast, then I charged my crystal until noon. After that, I listened to the reports of my men and those of the assassins. I had my lunch, then continued with another session of charging my crystal. While I did that, I summoned some of the draconian students over and persuaded them to join my cause and leave this pathetic place.
“Hm, I guess I’ll be able to finish this by tomorrow evening?” I said as I took a sip from my tea. It wasn’t bad, but next time I was thinking of adding a leaf of Ratgrey.
[Illsyore’s point of view]
The nightmare kept me awake for a good couple of hours before Shanteya woke up. I tried to get back to sleep, but I simply couldn’t. I kept my eyes closed and listened to my el’doraw’s heartbeat. The soft thumps were like a sweet melody, and her calm breath reminded me of the fact that I was safe, in her arms, and not facing Dankyun in a battle of life and death.
In all honesty, I hoped he would leave quietly, but something told me it wasn’t going to be so. If the cliches from my world worked here as well, then without a doubt, he was expected to do something to stir trouble. Somehow, someway, he was going to cause us to fight.
Maybe it’s all in my head… I thought at times while I pondered about the many possibilities.
At the very least, I managed to calm down enough to greet Shanteya in the morning with a smile.
After our morning kiss, I released her from my Inner Mind and allowed her to sneak off into the forest, where she would resume her massacre of the local fauna for my constant leveling. I had no idea how this would affect Nanya and Shanteya, but until they allowed me to check their statuses, I couldn’t do a thing about it. Technically speaking, I didn’t need approval, but I wanted to be polite about it.
I forced myself a bit, but I managed to finish the escape tunnel for the students. No one had any idea where or how long it was. The enchanted walls would keep it lit and safe from whatever was going to happen above. In short, the war preparations were going smoothly.
This took for about five and a half hours, give or take ten minutes. I worked without stop and made it as fast I could, always making sure never to go overboard with my Magic Energy consumption and at the same time use as much as I could.
Upon returning to the academy, it was already noon. With a yawn on my lips and waiting for my Magic Energy to be replenished, I looked around for anything I needed to fix. Finding Nanya or Tuberculus was an added bonus.
“Nothing seems to be out of place… and no soldiers are misbehaving.” I said as I was floating around.
When I spotted Dankyun, I stopped and approached him slowly. Tuberculus was there too. As far as I could tell, the two of them were having a ‘calm chat’ about something. It wasn’t polite to eavesdrop, but I was invisible, so it didn’t matter.
“Absolutely not!” said the old headmaster.
“It’s not a matter that needs to be debated, the draconian students themselves agreed with this after I had a nice talk with them yesterday.” Dankyun explained without even looking at the old man.
With his chest puffed up like that and his hands behind him, I had the impression I was looking at a noble with a stuck-up attitude, but maybe I wasn’t that far off from the truth. He didn’t even want to show the smallest sign of respect to those around him.
“Even so, I have a responsibility to uphold towards their parents! Even if they are draconian, to suddenly enlist them in your troops, that… that’s…”
“That’s an honor. For someone who is bellow Master Rank to participate in combat and training sessions with those of Master Rank and higher is a true honor! Also, do remember that I am a draconian Supreme who is engaged to their princess. I don’t believe they would stumble upon such a great opportunity again any time too soon or at all.” he explained, but just like before, he didn’t look at Tuberculus.
“These students aren’t ready! They are too weak and too young!” the old man still tried to get him to change his mind, but Dankyun wouldn’t even hear of it.
I listened to them for a little bit longer, but the draconian was determined not to change his decision, or rather he saw no reason in listening to Tuberculus’ opinion. It wasn’t a matter of being right as much as it was about him not being of the same species as him.
Back in Romania, such a gaze in a man was hardly seen. In general, Romanians simply didn’t care about skin color and country, however, there were exceptions there as well. I saw these sort of eyes in the people often tagged as xenophobic or racist in movies or on the news. These people saw others as either ‘things’ below them or simple enemies for the simple fact that they existed.
If I were to think about it carefully, there was a high chance that racism and speciesism were more common and thought about as normal in this world which resembled Earth’s medieval period. Human rights, Draconian rights, Elf rights, El’doraw rights, and those of any other sentient species felt a bit on the missing side. It wouldn’t have been strange if I was the only one withholding such morals about equality.
Should I simply ignore this sort of behavior? I asked myself as I flew away from Dankyun.
When I looked around, I saw some students of different species laughing together.
Interesting how laughter was a common thing for all species and so was crying, pain, love, and any other emotion. This made me remember something someone once told me.
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