Interlude: Meeting the Harem

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Nora looked over the small house owned by her cousin Gorgox, that was currently being lent to her new husband. In this subpar neighborhood, the odors of subpar living conditions and some less than legal substances leaked from a few houses. She scrunched her nose. Of course, Gorgox would force them to move here in his anger after being tricked. More than once, hoodlums had approached her. In fact, here came another. Little did these weak Leveled common Thug-Classers know that she was a [Warsmith] by birth and trade. To her, knowing how to use weapons came with knowing how to make them. After all, how could she make better designs without knowing how Warriors would use them? She merely needed to release a little bit of her bloodlust, and they would run off. The [Thug] walked up to her, scratching his groin. He mocked, “Hey, pretty girl. You want to meet my second tail tonight?” 

A bit tired of all this, Nora pulled out an enchanted wand and shot a beam of fire right beneath the Kabali’s ear. He yelped in surprise before glaring at her. She growled, “The next one is going to make sure you only have one tail.” Retreating a bit, the Kabali puffed up his chest. “You dare? My boys will f*ck you up! Not to mention the Kabali [Guards]!” 

Nora sighed. “I’m a [Craftingmaster]’s daughter. Do you really want to see what I’ve got in my hands.” 

Suddenly paling, the [Thug] kneeled down. “Maam, please if you have any needs, I’ll be sure to serve you! My boys and I will make sure your stay in our place is completely to your comfort.” 

“Just stay out of my way.” Ignoring him, she went toward James’s rented place.

She knew her time was valuable, but all she could do was stand outside, looking at the closed door. A hint of nervousness appeared in the heart of this fierce Kabali female’s heart. She reasoned to herself it was just because of the fresh aroma hanging around the building. Unlike many of the other unsavory buildings, this one had a modest smell of freshly baked bread and some roasting meat drafting out from inside. It made her mouth water. Grubs were a common staple of her home, but even she could not afford meat more than a few times a week, and even then, it was usually something simple such as a few sausages or pieces of bacon. Wheat for bread was even rarer in the mountainous underground. The norm was a mold-based bread that was more grown than baked in the traditional human sense. Her love for her homeland was already gradually transforming into an interest in the unexplored unknown beyond her mountain. 

Standing in front of the door, Nora hesitated, aware that people would soon start to wonder what someone like her was doing here. One part of her wanted to go in and find the man that had entered her life like a storm. Another did not want to meet the other women he already had. What if they simply outshone her in every way possible? Having multiple partners was the norm for Kabali, so she was fine with that aspect. It was just that ordinarily such groups were formed over entire childhoods and pre-arranged by clans. Rarely did a spontaneous incursion to an already set-up group end well for all involved. She placed her scaled hand on the doorknob, taking a deep breath and preparing to meet James and his family. A sultry voice rang out from behind her. “I smell master on you.”

Nora jumped, both startled and shocked, to discover a beautiful Hersha who had so easily snuck up on her. A trickle of fear sprung through her, how had anyone been able to sneak on her. The Level required would be. She squinted at this new figure: the Hersha didn’t seem that old, even by Hershan standards. Sneaking up on her was certainly not an easy thing to do considering that she had been trained to be a [Warsmith] by her father and had the skills and Skills necessary to protect herself from capture, death and her knowledge from leaving her possession. Even without bloodlust, she had been known to find more than one infiltrator attempting to pilfer the loose blueprint or plans left half-finished across the workshop. Her father was not that careful. If she could catch a professional [Thief], it meant her Skills for finding such secretive lurkers were quite powerful, so her surprise was quite genuine. However, her surprise quickly gave way to a different, more conflicted emotion, as the last words the Hersha had said registered. Nor clarified, “You mean James? Yes, part of the prize of the contest was for him to become my husband.” 

Frowning, the catgirl corrected, “You mean that you would get to become his wife. My name’s Kira. I was James’s first.” Ignoring the fact that she didn’t actually know whether James had been a virgin before he had met her, Kira sniffed. “Though, I guess you’ll do for him.” The Hersha took a moment to look around and make sure there were no suspicious characters around before gesturing toward the front door. Without any reason to refuse, Nora took the invitation and followed behind Kira.

Kira looked at the Kabali a little annoyed. It was bad enough when a certain annoying [Knight] was trying to butt into her happy time with James, but now there would be another. Struggling to conceal her irritation, little did Kira suspect that Nora was already well aware of the Hersha’s hidden emotions. Kira first proceeded to open the door for the new addition before setting the bag down on a table and heading into the kitchen. She’d just bought some new food to cook later for the group. Diana had been supposed to watch the roast while she was gone, but camping skills did not make one a decent cook. Finding Diana had already long left the kitchen and that the roast had consequently been seared harder on one side, she determined that that part of the meat was instantly Diana’s, but that would be for later. Now, Kira turned the spit before setting up what she had bought for dinner. She’d have to complain to the [Knight] later. No doubt, the girl had gone to practice her sword Skills or something. Didn’t she know that just relaxing and gaining insights from nature would be more than enough to Level and increase Skills? At least, that was how it worked for her… First, she rinsed her hands with some fresh water from the fields that she had acquired by herself. After all, James had warned her of microscopic creatures beyond even her eyesight that could contaminate food. There she’d had a bit of fun, but she’d quickly discovered that the pleasure had been no match for the real thing with James. In addition to the water, there was some green mold something that tasted not as bad as most of the other things sold underground. Their supply of mushrooms, the only other thing she could stand, had become old after their months of waiting. Ignoring the Kabali woman who awkwardly sat in the living room, Kira tried to figure out how to make a meal that would be sufficient for her favorite person in the whole world. 

With them having been underground a week before they had even arrived at the city and more than a month of waiting for the contest, winter was already nearly ending. Kira could sense from her |Ancestral Senses| that the brunt of it would be over within a few days, with a bit of cold straggling on for maybe a week or two after, so their itinerary to leave by the end of the week made perfect sense. With travel to the edge of the mountains planned to take around ten days, Kira deemed that another half a month of nothing but mushrooms would be far too much for everyone’s palates, so she had come up with the excuse of cooking some meat for James’s victory. Before she had left to grab some more cooking supplies, she had pulled out some of the stored wheat they’d brought all the way from Natusha Kingdom to bake some fresh bread. Taking in the fresh aroma, she pouted: it had been too long since she had last taken in such a delicious smell. She missed home, where she could easily cook such things every day. Then, back in those simple days of being with James and on occasion going to the orphanage, she could just relax knowing that she was properly serving her master. Despite all that, there was one thing she knew she could not do for James, a thing that filled her with great sorrow. The whole reason why she had not resisted as much as she could have when she had first started seeing James and Diana growing closer together was that she lamented the fact that she would never be able to bear him children. Perhaps, some small part of her wished to take care of James’s spawn, even if it wasn’t hers. She owed him that much. She turned to glance at Nora out of the side of her eye. Now, there was a new girl in her life. Other than knowing that she was some kind of Builder’s daughter and that James and she were together, making him too tired to even have a happy time with her when he had returned the next day, she knew nothing about this mysterious Kabali. With that in mind, she decided to look into her master’s new mistress. Perhaps he’d done some super embarrassing things with her? Kira sword to tease James extra hard the next time she saw him.

Diana had charged up from downstairs when she’d heard the subtle creak of a door opening the floor above. Although she’d been in charge of watching over the roasted meat, she’d figured it’d be fine if she checked. After all, the meat wouldn’t sear itself in a few minutes. Then, she’d found a rather interesting discovery. Unfortunately, said discovery hadn’t been able to put up a good fight. Even without her sword, Diana had finished subduing him within a few minutes. Leaving the intruding Kabali tied up and gagged upstairs, she came down to witness Kira rushing into the kitchen with all haste and another Kabali. Uh oh, she’d taken too long. Diana decided she had better avoid the kitchen, instead focusing on the literal nine-foot giant sitting in the middle of the room.

Unlike the one she had just subdued, this one was not a [Thief], but a Crafter of some sort, and not an ordinary crafter. Gauging up Nora’s muscles, Diana quickly realized that this one knew how to fight. In fact, she suspected that even with Kira and her together, they would not be able to beat this new addition, not easily at least. She didn’t actually know the full extent of Kira’s power, but she was sure that this Nora, when properly prepared could take on two [Knight]s of her level. At a conservative guess from the Kabali’s aura, this woman was at least in the upper 30s in Level. Based on her still youthful but fully developed looks, the new addition was older than her by a few years but not as old as James seems to be. While she didn’t know exactly any of James stats were, he had the appearance of a mid-thirty-year-old man. She’d never dared to put him under a full scanner device, and her casual [Aura Scan] hadn’t revealed anything at the time. Saving those thoughts for later, she refocused on the Kabali. Activating her [Aura Sense], she determined that this Kabali had a life reading strength of a human in their teens. With a life expectancy of nearly a hundred and fifty years, that would scale to the late twenties for a Kabali woman since life signatures scaled with a species’s maximum age. This Kabali would be in her early to mid-twenties at the latest. The prime of her life but past the age to continue her physical growth. 

Only allowed on

Then Diana realized it had been over a minute, and they had only been looking at each other. Perhaps this Kabali woman had been examining her stats too. Thinking on the situation and remembering James’s constant advice to carefully consider a situation instead of rashly charging in, she took a deep breath. This was likely the spontaneous spouse he had mentioned when he had come back the night before. While she originated from a monogamous society, Diana had not really shunned James for Kira since there had been extenuating circumstances around their relationship, but this new addition put things into a more complicated state. Resigning herself to conceal her negative feelings for the time being, she opened her mouth to introduce herself when the door swung open, and in came James hefting a rather sizeable box. Seeing the two in the living room, he turned to Diana first. “Could you keep Kira company for a few minutes. I’ve got to talk to Nora about something quickly. Alone.”

- my thoughts:
This chapter was a bit rushed, so it didn't have quite the flow I wanted... but hopefully?
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