City of Sin

Chapter 23

A Traumatic Experience

Steven’s arrival only caused a slight splash in the Deepblue, disappearing into the surging waves. Sharon’s return ten days later caused a larger stir, but even that wasn’t significant. The legendary mage’s entrances were always loud and grand, even if she’d only gone to the White Deer Forest a hundred kilometres away for an excursion. Nobody had a clue about the result of the battle between the two legendary beings, however; even Steven hadn’t obtained any news from his family.

Things remained normal in the Deepblue, the torrent of glow pushing things along in a tense yet regulated environment. Richard realised Sharon’s Delight had grown a fair bit, reaching a record 800,000 coins. But then he found he had another class to attend now too.

He’d been enrolled into Basis of Complex Magic Formations, a one-to-one lesson from a grand mage. The class naturally used up a lot of high-grade raw materials, and with the Deepblue’s abnormal prices Richard’s huge bonus began to melt like snow in the sun. The additional income would be voided by the time summer arrived, and he would have to start worrying about his money again.

Erin continued sending food over to him. The amount Richard had to eat only increased, and the way he had to eat it grew increasingly strange. The frequency and timing of his meals grew even stricter, to the point that it was slightly unbearable. However, Erin’s company and explanations miraculously made it more stomachable.

The girl got intimate with him in different ways every time he finished a meal. Sometimes a kiss, sometimes a caress, or even a simple hug; under her lead Richard had already learnt of the general anatomy of the female body. The blood in his veins boiled occasionally, and he would need to use something like meditation to suppress it.

However, even with how ignorant he was, Richard had gotten a feeling for what was about to happen. Although he was young and inexperienced, his instincts pushed him to explore the depths of the girl’s body. The young girl didn’t stay long after the meal, though, only lingering around for five minutes at most before she left. She was so accurate that it seemed to him there was an enchanted clock timing her.

One day at the end of the month, at the usual time for dessert after the meal.

Erin grabbed Richard’s hand, pushing it up so he could lightly feel the front of her bosom with the large frills and pearl button. The surface seemed coarse, the patterns on it bumpy. Richard’s senses had grown more keen after eating, making the fabric contrast even more with the plump satiny bundle his fingers slid into. He suddenly felt his body heat becoming increasingly apparent, and in his hurry he found he’d already opened the girl’s buttons up.

There was nothing hindering him inside. The young girl’s body posed a fatal attraction that caused him to use his strength to pull the last of her clothing away. It flustered the girl a little at the start, but then she held his hand and pulled him up, pressing herself into his body as she slid down with a bent head. This was a fierce watering, the moment where the fruit would finally mature!

Even as Richard anticipated the next moment, Erin suddenly jumped up and exclaimed in a hurry, “Oh my! Time’s up!” She hastily pulled at her clothes, grabbed the plates, and darted away.

‘Will anything happen tomorrow…’ Richard wondered vacantly, his heart still pumping away near the limits of its ability. He felt slightly suffocated…

Nothing at all happened the next day. Erin seemed troubled, her expression unable to hide her gloom. When Richard asked her about it she refused to divulge more. After the meal she just grabbed his arm and pressed down on her chest lightly before running off.

There was a price to such intimacy. No matter what degree of contact there was, Erin would receive a gold coin. Richard knew the prices of the Deepblue well by this point, and that one gold coin was nothing. It may not even be enough for the girl to have a good meal, which was why he asked her so many questions and paid for the answer. However, the girl was strict here as well, only asking based on the value of the information and not a bit more.

Honestly speaking her information wasn’t reliable. The priciest of the lot was that Papin and his followers had disappeared after the duel, some not returning to their families. It also said this was related to another of Sharon’s students, Randolph. Still, the price of all that was 120 coins, and there was no information worth more than fifty past that. Richard knew that the entirety of her month’s work wouldn’t be able to support a day of training. Of course, that was based on his own standards.

Erin’s attitude had changed from that day. She grew more restrained in her interactions with Richard, and no matter how intimate they got she never took things further. Even though the fruit was already matured.

Richard had sensed the change as well, but no matter how much he asked directly or with innuendo, there were no results. However, he’d find sobs instead of the bright smile he used to see when he took his focus off eating. It caused his world to turn dark, causing him to lose enthusiasm about anything.

Nothing much happened in the coming month, although someone called Steven had come over to introduce himself as another of Sharon’s apprentices in a public lecture with a few hundred people around. Time passed as per usual, and summer quietly arrived.

Erin seemed to be growing even more hurried. She was starting to keep an obvious distance from him, to the point that she stopped taking the daily fee of a coin. The food grew increasingly difficult to swallow even as the servings grew larger and larger.

Richard had grown noticeably taller and more sturdy by now, his classes including fundamental physical training as a warrior. His training in magic had quickened so greatly even he himself found it unimaginable, and most of his time was taken up by the tedious classes.

The arrival of summer brought Floe Bay’s most beautiful season. The surface of the sea was as calm as silk, the glaciers a gentle blue. The air in the azure sky was clear and fresh, and the green glow of vegetation was the most dense it had been all year, looking diverse and splendid. There was an obvious increase in traffic through the Deepblue, and the number of beautiful couples sunbathing by the beach became part of a beautiful landscape. However, Richard lacked the mood to admire this; he was still worried.

One certain night, Erin left Richard’s residence as per usual. An enchanted rune flickered at a corner of her clothing the moment the heavy metal gates closed, sending a notification far away. A mage dressed in dark robes fixed his sight on the girl from the distant shadows, his gaze so sharp she couldn’t help but quicken her steps. Once the notification told him she’d left within the designated time, he nodded and pulled the robe over himself before disappearing into the shadows.

Erin quickly walked towards the path that led to the upper layers. While teleportation spell formations were convenient, they were expensive. Only official mages appointed by the Deepblue had the means to use them regularly, and even though the path took more time anyone with some degree of fitness could get from the bottom to the top in one go.

Erin found someone standing right in front of her as she turned a corner, their appearance so sudden she almost fell into the person’s embrace. The young girl cried out, but thankfully she had the reflexes to avoid bumping into them. She apologised and tried to walk past them, but found herself being grasped firmly by a strong hand. Unable to get away from the grip, she felt like the bones in her wrist were about to break.

“You’re Erin?” asked a tall young mage. He had a gentle voice, but the vice-like grip on her wrist made it obvious to the sensitive girl that this person didn’t actually have a good temperament.

“I am Erin. May I know how I should address you?” Erin asked politely, not changing her expression as she attempted to retract her hand. However, her efforts were in vain.

“My name is Steven. Since you earn tips by selling information, you should know who I am.” The young mage said with a smile.

That sharp, cold gaze made Erin feel like a frog being hunted by a snake. Cold sweat beaded on her body, causing her clothing to stick to her skin uncomfortably. She felt a chill inside her heart when the youth announced his name— The Deepblue belonged to Sharon, and every one of the legendary mage’s apprentices made the headlines. While she could clearly sense malicious intent from Steven, his identity didn’t let her fight back. She grew horrified, and a thread of despair began to rise without her bidding.

“Esteemed Mister Steven, I’ve always left without delay and never done anything out of line. What do you want from me?” She cried out in fear.

Steven leaned forward, pressing his face close to Erin’s as his right hand caressed the girl’s waist. It moved up, testing her chest. It wasn’t quite supple, instead soft and springy. He then pushed the girl’s chin up, bringing their faces so close together that the tips of their noses were practically touching.

“I heard that you get a gold coin from Richard every day. Now tell me how you get those coins.” Steven’s voice lowered, sounding like the hiss of a snake. A long red snake-like tongue emerged from his mouth as he spoke, brushing the girl’s lips.

Erin felt her body go cold. Steven was giving off an aura that made her feel extreme terror, and her body was beginning to stiffen. It was like she was being struck by some weak fear skill, likely some sort of bloodline ability. It made her feel even more despair, for the talent to use a bloodline ability at such a young age was rare even in the Deepblue.

However, Steven’s words got the girl’s eyes twinkling. She had a sudden surge of strength as she pushed him away, yelling, “You’re not an enforcer mage!”

Steven froze, and then began to laugh, “I didn’t expect you to be so smart! Indeed, I’m not an enforcer, but…”

“No buts! Don’t even think of touching me, or I scream!” The young girl’s voice grew louder. They were in a remote area, and all parts of the Deepblue were designed to minimise the leakage of sound. Her loudest screams wouldn’t make it far enough to be able to save her. However, there was magic recording equipment all over the Deepblue’s public areas. Her voice would be recorded.

The Deepblue was under the ownership of a legendary mage. If Steven tried to take her by force, Sharon would find out soon enough. With her temper, Steven’s best outcome would be being beaten up ruthlessly like Randolph had been and getting thrown out of the Deepblue. Everything here had its own value, and Erin knew hers very well. No sane person would give up their identity as an apprentice of Sharon’s just for her body.

Steven stopped as expected, not taking a step further. She didn’t dare provoke him much— this man’s aura caused her to shudder in fear— but she didn’t linger any further as she started to run off towards the teleportation point. Even if it would use up a lot of money, Erin didn’t want to remain close to him for one more moment.

“You might want to reconsider,” his voice suddenly sounded from behind her. There was something else that made her hesitate— the crisp jingle of gold coins hitting each other.

‘At least 200!’ Erin judged instinctually, slowing down to look back. Her heart rate increased, and she began to think, ‘I’m already safe anyway…’

Steven remained where he was, gazing upon her like a wolf looking at prey. His calm smile was filled with confidence as an intricate leather pouch swayed in his right hand, continuing that oh so sweet jingle of gold. The pouch wasn’t large, but it had been stretched greatly.

Erin was even more certain of her initial guess upon seeing this. There had to be at least 200 coins inside, and her abundant experiences and keen senses revealed a slight magic glow in the darkness. This leather pouch had been made with magic!

Magic leather was extremely expensive, and it was very rare to see it used in pouches. Only a core member of a noble family could afford such luxuries, increasing the amount of space within the pouch and lightening the contents within. They also caused any materials inside to last much longer as well. A pouch with even the most basic of flash spells as decoration would far exceed its capacity in cost.

Steven’s grin grew more and more similar to that of a venomous snake that had trapped a frog, “I just touched you, so this is your payment. Come, take it!”

Erin felt her throat go dry, unable to say a word. She really wanted to just turn and run, but her feet began to shift in Stevenson’s direction while all sorts of thoughts ran through her mind unceasingly.

‘He won’t force me to do anything. Besides, he’s already touched me, so this sum of money is compensation for what happened, right…’ While her thoughts were in a mess, she suddenly found that she had unconsciously walked over to the noble youth. He seemed to know her every thought, grabbing her hand and placing the pouch in her palm with a demonic smile, “This is yours.”

“But I…” Her throat was so parched at this point that she couldn’t continue. Nothing made sense to her, but she couldn’t tell what exactly the issue was either.

“I know you’re in dire need of money, and the Deepblue has always been about peace and voluntary exchange. Here’s a suggestion…” Steven paused, his eyes sweeping over the girl’s body in such a way that she shivered. “If you maintain your current body and come to bed with me, I’ll definitely give you a satisfying reward. For instance, I can pay off all your debts…”

“No, I can’t…” Erin shook her head with all her strength, looking pale as she retreated step by step. However, her grasp over the pouch was strong, her joints already turning white from how much force she was using.

Steven stood with his hands behind his back, not looking like he was going to pressure her. “There’s no hurry, take your time to consider it. The proposal is valid for the month.”

Erin suddenly turned and darted away.

Minnie appeared behind Steven, like a spirit walking out of thin air. Her dull eyes trained themselves on the girl who was heading into the distance as she spoke coldly, “Someone like her living on the boundaries of the Deepblue could do anything for money. This is the kind of person you want? If that’s the case, don’t even think about touching me.”

Steven suddenly chuckled, speaking in a low voice, “Our marriage has already been established. Based on the law, I can touch you however I like!”

He pulled Minnie to his side, right hand reaching into her robes as he began to fondle her forcefully. The girl turned pale from anger, but all struggles and resistance was rendered pointless. The seventeen-year-old Steven was sturdy and strong, completely suppressing a young lady like her.

“Master won’t let you off!” Minnie exclaimed with all her might. She kicked and punched, trying her best to resist. She’d completely forgotten that she was a mage, not just a lady who’d recently come of age.

“Master?” Steven snickered, “Do you think you could pay the Deepblue’s fees without any financial support from my family? So much has changed in one month; if not for our help, Marquess Niall may not even be able to keep his own land. He wants to turn every gold coin into a magic arrow, so how would he have the money to support his genius daughter studying in the Deepblue? Stop being so naive. If he were that capable, why did he sell you to us?”

The girl grew one shade paler when she heard the word ‘sell.’ A trade had been conducted behind the scenes of the marriage; the hasty exchange of benefits was basically just selling her away.

“Without me, my dearest Miss Minnie, your glamorous and relaxed life as the apprentice of a legendary mage could disappear tomorrow. Have you really thought this through?” Steven’s words blew over Minnie like freezing winds in an icy hell. Her joints stiffened, and her struggles grew feeble.

His hands were just as cold as his voice as they slid down, “If you’ve thought this through, then please spread your legs.”

Minnie suddenly trembled violently, tears involuntarily falling from her closed eyes. Steven soon resumed his elegant tone with a slight smile on his face, “As for Erin, I only have one reason for being interested in her. Our little Richard obviously likes her, which is why I have to make her mine beforehand. You’ll help me with Richard, right?

“My dearest Minnie, you’re too fixated on your magic research, and haven’t paid attention to the outside world for such a long time. I’m sure you haven’t even paid attention to the news about your own family, no? Do you know who it is that attacked Marquess Niall? I can tell you that it’s Viscount Alice Archeron, the same family as Richard Archeron. You should actually be happy; if it was Richard’s father Gaton that had attacked the marquess wouldn’t have been able to hold on until our reinforcements arrived. If that had happened, do you think you would remain worthy of marriage into the Solam Family? You’d be no different from that girl in the border districts. Still, though, the body of a defeated marquess’ daughter would be worth gold. A lot of gold, yes, but still a buyable commodity.

“Alright. This is all to say that Richard is a common enemy. That’s why, dearest, you should help me.”

Steven patted Minnie’s face, and then watched in satisfaction as she looked towards Richard’s residence with hatred.

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