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Chapter 24

Age 749, Saturday, August 10 (1:43 AM), Baba’s Palace

“Please, no more…” I held my father tightly as he begged while in a state between wakefulness and sleep. “No more. I’ve told you everything. No more…”

Baba was right, and I wished she hadn’t been.

“It’s okay, dad.” I said soothingly. “I’m here. I’m here.

But my words fell on deaf ears. I felt his grip on my forearms tighten as he struggled to get free.

“Please, dad.” I shifted slightly and began to soothingly rub his back. “You’re free. It’s over, dad.”

There was a long moment of silence. I watched a glint of consciousness slowly return to his pain-filled eyes. He saw me and instantly buried his face into my shoulder, clinging to me as if this was the last time he’d see me.

“I did my best, Ten.” Ren babbled uncontrollably. “I tried to stay strong for you. I tried. You don’t know what they can do. I tried…”

“I know.” I said soothingly, feeling his tears against my shoulder. I blinked away my own tears and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. “It’s okay. It’s okay, dad.”

Please don’t cry, dad. I wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come out anymore. I held him until he calmed down and slowly— oh-so-slowly— fell back to sleep.

“This is all I can do.” I mouthed, feeling my heart break at my own powerlessness. I set him back down and made sure he was well covered.

With one last stare, I turned and exited the room, jumping down to the base of the palace.

Baba was already there, looking older than I’d ever seen her. We exchanged a look, both knowing what the other was thinking in that moment.

There was no need for words.

With a gesture, she led me out of the palace, into the fighting ring. The sound of the water rushing along the ring’s border drowned out my inner thoughts for a short while.

“I know you like being here.” Baba floated by the water. I followed her and sat over the edge.

“He’s had nightmares every night.” I said quietly. “It’s just as you said. I’m totally useless. I can’t do a single thing to help.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that.” The old crone countered. “You are there for him.”

“What good’s that?” I snarled, before pausing to take a deep breath. “Sorry.”

“Apology accepted.”

“I just don’t know how to help him.” I felt a tremor run through me.

“It is a tragic thing.” She said quietly, eyeing me with pity. “Watching your own father break down in tears.”

I looked away, my face hot with shame and anger. I didn’t want her pity!

I stared at my hand, feeling the power roiling underneath, waiting to be accessed and unleashed. “Even with all of my strength, I can’t solve this problem.”

“Maybe it doesn’t need to be solved by you.” Baba offered quietly. “That is the truth of life.”

I absorbed her words as she continued to share her wisdom. “Sometimes, you can’t fix everything.”

She’s right. I realized.

I took a deep breath and got to my feet, my mind full with purpose.

“I may not be able to fix everything.” I said, raising my open palm and generating a [Ki Ball] on instinct.

-300 Ki!

The ball filled my surroundings with light. I frowned as I injected all of my power into it, making it grow to about the size of a house.

-36,550 Ki!

“Ten…” Baba said unsurely. “What are you doing?”

I turned to look at the old crone. “I’m not really sure. If 300 of my Ki can do 1050 damage, then…”

I ran the numbers through my head.

“Around 130,000 damage full power… If I boost that by my 25% all damage passives, then around 160,000 damage..”

“Does that mean anything to me?” Baba said wryly, still slightly tense while near so much power. “I haven’t felt anything of this magnitude since King Piccolo.”

I reabsorbed the energy, interested in what she had to say.

+36,850 Ki!

“I’ve only read about him.” I replied. “How strong is he? I know I’m only slightly weaker than Master Roshi at his maximum.”

“A form the old fart uses rarely, as it greatly strains his body.” She said. “But the Demon King Piccolo is stronger than even that.”

Considering Genus’ battle power had been 312, I had no doubt that Demon King Piccolo would have been in that same range, were he still among the living.

“Still, you have exceeded all expectations, child.” Baba shared with me. “At your age, Roshi did not reach even a fraction of your ability, and you haven’t even had the chance to simply train for an extended period of time.”

“Is that what I should do, then? Train?” I felt so lost.

“Perhaps not now. It is time to rest, after all.” Baba argued.

“I don’t need to sleep.” I countered with.

“That may well be the case, but consider the long term mental effects of lack of sleep and constant obsession.” Baba glared. “I’m assuming you’ve read my assigned books on the matter.”

I stopped whatever reply came to mind. “I have.”

A moment later, I stared down at the water shimmering under the moonlight.

“Even if your body shows no ill effects from lack of sleep, that sort of obsession will lead to burnout.” She lectured.

“But, the universe—”

“—can wait a few weeks.” Baba interrupted. “You’ve done more than most have in centuries, already. Don’t lose yourself in your training, Ten. You’ll forget why you’re doing it in the first place.”

And, with that, she floated back inside, leaving me alone with my slowly calming thoughts.


Age 749, Tuesday, August 13, Baba’s Palace

One pinch of powdered root of nightleaf…” Baba handed a small bag to Ren, who received it gratefully. “Just a pinch, you understand?”

She turned to me before he could reply. “Don’t let him take any more. If I know my old pupil, he’ll try to take liberties with his medicines.”

I snorted as Ren grumbled good naturedly. Dyran stood by us silently.

His sister, Aira, was leaning on the crutches kindly provided to her by Baba.

Beside her stood Akkuman, looking bored out of his mind.

“I’ll make sure he takes the correct dosage before he sleeps.” I nodded as Dyran began to fiddle with his shirt, muttering about the strangeness of mortal clothing.

“Thank you, Baba.” Ren gave the old woman a deep bow. “For helping us recover, for reaching Ten the mystic arts. For everything, really.”

She scoffed, turning away to hide a sniff. “Just go, already. I want to get back to making money and not wasting time on you. Ten, you’ve earned yourself a break, so I’d better not see you in a while, either.”

I smiled. “A few months sound good?”

“No. You may as well train with my little brother as you initially planned. I’ll inform him of the change.” She dismissed, slowly floating back into her palace. “Ren can teach you the rest of the basics as well as I could. Come visit when you’re done.”

“I will!” I called out to her as she disappeared from view.

Akkuman merely gave us a nod, before also leaving.

“I owe you an ass kicking, runt.” Aira grinned, looking intimidating despite the crutches. “So I had better not hear anything about you dying prematurely.”

“I’ll try not to disappoint.” I replied dryly. She eyed me for a moment before grinning savagely and making her way back inside.

“Your sister is frightening.” I admitted quietly after the three of us were alone.

“Small, yet fierce!” Dyran looked proud.

Ren snorted, tugging at the backpack over his shoulder. “How about we get this show on the road?”

“Yes.” I agreed, turning towards the road in question and pulling up a certain quest. “Let’s go home.”


Quest updated!

Reunion

After his long, grueling and torturous years in the Demon Realm, your father, Ren, has the chance to make his previously discarded dream come true: to reunite with his loving wife and make the family whole once again.

You are ready to leave Baba’s palace and embark on the journey home.


Age 749, Wednesday, August 28, (7:00 PM) South City Port.

With Ren’s help, we’d made some amazing time on the way back.

His extensive knowledge of the sea currents and sailing in general was a boon in this case.

So was the fact that Dyran and I amused ourselves with rowing to give the boat even more speed.

Dyran, I could tell, was having the time of his life on Earth. When he’d first laid his eyes on the ocean, I knew he’d fallen in love.

“I’m still surprised we made it back this quickly.” I noted as I pocketed the ship’s capsule. My dad had refused to hold it, stating that it was mine now. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I wasn’t going to push the matter.

The nights were mercifully better than those first few, at least. Either the nightleaf powder was doing the trick, or the knowledge that he was about to see his wife lifted his spirits.

Perhaps even the sight of the old boat helped him somewhat.

“Such intriguing structures.” Dyran directed his gaze at the city, bathed in the oranges and reds of the sunset.

“Yes.” Ren agreed, closing his eyes and taking in the smell. “It reminds me of the first time I set out to sea with a companion of mine.”

“Old Peelo, you mean?” I smiled at the older man’s surprise.

“How do you know..” he trailed off for a moment, before nodding to himself. “That’s right; he built the old boat, didn’t he?”

“Yeah.” I nodded as we made our way into town. I would have called a taxi, but Dyran was too tall for that sort of thing.

I checked my [Sailing] skill’s progress as we walked for a bit, ignoring the gawking passersby.


Sailing (Lv 51- 74%/Passive): Many men and women have looked towards the sea in wonder and astonishment, but very few were actually brave enough to have crossed it on a boat. You, having braved the storm and all its beauty and horror, know just how dangerous the sea can really be. 55% Increase in boat speed. 35% Increase in boat turning speed.


“Shall we?” I heard my father’s nervous voice call out. Dismissing the window, I smiled toward the man.

“She’s probably already home.” I led the way, the two following close by. “Her Wednesdays are usually the grueling ones, so she’ll be exhausted, I think.”

“Maybe…” Ren said unsurely. “Do you think she’ll want me back?”

I slowed so that we were walking side by side, Dyran trailing behind us, perpetually distracted by the people, cars, smells and various shops in town.

“I don’t doubt that at all, dad.” I said fiercely, remembering the long nights trying to comfort her after the ‘accident’. “Now, let’s go. It’ll take a bit over 20 minutes to get out of the city proper—”

“—And another 20 to get to our home.” Ren finished, before blinking. “Assuming you weren’t forced to move..?”

“Nope, still the same house.” I said.

And so, the buildings gradually turned smaller and smaller as we reached the edge of the city and entered the suburbs.

“How fascinating!” Dyran stated as he stopped by one of the houses and poked at the grassy lawn. “You have your stone cities, but you still allow the green to grow from within, despite the fact that your wilds are already quite rich with green?”

I blinked, a little thrown off. “Yes. We try to keep nature alive as much as we can.” I then pointed to a nearby tree sapling. “That tree, for example: it was planted very recently. It will grow to be the size of the bigger ones, with time.”

“Very interesting.” Dyran stood back up, dusting himself off and fiddling with his clothes again. “Must I wear this?”

I snorted. “There’s a time and place for full battle regalia, Dyran. Now is not it.”

“Battle can come at any time.” Dyran said automatically.

“We’ve been out in the wilderness for the past few weeks.” I grinned. “The worst ‘battle’ we’ve seen was when those Allosauruses thought they could have us for lunch.”

At this, Dyran grinned toothily and laughed, scaring a nearby neighbor’s pooch as we resumed our previous course. “Mighty creatures, they were. They fought well, and that ended up improving the taste!”

I rolled my eyes at that. The tall demon was turning out to be quite the gourmet.

More time passed, and we found ourselves in sight of my home.

“So, how do you want to do this?” I asked my dad as we stood around the corner.

“I was hoping you could ease her into it, son.” Ren said sheepishly, running a hand through his hair.

“Ease her into it?” I repeated incredulously. “Hey, mom. It turns out that dad was in another dimension for years!”

Ren winced and snorted at the same time. I blinked; what a strange reaction.

I moved ahead with a sigh. “I’ll, ah… ‘Ease her into it’, then.”

“Thank you, Ten.” Ren seemed even more nervous now.

“I’m hungry.” Was the last thing I heard— from Dyran— before I passed by a familiar looking car, finally getting to the door.

Where have I seen that car before? I thought before shaking my mind of such questions. There were more important things.

“This is it.” I muttered and gave it a knock.

No answer.

I gave it another.

Still, nothing. I was about to call it quits and unlock it myself when the sound of wood creaking hit my ears. Jean was coming down the stairs.

The door opened, revealing another person instead.

“Ten!” I was instantly bowled over by a tackle hug. We both fell into the grass, tumbling until I was on top of her.

“Hey, Chichi.” I felt myself smile as I got to my feet, pulling her up with me.

Princess of Fry Pan Mountain
Chichi – Lv 24

“What are you doing here?” I asked in confusion, blinking at her increase in level. It looked like she’d been training pretty hard since I left the mountain.

“Ah, your mother invited us over for the week!” Chichi smiled nervously. “How could we say no?”

“Oh.” I nodded in understanding, before her words registered. “Wait, us?”

Before Chichi could answer, her father, the Mighty Ox-King himself, stepped out of the door.

“If it isn’t Ten!” The older man gave me his usual bone crushing hug, though it seemed much weaker than I was expecting.

“Ho..?” He seemed a mix of intrigued and confused at my lack of pain. “You’ve gotten much stronger if you can withstand my patented Ox Crusher Hug!”

Did he just make that up? I stifled an eye roll. The old man enjoyed his strength contests, all right.

“Yes. I’m nothing like I used to be.” I confirmed, staring down at my hands for a second.

“I can tell.” Chichi was staring at me with an unreadable look. “You’ve changed.”

I felt a little odd about the way she said it, like I wasn’t sure if she thought the change was good or not.

“Things happened.” I nodded, segueing back into the topic. “Is my mother here? There is something important I need to show her.”

“What’s so important that you come back without a word?” My mom’s voice came faintly from the inside as the sound of wood creaking hit my ears; she was coming down the stairs.

“Mom.” I nodded seriously at her as she came out of the front door, looking a little tired but otherwise all right.

Loving Mom
Jean – Lv 8

She gave me a hug for a few seconds, before looking me over. “What’s wrong, Ten? You look… too serious.”

“Mom.” I said as she brushed her hand through my hair, cutting off whatever I was about to say.

“Come on, whatever you need to say, you can say it inside!” She tried to usher me in, but I didn’t budge.

“No, mom.” I said and tried to get the conversation back on track before she could derail it. “There’s someone here to see you.”

That gave her pause.

“Who?” She finally asked, looking nervous.

“Just.. try not to freak out, okay mom?” I asked, knowing that she was going to freak out, no matter what.


Ping!

For realizing there’s no way your mother will remain calm after seeing the love of her life returned safely, you receive +1 to WIS!


Not the time, game! I felt like ripping my hair out.

“Who is it?” She raised her voice, her annoyance overpowering her nervousness for a moment.

“It’s—” I started but was interrupted by my dad, who was approaching, Dyran at his side.

“—Me.” Ren said, reaching us and giving his wife a hesitant look. I saw his hands shake for a few moments before he visibly steeled himself for the confrontation.

“I… Ten…” Mom turned to me, a look of astonishment on her face. “What is this?”

“It’s really me, Jean.” Ren took a step forward and mom took a step back, eyes wide in a mix of surprise and fear.

This isn’t going well.

“You can’t be here. You just can’t!” Jean cried out, trembling as she lost her balance and fell to her knees.

Dad and I were by her side in an instant, but she crawled away from Ren as if touching him would burn her!

“They told me you were dead!” Jean started to babble as I sat by her. She gripped my arm, her nails doing their best to dig through my skin to no avail. “Where were you?”

He didn’t answer. Her face contorted painfully at the silence.

“Were you just gallivanting around the world with your friends this whole time?” She started to get angry, directing a glare at Dyran, who was too busy staring at our home to care about the unfolding drama.

“No, mom.” I said quickly before she got the wrong idea. “That’s not it at all.”

She looked at me for a long moment, and then at my father, as if seeing him for the first time.

“Is-is it really you? How?” Jean dared to ask.

Ren only nodded in response. A second later, I felt myself being dragged with her as part of a group hug.


Quest Complete!

Reunion

After his long, grueling and torturous years in the Demon Realm, your father, Ren, has the chance to make his previously discarded dream come true: to reunite with his loving wife and make the family whole once again.

You are left Baba’s palace and embarked on the journey home. You braved the wilds of both earth and sea for weeks just to make it back as quickly as you could, and now you are all reunited!


I felt the tears fall, just as they had the day we escaped from the Demon realm.

Dad had not believed it then, but maybe he believed it now, with both mom and I here.

“This is real.” I heard him mutter.

“Yes.” I confirmed, swallowing thickly. “Welcome home, dad.”

He tried to say something to that, but Jean pressed her lips onto his, muffling whatever response he had.

I wisely backed away from the two, joining the others.

“We should, ah…” Ox-King grinned at the two kissing like it was their first time. “Give them some space, don’t you think?”

I swallowed again, feeling the lump in my throat lessen with the hilarity of the situation. Chichi was blushing at the sight— probably not hard to figure out why.

“There’s a nice restaurant nearby, BBQ style.” I suggested loudly, seeing my parents nod, absent-minded as they both entered the house, slamming the door on us.

“That went better than expected.” Dyran grinned at me.

I didn’t reply, instead turning to Chichi and extending my hand with a hesitant smile. She stared at it for a second before taking it with a smile.

Flash!

We turned to see Ox-King, holding one of those old cameras.

“Dad!” Chichi huffed in annoyance.

“It was a perfect shot!” He said. “You two are so cute. Maybe you should go on a date to the BBQ place, just the two of you. We will go elsewhere.”

“I would like to taste this BBQ.” Dyran protested, not catching on.

It seemed, however, that Ox-King was having none of it.

“Don’t you worry, son.” Ox-King said, patting the tall demon hard on the back as he ushered him forward. “I’ll take you to a nearby place I know— an all you can eat buffet, how about that?”

“All you can eat..?” Was the last thing I heard before they turned a corner. “My name’s Dyran.”

Chichi tugged at my hand. “Ready?”

I nodded, trying to keep up with the chaos my life had become in the last ten minutes.


Later that evening…

Chichi managed to last half an hour before she exploded with questions.

And so, I told her everything.

My trip to the Demon realm, my magic studies, my Gamer powers, my quest to stop the destruction of the universe, the Dragonball in my pocket— I left nothing out.

“Wow.” Chichi leaned back in her chair as she took a break from the food, her eyes both understanding and calculating. “That explains a few things, like why you never seemed to bleed, or get bothered by anything, really.”

I nodded.

“You can tell how strong I am just by looking at me?” She seemed curious.

Again, I nodded.

“Go ahead, then.”

“You sure?”

“Oh, yes.” Chichi seemed confident. “I’ve been training very hard, you know.”

Without replying, I invoked [Insight], linking my energy with hers.


Princess of Fry Pan Mountain
Chichi – Lv 24
Race – Human
Age – 14

HP: 15,000
Ki: 19,000

Rep: 7,000/10,000 Adored

Description: The Princess of Fry Pan Mountain, Chichi is a kind girl who believes she found a man worthy of her charms and wit.
Nevertheless, be wary of angering her, as her wrath knows no equal.

She is currently showing off her strength to you, and wants to fight you.

Battle Power: 112


She was now more powerful than her own father— and in such a short time!

If my stats had been un-enhanced by my passive skill boosts, we’d be around in equal in battle power!

It was humbling to see, in a way.

“Wow, Chichi, you’ve improved a lot!” I exclaimed.

“I plan on getting training from the Muten Roshi, too!” Chichi added.

“You’ll catch up in no time, then.” I smiled at her. It would be great to have a training partner.

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