A few days after the night, where Zenjirou learned about the “soul of words”.
The temperature in the Carpa Kingdom continued to raise day by day and entered the hottest season of the year at last.
He didn’t know the exact temperature. Ever since the day, where the maximum temperature crossed forty degree centigrade during the day already, he had turned around the thermometer, so that he could no longer read it, to keep his sanity.
To him, it felt like the temperature was even higher than forty degree now, but he didn’t have the courage to check it on the thermometer.
In the past few days, Zenjirou had closed all the window shutters in the inner palace and lived with the light of the LED lamps in the middle of the day, even though it was “unhealthy”.
Still, this melting heat wasn’t entirely bad for him.
In this season, where the permanent high temperature could kill you for working normally, the palace established a three-hour break at noon.
Thanks to that, Zenjirou recently got to spend time together with Aura in the inner palace during the day, too, not just the night.
“Fuh, this cursed heat. Compared to my office, this is heaven.”
Coming into the room with all the window shutters shut, Aura headed straight to the refrigerator first of all.
“Oh, Aura. Sounds tough.”
Zenjirou called out to Aura, who looked into the refrigerator, while playing on a portable game console and lying on the couch.
Still with her back to him, Aura gave a short reply and clattering took some ice out of the icebox, then put it into the ice crusher next to the refrigerator, all in in an accustomed manner.
She spun the handle of the ice crusher with a complacent smile and when the container was full of shaved ice, she took the red bottle of strawberry syrup from the refrigerator and poured it generously over the ice.
Zenjirou must have watched her out of the corner of his eyes, as he flustered called out to her in a protest.
“Hey, Aura! You’re using too much!”
However, Aura was completely unperturbed.
“Do not be stingy, not like there is any harm done.”
Saying so, she put the closed bottle with strawberry syrup back into the refrigerator, took the glass bowl with the shaved ice in one hand and came over to the couch, where Zenjirou was lying.
“No, there is! The harm obviously is that the bottle gets empty!”
While protesting, Zenjirou closed the collapsible game console and sat up his lying body on the couch, giving Aura space to sit on.
That he specially made room for her to sit on the same couch, even though there was another couch on the other side, showed how well the couple got along.
Aura scooped the shaved rice, bright red from the strawberry syrup, with a long, silver spoon and raised it to her mouth.
“Rest assured. I am having the cooks of the palace make something similar by boiling down fruits and brown sugar.”
Aura confidently responded like that, which caught Zenjirou’s interest.
“Oho, is it good?”
A boiled down substances from fruits and brown sugar. Maybe it was something like jam? If that was the case, it certainly could serve as a replacement for the syrup.
Zenjirou asked in anticipation, but Aura kept her gaze on the shaved ice and avoided a direct answer.
“…Therefore, I will take this strawberry syrup. You can have that special fruit-sugar juice the cooks make so diligent.”
“Hey, does it taste good?”
“…Ahh, my brain is freezing. I cannot get enough of this cold-rush.”
“I bet it doesn’t taste good yet…”
As she felt guilty from her husband’s reproachful eyes, the Queen confessed while averting her eyes.
“Yes… The food culture of your world is just too outstanding. It seems pretty difficult to reproduce the exact same thing.”
Zenjirou sighed to the Queen’s honest confession. He hadn’t been hoping for much anyway, but he still felt disappointed.
“Hah… Then don’t waste it. I only brought one bottle of each: strawberry, lemon and blue Hawaii.”
“Yes, leave the strawberry one to me.”
“No, strawberry’s my favourite, too. Well, whatever.”
Zenjirou shrugged his shoulders and resigned to Aura.
The trick to keep a harmonic married life as a sponger husband, who got all necessities provided by the wife, was to yield at least this much to her.
Placing his portable game console on top of the table, he stood up and then headed over to the refrigerator.
There he removed one of the many wet towels, which were cooled there, from it and tossed it at Aura, who had just finished eating her shaved ice.
“For your sweat, Aura.”
Aura was in a muck sweat all over, as she had taken in fluids so rapidly, and accepted the cold towel grateful, then wiped the sweat on her face and body with it.
Time-wise it was the middle of the day, but at present, the room was illuminated by the LED lamps, since the window shutters were closed to keep the heat and sunlight out.
Amidst this night-like atmosphere, Zenjirou’s carnal desire naturally awoke when he saw his beloved wife wiping her body with the towel, even if she was still wearing clothes.
Noticing his obvious glances, Aura showed a bewitching smile while she turned her back on him.
“Anyway, I think I can never repay you for all the benefits I receive from the things you brought with you. And even while I told you that you would have nothing to do, I am having you study manners, common sense and magic.”
From Aura’s point of view, it was a legit claim.
Cold drinks and refreshment in the form of a combination of ice and the fan, every day. Aura had no recollection of ever having spent the hottest season of the Carpa Kingdom, which was known for its everlasting summer, in such comfort.
The closest thing would be the one summer she spent at the royal summer resort near a lake in the highlands as a child.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry about that.
I brought all this stuff because I wanted to use it myself anyway and from the beginning, I was prepared to learn its culture and customs to some extent as to settle down in a country different from my birthplace.”
On the other hand, Zenjirou’s words were genuine as well. Even if Aura had promised him that he “would have nothing to do”, he never considered it very likely that he would actually live like an indoor pet, doing nothing but eat, play and sleep all day.
Looking at the history of Earth, it was normal even for reclusive individuals like royal concubines to appear at official events. Taking that into account, Zenjirou considered it inevitable that he would have to learn manners and history of the country to some extent as not to embarrass the royal family.
Besides, business hours in this world were affected by the setting sun, so the “tasks” here were nothing compared to his salaryman days, where he considered himself “lucky” when he was able to return home before the date changed.
Aura, unable to imagine these circumstances, finished wiping her sweat and put the towel on the table, confirming with her humble husband.
“Hey, Zenjirou. Is there anything inconveniencing you?
I know that you are refusing to get in contact with others because you properly understand my standpoint. And it is a fact that you are helping me with that.
However, it pains me to continue to restrict your freedom like this and not repay you in any way.”
It had been close to a month since Zenjirou married into the royal family.
Even Aura had figured out at this point that the conduct of his husband, never causing trouble or being selfish, was a restriction he had placed on himself to cause as few problems as possible, because he perfectly comprehended the standpoints of his wife and himself.
By the way, the attendants working in the inner palace, like the waiting maids or exclusive cooks, evaluated Zenjirou extremely favourable as of now.
An effortless Master that wasn’t selfish and overbearing. As an attendant, one couldn’t wish for a better Master.
After the instruction of the waiting maids centred around the supervisory maid, Aura had automatically told them “Do not take the current situation as the norm”.
Humans could get used to anything. It was surprisingly common that attendants, used to an effortless Master, couldn’t cope with their Master’s sudden selfishness.
Aura perceived her husband from a different world as someone that was too mindful of others and had the habit to stifle his own desires.
However, even when he was told all that, Zenjirou had no particular demands.
Sure, he felt the urge to leave the inner palace soon, but considering the troubles that came along with it, it wasn’t worth to push that selfishness through and even as the Queen, Aura couldn’t do anything about his complaints regarding the food or heat.
Lastly, his “sympathetic side”. It was irritating to Aura, but since Zenjirou was brought up in the plain old fashion of the common people, his values made him perceive selfishness as something “unsightly”, nipping the discussion in the bud.
“Well, I’m good for now. I’ll be sure to tell you if I’ve any complaints.”
“Not complaints, I want you to tell me your wishes. Oh well. Anyway, you do not need to show any reservation. I want to repay you for your devotion, even for a bit.”
Aura said that with a gentle smile, which fuelled Zenjirou’s love for her, but at the same time, his prankish nature, too.
He made a side-glance at the digital clock. The time was three minutes past one o’clock in the afternoon.
During the intense heat, the midday break approximately lasted until half past three in the afternoon.
Alright. There was enough time left.
After confirming the surplus of time, Zenjirou approached Aura on the couch, called out to her jokingly and jumped at her.
“Okay, if you insist… Repay me with your body!”
Aura instantly figured out her husband’s intention as he jokingly flung himself at her, and spread her arms to accept him.
She properly caught him and embraced him tightly.
With her arms around her husband’s back, she passionately locked lips with him.
A tight embrace and passionate kiss. If that was what her husband wanted, it was rather simple. She just had to be willing.
However, the essential reaction of her husband was different from what she had expected.
Every night, if they hugged like this, he would assertively seek her lips and trail her body with his hands, but for some reason he was like a doll, stiff and not moving.
“…What is the matter, Zenjirou?”
Aura doubtful asked like that after their kiss.
However, Zenjirou didn’t answer and separated from Aura wordlessly, moving to the corner of the room and crouching down there.
“Zenjirou? Why are you poking the carpet in the corner of the room with a gloomy expression?”
First a passionate embrace, then depressed a second later. Aura couldn’t follow the drastic change in her husband and called out to him bewildered.
In response, Zenjirou curled up into a ball in his corner and answered weeping while drawing circles on the ground.
“…Well, it’s not like I went all out. No, really, I didn’t jump with all my might. But still, my wife caught me head-on so easily, even though I tried to push her down, and what’s worse, she didn’t even realize what I was trying to do…”
Zenjirou didn’t have a “macho” mentality that took pride in physical toughness. However, as a man, it was a slightly sad fact that his wife could stop a body blow from him.
Aura looked abashed on his words.
(Oops. I knew the hug was rather enthusiastic, but he actually wanted to push me down)
As Aura had gone through real battles for years, her body was sufficiently trained as a soldier. Due to that, she could absorb a sudden attack from Zenjirou, an amateur, like it was nothing, even though he was slightly taller than her.
However, this world was more patriarchic than modern Japan and likewise, physical toughness was considered a virtue. Aura took the sorrow of a husband, who tried to push down his wife, but got caught instead, more serious than Zenjirou himself.
What should she do now? The Queen had unconsciously embarrassed her husband and mused for a while. Then,
At her wits’ end, Aura raised an affected voice and collapsed on the couch by herself.
“Too late! I never made a special tackle with such a delayed effect!”
Not discouraged from his retort, Aura kept lying on the couch and continued to raise an affected shriek.
“No, like I said…”
When the shrieking Aura writhed on the couch, her skirt with the deep slit rolled up and partly exposed her light brown legs and thighs.
He was used to the sight, as he saw it every night, but it was nevertheless delicious.
In the end, Zenjirou accepted the delayed effect from the tackle and threw himself at the fallen Aura.
* * *
Approximately one hour later.
After the workout on the couch, Zenjirou and Aura, still half-naked, threw themselves into studying.
Zenjirou sat in front of his computer in a pair of fashion trunks, whereas Aura, wearing small shorts and a towel around her neck, stood at an angle behind him.
A bundle of dragonskin parchment sat next to the computer. The taxes from last year of the Carpa Kingdom were recorded on them.
The tax documents basically only consisted of “places”, “names” and “values”, so it was most suitable to learn the letters and pronunciation of this world, or so claimed Aura.
Zenjirou didn’t take her opinion at face value, but still recorded how Aura read out the words written on the dragonskin parchments aloud while pointing at them one-by-one, with the camera every day and wrote it into a spreadsheet on the computer while checking with the video.
A few days ago, he had “programmed the foreign letters” by drawing all thirty characters of this country with the mouse as sprites and allocated a key on the keyboard to each.
It was extremely inefficient as he had to convert every single character on the input, but at least he could write the letters of this world on his computer now.
Then Zenjirou had made study materials to learn the readings of the letters by himself, by writing down the characters of this world from Aura’s tax documents and adding Katakana or Arabian numerals to it.
Seeing as Aura especially prepared tax documents from last year, it was obvious she had some other intention too, but the official reason was for studying.
“So, Zenjirou, are you done with the papers?”
“Yeah, finished them yesterday. I’ll print them out now.”
Zenjirou sent the fruit of his labour, the spreadsheet data to the printer. He had brought this printer with him as an extra, since it would have been a waste to throw it away.
He had only three capsule of the valuable ink for each colour, but if he didn’t use it, it would clog up with time anyway, rendering it useless.
Therefore he wasn’t particular stingy with the printouts and printed the data from yesterday’s efforts in good quality.
Aura curiously watched how the machine automatically coughed up the papers and when she confirmed that it finished before long, she took the bundle of papers in hand and looked through them.
“Okay, then let us check if your pronunciation is correct. Zenjirou, read it out aloud from the first page.”
“Okay, here I go. The first is the County of Albeniz. The tax yields are dragonskins: One-thousand, bags of wheat: two-thousand, lumber: ….”
While Aura was looking at the printouts, Zenjirou directly read from the spreadsheet on the computer display.
Aura, listening with nods and agreeable responses, pointed out any mistakes with pronunciations or numbers.
“Ah, this one does not read as ‘Viscount Bonija’, but ‘Viscount Bonilla’.”
“Okay, ‘lla’, not ‘ja’.”
The places and family names were proper names, so the “soul of words” didn’t work and he heard the correct spelling even when someone spoke it out, which might make it perfect for becoming familiar with the letters. Furthermore, Zenjirou even learned about nobles esteemed enough to appear on royal tax documents, on the side.
In that way, it wasn’t necessarily wrong to learn how to read basic letters from “tax documents”.
For example, even an unknown text could be read somewhat when you knew a hundred or two hundred vocabularies.
Either way, this world had no optimized books for beginners to learn the letters like language textbooks for elementary school students in modern Japan.
He had no choice but learn it the hard way, even if it was a bit inefficient.
When the reading lesson with the tax documents ended before long, Aura expressed a question she suddenly thought of in the end.
“Hey, Zenjirou. Why are some numbers written in ‘red’ and some in ‘blue’?”
Zenjirou answered Aura’s question with a rare profound smile.
“Yeah, the different colours make it easier to understand when the calculated value from the program varies from the value on the tax documents. The red colour indicates a shortfall compared to the calculation, the blue colour a surplus.”
Aura raised a quiet voice with an inexpressive face in response to Zenjirou’s answer.
Even if they were tax documents submitted to the royalty, there was no way all the numbers would get checked for mistakes in the palace.
After all, they were a lot of them. It would take a ridiculous amount of dragonskin parchments and personnel expenses to recalculate everything.
The usual procedure only consisted of skimming through them and recalculating a few random sheets after finding mistakes that could be spotted on a glance.
And “for some reason”, even these random checks rarely came upon influential higher nobles or nobles with good connection to the inquisitor.
However, Zenjirou could do these kind of calculations all by himself without any problems by using the calculation program. After all, he only had to make a template and correctly input the numbers there. Anyone, who had done a bit of office work for a company, could do that.
“Zenjirou, could I borrow these for a bit?”
He had perfectly anticipated her question, so he made a smile as innocent as possible and answered.
“Yeah, sure. Go easy on them, okay. Wait, I‘m in no position to say that.”
The Queen replied to her husband, who scratched his head, with a grim tinted smile.
* * *
Afternoon on the same day. Aura, alone with Secretary Fabio in her office, took out the copy papers she borrowed from Zenjirou at noon.
Keeping an inexpressive face, Secretary Fabio only raised one eyebrow.
“Your Highness, what is that?”
“The tax documents of important nobles from last year. I had my husband look through them under the pretext of ‘learning letters’ to test his understanding about statecraft, but he recalculated everything in a few days and pointed out flawed numbers.”
The eyes of the secretary with the slender face got an alarmed glint on Aura’s words.
Seeing Secretary Fabio being cautious about Zenjirou as always, she said without hiding her wry smile.
“You never let your guard down against my husband, do you? He is not so ambitious that you would need to be so cautious about him.”
The secretary replied agreeing, yet obstinate to Aura.
“Yes, I fundamentally agree with you. Judging by his actions in the past month, it is quite unlikely that he has any ambitions in politics. However, I have to stress that is only unlikely at best. We cannot rule it out completely.
To begin with, the more I get to know about his intelligence and education, the more unbalanced his lack of ambition becomes. We cannot ignore the possibility that his behaviour so far is a well-performed act.”
Zenjirou was an extremely unnatural being to Fabio.
A plebeian would never concede to his own position. And a noble would never lack ambition towards power and status.
Could there be such a convenient “man” in this world, who more or less comprehended how his position as the Prince Consort affected others and thus behaved discrete and considerate as not to bring any harm to the Queen’s political power?
Well, the different world might actually have such a person, since it was kind of obvious that the common sense of this world didn’t apply to someone from a different world.
However, since it couldn’t be ruled out that Zenjirou was just pretending to be harmless and cooperative while actually sharpening his fangs, it was necessary that at least one person stayed cautious of him.
“I presume it is for the better that you are not vigilant, Your Highness. It is an extremely difficult task to keep one’s innermost thoughts hidden from the person you share meals and bed with. Instead, I will keep an eye on Zenjirou-sama’s actions.”
“Fine. Sorry to trouble you, Fabio.”
“Yes, it has been nothing but trouble ever since I became your secretary.”
The middle-aged secretary completely agreed to the Queen’s favourable words.
“…Normally you would respond with ‘No, not at all’ or ‘This is nothing in the services for my Queen’ in such a situation, would you not?”
Aura indicated a wry smile, whereat Fabio, still inexpressive, shrugged his shoulders a bit
“I see my job as speaking the outright truth.”
and boldly said so.
In fact, his home truths statements had helped her numerous times so far, so Aura had nothing to retort.
She sighed, then got back on topic.
“Anyway, I had a look at the ‘numerals’ from my husband’s world in the last few days, and I have to say, they are quite convenient. I believe it would be rather beneficial if we implement them in some kind of way.”
At the same time Zenjirou learned the letters of this world, Aura learned how to read and use Arabic numerals from him, too.
Needless to say, Aura mastered the Arabic numerals in no time as she only had to learn ten numbers from 0 to 9 in contrast to Zenjirou, who had to remember all letters and vocabularies.
Calculating with the Arabic numerals was still out of question, but she already understood the values from reading the written numbers.
The convenience of Arabic numerals was very clear from looking at the tax documents she had borrowed from Zenjirou.
To draw an analogy, it was as convenient as telling the same number apart when once written in English and once in Arabic numerals.
“2932” was a short number when written in Arabic numerals, but became extremely long when writing it as “two thousand nine hundred and thirty-two” with the Latin alphabet.
The tax documents had hundreds of such numbers. Even if it only saved a little bit of time for writing or reading it individually, it became a huge saving for bundles of hundreds or thousands.
Introducing the reading and writing of them would improve business to no end and it was possible that the uneducated masses would turn into a class that “cannot read letters, but at least numbers”, like Zenjirou had said before.
That said, it was uncertain whether the birth of a common class that could calculate with numbers was advantageous or disadvantageous to the country or royal family.
Secretary Fabio became a bit absorbed in thought on Aura’s positive opinion, then answered.
“Indeed. I agree that numerals are beneficial, but I object to suddenly implement them all around. It will bring along great confusion at the workplaces and no matter how easy it is to remember them, learning something unknown from scratch is never an easy task.
If you force them to learn it, it will definitely bring about opposition, though I do not know how much.”
“Mh, I see. You are right…”
Fabio’s realistic insight made Aura be lost in thought for a while with her hand on her chin.
“Okay, then we will distribute a reading table for the numerals to the workstations that deal with calculations first, add the numerals to the existing written-out numbers on all royal documents from now on and see how it goes for while. What do you say?”
“That would require to obligate at least the civil servants in the palace to learn the numerals, though.”
Fabio articulated a solely objective doubt to Aura’s suggestion.
“Is that a no?”
Asked back, Secretary Fabio fell silent for a while, then shook his head.
“No, that much should be okay. I will prepare for it at once.”
“Yes, please do.”
Aura nodded satisfied.
It was regretful that it couldn’t be implemented all over, but dynamic reforms like this one often ended up in a failure when rushing it. In the worst case, they might be better off to rely on “the next generation to use numerals” by adding the Arabic numerals to the training menu of the newcomers.
For the meantime, it was better not to expect any visible improvements from implementing the numerals.
The calculations Zenjirou did with the numerals for these “tax documents” were far more suitable for an immediate benefit than the numerals itself.
“Marquis Bervides, Baron Colunga, Feudal Knight Daviino and Feudal Knight Gamez. The discrepancy in their tax documents is especially intolerable.”
While reading out the names, Aura licked over her lips with her red tongue.
As to rebuke the Queen, who showed a smile like a predator, Secretary Fabio declared with a calm voice.
“Your Highness, even if the numbers are incorrect, it is a precedent we have overlooked so far. It could trigger an outburst when you suddenly put pressure on them.”
“I know. I am not so foolish as to use drastic measures like finding them guilty. We will merely use it to show them who is in control and get them to compromise.”
Saying so, Aura wrinkled her nose a bit irritated.
The interesting part about humans was that they misapprehended their wrong acts as legitimate when it was left unpunished for years, even though illegal acts were statutory.
When you suddenly tried to punish a person with such a perception according to the laws one day, he would fly into a passion with “You never did anything before, why now!”.
That was an emotional point of view, but if there were several of them, even the Queen would find herself in the line of a harsh retaliation when she neglected to show sympathy. The power of the Queen and royal family in the Carpa Kingdom was overwhelming, but not so overwhelming that they could ignore the influence of conspiring nobles.
“And if I may add, all of these people you mentioned, contributed greatly to the previous war.”
“…Right. We cannot deny the fact that their services in the war were part of the reason that our country emerged victorious.”
Aura nodded, honestly acknowledging what Secretary Fabio had added.
At present, most of the remaining nobles were survivors of the previous great war. Barely anyone of them was so incompetent as to falsify taxes to the Kingdom or pocket heavy taxes from the people in their fief simply for their own good.
Most of these incompetent nobles, who only leeched off the Kingdom, couldn’t protect their family during the war and perished.
That was the reason why the remaining nobles were so troublesome.
The nobles mentioned by Aura earlier used the evaded taxes on their private military preparations. This very military power had shouldered a part of the defence for the country in the previous war, so it technically couldn’t be denied that these unpaid taxes were used for the good of the Kingdom in a roundabout manner.
However, it was likewise a fact that these taxes could replenish the royal army better if they were collected properly.
The royal family stipulated the reinforcement of the royal army through taxes to optimize the troops and the local feudal lords couldn’t drop the effort to strengthen their own troops as the royal army was useless for defending the own territory due to their inflexibility.
Both weren’t mistaken in their approaches, so it was rather natural that discord emerged between the royal family and feudal lords.
It was clearer than crystal clear that the inner power balance would be disturbed sooner or later when the uncovered tax evasion would be tolerated and the feudal lords strengthened their military power even further.
In the worst case, the feudal lords could band together to revolt against the royal family, so a balance of power, where the royal army could easily suppress such an attempt, should be preserved.
At present, there was no one so disillusioned amongst the important feudal lords to pointlessly go against the royal family,
but there was no guarantee that all successors in the next or after next generation were just as capable and quick-witted.
“Still, illegal remains illegal. I will be temperate and careful not to hurt their honour and prestige, but I will have them pay a suitable compensation.”
Aura declared flatly, whereat Fabio mused for a while.
“…Then how about we notify them informally about the discovery of inconsistencies in the documents so far and ask them ‘to cooperate of their own initiative‘, so something like that never happens again?”
Before long, the secretary settled his thoughts and suggested a compromise plan.
“Well, that sounds reasonable. Okay, I leave the details to you.”
The matter was settled, so Aura suddenly broached a different subject.
“Come to think of it, how goes the tutor search for my husband? I would assume they are assembled for the most part?”
Secretary Fabio wasn’t flustered by Aura’s sudden question and replied affirmative.
“Yes. Three self-applications and thirty-one recommendations. The greater majority are young, unmarried women with high magical power.”
Unmarried women in a marriageable age with high magical power. Aura made a sarcastic laughter to these obvious candidates for a concubine.
“God forbid! They are just incompetent if they recommended them without realizing my intention, but it is a bit troublesome if they did so while clearly knowing what I wanted. Am I being underestimated that much?”
Sending in a candidate for the concubine of the Prince Consort while ignoring the Queen’s real intentions. Even if it was done in the cause of preserving the lineage, it equalled picking a fight with their Master.
“Rather than underestimating you, I would say the appeal of sending in a pawn as Zenjirou-sama‘s concubine, got the better of them despite the danger.”
Aura screwed up her nose displeased.
“Hmpf, I do not think that my husband is so careless as to be manipulated by the wirepuller behind a concubine.”
“I agree, but we can say that because we know his actual condition.”
“Well, yeah. In that case, I guess we will have to ask beldam Pascuala to be my husband’s tutor after all.”
Saying so, Aura stretched herself on her chair as to relax her stiff body.
In response, Secretary Fabio opened his mouth, hesitant on a rare occasion.
“Well, regarding that matter, there is one candidate that we cannot afford to ignore. Count Márguez recommended his own wife, Lady Octavia.
As you know, they call Lady Octavia the model of a noble woman. Knowledge, education or magic skills, there is nothing to criticize about her.
Moreover, she is already married, so she meets your requirements for the time being, Your Highness.”
“Th- That old geezer…”
Hearing an unexpected name, Aura squeezed out her words from the back of her throat.
An already married woman excelling in knowledge, education and magic. Just listening to the recited characteristics, she indeed fulfilled all of Aura’s conditions.
But then, that only applied if the other facts about her were ignored. Even if she was the wife of Count Márguez, she was only his second wife. Currently in her earlier 20s, she was young, beautiful, well-behaved and compliant, so she had been called “the celebrated flower of the royal court” until a few years ago.
Incidentally, the son of Count Márguez, Raffaello Márguez was a former candidate for being Aura’s husband and one year older than his stepmother Octavia.
“That damn geezer would not dare to instigate his own wife to adultery, would he!?”
Secretary Fabio shook his head to Aura’s speculation.
“No. Judging by his character, I doubt he would take it that far, though that is just my personal opinion.
As you may know, Lady Octavia is the “perfect noblewoman” by our country’s common sense. She is a woman proficient at natural compliance, tickling a man’s self-esteem and giving him a dynamic confidence.
Maybe he wants to draw out Zenjirou-sama’s assertiveness by having him be in direct contact with such a woman for some time, and thus damage your relationship with him.”
Most men would get ahead of themselves when a conservative beauty praised, flattered and gave them respectful glances. They would feel like they could do anything if they tried. And if she could incite Zenjirou’s mentality into pursuing politics, Count Márguez would have a convenient direct line to royal authority in Zenjirou.
To say it with a bit more blatant words, Secretary Fabio guessed that his aim was to “pull Zenjirou from under the Queen”.
If his guess was correct, the problem was that Lady Octavia herself, in the middle of events, had no ill intentions even when the wirepuller Count Márguez was full of them.
If everything Aura had heard about Lady Octavia’s character so far was accurate, then she was a person, who would simply pour all her energy in her job as a “private tutor” without any ill intentions.
On the surface, she was the perfect candidate for Zenjirou’s tutor.
“What will you do, Your Highness? We could always come up with some kind of reason and decline her.”
Even while Aura felt a bit annoyed over the blunt glance Secretary Fabio gave her as to probe her for her intentions, she shook her head and answered.
“No, it is not worth to get on the Count’s bad side for this. My husband will have to appear in public to some degree anyway.
I cannot reject everything. Count Márguez’s schemes aside, there is no problem with Lady Octavia. In fact, it is a very beneficial choice for my husband. Hire her.”
“Yes, Your Highness. I will get everything prepared then.”
On Aura’s order, Secretary Fabio answered with a courteous bow.
* * *
One day, the inner palace was kind of restless.
Today, an outsider would step into this secluded space for the first time as it had been exclusive to Zenjirou, Queen Aura and the waiting maids working in the inner palace, so far.
Zenjirou was slumped into the couch in one room of the inner palace and took a deep breath for the nth time.
(A private tutor, huh. I never thought I would have to study again at this age. Well, I had to do some studying for the company, too, though)
Thanks to his experience of going to see various business partners during his company days, Zenjirou wasn’t particular uncomfortable with meeting someone for the first time, but this time, he would be the “superior” for the first time.
He wasn’t all that keen about showing an outsider all the electrical appliances he bought with him, so he was waiting in an average room of the inner palace right now.
Without the grace of the ice fan, Zenjirou was sweating profoundly from the high room temperature and replenished his water balance by drinking water mixed with adequate amounts of brown sugar and salt for a while now.
(I can’t use respective speech and I’ve to wait to introduce myself until she has done so first. Lastly, I’m strictly forbidden to do anything that might come across as extremely rude. Man, this will be difficult, seriously)
Zenjirou recalled the basic conduct Aura had taught him in his head. At that very moment.
“Excuse me. I have brought Octavia-sama. May she enter?”
“Mm, come in.”
When the waiting maid’s voice resounded from beyond the door, Zenjirou cleared his throat once, then replied in a demanding tone that he usually didn’t use.
He was about to go to meet them at the door as a habit from his salaryman days, but realized his mistake as he stood up from the couch, and waited in that standing position.
In the next moment, the door opened with a clatter and a single Lady entered the room.
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Zenjirou-sama.
I am the wife of Count Manuel Márguez of the County of Márguez in the Carpa Kindgom: Octavia. I am greatly honoured to undertake the important duty as your tutor on this occasion.
I might be ignorant and lacking expertise, but I will do everything in my might.”
The Lady spoke in a soft voice pleasant to the ears, then bowed deeply.
(Oho, ignorant and lacking expertise, huh. So “modesty” is a virtue in this country, too)
Zenjirou ordered with a voice as dignified as possible while remembering that he once read something about “modesty” not holding true in some areas even on Earth, depending on the country.
“Lift your face.”
The Lady— Octavia raised her head with the same fluid movement she had used to lower it.
(I see. She’s the so-called “Model of a Lady” in this country. Yeah, she definitely deserves the title)
Gorgeous, trim, virtuous. These words naturally popped up in his head as he looked at Octavia’s face.
She wasn’t all that tall. From Zenjirou’s point of view, her height was “average”, so approximately one-hundred and sixty centimetre.
However, she had narrow sloping shoulders, so her stature looked slender and shorter than it actually was.
Straight black hair that radiated beautifully. Jet black eyes you rarely even saw in a Japanese. And light brown skin that was pale for someone of a southern country and closer to a yellowish white, standing in contrast to the colour of her eyes and hair.
She had a prominent nose and her face as a whole was shallow, so she would easily pass as a “tanned Japanese”.
That said, even if you wanted to see a beauty of her level in modern Japan, you wouldn’t find one unless you went to a model or celebrity agency.
“I’m Zenjirou, Queen Aura’s husband. I don’t know how long our acquaintance will last, but I want us to be on good terms.”
“Yes, you honour me with your words.”
When Zenjirou recited the words he had desperately thought up in his head, Octavia lowered her head creditable.
He couldn’t afford to screw up in the conversation with her, so it exhausted him mentally, even more than he had expected.
“Well then, let’s hear about your guideline, Lady Márguez. Take a seat.”
The mental fatigue must have rushed him unconsciously. Zenjirou skipped the plans he had made in his head yesterday and offered Octavia a seat.
“? Yes, pardon me.”
Octavia showed a momentary surprise to his offer, but remembered what she was here for right away and obediently sat down on the couch.
After Zenjirou made sure that Octavia had seated herself, he slowly lowered his bottom onto the couch, too.
Sitting across Octavia on the couch with a table in-between them, Zenjirou listened to her explanation about her plan and methods to study manners, common sense and magic, from start to end.
“In short, you will principally teach me about history and magic, correcting any mistakes in manners or common sense I show during that. Is that correct?”
Zenjirou put the summary of the contents he had made in his head into words, whereupon Octavia replied with a soft smile.
“Yes. Manners and common sense are hardly something that can be taught verbally. You already seem to have an understanding about a general conduct, so I believe this way will prove to be more efficient.”
“And you will have lunch together with me from now on?”
“Yes. Manners and common sense apply the most at the dining table. I concluded it would be the best opportunity to teach about these two.”
Indeed. She had a point there. No matter how much you heard about manners, you wouldn’t adopt them that way.
You improved and refined them by trying, failing and getting advice. It would take some time, but it might be the best available option.
However, it was a bit annoying, considering that a teacher would watch his manners and common sense during meals every day from now on.
At least it would be no longer the enjoyable and lively time that it had been with Aura in the recent days.
That said, Zenjirou wasn’t so arrogant that he would reject an efficient study chance for such a selfish reason.
“Okay. If you say that’s the best way, I’ve no objections. Let’s do it that way.”
Octavia smiled softly to Zenjirou’s words and lowered her head.
“Thank you very much. Then let me get straight to the point already. Earlier when I entered the room, you greeted me after standing up from the couch, correct?”
Zenjirou unconsciously leaked a natural voice when she pointed out a mistake at once.
Octavia was very careful not to sound reproachful and continued.
“I am terrible honoured that you would receive me so politely, but for a man of your position, such an act is rather liable to be taken in as an ‘underestimate‘. In general, Her Highness Aura is the only person in the country you would have to greet standing.
Even in a foreign country, you only need to give such a polite greeting to the King himself or the immediate successor to the throne.
Likewise, you offered me a seat while remaining standing yourself, but this is a wasted kindness as well. Manners and common sense change according to the other party and situation, so it is malapropos to predefine anything, but it is expected that royalty show a bit more comfortable response.”
“…Okay. I’ll be careful of that from now on.”
Zenjirou nodded to keep up appearances, but mentally he felt like burying his head into his hands and plunking himself down right there.
(Oh damn… I thought I was being careful, but my salaryman soul kicked in again)
As a salaryman it was common sense to only seat oneself once the visiting business partner had sat down. It seemed it was more difficult than expected to correct an internalized habit.
Octavia smiled comforting as she saw through his internal struggle and broached the next subject with a composed voice.
“Then allow me to begin with explaining the basis of magic for today. If there is anything unclear or not understandable, please speak up and I will answer you to the best of my knowledge.”
“Yes, please do.”
“…Zenjirou-sama, that ‘please’.”
“R- Right. Ehm… You are allowed to begin your explanation.”
Screwing up right away, Zenjirou cleared his throat to smooth it over and rephrased his sentence.
This time it seemed to be correct as Octavia nodded curt, then started her thorough explanation with a mellifluous voice.
“I will begin my explanation about the basis of magic now. We can classify magic into two groups. The first group is the ’Four- Element Magic’ that can be more or less used by everyone. The other group is the ’Bloodline Magic’ that only people with a unique lineage can use.”
“Does four elements refer to Earth, Water, Fire, Air and the bloodline to ‘Space-Time Magic’?”
Octavia didn’t seem to be offended by Zenjirou’s interjection and replied with a nod and a smile.
“Yes, that is correct. Just, when you put aside the point that the ‘Bloodline Magic’ cannot used by anyone except a person with the special lineage, it is no different from the Four-Element Magic in its foundation.
There are three conditions necessary to activate magic: the ‘correct intonation’, the ‘correct perception’ and the ‘correct amount of magical power’.”
“Intonation, perception and amount of magical power?”
Given that, it sounded like the magic often found in games or books, but he didn’t understand anything concrete.
The beautiful private tutor could tell from Zenjirou’s expression that he didn’t understand a thing and started to explain with the aid of a concrete example.
“First of all, magic has an exclusive language. We simply call it ’Magic Language’ and the magic will not activate unless you use it. Please watch me.”
Saying so, Octavia put up the index finger of her right hand. And then,
‘O invisible water scattered in the air, gather at my finger and form a sphere. As compensation, I will make eighteen offerings of magical power to the water spirit.’
In the next moment after Zenjirou heard that, a transparent water sphere floated above Octavia’s fingertip.
Zenjirou had no time to be surprised at that phenomena as he was speechless about something else.
(What was that just now? Octavia-san only opened her mouth for a brief moment, but I heard a ridiculous long sentence!?)
He could swear that Octavia hadn’t opened her mouth long enough just now for saying a sentence that long.
Zenjirou had no clue what was going on, whereupon Octavia put the water ball she had created at her finger tip just now, into her empty tea cup and deeply bowed to him.
“My deepest apologies, Zenjirou-sama. I have been thoughtless. The Magic Language is an incredible difficult language as the slightest variation in volume, accent or hyphenation can change its meaning, but in exchange, it is possible to pack a lot of meanings into a short sound.
Due to that, a person, who hears the Magic Language for the first time, gets overwhelmed by the vast amount of information in the short sound. Let me apologize again for forgetting about that. Please forgive me.”
Saying so, Octavia bowed down so deeply that he could see the white nape of her neck.
Zenjirou shook his head a bit and replied.
“If that’s true, it would’ve happened anyway. You might be at fault for not explaining it first, but you apologized, so everything’s fine.
Continue with the explanation.”
Zenjirou accepted her apology, whereas Octavia replied grateful.
“Thank you such much for your tolerance. I will be extra careful from now on that something like this will not happen again.”
Zenjirou was bewildered about her exaggeration, but managed to reply collected without showing his bewilderment.
Sure, Octavia had been careless, but he felt a bit sorry for her.
To begin with, hardly anyone in this world felt something amiss with the discrepancy between the heard information and the spoken sound as the existence of spirits was a common thing. Not to mention that even less people felt shocked about it as if they had received a blow to the head. Going by that, both, Octavia and Zenjirou, had just been unlucky.
“Then I will continue now. Just now, I chanted with the ’correct intonation’ and ’correct perception’, offering the ’correct amount of magical power’. As a result, the magic to ’create a water sphere’ activated. Next I will show you what happens when I purposefully falsify these three.”
After Octavia said that, she put up the index finger of her right hand again and chanted the spell.
The short chant was completely incomprehensible to Zenjirou’s ears. However, the magic didn’t activate.
“Just now, I mistook the intonation for a bit on purpose. The meaning becomes distorted from just that and the spell does not activate. Next I will chant the spell with the correct intonation, but with a mistaken perception.”
Saying so, Octavia opened her mouth for a brief moment and uttered a short sound just like before.
‘O invisible water scattered in the air, gather at my finger and form a sphere. As compensation, I will make eighteen offerings of magical power to the water spirit.’
This time, Zenjirou heard the same long sentence like on the first successful try, but no water sphere appeared at Octavia’s finger.
“Just now, I imagined the activation of a different spell while chanting the correct spell. The result is as you can see. Then lastly, I will use the correct intonation and perception, but input the wrong amount of magical power on purpose.”
‘O invisible water scattered in the air, gather at my finger and form a sphere. As compensation, I will make eighteen offerings of magical power to the water spirit.’
The fourth “water sphere” spell of today was accurately heard by Zenjirou. However, there was no outcome as expected.
Octavia smiled a bit at Zenjirou, who looked at her, and explained.
“This time, I made ‘twenty’ offers of magical power even while saying that I am offering ‘eighteen’. As a result, the activation of the spell failed.”
Zenjirou listened to her words, more or less convinced, but then raised a surprised voice.
“Wait a sec, too much is no good either?”
Zenjirou forgot his affected tone on the spur of the moment, whereat Octavia nodded and responded to his question.
“Yes. The magic will neither activate with too less nor with too much offerings. Large magic that consumes a lot of magical power will ignore a small difference, but small magic is strict about its amount of magical power.
Due to that, most magicians with a great magical power have difficulties with small magic like the one I chanted just now. of course there are exceptions, like the archmage Espaldion-sama.”
It was understandable with that explanation.
One did not even need to spare a thought about whether it was easier to fill a glass to the brim by pouring water from a 100ml bottle or from a 10l bottle.
Even while comprehending Octavia’s words with the rational part of his brain, Zenjirou was kind of in a daze and took no notice of her explanation.
He was pretty excited and thrilled about the fact that he would be able to use magic himself at some point.
However, he might not get many chances to use magic properly as he rarely ever left the inner palace and wasn’t suited to small magic due to his great magical power.
“Does that mean you’re not suited for learning typical magic when you’ve great magical power?”
“Yes. In fact, I have heard that Her Highness Aura can only use a large-scale annihilation fire magic besides the Space-Time magic.
But then, a large magic like that consumes not only a lot of magical power, it also has an extremely long chant, so it is not unusually that it takes months for one to be able to recite the intonation correctly.”
The more he heard, the farther away moved the day he would be able to use magic.
“Then I’ll be frank: How long will it take for me to activate magic when I start learning from today on?”
At some point, he had forgotten the main point, his study about manners and common sense, and asked Octavia that.
Octavia keenly guessed what Zenjirou was after, but as his teacher, she couldn’t bring herself to lie, so she shrunk her slender body, ducked her head and answered honestly.
“Well… First you need to become aware of your own magical power, then learn to control it at will, so that you can accurately pour the magical power into the magic. Normally, it takes two years to become aware of one’s own magical power and another year of practice to control it at will.”
Zenjirou uttered with a groan, whereat Octavia quickly tried to patch up things.
“Ah, but the rest is relatively simple once you have control over that, because you only have to learn the correct intonation, draw a vivid picture of it in your head and accurately pour magical power into it. You can learn a simple spell within a day.”
As she remembered that she had just told him that he was not suited for such simple spells, her words had lost their vigour in the middle of her sentence and she looked apologetic at Zenjirou with upturned eyes.
That look cooled down Zenjirou’s head.
On a second thought, there was no need for him to learn magic. It was merely “better to know it” as an etiquette for a royalty with great magical power, so there was no problem when the study lasted for three to five years.
(Either way, it doesn’t seem like magic will be useful for my life, even when I learn it)
At this point, Zenjirou was not informed about the potential of the unique “Space-Time Magic” in his blood, so he easily discarded it like that.
“Okay. Then let’s take it slowly. Teach me well, Octavia.”
“As you command, Zenjirou-sama.”
The beautiful female tutor answered the Prince Consort, who recovered himself in no time, faithful with a soft smile.
* * *
Evening of the day, where he met Octavia as his private tutor and finished his first lesson without problems.
Relieved of the hours-long stress, Zenjirou spent some quality time with his wife Aura in their room of the inner palace.
He had a can of low-malt beer after his bath like always while Aura on the other hand held a glass with brandy in front of her face and enjoyed its ripe aroma.
After drinking off the bottle of white wine over the past few days, she had chosen the boxed brandy next. Apparently distilled liquor wasn’t common in this world and she had chocked on its high alcoholic content at first, but after she got used to it, she enjoyed it more than the wine.
She drunk it without anything extra as Zenjirou taught her from his faint memory that “it was proper practice to drink brandy straight and unchilled”.
That said, the “unchilled as proper practice” certainly didn’t take the heat in the Carpa Kingdom into consideration, so she preferred drinking it chilled from the refrigerator.
Aura poured the contents of the glass down her throat bit by bit while appreciating the amber-coloured fluid that was sparkling from the light of the LED lamps through the glass, with her eyes.
“Hey, does it taste good?”
Aura nodded satisfied to Zenjirou’s question and answered.
“Yes. It has a surprisingly rich aroma and strong flavour. It is quite addicting once you are used to it.”
“Oho, is that so?”
To be honest, he couldn’t even tell brandy and whiskey apart, so he couldn’t acknowledge her evaluation. But the brandy Aura was drinking right now was called Hennessy XO or something like that, with a price of over ten-thousand yen per bottle. Fanciers knew their thing after all.
As ignorant as he was to such things, Zenjirou was satisfied with cold low-malt beer.
Aura put the brandy glass back on the table after she drunk it up and called out to her husband that sat next to her.
“So, how did it go? Tell me your impression.”
Zenjirou was a bit surprised on Aura’s sudden question, but he lowered his beer can and replied honestly.
“Yeah, let’s see, to summarize it: It was ‘more tiring than I expected’. My lack of manners was pointed out numerous times. Especially during lunch. I barely remember what I ate.”
“Sorry for the troubles.”
“Don’t sweat it. It’s necessary, right? Besides, the magic lessons are fun. Well, it certainly depressed me that it’ll take me three years until I can use magic, though.”
Saying so, Zenjirou shook his free hand fluttering in front of Aura.
It was a matter of fact that he had been pretty excited over seeing magic with his own eyes.
That distinguish magic had brought him from his world into this world, too, but since he was involved in it, he regretfully didn’t get to see the magic activate. By comparison, the magic of a water ball floating around one’s finger that Octavia had shown him earlier was way easier to comprehend.
It was far more motivating as he witnessed it himself.
“Well, there are no shortcuts to magic after all. You can only work hard at it if you want to learn it. Or to put it differently, anyone can learn it with enough time. As long as you do not give up midway, the effort will be by no means in vain.”
Aura said that, then took the arm of her husband and pressed it into her deep cleavage as to encourage him.
Then the Queen surprised her husband, who narrowed his eyes to slits from the soft sensation, by whispering into his ear with a mischievous smile.
“So, how was Octavia-dono? I guess you find her charming, too?”
His wife uttered the name of another woman. Zenjirou had done nothing to feel guilty about, yet he flinched out of reflex, maybe out of a habit as a man.
“Mh? What is the matter?”
Keeping a firm hold on his arm as to not let him escape, Aura pressed him on, whereat Zenjirou answered while letting his gaze drift towards the ceiling.
“Aw, yeah. She’s certainly beautiful and very friendly. Yep, I can see why her type is so popular in this country.”
He got the feeling that Aura’s voice as she gave a short reply, was somewhat lower than usual.
“You mean, she looked desirable to you as well?”
It wasn’t like Aura lacked self-confidence, but she was aware that Octavia was the exact opposite of her, so she unconsciously ended up with a probing tone.
Zenjirou wasn’t so dense that he wouldn’t notice that the mood of his wife took a turn for the worse.
“Well, she’s certainly in my strike zone, but more like a borderline pitch. I would have trouble hitting even a ‘strong fastball right in the center’, if I were to carelessly take a swing.”
However, his promptly couched excuse was completely incomprehensible to someone of this world.
For someone, who had no clue about “baseball”, the terms strike zone, borderline pitch or strong fastball right in the center were all geek-speak.
Even so, Aura must have understood Zenjirou from his tone and overall nuance.
She showed a complacent smile, then asked him again in an desire for more straightforward words.
“So, what do you mean to say? Be more precise.”
Even if she told him to be more explicit, Zenjirou’s honest thoughts were: “As if I could”.
He wasn’t the type of person that could overcome his shame to say something like “You’re the only one I love” or “You’re far more pretty” now.
“Mh? Come on, say it. For me.”
His wife playfully tucked on his arm, but Zenjirou didn’t look at her and kept his eyes on the ceiling, then gave his best answer as a compromise between his shame and his wife’s demand.
“Ehm, well… I mean, if it had been Octavia-san, who summoned me here on the first day, instead of you, then I wouldn’t be here now.”
While saying so, he felt his own face turning red.
Would Aura be satisfied with that answer? At least he hoped so. If she were to demand even “straighter” words… he would die from the embarrassment.
Zenjirou kept facing the ceiling and glanced to the side to take a peek at his wife’s reaction.
Aura’s red hair fluttered in the corner of his vision.
“Fuh… Fufufuh. I see, I see.”
Aura laughed amused.
Apparently his answer was good enough to sway her heart.
“I, too, could not be happier that you were the one being summoned.”
The Queen declared that, then Zenjirou felt her hot and wet lips pressing down on his cheek.
* * *
In the middle of the night. Aura slept intimately with her husband Zenjirou in the same bed as always. When she woke up past midnight, she carefully got off the bed as not to wake the soundly sleeping Zenjirou.
Their bedroom had LED floor lamps, but there was no way she could turn them on while Zenjirou was still sleeping.
Amidst the pitch darkness, she looked for her clothes by fumbling around. Before long, her hands touched a soft, thin cloth.
Aura picked up the smooth and thin clothing— the red and transparent negligee and stifled a giggle.
Before going to bed, she had put on this suggestive nightgown for him in appreciation for the pleasant answer of her husband to her probing question. At that time, Zenjirou had been so overjoyed that he wanted to preserve it with his “digicam” or whatever it was called.
When her husband had raised an empty shriek like that and froze on the spot, Aura hadn’t been able to suppress her laughter.
Zenjirou hadn’t been so naïve to think that Aura hadn’t found out about this “sexy nightgown” (all his belongings were checked on the day of his transfer), but it had been quite an effective surprise that Aura had put it on by her own accord.
As a result, it had become a rather queer situation, where a bright red Zenjirou fought against his shame even though it was Aura, who wore an embarrassing outfit.
Even so, he had been stimulated more than enough by seeing his wife in the bewitching negligee.
Their copulation that night had been fiercer and longer than usual.
Remembering their night together, Aura blushed while putting the transparent negligee aside and looking for the one-piece loungewear she had worn before.
After a short while, she found what she was looking for and slowly headed for the door, still naked and the loungewear in hand.
As not to wake up Zenjirou, she slowly took one careful step after another.
Then she successfully left the room without rousing her husband.
Now in the living room, Aura turned on only one LED lamp and quickly got dressed under its light.
Aura, wearing a blue one-piece without sleeves, sat down on the leather couch and rang the bell on the table.
Thereupon, a single waiting maid entered the room after a while. She must have walked down the dark hallway by relying on the light of the candleholder in her hand. She narrowed her eyes a bit to slits towards the bright LED lamp as her eyes had been used to the darkness.
The waiting maid had impressive long, blonde hair, which was rare for people in the Carpa Kingdom, and had originally been Aura’s Abigail, but was now working directly for Zenjirou.
“You called, Your Highness.”
The waiting maid made a respectful bow. Aura glanced at her, crossed her legs on the couch and said.
“Give me your report.”
The faithful attendant started to speak about what she had seen today, careful not to be subjective, upon her Master’s order.
“Very well. As far as I could tell, Octavia-sama showed no suspicious behaviour. She undertook her duty as Zenjirou-sama’s private tutor faithful.”
The waiting maid had treaded upon the study session between Zenjirou and Octavia during the noon numerous times to bring them refreshments and towels and reported that with a firm tone.
“Good. I guess she is just scouting out things after all?”
After hearing the report, Aura mumbled that to herself.
To begin with, Octavia was an honest person unsuited to scheming. Count Márguez, too, might only want to know about the relevant nature of the “Queen‘s husband” through the eyes of his wife.
She couldn’t let down her guard just yet, but it seemed like she didn’t have to be so sensitive about it from now.
“Okay. From now on, only report if there is anything suspicious about Octavia-dono.”
“As you command.”
The waiting maid lowered her head, whereat Aura nodded with “Good” and continued.
“Now then, how does my husband spend his days lately? Did he get close to any other woman?”
Aura had asked this question the waiting maids numerous times already.
Amongst the past Kings, there were actually very few, who didn’t lay hands on the waiting maids of the inner palace. Not to mention, Zenjirou lived in the inner palace instead of going back and forth from it like the past Kings.
Actually it was more unnatural not to ogle the young and beautiful waiting maids.
However, even this time, the maid shook her head a bit troubled and gave the same reply as the ones before.
“No. Let alone touching anyone, Zenjirou-sama rarely ever looks at the women with such eyes.
In the first place, Zenjirou-sama tends to be against us entering the room.
Therefore we do not enter the room unless we have business to take care of. On the other hand, Zenjirou-sama always moves into a different room when we come for cleaning.”
Leaving the room, because the waiting maids clean it. That was something unbelievable, considering their Master-Attendant relationship, but he probably couldn’t escape his Japanese manners again there.
In a way, it was like a husband being chased out by the vacuum cleaner of the wife.
Aura nodded to the report of the waiting maid and gave her instructions.
“I see. I am repeating myself, but my husband is not good at expressing himself like wanting this or wanting that. He perceives it as a ‘negative virtue’ to express such desires. I know it may be difficult to serve him, but have regards for his feelings and try your best to meet his demands.”
“Very well. As you command.”
“Okay, you can go. Thanks.”
“Very well. Excuse me.”
With her report done, the waiting maid bowed once and left the room.
After the maid closed the door behind her, Aura leaked a sigh in the living room.
“…I am thirsty. Guess I will have some water.”
Aura suddenly felt thirsty and wanted to drink a cup of water before returning to the bedroom.
She went over to the five-door refrigerator in the corner of the living room and took a water jug out of it.
Pouring the water from the jug into a glass, she emptied the glass in one go, then conversed with herself in the dimly lit room.
“I see… Zenjirou does not even take notice of Octavia-dono or the waiting maids.”
Aura unconsciously embraced her own body with her arms.
Tonight again, Zenjirou had caressed this body numerous times. She still felt the touch of his fingers or lips all over her body and had first-hand experience of how passionately the man called Zenjirou sought a woman.
Yet, that very man paid no attention to other women besides her.
Aura involuntarily started to laugh. How should she name this feeling?
She never expected that being loved by someone of the opposite sex would be so pleasant.
An exhilaration different from the satisfaction of the government affairs as a royalty or the ecstasy from winning a battle as a general, was filling up her body from within.
To say it in an offensive way, it was a “sense of superiority”. The joy of having a particular man fawning only over herself. The pleasure of being recognized as the best woman.
“Not good. I kind of want to have him all to myself now.”
If she were to give in to this emotion, she would reflexively oppose a concubine on an emotional level when it was time for Zenjirou to welcome one.
Aura couldn’t conceal how bewildered she was about not having her emotions under control. And it was even more surprising that her rampant emotions were pleasant for her.
“Oh well. No need to worry about the future now.”
She shook her head, then turned off the LED lamp and fumbled for the door to the bedroom.
Back in the bedroom, she undressed and nestled her voluptuous, naked brown body up to the back of the soundly sleeping Zenjirou.
Aura clung to Zenjirou’s back so that her naked breasts pressed onto it.
Zenjirou’s back wasn’t especially broad for a man’s, but Aura felt a strange comfort from it. It gave her a calm feeling of “having returned home”.
In fact, it didn’t take long for Aura to fall asleep with that peace of mind while she clung to Zenjirou’s back like that.
* * *
A few days after Zenjirou started to take lessons from Octavia.
After he had sent off his beloved wife leaving for her job just now, Zenjirou used the spare time until his lesson with Octavia efficiently on the computer.
The video playing on the computer showed a lecture about manners and education that Zenjirou created with the help of Aura for himself.
It was problem how the “soul of words” didn’t work on voices recorded with the digital camera, but thinking about it, it was extremely simple to resolve.
He just had to slowly repeat Aura’s explanation in Japanese then and there.
“Cuando te inviten a un baile, el compañero para el primer y último baile…”
“Let’s see, when invited to a dance party, the partner for the first and last dance…”
He could hear his own voice speaking in Japanese a bit delayed after Aura’s voice speaking in the local language from the video playing on the computer.
It was irksome to hear his recorded voice, but it was quite beneficial without a doubt. He simply had to ignore the discomfort.
When he studied manners and education on the computer like that, there was a knock on the door.
“Excuse me, Zenjirou-sama. Octavia-sama has arrived.”
“Yes, I’ll be right there.”
On the waiting maid’s proclamation, Zenjirou turned off the computer and stood up.
He had various accurate timepieces in his computer, wristwatch or cell phone, but there was no point in being punctual as he was the only one aware of a minutely time.
“Okay, time to go.”
Zenjirou opened the door and went out into the hallway. There, the acquainted waiting maid with the blonde hair lowered her head politely.
At first he had been bewildered by the attendants’s courteous behaviour, but now he had somewhat gotten used to it.
“Well done. You can clean the room now.”
As the waiting maids were considerate to Zenjirou and avoided to enter the room as much as possible, he regarded them as “staff from a hotel” and kept an appropriate distance.
His way of speaking and behaviour was a bit awkward as a royalty, but the mental burden was too much for him to keep up an affected conduct in the inner palace, which was supposed to be his “home”.
Luckily, the attendants in the inner palace were strictly selected by Aura and could be trusted to keep their mouth shut, so it was no problem when he relaxed his behaviour a bit.
(I reviewed the stuff from yesterday, so I would like to finish the lesson about manners and common sense in the morning. Then I’ve got the whole afternoon for magic lessons. Right, and since we’ve got more than three hours of midday break, I’ll review and prepare the magic lessons if Aura comes over, then I should make some progress in lessons in the afternoon, too)
While efficiently scheduling his day like that, Zenjirou walked down the hallway in the inner palace.
Using his spare time to review as to speed up his lessons. And he aimed for even more efficiency by preparing for his magic lesson in the afternoon during the midday break.
The values he had cultivated in the past twenty-four years made “diligence” and “studiousness” a virtue and weren’t so easy to override at this point.
Zenjirou thoroughly made plans to “accomplish his given task as efficiently as possible” as if he had forgotten that he had volunteered to be a sponger.
While Zenjirou was receiving lessons from Octavia, the waiting maids cleaned the living room and bedroom.
As attendants in the palace, they were highly skilled as not to bring about any shame, but cleaning these rooms was somewhat different from the other rooms.
“Listen up. As a general rule, only dust off Zenjirou-sama’s private belongings. Do not use water.”
An elegant middle-aged woman, apparently in charge of all the cleaning maids, gave orders, to which the young waiting maids replied vigorous.
It was impossible to teach all the cleaning maids how to handle the electronic appliances in detail. Realizing that, Zenjirou had told the waiting maids “Dusting it off will suffice. Don’t use water” in advance.
Actually damp wiping was only dangerous for a part of his belongings, the electronic appliances, but he concluded that it would be faster to do it himself instead of pointing out every single appliance to the waiting maids.
The middle-aged maid watched over the entire activities while working herself, too. She gave a group of three young waiting maids, who seemed to clean briskly, a glare and called out to them in a loud voice.
“Hey! How many of you does it take to clean just in front of the table!? One of you is enough. Otherwise we will never finish here!”
The three waiting maids, who were carefully cleaning the table with the computer, winced on the scolding from the middle-aged maid.
It was the place, where had Zenjirou sat earlier. In other words, the spot with the turned-on fan and remaining block of ice.
A new block was already in the making in a metal basin inside the freezer compartment. It would be ready when Zenjirou returned for the midday break.
Due to that, Zenjirou allowed the waiting maids to do whatever they wanted with the leftover ice.
Additionally, he also allowed them to use the chilled towels in the refrigerator as long as they as kept it in moderation.
The reason the waiting maids frequently wiped their sweat was to keep a hygienic environment for Zenjirou, too.
“Although Zenjirou-sama has yielded the remaining ice to us, that only applies to when we have properly finished our job. It is inexcusable to refresh yourself during work with the tools of your Master.”
The middle-aged maid said that, then merciless opened the window shutter of the room.
At once, a hot wind entered the room through the window.
“No, just a bit longer.”
“Aww, the ice~ My ice is melting…”
The three waiting maids, who had fully enjoying the cold breeze by pretending to clean just now, grieved and moaned in an exaggerated manner.
Even while the morning was relatively comfortable, it still were temperatures over thirty degree.
The middle-aged maid pressed her hands into her hips, which had put on an appropriate weight for her age, and flared up at the three moaning waiting maids.
“Stop messing around. You cannot see if it is dirty without the sunlight. Turn off the floor lamps. You know how, right?”
The young waiting maids gloomily resumed their work as the middle-aged maid’s words left no room for discussion.
“Then I will go clean the floor over there.”
“Auh~ The ice~ My dear ice…”
Watching the three troublemakers returning to work, the middle-aged maid made a sigh.
“Good grief, these girls. You take your eyes of them for a second and they slack off.”
When they were told to work in the inner palace, the maids had been stiff from nervousness at first, paying careful attention as not to invoke the wrath of their Master from a different world.
However, once they met him, the husband of the Queen turned out to be a Master so effortless that it was disappointing.
He wasn’t selfish and forgave most mistakes with a smile. To begin with, he rarely even called upon the waiting maids. Due to that, the young waiting maids became like this in less than a month.
Amongst them, the earlier three were especially “lax”, but the same worry could be extended to all the maids.
“How regrettable. To think this are waiting maids working in the honourable inner palace.”
The middle-aged maid grumbled to herself while skilfully wiping the leather couch with a cloth.
Once the cleaning in the living room was done, the bedroom came next.
“Today again, huh…”
“Ahahaha. Her Highness and Zenjirou-sama get along so well.”
Entering the bedroom, the waiting maids showed a twitching smirk on the daily-occurring smell from the bed.
The smell from the bed sheets and from yesterday’s nightclothes and underwear in the basket next to the bed, told the all too intimate tale how the Queen and her husband got along in this room yesterday as well.
“It is a good thing. At this rate, we can expect a heir in the near future.”
On the other hand, the middle-aged maid nodded satisfied while saying that.
It certainly was something to be happy about as a citizen of the Kingdom when the Queen and her husband got along well, but to the young waiting maids, who were kind of proud about their own beauty, it was a somewhat complicated feeling.
The maid clothes of the Carpa Kingdom they were wearing right now, were relatively skimpy compared to the ones of the northern continent from where they originated.
The bright blue skirt only extended to above their knees and the arms were completely sleeveless. The clothes weren’t made so sensual that it clearly exposed their busts or waistlines, but on the young waiting maids they looked quite charming nevertheless.
Despite that, the Master of these maids had not laid a single finger on them so far.
It would be one thing if he were indifferent to women, but every morning there was “evidence” in the bedroom that he spent passionate nights second to none with the Queen.
They didn’t desire to be a “mistress” to the husband of the Queen in particular, but their pride as a woman was hurt when he didn’t show any interest in them like that.
“Come on, we do not have much time. Let us finish this quickly. Change the sheets, get the dirty clothes to the laundry and sort and put away the cleaned clothes into the clothing box.”
“Fuh, the bedroom is a bit cooler…”
The bedroom was smaller than the living room and there were less things to do. Even including laundry and changing the sheets, the cleaning of the bedroom didn’t even took half of the time of the living room.
The waiting maids carried out their own task in an accustomed manner.
* * *
Afternoon of the same day.
After finishing his “common sense and manner lesson” as well as lunch with Lady Octavia today again, Zenjirou relaxed together with Aura in the living room of the inner palace, which had been cleaned neatly in the morning.
It was still midday, so their glasses weren’t filled with alcohol, but with a squeezed juice of fruits with ice.
To relieve the fatigue from his lesson or her government duties, Zenjirou and Aura were cuddled together on the couch and watched television.
The sound from the TV was obviously Japanese and since the soul of words didn’t work, Aura had no way to understand it, but the sound wasn’t relevant for what they were watching right now.
After looking at the screen in silence for a while, it was actually Aura, who raised a voice with “Oh, I know it!”.
“No way, again? Don’t say anything. Don’t you dare to spoil it!”
Beaten to the punch, Zenjirou raised a surprised voice in frustration, then he stared at the scenery picture on the screen with devouring eyes.
A part of the picture should be altered for a bit somewhere. The point of this game was to find that alteration at a set time, but so far, Aura won far more often than Zenjirou, who brought the game over, even though she played it for the first time.
Must be their difference in observation and concentration skills.
“Okay, I will not tell you. ……..The pink flower in the right corner sure is pretty.”
“WAAH! Aura, you meanie!”
Both of them assumed a relaxed expression, which they wouldn’t show in public, while enjoying the game.
A little later. The TV and game had been turned off and the living room had become silent. Aura called out to Zenjirou next to her while holding a glass with ice water.
“So, how are your lessons progressing? Last night, you told me that you would soon get a passing grade for basic manners and common sense, right?”
Zenjirou nodded satisfied to Aura’s question and replied.
“Yeah, for the time being, I got a passing this morning. Though it’s only the bare minimum for not embarrassing myself in public.”
“Oho, glad to hear. Then the afternoon lesson will be only about magic.”
While Aura replied with a smile, she thought to herself.
Her husband was as diligent as ever. He himself didn’t seem to be aware of it, but he took it for granted to achieve the best result within his power for a task given to him.
Aura had a few subordinators like that, too, but it was actually quite difficult to handle such people. They were pretty useful as they didn’t lack in effort, but they were bad at expressing complaints, so they had the bad habit to work themselves to death on their own unless their superior allocated the work properly.
Zenjirou had no clue about his wife’s inner struggle and answered with a smile.
“Yeah, right. So could you teach me a bit about magic while we’ve got the time? I think the greatest downside of magic was that it is extremely short-lived, right? I heard that the ’Bestowal Magic’ from the Twin Kingdom and our ’Space-Time Magic’ were the first to overcome that weakness, but does that mean that the Space-Time Magic, just like the name implies, can affect time, too, not just space?”
Her husband plunged right into preparing for his afternoon lesson, whereat Aura responded without hiding her wry smile.
“Hold your horses. Save the questions for your lesson. You are not with your teacher Octavia right now, but with your wife.”
That Zenjirou received a passing grade for a bare minimum of manners and common sense meant that he could finally appear at official businesses or important social gatherings. He would become even busier from now on, but he wouldn’t last for long if he continued to work that hard.
(Seems my hunch was right)
It was necessary that she kept an eye on her husband from now on when entrusting a task to him, so that he wouldn’t “overexert himself on his own”.
That was what Aura told herself to do.
“Ah, right. Yeah, you’re absolutely right.”
Of course all the matters about magic he had wanted to confirm during midday break slipped his mind as he narrowed his eyes to slits from the soft body of his beloved wife that pressed onto his right arm.
Sitting side by side, Aura snuggled her head onto his right shoulder and Zenjirou put his arm around her shoulder from behind, pulling her into an embrace.
The warmth they felt from embracing each other in thin clothes was quite pleasant. At some point, the royal couple fell silent, closed their eyes and immersed themselves in the comfortable embrace.
Before long, Zenjirou was making peaceful sleeping sounds.
“Oh, he fell asleep…”
The Queen noticed that he had fallen asleep, put her arm around the waist of her husband, who was sleeping soundly with a smile, and closed her eyes as well.
And then, both of them started to make sleeping sounds in an intimate embrace as to make good for their lack of sleep during the night.
Only a few days until the husband of the Queen, Zenjirou would make his debut into higher society. For now, he was still spending a peaceful time.