The royal capital of Nesland, Kamarilla. A metropolis of 8 million people that developed along the Selve River. The royal palace, the parliament, the supreme court, and the central government office. The city where many of the political powers’ central forces gathered was in second place in terms of population compared to Garfield, the central economic city, but was still a prospering city that had left behind numerous historical traces.
Within this city, at the central government office, the royal palace and the official residence of the prime minister stood as the two pinnacles of this country’s political influences, and were placed facing each other on the north and south sides of the Selve River.
Inside that central government office, in the official residence of the prime minister, Prime Minister Saion paced around the room, back and forth. Although he had a plump stomach, his face was well looked after, enough to conceal that his age was close to 60; he still looked as if he was in his forties. Though he was starting to lose his hair, it matched his subtle moustache quite well and thus, it was said that he had the air of a sedate and dignified gentleman.
However, right now, such profoundness was nowhere to be found and was instead replaced by restlessness that resembled that of someone who was about to pee himself and had finally found a toilet, only to find an “under repair” sign on its door.
“Still no news……”
He mumbled quietly to himself and flinched, closing his mouth.
‘What in the world is taking them so long?’
That was the operation codename for the Queen’s assassination, which had supposedly begun a while ago. However, a report of the capture of the Queen had still not come in.
‘Surely things haven’t taken a wrong turn.’
He nervously stepped on the high quality carpet that covered the floor.
‘No, there’s no way. The 300 bug soldiers that I received from that person cannot be easily dealt with.’
The normal, stipulated guns that the Queen’s royal guards were armed with could not even scratch their shells, and there were 300 of these soldiers. There was no possible way for the other party to make a stand against them. The only thing that nagged at him was the possibility that she might have escaped through a secret passage.
‘No, that’s impossible.’
Everything was thoroughly accounted for. All means of communication were cut, and radio connection was jammed. Even the customised bulletproof car that was prepared as an emergency escape method had been tampered with.
There was no possible way of successfully escaping.
At that moment, the door opened and his subordinate entered.
“Ah, what’s the news?”
The Prime Minister stopped on the spot, hoping for the awaited news. However, his subordinate’s expression was not bright.
“That is…… It has been reported that she has escaped……”
Prime Minister Saion stamped his feet in rage. His moustache trembled violently.
“That is…… It seems that her majesty has escaped by car……”
“That…… Are you telling me those idiots couldn’t even do that one thing correctly?”
“What should we do?”
The Prime Minister chewed on his moustache as he frowned and, in the end, declared defeat.
“Tch. We can’t leave behind traces that would lead to us. Withdraw.”
“Yes, your excellency.”
After sending back his subordinate, the Prime Minister entwined his hands and fingers together.
He had gambled his success on this plan, and yet the assassination of the Queen had failed. If things continued to go the way it was going now, his own life would be in danger for blustering to that person.
‘No. It’s too early to say anything for certain.’
He anxiously paced around the room, repeatedly clasping and unclasping his hands. It wasn’t over yet.
‘He said that they escaped by car, right?’
If so, a chance still remained. The 300 bug soldiers that he had borrowed was one thing, but he had another trap that he had prepared on his own. If that worked, the situation would be completely changed at the last minute.
* * *
The car that held both Kael and Yulia, or more accurately, the car that held all three including the backpack, sped straight down the road. Even though the road was situated atop a cliff that oversaw the ocean, the car drove at a speed that could well be 200 kilometres per hour. The bugs were no longer following them so they could have slowed down, yet the car kept darting forward.
The straight road came to an end, and a steep curved road appeared. They would really have to slow down now, yet the car continued rushing forward.
Moreover…… It didn’t even turn.
It ran straight down the curved road, and inevitably crashed into the guardrail. The rails were standing quite firmly, but they scrunched and became uprooted from the force of the gigantic, bulletproof figure that was moving at 200 kilometres per hour. The connecting metals snapped and the car flew into the open air along with them. The car dived into the water, drawing a curve with its trajectory. A huge column of water erupted.
Just moments later, an explosion happened underwater and a column of fire surged up. Nothing came up to the surface.
* * *
The Prime Minister satisfactorily laughed at the report that arrived approximately thirty minutes later.
“Hahahahahahaha. A black Thunder Bird crashed into the guardrail and fell into the ocean on 1872 Sallium Route?”
“Yes, your excellency.”
“Heavens, this is a grave matter. There are only a few cars of that model in this whole country. Could it possibly be the car of her majesty, who had been out of reach after leaving for a vacation?”
“It may be so.”
“My heavens. An emergency search should be conducted. Concentrate the police force in that area and ensure that her majesty is safe.
“However, the parliamentary assembly is a national public affair, so it should not be cancelled just because of her majesty’s absence. Announce to everyone that it will still be held as scheduled, even if her majesty does not return.”
It was only then that the Prime Minister relaxed into his chair.
‘Tampering with the car that was prepared in the vacation castle was worth the trouble.’
Since it would be too obvious that it was an assassination plan if the car had blown up right away, he had made it so that it would drive normally for a while and then break down – which turned out, thankfully, to be a success. After all, his faction and its allied factions took up 172 out of 299 seats in the parliament. The vote would be no problem if only that damned kid didn’t interfere.
The budget that was being wasted on the medical fees of pests that did not contribute whatsoever to the country’s economy could now be used on the delayed construction work. Tomorrow would be a meaningful day, marking when this country took a step towards the right direction.
‘The land that I invested in two years ago will finally make some money.’
He had been tied up for longer than he had expected. He did not think, when the previous King died, that the kid would be so stubborn.
Money was one thing, but he had been truly anxious since the deadline for the construction ordered by that person had been approaching fast.
“I should pull out the wine that I’ve been saving.”
* * *
The following day, at the national assembly, the Prime Minister appeared on the platform, showing the news reporters a grief-struck face. The just under 300 members of parliament sat in front of him in the shape of a fan. Since the news that the Queen has gone missing had spread across the whole kingdom, tension uncomparable to any other occasions filled the assembly room. The reporters, who were standing off to one side, whispered to each other in a low voice, speculating on how the political situation would turn out.
“Does this mean that the Prime Minister will now rule supreme?”
“Who will be the King now…?”
“No, we don’t know for sure if her majesty has passed away.”
“But, there is no reason to state that she is missing if she is alive.”
“It seems…… There might be a crisis. If her royal highness passes away as well, they’d have to look to the collateral family line for an heir.”
The absence of the young, yet not typically young, queen was creating a giant hole in the balance of the national assembly. The Prime Minister held up the microphone and opened the conversation in a grave voice.
“This situation, where her majesty, who was on vacation, has gone missing and indications of a certain accident have been found, could certainly be called a crisis. I, of course, agree that nation-wide effort should be put into the search for her majesty. However, looking for her majesty is a separate matter; it is also the case that there is a mountain of bills to take care of. Her majesty would not want us to ignore our national affairs just to search for her.”
“Even so, how about we just delay it for at least another week?”
Though the Prime Minister internally scoffed at the suggestion made by MP Marco of the opposing party, he kept a dignified face. Delay it for a week? For whose benefit?
He was already at loss because his money had been bound to the empty land for two years. Yet they want him to drag it for another week? Moreover, the young queen would not return ever again.
“My, even the constitution states that, should the Queen be absent under any circumstances, I, the Prime Minister, am to lead the regular parliamentary assemblies.”
“That is true, but……”
“With the authority that the constitution presents to me, I hereby announce the beginning of the regular parliamentary assembly of the first half of the year 2012.”
The opposing party could no longer raise any objection to the one-sided, but lawful, announcement made by Prime Minister Saion.
“Then as the first item, let us discuss the special bill to redirect the budget for medical welfare into the development of Mount Louvre.”
One of the privileges of the chairman was his influence on the order in which the bills would be discussed. When Yulia had served as the speaker, she had utilized that to put off discussing most of the bills suggested by the Prime Minister’s party until the end. However, as she was absent now, the Prime Minister immediately brought up the bill that he had been waiting and waiting for.
As predictable words continued in the assembly, the opposing parties gathered for a moment to exchange their opinions.
“What should we do?”
“Realistically, there is no way to stop the bill from passing, is there?”
“Just where in the world is her majesty?”
“Considering how the events are unfolding, I’m starting to wonder if she has been assassinated.”
“Shh, watch your mouth.”
“Anyway, right now, the Prime Minister definitely has over half of the votes.”
“Meaning we have no chance once the voting starts, huh.”
“Even the Gaverine Party seems to be wavering, due to the absence of her majesty. Since it seems like the Prime Minister is moving on to the final negotiation, if things continue the way they are going now, the bill will be passed with over 200 votes.”
“Is there truly nothing we can do?”
“Rather, now that things have come down to this, how about we just consent to this and hope for concession on a few other bills?”
“Is that our only option?”
While the exchange took place, the Prime Minister moved the vote forward at lightning speed.
“Now, since there has been enough discussion, we will immediately enter the voting stage.”
“Hold on, what do you mean by enough? There has only been three speakings for and against!”
“There should be no problems, since the main points have been discussed in those three speakings. We should be efficient, since there are more than a few issues we have to cover in this meeting.”
Prime Minister Saion answered triumphantly. No matter what anyone said, this country was his, now that the child queen was dead. Though, he would have to make extra sure that the next king was more obedient and ignorant. Still, no matter who was throned next, they would not be able to bother him as much as this Queen had. He was finally free. This country was finally in his hands. Other political opponents would not be a problem as long as that person had his back. The only shameful thing was that he would have to wait until night in order to have celebratory drink.
At that moment, a clear, sweet voice rang out from behind the chairman’s seat that he was sitting on.
“A diligent attitude befitting a prime minister of a country. I see no inadequacy in thee becoming a role model for others.”
Speaking objectively, it was a beautiful sound that would not lose to the sound of the Angel’s Bell, which had been created by Artisan Rubréc as an offering to the cathedral. However, to the Prime Minister, it was a voice that was the very cause of his hyperacidity and dyspepsia.
The Prime Minister’s body stiffened. His moustache rose up and sagged down. Without a doubt, she should have been dead. Yet, why could he still hear the voice that turned his dreams into nightmares and caused him stress-induced enteritis? Was it an auditory hallucination? It probably was. It had to be.
The Prime Minister turned around, his body frozen stiff.
‘It…… It can’t be!’
It had been reported just before the assembly that they had found the frame of a black Thunder Bird that had sunk and exploded.
God, why are you abandoning me!
Despite his internal cry, Yulia was standing there when he turned around.
“Her Majesty the Queen has arrived!”
A beat later, the salute of the Assembly Hall’s Captain of the Guards echoed throughout the room.
“May the Gods protect Her Majesty the Queen!”
Whether with joy or with curses, the members of parliament said that in chorus, kneeling for the time being. The Prime Minister was no exception. Yulia did not look too well.
Her expensive silk dress was creased and stained all over, and there were a few blemishes in her hair, here and there.
That body of hers was scratched, as if showing how rough her trip had been, and it seemed like she was exhausted after being repeatedly drenched in sweat.
However, such things didn’t matter.
A diamond was still a diamond, even when dripping with mud; it was the same for her.
“I could not possibly dream of delaying the sacred assembly that will decide national affairs, and hence could not dress more appropriately.”
That one statement was enough. No accessories or embellishments were necessary for the royal gleam to surround her.
Her upright body was small but daring, and her dirty silver hair that she had combed back once to shake off dirt served to emphasise her natural sparkle.
Most of all, her eyes that were wise and keen – the vigor emanated by those silver pupils, which seemed to see through everything, forced even the slyest, oldest politicians to bow.
“I wish for thy generous understanding.”
The voice, clear and sweet but powerful, filled and spread throughout the assembly hall. That one sentence, empowered with such charisma and dignity, exerted pressure on others, despite it being a request.
She did not need any decorations; her very existence was that of a Queen.
The heads of the members of parliament bowed down even further.
“We are much obliged.”
Yulia once again looked at the Prime Minister. The way she haughtily lifted her head up and looked down at him was confident and aloof, as if saying: I knew all about your petty conspiracy.
“I truly commend thee for leading the assembly in my place during my absence. Prime minister, I praise thy splendid effort.”
Although she was clearly aware that the other party had been behind her assassination attempt, she simply complimented the Prime Minister. She did not use any sloppy blaming words or anger, only her cold and elegant smile. Her tone of voice did not even have a touch of wavering emotions and was so perfectly concealed that a third party would not possibly think that she was, in fact, being sarcastic or furious. Her poise was unlike that of a child, and the perfectly suppressed emotions created a truly fearsome pressure.
“However, I shall take over now, so thou may return to thy seat.”
Her outright words that would not allow any objections seemed gentle at a glimpse, but were actually sharp. A drop of cold sweat formed on the Prime Minister’s forehead as her words bit into his neck.
“I…… I am much obliged.”
The Prime Minister answered, holding back a scowl. He stepped down from the chair, gritting his teeth.
“I see that the first bill is about the special law for budget redirection from medical welfare to Mount Louvre development.”
“That is correct.”
The Prime Minister clenched his fists as he replied. He didn’t know how she had survived, but nothing would change. A bill that was under consideration could not be altered mid-discussion. Whether it would be rejected or passed, a vote had to be held. Although a Queen’s authority was mighty, it could not stand above the law. That was this country’s ground rule.
Also, should there be a vote,
‘The ballots for the bill have already been secured. Even that queen would not be able to do anything against this bill.’
“Most certainly. We shall discuss this bill until lunch. As soon as the afternoon meeting starts, we shall vote.”
Kael dumbfoundedly stared at Yulia, who had dominated the national assembly while overpowering the cunning old members of parliament, and was now sitting in the chairman’s seat with that tiny body.
Though he had thought that she was full of noble and elegant grace since the first encounter, to think that she had such spirit to overwhelm the parliament. She was not a mere eight-year-old kid, but a legitimate queen.
‘Just…… how many different faces does this kid have?’
He recalled, one by one, her expressions that he had witnessed from the end of the escape until now.
* * *
Inside the car, after they had shaken off all of the bugs and was driving soundly for a while, Kael felt a sudden premonition.
‘The car’s sound and movement changed?’
It seemed that Yulia, who was concentrating on driving, had not noticed, but he could sense it. He did not know anything about cars themselves, but a cacophony was mixed into the regular breathing of the engine.
“What is the matter?”
“Did you change how you’re operating the car?”
“No, I am in cruise-control.”
At that answer, Kael unbuckled his seatbelt without hesitation. He then grabbed her, opened the car door, and jumped out. He rolled on the dirt next to the road, wrapping his arms around Yulia so that she wouldn’t be hurt.
While Yulia, taken aback, let out a short moan before she pressed her lips back together, the car rushed forward on its own, crashed into the guardrails, and dived into the sea.
“What art thou possibly thinking? We still have a long way to go!”
Yulia puffed out her cheeks like a squirrel that was holding a handful of chestnuts in its mouth and pounded on his chest with her fists. Kael explained, accepting the hits that felt like a weak massage from the perspective of the person getting hit.
“It felt like there was a problem with the car.”
“What dost thou mean by that?”
Just as Yulia started to interrogate him once more, an explosion erupted from the sea. Yulia, who had turned and seen that, dropped her mouth open before closing it.
“Good heavens, for it to explode like that just because it fell into the water…… Did thou know this would happen?”
“Not the specific details.”
“So he also tampered with the car. As expected of the Prime Minister. A formidable person.”
As if she had forgotten how flustered she was before, Yulia locked her fingers, making a melancholy smile. Her small, slender hands intertwined, creating an unsettled atmosphere. Her clear, huge silver eyes sank. Those eyes were composed, yet gloomy. That gloom was quite deep, unfitting for her young face.
“Hmm, what shall we do? There will not be many cars around here.”
“Then, do we just have to go to bigger streets where other cars are driving?”
“That is correct, but we will have to walk for a good 50 kilometres. I suppose it cannot be helped, although time is tight.”
“ Alright. Then, hold on tight.”
Kael lifted Yulia up by her waist and supported it with his arms.
“Aah! What discourtesy, holding an unmarried virgin in thy arms without her consent!”
Yulia once again flounced her arms and legs. She hit his chest with both of her hands, one following the other, while kicking his sides with her foot. Her fierce resistance, which had not been seen until now, could very well be called a full body massage. Though, she lacked the strength to actually loosen his muscles.
“…… You realise that you were in my arms when we were escaping from the bugs, right?”
Kael protested, finding her belated complaints absurd.
“That was holding me by thy side, and this is actually being held against thy chest. This is a special pose that is only for married couples or solid lovers.”
A faint red hue, similar to the color of a semi-ripe peach, settled on her cheeks, and her eyes dropped slightly.
“ …… Ah, fine.”
Kael sighed and moved Yulia onto his back. Acting like a woman when she was only eight. She was only female biologically, so what meaning was it supposed to have?
“Then piggyback is fine, right?”
“Not completely, but I shall allow it, since it is an emergency.”
“Then hold on tight.”
Kael pulled her legs forward while holding onto them, wrapped both of her arms around his neck, and began running.
They pushed through the air, and it whooshed across their skin as wind. It was only about one fifth of the car’s speed of a few hundred kilometres per hour, but directly experiencing the speed gave it much more impact.
Yulia held onto him more tightly, as if she was afraid that she might fall. Kael continued moving forward in this manner, covering the whole 50 kilometres in an hour, and reached Highway 39, which was connected to route 1872. Like she had said, there were other cars driving along the road.
While drenched in sweat and panting, Kael let Yulia down on her feet.
“If it’s this much, haaaa…… time’s been saved to some extent, yeah? Hoooo.”
“Splendid. Thou definitely overpower the general maintainable running speed of a human.”
“Even so, compared to that car thing, hooo… not even a quarter, hoooooo.”
“As thou said, ‘tis a very subtle power. To be a 5th-class demon, I mean.”
Yulia agreed to Kael’s words. When purely discussing the power of his body, it was stronger than that of a human. However, if one was asking whether that level of power was incredibly strong, the machines that were made for individual uses had the upper hand.
Not weak, but not worth putting one’s soul on the line to summon. It was only about that strong.
“However, it is thou who narrowed down the distance that would have taken up a whole day at my pace. A person dying in the desert only needs a cup of water to be handed to them, not some faraway lake.”
Yulia lightly patted his thigh. Her touch was gentle and rhythmic. Moreover, her words were dignified, but the smile that spread on her lips were full of affectionate warmth. She looked as if she was happily petting a big dog.
As her small hands continued to stroke him, his thigh muscles tensed up rather than relaxing, making Kael flinch momentarily.
‘Ugh. Get a hold of yourself.’
What was he doing, feeling pleased from a kid’s touch? He wasn’t a dog.
The bag opened and a pristine white towel popped out.
“Here, wipe thy sweat with this.”
Kael wiped his face and hair with the towel, regaining his breath. While he did so, Yulia shouted at the passing cars.
“This is an emergency! I shall procure thy car. The price will be specially rewarded to thee generously, so cooperate!”
Rather than signaling by doing something like waving her arm, she proudly kept her hands on her waist and raised her voice. She was filled with a sense of confidence and seemed to believe that the cars should come to a stop in front of her just by her vocal demand.
Of course, despite her command, none of the cars stopped to accommodate her. They merely continued to rush forward, while even exceeding the speed limit.
“I don’t think anyone will hear you while driving at high speed with their windows closed.”
Yulia flinched. Her ear, which was surrounded by strands of her hair, slightly tilted backwards before returning to normal. It was so subtle that it wasn’t visible. She put her arm back down, knitting her eyebrows together.
“Tchh. Thy comment is correct. I have overlooked that factor.”
That expression of hers was oddly cute, making Kael lightly scratch his cheek.
“However, for a situation like this, I have prepared a plan B.”
She remarked and laughed, regaining her confidence, and tucked up her skirt. Her thin leg, which had been hidden underneath it, was revealed. Neither her calf nor her thigh possessed a mature woman’s curves, but they had their own child-like tenderness and defenseless cuteness. Her pale skin that seemed soft, squishy, and warm made Kael feel like he wanted to touch them.
‘…… I couldn’t possibly actually touch it, though……’
Kael shook his head for a moment to shake off the unnecessary thoughts. It was only afterwards that he became curious as to why she was doing what she was doing.
‘What’s she doing? Is she planning to run on her own legs?’
It would be faster for him to just keep giving her a piggyback while he was running. Sure, he was a little exhausted, but he was confident that he could go much faster than a tiny kid.
However, Yulia didn’t run. Instead, she stretched her leg and placed in on top of the guardrail. The great hardship of separating her legs to that extent nearly revealed her underwear.
“Wha, what are you doing?!”
Kael pulled her leg down, flustered.
He couldn’t see it. No, he hadn’t seen it. He did not see anything white that had cat patterns imprinted on it!
“I have seen in movies that males stop their cars and let the female ride if she does this.”
“…… Hey, I think that’s a skill that’s limited to beauties.”
Kael mumbled without certainty. He wasn’t confident, since the era had changed, but during the era of his first contract, carriages only stopped when a ‘beauty’ used such tactics.
“What didst thou just say? Does that mean that I am not beautiful?!”
Enraged, she pointed at him with her index finger. The way she sulkily grumbled was just like a pouting eight-year-old would.
“The problem doesn’t exactly lie there……”
Kael, who had nearly stopped sweating, felt one more drop roll down his forehead.
‘Though I think that skill would be super effective in about ten years’ time.’
Right now, it was a little bit…… sure, she was beautiful, but it was the beauty of a child, so wouldn’t it be even more of a problem if there was actually somebody who fell for it and stopped the car?
“We have no other plans.”
“Yeah, true. But still, that’s……”
“Now shut thy mouth.”
Yulia held up her hand into a fist, as if to warn him.
“No, even if you tell me to shut it, I really don’t think such a plan would……”
As Kael ignored her and continued on, Yulia repeatedly hit his stomach with her fists.
“For heaven’s sakes, shut. I said shut!”
Since it did not even tickle him, let alone hurt him, Kael closed his mouth, dumbfounded. Only then was Yulia satisfied, and she rolled up her skirt once more. Her soft, tender leg revealed itself again.
“Don’t interrupt, unless you are going to suggest a plan C.”
With great effort, Yulia replaced her leg on the guardrail.
“No, even so, this is a little……”
Just then, a freight truck stopped at the shoulder of the road. A slightly chubby, middle-age man who seemed to be good-natured popped his head out of the window.
“Eii, are ya siblings stranded ‘ere?”
“See, did I not say that it would work just fine?”
Yulia bragged as she turned back to Kael, bobbing her fingers.
‘No, it really seems like he stopped out of pity, since we look so shabby.’
When he saw her smiling boastfully, Kael decided to hold back his internal rebuttal.
“I commend thee for stopping, citizen. Dost thou recognise me?”
Yulia turned to the truck driver again. She folded her arms in front of her, slightly leaned her neck backwards, and opened up her shoulders before speaking to him in an arrogant tone. The man widened his eyes and shivered his body.
“Ah, cou…… cou…… could it be? Your majesty?”
“Due to certain circumstances, I could not dress more appropriately. Don’t try to dig further.”
As he stared at the trembling man, Kael thought: she was indeed the queen of this land.
“I must return to the royal capital in haste. Cooperate by giving us transportation.”
“If…… if it is okay…… in my humble…… car……”
“I am the one who was in trouble and asked for cooperation, so what reason would I have to nitpick? Do not worry; in fact, I shall reward thee generously later on.”
Words that were, apart from their clarity and sweetness, full of dignity. Eyes that looked down, gently sheltering the other. She naturally comforted the truck driver with the air of a superior.
They sat in the front passenger seat. Since there wasn’t any space, Yulia sat on top of Kael’s lap. However, she squirmed around, probably in discomfort. Every time she moved, their bodies rubbed against each other, making Kael flinch.
‘It’s just a kid’s body……’
Even so, it felt nice.
It definitely felt nice.
It was soft, warm, and tender. It did not curve in where it should to curve in, and did not curve out where it should curve out, but it felt nice nonetheless.
“Mm. It is quite tight. But, I shouldn’t complain, given the circumstances. Would I be asking for too much if I were to ask thee to drive us to the National Assembly Building?”
Yulia momentarily creased her forehead before straightening immediately, and looked at the driver with a gentle smile. However, her eyes were powerful, making the driver stutter under their gaze.
“Of…… of course. I will drive at high speed, no, at a comfortable speed while abiding by the law……”
Yulia lightly patted the driver’s shoulders.
“Do not be afraid. However, thou shalt keep this company a secret to those around you. And, until we arrive safely, any call to the outside is forbidden.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
The driver trembled as he drove the car. For a moment, Kael was worried that he might get into an accident, but decided against saying anything.
He didn’t know how to drive, and since this man drove a truck for a living, he would be better at it than Yulia.
Although the driver was trembling at first, he settled down as time passed, though he was still stiff and mute. Around then, Yulia, who had been dozing off, fell asleep completely. As her head leaned against Kael’s chest, she turned quiet, and only the sound of her breathing through her nose remained.
Kael once again felt strange as he watched her sleep peacefully like a kitten. This tender life was resting in his arms, entrusting everything to him. What could he call this kind of situation?
As he looked at her peaceful, serene face, even his own heart felt warm. What was this feeling that made him feel even more comfortable than when he himself was drifting off to sleep?
There was no way for him to know.
‘Her eyelashes…… though she’s young, they’re so long……”
Kael just decided to think about something else.
Drip. A drop of saliva fell out of Yulia’s mouth, onto his clothes.
‘Tch…… dammit, I’ll overlook it this time, since my clothes weren’t clean to begin with.’
Such noble sleeping habits for a queen. Even as he grumbled, Kael sat still so that she would not wake up.
Five hours later, the truck finally arrived in front of the National Assembly Building. Then, Kael shook Yulia awake.
Yulia opened her eyes and yawned heavily, with a blank expression. She blinked her eyes a few times, but she wasn’t completely focused. A grain of rheum hung on the corner of her eye, but she did not seem to realise it. A dried up trail of saliva lined her mouth, and her hair was stuck flat onto her head in various places. It was the defenselessness of a child who had just awakened.
“Where are we?”
“It’s the National Assembly Building. Didn’t you say that you have some business here today?”
Yulia straightened her posture, as if she had suddenly regained her consciousness. She wiped the rheum from her eyes and the saliva from her mouth. When she stiffened her neck afterwards, her eyes regained their sparkle.
“Thou hast done good work, citizen. This is a token of thanks. You could sell it or keep it as a treasure.”
She took off a brooch that was decorating her dress and handed it to the driver.
“M…… Much obliged.”
“Thou may go now. Thy cooperation has been a big help.”
Yulia hopped out of the car and stretched her waist. Her silver hair sprinkled shards of light into the air. She straightened her back, stiffened her neck and brightened her eyes. Even her smallest mannerisms were flawless, and there was strength within her voice.
The atmosphere that surrounded her completely changed. A powerful aura, or perhaps it could be called a presence or charisma, that was invisible, but definitely existed, emanated from her.
“Accompany me, Kael.”
She demanded in a proud and natural manner.
Kael decided to do as she said for now and carefully observed her face. Just a moment ago, she had been asleep with such a child-like expression, yet now, she had that proud expression of a queen. Which one was her real face? Or, were they both real?
* * *
Lunchtime had arrived by the time Kael woke up from his reminiscing of the past. Yulia, who had announced a temporary adjournment, walked over to where Kael was standing.
“I apologise for making thee wait.”
“No, it wasn’t exactly boring. It was sorta refreshing to watch you work. Kinda cool, too.”
Kael waved his hand. Although he had sensed that she was assertive, he had not realised that it was to this extent.
“Is that so?”
Yulia’s eyes momentarily sparkled. Her ears pricked up, as if she wanted to hear more compliments. However, she returned to her queenly self, keeping her dignity, and continued as she smiled elegantly.
“I should resolve my business with thee as well; however, right now, the situation within the national assembly is quite strained. Would you be so kind as to wait until the evening?”
After seeing the brief changes in her expression, Kael answered while suppressing his thoughts, which tried to whisper that she was cute after all.
“Sure. I’m also curious as to what the result of your effort will be.”
“So be it. Under normal circumstances, observation of the national assembly’s lobby is prohibited, but I shall make thee an exception and allow it. Just do not be a nuisance by interrupting.”
Was she telling him not to bother her while she was resting? Kael soon realised that that was not the case.
Yulia did not rest in the lobby. On the contrary, she sat on a chair and, with her mask-like smile that prevented others from reading her thoughts and her sly gaze, faced her visitor.
“What is the current situation, Shafred?”
“Not very good. The Prime Minister has around 170 or 180 votes secured. On top of that, there seems to be an uncertain atmosphere amongst the Gaverine Faction.”
“There is no need to worry about Gaverine. They will not be able to act rashly now that I have returned. Even so, I suppose we need at least thirty extra votes.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Tell Griel that I wish to meet.”
“At your command.”
After he exited the room, Kael asked.
“Are they on the side of justice or something like that?”
“Hah? What art thou talking about? As if there’s such a thing in a National Assembly.”
Her silver eyes opened wide and round, emanating the hopelessness she felt for him.
“Shafred shares a deep relationship with pharmaceutical companies. If the medical budget gets cut, there will be less goods delivered to the country, which will then directly affect sales.”
“Is…… Is that right? Then, everybody else as well?”
“There is a particularly high concentration of poor people in the more locally oriented areas, so some face great risks to their position of power if they oppose these kinds of bills. Hah. Though, even they only care about their votes when it is just before the elections, after they have taken all that they could during the rest of their term. Their local elections are just around the corner, just in time.”
Yulia momentarily let out a cynical laugh. Her silver eyes embraced the darkness and reflected a cold streak of light. Those eyes were, without doubt, looking down at the “ugly truth” of this place.
“Ethederyn speaks for the doctor’s union. He opposed me when he was aiming to build another medical university in order to expand the public health centre, yet he cooperates on this issue, since his income would decrease. This is the kind of place the National Assembly is. What is competed for is individual profit. Advocacy for justice is also merely a cover for that purpose. No more, no less. Thou dost not know enough about humans.”
She lightly clicked her tongue, as if she was pitying Kael’s innocence.
Kael shut his mouth. He didn’t know what he had expected, but had he heard a child tell him that he didn’t know enough about humans? He had watched how the world operated for much longer than this kid had. He was still not completely awake. That must have been the reason.
A few minutes later, a different member of the parliament took his turn to enter the lobby. He looked to be between 50 and 60 years old, and although his hair had been dyed black, he could not hide the wrinkles on his neck.
“I have come as you ordered, your majesty.”
The 50 year old parliamentarian bowed to her.
“Thou should be aware that there was an unfortunate accident during my vacation.”
“Yes, your majesty, although I was not informed of the details.”
“On my way back, the Thunder Bird malfunctioned and the engine was set on fire, almost burning me to death. If I had not escaped in the nick of time, I would have reunited with my father in the underworld.”
“How could that be! I am truly relieved that you escaped safely.”
“Indeed. However, to think that the Thunder Bird, which had been so proudly introduced by the Gyle Group, could not even guarantee the minimum amount of safety – I was very disappointed.”
She smiled elegantly as she tilted her head roughly fifteen degrees and leaned her chin against her hand. She was refined and full of grace, but her face did not reveal the slightest hint of “truth”, making it no different from a poker face, making her harder to read than if she had no expression.
“That…… That is…”
Griel could not finish his sentence, and his face sunk to the ground.
“Pardon my humble comments…… It is not yet completely sure…… Whether there was a defect in the car or if it was the job of an inscrutable criminal who should be accused of high treason……”
“Of course not. I am open to many different possibilities. However, as long as there is a possibility that the car may have had a defect, it seems very fair to concurrently investigate the model as well.”
Yulia smiled gently, and her voice became a little more courteous. However, those gentle words wrapped around Griel’s neck like a rope of silk, slowly suffocating him. Griel bowed even lower.
“Your majesty. Even so, an investigation will have a grave, negative effect on the company, regardless of the verdict. Please show sympathy.”
“I would like to do so, but since this issue is a grave matter……”
As Yulia gazed down at Griel, who had lowered his eyes to the floor, her mouth curved gently, looking even more graceful. Her left hand was lightly pressing on the armrest, creating the illusion of a bug being squished and popped.
“The executives and staff members of the Gyle Group all hold the greatest loyalty towards the country and the royal line. How could they have possibly been careless in the honoured delivery of a royal bulletproof car?”
“If thou sayst so, I shall watch for a moment to see for myself if such loyalty is truly evident.”
“Please bestow your trust upon us.”
“I shall accept thy expostulation and give it another thought. You may leave now.”
Yulia withdrew her graceful, mask-like smile and smiled a little more tenderly. However, her stare was still keen and she seemed to be holding a carrot and a stick.
“Yes, your majesty.”
Griel bowed once more before he exited the lobby.
Kael, who had been keeping quiet until then, asked without being able to hold back his curiosity any further.
“So cars made by humans are sometimes defective and explode in the middle of driving?”
In that case, weren’t they too dangerous, no matter how fast they were compared to carriages?
When he asked that question, Yulia looked at him as if he was a pathetic being.
“Hah? What kind of nonsense is that? Gyle is one of the three top car manufacturers. There is no way that there would be that kind of a manufacturing defect in a car that was delivered, not to leave a profit, but to raise their brand name.”
“……? Then, what was the conversation just now?”
“Griel is also a major shareholder of the Gyle Group. Regardless of the truth, if the Royal Inspection Unit is dispatched due to this kind of incident, business will be paralysed, and their stocks will crash. Their brand value would collapse.”
After finishing her sentence, Yulia slightly cracked the edges of her lips for a brief moment. She gently rubbed her thumb and index finger together, as if twisting the wings of a dragonfly.
“He has no choice but to be conscious of me until the incident is determined to be an attack from a ‘terrorist’. Fufufu.”
Yulia snickered in a low voice, covering her mouth with her hand. The corners of her eyes slanted upwards, making her look like a laughing fox. A dark aura hovered around her. Kael’s mouth dropped open when he saw her, a crafty tactician who could outshine a sly, old politician.
“What, then the human just now had no bearing on the incident?”
“Pfft. Just about the only one in this country who is bold enough to assassinate me is the current prime minister, Saion.”
“Then…… You scared him, even though you knew it wasn’t his doing?”
“I just happened to pick up whatever I saw when I tripped.”
After he heard her words, she felt unfamiliar to Kael.
“That’s somewhat insidious.”
At his murmur, Yulia suddenly pouted her lips and puffed up her cheeks. She looked like a squirrel that had stuffed its mouth full of acorns, and she complained while repeatedly pounding the armrest with her fist.
“It can’t be helped! If I don’t go to such measures, we will lose this vote.”
“Er, it’s not like I’m telling you to act a certain way.”
“Hmph. Even so, thou art criticising me for relying on such means, are you not?”
Yulia protested, folding her arms and turning her head to face the other way in order to emphasise the fact that she was sulking. However, even though her face was turned away, her eyes moved slightly to the side to glance at Kael’s reaction. Kael let out a ‘Pfft’ when he saw her adorable behaviour.
Once he had begun thinking that she was cute, she seemed distant; once he had started to think that she was far away, she seemed cute.
A child, yet a queen.
Eight years old, yet a tactician.
She trembled in fear at the sight of a corpse, yet was determined enough to summon a devil as her final card.
She slept peacefully, yet was daring enough to drive a car at a frenzied speed.
She tried to stop a passing car with her little legs, yet was level-headed enough to take the enemy’s corpse whilst escaping.
A girl that possessed both the laughter of a child and the dignity of a queen.
He really could not hate her.
“Criticism, you say? That’s not true. You’re fighting to protect something, even going as far as putting your ‘soul’ on the line to summon me. I’m not gonna judge, even without being able to understand such desperation.”
“Dost thou speak the truth?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Hnn. So be it, then. I will trust thee. Right now, I have to lead the afternoon assembly, so we shall meet again afterwards. Ah, that’s right.”
She beamed brightly again.
“Go find some food from our world that thou would like to taste. I shall properly treat thee to dinner tonight. If thou wishest, it may include an expensive liquor.”
She left the lobby upon finishing her sentence. Kael, who was left behind, scratched his head.
“She really doesn’t need to treat me dinner, but……”
What reason was there to smile like that just because I told her that I wasn’t criticising her? As if it had been bothering her.
“Eh. Seems that I’m way too self-conscious.”
There was no way that someone with such a firm goal and philosophy would be shaken by the words of a guy whom she had met less than a day ago.
In the end, the bill was voted down, with 145 against 150 votes. There were two blank ballots and two absentees.
“Reflecting thy stances, a representative of our people’s stances, I hereby announce the rejection of the special law.”
Yulia lifted up the royal seal next to her, and slammed it down onto the rejection box of the bill, as if she was beheading the opposition.
‘This can’t be! Who the hell!’
The Prime Minister looked around in rage. There were betrayers amongst the ones who had promised to vote for the ballot. Moreover, it wasn’t just one or two; it was almost a whole party.
Gavril, who had been saying that he would think about it in a positive light, also wiped his mouth clean.
If things came down to this, according to the principle that a bill could not be subject to double jeopardy in the same term, the next time that he would be able to bring up this same bill would be at the assembly during the second half of the year, which would be held after half a year. On top of that, it was obvious that the Queen would waste time and push it to the following year because of the fact that it had already been discussed in the first half of the year.
A bill that had been passed by the house of representatives had to be considered in the national assembly within two years, but in other words, it also meant that the Queen could always hold it off for those two years.
‘Do I truly have to wait for another two years?’
If I had bought a load of gold instead of a mountain with that money, my investment would have risen at least twenty percent! The Prime Minister chewed on his long moustache. As he rended his hair that was already starting to fall off, he lamented.
‘Tch. To think that she thwarted the development of my mountain to distribute medicine to hobos who would benefit the national treasury more if they were dead.’
This damned wench. If she wasn’t Queen, I would’ve already……
No, Queen or what, I should have sent her off this time.
What was the point of letting those hobos live, when they received more support from the government than they paid in taxes? There would be much more for him to take out of that budget if they would just be all swept off the land and into the ocean.
The land development had to be started now. Only then would the official land price, that was about twenty times the purchase price, be deposited into his borrowed-name account. How long would the money invested there be frozen for? He had worked so hard to borrow all of his relatives’ names in order to purchase all the land in that area, yet all of his efforts were for naught.
That wasn’t the only problem.
He had assured that person that he would definitely get rid of the Queen this time. He was in big trouble, since he had failed even after borrowing 300 bug soldiers. What excuse could he make to that person? When that person told him that they did not care how much extra profit the prime minister gathered as long the “work” was properly done, their voice was icy cold. It clearly emanated unforgiveness and impatience.
He had fought for this case even harder, since he sensed that their patience had reached its limit. Now that things had come down to this, would his head still remain on his body when the next day arrived?
The Prime Minister shuddered.
* * *
After the assembly, Yulia found Kael waiting for her.
“I thank thee for waiting with patience. Didst thou decide on what to eat?”
“Uh…… I did look at this pamphlet here.”
Kael held up the royal capital guide pamphlet that was placed in the national assembly building’s library.
“But I couldn’t choose after all. You can just recommend something to me.”
Yulia’s eyes sparkled, as if she had something on her mind. She lightly licked the tip of her finger that she was holding up in front of her lips, and her mouth watered. A drop of drool leaked out of her mouth, on the verge of rolling down. While Kael carefully watched for what would happen next, Yulia hurriedly lifted her head up and swallowed the drop just as it touched her skin. Her ear leaned back and returned to its original place in the blink of an eye.
She quickly dropped her hand and fixed her posture, once again finding her elegant, composed smile. Her eyes, which had be shining vulnerably, also regained their grace, neatly putting away their sparkle.
“Hm. Then let us go to the royal palace together. In fact, the court cook is also a very talented person with exceptional skills.”
Kael readily consented to her offer.
‘It seemed like she wanted to eat something else.’
I don’t know why she won’t say it out loud, but I assume that there is no need to dig into the matter.
‘Well, I guess it was a rewarding day.’
He wasn’t able to sleep and his body ached, but it wasn’t bad at all, considering that he had saved a kid. If he were to be treated to a royal court dinner as a reward, this would become a memory to remember.
‘The kid ought to be proud, since she turned down the bill that she wanted to reject after all that commotion.’
Though, he still didn’t understand how evil the bill had been to warrant her going to such measures in order to stop it from passing.
“The car is waiting at the rear door of the assembly building. Accompany me.”
Kael followed her from behind, as if to protect her back. When they reached the rear door, a long and classy sedan was waiting for them, just as she had said. A group of people were standing with pickets in their hands next to the sedan.
One of the people in that group called out, running out. Kael reflectively jumped in front of Yulia to protect her. However, the guards in suits who were waiting next to the sedan grabbed the man first.
“Halt. Do not be rough to the man.”
Yulia raised her hand. Upon seeing that, the guards temporarily let the man go.
“What is your business?”
“I just wished to thank you. I heard that my daughter could continue to visit the public health centre……”
The man, who was now in tears, did not have a right hand – perhaps lost in an accident.
“Being a father…… Though it’s probably an embarrassment to not even be able to afford my daughter’s hospital fees…… Because they say that this child’s disease requires a year of constant medication, or it will not be affected by any medication in the future……”
A girl who looked even younger than Yulia was holding onto the man’s left hand. Although their clothes were of low quality, their two hands were tightly held together.
“That’s a relief. If the doctor said so, make sure to take thy medicine regularly.”
Yulia spoke, looking at the child. A kind and gentle smile decorated her lips. Those silver eyes that looked like a dignified, yet sharp and cold crescent moon now sparkled like the tender rays of a full moon.
“We are much obliged, your majesty.”
The father, rather than the child, thanked her.
“I must go, since there is more work that I have to do in the palace. However, I do read all of thy letters that are sent to the Royal household.”
“Thank you, your majesty.”
The people holding the pickets thanked her together. Kael briefly scanned the words that were written on those pickets.
[Do not take our medicine away from us.]
[Guarantee our lives.]
As they traveled to the palace in the car, Yulia stealthily sidled over to Kael, who was sitting on the seat beside her.
‘What’s up with her?’
Kael flinched but managed to keep still. She held onto his arm like they were close to each other. She slipped her arms around his, as if his arm was a pillow or a teddy bear, and eventually tilted her body, leaning her face onto his arm.
‘Now look at this.’
On top of that, she slowly and gently rubbed her face on his arm. The way she smiled so broadly made her seem completely defenseless. As her downy skin tickled his arm, Kael became fidgety. How could it be described – it was not particularly intense and thrilling, but it was a feeling that seemed to softly caress his heart, like pieces of happiness were being neatly stacked on top of each other, layer by layer.
Embarrassed, Kael purposefully asked in a blunt manner.
“What are you doing?”
Only when Kael asked did she stop rubbing and lift her face up. She was beaming so brightly that it revealed the amount of happiness that she felt.
“So, what dost thou say?”
Kael turned his head the other way, feeling somewhat blinded by her expressiveness – the total opposite of how she had acted during the national assembly. He nonchalantly returned a question while pulling out his arm.
“About how thou felt after seeing for thyself the people thou saved.”
Kael looked out of the window, pretending indifference. One streetlight, two streetlights, three streetlights. He tried his hardest to blow Yulia’s smile out of his head by counting the streetlights.
“If the Prime Minister’s bill had been passed, he would have set up a construction project in the mountain that he had invested in, using that child’s medical fees. If he had at least suggested investing in Port Louvlet, where on-water traffic is currently worsening, I could have understood ignoring the pros and cons.”
“Who cares. Stop the difficult talk. It’s all good, since you weren’t eaten by bugs. You do all that law and politics stuff by yourself.”
“However much thou art disinterested in such matters, it is not like thou didst not understand that it concerned that child’s medical fees.”
Yulia pouted, pushing out her lips. Although her face was reflected on the window, Kael pretended to not notice it.
“What do the medical fees of someone I don’t know whatsoever have to do with me?”
“Tch. Art thou really going to be like that?”
She sucked in her cheeks and puffed them out immediately after, sulking. After puffing them out until her whole face became round, she released all of the air in one go and pouted her lips again. Still, Kael continued to pretend that he did not notice and answered bluntly.
“What about me? I got you away from all the bugs and brought you here. Ain’t my job done?”
Yulia’s mouth popped out even more. She turned her head away and scooted to the other end of the seat.
‘She’s definitely sulking.’
Kael struggled to hold in his laughter.
Even so, he could not respond. Nothing good would come to a human who deepened their connection with a soul-terminating demon.
The reason this could become a memory was because it would end with this one occasion.
Any more than that, and only destruction would await.
‘The medical fees of a poor child, huh.’
She did not hesitate to become a hardworking queen in order to protect such a thing. He had seen many of her faces today, but the face that she had made when smiling to the child was the most important. Though, it was questionable as to whether she would be able to keep that admirable dream even after she became an adult.
‘It would also be a problem if she were to keep it ‘til then.’
If so, she’d just be a hopeless fool. Still, this kid could become a pretty good queen, so to speak. On top of that…… Perhaps a great beauty as well?
Kael glanced at the profile of Yulia’s face, who was still sulking. It seemed like there was a 99.9999% chance as long as she wasn’t involved in an accident.
Then again, that was a story of at least ten years in the future. He would part with her today, and they probably would not cross paths again. It would also be bad if the queen of a country was forced into a situation where she had to go to the extent of summoning a demon twice.
‘And even if she does, the chance that she summons me is close to zero.’
So let me remember what she looks like for the last time. Although she often showed her tough side, in the end, she was really just a cute, lovable kid. It was a relief to be able to part without taking her soul.
The car soon arrived at the royal palace. The Bersian Palace that was located slightly east to the centre of the royal capital, Kamarilla, embraced the night and flaunted its magnificent figure, sprinkling light in all directions. As they approached the front gate, the guards stood at arms, and giant water fountains in the garden that bordered both sides of the road spurted water. Many statues were scattered across the garden to enhance its atmosphere, from male statues that boasted their dynamic muscles to female statues that bragged of their elegant beauty, and even animal statues that seemed real.
‘A royal palace is indeed a royal palace.’
Kael marvelled at the grandness of the majestic, fancy building. To be the mistress of such a big place when she was only eight. He was curious as to what in the world had happened to the preceding king or her siblings for her to be a queen at such an age. However, Kael did not ask.
‘What good would it do to go as far as to ask about a story that’s probably full of old scars?’
We’re gonna part soon after dinner, anyway.
Servants and maids welcomed the two as they got off the car. Amongst them, there was a white-haired gentleman who stood out. His hair was neatly combed back and his short moustache, which accented his elderly face, had a sense of authority without losing its power. The black swallowtail attire, the black bowtie, and the diamond buttons that embellished them gave off a subtle and concealed splendor. The badge pinned onto his plastron had the royal crest engraved upon it, hinting at his status. Perhaps he was the grand chamberlain, since he stepped forward to represent the group and kneeled in front of Yulia to greet her. Kael stood blankly behind her.
‘Uh. This is kinda awkward.’
Despite their statuses as servants and maids, they were quite well-dressed. Although it was was a little disheveled, Yulia was also wearing a fancy, high-quality dress fit for a queen, and it had shiny jewellery ornaments attached to it. In comparison, his outfit was the comfortable one that he had slept in. It could also be worn during the day, but he felt like an uninvited guest.
‘Maybe I should have said that I didn’t need dinner and just asked her to send me back.’
He had been too idle in thinking that he would just taste the royal meal of this era, since he had been summoned.
“We humbly welcome your majesty, who has returned to the Bersian Palace.”
As the grand chamberlain kneeled, the servants and the maids bent their waists forward, to a ninety degree angle, all at the same time. Yulia lightly nodded at them.
“Thou hast done a great job while I was away. You may all stand.”
The servants and the maids straightened their posture, collected their hands in front of them, and slightly bowed their heads, waiting for the next order.
“Shall we prepare dinner? Or shall we prepare the bath? Or would you prefer something else?
“I would first like to wash myself. However, before I do so, I should introduce the preserver of my life. Sir Kael, step forward.”
Yulia gave Kael a look as she stared at him.
Kael hiccupped at the sudden addition of “sir” to his name.
What in the world are you thinking? The question surged all the way up to his throat. He was going to disappear after today, anyway. If she introduced him as someone she owed her life to, things would become too troublesome. It was fine for her to want to pay back her debt, but it would have been best for both of them if they had taken care of the matter quietly.
“Thou shouldst already all know that there was a wicked attempt on my life during this vacation season.”
“We were truly concerned when we heard that no contact could be made with your majesty.”
“If Sir Kael had not rescued me from those wicked creatures and helped me escape, I would not be standing here. He does not yet have an official title, but I expect thee all to welcome him with respect.”
At Yulia’s explanation, everyone glanced at Kael and politely bowed their heads. It was completely the attitude of welcoming him as a guest of honour.
“We shall uphold your commands.”
Kael just opened and closed his mouth.
‘No, but really, what’s she gonna do?’
“Welcome” my ass. It would be fine to just have a meal together and end the business there. Why is she complicating things? After all of that, I couldn’t possible just stand up and say stuff like “I’m actually a demon!”.
While he was powerlessly stuck in the middle, Yulia one-sidedly made the issue worse.
“He is also exhausted from the long journey. Present him a new garment, and allow him to enjoy his bath in the Bathhouse of the Sun.”
“We shall do so promptly. For now, would the established uniform of the royal knights be fine for the new attire?”
“You may do so.”
“Hey, I don’t need a new set of clothes……”
“Would it not be troubling if thou dined in that sweat-soaked attire? Just accept it.”
Kael decided to take it without any further complaints. After all, he had to admit that his current clothes were drenched in sweat. He would take the new set of clothes as a souvenir. He had done enough to deserve one.
“Then take him to the bathhouse.”
“Yes, your majesty. Accompany him.”
After the grand chamberlain once again ordered them, five maids surrounded Kael, as if besieging him. They were all wearing the so-called maid uniforms, but when he looked at them carefully, one of them had a subtly fancier dress. It was more spacy, and the buttons attached to its sleeves were coated in gold along with fancy handiworks imprinted onto them, unlike the dresses of the other maids. On top of that, the tight design that enhanced the small but well-shaped bosom was not just relying on pure practicality. It was probably the privilege of a higher ranking maid.
An edginess peculiar to a professional who indulged in her work emanated from her. She had her red hair in a neat plait and her eyes were decorated by a rectangular pair of glasses. The brown eyes that lay behind her glasses were respectful, but, at the same time, held a strong resolve.
“I will accompany you.”
Her voice was also, like her impression, polite, but precisely refined, and thus possessed a sternness that could reflect a needle if it tried to poke her.
Since it would be awkward to run away now, Kael submissively followed them. When he did so, a luxurious door appeared before him. When they opened the door, it revealed a lounge too wide and fancy to be called a changing room and, past that, a luxurious bathhouse.
There were eight different baths and each was so large that, if their sizes were combined, his house in the demonic realm would fit inside multiple times.
‘No, it’s true that my house is almost a hut…… But isn’t the bath here way too big? Of course, since it’s a palace, I guess it would be more strange if it was small.’
“We will be starting.”
As they announced this, the maids’ hands approached Kael’s clothes.
Kael jumped back to evade their hands.
“What are you doing?!”
“We have just begun attending to your bathing?”
“No, why are you taking off my clothes?”
“Well, to take a bath, you would first have to undress……”
“I mean, why are you doing that for me!”
“If we do not satisfy you, then I will call on other children.”
The maid with the red locks bowed her head.
“However, the five of us, including myself, Ferdia, dare to take pride in the fact that we are the best in attending to one’s bath in this palace. Would you be kind enough to try just once?”
Her words were sincere and her attitude was polite. Even so, she bore a strong resolve that refused to back off as a professional. Pressured by that, Kael told them to do as they pleased……
‘There’s no way I’d say such a thing!’
“That ain’t the problem! I’m male, and you’re females! I’ll bathe myself, so you lot just step out!”
“Was that the issue?”
He was the one who really should be aghast, but Ferdia returned a question with a dumbfounded expression, stripping the words away from Kael. Honestly, what are these maids even…… no, is it common sense for the people working in the palace in this era? He didn’t know how it was for them, but for him, it really was a no-go.
“Obviously! Shoo, everybody shoo.”
“We are maids, and it is our job to attend. There is no need to be conscious about gender.”
“I am bothered by it! It’s uncomfortable!”
“Making our guest comfortable is the highest priority. If that is how you feel, we will retire. However, please do not hesitate to press the bell over there should you require our services.”
“I get it, so hustle out.”
Kael pushed them outside, essentially kicking them out of the room. When he was finally left to his own devices, he sighed deeply.
‘Phew. That was exhausting.’
As he had thought, the palace wasn’t a place for him. Still, he couldn’t even go back until Yulia voided the contract, so he would wash first.
He took off his clothes and stepped inside. Unlike his delicate facial features, his abs were firm. Although he didn’t seem to have a muscular build at a glance, as a warrior, he had solid muscles that changed his overall impression into a quite masculine one. The three scars across his chest that looked like sword slashes were especially imposing. He lightly rinsed his body and jumped into the warm water.
As he mumbled to himself, a response came from the entrance.
“It seems that thou hast taken a liking to the Bathhouse of the Sun.”
Kael turned his head towards the entrance in disbelief. Yulia entered, completely naked yet acting as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
The body that had been veiled under her lofty dress was completely visible. An undescribably fresh and young body that was the exact opposite of a mature woman’s figure. It was flat and level.
However, it wasn’t stiff. In fact, it was incredibly flexible. Every time she took a step, her hair beautifully sparkled as it swished; every step she took caused her body to sway slightly, maintaining its elasticity. That defenseless body, amidst its youthful straight figure, gently possessed the hidden curves of a girl. Although it wasn’t for sure, that subtle outline that foreshadowed her future beauty drew out a cute charm, like a light dish that drew out a clean taste.
Her skin was pale. Her flat, yet soft-looking, smooth skin glowed softly, yet gorgeously, as if it was sprinkled with pearl powder. On her chest were two pink spots that had not yet ripened. Underneath, on her stomach, was a gently sloped in navel. Those three things were the balancing points.
She walked towards him calmly and proudly, facing him from the front. The observing party felt his face momentarily burn up, yet the exposed party had no shame whatsoever.
“Youyouyouyouyouyouyou! What the hell are you doing?!”
Kael was so shocked that his whole body froze. The hand that he had raised in surprise stopped in mid-air. Yulia blinked her eyes, as if to say that she had no idea what he was talking about.
“I came to bathe?”
“Wait! I’m in here!”
“I am aware.”
Yulia scoffed, seemingly dumbfounded by the fact that he thought that she would not know that already.
“So you’re saying that you’re gonna bathe with me?”
“I honestly do not believe that this bathtub is too small for the two of us to use.”
She tilted her head, still unable to understand. Her silver hair followed her movement, swaying and causing light to scatter.
“No, that’s true, but……!”
“What is the problem?”
She slowly approached him, still confused.
“That…… That is……”
Kael opened and closed his mouth.
This kid had been embarrassed when he had lifted her up, saying that it was like they were lovers, yet she had absolutely no issues with bathing together. Of course, he had gotten the feeling that she was babbling after seeing something from somewhere, rather than actually knowing what she was saying…… but still.
What is the problem?
It was true that the other party was only an eight-year-old kid. She was young enough that sharing a bath between different genders wasn’t a taboo.
Even he had let Sestia and Dewey, who were almost like his older sisters, wash his body when he was Yulia’s age.
‘That’s right…… What’s gender to a kid?’
A kid was virtually a third gender, straying away from male and female. The differentiation of gender was only meaningful after puberty.
There was a problem with leaving his body in the care of the maids, who were fully matured, but he supposed that there wouldn’t be an issue in bathing with a kid.
‘Yeah, it’s weird to be so particular about it.’
It was as if he was conscious of her. In the first place, it was just a kid’s body, with nothing to see.
Her chest was very obviously flat. Her waistline and hips also kept their childish shape and were far from an S-line curve. Sure, it was cute, but words like enchanting or suggestive were, even if he yielded a million steps, nowhere to be found on her body.
“Do as you like, but don’t ask me to attend to you. It’s bothersome.”
“Can thou not do just that much?”
Yulia asked him, grasping both hands in front of her chest and opening her pure eyes even wider than usual.
“I’m too lazy to wash my own body. Now you want me to wash yours as well?”
Knowing that she wouldn’t be willing to use her soul just to make him wash her, Kael pushed forward.
Yulia pouted for a moment, but soon smiled at him.
“I understand. I only summoned thee to be my knight. It was rude of me to ask thee to do a maid’s job after thou had already fought a bloody battle. I apologize.”
Kael rubbed the bridge of his nose in reaction to her unexpected apology. He had presumed that, though she might sulk, she would never apologise to her inferior. Although she was a queen, she was still innocent when it came down to such matters.
“Then I had better call the maids.”
As she approached the pager that was attached to the bathhouse wall, Kael jumped up in alarm.
“What is the matter?”
“I’ll just wash you.”
“Thou dost not need to overdo it. The maids are paid to do such jobs.”
“No, I just suddenly felt this super strong urge to wash you.”
It was fine to bathe with Yulia. He could just pretend he was looking after a younger sister. However, he absolutely refused to have them come back, after all that he had done to shoo them away. Even if they were fine with it, he was too embarrassed to even bear the thought.
“Hmm. Thou havest a very unpredictable change of mind.”
Yulia blinked and tilted her head, putting her finger on her lips. However, she quickly to smile brightly, as if to say that she didn’t mind.
“Fine. Then I shall ask this favour of thee.”
Kael was finally relieved. He had stopped her before it was too late.
Before he stood up from the bath, he wondered if there would be any way to cover his lower body, but soon gave up. It was more unnatural to be so restless because of an eight-year-old kid.
He sat Yulia in front of him and applied shampoo on her hair, foaming it up.
‘Ugh…… I’m really too lazy to do this.’
It couldn’t be helped, however, since he would be in an even tighter spot if the maids rushed in.
‘Even so, her hair really is amazing.’
Kael marvelled as his fingertips fiddled with her hair. Although she was young, her hair was thick, and every single strand, from the root to the tip, did not lose its spring or shine. Every time he shook it a little, it gently swished around. When droplets of water rolled down her hair, the natural silver hue refracted through them, painting an even more splendid reflection. Though he had compared it to silver, even real silver did not shine as beautifully as her hair. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that silver resembled the colour of Yulia’s hair.
‘Oh, so that’s how it is. This hair……”
The colour of platinum was mixed with silver in an exquisite ratio. The combination of the two colours was what made the light even deeper and purer.
‘How did she even happen to get this hair?’
Was it the power of genes that the previous royals had produced by marrying beauties generation after generation? That would make sense. After rinsing her hair, he soaped her body.
Also, why was her skin so squishy? It was different from the soft, yet taut skin of a mature woman; it was more defenseless and more tender. A lamb sitting defenselessly in front of a wolf. He didn’t particularly have the desire to do something with it, but just touching it made him feel gentle and cozy.
It would not be an exaggeration to predict that, should this body of hers grow, it would captivate an army of men, no, half of the entire nation.
[Kael. Wash me.]
Glamorous breasts and buttocks. Slender waist. Long, straight hair. Delicate, bouncy skin. A prominent nose and sparkling eyes. On top of all of that, a slightly flushed face and breathless panting. A perfect female body approached him and……
Kael momentarily fantasised about the grown up version of her committing herself to him, and hurriedly shook his head. That had been a little dangerous.
“There, all done.”
“I thank thee. I now feel refreshed.”
“Don’t mention it. But, on another note, I’m asking just in case – do you know how to void the contract?”
He would be in quite a pinch if she only knew how to summon and not how to void.
Yulia flinched for a moment, and her ears subtly tilted back before returning to their place. She quickly regained her composure and smiled gently, but Kael definitely saw that subtle movement.
“About that, I was thinking about having the conversation after dinner, but I suppose it is a good thing that thou mentioned it. Since it is only the two of us here, I shall say it here.”
Kael became a little anxious that she would actually say that she didn’t know how. However, it wasn’t that big of an issue. It was a problem that could be solved by teaching her himself. It was just troublesome.
“I wish for thou to protect me for a while more, without voiding the contract.”
“I said, I do not wish to void the contract.”
Yulia gently held his hand and took a step towards him, clearly pronouncing each word. Her eyes reflected the light of her request, like those of a puppy begging for food. She was pitiful and cute, but Kael’s voice surged up harshly.
“Oi. What the hell are you talking about!”
He didn’t seem like the person who had gently washed her, although he had done so whilst grumbling. Yulia did not get angry, even at his impertinent cry. Instead, she held onto his hand even more tightly, lowered her gaze a little, and continued in a soft whisper.
“I shall bestow upon thee the official title of a knight. I will give thee the position of the first ranked knight of Nesland. I will give thee the authority to control the royal guards’ budget and personnel. And give thee a house to live in.”
“I don’t need any of them! You told me from the start that it was only going to be until we’ve reached this place!”
Kael shook off Yulia’s hands. Yulia held her hands out again, as she wanted hold onto his once more, but soon gave up and held them neatly in front of her. It was, in all respects, a modest posture but, for some reason, the tips of her hair were trembling ever so slightly. Even so, she kept her gentle smile and continued in a rather soft manner of speech.
“In this world, there are very good systems like contract extensions and renewals.”
Kael glared at her, as if he would hit her. However, her small, tender body had nowhere he could hit, and he softened up with a sigh.
“You see, it seems that you still don’t really realise the gravity of the situation, since this incident ended nicely, but let me remind you that I’m a demon.”
“I am aware. However, what I ask of thee is not thy magic. In any case, modern warfare is fought with modern technological weapons. All I wish for is a knight that I can trust.”
She clasped her hands together as if praying and stared at him with those silver eyes. Although she tried to conceal it, earnest desire and loneliness radiated from those eyes. A queen at eight. It was not a status that she would have received at such an age if she had a family like a normal child. On top of that, they had first met because of an assassination attempt.
Although he didn’t know her exact situation, he could easily guess that her life looked dazzling, but was not necessarily delightful. Although he could……
“You trust a demon, out of all the options you could choose from?”
Kael brusquely replied with a question.
“I may be young, but I have already dealt with more humans than a normal person would meet in their whole lifetime. I am confident that my eyes are proficient in deciding such matter.”
“But never a demon?”
Yulia’s ears momentarily tilted back slightly.
“Uuh. That is definitely a crack in my reasoning.”
“Just stop this. Find a trustworthy knight amongst humans. My very existence is dangerous for you.”
Kael ultimately sighed. Yulia placed her right hand on her heart. Her eyes looked like they were crying, yet her mouth held its gentle smile.
“I shall take the risk. How could I possibly be a ruler if I could not properly hold a double-edged sword?”
“I am unfit to be a knight. The palace is also stressful.”
“If it is the formality that suffocates thee, I will allow thee to stay more relaxed. I shall make it so that thou wilt not need to show thy face in any official meetings under most circumstances.”
Yulia kept adding terms that would benefit him, acting unlike a queen who was speaking to a subordinate. When he saw her desperation to keep him by her side, Kael’s chest started to sting.
This is why he had been against it from the start.
But this was it. There would be no more.
“I’ll be straightforward. I love enjoying my unemployed life in the Demonic Realm. I hate stuff like looking after children.”
“I told thee not to call me a kid!”
Yulia lifted up her right foot and stomped the ground once, balling her hand into a tight fist and pointing it towards him. Her tilted eyebrows took on a rebellious look.
“That’s why I said children.”
“Gaaaaah. Shut thy mouth. I said shut.”
Yulia repeatedly hit his abdomen with her fists. Every time she did so, her fists bounced off of his abs. After a few rounds, Yulia stopped her fists, exhausted.
“Uuh. I do not care! In any case, I will not void the contract, so thou better force thyself to accept it!”
Yulia announced, pointing at his chin with her index finger.
“What? Now you aren’t keeping your word!”
“Have I ever promised thee that I would let thee go after this incident? Thou had just said it one-sidedly.”
Yulia smirked wickedly, splitting open the corners of her mouth and eyes. This time, Kael shouted in frustration.
“It was a silent agreement!”
“I was just unable to answer due to the other events that were going on at the time.”
“Are you gonna stay petty like that?!”
“Ha. Dost thou think that I will be provoked by such a sloppy attempt at provocation?”
She scoffed as she folded her arms across her chest and slightly bent her neck back.
“If you keep acting up, I’m gonna eat you. Do demons seem tame to you, just because I was nice to you?”
Kael lifted his both hands as if to attack in an attempt to scare her.
“Ohh. Art thou saying that thou wilt disobey thy master?”
The three-sworded crest appeared on Yulia’s hand.
“You’re gonna order me around with that? It seems you don’t know that it’s really you who’s being devoured every time you do that.”
The two glared at each other, neither willing to back down. Although it was only on the level of a fight between a dog and a cat.
“Try eating me, then! I shall train thee properly before thou can!”
She bobbed her finger and turned up her nose. Her angry retort was mixed with queenly dignity and childish pride.
“I’m really gonna eat you. I won’t stop even if you cry in pain and will unsparingly chew you down!”
Kael grabbed onto her shoulders and growled as if he was a wolf.
“You have grown a whole lot, Kael. I’m relieved.”
The gentle and amiable voice of a woman, but one that, at the same time, possessed lenient depth and grace, sounded from behind his back.
If Yulia’s pure and sweet voice reminded one of a heavenly bell, this person’s voice reminded one of a rich, open earth. At the same time, the voice not only projected from her throat, but also echoed evenly throughout the nearby surroundings, creating a mystic, transcending sense of wonder.
It was truly the voice of a goddess.
However, Kael’s body froze after hearing those words.
“Who art thou?”
In his place, Yulia poked her head out to look behind him.
“My greetings to you, my noble queen. I am Sestina, the legal guardian of Kael.”
The woman who gently introduced herself was wearing the loose, light green attire of a priestess, which matched her voice. The design was simple, but her prominent and full breasts created obvious curves around the area. Between that valley, which was about a third revealed, lay a silver necklace that held a bead that possessed a light more brilliant and white than that of a pearl, emphasising her shape even more. Her waist beneath was sloped in and her hips were round – a glamorous figure that was an extreme contrast to Yulia’s.
On top of that, her brown hair, which seemed to have been painted with a faint sunset, was fairly tied and slung over her waist, and her kind yet deep emerald eyes made anyone looking at her feel comfortable.
Moreover, she was standing on top of water as if it were natural. No, to be precise, water gathered to support her. The surface of water beneath her feet swayed and created a glowing membrane and held her up. The water vapour surrounding her dispersed on their own, not daring to even approach her.
It created a scene that could be described as the advent of a goddess that was worshipped by the world, and Kael turned around while trembling.
“S…… Sestina? How come you……”
“I learnt that you were summoned and followed you, as a concerned guardian.”
As her lips curled into a warm smile, like that of an older sister worrying about a rebellious child brother, she began to walk towards him on top of the water, step by step.
“I am also here, master. I would also like to present my greetings to the queen, your majesty. I am Dewey, master’s valet.”
Behind Sestina stood another woman who had been concealed from view previously. She, who was wearing an army uniform, had a revolver hanging on both sides of her body, as well as a knife tied around her leg with a sash.
She had neatly trimmed, short blue hair. Her eyes were like sapphires that emanate sharp vigor. Her figure was tall and tight. She wasn’t muscular exterior-wise, like a man would be, but it was quite clear that her taut skin concealed a considerable amount of strength.
On top of that, her husky voice was so refined, even to the tone of her voice, that it screamed of a female warrior. There was nothing else that one could think of her as.
She kneeled in front of Kael in a disciplined manner. Her movement, so polite that it was almost choppy, leaked sharpness that made one feel like they would get sliced just by looking at it.
“Dewey, why are you……?”
“A valet shall be where the master is.”
Kael was at a loss, until he realised that he was naked and hurriedly picked up a supporting stool beside him to cover his vital part.
“You didn’t need to follow me……”
“I apologise for interrupting during a pleasant time.”
The one called Dewey deeply bowed her head. Hearing the phrase “pleasant time”, Kael frantically waved his arm that wasn’t holding the stool.
“That’s a misunderstanding.”
“However, if I may dare to expostulate out of turn, even if you prefer younger ones, it would be advisable to consume her after you have raised her a little.”
Expressionless face. Composed voice. Extremely polite attitude. However, what came out of her mouth were words that were as dangerous as a bomb.
How was he going to clear up this misunderstanding? Kael felt like crying because of the two, who had entered at the worst possible timing. They didn’t even do it on purpose; they literally just happened to intrude.
“That is incorrect, Dewey.”
Sestina’s voice now descended from that of a goddess’s to a human’s. Even so, it was as gentle and sonorous as it had ever been, still sounding as if it was embracing everything. Even though she took his side with such a healing voice, Kael’s expression did not loosen up even the slightest bit.
Although Sestina truly was like a goddess to a person who did not know her……
The reality was……
Sestina approached him and lifted up her hand, gently caressing Kael’s cheek. Her hand moved kindly along his jawline, like a mother carefully cuddling a newborn.
“Kael, do you remember my teaching?”
“W…… What teaching!”
In contrast to the gentle hand motion, both Kael’s body and words froze stiff. Sestina’s gaze simply filled up with boundless affection.
“That every being in this world has their own way of life, so one should not thoughtlessly judge others by their own standards.”
She refreshed his memory with a warm smile.
“S…… so what!”
“Therefore, Kael, it is fine to keep doing what you are doing now.”
Her hand slid from his cheek to his chest. Her hand tenderly drew a circle on his bare chest. It was as if her finger was saying that she affirmed his existence. Hers was a noble affection fitting for a true healer that sheltered one’s injured soul.
“You will soon become a great demon, ruling over and plundering, obtaining, and throwing away beauties as your desires lead you. As fresh as it may be, you are taking that fresh flavour, doing what you must, and throwing it away. That is also a splendid ruling of force. It is very respectable. Puff out your chest, and continue on with what you were doing with pride.”
“I AM NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT!”
Kael’s outcry echoed throughout the bathhouse. This was who Sestina was. A self-appointed, hopeless guardian who attempted to brainwash him while calmly saying words that were more bizarre than anything else.
“You don’t need to be embarrassed. Overflowing desire is the evidence of an honourable demon. I was concerned that you might have had some kind of disability, since you had been living so unnaturally until now, but this relieves me a little.”
“I SAID I’M NOOOOOTT!!!!!!”
“To eat a young child. It is a huge step forward. You have finally grown up a level.”
Sestina clasped her hands together, smiling brightly and gently, like a mother watching a toddling baby. She was so touched, even little tears had formed in her eyes. After wiping them away with her left hand, she patted his shoulder with her right.
“I am glad. Just continue on like this. If so, you will most definitely become a splendid great demon someday.”
Kael’s head throbbed. She was rattling off nonsense, yet her voice itself was still like a goddess’s revelation. His mentality really took a blow when he saw how she glorified immorality with an affectionate smile on her lips.
“I said noooooo!!!! Please, listen to what people say!”
“I already have. Dewey, so did you, did you not?”
“Yes, I have.”
“I’m not going to eat her. I said I’m not eating her. Right?”
Kael desperately asked as he turned to Yulia. It was impossible to hold a proper conversation with those two, who lacked common sense. At the very least, this kid was the hope that would defend his truth. She was his last rope of hope.
(TN: Reference to a well-known Korean children’s story of siblings who became the sun and the moon.)
Yulia also lifted her hand up and patted him. Though, she patted his thigh instead of his shoulder, since she couldn’t reach it. Her eyes sparkled innocently and she smiled a generous, queenly smile.
“It is hardly necessary to hide. It is a widely known fact that thy kind consumes human souls. It is not like I have signed a contract with thee unknowingly.”
This rope was rotten.
Sestina gazed at Yulia with a tender smile.
“I see you do not know, my noble queen. Kael not only consumes the soul, but the body as well. He is a demon, but at the same time, he is a man.”
She passed on her teaching like a kind home tutor.
“Hm? Were demons also man-eaters?”
Yulia tilted her head with her finger held up to her mouth. Her eyes blinked in rhythm.
“It seems that I was not aware, since my studies were lacking. However, it does not matter. I do not care whether or not thou devours my soulless, empty shell.”
“Ah, I did not mean it that way.”
Sestina smiled sweetly.
“Either way! Whichever meaning it is, I’m not gonna eat her!”
Kael cried out, interrupting their conversation that was becoming more and more dangerous. Why, how come, wherefore should he be immediately treated like this just because of the words he had said to scare a kid?
“I thought that you had grown up a step, but to see such bashfulness again……”
Sestina approached and gently embraced him. Kael’s face was buried in her big, full bosom. Her breasts softly caressed both sides of his face and passed warmth onto him.
Kael momentarily lost himself in the relative tenderness of her strong attack, unable to do anything but wave his arms around.
“It’s alright, Kael. Just keep going.”
Sestina’s gentle touch that wrapped around him softly stroked his waist. Although she was holding a naked man, there was not a hint of sensuality, only plain virtue and brightness. When one looked at the smile that was so gentle that it almost seemed saintly, there was no way they could have any inappropriate thoughts.
If you ignored the words that came out from her mouth.
“Of course, you should not be satisfied by just this. You have to become a great demon that will seize, plunder, obtain, and throw away according to your wishes without discrimination against age or sex, so you have to try to become a little more abominably cruel.”
“I am not. I am not going to become one.”
Whether she heard him or not, Sestina just smiled and continued with what she had to say.
“Oh, but regardless of how big a harem you establish, you can’t forget that I was the first.”
“Who’s the first, who!? Don’t say anything that will cause a misunderstanding!”
Kael gathered the last bits of his might to push Sestina away from himself. His head throbbed, making him want to cry. Exactly what was she trying to make him, who was still innocent?
As he did so, Yulia measured him from top to bottom, as if she finally understood something.
“I see, could this be why thou wanted to return to the demonic realm?”
“Now what are you saying?”
“Beauties were thy goal in life, more than wealth and honour. I can understand that thou would refuse wealth and power if such a woman, two of them in fact, waited for thee to return.”
“…… Not true.”
“However, there should be no problem now, since they both followed thee.”
“There are a lot of problems……”
Leaving him, who had fallen onto the floor in despair, Yulia conversed with the two women. She was stark naked, but she stood dignified, as if she had nothing to be ashamed of in showing her body.
“Would you once again officially report thy relationships with Kael?”
“Yes. I am his guardian and have looked after him since he was a child, and Miss Dewey here is a valet who serves him.”
“How did thou follow him here? Who have thou signed a contract with?”
“I am not a demon. Miss Dewey is helping me stay.”
Sestina lightly winked. She, who felt more like a saint than a person, only then showed her cute side that was similar to a playful older sister.
“Is that so? Then we would only need to provide thee a physical place to stay. I shall pick a bigger mansion to present Kael with so that there are enough rooms for both of thee. Would thou stayest as guests of the royal family?”
“Of course, we shall stay where he is. Thank you, my noble queen.”
“I thank you for your generosity.”
Yulia looked back at Kael, who was emitting gloomy, dark clouds.
“I assume thou have heard. With this, everything has been solved. I will not interfere, so thou may play with the two in thy mansion as thou please.”
Her hand motion as she tossed her hair back was elegant. Her smiling mouth was gentle. Her sparkling eyes had written all over them that she wanted him to praise her. An aura that seemed to say I will embrace thee closely against my chest surrounded Yulia. Although, those chests were not even a third the size of Sestina’s.
“However, as long as thou stay as my knight, your number one priority would have to be me in all respects. I cannot erase thy past, and thus will not hope to be the only; however, I shall not compromise the position as number one.”
She held her index finger and her arm out straight, accenting her tone of voice to emphasise number one.
“What number one and what only……”
Now that he had run out of the energy to shout, Kael merely murmured.
“Since thou would wish to unburden thyself with the reunited two, I shall step out for today. Our feast together shall be held after the official knighting ceremony. Rest in the Rose House for tonight.”
After finishing her sentence, Yulia trotted outside. Before he had realized it, the discussion to void the contract had flown far away, but Kael could not even call out to her.
“…… Don’t decide things like…… Knighthood…… On your own.”
He barely managed to mumble an objection that would not be heard. Sestina pulled up his body. She buried him in that full, prominent bosom once more, holding him tightly this time. It seemed like she was comforting him, but the smile that spread on her mouth this time slanted upwards much more at the corners, somehow looking wicked. It was different from the purely noble and saintly smile she had shown when Yulia was present.
“Then, since the location is perfect, shall we take a bath together, like we used to a long time ago?”
As she said those words, her hand gently stroked his back. At that motion, all of the nerves in Kael’s body rose in alert. Kael pushed Sestia away, almost violently, and backed away.
“What’s that nonsense?! It’s absurd for us to bathe together!”
He gasped to regain his breath.
“Tha…… Tha…… That was dangerous……”
He had been careless after being worn out by Yulia. He didn’t know how much further that hand would have gone and touched if he had been even a second late.
“My, it isn’t like it’s our first time bathing together. Why so particular now?”
Sestina smiled brightly while touching her cheek with her hand, as if she had no hidden intentions. However, he could hear her swallow continuously as she stared straight at his body. Kael cried as he scrunched up his arms to cover his vital part, like a sheep facing a wolf.
“That was when I was a kid as small as her. I’ve grown up now!”
“Aw, really, Kael.”
Sestina closed in and lightly slapped his chest.
“I know. So we can match that and have a bath between adults.”
Sestina twisted her body a little, blushing slightly. She crossed her legs and twisted her waist, and her posture, which emphasised her body line a step further, was truly mesmerising. Looking at the fascinating line would make every man’s veins tighten, and Kael’s blood also surged. Although, it was mostly the vein on his forehead that popped.
“That’s even worseee! Get out! Get out nooooooowwwww!”
“You’d do it with the young queen, but not with me. It would be nicer to have a wider range of taste.”
She sighed in disappointment.
At last, Kael pushed Sestina out of the bathhouse. Then he looked at Dewey, who was still kneeling with a vacant face.
“Dewey, why aren’t you getting out?”
“Am I also rejected?”
Kael was momentarily confused by the ever-so-cool, expressionless face that was hard to understand at a glance. However, he soon caught onto her meaning and shouted right away.
“Dewey, you get out now toooooo!”
“I shall abide by your orders.”
Dewey obediently stood up and disappeared through the door. Kael, exhausted, once again collapsed into the warm water.
Sestina is openly hopeless, but……
I really don’t know what Dewey’s thinking under that expressionless face……
On top of that, that egoistic kid.
Why was everyone that he associated himself with like this? His head hurt. What would happen to him now? He was incredibly anxious about his future.
* * *
At the same time as Kael howled over his hard fate, the Prime Minister was also ill at ease.
In front of him, who was lying face down in the secret chamber of his mansion, stood a woman who was covered in a purple veil, allowing only her silhouette to be seen.
“I see you have failed, only to lose my children.”
“That…… That is, there was an unpredictable variable……”
He kowtowed respectfully in a manner that could not be seen even in front of the Queen.
Originally, he couldn’t have been the leader of a small party, let alone the Prime Minister. However, after meeting this woman, he finally managed to reach this place, due to his rival getting into an accident and his sibling, who he had been vying with for his parents’ fortune, dying of disease at the best timings.
If he angered her, there was no guarantee that the next “accidental death” would not be him.
“I have already told you. I cannot move easily, since I have entered the stage of energy conservation in order to prepare for my revival.”
“How would I dare to forget?”
“I asked you to take care of the rest, as you now have the position of Prime Minister.”
“Please, if you would give me one more chance…… I will take care of everything, including the variables.”
He wanted to go to the bathroom. He felt like he was going to piss himself. The woman behind the veil kept silent for a while, as if weighing his life and death. At last, she opened her mouth.
“Well, fine. I will wait, as there is time. However, secure the key and prepare the site. Neither of them shall be delayed.”
“I am much obliged.”
“You must not forget who it was that gave you your status as the Prime Minister.”
“Please leave it to me.”
He repeatedly knocked the floor with his head.