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    Laura S. Fox
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This Strange World Needs A Kicking! - 29. The Deceit

Chapter Twenty-Nine – The Deceit

This felt like that time when he had landed in this fantasy land, but worse, much worse, because his entire body hurt, and he was crying out in pain. Kai squeezed his eyes shut as he couldn’t keep them open, the light around him, so gentle before, now aggressive and all-powerful. Somewhere close, Pepin was shouting for him, and there were all kinds of noises, unbearable to his ears.

All of a sudden, the pain intensified, and he found himself being pulled forward like a magnet. If he were to describe the sensation, it appeared as if he was getting out of his skin, which was a terrible thing even to envision. All the horror mangas he had ever read rushed to mind; clearly, soon, he would be a walking skeleton with all the skin and flesh ripped from his bones.

If that were some kind of necromancy, the only solace would be that, as a skeleton, he had a chance to have a very long life, provided that he stood out of the way of more powerful undead creatures.

Before he could concoct a new strategy for living his life as a skeleton in a fantasy land, the pain was gone, and he was rolling down the floor. For caution’s sake, he continued to keep his eyes closed when he finally stopped. Eternity wasn’t going anywhere while he remained like that for a couple more moments, lying on his back.

“Seb!” Someone called out loud in a high-pitched voice.

Kai opened one eye. “Tani?” he asked as he recognized the voice right away. Was he back home already?

His sister appeared above him right away. “Seb, where the hell are we?” She grabbed him by the front of his shirt and shook him.

“Get away,” he said as he tried to swat his sister with his hands. “And who are you calling Seb, you little--”

Oh, that kind of made sense… Kai blinked hard and looked above. Hell, they were still at the Shimmering Cavern as the crystal ceiling told him right away. He grabbed his head, surprised to find his short curly hair instead of long strands of silk.

“I’m back!” he yelled. “I’m back into my own body!”

“Where are we, Kai? What is this place?” An anxious voice asked, also from above.

Kai’s jaw fell when he saw Milo. “What are you doing here?”

“Seriously? That’s what you’re asking me?” Milo, who was usually uber chill, looked downright panicked. He was swinging his body like he couldn’t decide if he wanted to stay put or break into a run.

“Are you really my brother?” Tani shook him some more.

“Who else? Ah, right, so Sebastian was in my body while I was here… Where is Sebastian?”

He pushed himself on his ass, and together with him, Milo and Tani turned toward the rest of the people in the room.

“Ha,” he barely managed as he noticed Sebastian standing tall in the middle of the cavern, his back to him, his hands turned into fists by his side.

***

Sebastian still felt his body trembling from the effort that must have been his transitioning back to his true self. Why were they at the Shimmering Cavern? Breathing low and steady, he took in the scene around him quickly. Behind him, Tani and Milo were making a ruckus, as they had to be scared by being pulled along with him into his world. They were already tending to Kai, as it seemed. Why the three young people were here was a problem that would have to wait.

The Shimmering Cavern. The place he had avoided like the plague for so long. His mother or whoever was behind this strange situation had a taste for irony. It had to mean that he had been dragged there for the ritual. Only his mother’s patience reaching its end could explain what was happening right now. Galien and Conrad were there, probably as witnesses. And of course, Pepin, who stared at him wide-eyed while clutching something in his hand.

Sebastian’s eyes set on the object protected by his servant like he had to hold on to it for dear life. “Pepin,” he hissed, “what is the meaning of this?”

To his surprise, Pepin set his chin high. Not that the servant didn’t have the habit of becoming defiant on occasion, but there was something new in his eyes.

Pepin closed his hand over the item even harder. “I’m having Kai’s child!”

“What?!” That was Tani. “Mom is so going to kill you when she finds that you got a boy pregnant, Kai. And it’s really that kind of BL novel?”

“Shut up, butthead,” Kai told his sister. “Pepin’s not pregnant. He just holds on to a thing.”

“What kind of thing?” Milo shouted. “What is going on? Oh, god, I must be hallucinating!”

“A thing that’s like a baby,” Kai explained. “Well, it’s more complicated than that --”

“Quiet!” Sebastian thundered.

Galien and Conrad seemed just as flabbergasted by the whole scene, and their eyes were jumping between him and the group behind him. “Sebastian, is this truly you?” Galien asked.

He hadn’t seen his cousin in more than three years, if he recalled correctly. Seeing how Galien had always insisted that he should listen to his mother more, it wasn’t like there was a time too soon for them to meet again.

“Yes. Would you like me to blast you where you stand to prove it to you?” he asked in an icy tone.

Galien scoffed but right away schooled his face into a neutral expression. “No need for that, Your Majesty,” he said and took a short, barely polite bow. After their last fight, three years ago, Sebastian had demanded his cousin, in a manner that brooked no contradiction, to be addressed according to his station. That day, he had lost a friend, but Galien had been at fault, too, always siding with Reya for the sake of Ifigia, as if Sebastian wasn’t doing so much already.

He grabbed Pepin by the arm. What could have been in his servant’s mind to do a reckless thing like that? “You should have thought twice before acting so foolishly,” he said through his teeth.

“Hey, that’s not how you treat a… pregnant dude,” Kai protested, after a short hesitation to find his words.

These people, these foolish young people, had no idea what would soon descend upon their heads. Sebastian let go of Pepin and turned toward Kai, the boy who had clearly made a big mess of everything, just as expected. It was so strange to look at that face that he had seen in the mirror over the last weeks. And the dark eyes were wide as they stared at him.

Sebastian threw a look around and grabbed his sword. In a few steps, he was towering above the boy. He pointed the sword at him. “I should cut right through you for what you’ve done,” he said through his teeth, the anger boiling inside him making him tremble. This boy had taken a difficult situation and turned it impossible!

“Wow, wow, wow,” someone intervened.

Sebastian was surprised to find himself pushed back. His gaze met a pair of green eyes that stared at him with undisguised fury.

“Hey pal, who the hell do you think you are to threaten Kai like this?” Milo asked, and without any consideration for his safety, he continued to push Sebastian back with both palms pressed against his chest.

“Milo, stay out of this,” Sebastian warned.

“How the hell do you know my name?” Milo asked, shielding Kai with his body by placing himself firmly between him and Sebastian.

“Because he’s been your boyfriend for the last weeks, duh,” Tani intervened.

“Tani, quiet,” Sebastian ordered.

“Yeah, like I’d stay quiet now,” the girl riposted. “And why are we here? Weren’t you and Kai supposed to switch back? I mean, I don’t think that’s how it was supposed to work!”

Milo was blinking and staring at him, clearly not understanding an iota. From time to time, he turned toward Tani, but then his eyes traveled back at Sebastian like he couldn’t afford to have him disappear from his sight.

Sebastian pursed his lips hard. He needed to rein in his anger and couldn’t continue to look at Milo like that.

“Milo and I didn’t even want to travel to some isekai land,” Tani continued. “Not that this cave isn’t very pretty, but I have homework to do, and mom is so going to kill me and Kai when she sees that we’re not home when she returns from work tonight. Kai, this is all your fault,” she added, this time turning on her brother.

“How is it my fault?” Kai protested. “I didn’t ask for this!”

“Yeah, sure, because you’ve never thought,” Tani said and continued in a weird voice, “oh, how cool it would be to get trapped in an isekai anime and become the hero, and get all the girls.”

“The girls?”

Sebastian turned, somewhat disconcerted, toward Galien, Conrad, and Pepin, who seemed to be in particular dumbfounded by that last phrase in Tani’s speech, above all else.

“Pepin, I swear, that’s not true,” Kai began. “About the girls, I mean. My sister’s a moron.”

Galien, to make things worse, began chuckling. “As much as this situation appears to be complicated beyond belief, I have to admit that it is just as incredibly entertaining.”

“Pepin?” Tani got to her feet and looked to one side to see the servant as Sebastian was trying to block the view. “OMG, Kai, is that my brother-in-law? That bishie? I totally forgive you. Hi, Pepin,” she waved happily, “I’ll be your sister from today on.”

Sebastian stopped Tani before she could reach Pepin and pushed his servant back, as he also seemed keen on meeting his new sister. “All of you, have you lost your mind?”

They couldn’t tell, not as he could, but the air inside the cavern was getting colder. He had no choice but to play this to the best of his abilities. He threw one last look at Milo. The boy was staring at him, his mouth slightly open, and he appeared to be the most confused that he must have ever been in his entire life.

He turned his back on the trio and proceeded to push Pepin back. The servant was holding onto his precious charge for dear life, and Sebastian hoped that he would be able to fool Reya, at least until he would figure out everything.

Conrad was looking at him like he was seeing him for the first time in his life. Sebastian set his chin hard. He held Pepin by the arm and gestured at Conrad. “You will stay,” he said. “But you,” he looked at Galien, “are free to leave.”

The air was getting frigid. There was no more time to waste, and the others’ safety was paramount. So pleasantries of any sort were out of the question.

Soon, she would be here. Soon, she would see Milo. And that was something he couldn’t allow.

“I’d rather stay, dear cousin,” Galien said.

Sebastian bore his eyes into his cousin’s. “If you ever thought of me as a friend, you’ll do as I say,” he let his voice drop low.

A spark of recognition flared in Galien’s eyes. But before he could say anything, Sebastian opened his palm and moved his arm around, making a wall of ice rise between him and the rest, except for Pepin, whose arm he was still holding, and Conrad.

***

“What the hell? What just happened now? I’m dreaming. I must be dreaming. I’m in the hospital, and they put me on some serious shit,” Milo continued to mumble. “I must be delirious.” He caught tufts of hair in his fists and acted like he wanted to remove all of it from his head.

“Oh, shoot, stop being such an unbeliever,” Tani scolded him. She hurried to him and shook him. “Get it together, man. I should slap you, but I can’t really reach you. Consider yourself slapped and come to your senses.”

Kai shook off the shock of having just witnessed Sebastian using his magic to block them from him, Conrad, and Pepin. What were his plans? What was Sebastian going to do to Pepin? He had fooled around these few weeks, but Pepin was now in serious trouble because of what they had done.

And there was also the baby! Or whatever that shard was! He hurried to the wall of ice that stretched as high as the ceiling and began hammering it with his hands. “Hey, hey,” he yelled at the top of his lungs.

He was surprised when someone caught his arm, and he saw Galien. “Kai Martin from Terra, I believe you and your friends are in danger,” he said in a low whisper.

“What?” Kai mumbled.

Galien put on a smile and gestured with his chin for him to keep quiet. “So, pretty boy,” he said loudly, “and handsome boy,” he added, as he pointed at Milo, “you’re with me.”

“And me?” Tani asked, jumping up and down, afraid as she had to be that she was ignored for being too short.

“And adorable little girl,” Galien said in the same courteous voice. “You are all invited to my palace. As it appears, the ruler of the realm has quite pressing matters at the moment.”

“You call that pressing matters, Galien?” Kai whispered as he followed. “He practically kidnapped Pepin.”

“He also has Conrad, and you don’t see me losing my temper over it,” Galien whispered back as he pushed Milo out of the cave.

Although he was no longer shouting, Milo was still in shock, and his voice was reduced to mumblings.

“Did you hear that, moron of a brother of mine?” Tani said and grinned as she grabbed his arm. “I’m adorable.”

Tani’s eyes were shining too much. Kai could tell that his sister was, at least a tiny bit, scared by the whole situation. So he wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “Of course you are adorable. You’re an adorable butthead,” he teased her to put her mind at ease.

“Oh god,” Milo shouted again. He pressed himself against the wall at the mouth of the cavern. “Is that a dragon? Okay, okay, so it’s just a very vivid dream.”

Kai knew that Milo couldn’t just admit the truth because it was too impossible to believe for someone as grounded in reality as his friend was. While Kai was always dreaming wide-eyed about traveling to fantasy worlds, Milo was all about basketball, getting into college, and all kinds of real stuff. It was totally normal for him to lose his shit. But, at the same time, Kai couldn’t just sit there, doing nothing.

“Can you take care of Tani for me, Galien?” he asked.

“Of course,” Galien replied and took Tani’s hand like it was something he did every day.

Kai grabbed Milo by the shoulders and shook him. “Milo, my dude, look at me.”

No wonder there, it took Milo a bit to finally do as told.

“It’s freakish like hell, and you have no idea what I’ve gone through the last couple of weeks. But right now, we need to get on that dragon, who’s actually a lady dragon, and get out of here,” Kai said quickly.

Shit, now he was no longer Sebastian. Maybe Adhe wouldn’t be so keen on having passengers from another world on her back. Could they get to Galien’s duchy some other way?

Before he could ask, Galien gestured for them to get moving, so Kai took Milo’s hand and dragged him along. He stopped when he was close to Adhe’s head. “Adhe,” he started, “it’s a bit hard to explain, but I’m not actually Sebastian. Please don’t throw us off your back, pretty please, okay?”

“I know you, young traveler,” the dragon said and looked at him with her beautiful eyes. “Your name and appearance don’t matter. You’re still the one who saved my egg.”

“Saved what?” Milo asked. “Forget it. I’ll wake up eventually.”

At least, Milo was getting resigned with the idea that he was sleeping and they were in a dream. Whatever kept him from wanting to jump from the back of a dragon while they were up in the air, Kai was okay with it.

Tani had obviously taken a liking to Galien and squealed in delight as she was being lifted and placed carefully on the dragon’s back. Kai hurried to climb behind her and hold her tightly. “No sudden moves, Tani. I don’t want to go searching for you all over Ifigia.”

“Sure,” Tani said brightly.

Galien helped Milo behind Kai and took the last place.

“What was the thing about a boyfriend you said earlier, young lady?” Galien asked.

“Ah, Milo got together with Sebastian,” Tani chirped happily, obviously pleased with being treated so politely. “You know, like kissing and stuff. Surely, other stuff, too.”

Kai stole a look at his best friend, but Milo’s eyes were closed, and he looked a little pale. He clearly paid Tani no mind.

“Ah, I see,” Galien replied. “So, Sebastian found his chosen, after all. Go figure. That said, I must beg the two of you, Kai and Tani, that you don’t speak a word to Sebastian of how I’m holding his boyfriend right now. If he didn’t look like he were about to fall, I wouldn’t hold this handsome young man so tightly in my arms.”

That was quite considerate, coming from Galien. Kai murmured an agreement, and Tani expressed hers loudly. He held his sister as Adhe soared into the air. His heart grew small in his chest, as small as the mouth of the cavern that shrank quickly behind them and was soon out of view.

***

Sebastian was aware of how hard his fingers were digging into the servant’s arm. It was a silent warning on which many things depended.

“Let me go,” Pepin hissed and struggled to get free.

“Your Majesty,” Conrad intervened. “I must plead with you, as well.” He walked toward him cautiously, holding eye contact. “Let your servant go.”

Conrad was just as handsome as Sebastian remembered him from that night, but those golden eyes no longer had the same effect on him. The familiar jolt of desire didn’t come, and Sebastian knew that another pair of eyes, green in color, was the only one to make him feel anything at all.

“Know your place, concubine,” he said in a stern voice. “And not a word of any of this,” he added, hoping that none of his two current companions would be so foolish to undermine him and his decisions at a moment like this.

Conrad frowned, and his lips set in a grim line, but just as he was about to speak again, the room shook, and a roaring sound awakened from the depths of the cave.

Sebastian was the only one not surprised to see Reya emerging on her throne of ice. Pepin paled, and Conrad almost took a step back but then reconsidered. The ice goddess liked frost above all. Tiny icicles now covered the crystal formations and every breath they took fogged the air around them.

His mother looked as impeccable as ever, in her long gown adorned by pearly snowflakes. It was only the presence of her most beautiful tiara on her head, a delicate combination of silver threads as thin as hair and the largest diamonds in all Ifigia, that gave away that she must have gotten ready for this special occasion.

He kept silent as Reya stood and walked over to him, rising ice shards in her wake.

“I see that you finally came to your senses, Sebastian. I feel slighted that you decided not to invite me as a witness to your communion with the Lelian. I had to hurry here as soon as I felt your energy rising inside the Shimmering Cavern.”

The Lelian. That was the only thing his mother saw in Pepin, his utility, and part of the reason why Sebastian had always felt the need to oppose her wishes. His lovers found satisfaction and joy in his arms, but he never used them more than fleetingly. To condemn Pepin to a life reduced to nothing but being a tool for Reya’s ambitions for Ifigia was wrong.

“Yes, mother,” he said coolly.

Pepin was no longer rigid in his grip, a sign that he was at least starting to understand that no one went against Reya and her wishes. Sebastian feared that it was only a matter of time until the ice goddess would realize that she had been fooled into believing that her son had sealed his union with Pepin. For now, it was the only way to go to protect Milo from the wrath of such a powerful being.

Milo, with his beautiful green eyes, filled with anger and suspicion. Sebastian chased away that recent memory. Of course, he would look at him like that. After today, everybody would consider him the enemy, and while others didn’t matter as much, the mere thought of Milo hating him was enough to make him feel like a hole was opening inside his chest.

But that was the fate that awaited him. Reya would never forget and forgive such disobedience. Once she learned the truth, she would imprison Pepin, destroy the shard, and make sure that Milo, Kai, and Tani would be sent into oblivion. Even Galien, as much as he wasn’t at fault for anything, would surely fall from her favor. At best, he would be sent into exile, to the territories to the east, constantly at war.

So, although there was another’s hand he wished to link fingers with right now, he let his hand slide along Pepin’s arm. The servant understood this much because he let their hands wrap around one another. Hopefully, Conrad wouldn’t start talking about things that weren’t his to talk about.

Much to his relief, Conrad was silent.

“But why did you consider it a good idea to bring him here?” Reya pointed at Conrad without hiding the disdain in her voice.

“I did what you wanted me to, mother. Being allowed to keep a concubine should at least be my reward,” Sebastian said slowly, reining in with difficulty the temptation of shouting in his mother’s face and letting her know a truth or two.

Reya pursed her lips for a moment but decided to ignore his pointed comment. “As you wish. Lelian,” she addressed Pepin, “bring it to me.”

Pepin was slightly hesitant, his hand still clutched on the shard, so Sebastian had to push him forward. They all watched with unease as Reya took the shard from Pepin’s hand and blew her breath of ice over it.

Sebastian frowned. Hadn’t his mother always said that she had made him for herself, by herself? But was that even possible? She must have had a Lelian of her own, but who was that person if that were the truth? It was for the first time in his life that he witnessed something like this, and only now the thought occurred to him.

Reya could choose to lie to him if that fitted her designs. But now, Sebastian was confident that she must have used a Lelian to create him and kept it a secret. For what reason? The ice goddess was a creature of the proudest kind. It could be that she simply desired to be seen as the only one capable of such an incredible feat, of creating life by herself.

Reya returned the shard to Pepin, who took it with reverence and hid it under his shirt. The servant pressed his palm over it to keep it warm and took a deep bow.

Reya no longer paid him any mind and walked to Sebastian. She caressed his cheek, her touch as cold as ever but never uncomfortable. “I’m proud of you, Sebastian. You secured an heir for Ifigia. Your son, his sons, and his sons’ sons will rule over Ifigia for all eternity.”

Of course, for Ifigia. Everything was for their kingdom, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, and above all, their love.

Sebastian no longer wished that burden. He wished he would still be trapped in that strange world with smartphones, cringey reality shows, and flying carriages.

And Milo. The only one he would ever love.

TBC

I truly hope that you didn't see this one coming... I've prepared it for quite a while! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. As always, they are much appreciated by yours truly.

Until next time,

All the best,

Laura.

Copyright © 2021 Laura S. Fox; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

I definitely did not see this outcome. Can Sebastian move on from Milo? Will Kai and Milo return to “business as usual?”


I look forward to the upcoming chapters.

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I didn't see anything coming, I gave up long ago, I just go with the flow. I just love your imagination and your style. 

Oh, and I love this sentences, this is a very wise and grateful Dragon-Lady or is it Lady Dragon?

“....Your name and appearance don’t matter. You’re still the one who saved my egg.”

 

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What about the woman’s prophecy that Kai was told to bring Milo to the cavern? Was that it or is there more to it?  It seem that both Kai and Sebastian need to talk about their loves…

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On 10/24/2021 at 4:16 PM, J.El said:

I definitely did not see this outcome. Can Sebastian move on from Milo? Will Kai and Milo return to “business as usual?”


I look forward to the upcoming chapters.

Hmm, hmm, I'll keep my mouth shut for now. But thank you for being surprised by this outcome!

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On 10/24/2021 at 5:35 PM, Wesley8890 said:

No i did not see that coming! 

Just the reaction I was looking for!

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On 10/24/2021 at 5:42 PM, Kapucinski said:

I didn't see anything coming, I gave up long ago, I just go with the flow. I just love your imagination and your style. 

Oh, and I love this sentences, this is a very wise and grateful Dragon-Lady or is it Lady Dragon?

“....Your name and appearance don’t matter. You’re still the one who saved my egg.”

 

Glad to see you enjoyed that part. I think Kai called Adhe a lady dragon? Not even I can remember, lol!

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On 10/26/2021 at 5:17 AM, VBlew said:

What about the woman’s prophecy that Kai was told to bring Milo to the cavern? Was that it or is there more to it?  It seem that both Kai and Sebastian need to talk about their loves…

There will be definitely more to it! The messy entanglements were just about to get messier before I start plucking them, one by one...

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17 hours ago, Geoffrey257 said:

Interesting that Tani somehow got herself mixed in

Couldn't have left her behind...

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