Lariette started telling her story.
When I heard the initial words, I knew it would last long, so I had her go and finish her meal first.
On the other hand, I took out my own food and started eating.
Ten minutes later, Lariette came back, sat down and once again started at the beginning.
Her voice drifted out, Eri instantly came running and sat on my other side.
I had Ourang come too, looking at his expression, I would know whether Lariette is lying or not.
The story lasted for around thirty minutes, mainly because of the emotions it contained, so to spare some time I’ll provice you with the main points.
Lariette’s grandfathers and great grandfathers lived in the continent called Astar.
One day they were attacked by Dark Trackers who were seeking new territories to expand to.
Many of the villages warriors and mages died defending their homes.
As there was no church their resistance was ultimately futile, mundane means cannot damage intangible creatures.
All of the deities these people worshipped were of natural elements, mainly fire and thunder, thus they couldn’t do anything against the shadows.
The Dark Trackers didn’t give chase after any fleeing villagers.
The creatures were satisfied once they had the humans’ territory.
While seeking a place of refuge, Lariette’s forefathers stumbled upon a Minotaur Settlement.
A female minotaur was leading the huge, bull-like beings.
Lariette’s ancestors didn’t want to fight and were exhausted, so when they heard that they can stay with the minotaurs, it was a huge relief.
In exchange, the humans were supposed to provide monthly tribute to the minotaurs, comprising of some of the provided stock including cattle, sheep and horses.
After a period of tranquility, Dark Trackers moved once again.
This time it reached the faraway Minotaur Settlement, forcing the Minotaurs to flee through a portal that led to another continent.
Every human, minotaur and animal made their way in, taking all of the belongings and leaving their homes.
It’s obvious she’s leaving something out, but I need to develop the relationship first.
Lariette: Later on, our forefathers settled here. We were a peaceful and prosperous village, but not long after our initial settlement the Dark Trackers came back sealing our way out. I suppose the outside world presumed us dead…
Eri was listening attentively, but she didn’t raise any question. I guess she’s just a sensible little girl.
What a rarity.
Ourang’s facial features didn’t change even once.
*sigh* That’s experience for you. Even if I tortured him it would take some time to get anything out of this sly old man.
As for Lariette’s story, it makes sense.
Obviously it’s not true, or not entire true, but the components add up. Pretty impressive.
Dark Trackers were probably expanding to new territories because of increased birth rate.
Assuming they are even born…
Anyways, it seems there was a grain of truth because I got a new message.
That’s a small boost in stats, but a boost nonetheless.
I only know the new continent’s name, how am I supposed to get anything better?
What piqued my interest is that Lariette’s forefathers couldn’t be the only humans there.
That means that Dark Trackers are either still at war with the remaining families there or have completely dominated Astar continent.
My guess is the former.
There’s no way all of the humanity there would simply surrender, they had to have ways to fight back!
Well, not like I can do anything about it right now.
I haven’t even gotten to the point of being able to open the tomb of Ice Mages…
What’s the point of venturing to another continent if I can’t even proudly travel to Kingdom of Glacia?
*sigh* There’s so much work ahead of me.
Not to mention the church…
What am I going to do with those “holy” bastards?
If sending them to Astar was possible, I would eagerly do it.
Alright, enough of the pondering, before I do anything about that matter, I have to finish up here.
Saress will rip me to shreds if I don’t hurry up.
Let’s pray she won’t rip me a new one anyway…
Icicle: Your story seems believable. The problem is, why are you guys not armed? I haven’t seen any military. Even if there are no monsters, someone needs to uphold the law. Who’s going to protect the villagers from rapists, robbers and other violent people?
Lariette: You see, it’s not that simple. We had a military, a pretty advanced one. Around 15 years ago, when we had the highest birth rate since the foundation of the village, there were many who raised their concerns. “Why are we serving the minotaurs?” “We can’t even leave this damned place!” “If they can’t take care of us, we have to do it ourselves!” and so on and so forth… When some people start complaining, others join to vent their frustrations. Soon, it became unbearable. Our community divided, there were individuals that wanted to leave peacefully, that would be us here and others who wanted to get rid of the minotaurs’ yoke.
These NPCs are squabbling like humans?
I have to hand it to you, AI, you’re pretty good.
Although you are hesitant towards my earned rewards…
Icicle: What would they do even if these “passionate warriors” were to succeed? There are still Dark Trackers at the floor above.
Villagers have no idea that I have taken care of these shadows, I’ve got to use it.
Lariette: Well, we’ve raised this issue as well, but you know how young people are… They are hot-headed and impulsive. Many of these youngsters left immediately, some others followed right after. Their families slowly couldn’t take the separation and followed suit. You know, mothers cherishing their “babies” convinced the stubborn men, soon the experienced warriors, blacksmiths, miners and tailors, almost all of them left.
Well, if you want to get any, you’ll naturally follow your beloved…
Lariette: *sigh* It was hard for us too, after all, we had many friends in that group. Some people who were lovers suddenly had to break up… I know, it sounds exaggerated, but many of us don’t know what the flames of war are. Our ancestors were proud and powerful, but what can we, their miserable descendants, do? Resources all around here are limited. The village’s technology isn’t superior to minotaurs nor Dark Trackers. Even when the chances are this slim, some “courageous ones” still want to go ahead and battle…
Looks like Lariette is pretty knowledgeable.
She would be a good mayor after I conquer this area.
Well, I’ll tell Lariette later, don’t want to put too much pressure on her at the moment.
Icicle: Anything else I need to know?
Lariette: Recently those people have changed. The bastards! They even went as far as to extort us! Not only do we have to pay the tribute to the minotaurs, but to those runaway bastards too! Shameless! If they didn’t take all the warriors I would crush them all by myself!
That’s the spirit.
Icicle: So, these “runaways”, where can I find them?
Lariette: That’s… alright, I think we can trouble you with that… Not like anything can change whether you help or not but…
Malhium? What the hell is it?
Icicle: Excuse me, what’s Malhium?
Lariette: Hahaha. No wonder you don’t know. It’s a rare mineral. We’ve mined it at Astar, but it’s supposedly not so easily found on this continent. According to rumors, on this very continent, there’s none of it! But, here, in this large lush area there are several nodes of Malhium! We create armors, weapons and other trinkets out of it. Malhium’s characteristics are that it’s not an electrical conductor, thus it protects you well not only from all sorts of magic, but even more from the strongest attacking types, fire and lightning magic! If you’re wearing Malhium armor you’re impervious to any stuns that lightning magic causes! Its defense is really good too, the only downside is the weight – it’s extremely heavy.
Looking at Lariette, I saw her giggling.
Can there be something else?
Icicle: Does it have any other uses?
It’s already really good. I can have the undead wear it, it won’t matter that much to them.
Even if it does, the weight will force them to strengthen themselves.
Wish I could use it, but it sure as hell is not an [Artifact]!
I guess my sis, Faura, Mika and their respective parties will accept this gift with open hands nonetheless.
Lariette: Indeed, it does. This knowledge is not passed down to just anyone though.
Lariette signaled Eri and Ourang to leave, although Eri was reluctant she still listened to her mother’s wishes.
It feels like I’ve seen my young counterpart…
Lariette: There are only a few people who know of this in the village. This includes the “runaway villagers”. Secrets containing Malhium were passed down to us, Astar continent’s Tarras family. Although we’re more renowned for our nicknames “Thunder wolves”. I guess you don’t know of it since you’re not from Astar continent… We were pretty famous back there. Unfortunately, even lightning magic can’t amount to much against Dark Trackers…
That’s pretty neat.
To top it off, I’ve crossed the 800 wisdom barrier, now I’m at 804!
42000 mana! Damn, I’m a beast!
Or rather was…
Seeing as Lariette was struggling, probably because of the losses her family suffered, I kept being quiet.
After some time passed she picked up the slack and continued.
Lariette: Where was I?
Icicle: You were talking about Malhium’s properties. By the way, why are you telling me all this? Even about your family. It sounds like something outsiders shouldn’t know about.
Lariette: Same goes for me, why didn’t you punish me? Don’t bullshit me with “I like your guts” antics! I’m not that stupid!
Icicle: Well, I really liked what you did, fearless woman in the middle of nowhere, that’s a gem.
Lariette: Gem my ass! Speak the truth!
Damn, I’ve woken up a sleeping lion.
Icicle: I wanted you to owe me a favor, now, are you happy? Jeez, no need to get so agitated, woman…
I suppose that “Thunder wolves” nickname is pretty accurate. Seeing Lariette wave her hands with lightning speed really makes me feel like she’s wasting her talent as a housewife.
Don’t ask me about her gestures, they are unclear to me, it simply happens too fast!
Angry woman is one of the most hazardous things man can encounter!
Lariette: Hmph! At least you’re honest. Consider your favor paid after I tell you then!
Icicle: No way, I still have another use for you after this.
Lariette: What?! You want to use me?!
Icicle: I don’t know what you’re thinking, but it’s nothing sexual. I mean, I wouldn’t mind, but… *cough* No need to look at me like that. It’s not my fault that you were shaped that way okay? Slender figure, two sizable mounds, strong, muscular thighs that are appropriate for giving birth- *slap* Ouch, that hurt! *sigh* Whatever, finish with your part first, then we’ll talk about your future involvement.
Lariette: You’re one shameless bastard!
Icicle: And you’re an unbridled, wild tomboy! Satisfied?
My right cheek hurts.
What the hell did she eat to get this strong?
If we were to show Lariette’s strength in numbers, it would most likely be in 300s.
Lariette: Hmph! I’m not talking to you anymore!
Great, now I have to find a cure for the illness called “pride”.
I wonder if I can get a noble prize for it…
Icicle: Alright, I’ll give you a little incentive. What do you think about leaving this place?
Lariette: Like hell I can leave this village! On one side there are minotaurs, on the other there are Dark Trackers! Do you take me for a fool, huh?
Icicle: And how do you think I entered here, huh?
Mimicking Lariette is such a joy.
To make an angry person even angrier, yet at the same time curious!
Lariette: This… How did you do it…?
Hook, line and sinker!
Icicle: Finish up with your part, then we can talk about me and your future task.
Lariette: I hate you, you know? You’re an enemy of all women! How can you keep me suspended like that! Lewd! Shameless!
Icicle: Alright, alright, I killed them all, satisfied?
Lariette: What?! That’s impossible, my whole family couldn’t do a single thing and a weakling like you eradicated Dark Trackers! Ridiculous!
I’m injured, not weak!
Scammed would be the right word!
I’ll get back at the devs later on.
Icicle: Now, now, don’t get complacent. Your family is no more. Unless you rebuild it from scratch, there’s no use bragging about it!
Lariette: What do you know! You’re just a commoner!
Sure, I’ll play your little game of status.
Icicle: Ice Mages, does it ring a bell?
Icicle: I’m their descendant, nice to meet you. So, have you heard of us?
Such a blatant lie!
Icicle: Since we’re done comparing backgrounds, how about you finish up your story? I’m really pressed for time. We can brag about our legendary ancestries later.
Lariette: Just so you know, I still hate you!
Icicle; Fine, carry on.
Lariette: *mumble* Hmph, treating me like a slave… *mumble* *cough* Ekhm, Malhium is a metal that’s nonconductive, that’s why it’s great at holding electrical charges!
Lariette: Hmph, you’re looking like an idiot trying to gain knowledge now! A frog trying to comprehend the world from the well! No need to frown, it’s obvious you’re ignorant. *mumble* Tch, hurting my pride like that… *mumble* *cough* What most don’t know is that Malhium is a great material to store lightning energy! What I mean is that Malhium is an ideal material to create bombs! Bombs containing electricity, the better the quality, the better the effect! If you were to create a perfect [Malhium Bomb], it would be able to release the might of a thunder! It’s a secret of my family, so I hope you can keep it to yourself, you shameless, lewd bastard! Hmph!
Two “hmphs”, one “tch”, not bad.
Great job Jason, you’re a ladykiller.
Oi, computer, what are the chances of me getting laid in the near future?
Computer: Calculating… the results are: zero or less.
Such invigorating news…
Anyways, this [Malhium Bomb] sounds awesome!
I need to keep it a secret from everyone for my own goals!
Icicle: This Malhium, is it your currency?
Lariette: It is!
Icicle: Then how come is it supposedly not exploitable? You people are unearthing it.
Lariette: *sigh* That’s because Malhium is not a metal of its own, so to speak. There are several stages to make it like so. In simple words, it needs processing and refining! Don’t look at me so suspiciously! Alright, I’ll tell you… We make it from iron! Don’t expect to know the details, even if you were to torture me, I won’t tell! That metal is our family’s future, no matter what happens, I won’t squander it!
No wonder she said “mineral” earlier, it’s actually a metal!
Icicle: You’re making iron turn into another metal? That’s great. I don’t need to know how it’s done, but I’ll definitely use your services!
Lariette: Hmph, don’t think we’re cheap!
Icicle: Trust me, sweetheart, I can afford to pay. After all, I am the one who’s holding keys to your freedom.
Dangling the [Skeleton Entrance Key] in front of Lariette, she gasped.
Lariette: That’s the key to the exit! You actually did kill the Dark Trackers!
Icicle: Indeed, I did. Time for some changes!
What a good asset!
I need her in my house!
Pressing a few buttons, I sent an invite.
Lariette: You want me to join your house?! Don’t be ridiculous, I’ve just told you that I want to rebuild mine!
Icicle: You sure do, but there’s your family outside.
Lariette: How dare you threaten me like that! Shameless! Coward!
Eri’s mother was thrashing around, on the verge of crying.
*sigh* It’s so troublesome to deal with her.
Icicle: You can either join my house, have your own family branch where no one will interfere you, where you can go outside, grow stronger and then detach yourself or stay put here, forever losing this godsend opportunity! I’m giving you a chance, woman! If you want to go big, you need to start off small! Make your decision, take it or leave it! Anyways, not like it matters…
Lariette: What do you mean it doesn’t matter…?
Icicle: I’ve come here to conquer this area, so whether you join or not doesn’t really matter. The thing is you can either have freedom and limitless possibilities or rot here until you die. These are the current options you have. The ball’s in your court. Think of your daughter, of her future. Of this village’s future. What’s better for you? Staying under the yoke of Minotaurs or Dark Trackers? Or simply joining my house? I won’t force you to do anything. If you want to work for me, create equipment, contribute to the house Whitesnow, I’ll reward you, if you don’t, nothing will happen. It’s your choice. However, the indisputable fact is that later today this whole area will belong to me. Whether you like it or not, well, I don’t really care.
After ten seconds or so, Lariette who was clearly flustered spoke up.
Lariette: You sure are ambitious, Icicle. There’s no way someone like you can conquer this place. Even if you somehow did take over our village and miraculously overcome the warriors of the one next to it, there’s no way in hell you can fight against the minotaurs! Why would we struggle so much if there was?!
Icicle: Hmph, there’s no need for you to worry. I have enough strength to accomplish my goals.
Lariette: What if someone doesn’t agree to serve you, huh?
Putting my [Halloween Lich Mask] on, I tried to sound as sinister as I can,
Icicle: Then they can only eternally serve me in the afterlife!
Lariette: L-Lich! You’re actually a necromancer?!
Icicle: Miniscule, insignificant human, do you accept the deal or not?
Lariette was trembling from fear, stuttering.
Lariette: I-I-I d-do! I do!
Just like that I’ve gotten another member to join my household!