As I reached the top of the ramp, I noticed that the main deck was totally empty. In fact, pretty much every single crew member was on shore leave. Then I heard Captain Li’s deep resonant laughter from the poop deck. Yes, that’s what it’s really called.
“Ares! Stop fucking around and get up here!” Although she yelled at me, she didn’t actually sound angry. That was just her usual way of talking.
I nervously walked up the two staircases and when I reached the top, I saw a small circular table laid out. There was a man in a black changpao, standing with his hands behind his back. That guy seemed somewhat dangerous, but I could tell that he was only a low-level Adept. His hair was short and white… Judging by the wrinkles on his face, he had to be over two-hundred years old. Definitely not Mei’s ‘younger’ brother.
Sitting at the table was a huge woman on one side, Hua Li, while there was a somewhat small girl across from her. Well, that ‘kid’ was still an Adept, though she was nearly an Expert. As she looked at me, there was a faint smile on her azure lips. Also, there was loads of makeup on her face, but it was really well done… At least from my perspective.
Her hair was absurdly large with loads of golden pins and shit all over the place. Adding to all that the fact that she was wearing an extremely elaborate blue dress, with silver sharks all over the place, yeah… She looked more like a Chinese Empress than my idea of a ‘Queen’. The shotgun was still clutched in my hands, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out ‘some’ of what was going on.
“You must be the Shaman that I’ve heard so much about… Oh, Auntie Li, didn’t you say that my eldest sister was taking care of this boy? Why isn’t she here?” The young woman’s voice was quiet and way more high-pitched than the giantess.
The Captain frowned at me and furrowed her brows, interrogating “Ares… What happened to Princess Mei? Did she abandon her duty as your handmaiden? Where is she?”
I looked over at that ‘girl’ for a few seconds, before asking “Are you… The King? King Hua Ri Ku?”
She put her dainty right hand over her lips and giggled softly, then proudly explained “Indeed, that is my title… However, most people who know me personally, prefer to call me ‘Queen Ku’.”
Yep… yep, he was a motherfucking drag queen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, it seemed way more ‘normal’ to me than all the royalty, politics and nobility bullshit. No, the reason I was angry had nothing to do with him.
“So, I’m just gonna take a wild guess here and assume that you aren’t a misogynistic tyrant who goes around abducting women and locking them in a mysterious sex dungeon… Do you really have thirty-six wives, some of them being your actual siblings?”
Surprisingly, he nodded his head and explained “Back when my Mommy and Daddy were still around, I needed to put on a good show. So I really did pretend to be a little over the top. Most of my marriages are purely political. As for my sisters and niece… At the time, my parents wanted to use them in order to seal a few trade agreements and forge some meaningless alliances with neighboring islands. My adorable little sisters may be officially married to me, but they all have their own villas across Hua Ri Island. Each of them have their own families and affairs… I barely ever see them anymore. My niece is still only a small child and I’m more like a mother than anything else. Her father was my older brother, but he died before she was even born.”
I sighed dramatically, “Wait a second… Then you, did you really tell Mei that you would have her ‘publically gangraped and flogged to death’ if she ever returned to Hua Ri Keep?”
Captain Li chuckled as she told me “The reason I told you to be careful earlier was because the Princess has a track record of… Well, there was a huge scandal years ago that got her banished from Hua Ri Keep.”
Queen Ku scowled, revealing “Ten years ago, when I was only seven or eight, Big Sis used to ‘play’ with me. I didn’t really understand why my parents were so upset back then, but when I got older I realized that-”
“She was raping you?” My interjection was met with hysterical laughter from Hua LI and a scowl from the ‘King’.
He gagged a little, “What? Ew, no, gross… Besides, even if she did have sex with me, my parents wouldn’t have cared. She got in trouble because she let me try on some of her old dresses and taught me how to wear makeup.”
“Goddamn it! Ugh, I’ll be back… I need to go get Mei.” Without waiting to hear anything else or bothering to exchange any ‘pleasantries’ with His or Her Royal Highness, I needed to make sure that my unconscious ‘handmaiden’ was okay. I was really disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to kill anybody, but also a little relieved.
You’re wondering why I was so quick to totally disregard Mei’s drunken ramblings and believe some person I never met before? Seriously, it wouldn’t be the first time that she lied to me or made shit up. Regardless of how I felt about her emotionally, the logical part of my brain wasn’t quite as naive as my vanilla heart.
I shoved my sawed-off shotgun back into my bag and briskly walked down the stairs, passed the giantess on the ramp and continued through the parted soldiers. However, when I made it back to that miscellaneous little pier, the skiff wasn’t there. It was fucking gone.
“No way… This, I only left her for like ten minutes! Is it even possible to row that boat away in under ten minutes?!”
It really didn’t seem possible. I went to the end of a longer pier and carefully scanned the docks, along with the distant waves. The sky was a bit cloudy, but still pretty damn bright. The problem was that there were just so many small and big ships sailing about. That one I was searching for should have been a sailess boat, similar to a canoe, except with the back end flattened. It was big enough that it would take two ‘normal’ sized people to row it.
After about five minutes of freaking out and having an anxiety attack, I realized that the skiff was still docked, just on a different pier than I had remembered. To be fair, it’s not like there were ‘numbers’ or even signs to help people keep track of shit!
Anyway, when I slid open the tarp, I almost threw up. She wasn’t dead, but she definitely smelled just as bad as a corpse. I was thankful that she didn’t shit herself, though she seemed to have vomited at least once.
“Definitely never letting you drink alcohol again!”
You see, the difference between love and lust has to do with what you’re willing to put up with. What you’re willing to sacrifice for them to be happy…
With only Mei’s drunken ramblings and my prejudice against royalty as evidence, I definitely would have killed her brother without a second thought. Even if he wasn’t as corrupt as she claimed, I still would have assassinated him if she asked me to… Once she was actually sober of course.
I guess that’s just the kind of person I am. However, there are definitely plenty of other people who would do anything to make their loved ones feel better. It’s a dangerous mixture of empathy, affection and an extremely high propensity towards violence.
Don’t act like you didn’t want me to go on a rampage. Okay, don’t get too disappointed. There was plenty of chaos in my life. In fact, that short shore leave was one of the most peaceful days I experience during early years of the war.
That period of time was called “The Summer of the Hellfire Phoenix”. Just based on the name alone, I’m sure you can already tell that shit was about to hit the fan…And then catch on fire, burning the entire house down in the process. From the ashes of that shit, no, I’m going to stop this metaphor before it goes any farther. The epicness was already ruined.
Well, it’s probably still better than talking about how I rented a relatively fancy inn for a night and wasted a Contribution Point in order to take a decent bath with her unconscious body. Maybe you’d rather hear me give an in-depth walkthrough of how to wash vomit and piss stains out of a blue-silk dress. Or about how I gave up halfway and paid some random maid to do it for like fifty coppers. She might have been a prostitute, I wasn’t totally sure.
Then I went down the street and bought a decent white bathrobe, along with some trousers and other random clothes. Fortunately, by the time I made it back to the pier, the ship hadn’t left without us. All those soldiers and Queen Ku were already gone, but most of the crew were drunk and absolutely filthy.
My closest buddy Liara, was literally drenched in various forms of cum and was totally naked. She had lost her micro-string bikini, along with all her money and even her dreadlocks were shaved off.
If you’re wondering why people didn’t just jump into the water and wash themselves off… Dude, it was a harbor. Have you ever seen harbor water before? You would be better off bathing in a septic tank.
I actually laughed a lot while editing these last 2 chapters… Which is weird, because I wrote the damn story, but it’s been so long that it feels like the first time I’m reading it roflmao. It’s the same way for other stories I’ve written too. As long as more than 6 months have passed, it feels like I’m reading the story for the first time.
Yet somehow, I can stop reading novel for like 2 years and the moment I pick it up again, I can totally remember everything that happened… It’s like that for TV shows too. If I see an old “Star Trek: Voyager” come on TV, I only need to see a few minutes to totally remember the episode.
Anyway, my thumb hurts so I’m gonna stop typing now :P.