Chapter 10:

Trust is a Flimsy Thing

Afflicted by Snow

     The following morning his royal ivory majesty woke up feeling as refreshed as ever. It was a first for him to have felt like he received a full night’s worth of rest and even better: it was accompanied by the revitalizing sensation of having just come out of a bath; though, he couldn’t exactly recall taking one last night. What exactly did he do yesterday again?

Haetia laid on his back, staring at the opulent canopy draped over the bed trying to recall the previous day. I ate, took a nap, then I went to that oaf’s room and…

His eyes widened.


Instantly Haetia scrambled around the bed, feeling every inch of his body for any signs of intercourse: pain, spurt, hickeys, whatever it could be.

But…there weren’t any. He could’ve SWORN that there were at least those first two checkmarks.

He tried racking his brain further—Did he really not remember a thing? Obviously he remembered sleeping with him, but his memory cut off somewhere in the middle of all that.

And…oh shit…did he…moan? His NAME?!!!

The winter royal tossed and turned in the bed, completely ruining the regal sheets—Wait. This wasn’t Linias’s room. There was no fur, no plants.

Finally Haetia sat up to take a better look at his surroundings.

It was his room, the same one he napped in the preceding day. He knew for damn well that he didn’t walk over here so it was undeniably Linias’s doing. Same with the clothes he was wearing: a short and silky kimono.

Speaking of…where was he?

Haetia glanced around the room some more until his eyes landed on a weird statue that was most definitely not there the night before–or was that…?

Linias? Sleeping??

Haetia shook his head. That was impossible, he’d never seen Linias sleep before. And if he was, he wasn’t sure whether to be more amazed by that or the fact that he was absolutely covered in birds of all sorts of colors and species who’d likely flown in from the open balcony.

To get a closer look he finally left the bed with his legs surprisingly holding up completely fine, then he remembered Linias knew healing magic which he himself almost never had a need for but it was nice to have for times like these. The LAST thing he wanted was everyone knowing that he had sex with him of all people last night.

Cautiously inching over, Haetia crouched down to fully confirm that Linias was indeed asleep, and asleep he was. He was somehow standing, leaning on the edge of the couch’s armrest, arms crossed, fast asleep.

It was a little…peaceful. To watch him sleep so soundly and undisturbed, especially with the birds decorating his body and every space around it. Not that he would ever admit it.

“Linias..?” Haetia whispered albeit a bit loudly.

The prince poked his servant and the surrounding fowl chirped angrily at his actions, but he ignored them and did it again anyway.


The retainer’s eyelashes rustled as his silver-hazel eyes barely peeked through. He almost felt guilty for waking him up. Almost.

In a tone which he very evidently tried to make as clear as possible, he uttered, “...Yes, Sire?”

“Well, wake up why don’t you!”

Linias pressed his lips together, seemingly in defiance, then blinked hard, forcing his eyes open. Even when he rolled his shoulders back, the birds didn’t move an inch.

His servant gazed at him as though awaiting further instructions but in all honesty Haetia had no idea why he woke him up. And really, he almost entirely forgot how to talk to Linias. He didn’t think his servant would bring up what happened last night but he couldn’t act like it just didn’t happen in the slightest. It’d irk him to just think about the fact that at any moment he could pull that card on him.

Face straining, Haetia struggled with where to begin. “Umm…” He groaned, Fuck this is so embarrassing! I shouldn’t have fucked him–I shouldn’t have fucked him of all fucking people!!!

Slapping his cheeks, Haetia tried again. “Listen. What happened yesterday, you aren’t allowed to tell a SOUL. Alright?”

Linias nodded.

“No, no. Say it with your mouth. ‘Yes, Master.’!”

“Yes, Master.”

“Okay. Right. Good.”

Haetia stared at his servant. Was he always this much taller than him? And so…wide.

He glanced down at his zipper, remembering that monster of a dick that he just had for some reason.

I mean…He was good though… Haetia shook his head at his own thoughts, probably looking strange to the still present retainer. No! No…? I am kind of stuck with him with all this traveling and he is free. No effort or flirting or seduction necessary…Ugh, fuck it.

“Linias…If I ever come onto you like that again, just go along with it. Understood?”

“Yes, Master.”

See? Easy.
The prince sighed in relief. “And you better not do that ‘Yes Sire’ shit in bed. Unless it’s kinky..somehow.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Wait, my–”

“I already gave you your contraceptive last night, Sire.”

Haetia sighed again, this time in a little self frustration. He really had to be desperate to resort to Linias of all people. But good dick is good dick and he hadn’t ever been put to sleep by sex in his whole life, despite the countless people he’d slept with in the past. It was shameful to say that only his servant of all people was a good (more like amazing) lay but these were harsh times.

“Now, dress me.”

Linias bowed then dismissed the birds, whispering something to them before they took off. Afterwards he removed the kimono and dressed his Master one article of clothing at a time. He always went in the same order, which is the same that his Master preferred. Underwear (usually the lacey kind), shorts, turtleneck, sleeves, harnesses, heels, and finally his cardigan.

Then he’d sit his Master down and comb out his hair, then apply his eyeshadow. Last but not least he’d thread his hoops through his earlobes, clicking them in place with a soft snap. It was a long and extensive process that he performed every morning and then the reverse in the evening but it was his duty to serve.

By the time he was finished getting his Master ready for the day, the door flew open and Revi pranced inside.

“Linias! Looks like your ‘Master’ is all nice and safe. Seems like he can survive without you after all!”

Linias scowled at the unnecessary comment, changing the topic instantly. “I was about to go find you. Mitsuyo is probably going to be here soon to hold up her end of the deal, but I wanted to tell you something before that. For you as well, Master, just in case.”

Reluctantly, Haetia turned around from his seat at the vanity.

“I said that we can trust her for information, and that much is true. If you make a deal with her and faithfully hold up your side, she’ll answer you truthfully. Other than that, don’t trust her under any circumstances. Her ‘loyalty’, if it can even be called that, only lasts as long as the deals she makes. She’s self-interested and wouldn’t hesitate to sell us out if it meant getting something she wanted out of it.”

“So then why the hell did we come to her?!” Revi immediately snapped back.

“Because what we want to know is sensitive and specific. If we ask the wrong people we could end up putting ourselves in bad situations, likely worse than whatever she could do. You don’t know what happened to your tribe, and for all you know those people could be looking for you too. And for us, we don’t know who those soldiers were nor what the Ivory Shore is. Those soldiers could have connections in any of these cities or towns we go to, and without knowing anything about the Ivory Shore we could very well ask someone about it then be surrounded with swords pointed in our faces. We can buy truthful information and guaranteed safety with her even if it’s only for a short while. That’s a lot more than we can guarantee with others.”

Being unable to deny the sense of his words, Revi’s eyebrows begrudgingly relax.

“Are you ready to leave if we have to?”

“Yeah, not like I got comfortable here. Why?”

“When she comes, I’ll be able to tell if she sold us out already or not, and she’ll know if I know. Just be ready to run or for a fight.”

As if being summoned, the bedroom door opened for a second time with the first sight being glowing, sharp canine eyes. Mitsuyo.

She invited herself inside and onto the couch, taking a whiff from her pipe in the process. “Good morning, good morning! My, my. Doesn’t the brat look like he slept well? I’m glad my little money bag could be of use to you. That means I taught him exceptionally well. A fine product, if I do say so myself and I do!”

At the taunt Haetia instantly gets riled up, opening his mouth to hurl insults and deny the accusations but Linias stops him before he can even begin. Meanwhile, Revi is left confused but ultimately uncaring of whatever just left the fox’s mouth.

“Please, please, sit! This’ll be quite important for you all, I’m sure.”

While Linias seats himself normally, Haetia drops into the couch with crossed arms, legs, and a scornful stare, and Revi wears her skepticism on her sleeve.

“So, about your questions,” she taps the embers out of her pipe, “you’re in luck! All of you are conjoined, so, Mrs. Hot-head, you won’t have to say good-bye to them any time soon. Your tribe was indeed taken by the same group that attacked the brat’s hometown and is after him as we speak.”

The ebony kitsune delicately smiles.

Linias leans closer to Haetia’s side of the furniture.

“The group is quite large though, so tracking down exactly which portion kidnapped your tribe will be quite difficult. For you that is, I could already tell you where but that’d be too generous. My poor money bag would’ve had to have worked a few extra days for that one and I don’t think you have that kind of time. But, what I will tell you is that there is a portion of them settled North of here, about two towns over. You can do with that information what you will.”

Mitsuyo relaxes back, crossing her legs. “As for your Ivory Shore, people aren’t sure if it’s real or not since anyone who tries to find it freezes to death, even wendigos, yetis, ice elementals, you name it. You could’ve guessed this from that alone, but you’ll find it if you keep heading North. Follow the wintry breeze and trail of frozen corpses and you’ll get there eventually. I just hope you don’t die, I’d lose a lot of potential profit from all the favors I imagine you’ll need.”

“That’s it?” Both disappointed and annoyed, Haetia groans, feeling like the journey to get this information wasn’t all that worth it in the end.

“What you should be saying is ‘thank you’.” The fire spirit groans at his constant incapability to be appreciative of anything.

“Don’t thank her.” Linias immediately interjected.

“He’s right, you shouldn’t thank me. I’d suggest you get a move on since I think they’re nearly here.”

In sync with the end of her statement and the outwards tap of her pipe, a thunderous clatter of armor and footsteps could be heard storming through the halls and by the time the group had risen out of their seats in alert the door flung open.

Soldiers clad in shadowy black and bright crimson poured into the bedroom. They were undeniably a part of the same raiders that burned his Master’s hometown to the ground, and now the same ones that abducted Revi’s clan.

Various voices shouted different phrases all meaning the same:


Before the pale prince could even register the perilous situation they had just found themselves in, his servant had already swept him off his feet and over his shoulder. Not a moment was wasted to explain where they were going as Linias immediately took charge and crashed through the bedroom window and without so much as even signaling to Revi to follow, she knew to do so.

Being several stories up, Linias had to break their fall using his roots, but instead of heading straight down he grew them into a slide that stretched across to a neighboring rooftop which proved to be a wise decision as more soldiers flooded from the corners of the building and crowded beneath the crashed window.

The armored men scrambled to find a way to pursue them until a mage pushed through them to launch a ray of fire, but by that time the trio had already made their way onto the rooftops.

As they maneuvered through the roofs of the city, the soldiers wove in and out of the alleys of the buildings to attempt to follow them. Some mages attempted to lob balls of fire to halt their movement but all the fire elemental had to do was catch it with her bare hands and throw it back at them, and in order to drive off the foot soldiers Linias’s roots and vines grew horizontally, tripping them over themselves while others were seized by their ankles and tangled.

Once they had reached the outskirts of the capital the soldiers were nowhere to be seen, but they didn’t take this as a sign to relax. Summer was already waiting outside by another steed and as much as Revi wanted to question this whole affair from start to finish, she held off on her confusion and continued to follow along until they were for certain out of harm’s way.


     With such a rough start to their morning none of them had a chance to eat until early in the afternoon, so they stopped and hitched the horses for a break.

Linias already started cutting up an apple for his Lord, who refused to get down from Summer for whatever the reason, when Revi came up to him.

He gestured a question by waving the knife, asking if she wanted her fruit cut up as well to which she declined.

“No, I wanted to ask…You just kind of knew where to go. I mean, why was your horse even outside of the capital? Let alone not where we left it at all.”

Her name is Summer and I asked her to meet us outside, and that’s a friend she made along the way. He’s Oliver.” Linias responded nonchalantly, not knowing how benign the words were in the slightest.

Not sure if he was joking or not, Revi brushes off his response altogether with a sigh then motions for him to throw her a piece of fruit. He handed off the perfectly sliced apple to Haetia, then gave a fresh one to Revi.

“So, you’re still going to this death trap Ivory Shore of yours?”


“And you–Mister Lazy Bones–you’re alright with that?” Revi purposefully directs the question to Haetia as well.

“If it can tell me anything about myself, I guess. I’m not all that excited for a journey of self discovery but the fact that my father told us to go there for that reason implies that there’s at least something to learn. Plus, maybe we’ll get these armory guys off of us. I’d love to just explore city after city but not with them following around waving their fists in the air.”

The prince plops a slice into his mouth as Revi is left a little agape from the thorough answer. It was the most she’d ever heard him speak that wasn’t some form of insult, complaining, or both.

As he feeds Summer and her newfound friend Oliver, Linias scowls slightly. “They’re planning something.”

“You mean the armored guys?” The fire elemental leans against a nearby tree, roasting the apple with flames that emitted from her palms before eating it and again the sight causes Linias to have a barely noticeable twitch.

“Y-Yes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they abducted your village. I said it before, but it’s impossible for them to have done that without some form of a fight. My guess is a siren, since it’s the easiest way to enchant a mass amount of people. But that only raises more questions and concerns. Getting the siren isn’t hard, it’s more the fact that they then would have planned to abduct your tribe.”

Summer playfully nuzzles her nose against him, encouraging Oliver to do the same and thus making it difficult for Linias to speak.


“R-Right. So–” He tries to calm them down, giving them both a thorough massage of their necks. “Sorry. As I was saying, they would’ve planned to abduct them then, which leads me to believe that there’s a purpose to what they’re doing between trying to kill His Highness and getting your clan members. So there’s probably more that we don’t know in terms of their plan, which would make going to their base that Mitsuyo mentioned worth the effort.”

“And you trust that she didn’t tell them that we’d be going there? There could be a nice pretty trap waiting for us.”

“You’d be right to assume that. My idea was to settle in the town before and scout first for that reason.”

“And you were gonna tell me that when..?”

“When we got there. I was going to leave you to watch His Highness.”

Revi scowls. “Because him and I get along so swimmingly. If you’re right–and I feel like you are–then your brothel friend is right and we’re gonna be stuck together for a while, so learn some cooperation and maybe don’t treat everyone around you as completely incapable of anything.”

“I didn’t say you were incapable.”

“Well you’re acting like it! Like I would’ve loved to have known about the whole rooftop plan beforehand! That could’ve gone so much worse than it did!”

“But it didn’t, because I figured you’d know to follow my lead.”

“You–ugh! Do you not understand what I’m saying?!”

While Revi’s hair started to emit embers, Linias on the other hand was still as poker faced as always.

“I do. You want me to communicate more, so I’ll try.”

“Oh.” He actually was listening. Revi’s embers started to subside. “Alright, cool. Thanks? Yeah, thanks.”

“You’re welcome. To start with, if they do have a siren that could be a problem. It’ll mean that you could get lost with your clan as well, or that they’ll turn your clan against you. There’s a lot of possibilities. Then, there’s the fact that they all work in different ‘portions’ as Mitsuyo said, which means there’s someone or multiple people are leading them. All of which means they have some form of goal. That leads me to believe that they may have business at the Ivory Shore as well, because if they’re connected to His Majesty, and His Majesty is connected to the Ivory Shore, then they themselves could know something about it too. Hence, I’d like to try and kidnap one of them to question them. Preferably the siren if possible to get rid of two problems at once, but if they aren’t at the encampment then any of them is fine.”

Revi chokes on her charred apple, nearly shouting, “You thought of all of that?! Since when!?”

“When Mitsuyo told us what she did.”


“Yes? It’s my duty.” Linias didn’t seem to understand the source of her amazement. “It’d also be important to mention that the siren wouldn’t be hard to get information out of. They like jewels, so if we can offer them something like that then they’d be willing to speak. Which means violence shouldn’t be necessary. I’d like to avoid as many casualties as we can and to be as inconspicuous as possible, so you should be useful in that case.”

Gee thanks, you could’ve said that a bit nicer. The fire spirit shakes her head though not too upset by the comment. She started to understand that was just how he spoke.

“Setting a building on fire, smoking them out, something of that nature. It’d get them distracted and the siren far out. But, that’s all based on the belief that they’re residing in flammable buildings, not stone, and that the siren is with them in the first place. Mitsuyo claimed that your clan isn’t at the encampment, so I doubt the siren will be there. Unless they have more than one, then that presents even more issues because that would mean that they’re trying to abduct some other form of species. Possibly more fire elementals, but my guess would be something else since I don’t think they’d have need for more than one clan.”

Head spinning, Revi waves her hand indicating for Linias to stop. “Okay maybe some things you can keep to yourself. Tell me the shortened version because I barely understood any of that.”

Now a little confused himself as to where he went wrong, Linias tries to correct his self-believed mistake. “...Soldiers have a goal and a leader. Might have a siren. If they have one, we get them. If not, we get a soldier. Maybe scare them off with fire.”

Shaking her head again Revi sighs, already beginning to lose hope in fixing him. “Didn’t have to do it THAT short but I get it. Get the siren or guy, get information.”

Even more confused now, the retainer momentarily wonders what was different from what he said to what she repeated. “...Yes?”

“Alright, cool. Probably easier said than done but we’ve already got a plan and we aren’t even there yet! Hah!” Pumping herself up, Revi starts shadow boxing the air, disturbing Haetia and even Oliver and Summer.

Still confused, Linias sighs, wondering how this group is going to survive together.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon