Chapter #39 – Ep
Seven days later .
In the residence of the Count of Valentia stood a personality superior to Zenjirou .
There was currently only one person in the Carpa Kingdom with an higher status than the Prince Consort, namely Queen Aura .
Initially, it had been arranged that Zenjirou would return to the Capital in the prepared dragon carriages with all the others, but apparently even Queen Aura had been astonished by the detailed report of the “Pack Dragon Subjugation” delivered by the Small Flying Dragon in advance .
To such an extent that she was even willing to use up all three possible applications of the “Teleport Magic” for one day .
Having leapt to Valentia with that Teleport Magic, Queen Aura was first greeted by Raffaelo Márguez .
“My, my, Your Majesty . This is a rather sudden visit . ”
The former husband candidate of the Queen seemed to have anticipated this development to some extent as he simply widened his eyes a bit in surprise, but showed no further surprise, when he greeted the Queen with a smile .
“I am here for unofficial business . After taking my husband, I shall leave again at once, so do not waste your breath . ”
“Yes, very well . Then allow me to walk you to Master Zenjirou . ”
Saying this, Raffaelo immediately went off to lead Aura .
“Good . ”
The pair advanced along the floor of the residence of the Count of Valentia with a slightly faster pace than normal .
Before long, they arrived in front of Zenjirou’s room, where a middle-aged waiting maid wearing carmine red maid clothes graciously seized her skirt and did a curtsy .
“Welcome, Your Majesty Aura . Master Zenjirou is waiting inside . ”
“Good . I heard you ‘helped out’ my husband quite a bit . You have my thanks . ”
“It was a pleasure . ”
As Ines and Aura exchanged a hushed greeting, Raffaelo bowed once with the words “I will excuse myself now” after he had Aura guided so far, and left the place .
“Wait, Raffaelo . You seem to have done great as well, so thank you, too . ”
“You are giving me too much credit . The ’wise judgment’ from Master Zenjirou has aided me the whole time . ”
With these words, Raffaelo disappeared from the view of Aura .
“…Tch . ”
Her face distorted somewhat displeased, when Raffaelo called Zenjirou “wise”, but there was no time to concern herself with that right now, so she faced the door of her husband’s room anew .
Aura winked at Ines, whereupon the maid replied with “understood” and ably knocked the door twice, calling in .
“Master Zenjirou . Your ‘escort’ is here . May I let her in?”
A slightly doubtful voice answered from beyond the door .
“My escort? Who could it be? Oh well, yeah, let her in . ”
Upon his reply, Ines slowly opened the door and Aura entered the room at the same time .
The royal couple met face-to-face . In order not to bother them, Ines closed the door from the outside .
“Eh, no way . Aura!? Why!?”
Zenjirou uttered in surprise .
“Ines just told you . I am here to pick you up . I do not have much time, so I am going to ‘leap’ you right away . ”
Right after her declaration, a boisterous clattering could be heard .
“Eh? Leap me? Now? Wait a sec . I haven’t packed my stuff yet . ”
“Just take what is absolutely necessary . The rest will be transported to the Capital in the carriages with Ines and the others . ”
“O- Okay . Just a moment . Uhm, my change of clothes, my flashlight… Huh? Where’s my pocket knife?”
“You ready? Good . I am going to leap you . ‘Send my chosen person to…’”
“Wha– Already? I’m not ready yet!”
Soon the voices had vanished from the room .
Once the room had fell completely silent, Ines waited for a bit longer, then knocked the door lightly and opened the door a tiny crack, peeking inside .
“Master Zenjirou? Your Majesty?”
Although she called out to them, there was no reply .
The scent and warmth of a person still lingered inside the room as if to emphasise that someone had lived in there until a moment ago, but its inhabitant had suddenly vanished .
“It seems they have returned without a hitch . ”
Ines walked into the room that had suddenly become deserted and said that with a soft smile .
* * *
The return was just as sudden as the arrival . He could not fathom the distance between the Capital and Valentia like that .
Practically abducted by his wife, Zenjirou had returned to the Capital, but apparently Aura had spoken the truth, when she said that she had no time, since she headed to the Royal Palace as soon as she had leapt Zenjirou into the Inner Palace . As a result, they could only have a proper meeting once the sun had completely set .
“Puh, it goes without saying, but home sweet home!”
Enjoying a meal and bath in the Inner Palace after a long time, Zenjirou slovenly sat down in the couch in the living room while wearing a comfortable pyjama .
The six LED floor lamps bathed the living room into a bright white light .
Even at night, he drank a cold fruit drink from the refrigerator inside the bright room .
Since he had been separated from this room for a while, the convenience of an electrical powered room really captured his heart .
Having said this, it was not the time for relaxation only . His beloved wife— Queen Aura said across him and they needed to have a talk .
Seeing her after a long time, his wife was still as charming as ever .
When he looked at his wife in her negligee-like red nightgown from close up, he wanted to toss away the troublesome discussion and head straight to the bedroom, but the bitter fate of royalty did not allow for that .
He should just get over with the bothersome stuff in a jiff and buy time for some happy, embarrassing and fun quality time between them .
Resolved like that, Zenjirou corrected his slovenly sitting posture by straightening his back and faced Aura across him at eye-level .
“Okay, let’s get started . ”
“Yes . First off, explain yourself . Just what has happened? What prompted you to leave the city walls and lead the army yourself? Please tell me the details . ”
As she accused him like that, her expression was stern and looked like she was suppressing a strong emotion .
This matter could not be laughed off with a joke . Zenjirou had never intended to do that anyway, but in face of that very reality, he, too, put on an unprecedented stern expression and started to talk .
“Well, where do I start? The matter with Princess Freya and the Pack Dragon Subjugation are basically two different things, but they do overlap each other a little bit . Well, at the beginning…”
Like that, he initiated the quite long explanation .
“…Although it were only corpses, I finally realized what danger I had put myself in, when I saw them . So, I think that covers everything . ”
One and a half hour had passed by the time Zenjirou finished talking about all his experiences in Valentia .
“I see . ”
At first, Aura had listened to him with a somewhat accusing look, but over time, her expression had gradually changed and when she heard that he had already put Raffaelo Márguez “in charge of the Pack Dragon Subjugation” by the time she sent Xavier Guzzle to Valentia, she had turned completely pale in the face .
Nevertheless, she regained her composure after a bit of time and calmly listened to the end, as it was expected of a Queen .
“Yeah, that’s the gist of it . Back then, I was the fully authorized representative while you temporarily lost your authority as the Countess of Valentia, right? So I thought it would be bad, if I just followed your instructions blindly . Don’t tell me I was overthinking it?”
Zenjirou asked timidly, whereupon Aura shook her head with an inexpressive look .
“No, you did the right thing without doubt . If you had done like I said, namely dismissing Raffaelo Márguez and appointed Xavier Guzzle instead, I would have definitely been put through the meat grinder by the feudal lords later on . ”
“I see . Good to know . ”
Zenjirou smiled a bit happily, when Aura told him that his own decision came more or less in her favour .
“But I’m just the Prince Consort while you’re the Queen, so I thought it would be bad, too, to ignore your instructions in its entirety . The only thing I could come up with after I took your orders and Raffaelo’s prior appointment into consideration as much as possible, was that I had to be the top dog .
I’m sorry that I did something so stupid and caused you trouble . ”
When her husband lowered his head ahead of time, Aura shook her head wordlessly .
“No… I should be the one to apologize . You sacrificed yourself to make up for a mistake of mine . ”
In fact, the matter would have definitely escalated into something even more troublesome, if he had chosen anything else but putting himself at the top .
If he had put Xavier in charge like Aura had wanted, the feudal lords would not have stayed quiet about it like she had mentioned earlier . And if he had completely ignored her instructions instead and left Raffaelo in charge, Aura would have ended up breaking her promise with Xavier . Since Marquis Guzzle was backing Xavier, there was no way he would simply accept that and depending on the circumstances, Aura would have had to punish Zenjirou in some kind of way .
Of course the countermeasure from Zenjirou was not completely flawless, but it was still a lot less harmful than the previous mentioned instances .
It was definitely a masterstroke from Zenjirou .
But Aura spoke to her husband with a serious expression, despite acknowledging that .
“Still, listen up . Never do something like this again . Yes, you did the right thing this time . You achieved the best conceivable outcome . I do thank you for that .
But if you expose yourself to danger in the progress, it would still be more acceptable that I admit having made a mistake or that a political unrest takes place in the country . ”
She was definitely not saying that from just a sentimental point of view . At the present time, Zenjirou was the only grown-up male that had inherited the bloodline magic, so his life was truly this important .
A political blunder could always be corrected later on and even if the lords were causing some ruckus, they would calm down in time . But if Zenjirou were to die, the Carpa Kingdom would fall at least one generation behind its great goal of expanding the royal family .
The practical reason aside, Zenjirou became painfully aware of the fact how much his wife cared about his wellbeing, so he had no choice but to obediently nod in agreement .
“Okay, I get it . I’ll never do it again . ”
“Good . I hope so . ”
For a while, silence prevailed .
It was up to Zenjirou to break that silence .
“On a different note, the trade negotiations with Princess Freya went well, or should I say acceptable?”
Thinking back on it now, Zenjirou had originally gone to Valentia to deal with the princess that had come over from the North Continent . Overshadowed by the ruckus with the Pack Dragons in the latter half, that purpose had faded a bit into the background, but unlike the resolved dragon incident, the negotiations with the princess would only start for real from now on .
“Hmm, an intercontinental trade treaty with a country from the Northern Continent that has no connections to any other countries on the South Continent . That sounds indeed promising . And I take it that you also managed to get involved with the repair of the ship, like we had planned?
I need to consult an expert about it first, but if everything goes well, we might even be able to already start building large sailing ships by ourselves in my regency . ”
Saying that, Aura completely changed the prior look in her eyes to an ambitions one .
“Well, this is just my impression, but I think that Princess Freya is no ordinary princess, so better be careful . I get the feeling she’ll pull us over the barrel, if we get careless . ”
Zenjirou did not miss out on warning her like that .
On the surface, Princess Freya certainly appeared like the typical elegant and friendly princess . But considering that she had set out on an intercontinental travel by her own choice, she definitely was anything but normal .
She herself had claimed that she wanted to enrich her homeland through the intercontinental trade, but it remained to be seen if that was really her only motivation . They had no means to tell if she had any ulterior motives like exploiting them for the sake of her own country .
“Hmm, okay . I will be careful . Still, she gave you some livestock called ‘goats’ in celebration of Carlos’ birth, right? I will have to thank her for that, if I ever meet her . ”
“Yes . That’s my biggest achievement this time . Ah, but I left them in Valentia . I need to get them to the Capital somehow .
And I need to find someone to look after them . We don’t have any people in the country that know how to take care of mammals, do we?”
He had heard that it was relatively easy to farm goats, but it surely was not something a complete novice could handle .
As Zenjirou wrecked his brain, Aura answered him with a smile .
“Then I just have to send some people to Princess Freya and have them learn how to take care of them . It is the first time you ever wanted something . I will be glad to lend you a hand . ”
She was not lying, when she said she would gladly lend a hand . As a matter of fact, her husband had desired something in particular for the first time, since they had gotten married . As long as it was feasible, Aura wanted to comply with his wish .
“I also made some silica sand and slaked lime from the coast sand and seashells in Valentia . Ines and the others will bring it over, so use it for the glass manufacture, if you want . ”
Having said this, the slaked lime had generously been used to erase the scent of the Pack Dragons, so there might not be any left . Aura smiled happily, when Zenjirou told her that .
“Oh, a ’souvenir from Valentia’, if you will so . Great, I am looking forward to it . ”
A souvenir from Valentia . These words triggered something within Zenjirou .
“Yeah, do… that… Mh? It feels like I have forgotten something?”
It was the disturbing feeling you got, when you only remembered the fact that you had forgotten something, but not what exactly .
Plagued by that feeling, Zenjirou tilted his head puzzled and tried to remember what he had forgotten .
“Forgotten something? Really? Was it important?”
“Hmm, I wonder? I forgot about that as well . The souvenir you mentioned just seemed to have rung a bell . ”
“The souvenir? Do you have someone besides me, whom you are going to give a souvenir to?”
Aura then joked around by saying that having an affair was not allowed and that he should rather take a concubine before cheating on her, but Zenjirou was no longer listening to that part .
“I remember now…”
A pale Zenjirou mumbled with a dry voice .
“The pearl and coral souvenirs for Prince Francesco and Princess Bona!”
Yes . Before his departure, he had promised the prince and princess from the Sharrow Royal Family to bring back some jewellery materials from the port town as souvenirs .
But he had completely forgotten about it once he was there .
“Oh damn . What do I do? It was a promise between royalty! Sorry, Aura, but can you leap me back once more tomorrow?”
“Calm down . You can buy pearls and corals in the Capital, too . ”
When Aura comforted him, Zenjirou shot back .
“No way! That would be like buying overseas souvenirs at the Narita Airport! That defeats the purpose of souvenirs!”
“Hey, keep calm . I have no idea what you are talking about . Then just ask Ines or Raffaelo with a Small Flying Dragon to buy them, as they are still there . I cannot use the ‘Teleport Magic’ for something so trivial!”
“Oh god! Even though souvenirs are meant to be bought by the giver at the destination! Forgive me, Prince Francesco, Princess Bona!”
Turning a deaf ear to the perplexed Aura, who tried to reassure him nevertheless, Zenjirou continued to indulge himself in regret and repentance .