TESSIA ERALITH’S POV:
Tell me I’m dreaming…
The last thing I remembered was trying to release the first phase of my beast will. Grandpa had been really surprised after he checked my mana core, saying that my body was somehow already fully integrated with the elderwood guardian’s beast will.
I didn’t fully understand why Grampa had been so surprised, but I remembered Arthur taking a few years to fully integrate with his.
Does this mean I’m catching up to him?
No, we were just kids at that time, but he was able to smoothly integrate. Grandpa told me how amazing that was.
It wasn’t fair.
Every time Grandpa talked about Arthur, all he had were words of praise. If it had been any other person, I would be jealous.
But it’s okay; he’s mine anyway…
Well, not yet…
But soon, he will be!
Stupid Arthur! I wanted to impress him by being able to control the beast will he gave me.
So much for that… I completely failed and even destroyed part of the castle!
Oh my gosh… Mother and Father aren’t going to be too happy when they see this…
And then he showed up…
Arthur just had to make his appearance at the worst possible time.
Now he’s holding me like some I’m some sort of damsel in distress! Though, begrudgingly, I couldn’t deny that I was in a sorry state…
I can’t look him in the face. I know if I look at him, I’ll start blushing.
Don’t look, Tess! Don’t look! Don’t—
Dang it, I looked!
“Hi there.” Arthur gave me a charming wink with his blue eyes.
I could feel my own face burning like an oil-dipped candle but I couldn’t seem to peel my eyes away from his gaze until we landed.
“Sh-shouldn’t you put me down now?” I managed to stammer out, giving it my all to keep my voice from cracking.
There was a twinkle in his eyes as he playfully smiled at me while he put me down. I knew he was enjoying my embarrassment.
“Are you okay, Tess?” Grandpa caught up to Arthur and me. He was sweating and had minor injuries from where my beast will’s aura hit him but otherwise, thankfully, he looked fine.
“Yes, Grandpa. Sorry for causing this mess.” My gaze lowered to see that Arthur’s right leg was bleeding through his pants.
Oh no! He’s hurt! I really messed up this time…
Before I even had the chance to apologize, a stinging pain suddenly radiated above my brows.
“Oww! Wha—” I stared wide-eyed at Arthur who had suddenly flicked my forehead.
“I’m just glad our troublesome princess isn’t hurt. Right, Gramps?” Arthur said in comfort.
Even though he teased me like this, his worried gaze couldn’t help but make me feel warm inside.
“Yes, my troublesome little granddaughter is fine. That’s all that matters. Who cares if she destroyed half of a historic mansion passed down in our family,” Grandpa smirked.
I felt like I had shrunk half my size in embarrassment as both my grandfather and Arthur broke out into laughter.
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
It took a while for Tess to be able to look me in the eyes after I had let her back down. As soon as Gramps called the guards back, we left the manor for them to keep watch. While the royal family’s mansion was still standing strong besides the gaping hole in the corner, due to security reasons, Virion arranged for us to be taken to an inn, where it was easier for the guards to keep an eye out for any potential harm.
“I should let my son know about what happened in case he and his wife come back early from the meeting. They’ll probably assume the worst case scenario.” Gramps let out a deep sigh.
He rubbed his temples as we sat down on a leather couch at a separate lounge in the first floor of the Spiral Ivy Inn.
I won’t lie. It was a pretty enjoyable sight once we got inside. Since it was just around dinner time, the inn was filled with indistinguishable babble and clatters of plates and utensils. Once they saw us, it felt like someone muted the entire inn. Before us were the baffled faces of the inn workers and customers that dropped everything, including their jaws, as they witnessed the former king of the kingdom, disheveled in appearance, carrying his granddaughter, the princess, accompanied by an unknown human child.
Fortunately, the inn manager quickly raced out, beating back all of the nearby elves and merchants courageous enough to horde us, and escorted us to the VIP lounge.
“I must apologize for this, Elder Virion. We weren’t expecting a visit from someone of your status or else we would’ve surely made accommodations.” The manager’s posture was deliberately lowered, one hand cupping the other. “Might I ask what brought you to our humble inn?” he continued on.
“The manor is a bit… messy at the moment. We’re fine here for now; just have a room for us to stay.” Gramps waved the manager away after setting down Tess, who had fallen asleep on the way here. You could almost see a tail fiercely wagging from the ever-attentive manager upon receiving Virions directions, and he nodded like a puppy that had just gotten a treat from his master.
I got myself settled on the couch facing Virion’s and laid down the sleeping Sylvie who had been quietly snoring in my arms long before we got here. “So what happened back there, Gramps?”
“You wouldn’t believe this, brat. I examined her mana core the other day and guess what… her body was already fully integrated with the Elderwood Guardian’s beast will!” Virion leaned forward. The excitement in his sharp eyes contrasted how softly he spoke to not wake Tess up.
“You can’t be serious… How can her body be fully integrated with an S class beast—” I stopped mid-sentence, remembering what Windsom had said. Were the orbs that he gave to Tess responsible for this unprecedented phenomenon?
“What’s wrong? Why did you stop talking all of a sudden?” Virion raised a brow.
“No, it’s nothing. I was just thinking. Gramps, is that why Tess tried to release the first phase of her beast will?”
Virion let out a wry laugh at this while he scratched his cleanly-shaven chin. “We both got a little ahead of ourselves in thinking that Tess would be able to control her powers because her body was already integrated.”
While the integration between the beast will and the host was essential in order for the body to fully adapt to a mana beast’s will, especially for one that was at a higher stage than their own strength, it was also a training process of sorts. Through the integration process, you became accustomed to how the beast will might affect your body and how you could control its powers, even if it was just a little bit.
Tessia was able to skip this long and arduous process, whether fortunately or not, preventing her from becoming exposed to what effect the beast will could have on her when released.
“It’s fine now that everything has been settled, but Tess needs to be more careful when using her beast will. It could be dangerous for her and everyone around her if things escalated like they had today.” I sank back into my seat, taking a long look at the sleeping princess.
“Mmm. I was thinking the same thing. Maybe getting a seal to suppress her mana until she’s able to better control her beast will would be best. It’s a shame that there’s no specific seal for beast wills; I worry that she won’t be able to protect herself while her seal is on. Even if it was removable, she would be practically defenseless without mana protecting her for a period of time,” Virion let out a deep sigh.
“You could always give her some sort of protective artifact. If that’s not enough to keep peace in your mind, I’ll be there too, Gramps. I won’t let anything happen to your precious granddaughter.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’d protect Tessia even if she wasn’t my granddaughter,” Virion shot me a teasing wink.
We discussed a bit more about the potential powers that Tessia’s beast will might have until the both of us were too tired to continue on. Tessia stirred awake every now and then while Sylvie was so deeply asleep that the only indication that my bond was still alive was the rhythmic expanding and contracting of her belly.
We found ourselves in a luxurious suite with more than enough bedrooms for each of us upon reaching the uppermost level of the inn. The rooms were lavishly decorated in ornaments and trinkets with the walls intricately laid out with vines, giving the place a very fairy-like ambience.
Virion set Tess down inside one of the rooms and came back out to the living room as he poured himself a concoction from a bottle that I assumed to be some sort of liquor.
After wishing him a good night, I tossed Sylvie onto the bed as she kept sleeping, unfazed, while I changed into the loose silk robe that was hung up on a hook. Taking a deep breath, my mind ran through the events of today. After the intense happenings as of late, I finally had some time to consolidate my thoughts. With some time to think, I divulged myself in what I seemed to forget to do since being born again into this world. I began to strategize.
When I wasn’t training my own strength, I was constantly coming up with different methods of handling my problems. It was essential to come up with a backup plan in case things went wrong, and a backup for the backup plan for when Plan B went horribly out of line. I hated to admit it, but there were times when I caught myself regressing in the way I handled things. As the world around me became some sort of exaggerated fairytale, my mindset also turned into that of an immature and shallow child-like protagonist.
Streams of if-then scenarios played out in my mind as I thought back to what I discussed with Windsom. If things were really happening as the Asuras made it out to be, then I needed to prepare in advance. Advancing my mana core would be the easy part. I was more worried about what I’d have to leave behind, at least temporarily, while I started training.
Before I left, I’d have to make sure that my family, Elijah, Tess, Grandpa… that they’d all be protected enough so that when the war started, they could be relatively safe if I was not there.
I thought about my sister, Eleanor. She was still making progress on awakening but it’d still be maybe a year or two before she’d be able to start learning magic. She and Mother had the protective charms I gave them, but that was just for that one, life-threatening situation. It wouldn’t save her repeatedly.
After running through different options, an idea dawned on me. It might be better at this point to maybe find a bond for Ellie. But it couldn’t just be any bond or there wouldn’t be any meaning to it. The mana beast needed to be strong enough and protective enough so that it could protect my sister’s life…and maybe occasionally discourage the weak-willed boys that were audacious enough to try and woo her.
My lips curled up as I began picturing it. The more I thought about it, the more I came to like the idea.
Hey, it’s pretty normal for a caring brother to get his younger sister a pet that could potentially maul anyone that gets within three feet of her… right?