(Respectfully) BITCHES, BEHOLD! I HAVE RETURNED!

Oh my god, you guys have no clue how much of a hassle it was to write this!

I have NOTHING to say this time around! I will let the chapter speak for itself!

Now go! Go an enjoy, dear readers.

Warning: This chap- *Annhilates with atomic suplex warning sign*

What are you doing?! I said get outta here and read the chapter, dammit! This warning sign is inconsequential! :|

Read, damn you!


The monotony had been broken.

Ornstein sat at his mahogany desk, the polished wood reflecting the dim candlelight casting shadows across the room. His eyes were fixed on a parchment in front of him, hand scribbling furiously as he carefully outlined rigorous training exercises for his new human trainee.

A stack of fifteen other parchments sat neatly stacked on one side of the desk, each one holding an important lesson or task for the days ahead. The room echoed with the sound of rustling papers and the rhythmic scratching of Ornstein's quill a testament to his firm commitment to molding and honing his young protege into a formidable knight worthy of the title.

His face was a mask of intense concentration, his brow furrowed as he poured all of his thoughts into each detail.

"Will continue to refine and strengthen physical prowess and flexibility. Depending on the progress made, will proceed with training with swordsmanship training by the end of the month to gauge capabilities for the weapon."

Each exercise served a purpose, each lesson carefully crafted to push the boundaries of his trainee's abilities. The knight would teach him strategy and tactics, how to think three steps ahead in battle. He would instill within him the art of wielding a sword, every swing and parry executed with grace and purpose. And above all, he would teach him courage and resilience, instilling in him the unwavering determination to never back down in the face of adversity.

In his mind's eye, Ornstein could see the young human, his determination shining through fierce eyes. He imagined a leader who had pushed his body to its limits and was ready to give his life to protect the innocent.

This is a vision he would be certain to make a reality.

The midnight hour approached as Ornstein finalized the last training exercise on his list. With a satisfied nod, he carefully gathered the stacked parchments, their corners aligned perfectly as if the papers themselves were soldiers standing at attention, before retrieving a leather satchel and neatly tucking the paperwork inside; Ensuring that they would be safe, secure, and orderly.

"That covers things for this month." Ornstein thought to himself sternly. "The boy will need his weapon, secondary weapon, and armor completed swiftly. Then, once he shows he can be trusted, given a post to ensure he can familiarize himself with his expected day-to-day duties."

Pushing himself away from the desk, Ornstein rose to his full height, towering over the room like a sentry guarding secrets of valor and strength. As threw the satchel over his shoulder and made his way across his chambers, his polished armor clinking softly, he mulled over the places that would best suit Kaylen's skills and standing.

"Hm...A matter for another time. First, Lord Gwyn will need to be appraised of things so far. All the better to expedite things and consider the boy's placement here."

Making his way out of his chambers, Ornstein proceeded through the halls of the royal castle, his footsteps echoing against the stone walls. The flickering torches lined the darkened halls, casting dancing shadows that seemed to follow him like silent specters.

Servants and maidservants bowed respectfully as Ornstein passed by, their eyes filled with reverence and admiration for the Dragon slayer. The patrolling knights, clad in shining armor, saluted him crisply in acknowledgment. Ornstein acknowledged them in return with a curt nod, his focus fixed on the task at hand and on traveling up the many staircases further within the castle.

The upper levels of the castle were quieter, the air heavy with a sense of reverence and unseen power.

Specifically, the king's power.

"Goodness…He's doing this again?" Ornstein thought to himself, completely heedless of the very real weight that fell upon his shoulders.

Finally reaching a heavy oak door that led to Lord Gwyn's Royal study, Ornstein paused for a moment. He adjusted his armor, ensuring every piece was perfectly in place, before pressing a gloved hand against the door and knocking upon its wood.

"WHO DARES INTERRUPT ME AT THIS HOUR?! SPEAK! THAT I MAY LAY A CURSE UPON-"

"Lord Gwyn, you cannot keep scaring off the messengers just so you can avoid the paperwork they are meant to bring you." Ornstein said plainly through the door.

"...Uuuuugh! I need to sleep too, you know!" Gwyn, Lord of the Golden City and King of the gods, moaned childishly as Ornstien opened the door and entered the Royal Study.

Inside, Lord Gwyn sat behind his desk, bathed in the soft glow of his hearth. His flowing main of dark blonde hair framed his face, cascading over broad shoulders and down to a chest-length bushy beard. He wore regal black robes adorned with intricate gold patterns and jewels.

The room was filled with the scent of aged parchment, rich mahogany, and the faint crackle of the fire. Lord Gwyn's piercing blue eyes narrowed as they flicked up from the paperwork to meet Ornstein's gaze. Surrounding him were comically large stacks of parchment on both sides of the desk, all emblazoned with official insignias and requiring his signature. It was plainly obvious that Gwyn was annoyed, for he hadn't seemed to make a dent in his workload.

"That's it! I can't take it anymore! These accursed forms are taking over my life!" Gwyn exclaimed dramatically, pushing a particularly lengthily worded document away with a pout. "If I have to sign one more piece of paper, I'm going to banish all quills from this kingdom and throw all the messengers in the dungeon! Clearly, they are enemies of the kingdom!"

Ornstein's lips twitched with amusement, but he schooled his expression into one of mild reproach. "My Lord, paperwork is the burden of all rulers and the human messengers are just carrying out their duties. And if I may say, the workload would not be so overwhelming if you did not continually postpone it until the last minute."

Gwyn let out an exaggerated groan, slumping back in his ornate chair in a somewhat immature fashion. "Uuuugh, a king really shouldn't be bothered with such trivial matters anyway. I should be free to do as I please when I please to do it, yet I can't even remember the last time I had a bit of ale. Why can't we just have a stamp that says 'Gwyn approves' and call it a day?"

Ornstein chuckled softly, approaching the desk and picking up a quill from his lord's desk. "Forgive me, my Lord, but even the most noble of kings must tend to their duties. And surely, governing a realm takes more than just a simple stamp. Your personal acknowledgment and attention are vital for the well-being of the kingdom, would you not agree?"

The King of the gods grumbled under his breath but conceded defeat, taking the quill from Ornstein's outstretched hand. With exaggerated reluctance, he dipped it in ink and started signing the documents once again.

"Can't get a darn thank you or a little break, but oh better believe I'd get a lecture in the middle of the night. I'm king, I could pass a law giving myself unlimited vacation days if I wanted to." Gwyn grumbled lowly to himself. If anyone saw this in passing, they would have trouble telling that this man was one of the most powerful beings known to the world. More like a grumpy old man who missed his naptime.

If anyone was wondering, the paperwork would indeed be victorious in defeating Gwyn this night.

"So…I hear my dearest daughter stepped in and saved young Kaylen's life after his bout with Smough," Gwyn said casually. "Quite reckless to have such an event without the proper precautions in place, no?"

At this, Ornstein's casual demeanor falls away with a small sense of grim seriousness.

"…Kaylen will receive no special treatment, my lord. Should he face someone of Smough's stature in true combat, they will be no less brutal. It will be all the better he be shown the reality of what he may face in the future." Ornstein replied, the sternness in his tone showing that he stands by his decision. "Although…I concede I may have erred in judgment in letting it proceed for as long as it did and without the presence of a cleric on hand."

"Hm? Yes, Yes, of course. Proceed with a bit more caution moving forward with the boy." Gwyn said with no small amount of dismissiveness in his voice. "But more importantly, why was Gwynevere allowed anywhere near the training grounds?"

His tone shifted, becoming noticeably more protective and stern as he continued. "I would have expected you, among many others, to dissuade her from involving herself with such matters. Especially in regards to the small matter of a human whose intent is not certain."

Ornstein remained respectfully silent as a suffocating weight settled on his shoulders, threatening to crush him under its immense pressure. He could feel the Lord's presence bearing down on him like a physical force, crushing his will and bearing down upon his senses.

His muscles strained against the pressure, fighting to hold on and resist the overwhelming power that bore down upon him.

Then, as if it were a mere trick of the mind, the pressure vanished.

The knight stood tall and proud, but inside he could still feel the lingering effects of the Lord's immense strength.

Gwyn let out a weary sigh and laid down his quill. He leaned back in his chair, massaging his temples as if trying to ward off a headache. "No, no, that's not exactly fair. I know you're not to blame for her actions, Ornstein. But in my absence, it needs to be ensured that Gwynevere doesn't involve herself in matters that could bring her harm. I am not blind to the fact that she takes to finding her own forms of entertainment, but just make sure my little golden angel is properly safeguarded…and that she stays far away from that young man."

"The boy?" Ornstein asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes. Humans can be quite the crafty little smooth talkers and it goes without saying that any man worth his salt will have impure intentions towards my little girl."

"Hm, understood, my lord. You have my word that no danger will befall the Princess. And as for the boy, he will have his hands full with tasks and duties. No time for wandering thoughts." he scoffs, his usually stoic demeanor giving way to a dark chuckle. "And if by some chance he does harbor any intentions towards the Princess, I have no doubt he would quickly come to regret it. After all, Gwynevere's interests are as merciless as they are fleeting."

At this, Gwyn himself could not hold back a smirk of his own.

"Are you saying my innocent little girl would break the poor lad?" the king said with a chuckle.

"Well, my lord…let's just say Gwynevere has a knack for turning hopeful would-be suitors into cautionary tales." Ornstein quipped respectfully. "But can you really blame the sun for someone's foolish decision to fly too close?"

At this, Gwyn erupted into a fit of booming laughter, his deep voice echoing through the grand chamber. Ornstein, usually reserved and stoic, found himself unable to contain a light laughter that bubbled up from within him as well.

"HAHAHA, yes, I suppose I was giving the lad too much credit. He would be nothing more than a moth drawn to a flame if he dared approach the gem of our kingdom. A doomed fate indeed! Hahaha!" Gwyn laughed heartily, unable to contain his mirth.

Gwyn's laughter echoed throughout the room, shaking the very foundations of the house. He couldn't help but find immense joy in the thought of his little girl breaking yet another hopeful young man's heart. As far as he was concerned, his daughter deserved nothing less than the best for a suitor. And even among the best, they still needed to prove themselves to be the cream of the crop.

Unfortunately, due in no small part to him being a human among other factors, Kaylen simply didn't make the cut in any sense of the word.

Ornstein couldn't help but chuckle, sharing in his king's amusement.

He was fully aware of the mindset his lord had towards his daughter and what he believed she deserved.

There was no hatred or ill will toward Kaylen, just an understanding that Gwynevere was a goddess who was playing on a field far above the one that a human could hope to.

The dragon slayer was confident that, come morning, he would have another good laugh about this conversation.


The Next Day

…Ornstein's wasn't laughing.

In fact, his entire being was a simmering pot of barely contained rage about to boil over. His blood boiled and his muscles tensed as he struggled to contain the fury coursing through his veins.

First Formation was two minutes ago…and Kaylen wasn't there for it.

The sun rose higher in the sky, casting a blinding golden light over the training field. Shadows stretched and twisted across the lush grass, distorted by Ornstein's mounting rage.

He had already dismissed the other knights to their duties, each one scurrying away like frightened mice to avoid becoming collateral damage in his impending explosion. And still, Kaylen had not arrived.

Two minutes turned into five, then ten, and then-

…Ornstein's patience snapped like a taut bowstring stretched beyond its limit, his anger reaching a boiling point that could no longer be contained.

With a ferocious roar that sent tremors through the castle, Ornstein burst through the entrance like a raging bull breaking loose from its enclosure. His massive armor boomed with each thunderous stride as he plowed through halls and passages, paying no heed to the panicked movements of servants and knights who scrambled out of his way.

The air seemed to sizzle with his unrestrained rage as he charged toward Kaylen's chamber, his mind consumed by one sole objective: Tearing that undisciplined boy in half!


A knock at her door rings out through her room.

Velka sat in the center of her room, her long black hair cascading down her back. As the first rays of dawn seeped through the window, she blinked open her piercing yellow eyes with vertical pupils. Stretching her arms out to either side, her midnight wings spread wide, their midnight feathers rustling against each other as they unfurled to their full span.

The mere thought of succumbing to any further vulgar or indecent fantasies involving Kaylen kept her from peaceful slumber. So instead, she chose to meditate throughout the night, visualizing every word and action she would take upon encountering him once more.

She approached this challenge with a warrior's mindset. In her mind, this was nothing short of a battle. And like any battle, she reasoned she merely needed to prepare herself with the proper weapons and knowledge. Her adversary? Her own inexperience and a manipulative man who had done her wrong. His arsenal? Cunning words and disarming normality…ugh, and the allure she felt towards him.

But this time, she would not let him take the lead. She would seize the offensive and put an end to these ridiculous feelings of uncertainty.

The knock at her door sounded again, more insistent this time.

Velka rose gracefully from her seated position, her wings retracting with a soft whispering sound. With a graceful movement, she approached the door and opened it to be greeted with the sight of a maid holding two large green jugs.

The maid did her best to suppress a gag at the rancid stench that rushed out of the goddess's room. She clamped a hand over her mouth, fighting against the urge to retch as Velka did her best to ignore the woman's reaction of disgust.

"L-Lady Velka, I have orders to deliver these jugs of vinegar. Your hands only." the maid said respectfully, hand still over her mouth.

The maid's words caused Velka's face to light up with joy. Suddenly, two ghostly clawed hands, made of shimmering sorcery, shot out from her sides and grabbed the two jugs of vinegar. The maid gasped in wonder as she witnessed Velka's incredible power come to life before her very eyes

"Thank you!" Velka said respectfully as she accepted the jugs with an appreciative nod, her golden eyes gleaming with an otherworldly light.

Closing the door behind her, Velka retreated into her room and set the jugs down on a small table. They were cool to the touch, their ceramic surfaces smooth under her fingertips.

Popping the cork to one of them, Velka dipped her finger into the potion and tasted it, nodding in satisfaction at its potency.

"Ciaran, you're a saint. I could just kiss you for this. Finally, I can be rid of this smell." Velka said ecstatically as she clutched the jugs to her chest. She was beyond grateful that her friend had delivered them with such urgency. "Now to collect what I'm owed and make that wretched man pay. Letting him make the bath containing this vinegar for me would be far too simple a punishment. No, no, I've got to get a bit creative."

A wicked grin crossed her lips as she plotted a fitting punishment for the one who dared slight her. But in truth, though she would never confess it, she couldn't deny the satisfaction of being able to confront him right away on her terms without having to wait for a timely excuse or delay.

She relished the thought of seeing him squirm at her mercy, unable to defend himself against her righteous anger and perfectly allowing the opening for her to steer their impending conversation as she saw fit.

"This time, I set the tempo between us, you little bastard." she thought to herself.

Despite her practiced composure, Velka couldn't help but feel a rush of nerves as she checked her appearance in the mirror. She adjusted her hair and dress, taking extra care to make sure everything was perfect. She smoothed down her dress and analyzed her hips, wondering if they were too wide or not curvy enough for his taste. Maybe she was getting a bit too-

She stopped the thought immediately.

"Enough! I will not let his opinion or what he wants determine my worth. I am in control here, not him." Her thoughts rang out loud and clear, fueling her resolve as she glared at her reflection with defiance. With a flick of her wrist, she used her sorcery to take hold of the jugs and confidently left her room.

She knew his room must be close by- somewhere not too far from the women's bath. The goddess was confident that she could narrow it down in a handful of minutes through trial and error.

"Hmph. A simple task. He's probably already waking up to meet Gwynevere, but that will be no excuse for our arrangement. I won't be taking no for an answe-"

"BOOOOOOY!" a booming voice echoed through the halls with such force that they nearly shattered the windows that lined the walls, sending chills down the spines of all who heard it.

Velka turned around in surprise to see Ornstein furiously storming through the hallway towards her direction. His armor clanked loudly with each determined step, and his eyes blazed with an intensity that gave even her pause.

Not seeking to impede him, Velka stepped to the side to allow Ornstien to pass, her golden eyes following him as he made his way toward what she assumed was Kaylen's room. Without speaking a word of questioning, she quietly followed behind him, her graceful footsteps barely making a sound on the polished marble floors.

"YOU'D BETTER BE DEAD OR DYING IN THERE, WELP!" Ornstein shouted as he violently kicked open the door, sending it flying off its hinges with a deafening crash. As far as he was concerned, undisciplined Soldiers don't deserve the luxury of doors or privacy.

Velka would be lying if she said she wasn't surprised by this show of excessive force. The usually disciplined and collected Dragon Slayer was seething with fury and outrage, a side he rarely allowed to the surface. If she didn't know him and knew that he didn't actually intend to kill anyone, she might have felt the need to step in to calm him down.

Velka observed Ornstein march through the doorway and into the room before she followed behind him. Both their eyes quickly scanned the room, finding that Kaylen was nowhere to be seen.

"Gone?" Ornstein questioned aloud, with Velka suppressing a sigh as her mind immediately pointed to a certain entitled Princess being the reason behind this absence.

Both Goddess and Knight calmly turned on a heel as they took notice of the light footsteps that approached the doorway behind them to see a familiar masked face.

"So, I originally sent a messenger, but when I heard you shouting from a few floors up, I thought it prudent to make my way down here myself." Ciaran said calmly as she leaned against the doorway of the room. "You know, the sight of both of you rushing here concurrently is rather alarming for our servants and many of the castle patrols."

"No games, what do you know of this, Ciaran? Where is he?" Ornstein said sternly, cutting right to the matter of things.

"Yes, well, it appears our mutual friend has been forcibly assigned to attend to Princess Gwynevere's needs." Ciaran explained calmly, causing Ornstein's eyebrows to shoot up in surprise. "I just received word myself not long ago. Apparently, he was seen walking through the hall at her side and climbing into her carriage. My Blades are tailing them as we speak and confirmed that these accounts are true."

"He's what?!" Ornstein exclaimed, his displeasure evident in his tone.

"Hmph. So much for keeping things with Gwynevere a secret." Velka said with a shake of her head.

"Yes. Doubtful Kaylen had much choice in the matter." Ciaran continued, attempting to do a bit of damage control for Kaylen's benefit. After all, she is a woman of her word (Most of the time) and they had a deal that she would do what she could to cover for him. "Gwynevere will likely have her fun, make him do a little song and dance, then grow bored of him."

"She's meeting with Duke Flann today. A potential suitor and influential figure. The boy cannot be there interfering with such important matters. Have the Lord Blades retrieve him and bring him back, Ciaran." Ornstein ordered.

"They have already left the castle and by the time such an order reaches my agent's ears, their rendezvous will have been well underway. Attempting to retrieve Kaylen would be troublesome, as I have no doubt Gwynevere will cause a fuss about her current toy being taken from her." Ciaran explained respectfully. "Needless to say, such an event would bring great shame to the crown. Better to leave him as he is and let her have her fun."

"She has a point. The Duke will not do anything that might upset her and cost him her favor. He'll be as agreeable as she wants him to be." Velka added calmly, much to the amusement of Ciaran; who was glad for the support. "Sending a Lord's Blade would be a mistake."

"And now Velka will suggest..." Ciaran thought to herself with a smirk beneath her mask.

"As such, I will go instead." Velka added.

""What?"" both Ornstein and Ciaran said simultaneously.

"Yes. I still need to speak with him concerning the investigation I'm conducting in regards to the break-in a few days prior. He is a key witness and I have yet to receive his account of what happened." Velka said sensibly, causing Ciaran's smile to widen beneath her mask.

"You wish to retrieve him personally? Hm…" Ciaran's said as she feigns thinking things over. "That may not be a bad idea. Your cause is just and it bypasses the issue of unjustly removing Kaylen from the situation. Not to mention, you're reputation would likely defuse much of any political issue or fuss that may arise."

With that, Ciaran stepped aside from the doorway, as if inviting Velka to move forward with her plan of action. The quick shift of her thinking did not go unnoticed by either the goddess or the Dragon slayer, each of them aware that Ciaran was not above using them for one of her schemes. But also trusted that if Ciaran sought to do something behind the scenes, it would be for the benefit of the kingdom.

Still, that didn't mean that either of them liked being played for the fools.

"Unacceptable. I am not so foolish as to believe such a thing is the true reason you seek him out, Velka. You would not pursue him for the simple matter of a break-in." Ornstein said plainly, not buying his compatriot's story for a second. "What's in those jugs?"

"Just some vinegar. Nothing that could hurt anyone." Velka said with her nose turned up a bit at the knight, not seeing a reason to hide such a fact but also feeling no need to divulge anything further.

"Vinegar?" Ornstein questioned with clear confusion. " Why are carrying around two jugs of vinegar to the boy's room?"

"A personal matter. One that will be settled in the future, but for now, I have a duty to see done." Velka replied, without giving a clear answer as she made her way through the doorway of the room and made to left.

For a few moments, there was silence between Ornstein and Ciaran. Ciaran held a faint smirk beneath her mask; she'd worked alongside Ornstein for long enough to know with certainty that he would not be able to help himself with his next action.

But it was best to give him a small nudge into things.

"Not to worry. I'm certain Velka will be professional and will only seek to question him about the burglary. Her removing him from the situation is a good thing." she said slyly.

"You haven't been able to pull the wool over my eyes in years, Ciaran. And you aren't accomplishing it today." Ornstein replied dryly, not unlike one would react to the known antics of an old friend. "I don't know why you'd want Velka and myself to seek the boy out, but I am not so easily manipulated."

"Heh, I'm certain I have no idea what you mean." the Lord's Blade chuckled knowingly. "If you wish to be clued in on things a bit, the report of what happened between Kaylen and Velka is freely available to you. Are you not curious are to why she smells so foul? It's not as if you haven't noticed."

"I can already guess the boy has had something to do with it, that much is obvious. If it was anything beyond it superficial nonsense or rumor, he wouldn't be placed under my command and allowed to remain here." Ornstein responded sternly. "Answer plainly, does Velka mean the boy real harm?"

"…No. Quite the opposite, in fact. He's left an impression that has left her confused, now Velka seeks to rectify the situation." Ciaran explained just as plainly as she was asked. "Though it must be said, Velka is very aggressive and may be prone to snap decisions in her confusion. So Kaylen's safety is not something I would call a "certainty"."

At this, Ornstein's brows lowered in displeasure as he listened to Ciaran's response. He remained silent for a moment, his piercing gaze fixed on her before turning and striding out of the room without another word, leaving Ciaran alone with her thoughts.

"Hm. It's anyone's guess what Ornstein will do next, but Velka's pursuit of Kaylen is more than enough to cause a stir. She never was one for subtly. If I move to send a messenger crow now, I can get a message to my agents to prepare to infiltrate the Duke's manner once all eyes are on the show she will undoubtedly put on." She thought to herself smugly, as she left to prepare her message to her people. Confident that the showing that she'd put into motion would end entirely in her favor.

"Kaylen, my dear boy, you truly are the gift that keeps on giving. Heh, I just can't thank you enough for this delightful opportunity. If what I've seen so far is any indication, you will make a most superb distraction. It's a shame I may have to use him as a sacrificial lamb if things go south, but as they say, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Heh, heh, heh."


They'd lounged together on velvet-covered seats, surrounded by ornate gold trimmings and silk curtains in the luxurious carriage. The plush interior cocooned them in a world of opulence, making it easy to forget about the outside world for a while.

As Kaylen gazed at the alluring goddess in front of him, he couldn't help but feel both captivated and unsettled. It was like being next to a demon wearing the very convincing mask of a beautiful angel.

Gwynevere, radiant in her divine beauty, haughtily yanked him towards her, locking her intense gaze onto his, as if daring him to resist. There was no mistaking the deliberate invasion of his personal space. She reveled in the power she held over him and made sure he knew it with each breath they shared so closely.

"Come on, Princess, please?" Kaylen said shyly as he made an effort to turn his gaze away from meeting her.

"Please what?" Gwynevere said smugly as she placed a hand upon his cheek and gently turned his gaze back to meet hers.

"…."

With a smug look in her eyes, she denied any attempts of him trying to break eye contact with her as her fingers entwined themselves in his hair, her grip possessive and commanding. He felt a flush of embarrassment as she drew him closer to her bosom, her touch radiating heat that made his cheeks burn.

His sheepishness only seemed to amuse her further as she hummed a sweet melody, filling the carriage with a seductive allure.

Her voice, sweet and alluring, wrapped around Kaylen like a velvet cloak, rendering him powerless to resist her allure. Gwynevere's voice was like a siren's call, calling him in deeper and deeper until he was completely under her spell.

As the soft melody lingered in the air, Kaylen couldn't focus on anything besides Gwynevere's touch. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment as she leaned in closer, her bosom pressing against his body with no regard for modesty. He nervously squirmed, attempting to create even a little distance between them, but she only tightened her grip on him. Her smug expression seemed to revel in his flustered state, enjoying every moment of his discomfort.

"Is something the matter, Kaylen?" Gwynevere inquired, her tone light and casual, as if oblivious to the discomfort she was causing him. "Thou seems rather flustered."

Kaylen swallowed hard, struggling to find his voice amidst the overwhelming presence of the goddess beside him. "Of course not. It's just..um.. a little warm in here, that's all," he stammered, his eyes darting nervously around the opulent interior of the carriage.

Gwynevere arched a delicate eyebrow, a knowing smile playing at the corners of her lips. "Warm, you say?" she murmured, her fingers tracing lazy patterns against his cheek. "Hm, it doesn't feel as such to me. Perhaps thou simply needs to relax, my dear friend. Allow thyself to bask in the comfort of my presence."

She was basically snuggling him at this point. Kaylen's heart raced at the action, a sense of unease creeping over him as he struggled to maintain his composure. "Princess, come on, is this really necessary?" he managed to speak up at last.

"Whatever doth thou means? I'm simply making myself comfortable." The princess chuckled playfully as she placed her leg atop his.

"Yes, and that's the thing. This isn't quite the sort of things "friends" would do with one another, ya know?" Kaylen tried to say respectfully.

"Heh, I can't help it that I'm a hugger, now can I?" Gwynevere said with clear amusement. "What is it with you humans anyway? Thou hath already seen me naked, so why still so shy?"

"That's not the point, it's-." Kaylen said before cutting himself, trying to take care to remain on her good side. "Look, it's no secret that you're very beautiful and attractive."

"Aww, tis sweet of thee to say." Gwynevere smiled happily.

"Oh, please, you probably can't go two steps without someone telling you that. And I get what's going on here all just in good fun, but it wouldn't do for anyone to see this and misunderstand our relationship." Kaylen said, trying to ease in a bit of boundaries without ticking off the goddess at his side. "So, just so it won't cause any trouble, maybe we could do each other a favor and ease up on this kind of thing?"

Gwynevere's laughter tinkled like chimes in the air, her amusement evident in the twinkle of her eyes. "Oh, Kaylen," she purred, her voice oozing with smug condescension. "Thou art still so concerned with the opinions of others. Surely thou hath learned that in my presence, such trivial concerns hold no sway. If I desire to cuddle with thee, we shall cuddle. If I wish to be adored, then you sing like a canary. And if I command you to jump, what do you say?"

He looks upon her with hesitation for a moment. "...How high, Princess," Kaylen replied with a resigned sigh as he caught on to her game.

"Good boy. Always so eager to please." she purred, running her fingers through his hair. "Understand with certainty that I don't need justification or approval to do as I please. Heh, especially doing what I please with you." she cooed playfully as she drew closer and whispered her next words in his ear. "Besides, I think we're past the point of favors, considering I granted thee one before and thou proceeded to spurn me. Now who's a grumpy little puppy?"

"Woof, woof, your majesty." Kaylen replied dryly, swallowing his dignity in speaking such words. Understanding that he would be pressing his luck by pushing the subject any further.

She gave a sickeningly sweet giggle and pulled Kaylen in closer, her ample bosom practically smothering him. "Oh, thou art so adorable," she cooed. "Now, enough of this idle chatter about every else. Tis but you and I here, understand? Not Ciaran, not my father, not Velka…Just us. Say it."

Her voice was dripping with condescension and control as she spoke down to the human tightly held in her embrace. Knowing that he was still on thin ice and not wanting to provoke her further, Kaylen obediently complied with her demands.

"I apologize, Princess," Kaylen said submissively, trying his best to keep his hands to himself and play along with her demands. "You are right, it is just us here. Please forgive my thoughtless words. Besides, I'm sitting next to the most beautiful woman in the entire kingdom. Why would anyone else matter right now anyway?"

Gwynevere's pleased smile widened at Kaylen's compliance, a glimmer of satisfaction dancing in her eyes. "Exactly! Let's keep that fact in mind moving forward." she agreed happily. "Now, let us converse as friends, shall we? I do hate the idea that I don't know more about thee. So why don't you start by telling me-"

Knock-knock-knock

As the carriage sat ensconced in its opulent cocoon, the sense of pleasantness was abruptly shattered by a sharp rap on its exterior. Gwynevere's pleasant expression faltered for a moment, irritation flickering across her features as she turned toward the source of the disturbance.

"Ugh, really? Now?" she muttered under her breath, her gaze darkening as she spotted the shadowed outline of a man standing outside the carriage, his expectant demeanor suggesting he was oblivious to her annoyance.

Ignoring his presence, Gwynevere attempted to resume her conversation with Kaylen, but the persistent knocking sounded once again, each rap echoing through the carriage like an unwelcome intrusion.

With a sigh of exasperation, Gwynevere reluctantly relented, her regal demeanor slipping slightly as she leaned towards the carriage door. "Apologies, I just need a bit more time." she snapped, her voice dripping with thinly veiled impatience.

A man's voice floated through the carriage's open window, his words polite yet insistent. "My dear Princess Gwynevere, I must insist that you grace us with your presence outside. Our planned day together was sanctioned by your father, and it would be most discourteous to be kept waiting any longer."

Gwynevere's lips twisted into a displeased frown, her irritation simmering just beneath the surface. With an exasperated huff, she released Kaylen's person and slouched back against the plush velvet cushions of the carriage.

"Hmph…We'll come back to this conversation between us later, Kaylen." Gwynevere said with clear irritation that Kaylen was glad that wasn't directed at him. "Stick with me as I suffer through this drivel. Speak only when spoken to and do not embarrass me. Understood?"

"Understood, Your Majesty." Kaylen replied simply.

With that, Gwynevere paused for a few moments more before straightening her posture a bit and pushing open the carriage door.

What lay outside truly was something to behold.

As Gwynevere stepped out of the plush carriage with Kaylen following behind, her eyes swept over the scene before her with an air of detached curiosity. The sprawling estate of Duke Flann was a display of opulence, with meticulously manicured lawns and gardens stretching out before her. Vibrant flowers of all colors danced in perfect harmony, blooms of reds, yellows, and purples painting a stunning scene against the lush green grass. The sun's warm glow illuminated the scene, casting a golden hue over everything.

Duke Flann sat tall and proud atop his white stallion, his regal attire sparkling in the sunlight. A golden crown adorned his head, and expensive jewels adorned the hilt of his sword. He exuded power and authority, a symbol of his status as one of Anor Londo's most influential figures.

"Wow, that is really excessive…Wait, if he knocked on the carriage just now, did he hop back on that horse to pose?" Kaylen thought to himself with a raised eyebrow.

A row of human servants stood in perfect formation, their crisp white uniforms adorned with intricate golden designs that caught the sunlight and gleamed. Their eyes were downcast, showing respect and obedience, while their postures exuded grace and poise. The irresistible scent of exotic delicacies drifted from the trays they carried, tantalizing Gwynevere and Kaylen's taste buds.

The vast expanse of Duke Flann's wealth and authority was not limited to just the sprawling grounds before them. The castle further beyond stood tall and imposing, surrounded by strong walls and guard towers. Its golden banners flutter in the breeze, proudly bearing the sigil of Duke Flann. The great spires sit at each corner, reaching towards the sky.

However, for all his lavish displays, Gwynevere remained entirely unimpressed; the gestures falling flat in the face of her indifference.

This was nothing she hadn't seen dozens of times before. She was already growing bored, her thoughts drifting back to the human at her side who provided more entertainment than this predictable spectacle.

"It is an honor to receive you, Princess Gwynevere. Your beauty illuminates my humble abode with a radiance that could rival the sun itself." the duke said as he gracefully dismounted from his steed, his words dripped with honeyed flattery, each syllable crafted to elevate and enchant. His chiseled appearance was a work of art, every muscle and curve sculpted with precision and purpose. Tousled locks of midnight black fell effortlessly around his face, framing his strong jawline and athletic physique with effortless charm.

Even at a distance, he seemed to tower over those around him, a king among men.

…Gwynevere barely suppressed an immediate sigh at the scene before her. It was all so painfully perfect…and perfect was so boring.

The artificially flawless setting, the automatons posing as servants with their robotic smiles, the extravagant banquet laid out with meticulous care, and the impossibly perfect man who seemed like he was chiseled from women's wildest fantasies...god, was it just so dull to her.

"Typical…" she thought with an inward eye-roll. She longed for a flicker of imperfection, a spark of chaos amidst the stifling perfection surrounding her. But in this world of superficial beauty and control, she felt suffocated and yearned for something real, something raw and imperfect.

As she makes up her mind about the standing of things, Kaylen steps out of the carriage and takes in the extravagant and clearly expensive show of wealth and status. He took note of the things that Gwynevere didn't think twice or take into consideration at all.

The first of which being servants. He couldn't help but wince in sympathy - the heat from the daylight must have been unbearable under all those layers of fabric. Their form, both men and women, was completely hidden by cascading robes and veils, even their hands were encased in gloves. It was as if they were trying to conceal their existence from the scorching sun. The faint smell of sweat that reached his nose let him know their bodies were probably baking beneath it all. And though they were all smiling, he could see fear in their demeanor.

"Poor bastards…Take off those dresses and suits, and I bet more than a few of them have scars." Kaylen thought to himself without a hint of doubt. Despite the pretense of happiness within the Royal Castle, Kaylen knows the reality of life within the Golden City can be brutal and unforgiving for its human inhabitants. Especially with the Gods.

As Kaylen surveyed the area a bit more, his keen eyes took note of the guards stationed discreetly at the edges of the courtyard.

Lesser gods, they were known to be called by humans. Still strong and powerful, but not the same caliber as someone as Ornstein or the Silver Knights. There were many of them walking the castle grounds, their watchful eyes scanning the perimeter for any sign of trouble. While Gwynevere saw protection and security, Kaylen saw something more ominous—a silent warning that intruders would be met with swift and decisive force.

To Gwynevere, it was a welcoming spectacle, a testament to her royal status. But to Kaylen's eyes, it was a fortress, a carefully constructed facade designed to conceal the true nature of Duke Flann's power.

"Locked down tight. No one's getting in and out without-…Hey, wait, WHAT?!" Kaylen said in surprise as he took in the sight of the road the carriage took and took notice that the Royal Castle looked like it was now miles away in the distance. "How? We were moving for all of a few minutes before the carriage stopped here."

"I did not wish to greet you empty-handed, Your Majesty," the duke said politely. "Thus I have arranged for you to be treated to many a delicious trea-"

"Wait, wait, wait, one moment. Just hold that thought please." Gwynevere interrupted the man rudely before turning abruptly to Kaylen's person. She then grabbed the lapels of his suit jacket and began adjusting his collar. "Honestly, Kaylen, I just told thee not to embarrass me, and yet thy appearance is just that; an embarrassment. I mean, just look at this collar; all wrinkled and improper. Such sloppiness is unacceptable."

"What?" Kaylen said, taken aback by her sudden attention and scolding, shifted uncomfortably under her scrutinizing correction of his appearance. To his eyes his there was nothing wrong with his collar, but he quickly disregarded the idea of correcting her. "Sure, I apologize, Princess Gwynevere. It must have shifted during the trip here." He started. "Speaking of which, how did we come so far in only a few minutes?"

At this, Gwynevere's lips curled upwards into a sly grin, her eyes sparkling mischievously.

"A few minutes? Dear Kaylen, we've traveled together for a handful of hours to reach the Dukes Estate." Gwynevere said with a sly smile, her hand idly playing with the buttons on Kaylen's shirt.

"Hours?! That can't be right. I would have noticed if we were together for so-" Kaylen's words stopped short as his mind raved for an explanation. A wave of unease washed over him as he remembered the strange haziness and sense of compliance that came over him while they were in the carriage. The same feeling he got when she made him focus on massaging her feet. "What…What did you do to me while we were in the carriage? I don't remember being with you for hours."

The Princess chuckles at this. "No need to concern thyself with such things. By my recollection, thou were quite content by my side…though I must say, I've never met a human who enjoys chin scratches as much as you do. It was rather adorable." She winks playfully.

"Chin scra-? I'm not dog, Princess!" Kaylen said, clearly offended. For reasons he couldn't quite place, as he said these words he found himself glancing towards the well-dressed servants who stood in place obediently.

"Heh, heh, I never said thou were. Just because I have thee at my beck and call, make thee bark a little from time to time, and reward thee with treats here and there, doesn't mean I think thou art dog. That would be rude." Gwynevere said with a playful smirk, leaning forward and teasingly running her finger beneath Kaylen's chin. "You're more like a fun little companion. Is that a better title for you, hm?"

Kaylen's cheeks burned with embarrassment as Gwynevere continued to tease him, her playful demeanor contrasting sharply with his own discomfort. He struggled to maintain his composure, resisting the urge to swat her hand away from his chin.

Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Kaylen straightened his posture and met Gwynevere's gaze squarely. "Respectfully, Princess… you're not nearly as charming as you think you are." he retorted trying to maintain just a smidge of his dignity at such words.

"Heh, heh, heh, is that so?" Gwynevere's laughter tinkled like delicate wind chimes, filling the air with a musical quality. This was her idea of amusement. She relished in pushing his buttons, finding amusement in the way he squirmed and grew frustrated under her playful antics. She boops his nose as her smile widens. "Such words somewhat spoil mine mood, you know. Perhaps if you barked a bit more it would help."

"I don't appreciate having hours of my life stolen, Princess. It's not right." Kaylen said with a hint of gruffness, remaining respectful but clearly not happy.

"Oh, yes, poor you. Forced to be cuddled by the most beautiful woman in all the land. Such a cruel and unjust twist of fate." Gwynevere mocked with a smirk, clearly not taking the human before her very seriously.

Meanwhile, Duke Flann watched the scene unfold with a mixture of confusion and discomfort, unsure of how to take being ignored in favor of a human. "Uh…Your majesty?"

Hearing his voice, Gwynevere's pleasant smile faltered noticeably with clear annoyance before she turned back to the Duke with a bit of a sigh. "Oh, Right. Apologies, Duke Flann. Where were we?"

Duke Flann recovered quickly, flashing a charming smile at Gwynevere. "I was merely expressing my gratitude for gracing us with your presence, Princess," he replied smoothly, though a hint of irritation flashed in his eyes at the blatant disrespect being shown.

"Of course. By all means, please continue," Her tone was dry despite the polite smile she wore.

At this, Duke Flann, taken aback by Gwynevere's open disinterest, cleared his throat nervously before attempting to regain his composure. "As I was saying, your beauty illuminates my humble abode with a radiance that could rival the sun itself," he repeated, trying to pick up where he left off. "I have taken the liberty of preparing your favorite treats and dishes to better welcome you. Afterword, I have planned a wonderful evening of-"

"I notice thou have not greeted my companion alongside me, Flann. Tis quite rude, is it not?" Gwynevere's sharp tone cut through the air, much to the surprise of Flann, while Kaylen could not help but grimace in exasperation at being dragged to the forefront of this clearly important meeting between two gods of high standing.

The stench of awkwardness lingered as Gwynevere's words hung in the air like a sharp blade, cutting through the Duke's speech and leaving a trail of discomfort between them.

"Uh…The human, your majesty?" Duke Flann said with a smile that said that he thought such an idea was a joke in bad taste.

"Princess, that really isn't necessary," Kaylen commented, already having an idea for how this was going to go.

"No, no, it's rude. Is it too much to ask that he at least acknowledge thee for a single moment?" Gwynevere said haughtily, turning a disapproving look upon the duke.

"Yes, well…Of course I shall acknowledge his presence. Any friend of your grace is a friend of mine." the duke said with a calm look upon his face.

With that, Duke Flann approached Kaylen with a smile that reeked of insincere politeness. His towering figure loomed over the mere human, his condescending posture practically screaming superiority and spoke volumes about his feelings toward someone of lesser status.

"Ah, Kaylen, is it?" he said, his voice dripping with false warmth. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Kaylen met the Duke's gaze with a look of open displeasure expression, sensing the underlying contempt beneath his polite facade. He understood immediately what kind of god he was speaking to. Flann viewed him as little more than an inconsequential nuisance, an annoyance to be tolerated in order to appease Gwynevere.

"Likewise. Always good to meet another god." Kaylen replied dryly and with barely any pretense of politeness.

Duke Flann's smile faltered for a moment, his facade slipping ever so slightly. It was clear that he wasn't used to humans like Kaylen displaying such a lack of reverence in his presence. But he quickly regained his composure, his expression returning to one of feigned politeness.

"Yes. I must say, it's quite impressive to see a human in the company of someone as illustrious as Princess Gwynevere," the Duke continued, his tone laced with thinly veiled sarcasm. "One can only wonder what talents or tricks you possess to warrant her associating with you."

Kaylen bristled at the Duke's demeaning words as he offered a tight-lipped smile, though his eyes betrayed his irritation at being looked down on.

"I suppose I'm just lucky. And truly, it is a privilege to witness your attempts at captivating the attention of our esteemed Princess Gwynevere. The white horse, the line of servants. I'm certain she's very impressed." Kaylen replied with forced politeness, his voice tinged with sarcasm of his own.

Duke Flann's smile turned brittle at Kaylen's subtle rebuttal, his facade beginning to crumble ever so slightly as Kaylen could see the briefest flash of indignation. But he was quick to cover it up with a hearty chuckle.

"Ha, ha, ha, Indeed. I certainly hope so. But if one wishes to court the best, this much can only be expected." Flann laughed with mock amusement, his gaze now holding a hint of hostility as he surveyed Kaylen from head to toe. "Although I imagine it must be quite overwhelming for one of... simpler origins."

Kaylen's jaw clenched and his brow furrowed at the thinly veiled insult, but he maintained his composure. However, when the Duke gave him a "friendly" slap on the shoulder, that was when a certain redhead took exception to things.

"Thank you, Duke Flann, for your kind words," Gwynevere interjected, her voice dripping with saccharine sweetness as she stepped closer to Kaylen's side. She placed a delicate hand on his shoulder, sending a subtle message of support and familiarity that only further irked the Duke. "It warms my heart to see thee extending thy hospitality to our new acquaintance."

The Duke's smile tightened at the Princess's words, his eyes narrowing imperceptibly as he regarded the scene before him. Gwynevere's favor towards this human only served to deepen his distaste for Kaylen, a sentiment he struggled to mask behind his polished facade.

"Of course, my dear Gwynevere," Duke Flann replied through gritted teeth, his tone strained with forced civility. "I simply aim to ensure that all guests in our court feel welcome and appreciated."

"And I did just give thanks, did I not?" Gwynevere replied evenly. "And I must remind thee, Duke Flann, that we are not on such intimate terms that thou may refer to me as 'dear'. It is Princess Gwynevere or 'Your Majesty' for you. Is that understood?"

A tense stillness descends upon the scene, heavy and suffocating. Kaylen can feel the underlying hostility between Gwynevere and the Duke, despite their forced smiles. It seemed that Gwynevere did mean it when she said that, though she'd have her fun, she held a strong distaste for bullies. And it was more than evident that the Duke felt slighted, and on his own land no less.

The heavy tension hung thick in the air, infecting not only the two locked in a dangerous standoff, but also the Duke's own armored guards stationed further down the path. Their muscles tensed, ready for action as they stiffly stood their ground, observing the scene with unease. In stark contrast, the two Princess Guards by the carriage exuded a dangerous calmness, coiled like deadly vipers ready to strike at any moment. They were prepared to snap the Duke's neck without hesitation if he dared to make even the slightest aggressive move towards the Princess.

Frankly, it was a situation that was brought about due to nothing more than ego. And, considering the status and position of each party, it was something of a worst-case scenario that it had deteriorated to this extent.

However, before either side could do anything unfortunate, a higher power stepped in…

"Do we have a problem here?" a stern feminine voice sounded from above, causing everyone to turn their gaze to the sky above.

High in the air, Velka's eyes glared with an otherworldly light as she surveyed the tension-filled scene beneath her. Save Gwynevere, every individual was frozen in fear under her penetrating gaze and not a soul dared to speak.

Only when the air was thick with silence and she was certain she had everyone's full attention did she lowered herself gracefully, like a specter from forgotten tales, until she was hovering just above their heads, surveying them with piercing yellow eyes. A sense of dread washed over those beneath her as they felt the weight of her power and presence.

As she hovered in the air, Kaylen marveled at the massive wings that beat so gracefully and quietly behind her. The feathers were a glistening black, catching and reflecting the sunlight as she effortlessly maintained her altitude above the ground.

Duke Flann's expression hardened as he straightened his posture, clearly unsettled by Velka's unexpected arrival. Gwynevere, on the other hand, regarded Velka with a mixture of confusion and tension, recognizing that her coming to a gathering such as this was no small matter.

Kaylen on the other hand was hit with nervous shock at Velka's sudden appearance. But despite his anxiety, he couldn't help but be drawn to the intensity emanating from and the way her dress hugged her body.

It was a strange feeling to be both enamored and terrified by a woman at the same time.

With a voice that resonated like distant thunder, Velka addressed the group before her. "For those who are meant to be having a pleasant evening together, there seems to be a bit of tension between you." Her words held a weight that seemed to press down upon them all, emphasizing the displeasure at what she'd seen of the situation.

Duke Flann, though holding a sense of fear at Velka's sudden appearance, did his best to dissuade the goddesses' aggression. "L-Lady Velka. It is a pleasant surprise to be graced with your presence. But I am afraid you are mistaken, for there is no tension whatsoever here. We're simply exchanging pleasantries. I apologize if it appears otherwise." His voice wavered slightly, betraying his inner fear and anxiety.

"Hm. Pleasantries that seem tinged with more than just civility," Velka's eyes narrowed, her wings stretching wide and casting a dark shadow as she gracefully descended to the earth in front of the group. She stood tall, hands clasped behind her back, and two jugs floated in the air behind her, seemingly held up by disembodied clawed hands composed of sorcery.

Velka regarded Gwynevere for a moment before turning a stern gaze upon Duke Flann, who all but flinched once her sharp yellow eyes landed upon him. "For a moment there, you seemed to consider doing something unwise, Flann. I'd advise you not to forget your place." Velka intoned, her voice deep and resonant. "Any hint of disrespect towards Lady Gwynevere is a misstep I won't hesitate to address."

Her words were respectful, but the underlying threat was more than received.

"O-Of course, Lady Velka." Duke Flann said with a respectful bow of his head.

"Thank you. Your patience in this matter is much appreciated." Velka said as she casually gave the Duke two quick slaps upon his chest, giving off the sensation that she didn't think much of him even with his looks and muscles. She then turned a look of annoyance upon Gwynevere. "Speaking of patience, you are making a habit of straining mine, Your Majesty."

"Oh, is that so? I had no idea that such a thing was any concern of mi-"

"Do you think this is a joke? That you can just do as you please and disregard your responsibilities to the kingdom?" Her words carried a weight of authority, each syllable tinged with simmering frustration. She advanced towards the Princess, her steps echoing with purpose, until she stood toe-to-toe with her, an intimidating proximity that demanded attention even if Gwynevere was a head taller than her.

"You are not here to play games," Velka continued, her tone hardening with each passing moment. "Your presence here is not a frivolous whim, but a solemn duty to this kingdom. Yet, instead of conducting yourself with the dignity expected of your station, you've chosen to behave like a spoiled child."

At this, Gwynevere was more than a little taken aback. She looked from the Duke to Kaylen and back again, searching for some refuge from the storm brewing before her.

"Gwynevere! Do not look at them, look at me!" Velka commanded, once again surprising the Princess with her words. "You are a Princess of this realm, not a child playing games. So this immaturity and petulant behavior will not be tolerated. Your father entrusted you with the duties and responsibilities that come with your title, and it is time you start taking them seriously. So you will honor yourself by upholding the dignity of your position and cease this immature behavior towards the Duke at once. Do I make myself clear, Gwynevere?" Velka's eyes blazed with an intensity that left no room for argument as she awaited Gwynevere's response.

The Princess stood there, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. She wanted to retaliate against Velka's words, to show that she was not easily swayed by her authority. But her will faltered under the intensity of Velka's stare, and the weight of her words crushed any lingering defiance within her.

For a moment, she floundered, her mouth opening and closing as she tried to speak a retort.

"I said Do I make. Myself. Clear?" Velka asked harshly once more.

After what felt like an eternity of deafening silence, Gwynevere could not help but lower her gaze in shame. Her words came out in a barely audible whisper, "Y-Yes...I understand." Her arms crossed in front of her body as she turned away, feeling small and childish despite towering over Velka. It was as if she was a scolded child, embarrassed by her own actions.

"Damn. Guess she really wears the pants when she's on the job." Kaylen thought to himself, impressed that the Goddess of Sin brought the Princess and the Duke to heel with such ease.

Velka studied Gwynevere for a moment, her piercing gaze seeming to search for any hint of insincerity in her response. Satisfied with what she saw, the Goddess of Sin nodded curtly before stepping back, releasing Gwynevere from the oppressive closeness that had enveloped them both.

The tension between them seemed to dissipate slightly, replaced by a palpable sense of unease that lingered in the air. Gwynevere was embarrassed, her eyes cast downward as if unable to meet anyone's gaze, and the Duke shifted uncomfortably in place at the scene.

Seeing the need to diffuse the awkward atmosphere that had settled over them, Velka straightened her posture and addressed them both with a more composed tone.

"Good. Now, please, feel free to return to your engagement with one another." Velka said politely as she willed a bit of rope formed of sorcery to wrap around the princess's waist and politely pulled her towards the Duke's direction. "You're here as a gesture of kindness from the crown to the Duke, are you not?"

"H-Hey. Stop that." Gwynevere protested as she was guided towards the nobleman's side.

"Go on. Enjoy the company and have your fun so you can return home. Lord Gwyn is probably beside himself with worry. And Flann, for Pete's sake, get all these servants off the lawn. You're having a simple appointment with the Princess, not throwing her a parade. Try offering her a simple drink and work from there." Velka's expression softened just slightly, a hint of satisfaction glinting in her eyes as she ushered Gwynevere before the Duke and out of the way at last.

With a nod, she turned away from the Princess and her eyes hardened as her eyes locked with the man she'd come here to see in the first place.

"Finally..." she thought, her eyes burning with fury as she closed in on him.

Kaylen stood his ground, a mix of intrigue and caution evident in his expression. He could feel the intensity radiating from Velka as she turned to face him, her stern and controlled demeanor giving way to a ferocious determination.

Taking a deep breath to steady herself, Velka tried to push down the fear and anger bubbling up inside her. She had rehearsed this confrontation countless times in her mind, but now that it was actually happening, her heart pounded with an electric energy.

Her eyes narrowed into icy slits as she stepped closer, their bodies almost touching. She squared her shoulders and clenched her fists, her stance conveying a fierce defiance. The air was thick with tension as she locked eyes with him, her anger radiating off of her in waves.

"Enjoying the show, Kaylen?" She questions sharply, seemingly throwing Kaylen off guard. Truthfully, he was expecting her to be a lot more angry than she was right now . But that didn't seem to be entirely the case.

Ciaran's words echo in his mind, reminding him that Velka has taken an interest in him and that if he wanted anything to do with her, then he needed to be able to show he knew what he wanted.

Kaylen swallows hard, trying to hide his nerves as he responds, "Well…honestly, it's a little thrilling to see you take charge like that. I guess not even the Princess get a pass with you, huh?" His words are laced with sincerity and a hint of flirtation as he takes a risk and tries to assert himself. Praying that he wasn't about to lose his head - both figuratively and literally.

His words caused Gwynevere and Duke Flann to look upon him with no small amount of surprise at the informal manner in which he spoke to the Goddess of Sin herself.

"No one gets a pass from me. Not Flann, not Gwynevere…"

Without warning, her dark magic coalesced into an iron collar and chain that ensnared Kaylen's neck in a single swift movement. She lightly pulled on the chain, forcing him to lower himself to her level. "...And not you either."

Kaylen was taken off guard at having an ethereal blue collar suddenly form around his neck. And it should be noted that Velka too was surprised as this was not a part of her prepared plan of actions.

She had panicked and her body acted on its own.

"Idiot! Why did you do that? Why?! He's going to think you're a complete pervert!" she thought to herself repeatedly, feeling the heavy weight of embarrassment for performing such an uncalled-for act. "It's too late to back out from it. Just follow through and-"

…Before she could finish the thought, all eyes widened in shock as Kaylen's hand shot up and wrapped around Velka's wrist, seizing her control of her hand that had ahold of the chain. All fell silent, the tension thick as steel, as Kaylen stood to full height without a hint of fear or hesitation in his eyes.

"I draw the line at putting me in chains," he said darkly, all trace of flirting or playfulness gone from his tone. "Let me go."

At this, Velka looked to her wrist and back to Kaylen in complete shock at the sudden aggression being shown, before her yellow split eyes seemed to radiate an aura that he could only imagine warned of impending violence.

"Or what, human?" she spat, her voice dripping with venom as Kaylen's actions yanked her away from the brink of a nervous breakdown. Her feeling of uncertainty in her actions were cast away, revealing a fierce aggression burning in her eyes.

In a flash of primal instinct and pent-up frustration, Kaylen made a bold decision. Instead of reacting passively or trying to defuse the tense situation with words, he took a risk. In one swift movement, he grasped Velka's wrist and pulled her close, invading her personal space until their bodies were nearly touching. The unexpected move left Velka stunned, freezing her in place as she gazed at him in shock and disbelief.

At this, all onlookers collectively gasped and went slack-jawed. Hell, even the two Lord's Blades, who had taken advantage of the scene to slip into the castle through an unguarded window while no one was looking, take in the shocking sight before them. All of them could only watch in suspense at how Velka would respond to this unexpected breach of boundaries.

Unfortunately, from the way her body slowly began to be enveloped in flame, it seemed that it would not be one of positivity.


…There were thirty of them just in the nearby foliage alone. And dozens more spread out all along the surrounding forest that encircled the Dukes land. But only a handful of them were allowed to edge close to the front where there was a line of sight to the castle itself.

Gathered in tense silence, their faces were etched with a mixture of hesitation and fear. They were not bound by honor or allegiance; their loyalty lay only with the promise of coin and payment.

As they observed Velka's imposing figure on the front lawn of the Duke's castle, a ripple of unease swept through their ranks. She was a living legend, whispered about in hushed tones across the kingdoms—a fearsome warrior goddess capable of decimating entire armies singlehandedly.

The men huddled together, their voices trembling with fear. "You didn't say the fucking Goddess of Sin would be here!" one of the men, one of the larger of the bunch, whispered harshly.

"We barely managed to gather the information that Gwynevere would be here. Why the hell do you think we'd be able to keep track of that monster of all people?" another responded with no small amount of irritation.

"W-We can't go through with this," a third man whimpered, his voice shaking. "She'll tear us to shreds before we even make a move."

His words reverberated through the group, echoing the fears that lurked in each of them. The mere mention of Velka's name sent shivers down their spines, and they could feel their resolve wavering at the sight of her. Truly, the overwhelming power of Velka loomed over them like a menacing shadow, instilling bone-deep dread in every one of them.

But just as despair threatened to consume them, a voice rang out, cutting through the oppressive silence like a clarion call. It was the voice of a leader—a figure who had risen to prominence among their ranks through cunning and ruthlessness.

"We've come too far to turn back now," the leader declared, his tone ringing with a confidence that belied the fear in his eyes. "Think of the riches that await us if we succeed. Gwynevere's worth alone could buy each of us a lifetime of luxury once The Exchange gets ahold of her."

His words ignited a spark of hope in the hearts of his comrades, their greed overpowering their fear.

"We can do this," the leader declared, his voice ringing with conviction. "We have the element of surprise on our side and the castle is already ours. And as for that witch, Velka…Well, we've got friends in high places who were so kind as to grant us special contingencies to handle the more troublesome of those gods."

With a sly grin, the leader's hand disappeared into the depths of his cloak, only to emerge with a glinting object that seemed to pulsate with a malevolent energy. The mercenaries' eyes widened in fearful anticipation as the leader revealed a weapon of powerful magic, its sinister aura shimmering in the dim light.

Greed and awe warred within them as they gazed upon this forbidden tool, wrought from the darkest secrets and wielded by those who dared to challenge even the gods themselves.

"Velka's just one god. And no god, no matter how strong, can stand against the power of the Occult."

His words hung in the air like a malevolent promise, the weight of their significance sinking into the hearts of his comrades. They knew that with this weapon in their possession, victory was surely all but assured.

"Fall back into position and someone inform the other detachments of this development of Velka's arrival. Have the group in the north ensure the grappling hooks are prepared and ready to scale to the upper floors of the castle. I want the oil flask handed out and ready to burn the castle to the ground once the signal is given." the man commanded openly and sternly to the cutthroats that surrounded him. "Nothing's changed, boys. This time tomorrow, we'll all be swimming in riches and set for life."

With the weapon held aloft as a symbol of their power, the large group of men did as they were told, their minds ablaze with visions of conquest and glory.

They were all hunters, and tonight, they would claim their prey.


WAAAAAAIT! I SAID WAAAAAAIT! I GOT THINGS TO SAY!

Okay, so firstly, I want to say that I'm going to really start moving forward with things. And as a good stepping off point, I thought it would be a good idea to touch on the experience of humans beyond the perfect and peaceful feeling of the Royal Castle.

The idea I'm going for is to really start painting a picture of humanities standing during the golden era of the god's rule and to establish that it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

Secondly, I'm going to try introducing some new ideas into the story to really kick off some serious events. I won't point the finger at it directly, but there was a brief talk of a new sort of faction I'm toying around with that I plan to have play an important role with Gwynevere and Kaylen. I want to start to bring in things that will actually have the gods reflect a bit and maybe even leave a lasting mark on them. So look forward to that, ladies and gents.

And finally, I hope you guys all enjoyed that little showing from each of the gods and their different personalities. I had a TON of fun giving everyone their own standing in things. I especially enjoyed writing Velka coming in and telling everyone to basically "Chill the fuck out and know your place". And yes, I didn't enjoy writing the "Spoiled and bratty temptress" showing of Gwynevere. XD

I don't want to overindulge and over-introduce too many characters and have a "Too many cooks in the kitchen" situation, so I try to be care with how many characters I bring in. So I hope things played out smoothly enough for you guys.

But anyways, that's all I have to say this time around, ladies and gents.

As always, feel free to leave a review and tell me what you guys thought about this chapter of the story. Did I indulge a bit to much with unseemly Gwynevere acts with Kaylen? Should Gwynevere have been more defiant of Velka or was it appropriate? Did Kaylen and Velka's interaction feel personal enough or a little too forced with their level of familiarity?

Honest opinions are always appreciated as I'm always looking to improve my style of writing to make this story a bit more interesting for you guys. so don't be shy in telling me your thoughts about how things are going so far. Outside opinions will have a huge effect on how this story will play out.

This is Supreme Gamer, Signing out.