Ryan zigged-zagged through alleys and stopped to activate his bloodline every few minutes to check if he was being followed.
After confirming he wasn't, Ryan started making his way toward Vimmi's house.
"I wonder what that dragonkin is up to?" he muttered.
Arriving in front of the street where her house was located, Ryan suddenly stopped. There were three guards at Vimmi's front door.
'Did they discover my connection to Vimmi and already get the news about Isabelle?'
Pressing his back against the alley wall, he sat and activated his bloodline, listening in on the guard's conversation.
"Can you believe the girl who sold overpriced tours actually got so lucky as to give her first and only tour to the most important harem member of the Dragon Empress," one said.
"I heard she's just some slum rat," another added. "Master Ryan probably doesn't even remember her existence."
"But either way, we were ordered to protect her until we get orders from Master Ryan," the third woman said. "She's his only known contact that our people could find."
Listening to their conversation Ryan was relieved that the news about Isabelle hadn't spread.
He thought his best course was introducing himself and taking Vimmi away directly.
Walking out from behind the alley, Ryan approached the three women at the entrance. He made a point to walk casually, not alerting them to any trouble.
"Hello, ladies!" He called in greeting while smiling brightly.
The guard who had been talking looked up sharply.
Not recognizing Ryan, she was about to ask his business but stopped when a gasp came from the woman to her right.
"Master Ryan!" the guard yelled out.
Ryan chuckled, "Well, it seems my reputation precedes me."
Nodding to him, the third guard asked, "Are you here for Lady Vimmi?"
Ryan chuckled. 'She's a lady now?'
"Yes, I am. Is she inside?"
Hearing Ryan's voice, Vimmi shouted, "Master?!" from inside.
The guards, who had just been talking about Vimmi as a street rat, wiped the sweat off their foreheads, thankful they hadn't been overheard.
Vimmi appeared on the porch where the guards stood wearing a simple blue dress. Her tail swayed back and forth behind her like an excited puppy, making one of the guards snicker.
Not caring for the guards, Vimmi rushed forward, wrapping her arms around Ryan's neck.
"When the guards showed up, I knew you had won!" She cried happily.
Ryan raised an eyebrow and stroked Vimmi's short purple hair.
Her light purple tail happily wagged behind her whenever Ryan's hand lightly touched her horns.
"And how would you know that?" he asked with a smile.
"Because of the look on their face," she said with a cheeky grin.
"What if I had done something indecent and was locked up?" Ryan countered.
Ryan shook his head with a chuckle and said in a serious tone, "Okay, well, pack your stuff and let me put it in my spatial bag. It's time to go."
Vimmi disappeared inside and reappeared only a moment later, holding three large bags.
"I've been ready since you left, Master."
As Ryan reached for the bags, he noticed that the three guards' faces had suddenly drained of color.
Ryan activated his energy. 'Looks like time is up.'
"Master Ryan, please allow us to escort you to the Dragon Empress's Palace. She wants to see you," one guard spoke out.
Ryan turned to look at the three guards who had tensed up, one holding her blade behind her back in a not-so-sneaky way.
"And what if I refuse?" Ryan asked, motioning behind his back for Vimmi to move back inside the house, out of harm's way.
"I think we'll have to insist," the guard with the blade said, bringing it in front of her body.
Seeing their compatriot's determination, the other two guards drew their blades.
Scanning the three with energy vision, Ryan saw they were nothing special. They were only D-Rank.
'If they were humans, I could knock them out in a second with racial superiority. Too bad I have to waste my energy on scum like this,' Ryan thought and flew into action.
Before the guards had time to blink, they were on the ground, twitching.
"Leave a message for Isabelle."
"I'll be back for her."
Taking Vimmi and putting her inside his palace, Ryan picked a direction and started flying on his sword.
[Yoko, can you tell me when we're about to hit the border?]
[Sure, Master, what's your plan?] she responded.
[I want to stop at an inn and go inside the palace to check on the ladies and deactivate the tracking powder.]
After chatting with Yoko for another hour while flying on his sword, Ryan received an alert that he was nearing the border, so he lowered himself from the clouds and found an inn to stay the night.
After checking into his room, Ryan activated his portal and entered his palace.
First, he set up some guards to watch the portal entrance in the real world, then called a meeting with his harem members.
Lizzy, Izzy, Emily, Grace, and Zoey appeared before Ryan in a flash of light.
"Alright, everyone," He began, looking around the group. "How have things been while I've been away?"
Although Ryan constantly interacted with each of them via his heavenly screen, texting was always different from seeing your lover in real life.
All the girls smiled and turned to Grace, who seemed to have become the leader while Ryan was away.
"I'm happy to report we've conquered until the 60th floor, Master," Grace said, mockingly saluting Ryan.
"Also, each of us has gone from F-Rank to the peek of E-Rank!"
Ryan raised his eyebrows. "Impressive girls."
"Is there anything else I should know about?" Ryan asked.
The atmosphere turned awkward as Grace looked away.
The rest of the girls seemingly didn't want to look Ryan in the eyes, either.
"What is it?" Ryan asked, raising an eyebrow at their behavior.
"Oh! Nothing..." They all said together.
"Fine... what happened? If something's wrong, tell me now!" He demanded when no one spoke up.
Ryan stalked forward, looking for the person most likely to crack under pressure.
Squeezing Emily's cheeks and tickling her side, she squealed and giggled. "S-stop that, you bully!" She cried out, trying to escape from his grasp.
Her face turned bright red, and tears entered her eyes as she fought against his attacks.
"What happened, Emily?" he asked, squeezing and tickling the girl.
"Mmmh! Noooo!" The young woman wailed as she tried desperately to fight him off, but he easily kept control of the situation.
Emily lost the battle between laughing and crying and fell onto her stomach in a puddle of laughter.
"We... we might have broken Joy," Emily said timidly.
"Broken?" Ryan repeated with a frown. "What do you mean?"
Emily fidgeted with embarrassment as she explained how they had been trying to talk with the little girl when Zoey got the great idea to play dress-up with her.
Ryan groaned at the thought of the little girl's antics, shaking his head at the image of her dressed up in silly costumes.
"What exactly happened?"
Behind Emily, Zoey bit her lip. "I-It was an honest mistake. I didn't know dressing her as a bunny would suddenly make her cry."
"Well, it's not like she only cried," Grace added.
"She started changing into another creature."
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