As I consider my choices left for the day, I come to notice that they’re quite limited. With Juna hard into her studies and likely desiring me to meet with the other maidens, that leaves her out of the equation. Mercy herself has business she’s off to fulfill in the city. And the others seem like bad choices in the making. Marcia’s never seemed all that fond of myself and I’ve already managed to cause a stir with Neptanie today. Then Celine herself is likely not all that much interested in seeing me given our encounter yesterday.
So I drag my feet where I wander in the manor without a flame to guide me. I’m already feeling plenty beaten down from the incidence in the gardens so I think to bide my time by getting some uncharacteristically early rest.
“I wonder when I’ll be hearing Urania’s next lesson. It’d give me something to do now.” I sigh deeply. “The second day and I already feel like I’ve missed my steps and fell into a bladed trap.”
En route, I happen to cross an opened door I’d only seen closed shut until now. Within is a room with plush, red carpeting, a small fireplace with ornate decorations engraved upon it and a refined bookshelf. Seated in the most elegant chair is a woman with jet black hair. Upon seeing me, her lips upturn into their usual dignified and yet sultry expression.
“There you are, Khiron. You’d left so quickly. I’d wondered to myself where you’d wandered off to after breakfast?”
I can already tell she’s playing coy with me. It seems she already knows the answer to her question.
“I’d gone for a walk and found myself at the garden. I should probably do some more sightseeing through the castle grounds when I get the chance.”
“Is that right? Neptanie returned from the garden earlier. She usually finds time in the day to pay it a visit. Though today she seemed a bit panicked. I wonder what could have happened. You didn’t try anything unbecoming of a knight, did you? You just so happened to have been in the gardens too, after all.”
“What? Of course not! I… I just happened to have startled her…”
“Oh! So you did do something unbecoming of a knight!”
She isn’t exactly wrong. But admitting that to her would give her even more of the satisfaction she likely seeks. A losing situation for me no matter which way you could possibly slice it.
“Well? Whatever happened to my dear, cute Neptanie that frightened her so?”
“She’s seemed to be a bit frightened of me since we’d first met. My presence in the garden shocked her and caused her to run off is all.”
“I understand well.” Plutia smiles.
Doubtlessly she’s gotten a taste of what she’d been searching for.
“You’ve spent time with a few of the maidens so far, but we have yet to have our own time together. I’ve been curious to speak with you for quite some time, so won’t you join me for a small rest? This is my personal study and you’re more than welcome in it. Please shut the door as you enter, okay?”
With apprehension hanging on my shoulders since the rather predatory event I’d faced before, I’m uncertain while I nod to her and cautiously step my way inside. With a small exhale to find a new will, I close the door. It looks like Plutia is the choice for my next encounter.
“Now, now, dear, I only bite a little bit when I feel like it.”
“So there is a chance to be bitten still?”
“Does that catch your interest?”
“N-No! I mean it in jest!”
“I only tease. Please take a seat.” She motions to the chair before her own.
Although it isn’t quite as fancy as hers, it still looks nice and cozy. I give in and seat myself. She crosses her legs and closes the book she’d had opened in her hands. Leaning forward onto her fist, her smile grows even bolder.
“See? That wasn’t so hard.”
The sun sets its light against the wall at my shoulder and the skies outside are a deep blue. I can see a coming onset of clouds just in the distance.
“This is a pleasant space. You come here to study from time to time?”
“Quite so. This is my own claim of this manor and it’s been mine for years now.”
“Years? So you’ve lived here for longer than the other maidens?”
“My potential was discovered first of anyone. The kingdom had prepared me to be a maiden throughout a greater part of my life. I’ve been grateful to call this manor home. It was a touch lonely throughout the years, but not so now that I have all of you cuties joining me.”
“I’d assumed that you had worked for the kingdom and just so happened to be a maiden.”
“I had been here for a long time and thanks to that I’d started my work with the kingdom. So not only was this given to me as a home, but soon it became my place of work as well.”
“If that’s the case, then when was it that you’d started working for the kingdom?”
“I’d begun as an apprentice at the age of 15. Since I had lived here and had been raised and taught as a child of the castle, I’d desired to begin pulling my own weight. Now I am a royal adviser who is relied upon for a host of specialized tasks. As a fun little piece of information; Urania was another student enrolled in my own classes. So when I’d left you in her arms, I knew you would be with the best that day.”
“Urania was a student alongside you? Ever since we’d first met I could tell that you’re a diligent person. Not to forget to mention I’d immediately felt how important you were to the kingdom. Though I’ve grown a bit curious as to your age.”
“Thank you, dear. But you must also remember asking for a woman’s age is a no-no.” She waggles her finger at me in jest.
“Ah. I apologize. I tend to forget about that since Juna and I have been very open friends for most of our lives. It’s not so often that I’d ask such a thing.”
“No offense taken, handsome. You’re cute enough that I wouldn’t mind letting you in on that secret. But all in due time. It’s best a woman doesn’t reveal all of her mystery so quickly. And I’d say you have a nice air of mystery around yourself. You’re quite a charmer with a world of your own I hope to see for myself.”
“Th-Thank you, I think?” I stutter.
“You’ve learned a little something special about me, so wouldn’t you mind sharing something special about yourself in exchange?”
“That does seem fair, but I’m not really sure where I should begin.”
I let myself fall pensive for a moment, seeking after an interesting trail of thought. When I find the path, I start.
“I grew up a great part of my life as an orphan. During some of my earlier years I was raised by a foster parent before I’d decided to take my life into a knight’s academy. There I stayed in the boarding dormitories for years to come. I’d first met Juna early on when I’d begun attending the academy.”
The sweet reminiscence of those memories flock together and raise my spirits. I can still see the cute and young Juna from all those years ago.
“Gratefully, she wasn’t an orphan like myself. She’d so wished to be a knight that she made the choice early on in life to seek her own way. She’d applied to the academy during the same period I had. When the day came where we were to pick partners for our first fencing practice, she and I were both shy in our new environment with nothing but new faces everywhere we’d looked. So the other students passed us up. With no other choices left, we’d paired together and both of us were so nervous.”
“Oh my. How cute. I’d expected something adorable, but that’s too sweet. It seems I finally have my answer to your bond with Juna. I can see why she was able to steal your first kiss from me with so little effort, you sweet and chivalrous knight.”
“O-Oh. I see.” I laugh shyly from her blunt assessment.
“I have another secret I feel like sharing with you. Will you hear it?”
It takes me fighting the rust that had gathered around my hinges from uncertainty to nod shallowly. So she proceeds with her story.
“Because of this magic in my body, I’ve been restricted from really letting my hair down. I’ve been waiting for you for all these years. I hope you can empathize with my plight. I’m grateful that the hero turned out to be so cute and handsome. Just the type of man I’d be more than happy to take all to myself.”
It takes me a minute to appropriately understand the absurdity of the secret I’d been told. My mind continues to tick a second slow in a fit of shock. The air suddenly becomes quite awkward and tense. Hot, even. I pull at the collar to my shirt with nerves jumbling into a tangle.
“I-Is… Is that right? Sounds like quite the… er… predicament. And whatnot…”
Her eyes hook deep into my own, unrelenting in their piercing gaze. With just that look alone, I’m nearly paralyzed in my seat. As if knowing her prey has been caught, she rises to her feet and draws near to me with slow and steady steps. Before I can get my mind into gear, she’s already before me.
Pressing her palm against my shoulder, she leans towards me and our lips meet. Her touch is delicate and yet firm. Forceful and desiring but somehow gentle. My senses nearly fry from how abruptly she’d met me. My shield falls as I nearly melt before her beyond my control.
“Juna may have taken your first, but I get to have as many as I want in the end. So it looks like I’m a winner no matter what.” She speaks to me in a pleased tone as she breaks away, but she’s quick to return.
She presses her lips even more firmly against mine than before as she draws even closer, resting her leg on the cushion beside mine. With another kiss against my cheek, she’s quickly on my lap. With her legs cast over the arm rest, an arm draped across the back of my shoulders and her other hand drawing my lips to her own, she continues her assault. Though she locks her lips to mine again, she doesn’t leave out the rest of my face. My cheeks, my chin, my nose, nearly everything is being kissed by her.
“P-Plutia. What are you-”
She snatches away my words and suffocates them to a moan inside of her own mouth. Her tongue plays against my own though I’m too shocked to participate with her. But she doesn’t seem to mind much. Her embrace against me grows even more firm.
“There’s no need for talking. Let’s just focus on making you stronger.” She says in a breathy voice.
And so I’m roped back into her kissing. Though I don’t completely dislike what’s happening, her contact is bordering on sensory overload for someone so inexperienced and reserved as myself. Then again, I’d only taken her first kiss recently before, so I’m not so sure what anything means in this situation.
She relinquishes me to catch her breath and I try to get a word in.
This attempt is just as quickly refused as those that came before. But I nearly can’t take it anymore. With a thundering heart and a head misting with confusion, I snake my arms around her body and quickly lift her as I stand. A yelp squeaks from her lips and she finally pauses her torrents of kisses.
“Oh my! You really are such a strong knight.” She giggles to herself, still holding my shoulders. “Did you want to continue this while I’m in your arms, dear hero?”
“No. I was going to set you back down in your seat.”
I let her down where she’d sat before she’d so boldly pounced me. She looks up to me with a bright blush on her cheeks and an expression fraught with shock. The violet color of her eyes still link with my own as she seems to be at a loss for words.
“S-Sorry about that. It was just a little… intense for me. I’m… grateful for your help and maybe I’ve gotten stronger, but I’d like to… to get to know you better before we get too deep into something like this.” I stutter and speak slowly as the words bind together in my mind.
“M-My apologies.” Her voice is surprisingly soft spoken voice.
“Thank you for the moment of your time and for telling me a bit more about yourself. I should be on my way now.”
I twist on heel and leave the room behind with a purpose in my stride, shutting the door on my way out. I exhale a long sigh and lean myself against the wall as a newfound form of exhaustion I’d never felt before takes its toll on my body. When I’ve found my rest again, I notice Celine nearing me as she approaches from the end of the hallway. Having come close, she stares me right in my face. One heavy, exacerbated sigh falls from her lips and she continues walking along.
“Seems you’re having plenty of fun with your special privileges, aren’t you, hero?”
“What do you-”
I touch my hand to my face and realize that while Plutia had been kissing me, she’d left behind quite a bit of evidence as to our rendezvous.