Chapter 14:

Chapter 13 – Bonding time on the bumpy road to Crema

Reincarnated with an omniscient grimoire

Being stuck on a carriage on a journey to a new (first) adventure with a band of misfits? That calls for bonding time!Bookmark here

What dark secrets may loom over us?Bookmark here

What hidden past are my companions hiding from me?Bookmark here

As I mused about how to break the awkward silence that was only interrupted every now and then by the clattering cart and the maniacal laughter of the old lady who tried to dissolve the very laws of physics, I came to realize, that I might be the only person to be really hiding anything at all.Bookmark here

I mean sure, a princess certainly had a couple of skeletons in her closet.Bookmark here

And there had to be a reason Raynard was so wary of ... well everything it seemed.Bookmark here

I was leaning against the back corner of the cart, brushing my hand against the grimoire hidden behind my body.Bookmark here

I think I should just be transparent about this thing. I thought. I mean it’s just a book, how much havoc could it wreak if Raynard knew about it? I get that there’s people like Ebony that would be after it, but I think I can trust him? I mean I’ve only known him for a day, but he is kinda sweet actually, and if we want to work as a team, we should be honest with each other.Bookmark here

[Beside the fact that I am not a mere book ...]Bookmark here

Shut it!Bookmark here

I flinched at this sudden remark. I was so lost in my thoughts I totally forgot I was sharing them with someone.Bookmark here

The princess, who was actually buried in a book she had brought along raised an eyebrow at me, but I simply waved both of my hands reassuringly.Bookmark here

[Dare I say, I might have some thoughts on this matter?]Bookmark here

The fact that you seem to gain more and more of a will scares me, but go on.Bookmark here

[It is one of my duties to solve any problem that might bother the one who bound me.]Bookmark here

[After all, if the one who bound me ceases to function properly I too will cease function.]Bookmark here

So what you’re saying is, you’re willing to help me as long as it benefits you? What the hell are you even?Bookmark here

[I am a grimoire.]Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

You really aren’t a big talker. But okay, if you have a solution to this “problem”, speak.Bookmark here

[I agree that it would be best for your teammates to know of my existence.]Bookmark here

[I also agree that you should not reveal my existence recklessly.]Bookmark here

[Thus I have a proposal.]Bookmark here

[I disguise myself as a wand.]Bookmark here

[I have the ability to change my appearance.]Bookmark here

[I will make myself look like a book, that is used to channel magic energy.]Bookmark here

I needed a couple of seconds to fully understand what the grimoire meant by this. But then I remembered the city guard I saw a couple of days ago, that channeled his mana inside his brass knuckles.Bookmark here

Same thing, huh?Bookmark here

[You would have to convince everyone that you use me as a wand.]Bookmark here

[That way, you would be allowed to take me anywhere without anyone really questioning it.]Bookmark here

Having a book as a wand would still be on the unusual side of things though ... but what else is there to do. Okay, I guess it’s settled then.Bookmark here

I took the grimoire from behind my back and put it on my lap.Bookmark here

Do whatever you see fit.Bookmark here

And with that the grimoire changed its appearance in front of my eyes. The weird symbol on the cover disappeared and what was left, was a plain brown leather cover.Bookmark here

“Okay, so ... maybe we should talk?” I said squinting my eyes lightly, still not quite sure of myself. The heads of four other people turned my direction.Bookmark here

“What about?”, the princess asked.Bookmark here

“Well, I think it would be best for everyone here to be on the same page about everything. Raynard, I have no idea what exactly that’s supposed to mean, but this is a grimoire.”, I said, showing the grimoire in his direction.Bookmark here

“Wait you can’t just blurt it our like that!”, Shelly who appeared to be asleep suddenly shouted.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, but if we want to work as a team, we should be open about it. Besides trying to hide it would just result in a lot of awkward situations ... and possibly death.” I emphasized that last word because why not.Bookmark here

“Yeah right.” He squinted his eyes. “Grimoires definitely look different.”, he then added. Why Shelly’s reaction did not prompt him to believe me immediately was beyond me.Bookmark here

“Oh of course.” I immediately took a look at the totally normal book in my hands, and commanded it to turn back into its original form.Bookmark here

“Oh my ...” Raynard’s eyes widened as he witnessed the magic. “Was that some kind of illusion spell? Must be an advanced one, I don’t remember learning anything like this during my first two years.”Bookmark here

I shook my head in exaggerated desperation. “No it’s not, it is a grimoire, just like I told you.”Bookmark here

“... Can I take a closer look?”, he then asked leaning over towards me.Bookmark here

I crawled over to him and handed the grimoire over to him. He took it and first swept across the cover with his right hand, and then proceeded to do the same thing to examine the back.Bookmark here

“Can I look inside?”, he asked.Bookmark here

“I think that falls under taking a closer look.” I chuckled.Bookmark here

He just tilted his head in response.Bookmark here

“Umm, that means yes, you can look inside.”Bookmark here

He opened the first page stared at it for a couple of seconds and then said: “I don’t understand a thing.”Bookmark here

I just let out a confused “Huh?” and then took a look at the page he wasn’t able to read.Bookmark here

“Oh, it says ‘This Grimoire has established a bond with: Nathan’.”Bookmark here

“Wait a second.”, he exclaimed. “You can read that gibberish? Or are just kidding?”Bookmark here

“What of course I can read it! Is the literacy rate in this world that low?”Bookmark here

Princess Abc also joined our circle and took a look at the page my name was written and then said: “Sorry to break it to you Nathan, but that is definitely not a writing system that is used in our kingdom. Or in any kingdom actually. Maybe it’s the writing used on the Isles of Beast to the west of Lectus Dei, but I highly doubt it.”Bookmark here

“No it’s not.” Raynard slowly voiced his opinion. “I know that scripture, I think it’s some ancient language, that has been lost over the centuries.” He sheepishly looked up and continued. “Um, my older brother is a historian, and I’ve read quite a few of his works on grimoires. He’s still in the middle of researching this ancient language ... but Nathan!” He suddenly faced me. “You can read this, can’t you?”Bookmark here

“Yeees?” I did not like the way he said this.Bookmark here

“You could be an important asset in my brother’s research and-”Bookmark here

“Nope!” Shelly who observed this conversation from afar suddenly cut him off. “Nathan, this is exactly why I wanted to keep this a secret.” She suddenly stood up, managing to maintain her balance for some reason.Bookmark here

I did not know how to respond to this. I knew where she was coming from, but still I stuck to my opinion.Bookmark here

“I mean you are the reason, we are in this situation, aren’t you?”, Princess Abc suddenly accused Shelly. “After all, you told us to form a team.”Bookmark here

Wow, does she finally abuse her status as a princess? Wonderful!Bookmark here

Although she was not quite in the right I appreciated her trying to defend me.Bookmark here

“Besides I think Nathan is right. It’s best for everyone to know what’s up.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have suggested something like this.” Raynard responded with his head hanging down, and returned the grimoire.Bookmark here

“No, it’s alright ...”, I tried to cheer him up. He really was overapologetic.Bookmark here

Shelly was still standing sporting an annoying look on her face that was directed at our group. Suddenly Raven was hanging over my shoulder.Bookmark here

“I don’t really get what’s going on, but I don’t like the way you look at my master.”, he said in a threatening tone. I imagined he was thinking about how to kill her most effectively, and it made me smile for some reason.Bookmark here

“Woah, where did you come from?”, Raynard flinched and it felt like he cleared a hundred meters in a second.Bookmark here

“I was flying around enjoying the view, when I felt my masters unease suddenly.”, Raven responded over my shoulder.Bookmark here

“I- uh ...” Raynard made some indecipherable stutters, until I motioned Raven to back away a bit.Bookmark here

“Raynard are you afraid of Raven?” It was obvious. I mean who am I to speak, I am inept of reading facial expressions a lot of times, but Raynard seemed like an open book to me.Bookmark here

He sighed.Bookmark here

“Ugh, it’s not him. It’s ... he’s an Incubus, right?”, he said maybe a bit too loud.Bookmark here

“Go on.”, Princess Abc said, after I remained silent.Bookmark here

“Thing is ... I ... The town I’m from, has a bit of a strained relationship with your kind.”, he now said, directly to Raven. “There was this group of outlaws a couple of years ago, mostly made of Succubi and Incubi. Back then they targeted our town, because we were rather prosperous compared to other towns nearby. I-” His voice suddenly cracked, and his mouth motioned trying to find his words, until Princess Abc suddenly joined us and gently put a hand on his lap.Bookmark here

“Are you all right?”, she asked him. “You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. We understand.” She glanced sideways towards me.Bookmark here

“Y- Yeah. I’m sorry for making you do this.”, I suddenly felt the need to apologize even though I did nothing wrong. But the way she looked at me worked like magic.Bookmark here

“N-No it’s not your fault.”, Raynard suddenly looked me in the eye. “I’m sorry, it’s just- every time I see him, I see images of back then, and I feel like ... crawling into a corner and staying there until ... I’m sorry, it’s really not your fault, I’m just ... stupid.” He gave us a bitter laugh, and I gave him a bitter yet sympathetic smile.Bookmark here

“You’re not stupid.”, the princess said on the contrary. “You’re brave. You must have carried this with you for a long time. And I bet it hurt. But you survived. You’re fantastic.” Now she smiled too. “Also I think you scored better than me on the last test.” That last sentence sounded rather mischievous.Bookmark here

“Haha, no way, the princess not being number one? Shelly you were right, nobles are spoiled these days.” I called out to her, remembering what she said the other day. Her face had no traces of anger left.Bookmark here

“You said what?!”, the princess exclaimed raising furiously from her squatting position, only to stumble back onto her behind. Raynard caught her back with an extended arm saving the princess from falling off the carriage.Bookmark here

“Please, don’t tell me it’s not true.”, she replied deadpan.Bookmark here

“No you’re right, but I really don’t want to be compared to my useless cousins for example. So glad they don’t go to Ataraxia, their presence would embarrass me the entire time.” She shook her head in desperation.Bookmark here

Of course, what would royalty be without thousands of cousins to marry.Bookmark here

We actually came to enjoy this ride a lot more, than we initially thought. The awkward silence had long passed, and the princess, Raynard and I ended up sharing a lot of stuff. Although I avoided telling him that I am from another world. He would have labeled me as a lunatic. I also avoided making up some bullshit excuse like having memory loss or anything, because that would have caused problem in the long run.Bookmark here

Instead I just talked about my past, like everyone else, but avoided speaking about stuff like any kind of technology, for hopefully obvious reasons.Bookmark here

My past ...Bookmark here

It’s already been a few days ...Bookmark here

My though process was interrupted by the sudden halt of the carriage, that made us all tumble forward and onto each other. Not even Shelly was standing where she was anymore.Bookmark here

“What’s the meaning of this?” Shelly asked, supporting herself on her arms. “Why are we standing?”Bookmark here

“THE HORSES NEED TO SLEEP!” The crazy lady shouted. “GOOD NIGHT!” And with that she went completely limp and proceeded to snore at least as loudly as she was talking.Bookmark here

I took a look outside and only then realized that the sun had already set.Bookmark here

We untangled ourselves and looked at Shelly expectantly.Bookmark here

“What, I didn’t know, we would halt.”Bookmark here

“I mean, thinking about it, it does make a lot of sense ...”, the princess said, lamenting her own stupidness it seemed.Bookmark here

We just grinned at each other and then set up a camp for the night.Bookmark here

Gerry Hines
You can resume reading from this paragraph.