Aizen looked at the women dressed in their battle suits. He should have expected this when he had asked Viara to decide on who would be joining him on the journey. She had chosen herself and Lysaria to be the ones to accompany him.
Vienna and Meera were to stay behind. Xeina was still a guest, and so Viara didn’t ask of anything more of her than to look after Vienna and Meera. What was surprising was that she had made Yuliya dress up as well to join them on their travel.
Aizen only nodded to her and didn’t ask for any explanations. She must have her reasons and plans to deal with Yuliya, and Aizen let her go on with them. He had made himself clear last night and didn’t believe that Viara would deliberately harm her.
Arthur briefed them about their route to The Sky Mountains. Since none of them had been there before and didn’t have coordinates as well, they could not use the Black Crystal to travel there. The Sky Mountains Star was at the edge of the far north of the Middle Realm. It was one of the coldest places in existence, and it was not easy to reach it. According to the route they decided to take, their travel would last for seven days before they reach their destination. And it was the fastest and safest route.
Aizen opened the space channel to their first destination. Viara and Lysaria nodded to the rest and entered it first, Yuliya followed. Aizen smiled at Liafina as he held her hand and then stepped inside the portal. He could feel that she was keeping her guard up against Yuliya, and he found it amusing.
He wanted to convey to her that his instincts would never lie to him, but she was just too stubborn. Over the past two months, he had been paying close attention to the feelings that were conveyed to him through their bond. She didn’t speak much with him, and she didn’t need to as well. He had been holding her in his embrace every night, and she had grown used to it. She had been restless last night when his arms held Vienna and Meera as he fell asleep. It was clear to her that he didn’t mean to neglect her, but she still felt restless.
Everything was going according to his intentions. He was engraving himself on her mind and soul completely. He wanted her to think of him before anything else and never again have that urge to die.
Where they arrived was a seashore of some Star. The excitement of the sea could be heard from the crashing waves that headed to the shore. It was from here that they would start their journey. All of them wore battle gears under their cloaks and had put on masks to hide their identities.
Viara opened the Space Channel as she held the compass that indicated the general direction of The Sky Mountains. The plan was for her and Aizen to take turns in opening channels. It was so that if anything happens, then Viara would have enough mana to use her Time magic while Aizen could open the space channel to escape.
They traveled from one Star to another. They took their rest on the Stars that had no life on them. Rest was important for replenishing their mana. They couldn’t take too many risks. When a day was over, they arrived at their targetted location. They needed some proper sleep.
The place they were in right now was a city called Kaval. It was the only city on this small Star. And just like most of the other Stars in the North, it was ruled by a Monster clan. The Inn they decided to spend the night at, was not too luxurious. They wanted to keep things lowkey.
The plan was to get some sleep before continuing their journey. Mana could be replenished by resting for a while, but the mental load would only go away after getting some sleep. Viara took the bedroom and Aizen just sprawled on the couch of the living room. He rested his head in Lysaria’s lap. The Valkyrie was staying up to keep a watch tonight. She had already slept during their travel.
Liafina seemed to have no plans of getting some rest. She sat on the other couch and read a book. However, her concentration was on Yuliya who was lying on the couch beside her.
Lysaria’s sweet aroma and her blush adorned face satisfied Aizen, and he soon fell asleep in her lap. She had not looked down to meet his gaze, but when she realized that he had fallen asleep, she observed his peaceful sleeping face. It had been a while.
She had developed this habit when they were together in the Moonlight Inn. Her job was to protect him, and after the first night when she had so easily fallen asleep in his embrace, she had willed herself to stay awake to look after him. His sleeping face made him look utterly vulnerable and held a different kind of charm. She loved watching him sleep. Her eyes caught Liafina looking at the sleeping face on Aizen with intrigue, and a smile crept on her face
The little dryad didn’t show any expressions, but Lysaria had caught the slight pink in her complexion. Somehow, the worries she had had about Liafina, all vanished. This little dryad wasn’t emotionless like she behaved around people.
“He looks so vulnerable, doesn’t he?” She asked with a smile.
“He is,” Liafina answered subconsciously.
Lysaria saw Liafina take her eyes off Aizen and look back at her book. It was as if she wasn’t supposed to say what she had, and didn’t want to talk anymore. Lysaria looked over to Yuliya who was pretending to be asleep and couldn’t help but smile.
So far she had not found anything wrong with her, and she could understand her feelings a little. She too was a princess if not an Alpha and was forced by circumstances to become what she wouldn’t have ever thought of becoming.
Now that she looked back and remembered how ardent Viara had been to always cheer her up and talked even so many useless things, she felt her heart warm up. Never had Viara let her feel like her freedom was bound or she was her servant. And if Lysaria could go back in time, she would still choose to be her Shadow than to return to Valorhal.
Yuliya wasn’t even a Shadow, but it was true that her home was closed to her and she had been traded off as if her existence didn’t mean anything more than that. Her pride had been hurt, and Lysaria couldn’t help but admire how she was dealing with it and not lashing out. Or perhaps it would be a while before her emotions explode. She truly wished that Yuliya wouldn’t lose her reasoning or she wouldn’t bat an eye before ripping her heart out if she hurt her family.
After a few hours of rest, they took a modest meal before carrying on with their journey. Aizen picked up Liafina in his arms and made her get some sleep as they traveled. It looked pretty funny and felt heart-warming to the rest of them.
He would make her sleep every time he woke up. He knew that she had been keeping watch the entire day, and needed some rest. If he left it on her then she would probably not even get a minute of sleep during the entire journey.
Like they had expected, after six days of traveling and stopping by at some small cities, they had arrived at their latest destination. It was from here that they would directly head to The Sky Mountains. The decrease in temperature could be felt even if it didn’t bother them. This Star was ice-capped, but the cold just didn’t seem to bother anyone. The sole city of this Star was bustling with zeal and zest. This was because it was the marketplace for people that resided on the hidden Stars further in the north.
The extreme conditions of The Sky Mountains made it impossible for there to have a functioning market. The Star was all mountains and meadows that were covered in snow and storms. It was the home of some of the most terrifying beasts. And the only Clan that resided on it was Azereus. Even with a small army, it was possible to keep off any force in the world from entering The Sky Mountains. It was a natural bastion. And due to its harsh conditions, it was also rich in some minerals and metals that were quite valuable.
The Star they were currently on was called Snowfield. It wasn’t ruled by anyone. The most powerful clan here was Azereus, and it was considered their sub Star where they carried out all their business and bought the necessities to bring back to their home.
The snowfield city was the only city, and there were a lot of different organizations that had their branches here. Every building here was made of black stones, and the highest wasn’t more than six stories tall. The roofs were made of wooden and stoned canopies that were layered in snow. This architecture gave the buildings a natural and serene feeling and made them blend perfecting with their surroundings.
“We will stay here for a day or two, and explore this place.” Aizen decided it for them.
The city was really beautiful, and of what they had seen of the surroundings was captivating. He felt that it would be a waste if they didn’t explore the city.
It was a big city and many different races resided here. Even the Demons and Devils that kept themselves on the Western and Southern parts of the Middle Realm were here.
He had never seen Dwarves before and felt quite intrigued by looking at them. The tallest one he had seen was slightly shorter than Liafina, and they were not like her who would forever stay fourteen. They were mature, and men had beards while women had curves that spoke of their age. The children he had seen looked cute and small but seemed even more energetic than their elders.
Seeing the place hosting every kind of people, he couldn’t help but remember his time at The Castle and Arkadiom.
“It’s quite lively here,” Lysaria commented as she looked around the shops.
“I will take you shopping tomorrow, don’t worry.” Aizen teased her and watched her draw back her gaze and look down. She could be cute sometimes.
Viara laughed and could not help but remind Aizen about something; “You have to buy a necklace for the rest of us as well if you find such a pretty one.”
Aizen shook his head as her words made him feel like he had treated them unjustly.
“Of course, if there are enough, then I will buy for all of you.” He promised and then led them to the platform where the carriages were being rented.
He approached a Drawf who was resting on his carriage and humming duet. He was quite interested in Dwarves, and the two red horses drawing this carriage were beautiful creatures.
“I would like you to guide us around the city and then lead us to a good Inn.”
The bearded Dwarf looked at them as if he was trying to look through their masks and cloaks.
“Are you here to create mischief or kill someone?” He asked as he squinted his eyes.
“Why do you ask this?” Aizen felt quite weird at his question.
“You are not allowed to wear masks in this City. Have you seen anyone else here wearing them? It’s a common rule that everyone here abides by.” The bearded man said as he concluded that they had come here for the first time.
“No Inn or shop or restaurant would allow you to enter if you keep the masks on, and the same goes for renting carriages.” He added.
Now that they realized, they hadn’t seen anyone else wearing masks. To have so many people freely moving on the streets and so many different races gathered here, meant that this rule was established to ensure their safety.
“What happens when someone kills in this town?” Aizen asked and watched the dwarf sink in his seat.
“Are you here to kill someone?” He asked in a panic.
“No, I am just asking,” Aizen assured him in a polite tone.
“It’s good then.” He was gullible.
“The rule was established to keep off people with such motives from residing in the city. Even if someone did kill a person, his identity would be known to the world. And almost all the powerhouses in the city would chase after him. And if anyone masked is found on the streets by them, then they are forced to take off the masks or leave the city.” The man said as he nodded his head approving his own words.
They all understood what the man wanted to convey and now looked at each other to decide what they needed to do.
They had to stop by a place and ask for the exact location of The Sky Mountain Star. And they needed to get some rest before heading there. Residing outside the city in the woods was more dangerous, and the conditions weren’t pleasant enough to have a sound sleep.
“Is there a Moonlight Inn in this city?” Aizen asked after he thought for a while.
“There is.” Dwarf nodded his head.
He had been a little cautious about her since he had returned from The Whistling Star. It wasn’t because of anything she had done but more for Viara and the rest hadn’t liked him trusting her so much. He looked at Viara before taking his mask off.
“Lead us there.” He said to the coachman and got on the carriage.
The rest took off their masks as well and got on the carriage.
The Dwarf had stayed for a while when he had seen their faces but had then respectfully lowered his gaze. He nodded his head and hit the reins.
“Did you know that we were not allowed to wear masks here?” Viara doubtfully looked at Yuliya.
“No.” Her reply was simple, and she averted her eyes as if asking to not be bothered again.
No one talked as they traveled. All their concentration was on their surroundings. Even with all the liveliness and serenity of this place, they had to keep their guard up.
The building they stopped in front of was one of the tallest ones in the city. The red emblem of Clouds masking the Moon announced who the building belonged to, and ‘Moonlight Inn’ was written right under that emblem.
He paid the coachman and led the women in the building. The extravagance of the inside could have never been imagined by looking at the stony front of the Inn. One thing that had made him curious was the absence of guards. He had not seen one in The Whistling Star branch as well.
The steward walked towards them and politely bowed.
“Welcome,” He said and smiled, “Would you like to see the Restaurant or shall I lead you to the Reception to check-in?”
“This way, please.” The steward nodded and led them further inside the building.
He excused himself after they arrived in the Hall that was all too familiar to Aizen. The architecture was the same as that of The Whistling Star. On the Reception sat a buxom lady that smiled charmingly at them as they arrived. Her eyes shined as they caught Aizen and she blinked them invitingly and bit her lower lip. Her flirtatious gesture spoke of her intentions.
Aizen only politely smiled to her and took out the Purple crystal card. The lady that had Melia written on her badge had the color leave her face when she saw the card. She apologetically bowed down to him before accepting it.
Her hands trembled while she checked the card and verified some information on the Virtual Screen. She was truly worried that she had offended him or the ladies behind him by her unscrupulous behavior. She was a succubus and she couldn’t control herself when she saw how perfect he was.
“Welcome to the Moonlight Inn, Lord Aizen.” She bowed to him again as she returned the card.
“Your suite is on the Top Floor. I will lead you there.” She kept her head lowered and led them to the wall with ‘5’ written on it.
Just like the one on The Whistling Star, the Top Floor here had only 2 suites. Melia excused herself after leading them to their suite and informed them that all expenses were on the House and all facilities were open to them.
“Her behavior was odd,” Viara said and displeasure was evident in her voice.
“What do you mean?” Aizen smiled lightly and asked.
“She was a Succubus and it could not be helped that she gave you such an inviting gaze.” She said but it didn’t feel like she was fine with it. “But why did the horror-struck her when she saw that card?” She looked at Aizen questioningly.
“Because it is rare for someone to possess it?” Aizen couldn’t understand what she was trying to get at.
“It was because she realized that she had laid eyes on the mate of the person that controlled her life.” It was Yuliya that said it.
Viara only glanced at her and then her attention was all back on Aizen. She had approved of Yuliya’s words and looked at him for an answer. Lysaria too squinted her eyes.
Aizen felt like he was on a raft in the middle of a raging sea. The intuition of women scared him. And he found himself unable to answer their questioning gaze.
“Let’s order lunch. I am really hungry.” He said as he got up from the couch, but Liafina caught his hand. He looked at her and only saw her looking back in his eyes.
“Aizen,” Viara asked worriedly, “Is there anything that we need to be aware of?”
He sighed as he patted Liafina’s head with his free hand. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing bad and to be honest I don’t know why that girl acted in such a manner. I thought it was because guests possessing the Purple crystal card were supposed to be some powerful people.”
He bent down and planted a kiss on her forehead. She left his hand and then lowered her head.
Viara and Lysaria still looked at him questioningly. They could feel that he was not telling them about something. But when they looked at how Liafina had left his hand and didn’t push him to answer, they too held back. They, however, didn’t hide back their anger.
Aizen walked over to them and wrapped his arms around their waist. He pulled them in his embrace and planted a kiss on Viara’s head.
“Are you going to starve your husband? Or we can order something to eat?” He teasingly asked.
“Don’t worry. We won’t let you starve alone.” Viara said and kissed on his cheek before pulling Lysaria to the bedroom and closing the door.
He helplessly looked at the two still sitting there and asked: “Are you two not going to eat as well?”
Liafina and Yuliya both shook their heads without even looking at him. He was too embarrassed to eat alone, and so he went to his room and slept on an empty stomach.
♛ Author’s Note:
And it begins!
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