previous: Isekai ch1
I closed my eyes in the heaven realm, saying a silent prayer for Marcus. This didn’t feel like my life, my destiny, but rather a soul I was meant to save.
When I awoke, I was back in my child form, cuddled in my father’s strong arms.
I heard the distinct chime, like a message on a computer or a smartphone which was odd since this place didn’t even have electricity. I sat up, darting my eyes around until a single word appeared in my line of vision. ‘Initializing.’
The neon green word seemed to be floating as if on a screen that only I could see. “Initializing what?”
‘Level 1 augmentation award: animal husbandry.’ The words appeared, as if being typed in real-time. ‘User will be able to instantaneously communicate and gain trust of all manner of beast, fish and fowl.’
‘And purple dragons, right?’ I turned over and went back to sleep.
Hours later I awoke to an empty bed. I assumed my father was back at his shop, working to repair his equipment while still nursing an injured leg. Looking around I found a plate of food; a piece of bread with some dried berries, with an empty cup. I assumed I was meant to get a drink of water while waiting for Ms. Lucy. Instead, I put my food into the cup, placing the cup in my pocket, as I ran off in search of Becca.
As I passed through the door, I felt a pressure on my shoulder. At first, I presumed it was a hand but upon turning my head I saw a small creature that looked like a cross between a mouse and a spider, with the movement of an octopus. I locked eyes with it’s strange face. Somehow, I knew not to be afraid; this ‘thing’ had something to show me.
A text box appeared over its head. ‘Life form identified: Nix, a common rodent-insect species. although similar to mammals these creatures lay eggs in dark secluded spaces.’ After reading the statement, it vanished.
“Is that where we’re going?” I asked.
The creature nodded, smirking with a rather creepy set of shiny blue teeth. It leapt from my shoulder moving ahead of me at a steady pace. Following the creature’s lead, we walked towards the northern forest, a remote area surrounded by a natural barrier in the form of a rocky cliff face.
I knew I could climb it, the only thing to be afraid of was the possibility of security. As far as I knew there was nothing of value up there, but it could have been used by a foreign army to directly attack the royal family.
The area was so thick with forest, the sun was blocked out, casting the world into a permanent night. There were several stone markers, labeled in a script I had never seen before. Somehow, I knew, this was the language of my people. An alphabet? No, it was a series of numbers.
The nix I had been following disappeared around a corner, there I found an unmarked grave; a single cross with a symbol carved into the stone. Next to it was a hole big enough for the animal to crawl down. The nix ran ahead, ducking away, and then reappearing. It scratched at the dirt, opening the hole wider to reveal a nest of eggs. The eggs were backlit by a lavender glow.
“What is that?” Apparently, the creatures laid their eggs inside the chest cavities of dead humans. I wanted to scream, but no sound escaped my lungs.
The nix uncovered more of the body. She appeared to be a female, with long blonde hair.
My body went ice cold. Every part of me was in unbearable pain. Somehow, I knew not to run. Blinking tears from my eyes, I took a step forward, reaching for her hand.
I felt a sense of warmth, I wanted to be in her arms. I wanted to be an egg.
I picked up an egg, pulling it towards myself. Whisps of purple followed, keeping it safe and warm. The woman was feeding them with her body, her magic. I looked to my new nix friend, “Is this why you’re so strange looking?”
I needed to show Becca. Having heard the chimes of noon I knew where she likely would be. The servants had a single building used as a school/church. The older children would learn to read write, and other skills that would help in the future careers of manual labor.
“Marcus, what are you doing here? Ms. Lucy has been worried sick!” She grabbed my arm, fully intending to drag me back to my nanny.
“No, wait! I need to show you something!”
“Fine, but make it quick.” She reluctantly followed me to the property boundary, up the hill and into the forest.
“Look, everything glows!”
Becca crossed her arms nervously, staying a few feet behind me. “This place feels wicked, evil. We shouldn’t be here.” It came as no surprised when she screamed at the sight of the nests.
“Stop it! You’ll scare them.” I picked up an egg, holding it like a newborn puppy.
“Is this a graveyard?”
I shrugged, having never seen an actual graveyard before. “Looks more like a trash dump.” Is this what the Queen meant by the ‘reaping’? Was this evidence of the mass slaughter of my people? The one that my father had been spared from? “Now it’s ours.”
“Whatever we want.”
“What about your dad?”
“What about him?” I replied with a blank expression. “He’s probably at work, same as always.” I knew my father was busy attempting to work while nursing a broken leg. When he came home, he would be starving yet too nauseous to hold down food. I wondered how long he would tolerate the untreated pain.
For well over two months after the accident, my father had been wearing a brace made from scrap metal and wood. I presumed this was meant to reset the bone but every night when he removed the brace to wash off signs of infection, I could tell it wasn’t healing correctly. I mentally rumored that another person (who enjoyed a view of my father’s body) had the grand idea of getting the queen involved.
I was about to get ready for bed, knowing that the moment my father went out to spend time with his lover, I could visit my little farm.
“Put on a new shirt, son.”
I looked down at my clothing.
“And dust off your pants, I need you to look presentable.”
My father was changing clothes but not to sleep. he was putting on fresh, clean items usually reserved for church.
“Where are we going?”
As if on cue, guards came for us; soldiers with guns, escorts. The castle was within walking distance. Staying silent I soon learned that we were to have a late-night meal at the main castle.
The queen greeted us at the main entrance. In her long sleeve blue gown, she looked like an angel made of ice. “Why hello, Marcus.”
“Hello.” I didn’t know if I was supposed to get on my knees, bow or whatever. All of those actions resembled an act of respect: a feeling I did not have for this woman.
“Adorable as always.” The queen waved off the guards, motioning for them to return to their watch outside the castle.
She walked inside, shutting the door behind her. “Follow me.” She passed by a set of handcuffs and chains and possibly equestrian gear. “I assume there is no need for any of this formal attire, given that you came here of your own free will.”
My father cleared his throat in an act of self-respect. “I’m here to negotiate a price.”
“Certainly,” she replied in a jovial, mocking tone. “Remove your clothing and lay on the prep table.
“The one you cut your meat on?”
“Oh, of course.” Emma giggled, smiling sweetly. Was she flirting?
Footsteps stormed down the halls. Prince Tomas appeared, bursting through the door. “Emma, this is insane!”
“So nice of you to join us.”
Seeing that my father was already present, the prince went silent and meek. He approached my father, putting his arms around him. “Vlad, you don’t have to do this.”
Queen Emma stepped to the side, turning on a large clay oven that seemed to be attached to a massive flame (like a tandoor or perhaps a pizza stone.) She placed a large iron blade on the flames. Noticing my confused, horrified expression, she added in the calm, motherly voice. “Don’t mind me, this just makes the cut easier. At least it does for the livestock.”
“How many animals have you killed?” I asked in a soft, innocent whisper.
My father turned to me. “Do not be rude to our host.”
“Don’t worry.” Queen Emma chuckled, fanning herself like a princess in a fairytale. “I take it as a compliment. Only a strong woman can slaughter her own meat.” With that she turned to a cabinet built into the castle wall, removing a bottle of a strange purple liquid, and two glasses. Although it had no label, I was confident it was not juice, nor wine or anything intended for human consumption.
“Care for a drink?” She asked as she poured herself a glass. “For you, Vladimir, or your sweet little darling son?”
My father nodded, accepting the glass. I could see it in his expression; if he didn’t take the potion, she might have forced it on me. “Let’s discuss negotiations.”
“Yes, lets,” Emma took a sip, finishing her glass in one gulp. “Are you afraid, Vladimir? I always thought that the men of the north could easily out drink a lady.”
I looked to Tomas. He could stop this, or at least drink the liquid himself.
“Well, you’re no lady,” my father replied, as he downed the contents of the wineglass like a shot of liquor.
Emma smiled, she kissed his lips, moving him on to the table. She proceeded to undress him like a lover. That was when I noticed her hands. She wore rubber gloves, but I could see that below her wrists, she had the skin of an elderly woman, wrinkled and pocked with uneven patches of color. She wore the scars from years of work as a butcher. This was in stark contrast to her round, youthful face. She looked like she couldn’t be a day over twenty.
Nor did she act like it. Sitting on my father’s lap, she removed his belt, lowering his pants as he kicked off his shoes. “I see there’s still blood flow in and around the tissue; hence the bruising. That does bring down the value a bit.”
My father laid back, relaxing his muscles. “Living cells are living cells.”
‘As opposed to what?’ I wondered.
“I stand by my offer. I will assign a crew to rebuild your workshop, and even a proper house for you and your son. It shouldn’t take more than a few months, until then you may reside here in the castle. I’m sure my husband would enjoy that.”
With her gloves secure, she took the blade from the fire. “This should do nicely.”
Tomas rushed to my side. “The child doesn’t need to see this.”
She seemed to ignore her husband. Carefully holding her blade to my father’s thigh, what was once black iron, now glowed with the power of orange fire. There was no way he wasn’t in pain.
“What’s to stop me from cutting off the only thing you have that’s of any value.”
“Because you know that’s not the truth,” my father muttered. He was choking back subtle cries of pain, yet there was no fear. “My leg is worth more to you than my dick and you know it.” My father chuckled, as his eyes rolled back.
The prince scooped me up in his arms taking large steps in the direction of the nearest door. Soon we were in the hallway. “There must be something you can eat in the dining hall.”
“Why did Papa say that?” I muttered. I wasn’t expecting an answer, especially not from Prince Tomas.
“Only because it’s a rarity to harvest the living cells from Nordic bones,” the words slipped from his lips without context or further explanation.
“Nordic bone?” I asked as he put me down into a chair.
“You truly don’t know?” Tomas replied casually as he opened a drawer, pulling out a small box. “Here you can have these. I doubt she’ll miss them.”
“I don’t go to school,” I muttered, looking at the box of jelly candy. They were bright colorful spheres that did not look at all edible.
“Go on, have a bite. I’ll go check on your father.”
‘Yeah, that’s not happening.’ Although I was starving, I waited until the prince left me alone. I needed to see that cabinet.
Leaving my seat, I crept to the unlocked storage. The carved wood piece was beautiful yet distinctly creepy. I saw a lavender light coming from a drawer that was a good way above my head. It was glowing like something out of a videogame. I moved a chair to get a better look.
Inside were chunks of what looked like raw, unpolished crystals. I knew better; these were bone fragments, just like the ones I’d found in the forest. For a moment I thought about my animal friends. That was where I wanted to be.
Still alone, I slipped out an open window, and just started to run. I didn’t care if I lived or died. Hell would have been preferable to that castle.
I walked, traveling by moonlight until I reached the forest.
“Are you really leaving your father behind?” asked a female voice.
I didn’t have an answer. I turned, to see Becca. “Did you follow me?”
“No, I followed that.” She pointed to a flock of dragons flying in the direction of the forest, but not our secret spot.
Before I could ask anything, she started to run, eyes glued to the sky in a hypnotic state. I followed as close as my legs could carry me. Until eventually she stopped, just short of the trees. “He’s here.”
Becca held a finger to her lips.
“Sorry.” Apparently, there was something that required absolute silence.
One by one the dragons landed, transforming into humanoid creatures. Some were male, some female; all twelve were tall, strong adults. They wore no clothing but their bodies were adorned with metallic armor-like scales.
“Are they enemy soldiers?”
Becca shot me a look of disgust.
Before I could apologize, she began running towards a muscular male, who stood leaning against a tree. “Daddy!”
What drew my attention was his hair. On Earth it would be considered a fauxhawk. Here, it made him look like a punk rock hipster wearing armor made of metallic body paint.
“Rebecca my darling, my rose. I trust you’ve been raising plenty of Hell.” The man spoke with an accent; something similar to the way Becca spoke, but somehow edgier. On Earth I’d guess he was Irish or maybe Scottish. In this world, clearly, he was a dragon. And my best friend’s father.
“Daddy, this is Marcus,” she said, drawing the attention of the rest of the flock.
“Hello, sir,” I said in a squeak.
“Marcus, this is Javaon Lorri, and his travel team.”
“Is he your little boyfriend?”
“More like my partner in crime.” Becca motioned for me to come closer.
“You can call me Jay.” He reached out his hand. I had no reason to be afraid.
I forced myself to approach him. It took everything I had to lift my arm. Somehow, I had never felt so small. “If you’re Becca’s daddy, why don’t you live here?”
Jay snickered. “Where do you live?”
“In the servant quarters because my daddy’s shop blew up.”
“Well, me and my mates, we’re from the northern territories.” He lifted Becca in his arms. “We try to pop in for a visit every once in a while, especially on my little girl’s birthday.”
“Birthday?” I was about to learn Becca’s actual age.
“Seven glorious years around the sun,” he replied. He kissed her cheek. “Go to your auntie for an extra special gift.”
I was surprised that she was only one year older than me. I watched as the other dragon-people gave her sweets, and other food items that I assumed were native to their land. What he said next took me by surprise.
“I traded my DNA for a peace treaty,” Jay said softly. “She doesn’t know and I’d like to keep it that way.”
“Why?” I had a feeling I recognized the secret reason. “Are you a king?”
“I guess you could say that.” He removed a foil wrapped package from his pocket offering it to me.
I opened it, the item was a simple chunk of chocolate, that he had taken several bites out of. Still, it was mostly intact and I was starving. I took a bite, letting the sweet, fatty nourishment sooth my stomach. “If you’re a king, then Becca is a princess.”
“For what that’s worth,” he said with a chuckle. “Right now, my baby girl lives the life of a servant, training for a career of working for the Amanar family.”
Looking at Becca, she seemed so happy to see her father’s friends. They all gave her sweets and exchanged greetings, with many commenting on how grown up she was, and how soon she’d take to the sky by their side. That idea seemed to make her smile; she was happier than I’d ever seen, it was kind of strange.
“Does Becca have a mommy?”
Jay slouched, laughing as he reached for a small flask. “That’s a long story. Maybe I’ll tell it on your wedding day.”
Becca returned lifting her arms for a hug. “I miss you so much, daddy. I wish I could see you more often.”
“Me too, my love,” he said. Jay spoke with confidence but I could hear the pain in his voice. “Let me escort you two back to bed.”
Becca seemed indifferent; her smile replaced with a dismissive look of disgust. “I’ll be fine.” Becca forced herself away from Jay’s grasp. “You can walk with me to the edge of the forest, but I know my way back to the servant quarters. She kissed his cheek, coaxing him to stand up. “I’m sure Marcus will need your help.”
He reluctantly nodded in agreement, likely just wanting to spend a few more moments with his daughter. We walked back in the direction of the castle, and Becca immediately ran off towards her own bed. “See you next time, or whenever.” She disappeared into the darkness without a true goodbye.
Jay slowly lowered his head. “One day she’ll learn the truth. That’s what keeps me going.” He paused to run his fingers through his hair. “Anyway, Marcus, where do you live?”
“My father was invited to live in the castle, but I don’t know where he is.”
Jay nodded. “I’ll make sure you get back safely.”
He deployed his wings, while maintaining his humanoid form. Holding me in his arms. We passed by the window catching a view of what my father had been doing in my absence.
Queen Emma was wearing a black leather costume with a device on the front that gave the illusion of a male form. She was sucking my daddy’s cock, while my father had his head turned with his mouth on Prince’s Tomas’s genitals.
And then I noticed my father’s leg. The wound was being drained into a tube leading to a bag of blood. I wanted to scream; he was only engaging in this act to allow her to milk him for the max amount of blood.
After gawking for longer than we should, Jay shot upward towards the roof. “There’s an entrance just passed the north pillar. I’m going to stay with you, in case it’s locked or guarded.”
Of course, the rooftop entrance was guarded, but Jay had a plan. He put me down, hiding myself in the shadows. He waited a moment, for a castle guard to pass by. And then, with one swift motion, he pulled the man down, stealing his clothing. Jay stood up fully dressed. With his metallic skin and odd hairstyle covered he looked like any other guard.
This alone was an impressive feat but the speed at which he accomplished such a task was undeniably impressive. Dressed as a castle employee, he scooped me up in his arms, carrying me down stairs to the nearest interior guard. “Excuse me!” he said in his best English accent, mimicking the typical sound of the area. “This little one has gotten himself lost. Any idea where I can put him for the night?”
The other guard scowled, “I think that’s the blacksmith’s kid. You can try the closet down the hall.”
“Right, because there might be some linens, he could use to create a make-shift bed.”
The other man just shrugged, possibly rolling his eyes. No one really cared where I slept. No one except for Jay.
Jay was the type of person I wanted to be; clever, brave, strong, and much older than six. He set me up with a pillow and blanket. “You can sleep where ever you wish, just stay safe.” He ended his words with a pat to my head.
“Thank you, sir.”
For the time being, I wanted to sleep outside the main bedroom, even if that meant I could hear all manner of sounds. There was a table with just enough room for my small body to sleep comfortably.
Rest would not come. I spent what felt like hours staring up at the bottom of the table. At one point I saw a pair of legs attached to a female form. Judging by the skin color I knew it was the queen. She shifted her body, as she plopped down a liquid-filled bag. Judging by the sounds, she was pouring the contents of the blood bag into a different container. And then from that larger container into a wineglass.
Somehow, she had broken the shelf, causing several wine glasses to rain down. Liquid splattered from the one glass she was able to save. Where the blood touched her, the queen’s skin became young, vibrant with a subtle glow. She started to brush the broken glass under the table, causing a large piece to cut my exposed foot.
I covered my mouth to keep from crying, but somehow she still noticed.
“Oh hello, little guy,” she said with a jovial smile. “I told your papa that you were just outside the door. He didn’t believe me, but I know your kind; you’re a devout little puppy and your daddy is my loyal dog.” She started to sweep up the glass using her bare hands. “I hope you learned a lot.”
I nodded, hoping to God, that she would soon leave me alone.
“Do you want to taste your daddy’s blood?”
I shook my head.
“I bet you taste just as sweet.” Using a stray piece of glass, she cut my lower lip, just deep enough to cause it to bleed. And then she kissed me. “Was that your first ever kiss?” she asked with a chuckle. “You taste just like your mother did.” She kissed me again, this time longer. “I could do this all night but we both need to get some sleep.” With that she finally left.
I desperately wanted to know if my father was still alive. As quietly as I could, I opened the door just a crack. My father laid in bed, in the prince’s loving embrace.
“Do you remember when we first met?” he asked, clearly still among the living.
Prince Tomas nodded. In the light of the window I could see tears in his eyes. “You looked like an angel. I’d seen enemy soldiers with blonde hair and blue eyes, they looked like pale ice demons, fighting weapons fire with swords and shields. They liked to get in close for a gory, personal kill. I’d only survived the attack because one of my men sacrificed himself to buy me enough time to flee.” He rolled to the side, letting the moonlight caress the massive scar on his back. “I always wondered what a beautiful creature like you saw in a flawed man like myself.”
My father shrugged, looking at Tomas with a sweet, genuine smile. “Part of me just knew, you deserved my trust, my faith.”
I leaned against a wall. As I pulled my knees to my chest. I knew what I had to do; I needed to start a revolution, but first I needed some sleep.
Once again, I opened my eyes in the heaven realm.
“Leo?” I muttered, in my full-grown adult voice. Crossing my arms over my chest, I forced myself to my feet. Looking down at my body, I stood over six feet tall. Wearing my armor, I felt confident, strong.
Leo teleported in, with a puff of smoke. “Can I help you with something?”
You should help me with a lot of things. “Can I request a time jump?”
“A time jump?”
“Yeah, I mean not a big one.”
“How would that even work?”
“Just let my body run on autopilot. I’m just six. Let me come back when I’m a little more confident.”
“Confidence comes with experience.”
“Can you meet me halfway? Maybe I could come back as a sixteen-year-old?”
“Even if that means your father suffers alone for a decade?”
My angel guide was right, I was being unbelievably selfish. “Is there anything you can offer me?”
next: Isekai ch3