Chapter 37: An Exchange of Prizes

After the award ceremony came a congratulatory celebration at Kornor’s place. A strangely excited Gorgox came along as the sponsor, but Kira, Diana, and Howard had to remain behind. While they had been a bit disappointed, the excitement of James’s victory and his personal promise that he would celebrate with them as well later quelled their complaints. Nevertheless, despite the strict regulations around it, the celebration was nothing more than small talk over dinner. Thankfully, this one was far more appetizing than his previous taste of Kabali food with Gorgox, having plates of roast beef as well as some other more normal dishes, and James found himself rather enjoying the meal. However, James quickly tired of listening to the countless praises offered by the various influential Kabali and decided he needed some rest. Noticing James’s gradual boredom, the Kabali woman from before guided James to a bedroom that was dark when they entered. She lit a lantern as the door quietly closed behind her.

Tensing up, James looked around warily. “What is going on?” His hand rose to his side as he prepared to summon his weapons. After all, it was possible some Kabali would seek to use his inventions for war. 

Without turning to face him, the female examined a wall of colored glass. “Fear not. We have a few moments. That idiot Gorgox had no interest in the officially listed prize of the contest. He thought he was so clever by getting you to do his dirty work since he would’ve lost face had he just used some random [Mechanic] from his house.” 

James rubbed the back of his head. “Yea, I thought that was the case. He was trying to act too smart for his own good. Typical [Merchant] stuff. Still, I owed him a favor.” 

She looked at James as she straightened up to tower over him like most other Kabali. “You are an honorable male.” She paused, hesitating for a moment. Next, she unfastened her top and let it slide to her feet. Stepping beyond the pile of cloth, she slowly turned to face him, shyly covering her breasts. 

James spoke up. “I feel like I’m missing something. What’s going on?” 

She looked at the glass again before whispering, “The whole idea behind the contest was to find me the best mate.” 

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James seemed slightly disappointed. “Let me guess, Gorgox knew about this.”

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She nodded. “I am the daughter of the most senior [Builder] of my people. It was obvious that I had to find a mate who met a certain…” She looked at James with a judging eye and sighed. “Alright, I could never date because my dad’s an overbearing ass. Everyone in the whole city knows of my father’s position, and the hell he can bring down. However, even he eventually saw that he was getting older and agreed to let me finally find a man. Since I didn’t want to get too many suitors bothering me, I told him of a standard even he did not think he could meet when he was our age, but low and behold, you met them. Your invention was quite shocking, to say the least, but the test was more than that. The [Apprentice]s were also spies for us, telling us about everything that happened. As well as performing some spying for corporations on the side, or depending on how much a contestant was favored, spying on other warehouses for them. However, yours, surprisingly, were the only ones not to be bought off by the other contestants, even after being told they could do so without consequence. It’s quite commendable. Plus you showed a true inventor’s spirit by not even sneaking a peek at what the others were building.” 

Struggling to contain his laughter, James wondered what type of inventors the Kabali made. It seemed truly cutthroat… and besides, he had little interest in armaments of war and could probably make better versions of anything the Kabali came up with. James rubbed the back of his head again in thought. “I wondered why they were acting strange a few times, but as to the matter at hand, are you sure that you’re fine with this? I don’t want you to feel forced into it.” He gestured toward the room. “It’s not exactly the dream most virgins have…” 

Stepping closer, she nodded and almost seemed to blush with her tongue sticking out. “I must admit I do find many agreeable traits in you. Perhaps, it will work out, perhaps not. Still, I would not mind journeying with you.”

Shrugging his shoulders, James asked, “Well, at least, what’s your name?”

The Kabali blinked in surprise before warmly smiling. “Ha ha! You’re really not like Kabali men. Call me Noralida, or Nora for short.” 

James embraced her, his hands sliding below her waist, mostly because she was a full foot taller than him. Arching her neck down, she placed a kiss on his lips, and they fell into bed. 

——-

Behind the colored glass, Kornor blinked before turning away with a blush rising on his cheeks. His baby daughter sure was growing up fast. Well, it seemed this [Engineer] was certainly not lacking in the important departments. Kornor coughed. He was thinking about James’s intelligence and brilliant blueprints, of course. Right. Of course. 

With his musings done, Kornor examined the magical report of the results from the blood test performed in the entry exams for the contest. James’s very skilled answers and high education level did not even catch his eye, but his species certainly did. Unlike all other humans who were usually Lorden, or in the rare case, some ancestral beast mix, James was something else… something ancient and spoken of only in legends. Legends that spoke of a people who had held unequal power. Then, the door to the room opened, and Gorgox was ‘shown’ in by the [Sentries]. Surprisingly, Kornor didn’t even try to hide the fornication happening behind him. Meanwhile, Gorgox’s expression of irritated annoyance vanished as surprise overshadowed it upon his seeing that his ultimate prize was being claimed by another. Then, a bright rage colored his normally brownish scaled face red.

Kornor sighed. “ Did you really think you would win my daughter, Gorgox? To claim her, you had to show yourself the best [Builder], not some clever [Merchant] who thinks of making Seedz over his own kin. I know about your arrangement, but my daughter set the conditions very clearly. From what I see he qualifies more in terms of being a man and a good partner…” 

Stilling the embarrassment that threatened to materialize on his face, Kornor peered through the glass as his daughter started screaming about coming to see the gods loudly enough to be heard through the thick glass before she collapsed onto the bed, and James slowly lay down beside her. The sheen of sweat on both of their panting bodies glinted beneath the candle’s glow. Gorgox’s face contorted as he struggled to resist lashing out at Kornor before hastily turning to leave while Kornor held a smirk on his face. He could not pin down what made him happier, the look on his nephew or the thought of trying out a few of the moves he had just seen with a woman. He had not even known a woman’s body could bend like that, to think that James could manipulate his spear into such a tight angle… Kornor mused that he would have to assure that his next mate practiced yoga. 


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