Chapter 260 - Naiad

Bonus chapter 1 of 3

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From his Magmic Steel cuirass down to his Skyflax padding, all of Leon’s armor was carefully removed by the nymph, and she took her time, obviously savoring the removal of every piece.

For his part, Leon desperately tried to think of a way out of this, but he couldn’t even move, let alone fight.  He was powerless to stop the nymph from taking off his shirt and running her hands over all of him in her reach.

[It’s true what my mother told me about human males,] she whispered, and for the first time, Leon truly looked at her.  Her right index finger traced a line down the center of his chest and abdomen, but there was some slight trembling that Leon picked up on.

“You don’t have to do this, we don’t know each other, I don’t even know your name!” Leon babbled, hoping that if he got her talking then he would have more time.

[I do have to do this, though,] the nymph replied, returning Leon’s gaze and giving him another predatory look like he was just a bunny caught in her trap.

“No one has to do anything!” Leon shouted.

[Then you don’t have to resist,] she countered as her fingers hooked around Leon’s pants while his shirt was tossed onto the same pile as his armor.

“Don’t do this,” Leon muttered, his complete helplessness causing his voice to shake, and his eyes grow watery for the first time in longer than he could remember.  He wasn’t the fifth-tier knight anymore, he was now just a helpless teenager in the jaws of a snake.

Finally, the nymph’s hands stopped before Leon was completely exposed, but she did not remove them from his pants.  Her look of glee faded while her subtle anxiety grew more obvious.

‘This isn’t at all like what Mother said would happen…’ she thought to herself.  She only had a few opportunities to see her servants taking human men for sex, and Leon wasn’t acting like any of them.  Usually, the men were more than eager to participate, at least until the nymphs had taken their fill and the men were eaten.

[You… are male, correct?] the nymph asked.  She’d seen so few humans that she wasn’t even sure what a female human looked like; she had no way to compare.  Besides, most of the humans caught by her lesser nymphs were Talfar fishermen, who were more often than not thickly bearded and sported much longer hair.  Leon’s clean-shaven face and short hair weren’t something that the nymph had seen before.

Leon glared at her; his eyes dry after having taken the few moments she was lost in thought to compose himself.  The nymph could tell by his aura that he was preparing for another blast of lightning, but she wasn’t concerned.  He wasn’t nearly strong enough to harm her in any significant way, and she had to do this.

The tightened her grip on Leon’s pants and was just about to pull them down when she stopped again.

[Out of curiosity,] she began, [why is knowing the name of your partner important?]

The question caught Leon completely off-guard.  The lightning raging through his body calmed for a moment as he began to hope that maybe, just maybe, she was still open to reason.

“It’s important to be relaxed, to feel safe when connected with someone like that,” Leon explained as Elise flashed through his mind.  He quickly clamped down on thoughts of her, though.  He loved her, but if this nymph wanted to take him by force, he wasn’t going to make it easier by thinking about his lover.  “It leaves a person vulnerable, and they have to trust their partner to not cause them pain… unless they want it… which I don’t…”

The nymph sat back, finally letting go of Leon’s pants as she contemplated his words.  Leon kept on rambling in an attempt to buy time, but she stopped paying attention.  There was something about his words that were striking a chord with her, but her mother also taught her to choose her partners carefully and to take what she wanted when she had the opportunity, leaving no option for them to refuse.

[Mmmmm, you humans have strange customs, reproduction should just be done!  No point in dancing around it, I’m strong and you’re weak, but your blood is strong!  My daughters will have that blood!] the nymph eventually said as she turned back to him.  [But, if it makes it any easier, you can call me Naiad.]

She reached for Leon again, but lightning exploded out of him and she instinctively pulled her hands back.  A few arcs of lightning zapped her a few times, but she wasn’t that injured by any of them.  If anything, Leon’s silver lightning was little more than a nuisance, but it also ruined her mood.

Naiad’s aura exploded out of her, completely suppressing Leon’s own and his lightning withered away as his breath was forcibly expelled from his compressed chest.

[You’re making this far more difficult than it needs to be,] she said with more than a hint of anger.

“You’re assaulting me!” Leon unexpectedly roared, causing Naiad to imperceptibly flinch.  “I will resist you with everything I have!”

Naiad and Leon stared at each other.  Both were motionless, but Leon was still being held down while Naiad was paralyzed by indecision.

And then, Naiad’s aura fell back down to more normal levels and the pressure on Leon abated.  Even the magic that was preventing his movement relaxed, though not enough for him to do more than gingerly adjust his position on the ground.

[Why do you resist?] Naiad asked, looking down on Leon with a mix of anger, frustration, and genuine curiosity.  [All those captured by the lesser nymphs for mating were quite willing, but you refuse me.  Why?]

“I don’t want to have sex with you,” Leon said simply.  “The more you push, the less I want it.”

Again, the two fell into a long silence as they stared at each other, Leon lying in the dirt at the foot of a tree and Naiad standing over him.

[Why…] Naiad hesitantly began before seeming to think twice.  [What would make you willing?] she eventually asked.

Leon looked back at her and whispered, “I’m not sure that’s possible.”

Naiad sighed, then snapped her fingers and Leon was almost blinded by a bright flash of green light.  When his vision returned, he found that he could move again.

[Don’t go far,] Naiad ordered.  [If you try to run, I will bind you again.]

Leon slowly sat up and, when it was clear that Naiad wasn’t going to try and stop him, reached for his shirt.  He contemplated putting the rest of his armor back on, but he decided that it was best for the time being to leave all of it and his sword where they were.

When he finished getting dressed again—Naiad watching him the entire time—the two awkwardly stood there for what seemed like hours.

[I… can’t let you go,] Naiad whispered.

“Can you tell me where we are?” Leon asked.

[Seven long-counts from Saron,] she replied.

Leon blinked in confusion, then murmured, “I have no idea what that means…”

[Saron is where I was born, and a long-count is… three of your miles?  Maybe four…] Naiad helpfully answered while narrowing her eyes in thought.

“How about… how far are we from where I was caught?” Leon inquired hoping for something a little more useful to him.  Without knowing where Saron was, knowing where he was in relation to it wasn’t that helpful.

[Hmm, maybe only one or two long-counts,] Naiad said.  [Not that it matters, you won’t leave here without giving me your seed!]

“There’s a war going on, I have to get back!” Leon almost shouted.

[Not my problem,] Naiad dismissively replied.  [Humans kill each other in droves, it doesn’t affect me and mine.]

“Why are you so insistent on having me?” Leon demanded in frustration.  “You could go anywhere and have anyone you like, easily someone stronger than me, someone with another Inherited Bloodline if you so choose!”

[These other people are not here right now, and that’s what counts,] Naiad responded with a reproachful look.  She then sighed and said, [Since it distresses you so much, I would rather not force this to happen.  But it must happen.]

“Why?” Leon asked.

Naiad watched Leon’s stoic, yet subtly angry face for a long moment as if deciding what she should and shouldn’t tell him.  Eventually, she came to a decision and, with a look of sorrow and a hint of fear, asked, [Do you know what a Gorgon is?]

“A creature that’s half woman and half snake, strong enough in earth magic to petrify people” Leon replied.  “I almost ran into one once, a few years ago…”  As he thought about it, it occurred to him that the Gorgon he and Artorias encountered during his hunt to find a creature strong enough to awaken his bloodline also ruled over the river nymphs of the Forest of Black and White, just as Naiad seemed to be in charge of the local nymphs.

[If a Naiad gets too old without reproducing, we turn into Gorgons,] the nymph explained.  [It’s not a pleasant experience, from what I’ve been led to believe.  It twists the Naiad’s mind, leading her to kill all other Naiads she encounters.  And if there are no Naiads, then our lesser nymphs will all die.

[I’m already one hundred and seventy years old.  I must mate with you, not only to give my children strong blood but to protect myself and my girls!]

Leon stared at Naiad for a long time, trying to detect any deceit in her pleading and desperate gaze.  She was a far cry from the domineering person she had been only minutes before, and he couldn’t help but feel some small amount of sympathy for her, despite what she had almost done to him.  And at the very least, he couldn’t sense any hostility from her, and he was inclined to believe her when she had said that she was the one who healed him.

But, still…

“… I can’t.  I’m sorry, but I can’t,” Leon said.

[Why not?] Naiad demanded to know, and her eyes drifted downward at herself, thinking that reason was her.

And she wasn’t entirely wrong, but it wasn’t her body that Leon had a problem with.  If anything, he was trying very hard not to stare.

“Generally speaking,” Leon said a tone of uncharacteristic frustration, “people don’t like being forced.  Maybe if you want something, try asking first.”

[Then will you give me your seed?] Naiad asked.

“Can’t do that,” Leon replied, to the nymph’s consternation.

[If you’re going to say no, then what was the point of my asking?]

Leon almost snapped at her, but for the sake of his own life, he barely managed to refrain.  Still, his anger shone through his stoic face for a moment and Naiad unconsciously took a step back.

“So… ‘Naiad’ isn’t your name, then?” Leon asked, changing the subject to stop himself from doing something stupid.

[I am a Naiad,] the nymph replied.  [Naiad’s are the Queens of the nymphs.]

“So you have a civilization?  Or at least a society?” Leon curiously asked.

[Hmm, not like what you humans have, there aren’t enough of us,] Naiad explained with her blue eyes closed in thought and her hand on her chin.  If she hadn’t just almost raped Leon, he might’ve even found the expression cute.  [We prefer to stay on our own, only gathering if the need arises.  And the need rarely arises.]

“Hmm,” Leon hummed.  He let his golden eyes wander around the island, taking in everything from the trees covered in pink flowers to the pond filled with crystal-clear water.  He hadn’t noticed it before, but this air in this place was extremely thick with magic power.  If it weren’t in the middle of a nymph-infested lake, it would make an ideal place to train for those with an affinity for water magic.

With that thought, Leon was suddenly reminded that Artorias had once told him that his Bloodline gave him some small affinity for water and wind magic, but that struck Leon as a bit odd, as from what he had been able to study from his family’s books, none of his family’s magical arts involved water or wind.

‘Something to ask the Thunderbird about,’ Leon thought, filing that thought away for later.

[I’ve just thought of something,] Naiad suddenly said, fixing Leon in her icy-cold gaze and pulling him out of his thoughts.  [Humans like to barter, to trade, right?]

“… Some find great pleasure in it,” Leon admitted hesitantly; he had a feeling he knew where this was going, and it put him on edge.

[I have a need for your seed, and you have a need to return to your people.  Perhaps we can trade?] Naiad suggested.

“I’ve already told you, I can’t.”

[You’ve told me you can’t, but you didn’t explain yourself,] Naiad shot back, her beautiful face twisting in suppressed anger.

“I already have a lady that I’m involved with,” Leon said.

[So?  I’ve heard that humans take many mates.]

Leon cringed a little.  It was true that his was a polyamorous society, to an extent, but that also carried with it the implication that everyone was informed and gave their consent.  Elise had no idea what was happening here, and Leon hadn’t the intention to father children without her knowledge and agreement; sleeping with someone without Elise’s knowledge would still be considered cheating.

When Leon explained this to Naiad, she frowned and went back to silently thinking for a while.  The thought of trying to get away while she was distracted never once entered Leon’s mind; he knew he wouldn’t get away even if he didn’t have to carry all of his armor and weapons.

But then Naiad seemed to think of something; her eyes snapped open and she took a few steps toward Leon with an odd smile on her face.

[There is something we can do…] she said, her smile only growing stranger to Leon.  It was a worrying mix of hope, anticipation, and elation, none of which engendered much of any of those feelings in Leon.  [I have thought about it, and maybe I have been a bit too hasty.  I have a decade or two before things start becoming dire for me, while you have somewhere you need to be right now.  So let’s make a pact!]

“What do you mean by ‘pact’?” Leon asked as he took a step back and his eyes narrowed in suspicion.

[I mean you declare that you will father my children at a time of my choosing, and I will lead you out of here!]

As soon as the words were spoken, Leon’s face twitched in distaste.

[Don’t give me that look,] Naiad said with almost as much anger and frustration as Leon felt.   [This is a good compromise.  You go about your business, and I will come to you at a later date for my due.  This is the best the deal is going to get, if you refuse it then I’m pushing you back down!]

From the way she both glared and leered at him, Leon knew she wasn’t kidding about pushing him down.  She may have stopped when she realized that he wasn’t as into it as she had thought he would be, but he could also feel her desperation and desire to not turn into a Gorgon.

This was the best deal he was going to get, but he still felt dirty.

“… Very well,” he reluctantly mumbled, feeling as unworthy of Elise’s trust and love as he had during the worst parts of Bran’s illusion.

[Wonderful!] Naiad joyfully exclaimed, in stark contrast to Leon’s dour expression.  [Hold out your hand!]

Leon complied, his resistance to her crumbling the instant he agreed.  As soon as he held out his hand, Naiad seized it and twined her fingers around Leon’s own.

[Now, push your magic into me,] Naiad whispered.  [I will do likewise, and we will speak our terms.]

Again, Leon did as she directed, channeling his magic down his arm and into his hand.  His magic was then transferred out of him and immediately replaced with Naiad’s power, a soft, gentle stream of power that wound its way through his body to find Leon’s heart.

[You go first,] Naiad demanded.

Leon hesitated, he averted his eyes, he did everything he could to delay, but in the end, he only bought himself a handful of seconds.  “I… I will…” he sputtered.

[Say.  It,] Naiad repeated, her expression hardening and the power that flowed into Leon taking on an icy sharpness.  [At a time of my choosing, you will father my children!]

“At a time… of your choosing,” Leon said through gritted teeth, barely able to say the words, “I will… father your children…”

Once the words were out, Leon almost choked, and it was all he could do to maintain his composure and not attack Naiad.

[In exchange, I will lead you from this lake and back to the surface,] Naiad happily replied, her power warming again.

Leon felt that power form a pattern, but he couldn’t distinguish what that pattern was; before he could use his magic senses to try and examine it, it vanished into his soul realm.

Seeing the look on his face, Naiad smiled and said, [We are now connected, we can’t back out of this deal.  Now, gather your things, I will fulfill my end right now!]

Leon immediately let go of her hand and went back to his pile of armor.  He put it all back on as quickly as he could, grabbed his sword and slid it into his sheath, and started making his way back to the beaming Naiad.

[Your bow,] Naiad said, pointing over to where Leon had first woken up.  His bow was sitting in the grass there, but he hadn’t noticed it before her appearance took his attention.

“Thanks,” Leon said quietly as he slung his bow over his shoulder.  Like the rest of his gear, the water he’d been submerged in wasn’t that great for it, but it was too heavily enchanted to have any damage worth Leon’s time to repair.

He was finally ready.  He returned to Naiad, who extended her hand with a smile of such warmth and happiness that even Leon found it just a little bit harder to be angry.  But only a little bit, he was still furious and frustrated in ways he couldn’t properly express.

[Now, come with me,] Naiad said, taking his hand and leading him back to the lake.

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Chapter 261 - The Bull's Ghost I

Chapter 259 - Captured