First Posted at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu
Awaiting my carriage that crossed the drawbridge and passed the stone gates on it’s way into the royal castle, was a group of soldiers in armor bearing the markings of another nation, presumably Borzeff’s protégés. Giving my name to the soldiers who surrounded the carriage and pointed spears at me, I requested an audience with Borzeff. After exchanging glances, they ordered me to wait inside the carriage. Obeying obediently, I looked out the window at the royal castle I hadn’t visited for four months.
The Palcemith castle was a fortress situated in the middle of the capital, with the streets forming a semi-circle shape around it. Usually, the drawbridge that separated the capital and the royal castle was left down, with guardsmen stationed on each side. The castle was built atop an artificial embankment, and its exterior seemed reminiscent of Peles Castle in Romania.
However, the beautiful castle beloved by generations of Palcemith kings did not look much different from when I saw it last.
“…So that’s how it is.”
It was a victory for Borzeff, who had stormed into the city, sticking to the basic principle of a night raid and a dawn attack. That was why there were barely any signs of a raid within the castle. Not to mention, Borzeff had been exiled from the country over twenty years ago. Despite having been exiled, there were few people left who could have recognized the former Royal Prince. Because of this, it was very unlikely that anyone had tried to stop him at the border. Even so, judging from how smooth the operation went, there should be a spy within the Crown Prince’s forces. The countryside nobles’ rebellion or the merchant guild’s opposition was one thing, but I had predicted that a betrayal of the royal nobility would be further in the future… The Crown Prince and Nasha’s deeds had garnered more hate than I thought.
Taking a cursory glance around, there was no trace of the Royal Knights who usually serve as guards. They were likely under house arrest around the knights’ guardpost.
“Anderheim Yucht Asbal. Royal Prince Borzeff has approved your audience. I shall guide you there… Please do not make any careless mistakes.”
“Fu… Thank you for the warning. Morino, let’s go.”
After getting off the carriage, with Morino following behind me like an attendant, I walked through the familiar castle led by the soldier.
It goes without saying that the increase in paintings and artwork displayed in the corridors was thanks to Nasha. I wished to tell her to choose better pieces if she was going to display anything.
“…The audience room is up ahead.”
A short distance from the audience room where Vikram had announced the annulment of his engagement with Julieta. Just around the corner, a stone’s throw away from the destination, two soldiers stood blocking the passage. The soldier who escorted us came to a stop and turned back to Morino and me.
“Before you enter, we will check you for any weapons.”
“Hm. Of course, I have no objections. Right here? ”
“Hold this for me.”
I grasped the bottom of the lapel of my knee-length coat, and slowly pulled it off my shoulder. The sleeves coiled around my elbows, stuck due to the frills and I allowed Morino, who was waiting behind, to help pull it off and entrusted my lightly bunched coat to him. I had chosen to wear a loose-fitting pirate blouse made of a comfortable material under my gilet. Opening the front of the gilet, I coiled my fingers around my cravat as I took it off, tantalizing the men with occasional peeks of my skin.
“…Is something wrong?”
When I peered up at him from underneath my glasses, the soldier who had fallen silent took a step back. The two soldiers blocking the passage too, hadn’t moved from their spots but their eyes were glued on me.
“I didn’t bring anything… that could possibly hurt His Royal Highness Borzeff.”
With a soft smile, I grabbed the soldier’s hand, who didn’t seem to be starting the body search, and placed it on my chest.
“Then, please investigate.”
“Quickly… and thoroughly.”
The soldier, who had been frozen, started moving his hand, awkwardly tracing my body.
He’s no Malacia, but he’s a little interesting.
The moment his palm traced my hips, a soft moan escaped me and once again, the soldier’s movements halted. I tilted my head and looked up at the man, who was slowly flushing red, and drew my eyebrows together slightly in a troubled expression.
“Fufu, sorry. It was…a little ticklish.”
“Aah… So just a little. A little harder would be fine too. ”
The soldier, who was more innocent than I thought, bit his lip and quickly patted down my butt and thighs to finish my body search. Hey, with this type of frisking, I can smuggle in a lot of things, you know?
“Next…You in the back.”
I accepted back the coat I had left with Morino without putting it back on, remaining in just my gilet and blouse as I watched over Morino as the soldiers searched him. Rather than Morino undergoing the inspection in front of them, the attention of the soldiers blocking the passage continued to flicker toward me. I gave them a sideways glance and licked my lips a little, and the two soldiers averted their eyes in obvious discomposure.
Hm… they don’t seem to be formal soldiers. Must be some hodgepodge mercenaries.
As I recall, Borzeff was sent as an ambassador to Kicoed, a maritime country in the southeast of the continent. Unlike Palcemith, which maintains a favorable climate thanks to the Ancient Dragon Kharis’s blessings, it’s a country that has a naturally mild climate and a thriving sea trade and fishing industry. It’s unclear how much influence Borzeff had gathered there, but it didn’t seem like he had any political power yet. Well, I expected as much the moment he had taken a high-class prostitute as a wife.
“…You may enter.”
When Morino’s shakedown was done, Morino and I, wearing my coat, followed the soldier down the corridor and around the corner.
Not forgetting to smile at the two soldiers who had been blocking the road as we passed, I finally arrived before the audience hall, where Borzeff, who had achieved his coup d’etat, waited.
The soldier stopped before the door, and in a loud voice, sought for permission to enter.
“…Your Highness Borzeff! I have brought Lord Anderheim Yucht Asbal! ”
“Oh…! I’ve been waiting, enter! ”
It was a low, foul and unpleasant, hoarse voice that echoed from behind the door.
Laid out beyond the door, was a scarlet carpet, unchanged from four months ago. On the throne atop the stairs at the end of the carpet, with a voluptuous beauty waiting upon him, proudly sat a man with his large belly jiggling as he laughed.
I approached the throne, and gently lowered my head in a respectful bow to Borzeff. Next to me, Morino obediently followed suit.
On the throne there sat a fat and ugly middle-aged man, with an expression similar to that of a giant toad. It was said that time can change a man, but to think it would be to this extent. The only vestiges of his former beauty were the few strands of blond hair and the blue eyes buried within his flesh.
“Oohh, Anderheim…! You truly are the blood of the cursed Asbal, Prime Minister of the Silver Moon. You haven’t changed at all! ”
“Thank you for your praise, Your Royal Highness. I never thought I would be granted an audience with you again. It’s fortunate that this Anderheim has survived till this day.”
“Hm, I am pleased too. I had heard that you were stripped of your title as Prime Minister… That brat you brought along should be the new Prime Minister that damned Crown Prince appointed? ”
“That’s correct. When Your Royal Highness conquered the castle, due to his inexperience, he had fled in shock. I explained the situation to him, and brought him along to give his greetings. In the future, please make use of him as if he were an extension of yourself.”
I pressed down on the back of the head of the surprised Morino, and prevented his inevitable outburst. I suppose he had not expected me to flatter Borzeff, and though I could feel his bewilderment growing, I needed him to remain silent for the time being.
“Hoh… Make use of that one’s pet, huh. Good idea. By the way, Anderheim, do you have no intention of becoming my ally? I value your ability greatly and I can ensure you won’t be treated badly.
“Goodness… It is an honor, Your Royal Highness. If you don’t mind my incompetence, I will gladly oblige.
“I see, I see! I had thought you’d say that! ”
Slapping the armrest of the throne, Borzeff laughed loudly in a good mood. The mature woman clinging to his back should be Peragene. Unlike Borzeff, although she may be getting on in age, she was still beautiful in her own way.
“Incidentally, Anderheim. Do you have any idea where Vikram might have fled to? I’ve captured the Knight Commander, and those pesky knights are being monitored under lock and key. All that’s left is disposing of Vikram, and there will be no hindrances to my ascension to the throne.”
At Borzeff’s inquiry.
I held my hand to my chest and answered clearly.
“Indeed. I had a mansion within the capital before I retired from the Prime Minister’s office.There is a place of refuge for the royal family in the basement of the former “Asbal Mansion”, where His Highness the Crown Prince is hiding.”