Sorry this chapter is so fast paced. I couldn’t stand this book being another 2-3 chapters, so I sort of sprinted to the end here.
“Min…” Aria gave an unworried smile even as her footprints left blood in the snow.
Min leapt over Aria, immediately facing the crowd of angry onlookers. How had things come to this point? A few amateur adventurers came at Min. She flourished her weapon and immediately sent their swords flying. In the past, she might have just killed them, but Aria was different. She still had issues with killing people, even those that deserved it.
Min new that the night she caused the death of all those nobles still haunted her. Min wouldn’t complain about Aria’s reservations. She understood that Aria rarely called Jenai because of that reason. Jenai wasn’t a fighter. She was an assassin. She only knew how to kill people in a single strike. Prolonged battles and fights of attrition were outside her skills. She was also a stubborn woman, likely to do things her own way if Aria didn’t make explicit orders. This meant Aria depended on Min a bit more, and Min was perfectly okay with this.
“Min!” a woman was looking at Min wide eyed and breathless as she spoke up. “We have caught this Tramp spreading disease and fornicating with half the men in this village! You don’t have to defend a harlot such as she!”
Min cocked her head to the side. Spreading disease? Aria was disease-free. She had a unique skill that prevented sexual transmitted diseases. Had Aria caught a cold?
“Leave her! We’ll take good care of you.”
“Stay in our village!”
If Aria was diseased, then wouldn’t Min carry the same disease? The women of this village didn’t seem to make any sense. If they were angry Aria was sleeping with their men, then they should be happy that Min was there now. Only she could limit their time with the men.
“I love you!” a voice came out of the crowd.
Although it was a female voice, she didn’t see who shouted. They seemed to be yelling in this direction. Were they enraptured by Aria? Perhaps not everyone in the crowd wanted Aria dead? The crowd wasn’t making a lot of sense to Min. Well, that was the problem with groupthink in the first place. It was nonsensical and unorganized.
“That ugly skank isn’t worth it!” one of the women shouted.
“We can give you more than she can!” Another spoke up.
Are they calling Min an ugly skank now? Wait, Min was dressed as a man. Did they realize Min was a woman? Perhaps that was part of the hostility. Min still couldn’t get a grasp on this crowd.
So, when Aria grabbed her from behind and lifted her shirt, she was left absolutely speechless. Aria always did some strangely embarrassing things. She liked to kiss in public, which horrified Min. Some times she’d even openly grope Min. She was also a bit of an exhibitionist, walking around naked and thinking Min should do the same. However, even in this situation, she seemed to only be thinking about sex. She wanted to claim Min here in front of these people who are ready to kill the both of them? Min could take being called a skank. This was hardly necessary.
“See!” Aria shouted. “He is a she! She’s got a vagina! Do you get it?”
No! Min didn’t get it! Why did she choose now to do this?
“Please… Aria… why… bad Aria… please stop… this is bad play. So embarrassing… Aria. Sadist. Abusive wife… mean…”
However, before Aria could respond, she suddenly let go. “Ah… there’s the backlash.”
She immediately vomited blood on the ground. Blood started coming from her ears and her eyes. Min immediately recognized this as the acts of her limit break. Aria had activated a limit break just to embarrass Min? Min truly didn’t understand. What was she think…
Min looked up as she remembered the angry crowd in front of her. However, they were all staring as if their very souls had been pulled out through their mouths. Most of the women were shaking their heads with their hands over their mouths. Most of the men had confused and dazed looks on their faces.
“Will take… leave.” Min said simply to the crowd.
Not a single person approached as she picked up Aria and started walking away. As she moved, she could hear a few people talking.
“A girl… she’s a girl?”
“Did you see the blood, she’s already dying. I don’t want to catch it. Let those weirdos die by themselves.”
“I can’t believe I turned Jeffrey down because I was in love with…”
Some seemed disturbed by Min. Others by Aria’s backlash. They didn’t seem to know what a limit break was. There were some diseases that caused someone to bleed from every orifice. They likely were terrified of catching something at that moment.
Min shut out the words and picked up the pace, yet the crowd seemed to have been completely broken by those few acts. Min didn’t understand it, but she suspected Aria did. Aria had stopped the crowd. She often didn’t understand Aria’s actions, but they always seemed to work. Aria was the woman who rose from the ashes. She was a hero from another world. Her sense of logic wasn’t like Min’s. Also, she was Min’s vessë, that was enough. Even if it didn’t make sense, Aria exposing Min’s chest somehow stopped the crowd.
She had even risked her own life with limit break, putting her body through a blender just to keep Min safe. Min didn’t know if she could have kept Aria safe if the whole crowd surged forward. She was genuinely frightened for a bit. However, Aria had stopped them, even if Min didn’t understand how.
“I did nothing.” Min realized the truth.
Once again, Aria had stopped a crisis by herself. Min likely played a part in forming this mob, but it was Aria who once again sacrificed everything to stop it. She protect Min. It was supposed to be the other way around. Min had been training so hard, and yet it was still always Aria who did what was necessary.
The next day, when Aria woke up, she immediately smiled and reached for Min. Even then, Aria still didn’t show any anger or disappointment. She nearly put herself in a coma for Min, and she wanted to act like Min wasn’t useless. Min moved her cheek away, unable to research Aria’s compassion right now.
“M-min?” Aria asked cautiously.
“The Cambion colony, north.” Min pointed and hid a wince.
They were already heading north to the Cambion colony. This wasn’t any knew information. Min might as well have said water was wet. However, she was so desperate to seem useful to Aria, that she just blurted it out like a fool.
“Mi… ah… you’ve found them…”
The words were said innocently, but they stung for Min. Finding them was an overstatement. Min already knew where they were. Once they reached the colony, would Aria throw Min away? The thought was there before Min could stop herself. Aria didn’t truly need Min. She was, at best, a guide and a fuck toy. However, Min barely knew the area and she couldn’t keep up with Aria’s sexual needs. So what use was she? Why was being a wife so difficult?
When Aria apologized to Min, Min could barely stand it any longer. Aria was worried about Min, yet it was Min who had become a burden.
“What’s the plan?”
“Last town, Magroove. Stock before go.” Min gave the last piece of knowledge she had.
“So, we’re getting close. That’s good. If anyone knows how to get me to second class, it should be the succubae. Rhinehart said our abilities are similar.”
“Yes.” Min responded without turning back, and then added bitterly, “Must hire adventurers. Dangerous place.”
Min couldn’t keep Aria safe. She had known it from the beginning, but she had hoped she’d become powerful enough to stand by Aria’s side with enough time. However, this incident in the village proved that all she could do is stare in confusion while Aria put herself on the line to defuse the situation. Up north, it’d be even more dangerous. Min wasn’t enough.
“Ah, well, can we afford them?” Aria asked.
“Perhaps…” Min’s hands tightened on the reigns. “If vessë uses abilities.”
This had all been Min’s fault. Because of her shameless jealousy, she made Aria’s life more difficult on a daily basis. The reason they had no money right now was because Min refused to allow Aria to do what she wanted. They could have traveled the distance in a merchant caravan but Min didn’t like the way the merchants groped at Aria. It was always Min getting in the way.
That moment, they had no money, and were barely making there way sleeping outside next to a campfire, and the reason for it was because of Min. Deep down, Min hoped she could take care of vessë without the need for Aria to use her body. Min was wrong.
It reminded her of her mother too. For the longest time, she had always assumed there had to be another way. Her mom didn’t need to resort to using her body. Min had hated her father for a time because he hadn’t done more. Min had tried to correct her father’s mistakes. With Aria, she tried to be enough that Aria didn’t need to.
“You want me to seduce some men into following us?” Aria asked.
Want? No. However, she would have done it if Min wasn’t there, and she would have been better off for it. That was a reality Min hated to admit.
Min turned her head away, unable to face Aria. “Or sell body for money. Either way…”
It was an admission that hurt Min the most. Aria could easily have made all the money for this trip if Min wasn’t there. Most of the problems they faced would have been resolved if Min wasn’t there. Rather than being by her side, helping the hero thrive, Min was a weight on her.
The two ended up driving in silence the rest of the way to Magroove, Min remained stuck in a spiral of depression.
““It may take some time… for you… to finish…” Min stated sourly as they stopped in front of the adventurer’s guild.
If I had the body, I would give anything to sell myself for you. Perhaps I could sell myself back into slavery? Min thought bitterly. But I’m not strong enough to do it.
That aside, this close to the demon continent she was almost worthless as a slave.
“I’m sorry…” The words came from Aria.
Min turned around in shock, seeing Aria with tears running down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m not gonna enough for you! I’m sorry I disrespected you. I’m sorry I made you think that I’ll just fuck anyone. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be a whore. I don’t want any other man. I just want you. I want Min. I love you. Please, don’t abandon me, I need… I need…”
The words caught Min off guard. They were so close to her own thoughts that for a second, she thought Aria had gained a new ability to read minds.
As the pair hugged, Min shook her head and muttered. “Stupid…”
Min had been such an idiot. She was so caught up in worrying about how useless she was, she hadn’t even considered what Aria thought about things. Once again, Min had served as nothing but a burden for Aria. At least, perhaps, Min could do a little good tonight by alleviating some of Aria’s stress.
Aria revealed she was going to use pheromones. Min didn’t like the pheromones, but tonight she decided to allow it. Perhaps under the control of pheromones she’d have enough to drive to keep up with Aria. That was wishful thinking. Aria was continuing to ride the fake cock long after Min had taped out. Aria didn’t know this, but Min had to add an enchantment to the dildo to keep it erect even after Min was done. It still felt like a penis, but it cut off stimulation so Min could get a break after the fifth or sixth orgasm. As Min determinedly faked a seventh orgasm while letting Aria be on top to conserve energy, she promised herself she’d consider Aria’s feelings more in the future.
That’s why she let Aria talk so freely about their unique sexual situation to that group of adventurers. Normally, Min would keep their relationship a secret, but Aria was always so strangely sexual that she’d kiss Min in public or talk frankly about her sexual kinks to Sandor and Pratter.
“Well, sometimes I have the dick, sometimes he does. We take turns.” Aria responded casually to the shocked adventurers.
Even then, it was really difficult. Aria really likes to say embarrassing things! Min was horrified, but determined to tolerate Aria’s outrageous behavior. She owed Aria at least that much. No sooner had the adventurers left and Aria already had her hand in Min’s pants. Of course, Min allowed her to stroke the dildo, even while giving a mortified look. Anything for Aria.
That was, until she saw the group of guys Aria selected to travel with. Min didn’t trust the men at all. The party called Knifefall made Min nervous. However, Aria seemed to trust them. Min decided to keep quiet. Aria had managed to find a group willing to protect them with the amount of money they had. It could be considered a great accomplishment, and Aria always seemed to know things or guess things better than Min. Min just had to trust Aria on this. At the very least, she couldn’t hinder Aria more, and she feared if she spoke up she’d be doing exactly that. And so, they ended up traveling once again.
“Getting Close.” Min muttered to herself.
This was the first area that she actually recognized. She was nearing some of the paths the elves took. They sometimes crossed into the human territory, especially when Demons were getting edgy. By keeping to the wild and bouncing back and forth between the human and demon border, they kept either side from attacking them. It’s how the elves lived.
“Would you ever… want to… renew our wedding vows with your parents?” Aria casually asked in front of the entire group.
Min broke into a cough. Aria said some of the most embarrassing things sometimes.
Later that night, Aria began a sexual relationship with one of the men. All of the men had been acting edgy, so it was probably a good idea to placate them. Even out here, she was using her body to help. Perhaps, if Min had let her do what she wanted in the beginning, they’d be going to the Cambion colony with a dozen armed guards.
Min shook her head and avoided those kinds of thoughts. They only depressed her further. However, the only other kinds of thoughts were listening to her vessë fuck other men. She did her best to go to sleep. The days seemed to continue on. The next day… and the day after that.
Then, the day came in which they reached a clearing. There were other people nearby. This is what Min had feared from the beginning. The had planned to escape that night, but they were just a day off. In the end, they had ended up in front of a group of slavers.
“Slaves.” Min shook her head.
This couldn’t be how Vessë ends up. Min would put herself on the line. Min would fight and allow Aria to escape. This was the moment. This was the point where she would finally prove that she belonged with Aria.
“Vessë, run!” Min shouted, pulling her sword.
Min was overwhelmed in moments, as a collar clicked around her neck, she was forced to her knees next to Aria. She had failed even this much. Min hated herself at this moment more than any other. The slavers decided to kill Min, and she decided that it was her proper due. She had earned it by failing to protect Vessë. She had been a burden from the beginning, and in the one moment she could shine, she lost easily. Min was not a fighter. She was weak and pathetic.
Aria lunged forward. The pain had to be unimaginable. Even thinking of moving gave Min a blinding headache.
“S-sh-she’s a man!” Aria screamed with all the force she had.
In the end, they decided not to kill Min. Aria had saved Min again, once again throwing her body and enduring unimaginable pain to do so. Min wanted to die. For the first time since she had fallen for Aria, her death wish returned. She’d never be good enough for Aria, would she?
Min kept her head down. She had caused this. If she had spoken up back at Magroove… but she had wanted to cater to Aria. Now they were slaves. If she had just been strong enough to fight them off for a few minutes, yet the Kappa one was a third classer it seemed. Of course, Min hadn’t discovered that fact herself. She knew it because of Aria.
She had also lost the façade of a man. Would Aria still love her as much as a female? She knew Aria tended to lean towards men. Was a female wife good enough? Min didn’t know. Even now, with a collar on her neck, Aria acted assertively. She spoke to the slaver like an equal, looking him in the eye, and he responded back in kind. If Min had said a single word to a slaver like Aria spoke, she would have been beaten.
However, that’s what made Aria herself. She had a way with people. Even these slavers felt it. They were scared of her, and rightfully so. Aria could have sent these men to their graves easily without that collar. Min knew this to be reality.
That night, the men took Min to beat her. It was exactly because she was relatively worthless that they saw no advantage in preserving her. Well, the death of their two comrades didn’t help. She took the blows as graciously as she could.
A man was going to rape her. It reminded her of the time with Dante in what felt like forever ago. She’d finally have a man force himself inside of her. Although, Aria had been inside her several times, this feeling felt different. It was because, deep down, Min always saw herself as a woman. The mask had been torn off now.
“Stop!” Aria’s voice shook Min to the core.
How had Aria come here? Min looked back to see Aria still wearing the collar. Yet she had come anyway. She had seen Min in trouble and she had come again. If she kept coming, kept putting herself in danger, she’d eventually die. If Min was the one who caused her death she wouldn’t know what to do.
The men didn’t respond kindly to Aria. They pulled Min’s pants down. Min had to be violated in front of Aria. She felt something pressing against her butt. Why did things have to turn out this way? Min wasn’t afraid for herself though. Rather, she already knew how things were going to turn out.
The dick left, and six men walked away from Min and headed towards Aria. Min had nothing she could do but look on as the six men ravaged her vessë. She hadn’t felt fear because she understood deep down as soon as Aria appeared that Aria would save her again. Min loved Aria so much for being so dependable, and hated herself so much for making it necessary.
Aria was doing this to protect Min. Why did every woman in her life do that for her? She hadn’t asked for it. She would have gladly let that guard stick it in her butt if it meant Aria would be left alone. Yet, it was Aria, always Aria… who had to endure. Just like her mother, a year and a half ago in that clearing, Aria waged a war against these men, her naked body writhing until every man was done.
They were afraid. Min had been spared rape, but the entire group was scared. Vessë sat there with a light smile on her face, and every man there was afraid to even look at her. It was like they had caught a bull by the horns, and were now terrified to let go. If they let go for a second, she’d tear them all to pieces. Min’s vessë… the woman she loved… this was her true power.
Some women used their bodies to fight. Min understood what that meant now. Aria was just like her mother. She was a monster. A hero. A warrior. And six grown men were scared of her. Min felt proud of her, but terrified as well. Aria shone so brightly, that Min had no hope of ever catching up. Was there anyone out there for Aria? Did a man or woman exist that was as incredible as her? Min didn’t know. She only knew she wasn’t enough.
She was too weak. Too cowardly. Too inexperienced. She was the wrong sex too. Everything about Min made it so that she wasn’t the right fit for Aria.
Then the wolves came, and Aria slipped from her bonds with ease. The collar didn’t didn’t stop her at all. She threw the keys at Min before leaping off the cart, running off into the forest. Min could only shake her head sadly. She couldn’t touch the keys. Even thinking of putting them up to her chains caused unbearable pain. Aria was hurting too. She could see the pain in her eyes. Yet, she somehow kept moving forward. Aria was so much stronger than Min.
Min couldn’t move forward. She was stuck where she was. Was this it? She watched Aria disappear into the forest. Was this the moment Aria finally left her behind? It was a fitting enough end. Min should have been a slave ages ago. It was only Aria who had kept her going. When the kappa returned without Aria, Min could only barely contain the grin on her face.
“What happened to that woman?” One of the guards asked.
“Dead.” He said shortly.
“What about this bitch.” He nodded down to the chained Min, who had yet to move an inch.
“I’m done with these two. Use her up and we’ll toss her in a ditch somewhere. It’s time to cut my loses.”
Min barely heard them as they pulled off her chains and hauled her into the forest. She couldn’t believe it. Dead? First her mother, and now Aria? Her mind seemed to reel and flip. She had convinced herself that Aria was so unstoppable, that she had stopped trying herself. She was even willing to be left behind. But she had forgotten that her mother had died that way. She had left her mother behind.
Min could do nothing but abandon the one’s she loved.
“No!” She screamed, reaching out and pulling a knife off a guard, she swung the knife at his temple.
The kappa caught the knife easily as torrents of pain shot through Min. However, if Aria could do it, Min could do it. She ignored the pain. She moved to attack as the kappa punched her in the face, causing her to stumble down to the ground.
She wasn’t useless, she still could… the pain… it was too much. The pain was maddening.
“Another slave that can move under the slave collar, incredible.”
“Just get this over with.” The kappa demanded.
Although she was on her knees, Min forced herself to back away from them. The kappa had backed off, but two men were approaching her. Even through the delirious pain-filled dream, Min felt if she kept moving, if she kept the pain, then she was one step closer to Aria. In fact, she could see Aria. Aria was standing a distance away watching her.
“I’m almost to you.” Min whispered. “You and mom. I’m almost there.”
As the soldier’s fell, Min could barely form a coherent thought. Two people she hadn’t seen, a man and Jenai, had killed them suddenly. The collar didn’t cause pain as long as she didn’t move, but the previous pain still thrummed horribly in her head as she tried to make sense of things. When she finally could focus, Aria was standing there like a hero, holding out her hand to Min. So, Min took it.
“Vessë…” she mumbled, wishing she had saved Aria. Her ghost would have to do.
Min was shoved back as blood splattered nearby. She still was having trouble understanding what was happening. Was mother coming next?
The kappa was there, approaching Min. He reached out and pulled off her collar. She felt at her neck, confused. This… wasn’t a dream? That was when her eyes fell down to the small of the Kappa’s back as he turned away from her. He had a small dagger hidden, his hand unconsciously groping for it. He was starting to walk towards Aria.
Mother… she had turned her back on Dante and died for it. She had been convinced that she had been in control when she really wasn’t. A single mistake could be the difference between life and death. This was Min’s chance. Her last chance to do something. Aria had saved her so many times. And she could see the scene play out in front of her.
The kappa would stab her without her expecting it, but His back was facing Min. It was almost like her own mother’s death had always been leading towards this singular moment, this single chance at redemption. She grabbed a sword and with two steps rammed it into the kappa’s back.
She was backhanded and stumbled to the side, her mind growing dizzy. However, she had disrupted what the kappa was going to do. She had done it. She had saved mother. It had taken her a year, but she had finally saved her.
“Min? Why?” Aria asked with a confused look.
Min looked up, trying to focus despite the pain and dizziness. Something hard rammed into her chest. As the coldness began to set in, she could see that woman. The woman took a step towards Min.
“M-m-mother?” Min felt elation.
I did it. I saved you.
Min fell back, tumbling down a steep decline. When she struck the bottom, coldness and darkness started to overwhelm her. Soon, Min couldn’t feel anything at all.