Chapter 130 - Etiquette

Chapter 130 - Etiquette

“Every single beastkin and human I’ve met speaks this language, why’s that? I haven't even heard different accents.” We are nearing the small convoy while chatting some more.

“The Flight,” Ket replies with a glance towards Rhea.

“The dragons, again?” I ask.

“Each large kingdom has a dragon representative or guardian visiting them every ten years. Learning new languages is a pain.” Rhea answers this time.

“What, and tribes who develop different languages are eaten, or something?” My incredulous question only breeds silence. “Seriously?”

Tess replies this time. “There are legends about cities who defied the dragons by talking a language the dragons couldn’t understand. Ancient legends of cities long gone...”

“Re-Haan, please tell me that is propaganda spread by the Flight...” I understand that learning a new language without something like a braincore is a major pain, but eradicating entire cities because you couldn’t be arsed to learn a new language is a bit much, I think.

“Beautiful weather, isn’t it?” Rhea’s reply is a good indication that although she has started to learn more about human interaction, there is still a long way to go before she can do something as subtle as diverting a subject.

“Miss Angy, we should get off now! The humans are going to notice something is wrong like this.” Ferah has been pulling on Angeta’s sleeve for the last few minutes. “Else, why not pretend to be human? Beastkin can’t ride in human lands.”

“Never.” Angeta snarls in reply. “I will not hide myself for these… raping… murdering...”

“Angeta, just chill, please? You have enough power in your left foot to kick all their asses simultaneously. Go inside Tree if you can’t handle it.”

“I can feel their vile auras from here, that's enough to kill them.”

“Aura isn’t everything. The true nature of someone can be seen in the way they treat their lessers. Just look at them like they are amusing insects. You wouldn't get angry when an ant curses at you, right? It's funny when some rodent thinks they are more important than you.” Angeta seems a bit mollified by my explanation, but the rest of my travelling companions seem to be looking at me with funny expressions now.

“Those carriages must be nobles, right? Do any of you guys know what the proper protocols are? This infiltration thing will be useless if we start insulting everyone without knowing.” I only get shrugs and head shakes in return.

I close my eyes for a bit and focus inside Tree. Looking around, I see Ares working with Danarius. They are torturing a small rodent for some reason. They are cutting it open and stuffing pill fragments inside its mouth. It's unconscious, yes, but that’s still animal abuse. I check their product and notice that the pills and potions they are working with are brimming with healing and restorative type energies. I decide to let them continue with their animal testing program for now.

Vox is roaming the outer forest, accompanied by Selis. I start vibrating the air near them. “Hey, we are meeting up with a convoy of humans, and none of us knows what protocols and shit the nobles use. Wanna join us?”

Selis throws her last ice shard, nailing a large slimy badger to a tree. The green beast starts to bubble and melt, corroding a large part of the surrounding vegetation. She turns to the floating ball of light from which my voice emanates and nods. “I’m in! That was the last really dangerous mutant, wait for me!”

She then runs off, presumably to fetch her massive black cock to ride on… That one will never get old. Vox looks around and glares at the glowing orb. “I’m not coming. I don’t want to meet any nobles. And my mount is still growing back its hair.”

I slink away, retracting my senses. “Selis is coming. She should know about this stuff. I’d think that a dungeon sneak and a baggage carrier would know how to act around your so-called betters?”

Tess scoffs. “Sneaks avoid everyone, not just nobles and Ket was a shit baggage carrier.” I then see Tess realising what she said, jerk in her seat as she shifted looks at Ket, and look away blushing when she sees Ket staring at her with a hurt expression on his face. I can't help but grin, and I feel Rhea stifle a giggle herself. Those two are hilarious.

Not much later, I guide Tree to deposit Selis behind me. She appears already seated on her glossy black-feathered chicken. She blinks a bit against the bright sun while looking around. “Where are… Oh, that's pretty close. Too late to raise a flag of our own now, we are the lesser party then.”

She takes a deep breath and continues her rant. “Angy and Ferah, please get off your mount and walk. I’m sorry, but you guys riding is a massive no-no here. Ket, they will think you are the leader due to your mount. Teach and Rhea, you will be servants. Your clothes are too nice, but sharing a mount is for plebs. Tess...”

And here I notice Selis getting an evil glint in her eyes. Her smile remains perfectly the same, but a certain edge of ruthlessness enters her happy, cute face. “Tess, you will be Ket’s mistress, I think. Yes, your mount is also rather nice. Ket, you have given her that mount. You’re basically her sugar daddy. Make sure to hang on his arm as much as possible. You need to pay him back with your body. That shy and coy look with that blush is perfect! Ket, you need to act a bit more cold and aloof about this. Take manual control of your facial expressions, kay?”

Rhea is now shaking with restrained laughter. I secretly give Selis a thumbs up as she continues instructing everyone. “I'll be the maid. My mount is decent but not great. Angy, get off of Hotfeet already. You and Ferah need to keep your head down, do not look anyone in the eye. This is good practice for you, Angeta. Learn to control your emotions. Don’t look at me like you want to skin me alive, that's exactly what I’m talking about...”

Following her instructions, I hand Ket a rather nice shirt, vest and pants. Tess protests as she is forced to shed her tomboyish apparel for more elegant clothing. Selis then turns her attention to Rhea, but backs off after the two females have an impromptu staring contest. I pull an old jacket from my ring and put it on. I hand Rhea an old looking scarf, and she reluctantly wraps that around herself.

“Put that stuff back. I'm not willing to go that far just to fool a few asswipes.” I interrupt Selis as she starts pulling thick metal chains from her ring. Why does she have thick metal chains in her storage ring? She looks disappointed at my decision. I give a short prayer for whomever she will have as Dao companion in the future.

Selis then starts instructing us on proper protocol. Wasn’t she neglected when growing up? I have little respect for parents who disregard a child because of bad eyesight, but she somehow got a pretty decent education.

I zone out when Database informs me that another drone is ready for launch, so I form a small process that’ll take note of everything Selis is saying. It takes the qi stripping formation about an hour to remove any lingering qi from the material, and that process just finished. Coating myself in ‘IGNORE ME’ qi, I pull the new plane into my hands. I also pull a portal stone from my ring, put some qi into the bottom half and put it on top of the drone. I then pour a lot of qi into the activation portion of the stone and put a delay on the mechanism.

It’s kind of embarrassing, but I forgot to put a portal on the other continent. This drone will travel across the ocean, drop the stone and then continue a normal scanning pattern.

The portal stones are rather simple. The bottom half is coded with glue runes, forming strong strands with whatever material it is placed upon. The top half of the stone is inscribed with runes representing Tree, followed by a one-dimensional portal similar to the one inside Tree itself. Pulling this stone upwards will pull the single dimension into the second, forming a line. Tree can decide where to connect these portals to, and I instructed it to place all portals on the moon.

I throw the drone into the air and watch it fly away to the west. “Was that a portal stone?” Rhea asks from behind me.

“Yep, that one is going towards the other continent.”

“Isn’t that a horrible security risk? Putting access points to your own personal dimension seems like a great recipe for invasion and betrayal.”

“Half of the code and runes in that stone is for access control, security and stealth.” Besides the glue and portal part, the rest is all stealth fields, ring checks and failsafe mechanisms. Very simple, as I said.

“All those complicated scribbles on the outside? I was wondering what they were for.” Rhea replies.

“Nope, those are just for decoration and confusion. I’m not putting my designs out here for everyone to see, who do you think I am?” I never understood why all those idiotic inscription masters would just put their designs and formations out there in the open. They all believed that their art was so mysterious and complicated that no-one would be able to decipher them without help. None of them even tried to hide their runes and formations… Idiots.

Then I notice that Selis has stopped speaking and is staring at me. “Thank you so much for paying attention as I'm doing what you asked of me.”

I quirk an eyebrow at her and review everything she has said in the last few minutes. “Only look someone of the same or lower rank in the eyes, only speak when spoken to, females should just not speak at all, higher positions dismount last… You know what, can't we say that we are from a foreign country? I really don't like the rule that someone tall from a lower class needs to bend their knees to not appear above their betters. Should everyone crawl when a noble child is present?”

Selis is now timidly looking down. I sigh and rub my face. “No, you're right. Angeta is not the only one who needs to control their emotions when confronted with irritating bullshit. What else, Selis?”

Looking up, she points at Angeta and Ferah. “Their clothes are too nice.”

I grin and pull two pieces of dirty looking cloth from my ring. “This cloth is the softest fabric I have ever come across in the cultivation world. It, unfortunately, resists any form of dye, that’s why it looks so stained and dirty.”

I throw them to the two beastgirls. “Useless to cultivators, but mortals fought over the stuff. A king would need to pay a kingdom’s worth of gold to get a single piece. Just think about that when a spoiled brat looks down on you. You are wearing something more valuable than this entire kingdom.”

Angeta looks sceptical at the piece of cloth until she touches it. Then her eyes sparkle as she rubs the cloth on her face. “So soooooooft, aaaaaah.”

“It feels like a clooouuuud, aaagggrr.” Ferah looks like she could pass out at any moment, wrapping the ragged fabric around herself. She peers from the stained folds at Angeta. “What's the cuvilation world?”

“Ah, Teach is from a different planet,” Angeta replies distractedly.

“Oh, that’s nice,” mumbles Ferah as she tries to feel as much cloth as she can.

“What are those things made of?” Rhea whispers.

“You don't want to know.” I whisper back. “I promise they have nothing to do with dandruff or earwax.”

Rhea shivers a bit as she stares at the cloth clad beastkin in morbid fascination.

“That’s better. Ket, you need a piece of jewellery. Just that ring is too simple.” Selis continues her instructions.

“Mortals normally don't notice these Tree rings.” I chime in.

“Then he needs something shiny even more so, Tess, maybe you...” I cut Selis off by throwing a gaudy golden gem encrusted brooch to Ket. He looks at it with barely hidden disdain but puts it on anyway.

“Rhea and Teach, no touching. Servants displaying affection is like a slap to the face. Honestly, we need someone to act as a mage. Travelling in the beast horde season is only done while accompanied by a lot of soldiers or a powerful mana caster.”

“Does the type matter?” I ask.

“Master rank would be preferred, journeymage is the minimum,” Selis replies after some thinking.

“I’ll call for Valerius. What type of mount does a mage need?”

“Something horse-like and of the same element.”

I’m getting slightly tired of all these rules, to be honest. It’s a good thing we have slowed down a bit thanks to that fact that Ferah and Angeta are now walking, the convoy still pretty far off. They’d have no trouble seeing us pull mounts and people from thin air otherwise.

I send Valerius, who is lounging about in the garden at Tree’s roots, an urgent message. I also scan for an earth elemental beast, finding a rock-skinned antelope without much trouble. I take control of the rune in its brain and assign it to Valerius.

Not half a minute later, a very confused journeyman ex-earth mage appears beside us. He opens his mouth, but Selis starts ranting instructions at him the second he appears. She hands him the reigns of the mount I found for him, talking non-stop.

I tune her out while instructing my own mount to hang back a bit, following the formation that Selis told us to walk in. I look at Rhea. “Hmmh, was this a good idea? I just wanted to have some fun, but now it’s an entire project.”

She doesn’t move a single facial muscle. “I’m half a realm more powerful and a few thousand years older than Selis, but she scares me sometimes.”

I look at the cute chattering little girl. She has changed from her previous summer dress into dark thick woollens with a grey apron. Her chicken mount now carries a broom and cooking implements. Where did she get all that from?

Valerius looks like he’d rather be fighting a dragon than disobeying Selis. His eyes stare in my direction, begging for help.

I can't help but shrug helplessly at the poor guy while nodding towards Rhea. “Yeah, I agree.”

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