In the Capital.
On a certain day, Zenjirou was already working since the early morning on a rare occasion. He met with numerous nobles in the royal palace and was pressed for etiquette.
He sat collected on the chair for the Prince Consort next to the throne while dressed up nobles came to in front of him one after another, bowing their heads.
“I am Thomas, the current head and Baron of the Pantoja Family.
This year again, my humble self will be at your service together with my wife in the mansion of the Pantoja Family in the Capital. I retain my enduring loyalty to the Kingdom and the Royal Family unchanged.”
“Very well. Baron Pantoja, your loyalty is appreciated. As her proxy, I promise you to pass on your words to Her Highness Aura.”
When Zenjirou said that and nodded, the middle-aged man in front of him— Baron Thomas Pantoja deeply lowered his head once more, then slowly stepped back.
In exchange, an old man, who had waited in the back of the room, came forward to Zenjirou.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Zenjirou-sama. My name is Brass, the previous head and knight of the Bobone Family. The family has detached my old self to serve in the Capital this year again.
I shall fulfil any duty to the utmost of my abilities when either of you two Highnesses commands it.”
“Okay, Sir Brass. I will let Her Highness Aura know about your unchanged loyalty.”
The old man bowed deeply again and retreated as well.
Next up, a young knight stepped forward.
“I am Francesc, the oldest son of the Caballero Family’s current head: Knight Conrad. Just like last year, the responsibility for serving in the Capital falls upon myself…”
Everyone was practically saying the same.
In short, they declared that they would be serving in the Capital as the representative of their family and Zenjirou acknowledged it.
A formal exchange, so to speak.
With an exceptionally powerful Royal Family, the Carpa Kingdom, a feudal state, had the unwritten rule that one person of the feudal families from each domain, either the previous, current or future head of the family, permanently stayed in the Capital.
The custom had originally started from the connotation of a “hostage” to the royal family, but nowadays, there were many merits for both the royal family and the feudal lords, so it was continued without any ill will in particular.
Like previously mentioned, the royal authority in the Carpa Kingdom was extremely distinctive. Due to that, it was quite beneficial for the nobles, too, to have someone from the family with a high decision-making power, remain in the capital.
The gathering of these influential nobles in the capital stimulated its economy greatly. And the richer the economy, the more common people congregated in the capital from the countryside.
Many rights and interests emerged in the capital when its population increased and the economic power improved. And the noblemen didn’t want to leave the capital in order to obtain these rights and interests or not to lose them.
Each noble family had its own ulterior motives when they detached a representative of their families to the capital. Once every year, that person then announced its delegation to the Queen and got permission to stay in the capital.
Normally Queen Aura was supposed to carry out this formality, but all of those, who were scheduled to “announce their stay” today, were the same delegates from last year, so Zenjirou assumed that duty in her stead, since she was busy.
(The usual substitutions involve all kind of troublesome formalities and regulations, but otherwise it’s just simple greetings. Better let me handle these things than to bother Aura with it.)
Sitting on his chair, Zenjirou received the greeting from one noble after another with a serious expression while such thoughts crossed his mind.
Right now, Aura ought to have a difficult conference with the emissary from the Twin Kingdom of Sharrow and Jilbell in a different room of the royal palace.
Zenjirou was taking action and substituting for her like this because he wanted to ease her burden even just a bit.
Of course he wasn’t making an unaccompanied appearance at important events, which could be interpreted as a “shift of power” from the Queen to the Prince Consort, neither was he taking care of matters that required complicated decisions.
The events he assumed in her stead were only ones like this, where even a speaking plush toy would suffice as long as it had a “royal” title.
It were hardly worthwhile jobs, but doing them “helped” Aura, which was more than enough for him.
However, there was no way that the noblemen of this world were able to comprehend that sentiment of his. Thus, some of them used occasions like his one to approach him in various ways.
The middle-aged nobleman that had just kneeled in front of Zenjirou, was of that kind.
“My name is Diego, the current head and Baron of the Duran Family. My humble self will continue to serve in the Capital for my family again this year. Still, I have got to say, it sure is hot in the capital. My domain is higher above the sea level than the capital, so I am not yet used to the heat here.
The countryside has nothing to offer when faced with the capital, but you cannot help but miss it during this season.”
Zenjirou’s look turn a little bit wary when the middle-aged noble continued the unnecessary chit-chat.
But the nobleman didn’t notice the petty change in him and rattled on.
“There is hardly anything interesting in the countryside, but the beautiful landscape and clean air are something to brag about. It would be an extraordinaire honour if you ever were to retreat there for the summer, Zenjirou-sama. My family would give you the warmest welcome.”
Upon his words, Zenjirou tensed up his expression and narrowed his eyes to slits a bit.
It sounded like a simple invitation to a summer resort, but that wasn’t the only meaning behind it.
At the present time, Aura and Zenjirou were the only royalty in the Carpa Kingdom, not including their baby Carlos Zenkichi. If Zenjirou, as one of the two royalty, left the capital for a “summer resort”, then Aura, as the Queen, would naturally have to remain in the capital, since it was the hub for politics.
In other words, this middle-aged noble wanted to invite only Zenjirou himself to his domain, without being accompanied by Aura.
(Aw, I guess he also thinks that I’m discontent with my current standing?)
While getting a bit fed up inwardly, Zenjirou assessed the thoughts of the man kneeling in front of him.
In consideration of the patriarchal values in this country, his position could certainly only be seen as insufficient.
The pride of the average aristocratic male in the Carpa Kingdom would definitely not allow it that the wife took the reigns and he himself stood on the sidelines.
(Well, be it out of good-will or out of ill-will, there’ll never be an end to people, who suggest things like this. But it’s annoying how I can’t just ignore them.)
Only sighing inwardly, Zenjirou raised an affected laughter and replied.
“Oho, that sounds appealing. I certainly would like to pay a visit with my wife when Zenkichi has come of age.
I will count on you when the time comes.”
These playfulish words probably translated to something like this: “I’ve not the slightest intention to separate from Aura right now.”
“H- Hmm, that will not be any time soon. Very well, I will gladly entertain you on that occasion then.”
The true meaning must have been conveyed to him.
The middle-aged nobleman looked at Zenjirou with disappointment and lowered his head deeply.
“Good. I will keep it in mind.”
Zenjirou answered, pretending not to have noticed the change in the noble of middle age at all.
* * *
The work in the royal palace lasted as long as the sun was out in order to regain a bit of the time that was lost during the nearly three hour break at noon during the hot season.
Due to that, it had gotten so dark that Zenjirou walked with unsteady steps by the time he returned to the inner palace.
Guided by a waiting maid with a metal lantern for light, he made it back to the living room in the inner palace, where he curtly thanked the maid and opened the door by himself.
The first thing he did in the already dim living room was to switch on the LED floor lamps.
Their white light was a bit dazzling, as his eyes had been used to the darkness.
Zenjirou slowly took of his clothes in the now illuminated living room.
A thick double-bogey trousers. A tunic that was overlapping at the front like Japanese clothes. And a red vest worn over it.
All of them were made out of fabrics with a high air permeability, as it was customary for a southern country, but the formal dress was still hot, since it was a tight fit.
He had thrown them off in no time and stood there only in his T-shirt and trunks. For a moment, he looked at the freezer of the five-door refrigerator standing near the wall, but he shook off the temptation by shaking his head after a moment of consideration.
“I can’t. The ice won’t be enough for the night when I take it out now.”
At least until Aura came back, he ought to endure without the cold breeze from the ice fan.
Instead, he took out the silver jug from the refrigerator and poured its contents into a glass, emptying it in one gulp.
His whole body started to sweat, pretty much like immediately oozing out the fluid he had just taken in.
“Ah, maybe I should get into the bath without waiting for Aura?”
Tempted like that, he unconsciously directed his gaze at the shelf with the bathing goods and then remembered something.
“…Reminds me, my soap making isn’t really going well.”
A few days ago, he had started to try his hand at making soap from lye and vegetable oil, but his effort was hardly paying off for now.
The result of the first day had just been “oil mixed with ash” and the mixture got relatively better later on, but only a few trails were worth to be called “saponification”.
Did the problem lie with the lye? Or the oil? Or maybe his performance? He just didn’t know. For the time being, it definitely meant a lot of trial-and-error.
“Perhaps I ought to start with making caustic soda? Nah, making caustic soda from natural ingredients definitely sounds more difficult than making soap without it.”
There was no end to his troubles.
In the modern age, handmade soap was typically made by letting vegetable oil react with a sodium hydroxide solution (caustic soda).
Leaching ashes was a way older technique. The making of soap became so much easier by using caustic soda when available.
Technically, there was a guide on how to make caustic soda on his computer, too, but needless to say, he hadn’t actually tried that yet.
Zenjirou knew of two methods to make caustic soda.
The first one was to electrolyze salt water, but that required an “ion exchange membrane”, which was impossible to obtain here, so he could only give up on that method.
Therefore, he was considering the second one right now.
That method involved the metathesis reaction between “calcium hydroxide“ and “sodium carbonate” (a reaction between two compounds to make two different compounds), which altered them into “sodium hydroxide” (caustic soda) and “calcium carbonate”.
So it required “calcium hydroxide” and “sodium carbonate” at the beginning.
The calcium hydroxide was also called “slake lime”. It could be created by letting water react with “quick lime”, which was gained from burning shells.
As for the other compound: The sodium carbonate could be obtained by heating up sodium bicarbonate aka “baking soda”.
In other words, it was theoretically possible to create “caustic soda” as long as you had “natural baking soda” and “shells”.
Speaking of “shells” and “natural baking soda”, these two happened to be relevant to the glass manufacture as well, so Aura already held a certain amount of them available in the royal palace for it.
The raw materials were already gathered in the royal palace. In that sense, it was understandable that Zenjirou was itching to try his hand at making “caustic soda”.
However, making “caustic soda” from “shells” and “natural baking soda” naturally involved various working steps.
It shouldn’t be easy to accomplish for a complete amateur like Zenjirou without the instructions of an expert.
Even when thinking positive, he ought to be prepared that it took a couple of months to clear each step.
And even if he were to clear all steps and succeed in making “caustic soda”, the “caustic soda” was a hazardous substance that could steal your eyesight when even just a bit got into your eyes.
Moreover, the substance was difficult to handle because it could change by reacting with the carbon dioxide in the air or liquefy through absorbing water vapour.
Thinking about it carefully, it was more realistic to make the soap through leaching ashes right now instead of creating “caustic soda” for it first.
“Okay, I’ll continue with the current method for a bit longer. Its more or less emulsifying now anyway. Guess I’ll make a diagram with the lye and oil percentage on the x- and y-axe, respectively, and track its tendency.”
Bringing his brain gear into action, Zenjirou faced the computer and switched it on, opening the spreadsheet software right away.
“First I’ve to prepare various types of ashes to make lye. A couple of different vegetable oils are a must, too. Maybe I even ought to blend them? No, I’ve to gauge the general tendency first.
I feel a bit bad about it, but the maids will have to help out.”
In the end, he sat in front of his computer like that and immersed himself in drawing up a plan for the future course of action until Aura came back.
* * *
Night-time after the sun had set.
The married couple, Zenjirou and Queen Aura, sat on the black couches in the living room of the inner palace like always and was talking.
“Ehm, then it’s pretty much set in stone that the Prince and Princess of the Twin Kingdom will pay us a visit?”
Wearing a rough outfit consisting of a white T-Shirt and light-blue hemp-trousers, Zenjirou leaned a bit forward on the black leather couch and confirmed that with his wife sitting across of him.
Aura, clad in a thin casual wear in red, nodded to his question while retaining the wrinkle between her eyebrows.
“Yes. It is still at the informal stage, but I would say it is as good as settled. I tried to press ahead without disclosing much information, but… I guess that effort will turn out to be in vain. Soon enough, a commotion will hit the western part of the South Continent. Needless to say the epicenter will be our royal palace. Forgive me, but you better prepare yourself as well.”
His wife talked about the upcoming trouble in a matter-of-fact tone, whereat Zenjirou made no pretence of his annoyance and sighed.
“…Okay. Anyway, why do you say the non-disclosure will be in vain? We want to hide it, but they don’t?”
In reaction to his question, Aura re-crossed her legs on top of the couch while shaking her head.
“No. A foreign visit from the Sharrow Family is a serious affair for the Twin Kingdom as well. They would never leak the information on purpose.
However, it is not so easy for us, because we will accommodate foreign royalty in our palace for a long period of time. I have to assign a special budget and people for the preparation.
Besides, I have to meet with their representative again to ask for some compensation from the Twin Kingdom so that we do not operate in the red for the special budget and staff costs, since we are only accepting a request from their side.
With so much people, goods and money involved, keen people will notice the truth, no matter how careful we are.”
Zenjirou was convinced by that. Even if they kept the matter itself a secret, it was nearly impossible to hide the flow of money or goods from the eyes of nobility.
The amount of money and goods necessary to house two royalty for a long time was not an insignificant number and a keen person would notice its abnormal flow right away.
Even if he was frowning, her husband was still somewhat treating it as someone else’s problem, so the Queen said with a cautionary tone.
“I fear that once the information starts to go around, you will be the one targeted for facts, Zenjirou. It should get rather bothersome around you.”
Zenjirou finally assumed a serious expression upon these words.
He must have imagined how the nobles would come probing for the truth of the matter with all kind of means.
A long sigh escaped his mouth.
Anyway, it would be a shame to spend their time alone with just a gloomy topic.
Collecting herself, Aura took ice and fruit juice from the refrigerator and changed the topic while pouring the juice in her red glass and into Zenjirou’s blue glass.
“Reminds me, you have the day off tomorrow for a change, right? Do you have any plans?”
Zenjirou answered her question while accepting the offered blue glass from her.
“Th- Thanks. Yeah, since I’ll have the time, I want to try out my soap. Some of the soap I made yesterday turned out really good, so I want to test it for pleasantness with the help of the maids.”
His recent efforts to make soap from lye and vegetable oil were going relatively well. Of course it was still a long way off until an efficient fabrication method, but he managed to get something close to a finished product by pure chance.
But even that “finished product” would never be finished in its actual meaning as long as he didn’t test it for comfortableness.
Therefore the waiting maids would literally “lend a hand”.
Zenjirou was a bit reluctant to actually use it on the delicate skin of women, but there was nothing he could do about it by himself.
After all, each person had a different constitution, which in turn could even change for the same person, depending on the current physical condition or season.
Unless a lot of people tried it out, he couldn’t guarantee its safe application.
“Oh right, the bathing goods you brought along from your world are limited after all.”
Ever since she had married Zenjirou, Aura was always using the body soap, facial soap, shampoo and rinse from Japan. She nodded convinced.
“Yeah. Truth be told, the soap has the least danger to run out. But even though the shampoo will run out first, it’s too difficult to make.”
Although it does get rid of the dirt when you wash your hair with body soap, it will make the hair rough, hurting it instead.
In the future, Zenjirou wanted to search for a method to clean the hair without harming its brilliance in order to replace the perfumed oil, which was typically used in the higher society of the Carpa Kingdom, but that was even further down the road than the completion of the soap.
To be honest, there was no hope to achieve it before the stock of shampoo was used up.
It must have been his ruin that the majority of his mind was occupied by these thoughts.
Zenjirou tried to lift his blue Kiriko glass from the table like always, but it slipped through his fingers.
It was already too late by the time he exclaimed.
The glass dropped back onto the wooden table and shattered with a clanging sound.
The blue flinders in all sizes and the melting ice scattered over the well-polished table, whereas the fruit juice dripped from the table down onto the carpet.
Talk about bad luck! If he had dropped it over the long-stranded carpet or cushioned couch, then there would have been a chance that it didn’t break, but it fell down onto the hard table of all places.
“Argh, now I’ve done it!”
Zenjirou unwittingly clicked his tongue.
It was a rather harsh setback to him. On Earth, he could just buy the glass anew, but in this world it was an irreplaceable item he would never get his hands on again.
Even now, he still hadn’t really warmed up to the taste of the silver or wooden cups, so the glass had been an important article to him without a doubt.
Nevertheless, he had no one else to blame but himself for breaking it out of carelessness.
“Well, no use crying over spilt milk. I’m afraid I’ll have the maid clean it up.”
Saying that, Zenjirou reached out for the bell on the table. At that moment.
“Hmm… considering my schedule… Yes, no problem.”
Aura was half-rising from the opposite couch and mumbling to herself on the quiet, then stopped Zenjirou.
“Wait, Zenjirou. You do not have to do that. This is a good occasion. As a legit member of the Carpa Royal Family, you have a right to know about it.”
As his wife was suddenly making a big deal out of a single broken glass, Zenjirou paused his hand reaching out for the bell and inclined his head doubtfully.
Whether she noticed her husband’s scruple or not, Aura stood up straight and went towards the scattered glass flinders on top of the table, holding out the palm of her right hand with its five fingers spread.
“The skill I am about to show you is the ‘hidden magic’ of the Carpa Family. Once you mastered magic, I will teach it you as well, but you cannot let others know about the existence of this magic at all cost.
Never ever use it in front of people. That naturally includes leading personalities in our country like General Puyol or Marquis Guzzle, but it also applies to my loyal retainers such as Fabio and Espaldion.
Neither are you allowed to show this magic to Carlos until I say so. Understood?”
With the palm of her hand still directed at the broken glass, she firmly looked Zenjirou, who was looking up to her from the couch, in the eyes and said with a strict tone.
From her tone, Zenjirou realized that it was no time to joke around, so he obediently consented.
Aura nodded short as the reaction of her husband was to her satisfaction, and vitalized the light of magical power slowly rising from her entire body, chanting a spell.
‘Rewind the time of the target for a day. As compensation, I make one-thousand and three-hundred offerings of magical power to the space-time spirit.’
It had a dramatic effect.
The broken glass on the table was enveloped by a hemisphere of light and in the next moment, the hemisphere emitted a light too bright to look into.
Zenjirou squinted his eyes shut reflexively. When he opened his eyes again, the blue Satsuma Kiriko glass stood on top of the table in its recovered original form.
With his eyes widened in surprise, he muttered to himself.
“Wow…! Restoration Magic… No, not quite?”
Just looking at the result made it seem like a magic to repair things, but taking Aura’s earlier chant into consideration, it obviously was something different.
Aura, still standing, nodded upon his words.
“Indeed. The nature of the ‘bloodline magic’ from the Carpa Family is far too different for that. It is the hidden magic of my family: ‘Time Reversal’.”
Zenjirou was overwhelmed by the phenomenon that had occurred in front of his eyes, and he muttered that.
The bloodline magic of the Carpa Royal Family was “Space-Time Magic”. When he had heard that it controlled space and time, he had somewhat considered the possibility of manipulating time, but witnessing that phenomenon with his own eyes like this aroused an inexpressible excitement in him.
Might as well call it “fascination”.
Even at the time Lady Octavia had shown him the “water sphere” spell, he hadn’t been this fascinated.
An excitement equivalent to a fifth of the arousal from burying his face into Aura’s breasts during their bridal night, took a hold of his heart right now.
Aura must have noticed the change in her husband.
Sitting back onto the couch, she showed a wry smile and continued the explanation.
“I am sorry to spoil your fun, but this magic is actually not as impressive as it looks.”
“What do you mean?”
Zenjirou averted his gaze from the repaired glass and looked at Aura sitting across of him again as he asked back.
She casually shrugged her shoulders, which were bared in her sleeveless gown.
“First off, ‘Time Reversal’ can only be applied to ‘things without magical power’, so it is almost impossible to use it on living beings. The only exceptions are lower life forms without magical power such as insects or small fishes.
Magic tools are out of the question as well. So that only leaves things that are not living beings, nor magic tools. Amongst these, very few are actually of value.
‘Time Reversal’ consumes an enormous amount of magical power, so surprisingly few objects legitimize the application by a direct descendant of the royal family.”
Aura smiled after saying that.
It was clearly evident that “something, neither a living being, nor a magic tool” with a value high enough that it warranted a repair through the hidden magic of the royal family, would not be all that common, considering the values of this world.
As a matter of fact, Aura herself had not many memories of having used “Time Reversal” usefully.
If she had to name the most useful application, it would be how she secretly repaired the pipe of her father, the previous king, when she had broken it by accident. It was hardly anything important.
“Besides, the required magical power increases exponential with the size of the target or the rewind time. I need to be prepared to use up all of my magical power to rewind a month-worth of time. For a year-worth of time, I would even have to add the magical power of my future self as a ‘future compensation’ or the magic would not activate.
It is extremely unprofitable.
However, if the world ever gets to know about this magic by chance, it is quite unlikely that its strict restrictions would be propagated. In the end, they would falsely believe that it is an almighty magic that can even resurrect the dead.
Therefore, the existence of this magic has to remain an absolute secret. Do you understand that, Zenjirou?”
Aura eloquently outlined the impracticality of ‘Time Reversal’, but it did no harm to the excitement in Zenjirou’s eyes.
With the glint of exaltation remaining in his eyes, he looked Aura, sitting across of him, into the eyes and asked with a slightly shaking voice.
“In other words, it IS possible to rewind time for a ‘short period’ when the object has ‘no magical power’ and ‘isn’t too big’?”
“W- Well, yeah.”
Aura backed off a bit as she was overwhelmed by her husband’s vigour on a rare occasion, but still nodded.
In his thrilled state, Zenjirou didn’t notice his wife’s strange behaviour and showed a bright smile. Then he rushed into the corner of the room.
“W- Well then, how much of a burden would it be on you to rewind time on this one as short as possible?”
Saying so, he pointed at an electronic appliances: The “air conditioning” that hadn’t been put to use since he brought it over from Japan.
Right after coming here, he had given up on assembling it, so it was still wrapped in its plastic packing.
Aura inclined her head puzzled as she still didn’t know what Zenjirou was getting at, but answered his question truthfully nevertheless.
“Mhm… It is so much bigger than the glass, so I cannot rewind it as simple as I did just now. But, well, the minimum rewind time is one day, so if it is just that, it would not be an impossible task.
When I save my magical power for one day and have nothing scheduled for the next day, then it is feasible by night of said day.”
The truth of the matter was that Aura didn’t exhaust her magical power all that often.
However, as the Queen of the Carpa Kingdom, she was the only person that could use the “Teleport” magic, which was a trump card for emergencies.
So it was expected that she preserved her magical power in order to be able to use that trump card at any moment.
Her answer was attached to conditions, but it seemed to satisfy Zenjirou regardless.
Showing a bright smile, he tightly clenched his fists and fist pumped in a rapid series to express his euphoria.
“Yes, yes, yes! I can finally start to assemble the ‘air conditioning’!”
His sentence was accompanied by a gush of emotions.
The reason he didn’t assemble the air conditioning until now was that he feared he would “make a mistake and break it beyond repair”.
However, a broken air condition was no longer “beyond repair” with the “Time Reversal” magic.
Hence, he could jump at the assembling without worries.
Even when he didn’t succeed on the first try, he had as much attempts as necessary. There was nothing to be afraid of, knowing this.
“Hey, Aura. I’ve a little request…”
Saying so, Zenjirou drew closer to her with the same smile as a “man begging his wife for some urgent spending money”.