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Chapter 7

All was proceeding smoothly.

 

Even by Julian’s standards, Auvalire’s reserves are unfathomably immense. Her abundant magic is sufficient to model not only a new physique, but entire garments from memory. It is a kind of sudden genesis he has witnessed only a handful of times in the past, performed by archmages of great skill. That she would have the same talent was beyond his imagination.

 

He chooses not to elaborate on it, content with proud admiration of the girl before him.



 

The subject of his handiwork is splayed upon a chair, gasping for breath. Her beautiful, slender legs are joined closely together, hands firmly grasping her breast; the incessant heaves of her considerable bust exude a captivating allure. Her alabaster skin is tinged with a seductive pink, and her eyes had lost their focus entirely, staring blankly into the ceiling. In this instant, Julian feels that his efforts are entirely vindicated. [1]

 

For the unknown onlooker, there is much to be imagined in what transpired … though, maybe knowing the truth wouldn’t make much of a difference either.

 

“I … this is …”

 

Breathing gently, Auvalire finally recovers from her sensations of ecstasy. She sniffs delicately, taking in the fresh air and the firelight. The warm ambience around her gives off a sensation of comfort and sanctuary. Moreover, she senses something burning, pulsating, within her chest cavity – emanating an inimitable vitality.

 

“How does it feel, being human again?”

 

Julian’s voice awakens her from a half-comatose state, and she sits up hurriedly, tending to her hair and clothes in the process. Though a corporeal form is not as convenient as an ethereal one, it is what Auvalire is most satisfied with. The loneliness, chill, and despair that she’d experienced as a soul was unbearable; a real body, replete with weight and warmth, is her heart’s desire.

 

“Very good, Mister … Julian.”

 

Auvalire is a little embarrassed, and understandably so. Who could blame her? Though she’d followed Julian’s commands almost instinctively just now, her expression was still fresh on her mind … sure, it hadn’t been intentional, but ultimately she is just a girl, regardless of the sophistication of her studies and the strength of her will. [2]

 

“Ah, I guess that's not quite right either. Technically, though you have the appearance of a human, your body is not truly so.”

 

Julian places a cup of tea in front of Auvalire, who picks the vessel up like a rare piece of treasure. Lightly caressing the rim, she basks in the rising steam for a moment before taking a small sip – for a girl that hasn’t made contact with anything for thirty years, it is the best-tasting tea in the world. She does not lose herself in the enjoyment, however; sensing the implication behind Julian’s words, Auvalire raises her head in the expectation of further explanation.

 

“I think you feel it yourself, too, at least for now.”

 

Julian points at her chest; Auvalire raises her hands reflexively again, but luckily the young man has no intention of “running her straight through” the second time. Even Auvalire herself is apprehens

ive about the palpitations in her chest – how could a heart, of all things, be their origin?

 

“I created a core for your soul, a focal point. Using that as a nucleus, I wove this humanoid body … with some help from your vast magical reserves, of course. From the outside, there should be no difference; you have a temperature and a heartbeat. It will not age as a normal human would, but rather change according to your will.”

 

His eyes trained on Auvalire, Julian continues his explanation.

 

“Naturally, your ability to digest food is still functional, though it’s no longer a necessity; to stabilize your magic, and keep your body free of problems, you only need learn meditation. If your magic weakens, your body too will crumble … if that comes to pass, you will return to your existence as a soul once more.”

 

“But, I’m not a wizard.” Auvalire picks up instantly. “I do not know how to meditate…”

 

“Neither do I know how to teach you.” Julian shrugs.

 

“As I’ve said, I am a knight, not a wizard; I am unversed in their esoterica. Thus, I have no personal words of advice for you on the matter. The only thing I can say is, well, that your inability to cast spells puts a limit on how much magic you can really spend. With your shockingly abundant reserves of void magic, you’ll have no problem holding on for at least a decade and a half.”

 

These last words put a stop to Auvalire’s objections, but from the way her eyes are spinning, Julian is sure that the princess has definite intentions of resuming the discussion with a wizard at some point.

 

“Now comes the focus of our transaction, Miss Auvalire.”

 

The girl straightens her body immediately at those words, placing down the teacup in her hands. Her gaze is filled with a silent intensity.

 

“I understand what you mean, Mr. Julian. The new body you’ve given me has allowed me to experience the joy of living in this world once again, and you have my service in exchange and gratitude. I swear on my name and honor, I will follow you until the day I … disappear once more.”

 

Auvalire had wanted to say “until the day I die”, but changes at the last minute; strictly speaking, she was already dead.

 

“Glad to hear it.”

 

Julian smiles in gratification; and for the first time, Auvalire detects a hint of devious pleasure in cunning prevailed.

 

“Then, let me go over the situation in front of us.”

 

Julian’s explanation is objective and detailed. Beginning from his body’s family and birth, to the problems the fiefdom was facing at the moment, his analysis encompassed all. In fact, Julian had already organized these informational specifics before he discovered Auvalire; they wanted only a solution.

 

Auvalire opens her eyes in surprise upon the conclusion of the explanation. She looks at Julian in bafflement, returning to full awareness only after some time.

 

“Mr. Julian, if I’m not misunderstanding you … you mean to say that the only things we own are this castle and a town with only a hundred gold in monthly taxes? Moreover, your land was given to you through enfiefment … and there is no one else with you?”

 

“Well, I have you now. And those wandering spirits. And maybe a few more people in a few days, recruited from the town.”

 

“Even that definitely isn’t enough.”

 

Auvalire sees the seriousness of the problem.

 

“Mr. Julian, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but from my perspective, it’s quite difficult for you to make something of yourself and your holdings with only this castle as a base!”

 

“The more difficult the challenge, the more satisfaction in the conquest.”

 

Hands outstretched, Julian presents a confident smile.

 

“Your Highness hasn’t experienced a problem like this before, I’d think. Surely you’re not considering giving up?”

 

“Please don’t make a joke like that, Mr. Julian.”

 

Auvalire raises a pretty, slender eyebrow, her face full of confidence.

 

“Compared to dealing with the nobles back at the capital, I can only call these issues negligible.”

 

“That’s good to hear.”

 

Standing, Julian offers Auvalire his right hand.

 

“Then, from this day forward, you shall be my lieutenant. What do you think? Are you satisfied with this arrangement?”  

 

“Leave it to me.”

  

Reaching her hand out to meet his, Auvalire grips it tightly; the young man’s palm is warm and broad.

 

“I will be sure not to disappoint.”

 

 

 

[1] Suggestiveness entirely intentional. Actually I tried to make it a little less licentious, but not enough! How lewd ... ㅇㅅㅇ

 

[2] The tense switching is a little complicated here; I'm too tired to check if it's absolutely correct. It's times like these that I wish I had an editor, but the show must go on.


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