"Do I really have to dress so idiotically?" Lorist grumbled.
Even though it wasn't summer during the 9th month, it was still relatively hot and the bright sun in the sky made people want to undress entirely. Right now, Lorist was walking behind Dulles and Karitoke on a large street while wearing a hooded poncho. All three of them were dressed similarly in ponchos that didn't have good ventilation, causing Lorist to be full of sweat. Everyone who walked past them looked at them as if they were insane for wearing those things in that weather, making the experience even more unbearable.
It was all Dulles's fault for coming over with Karitoke far too soon. After finishing lunch together, they could no longer hold themselves back and wanted to walk all the way to the meeting spot as specified on the invitation with aiding digestion as the main reason.
"Milord, no, Locke, the invitation specified that we should be dressed like that so that others do not recognize our identities," Dulles replied. They had all agreed not to address Lorist as 'milord' during the excursion.
"Good Sol, we could've at least put this on after getting off a carriage! Nobody would be so stupid like you guys to walk all the way there! If word of this gets out tomorrow, we'll be complete laughing stocks!" Lorist said angrily.
"Then what do you say we do?"
"We stop a carriage and take a few spins around the imperial capital first. When the time's approaching, we'll head to the meeting point," Lorist said as he decided.
The three were only able to get a carriage after a good while. The coachman initially even thought that he was going to be robbed and screamed out for help. It was only after Lorist tossed him one gold Forde that he turned quiet. They strolled about the city until it was two in the afternoon before heading for the rendezvous.
At the address specified on the invitation was an old residential compound and upon entering it, an old man dressed like a butler checked their invitation before he said, "Respected guests, please follow me."
When they arrived at the run-down backyard, they saw tens of black-colored four-wheeled carriages with no identifiable markings. The old man walked to the nearest one and said, "Please board the carriage, respected guests. It will take some time before you arrive at the gathering location and this carriage will be taking you there."
The moment the three of them boarded the carriage, it set out for its destination right away. They later realized that the windows of the carriage were all painted black so that the riders within wouldn't be able to recognize the situation outside. When Lorist pushed on the carriage door, he found that it was indeed locked. Fortunately for them, the skylight of the carriage could be opened to let in some fresh air so that the interior of the carriage didn't feel too hot and musty.
"What's with the mystery of it all? Is there a need to go out of their way to do that?" Lorist mumbled.
After the carriage traveled for around 30 minutes, it stopped and the door was soon unlocked. A pleasing voice of a woman said, "Welcome, sirs, to paradise on the human realm. Please, leave your carriage."
Dulles was the first one to get off and he froze almost immediately. After that was Karitoke's turn and he was similarly dumbstruck when he stepped out of the carriage.
"What the heck are you guys doing? Make way, I'm still in here."
Pushing the two aside and getting off to take a look, Lorist was also flabbergasted by what he saw.
They were within an extremely spacious hall that was decorated to look like the richest palaces the world had ever seen. The coachman and carriage were nowhere to be seen and at that moment, in front of the three of them were a large group of beautiful women who seemed completely naked. Upon closer inspection, they were actually wearing a thin white veil that occasionally obscured their naked bodies, causing one to feel all the more tempted after taking a look.
Dulles was almost going to bleed out from his nose from all the excitement he felt while Karitoke didn't fare any better. On the other hand, Lorist managed to retain his calm and tapped on the two's shoulders to snap them out of their stupor.
A voluptuous beauty approached them before she bowed deeply, making sure that the three of them were able to get a good look at the pair of 'energetic little bunnies' that were hidden beneath the veil around her chest. "Sirs, please follow me. The changing room is over there."
Dulles and Karitoke were instantly charmed as they followed the woman without a second thought.
"Three sirs, this here is your changing room. Please leave your clothes and weapons here. Participants of the Paradise Gathering are not allowed to remain dressed. However, you can tie a towel around your waist. Also, there are masks here that you can pick from. Male or female guests can use these masks to keep their identity hidden," said the voluptuous beauty as she handed over a silver platter with a number of masks on them.
Dulles picked an eyepatch mask before he asked, "Why are you guys not wearing masks then?"
The voluptuous beauty replied, "Sir, we are maidservants and there's no need for us to wear masks."
'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' Since they were attending the Paradise Gathering, they must follow the regulations set by the organizer. All three of them got naked and tied a towel around their waist before putting on their masks. Karitoke chose a white fox mask while Lorist picked one with a black bat motif.
The voluptuous maidservant then brought over three bracelets each with ten shiny beads that seemed to have some words engraved on them.
"Sirs, if you believe some of us served you well, you can also tip us one or two of these beads. However, each bead represents one gold Forde and you must settle the bill before you leave. If you run out of beads, you can have us bring you more."
All three of them put on the bracelets and Lorist realized that the beads on his bracelet had the characters 'white 10' engraved upon them while Dulles and Karitoke's were 'white 8' and 'white 9' respectively.
"Sirs, please follow me here. Let me give you a brief tour."
Dulles walked behind the voluptuous beauty and he had already copped a feel on her behind with his hand.
The voluptuous beauty turned around and eyed Dulles before she said, "Milord there are many rooms upstairs. If you're willing to give me one bead, I will be extremely happy to bring you there to rest and show you a good time."
Dulles broke into a smile and said, "Alright."
The voluptuous beauty waved towards the distance and a long-haired blonde woman with a curvy figure clad similarly in that flimsy veil walked over.
"Dosey, I will be bringing this guest here to rest, so please show the other two guests around," said the beauty before she brought Dulles to a stairwell nearby.
The blonde-haired beauty bowed and said, "Greetings to you, sirs. I am called Dosey. Please let me resume your tour of the place.
"This is the great bath hall and there's a swimming pool here as well as some smaller bathing pools. Next to the hall are small rooms with beds where you can rest when you're tired." The group arrived at the entrance of a small room. The room didn't have a door and was only covered with a beaded blinds. The space inside wasn't that wide and only a large bed could be seen within.
Karitoke could no longer hold it in and brought Dosey into the room before pressing her onto the bed...
Sol, you guys are far too impatient for that, Lorist thought as he took a look around. There were not many people around him and he could not spot another masked guest just like them. Perhaps they have arrived a little too early. Even the large bath hall was completely empty.
At the corner of the hall was a small bathing pool and Lorist was surprised when he entered it. It was practically a hot spring and he could pick up a hint of sulfurous smell from the water. Within the pool was a curved spot that was designed as a seat. Lorist tried to sit down and it was indeed like a leaning sitting spot. When he leaned all the way down, only his head and upper chest were visible above the water, and if he lied down, his whole body would be submerged within. It truly was a pleasing experience.
It was then when Lorist noticed a bell beside him. After giving it a slight shake, it let out a clear ring before a maidservant quickly came to Lorist's side and asked, "Sir, is there anything you need?"
"Bring me some fruit wine and food. It would be great to have some fruit," Lorist said.
The things Lorist ordered were quickly brought to him and the maidservant opened the little wine barrel before she poured some of it into a silver cup.
"Sir, do you need me to stay and serve you?" she asked.
Lorist gave her a bead and said, "No need, I want some time alone."
"Thank you, sir."
Feasting on delicacies in a hot spring was a luxurious experience in itself. Roughly half an hour later, more masked guests could be seen and there were as many men as there were women. Some of the female guests could be seen in groups talking about something and there were also those who brought men into the rooms. One male guest approached one of the female guests and began to tease her so hard that she wasn't able to even close her mouth. In the end, he successfully carried her into a room nearby. There were also some who didn't succeed and were forced to pull a maidservant near them into the rooms to expel their pent-up desires.
Lorist merely remained submerged within the small pool and observed the people around him. In actuality, the masked female guests were all noble ladies and they didn't necessarily look more beautiful nor alluring than the maidservants standing beside them. However, the masks they wore added an air of mystery. Coupled with their status as nobles that made them further out of reach unlike the maidservants, the female guests did attract a fair share of the male guests' attention.
The female guests were dressed almost identically with the maidservants clad in translucent white veils save for their masks. They teased and flirted with the men but were usually unwilling to follow them into the rooms unless they were stimulated to the point they were no longer able to resist.
When Lorist saw Karitoke leaving the room with the blonde maidservant, the latter's attention was quickly captured by a few noble ladies with excellent figures in the pool not far away. Without a word, Karitoke began to swim towards them to strike up a conversation.
One petite girl wearing a butterfly mask and veil rushed over and she realized that Lorist was there when she arrived. She said, "Ah, apologies. I didn't see you here. Just now, I even ran over because I thought there was nobody here."
As the small pool was in the corner and the candlelight wasn't as bright as those at the large communal pool, it was hard for the girl to see Lorist's submerged figure there.
"If you don't mind my presence, you're free to enter as well. Even though this pool is rather small, it can definitely fit a few more people here," Lorist said as he raised his silver cup.
The young lady hesitated for a while, but she entered the pool nevertheless and submerged herself within it.
"I like the hot spring baths here quite a lot. The last few times I came here, I would always bathe at this spot," said the girl. "Is this your first time here?"
"Yes. Good day, young lady. I'm called Locke," Lorist said while he nodded.
Pfft! The girl broke into a stifled laugh before she said, "Nobody here reveals their real names. You can call me Daisy, but that's not my real name either."
"Ah? I wasn't aware of such a rule," Lorist said.
"No worries. People would think that you are using an alias as well. However, you are a weird one. Since it's your first time here, aren't you going to go get acquainted with the other noble ladies over there or get a room with one of the maidservants? Instead, you're here in the pool snacking alone."
"Well, I'm just thinking of some peace and quiet," Lorist said.
"Who's this Quinn that you're thinking of?" asked the girl when she misheard.
"Urk," Lorist choked on the spot before he sat straight up. "Cough, cough... I meant that I wanted to spend some time alone for some peace and quiet."
The girl blushed when she realized her mistake, but her eyes gleamed when she said, "Wow, your physique is amazing. Look at those dreamy scars..."
When Lorist sat straight up, he revealed his upper torso and the scars on his chest and back, which were inflicted upon him when he suffered Blademaster Zarinan's assassination attempt. Some of the maidservants who were present when he changed his clothes looked at his scars with a fearful expression, so Lorist didn't expect that girl in front of him to look so thrilled at seeing them.
The girl swam closer to Lorist's side hurriedly and said, "Are you not going to treat me to a drink?"
"I'll get the maidservant to bring another cup here," Lorist said.
"There's no need." She took Lorist's cup and took a few gulps right away. It didn't take long until the cup was emptied before she said, "Ah, that was refreshing."
The girl was brown-haired and her skin was smooth and fair. She had a slightly rounded chin and her face still had some traces of baby fat. Her collarbone looked really attractive, and while her breasts weren't large, they seemed rather firm and perky.
Despite seeing Lorist's gaze on her chest, the girl wasn't the slightest bit embarrassed and instead puffed her chest out. "Are they beautiful?"
Lorist nodded and asked, "Are you also a believer of Mishla?"
"Nope," the girl said as she stretched out her hand to feel Lorist's scars up. "Did you get these scars from your fights?"
Lorist kept quiet, so the girl made her guess. "You should be of rather low rank, maybe a company or regiment leader? That's why you still have to fight at the forefront."
Lorist looked at the girl before she pulled both of Lorist's hands and placed them on her breasts. "This is fine, right? Since you're mad that I felt up your scars, you can touch my breasts in return."
As Lorist felt up the soft peaks, he said, "You don't understand. Each scar represents a close encounter with death. That's why I don't like to recall how I got them."
The girl approached Lorist so that he could more easily feel her up. "I don't know why the princess invited so many military officers to the party this time. They are all so unrefined and always go for those busty noble ladies. I hate them, they don't seem nearly as cultured as you are."
Lorist asked, "How many times have you participated in the Paradise Gathering?"
"This is already my fifth time," said the girl as she traced a circle on Lorist's chest with her finger.
"Since you don't believe in the Goddess of Desires and Pleasure, Mishla, why did you attend this gathering? For excitement and stimulation?"
"Nope, I'm looking for protection," said the girl. "My dad died in battle and my little brother is still young. Even though he can inherit the dominion, he isn't capable of defending it. If I join the Paradise Gathering, the princess will protect my family and my brother will have all the time he needs to mature."
The girl then reached beyond Lorist's waist towel and her eyes beamed as she said, "Wow, how huge..."
Lorist attempted to stop her, but the girl said, "It's not that often that I take the initiative. Just lie down obediently and enjoy the experience..."
After that, she lowered her head and began...