IS, V2, Chapter 4: The Beautiful, Magnanimous, Altruistic, Virtuous, Dependable and Extremely Wealthy… Butcher

This is the spectacular tale of an innocent maiden who was born in the underworld and through her own power, founded a magnificent nation that spanned the entire world! Lorelei Fleischer The Adorable, which was my wonderful name and favorite title, was the greatest leader in the history of the entire Alfirin Kingdom.

It all started in a tiny butcher’s shop, that also sold mushrooms and other things. My mother and father were both mouse tribe, but they had a deep dark secret, they couldn’t have children.

For a long time, I believed Papa’s convenient lie about how he had a bit of snake tribe in his ancestry and that I accidentally poisoned Mama while she was trying to breastfeed me. Just like all the buildings in Black Mithril back then, our home was very old and even had a hidden passageway that led down into the ancient catacombs.

Usually they would be sealed and no sane person would dare open them, but my mother was a little crazy. Every night, she would hear a baby crying, and it was coming from below their house.

Eventually, she gave into her maternal instincts and decided to investigate the cursed tombs. My father tried to stop her, but it was already too late, she had broken the seal and unleashed a demonic creature.

It had no definitive form, just a clump of wriggling black tentacles, that quickly entangled my mother and pulled her into the circular opening that she unlocked only moments before. There was nothing Papa could do to prevent the tragedy that occurred after that, because when he tried to follow after her, the entrance to the catacombs was closed again.

He spent every gold coin he had, hiring adventurers to accompany him down there and help him get revenge on the foul demon who abducted his wife. It took many attempts, but after a few months of clearing away lesser magical beasts, most of which were relatively large cockroaches or beetles, they finally reached the demon’s lair.

The creature was nowhere to be found, but in that large room there were nearly a hundred pregnant women from various races, including wood elves, that were chained to the walls. Among them were only two who actually looked familiar to Papa, one of them was my mother and the other was the red goblin matriarch.

There was also a very small boy, who had golden eyes and was staying close to them. Most of the women were already dead or dying, but mama and that evil bitch were pretty damn strong.

I suppose that made me and Ethir half-siblings, but his mother abandoned him… while my parents treated me as their own daughter. She never told my father exactly what happened during those three months that she was a prisoner, but it was pretty obvious.

Anyway, as soon as I was weaned, she killed herself. Well, it wasn’t particularly surprising, since she was extremely depressed and my father blamed her for opening the door in the first place. My name basically meant “Luring Rock” which made a bit more sense, once I knew the real tale of my origins.

I actually never heard that version of the story from my father, but from Aunt Nadja… who was a distant relative on my mothers side of the family, and also the matriarch of the Rat District. A person who I had very few chances to even meet, until my seventh birthday, when the fearsome earth dragon Cul-something attacked the city.

My papa was in the emergency militia, so he had to face the massive beast in a futile battle. Unfortunately, Mikey didn’t get there until two thirds of the city had already died one way or the other.

I was technically considered a child, so I was able to evacuate to the surface along with the others, before the true chaos began.

Lyn was up there with me, she was pretty upset, but luckily I was there to comfort her. We were only best friends before that fateful day, but all great love stories start with a couple hundred thousand people dying.

Well, I didn’t really have the courage to make my move until a few years later, but that’s not the point. In the aftermath of that devastating catastrophe, a certain idiot actually tried to steal a book from the dark dwarven palace’s library.

Just like most people, I was bored as hell and decided to attend the execution. After listening to Michael’s speech, I finally embraced my destiny, but I needed a lot of money to fulfill my grandiose dreams.

I’m sure you’ve all read “The Caravan Chronicles” by now, which recounted the events during the two, very successful, hunting trips that I personally led, deep into the dangerous and unpredictable second ring of Lorthon.

After that, I finally had enough money to begin phase one of my world domination… unification plan. Anyway, the first thing I did was pay a visit to my good friend Mikey, who was taking a bath at the time.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a bit of a crush on him back then, but I was far too shy to go any farther than a little tail on tail action. It was my first time, so he was kind enough to be gentle and it didn’t even hurt.

We sealed our partnership with some blood magic or whatever, then I explained to him my brilliant plan. He was practically begging me to let him be my underling, but I was feeling generous, so I decided to make him my right hand man.

Although the beautiful Trixie was my right hand woman and my left hand was reserved for my trusty cleaver, Meat Reaper. Actually, it was practically the size of my body, so I needed both hands to wield it.

When Mikey went on his little vacation, all his responsibilities, and the promises he made to the people of Black Mithril, had fallen upon me to fulfill. Although, I expected something like that would happen sooner or later, some people just can’t stay in one place for very long.

Poor Rae-Rae was so heartbroken by his sudden departure that she was completely oblivious to Ethir’s desperate struggle to gain her affections. It was so depressing watching Big Bro, no matter what he did, she just treated him like a little kid.

The matriarchs governed their own districts, but I was closer to an empress or dominatrix… I think that might have been the wrong word. I was the Commander-in-Chief of the entire nation, rather than just that one city.

Sure, Black Mithril was the capital of Alfirin and my hometown, but my goals were much larger than one tiny underground city. Guns were the key to our superiority over the rest of the world, well, there were bombs and all kinds of other nonsense that Lyn was constantly inventing.

With Trixie at my side, convincing the wood elf villages was incredibly easy and within a few months, our kingdom had spread at least a hundred square miles in every direction. The Great Fence was quickly constructed and we finally had enough funding to build my above-ground castle.

The entire clearing around the surface portal was already paved over with concrete by the time that the whole human situation began. It’s not like I had problems with them as a race, but their culture was disgusting.

I’m not even that overzealous when it comes to enforcing the two laws, but seriously… one of those giant fuckers actually tried to rape me! Obviously, I used Meat Reaper to slice the bastard in half, but that was the start of the real problems.

My more fanatical followers, decided that humans were evil and that they needed to be cleansed from our perfect city. I managed to calm them down, but it wasn’t safe for our new citizens to actually live in Black Mithril for a while.

However, it all worked out in the end, because they never really liked being underground in the first place. Also, by that time, most of the land between the fence and triangular clearing, was finally able to grow crops.

Most of the humans decided to live in a few small villages that were spread out either inside or outside of the walls. Luckily, they weren’t all quite so set in their ways, and Trixie was able to recruit nearly a hundred men and women into her army.

Each human settlement was governed by someone she appointed as their leader, who was bound by our laws and had the power to enforce them. The ones who stayed in the Human District, were mostly women and children who were afraid of going back to the way things were.

Once you’re given a bit of freedom, losing it is more terrifying than death. Which was a quote that I stole from Mikey, but it was catchy so I used it in a lot of my speeches.

Anyway, I also set up places called malls, supermarkets, and shopping centers, where the old bazaars used to be located. They basically served the same function, the only difference was that they were owned and operated by Lorelei Incorporated.

It took a while to construct them, but it all payed off eventually, because for the most part, people were able to buy food and goods at much more affordable prices. Most of the merchants who previously owned stalls in the open air markets, either set up new ones inside of the malls, or they bought a large spaces and set up a stores.

They were typically two story buildings, that had a section where food was sold and could be eaten in a large cafeteria. There was enough space for at least a hundred small shops to be set up along the walls of the rather large open area, which was designed to avoid becoming overcrowded.

Supermarkets were created to sell every type of food that was available and at relatively low prices, even magical beast meat was becoming less of a luxury each day. With the advent of the Beatrix Corps, Hunters and Adventurers Association, more commonly known as BCHAA, even people who weren’t in the military could easily form small caravans to gather materials from the second ring of Lorthon.

They weren’t allowed access to firearms, but Lyn was able to make weapons and armor, that far surpassed anything normal people could imagine. Some of which were so dangerous that in skillful hands, could potentially be more powerful than a gun or bomb, especially since it seemed like everyone was learning at least a little bit of magic.

Ethir and Rae-Rae, with my help of course, built a massive school on the surface. They named it Alfirin Academy, which wasn’t very creative… but it got the point across.

Her and many of her best students actually did most of the heavy lifting, with earth magic, and with Big Bro’s guidance, they were able to build the gigantic triangular tower in the southern corner of the clearing. It was at least a hundred meters tall and I honestly have no idea how it was made or what they used to build it, maybe concrete but it seemed a little more complicated than that.

It looked pretty though and was designed to withstand earthquakes, crazy winds, magical attacks, and basically anything else you could think of. The building actually lacked windows, which was partially because Rae-Rae had that whole “blood elf” problem, but mostly due to the absence of proper materials.

That gigantic black tower did look a bit eerie at first, but eventually it became a pretty prominent landmark, which could be seen from anyone who was already within the great fence. The moment they built the thing, they already had thousands of students who applied to learn there, it obviously wasn’t free though.

Actually, there were many other schools that opened up in the city below, which taught various things, and served as the baseline education. All of which were covered by taxes and any citizen could attend, once they reached a certain level and passed a few tests, then they could enter Alfirin Academy.

Once there, people could take classes in any field, magic or otherwise, and the prices varied depending on how much they wanted to know. It would be ridiculous if it costed more to learn carpentry, than that person could possibly make by becoming a carpenter.

Unemployment was practically nonexistent, because there were way more jobs than there were people. Not to mention, there were various child labor laws which prevented anyone who wasn’t at least an adolescent, from being hired or forced to work.

No one had to go to school, they could do whatever they wanted, but what else was there to do? People were so bored that thousands of them would come to listen to me give speeches, I mean… I do love to talk, but even I have my limits.

Also, the reason Lyn wasn’t able to assist them in the construction was due to our special guest, who arrived shortly before they began, and brought along a magnificent gift for us. She immediately referred to it as a magical magnetic levitation train, and explained to me that the labyrinth was actually just a track for it to travel through at ridiculous speeds.

Once the gigantic and overwhelmingly handsome man, Conor, told us about the massive, empty cube, that had three more tunnels which appeared identical to the one he took to reach us, it was obvious that we weren’t the only underground city.

My stage was destroyed upon his arrival, but that just gave me an excuse to build something even better in its place. Well, it did take a while for Rae-Rae and her earth mages to move the giant train back into the tunnel.

Then construction began on my amphitheater or open-air stadium, although we were technically underground, so it wasn’t like a roof was necessary in the first place. It was an oval shaped structure, that took up nearly the entire square and it had many rows of seats that ascended about four stories high.

If it was filled with only rat tribe, dark dwarves or red goblins, it would have been possible to have seated over a hundred thousand people. Since we used benches, it didn’t really matter what size the people sitting on them was, so unless they were ridiculously gigantic, they would be able to fit.

The purpose of the Lorelei Amphitheater was very similar to the stage that used to be there. Concerts, plays, speeches, magical displays, stand-up comedy, acrobats, performances of every kind could be seen there.

Well, there happened to be two things that were slightly different, one was something that Ethir created called sports. The other was Conor’s idea, it was similar to a type of entertainment he witnessed in one of the human kingdoms, but without the slaves and unnecessary fatalities.

It’s not like people never died in the various sporting events or combat competitions and tournaments. There were magical battles as well, but it took a few years before enough people were accomplished mages and I don’t want to jump ahead too far.

For some reason, most sports involved balls and nets… but I never really cared that much about them. Fighting was pretty fun though, I was actually the citywide champion of my weight class… there weren’t many other competitors under 45 lbs, even in the rat tribe.

One of the largest changes was that the overall hygiene and health of everyone, was greatly improved by various inventions that Lyn created and some herbal soaps that the elves taught us how to make. Our ancient plumbing that barely even worked anymore, was also upgraded and refurbished by some people that she trained specifically for that job.

According to her, the system we were using for all that time was basically reusing the same pool of water for thousands of years. There was some sort of magical device that was connected to the mana well underneath the pyramid, that would filter our sewage or simply create new water if we began running low, but it had it’s limits and we were close to reaching them.

There was a shower or bathtub in every house, but the most interesting part was what happened when we created aqueducts, which brought water down from multiple rivers that flowed through caves along the walls. Mermaids started getting carried down into the newly created water reservoirs, but luckily, Trixie was somehow able to communicate with them.

She wasn’t too excited about it, but I just had her translate for me… which she did without actually talking. They had no eyes, but could sense mana and were drawn to our city because of it, which was perfectly fine with me.

In the southernmost tunnel, there was a massive underground lake, which was where their kingdom was located. They actually showed it to me and I was surprised, because there was nothing there, just a bunch of mermaids swimming around in a giant pocket of water.

Apparently, they didn’t even have males of their species and just produced fertilized eggs every now and then. Their culture was pretty much nonexistent, they really did nothing but swim around all day, eat, sleep, and sometimes they would go explore the river.

Obviously, I explained to them that they were technically citizens of Alfirin, but they didn’t seem to care either way. However, that all changed once they realized how boring their lives really were.

They all had an excellent affinity with water, but had no idea how to use magic. Trixie really wanted them for potential naval battles and I already knew that they were amazing at fishing, so I enticed them with the concept of music.

Their population was actually pretty low, since they could control their reproduction cycles and were practically ageless. Yet, if some of them died, they would easily produce enough offspring to maintain around three thousand mermaids at any point in time.

Since it took nearly 20 years for them to reach adulthood, I convinced them to start having lots and lots of children. At first they were hesitant to do something that could cause them to starve to death in a few hundred years, but all it took was a little bit of magical beast meat to instantly convince them that having babies would be fine.

We were new to the surface world, so most people didn’t quite understand what was about to happen. Even the humans didn’t realize just how bad the 10 year hurricane would be, and I was glad that we didn’t decide to expand deeper into the forest.

However, with the wood elves warning, I knew exactly what to expect and how to capitalize on it. My idea was actually pretty simple, there was a ridiculously large lake about 350 miles south of Black Mithril.

It was shaped like a relatively thin oval, that stretched from nearly 400 miles inside of human territory, all the way into the fourth ring of Lorthon. Since it was extremely deep, filled with powerful magical beasts and at least a hundred miles thick inside the first ring, it was basically a massive barrier that prevented us from expanding to the south.

Hundreds of rivers splintered off from the lake, several of which actually went underground and using our newly constructed aqueducts, a mermaid who trained a little bit in water magic, would be able to make the trip pretty damn quickly.

If they wanted to, it was possible for them to swim against the current, down a massive river that started at the westernmost point of the lake, and keep going all the way to the ocean. Later on that would end up being extremely important, but back then, I just told Rae-Rae to build a special underwater classroom for her new students.

The storm began 6 months after Conor showed up and half a month into it, our squirrel tribe scouts, who weren’t bothered by the weather that much, reported that a large group of dark elves were about to enter our eastern borders.

When they said that there was an army of fifteen thousand soldiers marching towards us… I realized that their observation skills were a bit underwhelming. It didn’t take a genius like myself to figure out that anyone coming from that direction, even if they weren’t a military force, would need to be heavily armed just to survive.

I went with Trixie to go meet our guests at the edge of the ostrich farm, which had a pretty sturdy fence that they weren’t able to get through, or go around. It did have a gate though, just like the ones that made it possible to get past The Great Fence, which was about 50 miles farther down the road from them.

Similar to the time when we allowed the humans to become citizens of Alfirin, as long as they passed our test and didn’t try to kill us, I was prepared to invite them in. When we arrived at our side of the gates, the reaction from the dark elves was a little surprising.

With just a glance, both of us could immediately tell that there were at least a few thousand mages among the group and nearly everyone else had relatively high quality armor and weapons. However, most of them were severely wounded and just barely managing to hang onto life, there were only 3,000 children, the rest were adults or adolescents, but they all appeared to be battle hardened.

They were completely silent, not that I really would have been able to hear them that well, over the sound of the rain and thunder. Just like always, Trixie brought her trusty telepaths to discern whether they were guilty or innocent, but I decided to bring someone special along with me that time.

I knew that even if they were powerful, Rae-Rae would have been able to deal with their mages pretty easily, but I didn’t really expect their reaction to her. The moment they saw her eyes, nearly every single person fell into despair and began weeping loudly or cursing the spirits.

Thankfully, before the storm hit, Lyn managed to invent something called an umbrella, which was made from leather, wood or metal, but it basically just blocked rain. After waiting for them to stop freaking out, which didn’t seem to be happening any time soon, I yelled “Shut up!” in a voice that was loud enough to be heard clearly over the white noise.

It seemed to grab their attention away from their ridiculous pity party, so I yelled “Stop whining!” and then pointed towards the female mage, with pure red eyes, long white hair, and a bunch of red tattoo’s on her face. I yelled “You’re their matriarch right?!” in an angry voice, they all seemed to have regained their senses the more I talked.

The women walked up closer to bars of the gate and yelled “Yes! I am the water sage Ariya! We have traveled from the dark elven city, Angren… we simply wish to pass through this land peacefully!” in a strained voice, she was obviously nervous.

I smiled at her and yelled “That’s fine with me, but anyone who has broken either of the two laws will be executed the moment they’re found guilty!” in a happy voice, that seemed to scare her, along with everyone else.

She yelled “Can you tell us what these laws are before we enter?!” in a worried voice, while trembling a bit.

I laughed, then yelled “Don’t worry, as long as you haven’t raped or enslaved anyone, you’ll be fine! As far as murder, theft, assault, and anything else of that nature goes, you won’t be punished unless you commit those crimes within our borders!” in a serious voice, while giving them my famous, scary snake glare.

She actually gave a sigh of relief and then yelled “There are none among us who have broken either of those laws! Please let us pass through this gate!” in a confident voice, while her expression changed to one filled with determination.

I yelled “Open it up!” in a louder than necessary voice, which caused Trixie to give me an angry look. Then Rae-Rae raised both of her hands towards the gate and quickly removed the chains and locks using earth magic, although I was just expecting my right hand woman to do it the old fashioned way.

Without even being told, they all entered through the huge opening in a thin line, so the telepaths could easily but very slowly, sort through their auras. It took a few hours, but both me and Trixie were amazed that she was telling the truth.

After closing the gates behind them, we also had to open the ones at the other end of the ostrich farm. Then we continued to keep them surrounded by at least a few hundred cavalry, it wasn’t like I was going to walk the rest of the fifty miles when I had a horse.

They were starting to get panicky, so I yelled “You’re headed to Black Mithril, right?!” in a nonchalant voice, while riding close to where Ariya was walking, which was on the southernmost part of the giant clump of dark elves.

She had a surprised expression as she looked up towards me and yelled “Yes! Have you heard of it?!” in a perplexed tone. A decent amount of people who were close to her, seemed to be extremely interested in our conversation.

I started laughing hysterically, then yelled “There’s going to be another gate up ahead, in about 45 miles! That’s why we’re sticking so close to you guys! If we had more horses and bulls, I would offer you guys a ride… but since we don’t, this is going to be a long trip!” in a slightly serious voice.

The man next to her, who was wearing the most expensive looking armor, began whispering something in her ear. Then she started making a worried expression as she looked up into the trees and noticed the squirrel tribe, who were barely visible.

I sighed, then yelled “Damn it! I wanted it to be a surprise, but since you guys are going to keep freaking out the whole way back, my name is Lorelei Fleischer!” in an irritated voice, which just seemed to confuse them even more.

Trixie rode up next to me, on the left, and said “There’s no point in us surrounding them like this, I’m going to order everyone to return to base. You can stick around if you want, but if they decide to kill you… well, you have some grenades, a pistol and a meat cleaver.” in a completely emotionless voice, then started riding off into the distance, along with her army.

Rae-Rae didn’t seem to understand what was happening, so she just kept following behind me at a steady pace. After whispering to the man a few times, Ariya yelled “What’s happening?!” in a worried voice.

I yelled “Well, at our current pace, it’s gonna take us a few days to reach the gate! The two of us are actually going to go ahead as well! There shouldn’t be any magical beasts or enemies of any kind in this part of the forest…” in an irritated voice, as I lost sight of Trixie’s army, who just abandoned their great leader.

My bodyguard quickly rode up on my right and interrupted me by yelling “Lorelei! I can hear a massive wave of mana approaching us! It feels like thousands of magical beasts, and some of them are actually pretty powerful!” in a terrified voice.

I remembered two really important things at that moment, the first was that Rae-Rae was a battle virgin, regardless of how ridiculously strong she was, and the second was that my right hand woman was a complete asshole.

Luckily, even in a situation of imminent peril like that, I had a brilliant idea! Banks, places where people can store large quantities of their money, exchange currencies and even take out loans.

While I was thinking about the concept of paper money and how wasteful it was to use gold, silver and copper so frivolously, all fifteen thousand dark elves had stopped walking.

After hearing Rae-Rae yelling “Lorelei! What should we do!? There’s no way we can outrun them… shouldn’t we signal General Beatrix to return?!” in a frantic voice, I snapped back to reality and stopped my horse.

Then I got down off of him and packed the folded umbrella I was using away. Underneath my beautiful red dress, was some special armor that Lyn made for me, which was some kind of magical beast leather, with black mithril threads woven into it.

She said that it could protect me from most bullets and spells, so as long as I didn’t get my arms, legs or head cut off, I would be fine. Then I pulled out my trusty Meat Reaper, and turned to see the massive horde of dark elves, creating a formation where their warriors were on the outside and everyone else was in the center.

I looked over to Rae, who had finally gotten off of her horse and was standing to my right as I walked towards the front of the wedge shaped phalanx. The rather large, 165 cm tall man who was standing at the very front, was holding a steel spear in his right hand and a massive tower-shield in the left, that had a spike which stuck into the ground at the bottom of it.

He had a bright red mohawk, which apparently wasn’t that strange of a haircut for them, and both of his eyes were missing. There were giant scars around his sockets, which gave me the feeling that they were clawed out by some kind of creature with large talons.

Even though he couldn’t see in the usual way, his ears were still intact and when Rae-Rae walked in front of him, he had a strange expression. It was a combination of fear and awe, but she didn’t seem to understand the reason.

My mana vision wasn’t quite as extreme as Ethir’s, but I could see auras that were powerful enough. For that woman who called herself a sage, there was a barely noticeable dark blue whirlpool of discolored atmosphere around her body.

However, I literally couldn’t see my cute little friend beneath the massive globe of slowly spinning blood, unless I adjusted my beautiful blue eyes for a few seconds. Rae was what most mages would consider overpowered, but she had never actually used magic in combat.

Rather than making her fight, I yelled “Do that thing! You know, make a wall around all of them and yourself! There should be plenty of water, right?!” in a happy voice while looking towards her confused face, which actually took a decent amount of effort.

She finally seemed to understand what I was talking about, so I sprinted off to the east about 50 meters. When I turned around, I saw her sitting cross-legged, floating 10 meters above the center of the group of very confused elves, who were looking up at her nervously.

Then I quickly lost sight of her behind a massive dome of swirling water, which seemed to suck in all the rainfall from every direction. For a few moments, I could still see the reflective shields and armor, but then the temperature began to drop dramatically.

The rain turned into hail and the water slowly froze over, within minutes there was a gigantic icy dome, that even engulfed a few small trees. Rae and the dark elves were probably wondering why I was the only person outside of the relative safety of that glacial fortress.

Well, aside from enjoying warm climates, I also had a slight addiction… to butchery. It wasn’t like I was suicidal, I just loved the way it felt to be in a ridiculously dangerous situation, while hacking and slashing my way through hordes of tender meat.

My first wave of victims had finally come into view and the demon inside of me was starting to take control. I was never weak, but it wasn’t until Mikey left, that I truly became powerful.

It wasn’t like I could transform into a giant monster or use crazy magic… but I was way stronger, faster, and more agile than I ever thought possible. Plus, I had a massive collection of incredibly dangerous and helpful gadgets, that were custom made by the greatest inventor in the world, Ailyn Ironheart!

Trixie might have been a cold and ruthless bitch sometimes, but she wouldn’t have left the two of us on our own if she didn’t think we would survive. She probably received a telepathic warning from some of her squirrel tribe scouts and then had to quickly gather all of her troops and send them out to reinforce the 17 human and elven villages that were outside of the great fence.

Although, none of the wood elves that I asked about the storm, said anything about a tidal wave of magical beasts, so I had a feeling that they probably wouldn’t go very far into our territory. The mana deficient environment in the first ring of Lorthon, seemed to make them weaker and extremely uncomfortable.

However, there were a few new human settlements that were much deeper into the forest than they probably should have been. Without a protective fence like the squirrel tribe had, they would have been easy targets for a stampede of rampaging magical beasts.

Five gold, that was the usual price of an entire 2 meter tall, 600 pound, chicken. Well, they were worth a lot more if you could capture them alive and have them produce giant eggs… but killing them was much more entertaining.

There were a few of the ridiculously large roosters among the horde, but taking one of them down required a bit more finesse. When the line of white and brown birds were 10 meters away, they had finally come into my range.

I pressed the trigger mechanism near the top of Meat Reaper’s grip as I swung it with both hands, while putting all of my strength into the horizontal slash. As I jumped up into the air, my nearly rectangular blade, separated into four segments that were connected by several, very strong, steel wires.

From that point I had to exercise what little earth magic I knew and could use, to extend and retract the large chunks of very sharp metal. Each swing easily sliced through at least ten relatively tender necks.

However, they were still advancing at a steady pace and simply running over the corpses of their fallen comrades… well, they were just giant chickens. After they finally reached me, I had to enter phase 2 of my battle strategy, which involved jumping from bird to bird and slashing at their spines from close range.

It didn’t take long before I was passing the frozen dome, but that didn’t really matter. They simply avoided the strange phenomenon by dividing, I was riding on the southern side.

Some of them attempted to attack me, but they just ended up pecking into the backs of their allies. After a few minutes and a couple hundred dead chickens, I finally reached one of the gigantic rooster bosses.

Instead of slashing at it relentlessly, I sheathed Meat Reaper on my back and then decided to try out gadget number 1. Once gunpowder came into existence, my old bracer that used to launch poisonous needles became a bit underwhelming.

Sure, it was great for assassinations or whatever, but that wasn’t really my style. My right one was just an enhanced version of the original, which was just a wire that connected to my meat cleavers handle.

The left bracer was a gun, I had a revolver holstered on my right hip, but that was just a regular pistol. From how Lyn described it, there were a few hundred tiny bullets inside of the relatively thick cylinder, that covered my entire forearm.

I didn’t really care enough to remember all the details about how it worked, I just knew that the trigger was internal and I had to activate it using earth magic. Then I had to make sure that I never let it fire for more than a few rounds at a time, because it might jam or explode from the buildup of residue in the barrel.

It was difficult to aim and if my target wasn’t a gigantic eyeball that was only about 20 meters away, I probably would have missed. The first time I ever fired it, I almost killed Conor, because the recoil was ridiculous and I couldn’t stop shooting until it misfired, nearly blowing my arm off.

Luckily, his skin was practically bulletproof and out of the 20 rounds that actually hit him, only one of them managed to do any damage. Anyway, after lots and lots of practice, I actually became proficient enough to fire the bracer gun, while standing on the back of a giant chick and skillfully dodging incoming beaks.

It only took 6 bullets to burst the roosters left eye and while he didn’t die, the creature lost its balance and toppled over. In the process, at least a dozen of the smaller ones were crushed and many others were injured, then it raged about while laying on the ground and continued to massacre anything that came close to it.

The frozen dome was completely out of sight by then and I began to see beyond the poultry, the second wave was beef. Specifically, a much larger and stronger type of ox than what we normally used to pull wagons.

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter how many I killed, because I couldn’t even collect the meat after they died. Their carcasses were just trampled into pulp and I was still getting dragged away at about 20 miles per hour.

I decided to use gadget number two, which was also known as the stick grenade. It was pretty self-explanatory, but you basically just pulled the pin out at the bottom of the handle and threw the thing as far as possible.

Trixie didn’t like explosives because of their unpredictable nature, but I loved the thrill of not knowing if it might just blow up in your hand. Maybe I had some issues… but watching chunks of beef being flung in every direction, while shrapnel incapacitated or killed even more of them who were up to 10 meters away, was awesome.

I only had five of those though, so my fun ended pretty quickly. Gadget number three, were my shoes, they were basically metal talons that protected my toes and allowed me to do things like, digging my feet into the back of a giant bull.

It wasn’t quite as large as the rooster, but still tall enough that it took me a few minutes to climb up his left flank. That was after jumping off the back of one of the relatively normal sized oxen, but it was worth it.

At that point I was getting pretty tired, so I pulled out gadget number four… the mana seed injector. Well, it was just a regular revolver, the bullets were the only special thing about it.

One shot into the bulls right shoulder blade was all it took, with one of those 2 meter chickens, the effect would be a tree that would grow at a speed of 20 meters an hour for a few hours. With the massive ox, the effect was much more dramatic, he didn’t even stop running for the first few minutes while the huge tree was sprouting from his back.

It’s bark was bright red, just like the color of the blood that was pouring out of the gaping wound. It was a good thing that we weren’t on the road, because removing the unreasonably large mana tree, would have been extremely difficult.

When the magical ox finally collapsed, I just laid there on its rather comfortable back and took a quick nap. Even when it wasn’t standing up, the creature was large enough that only a ridiculously massive creature would be able to reach me.

However, the giant blood red tree was there as a sort of warning for the other magical beasts to avoid its corpse. The other purpose was as a beacon, and just like I predicted, after a few hours of rest, I woke up to the sound of gunfire.

When I looked around, I was being carried like a baby, by a giant man’s left arm. He was wearing a full suit of steel plate armor, that felt extremely uncomfortable, but there really wasn’t anyone close to his height among Trixie’s soldiers.

Connor was at least seven feet tall while wearing his usual gear, which was all custom made by the wonderful Lyn. He typically used a ridiculously large sword called a siege-blade, which was at least as tall and half as heavy as his body.

She told me that she had always wanted to try forging one, but in a city full of dwarves, elves, goblins and rat tribe… it would have been pointless. Until Rae’s nephew came along, then she had the perfect excuse to create a 250 pound, double edged great-sword that was nearly a meter wide at its base.

His other weapon, the one which woke me up, was similar to my bracer gun, but it was built into his right forearm’s armor, had three barrels, a lot larger ammo and only fired a single round at a time. Each time he used it, his armor would vibrate and I had no idea how I was able to sleep through that for so long.

He stopped shooting and tilted his head down towards me, his face was completely covered by his shiny steel helmet. I looked at my surroundings and noticed that there were a lot more gunshots going off, along with lots of yelling.

Conor yelled “Ah! I’m sorry Princess… I didn’t mean to wake you up, but as you can see, we’re kind of in a war-zone!” in a loud and surprisingly sincere voice. It was true, there were all kinds of magical beasts, from antler bears to giant badgers, while hundreds of people with guns, bows, crossbows, spears and just about every other kind of weapon, were fighting against them.

I yelled “Are we heading towards Rae-Rae? You can hear her right?” in a loud voice, while noticing that we were on the road and behind us were hundreds of wagons, that were being slowly filled with all kinds of meat.

It was definitely the BCHAA, reinforced by a decent amount of Trixie’s soldiers. His helmet covered his relatively small elven ears, so he had to remove it to hear mana properly.

Conor had just the right amount of elven femininity, mixed with very short, trimmed facial hair and long, wavy, golden blonde hair. His green eyes were extremely sexy and actually glowed in the relative darkness… actually, all of his skin typically radiated a decent amount of white light.

According to him, it was because Mikey failed to mention the consequences of using certain nature spells, so he was always luminescent, even if he didn’t want to be. It was one of the reasons he constantly wore full plate armor, he kind of developed a complex about it.

He looked out into the distance, while continuing to walk forward at a relatively quick pace. Then he yelled “Only a few miles away, we should be in less than an hour!” in a serious voice, while giving me a determined expression.

Conor always tried to act like my glowing knight in shining armor, unfortunately it was never anything more than some sort of chivalry. Only three months after he came to Black Mithril, he got married to that bimbo matriarch Hiwel and she was already a pregnant with his child.

I sighed, then yelled “Wake me up when we get there!” in an irritated voice, then climbed down from his gigantic body and onto the closest wagon. It had a large leather cover, so I could comfortably sleep without constantly being drenched… it made me wonder why he was even carrying me in the first place.

The delicious aroma of magical beast meat, roasting over dozens of massive campfires and the sound of thousands of people laughing and chatting filled the air outside of my covered wagon. My stomach forced me awake, because I was starving and I was feeling the urge to give a speech.

When I went outside, I noticed that we were inside of a ridiculously large tent that was big enough for all 15,000 dark elves and the 2000 or so BCHAA members, along with the whole caravan and all the animals to comfortably fit inside.

There was a particularly massive bonfire in the very center, that Rae, Conor, Ariya and lots of other people were standing near. When I got there, a gigantic pig was being spit roasted above the flame, so I quickly used two of my butcher knives, which weren’t gadgets, to slice a big chunk of its flank out and began stuffing my face.

After my appetite was sated, I walked over to the four people who seemed to be discussing something quite serious. Conor yelled “Finally! After all these years, I can finally have my revenge!” in a loud and overly excited voice.

Rae-Rae wasn’t saying anything, just staring at the fire listlessly, with a mournful expression. It felt like she was about to start crying at any moment, so I knew that it was the perfect time for my grand entrance.

I climbed up onto Conor’s left shoulder and then yelled “The adorable princess of Alfirin has arrived!” in an extremely loud voice, that seemed to get the attention of everyone inside of the tent. Ariya and that one guy who always seemed to be next to her, were looking up at me in confusion.

She said “We all thought you died…” in a worried voice, but before she could say anything else, I cut her off.

After laughing obnoxiously, I yelled “I’m the greatest butcher in the world! There’s no way I would get killed by a bunch of poultry and beef! Anyway, I was going to say this before, but Trixie interrupted me! Black Mithril is the capital city of my kingdom!” in a happy voice, while making a powerful pose.

There was a decent amount of chatter among my audience, but the two who were directly in front of me were simply wearing expressions that emanated doubt. Ariya said “The legendary ancient dark dwarven city… is being controlled by a rat tribe child?” in an irritated voice, while looking at Conor for the answer.

He started laughing, then said “Princess Lorelei is a great leader, regardless of her young age or extremely small body size. There are three matriarchs who govern the city, but everything within the first ring, for 300 miles north and south, is part of the country that she rules.” in a completely serious and proud voice, while puffing out his massive chest.

I yelled “Even that squirrel tribe village that you guys passed through is part of my kingdom! I assume that all of you were planning to seek refuge in my magnificent metropolis, right?!” in a stern voice, while giving my most natural smile.

She seemed to be in shock, so it took her a while to compose herself enough to do something unnecessary. After she got down on one knee, all of the other dark elves copied her, then she said “I apologize for my rudeness earlier, but you are correct. Our home, Angren, suffered a devastating blood elf outbreak… only 40,000 of us managed to escape. A fourth of us decided to go to the eastern city, White Mithril, but we are all that’s left of the survivors who tried to reach the mythical city, Black Mithril.” in a solemn voice, while looking up at me with a very determined expression.

I yelled “Yea, yea, I get the point! You were all citizens of Alfirin the moment you passed the test! Don’t grovel or beg, it’s depressing! Anyway, you can live wherever you want, as long as you can afford it!” in an irritated voice, then everyone stood up at about the same time.

Ariya said “Thank you, but we didn’t have enough time to bring along anything but the bare essentials…” in a nervous voice, while the man next to her was whispering something in her ear.

I sighed, then yelled “Rent is relatively cheap, buying property is a bit more expensive! Although, I doubt that any of you will have much trouble finding work! Alfirin Academy is in desperate need of magic teachers and since most of you guys look like adventurers or soldiers, none of you should be unemployed!” in an excited voice, while thinking about how incredibly useful that new batch of elves would be.

Their expressions seemed to liven up a bit after that, so I continued by saying “Anyway, if you wanted to, you could all just buy some cheap property out in the middle of the forest and then live like most of the wood elf villages do. Sooner or later, the entire continent will be part of our country, so eventually your homeland will be recaptured and renovated.

After this damn storm is finally over, construction will resume on New Black Mithril, which is a third the size of the original, but completely above ground. Also…” unfortunately, my speech was cut short by the sound of gunshots and screaming.

It was coming from outside the tent, on the northern side, which was where Conor quickly ran towards. I was still standing on his shoulder, but that was fine, because I was slightly interested in what was happening as well.

As soon as we were through the exit, he unsheathed his gigantic, shiny siege-blade and wielded it with both hands. I jumped down from his shoulder and brandished Meat Reaper, then we both began sprinting forward at an impressive speed.

It was difficult to actually hear the gigantic creature’s roar, over the sound of thunder above our heads, but I could definitely see what everyone was shooting at in the distance. There was a massive dragon running towards us, at least as big as the one that nearly wiped out Black Mithril.

The creature was 15 meters tall, while standing on four legs, and its body was covered in thin green scales which didn’t seem that durable. Bullets were piercing its body, but they were far too small to actually do any serious damage.

It didn’t have any wings, horns, or a very impressive maw… it actually looked more like a ridiculously over-sized lizard. The gigantic bastard was running about fifty miles an hour, but that was actually to our advantage.

When it saw us, its head turned immediately towards me and a massive tongue was fired from its mouth like a bullet. However, I pulled Meat Reaper’s trigger, jumped a few meters into the air, then did three front flips with the blade at its maximum extension.

I’m sure I looked like a huge circular saw for a few seconds, that was easily slicing through the middle of the creatures tongue meat. The moment I landed, I witnessed Conor jumping at least 5 meters in the air, while making a clean, horizontal slash across the lizard’s front left elbow.

Before landing, he actually managed to amputate its back left foot, at the ankle. Which made the rapidly moving giant monster, fall on its face, flip up into the air about ten meters, then land on its back and skid a couple hundred meters.

Thousands of gallons of blood were spraying out of its mouth and what was left of its left limbs, while its tail was whipping around violently. Conor sprinted past me, so fast that I was nearly knocked over by the sudden gust of wind he created, and reached the wounded fake dragon, before it was able to do any damage to the tent that was only a few dozen meters away.

If I wasn’t so dizzy from my acrobatic earth magic maneuver, I would have been able to have fun violently butchering the lizard while it was still alive. Oh well, at least I was able to watch him hacking and slashing at its massive neck for a few minutes, before finally severing its head.

After seeing us slaughtering the pseudo-dragon so easily, the dark elves seemed to show a bit more respect and a lot more fear towards us. I finished giving my speech, which took a few hours, then pretty much everyone went to sleep.

Getting from there to the city took about a week, but there were barely any chances for me to show off my awesome butchery skills after that giant lizard. Luckily, I was able to regale them with tales of my amazing adventures, while managing to include some shameless Lorelei Inc. advertisement.

That tidal wave of magical beasts was a one time thing and once they spread out and settled into their new environment, it wasn’t any more dangerous than the second ring. The BCHAA was able to gather so much meat during those two and a half months, that the prices were driven down to the point where anyone could afford it.

Just like I predicted, the dark elves decided to live in Black Mithril, which was very similar to their original city, Angren. I was actually impressed that they managed to make it through so much of the third ring, but they did lose half of their warriors and mages in the process.

Rae-Rae seemed pretty depressed for a long time after that, and she never told anyone what was wrong. Although, I heard from Conor that it had something to do with the blood elf plague, but he didn’t want to go into details.

Aside from the dark elves, there were a few thousand other new residents who entered our territory due to the storm. Rabbit, squirrel, and rat tribe families were often found in the second ring and offered citizenship in our kingdom, so it wasn’t that surprising to find a large influx of them who were looking for a safe haven to settle down in.

However, there was a massive migration of cat tribe, coming from the north. They weren’t exactly as fearsome as all the horror stories had claimed.

Actually, they were all pacifists and vegetarians… so I guess there was at least a few reasons for me and Trixie to dislike them. For the most part, they looked exactly the same as pale skinned humans, the only difference was their eyes, ears, and tails.

The only meat that they would eat was fish, which was also their favorite type of food. Which was why most of them decided to live along the lake to the south.

Since it was a ridiculously dangerous place for a bunch of idiots who can’t even defend themselves to live, I made sure that they had a dozen of Trixie’s soldiers to protect their fishing villages.

It was also around that time, that I convinced about 500 or so mermaids to start living near them, in the relatively shallow part of the lake. They weren’t strong enough to survive in the deeper areas, but the shoreline was a perfect starting point for them to build their nests.

I once heard a story about an ancient elven city which was located on the island in the middle of the lake, but a giant aquatic demon destroyed the massive pillars that were keeping it above water.

The city sank to the bottom, but they didn’t drown because they used some sort of advanced nature magic to transform themselves into mermaids. After slaying the monster which nearly devoured them, they built an even greater metropolis from the wreckage of their old home.

A few miles under the water, at the very center of the lake, there was supposedly a kingdom that managed to continue its existence for thousands of years. Obviously, I wanted to conquer… invite them into our, much better, country.

It was going to take at least twenty years for our mermaid population to be large enough to attempt something like that though. Well, a lot can happen in two decades and things never quite go as planned, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make preparations.

In the six months following the storm, nothing too dramatic or interesting happened. Lots of construction, renovations, inventions and babies… unfortunately, I was still an innocent maiden who never even had a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The first Lorelei Inc. Bank was created and along with the printing press, Lyn was able to successfully invent a way to cheaply fabricate a new form of currency. It was almost completely made from the wood of unreasonably fast growing mana trees.

To make it as simple as possible, we kept the same terminology and color coded the small, rectangular pieces of paper. Each bill’s value was determined by the number, which was in each of the four corners and on the center of the back.

They were split into denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and since 100 copper or silver was equivalent to one of the next color, only gold had bills with that number. They each had elaborate designs on them that were difficult to reproduce, and Ethir managed to find a way to inscribe magical runes into the official printing presses that we used to make them.

The bills were nearly impossible to edit and very difficult to destroy, but the most important thing was that they could be easily verified by anyone wearing Lyn’s mana glasses. Which allowed normal people to see strong auras, but they were pretty difficult to make and unless you had a job that required you to use them, they were kind of pointless.

Coin pouches became obsolete, but that just gave us the upper hand by selling our innovative new wallets, which were designed to hold paper money. People were a little hesitant at first to trade in their copper, silver and gold, for the new and extremely suspicious form of currency, but it wasn’t like they really had a choice.

They needed to buy and sell things, so there was only one option available to them, Alfirin dollars. It didn’t take long for them to realize how much easier and more efficient the new cash was, within a year of the storm, everyone in the kingdom was using it.

Obviously, the best part about the new currency was that on each one of the bills, was my beautiful face! Well, I was only on the singles… which had nothing to do with my relationship status.

Rae was on the fives, Aunt Nadja was on the tens, Lyn wanted to be on the twenty fives for some reason, Hiwel picked the fifties, and Trixie was on the hundred gold dollar. At least that was what the original bills looked like, they changed a decent amount over the years, for various reasons.

Anyway, plenty of other random boring stuff happened during that year, but the most important thing was my extravagant and extremely expensive ninth birthday party. It was actually the first one I ever held, but you get the point.

Since it was technically the second anniversary of the dragon attack, I was able to turn it into a nationwide holiday without seeming overly vain. I gave a big speech about… something that I can’t really remember, and then watched the unarmed combat tournament.

It wasn’t very surprising when Conor won in the one versus a hundred match, where nearly every one of his opponents was seriously injured and nearly died. Trixie won the archery competition that was held afterwards, then Ariya and the red goblin matriarch Lachel performed a magic show.

They were barely clothed and some of the things that they did, weren’t exactly magical in the conventional sense. Erotic elemental battle dancing, was what they called it, but I thought the name was more like an exact description.

That was followed by Hiwel’s new stand-up comedy act, which was lesbian jokes for the first half and then a list of reasons why having babies was a terrible idea. A decent amount of the content involved, a detailed explanation of how having sex with Conor, was more painful than giving birth.

After that was a boring sports match, where a bunch of people kicked a leather ball around a field and tried to get it into the other teams net. Ethir was the coach of the red team and aunt Nadja was in charge of the blue one.

I didn’t stick around to find out who won, because I was way too tired and honestly didn’t care. My house was in the northeastern corner of the clearing in the upper city, which was also known as the Lorelei District.

OK, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a house, but more like a small castle. Even though there were lots of maids and butlers, I didn’t really have any family, so my over-sized home was very lonely.

Well, I did have a ridiculously large amount of money in my vault, along with lots and lots of treasure. From my bedroom balcony, I could see the entire town, there was also a very large pool, where I often swam naked and alone.

That giant black tower was much taller than my triangular castle, but I could see the roofs of every other building in the upper city. In the very center was Alfirin National Mall, which was at least five stories tall and was shaped like a giant triangular pyramid.

The northwestern corner of town was a residential area that had hundreds of large and tall buildings, which contained apartments that could be rented or bought. It was all farmland for miles outside of the city and during the day, it was possible to see a few elven and human villages in the distance from my balcony.

However, the horizon was blocked in every direction, by a wall of gigantic mana trees which were at least six miles away. I had already accomplished my childhood ambitions and much more than I ever even thought about before meeting Michael, but there was always something else to do.

Since the day he left, I was always far too busy to get much sleep, or maybe I just missed being comforted by him so much, that I was afraid of dreaming. When I laid down on my bed that could easily fit three people who were Conor sized, I had that same old nightmare that seemed to plague me since I was a child.

Maybe there was some significance, since it was my birthday, or perhaps it was just a random coincidence. It began the same way that it always did, I was a baby and my beautiful mother, who looked exactly like me without the snake eyes or fangs, was cradling my tiny body in her arms.

She said some words that I couldn’t quite understand and then handed me to my father. After that, she walked over to the kitchen and pulled out Papa’s favorite butcher knife, then slit her own throat.

I think that she was smiling, but it only lasted for a moment, before a gigantic snake tribe woman tore its way out of Mama’s body. At that point, I crawled up on my fathers shoulders and started yelling at the creature… but no words would come out of my mouth.

All I could do was squeak and cry as the monster, who had my eyes, slithered over to my father and then began shredding his body apart with her claws. My pure white fur was being painted red with his blood, but there was nothing I could do to help him.

With his last breath, he looked into the beast’s eyes and said “I love you…” then she wrapped her left hand around his neck and easily ripped his head off. His body disappeared and I was suddenly standing on Lyn’s shoulder, she was just smiling like an idiot at the demon who was about to devour her.

I tried to yell at her, warn her that it wasn’t me… but she just said “It’s OK Lorelei, I forgive you.” in a sincere voice, while gazing up at the monster. Then the carnage continued, one by one, every person that I even slightly cared about was slaughtered by my alter ego.

The last one was someone that I didn’t even recognize and he didn’t seem to know me either. He was nearly the same height as the 2 meter tall snake tribe woman, who had no legs… so she was technically a lot longer than she was tall.

However, that didn’t change the fact that the boy or man, who had massive ram horns coming out of the sides of his head, three eyes, long black hair that ran down to his waist and decently toned muscles, was staring at the monster as an enemy.

When she tried to lunge at him, he raised his right hand and a powerful bolt of lightning came out from each of the extremely long claws, which slightly resembled fingernails. It felt like my whole body was being torn apart and then the snake woman exploded, leaving nothing but my true form behind.

I blinked and when I opened my eyes again, I was looking directly at him, then I immediately yelled “Mikey!” in a happy voice. He definitely looked a lot different, but his two normal eyes were exactly the same as before.

He tilted his head a bit and said “You look familiar… who are you?” in a curious voice, while smiling at me. His fangs reminded me of Rae-Rae, but I was a little distracted because my eye level was only about the height of his waist.

After a few seconds of inappropriate staring and uncomfortable silence, I said “It’s me, your cute little girlfriend Lorelei. What, you leave for two years and now you can’t even remember my name?” in an irritated voice, while pouting as innocently as possible.

He knelt down and was at eye level with me, only a few inches away from my face. Then he smiled and said “I think I remember you now… Loreliar.” in a happy voice, while putting his giant hand, on the entire left side of my neck and head.

It felt like my blood was boiling for a moment and when I looked down at my arms, my fur had turned black and on each of my hands was the number seven, which was still white. I yelled “What’s happening?! Michael, my body feels weird! I think I might be going into heat, maybe we should have sex?!” in a worried voice, while trying to convince my regular dream to turn into a wet one.

He started laughing, then said “Stop freaking out, I was just unlocking your seal… it seems I was correct in choosing you as the key to my memories of those first seven years. Well, some parts are still obscured, but at least I remember the most important things, like you and the others.” in a solemn voice, while closing his golden, vertical eye.

My fur changed back to its normal color and my body stopped feeling so strange, but my heart was still beating incredibly fast. I sighed, then said “Where are you now? What have you been doing all this time?” in a curious voice, while making my most adorable expression possible.

Michael smiled at me and said “Conquering the third ring of Lorthon, or at least the north eastern part of it. I’m at a place called Ael Tol, it’s about eighty miles northeast of Angren, the underground city that the dark elves used to live in.” in a tired voice, while patting my head like I was a little kid.

I said “Oh yea, that place, we got a bunch of refugees from there about a year ago. Lyn figured out how to operate that train you sent us, but we still haven’t gotten around to using it yet.” in a casual voice, but then his expression seemed slightly worried.

He said “Oh shit! I just realized that all those hundreds of thousands of blood elves I saw were probably heading towards you guys. Well, I’m sure you should be fine, but there’s no guarantee that they’re all going west. If there’s anyone in White Mithril, they’re going to need help and I can’t do it myself.” in an irritated voice, then sighed dramatically.

I laughed, then made a heroic pose while yelling “Don’t worry, your reliable partner, The Adorable Princess of Butchery, will personally… send Conor to save them!” in a confident voice.

Michael was wearing a warm smile, as he said “Thank you Lorelei, I know it must have been tough and probably lonely, but we will see each other again soon. Happy birthday…” in a sincere voice.

Then he kissed the tip of my pink nose, very lightly, and I woke up wondering if that was really just a dream.

 

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