The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 4
True to Maddie’s words, we immediately set out for the kingdom of Amaranth upon waking up.
Our journey, compared to the one before to Fen, was relatively safe. It took us from the Holy Palatial Gardens’ territory, past the lands owned by the Duke of Savoy (an independent duchy which also has jurisdiction over the town of Arles), and into the borders of the Kingdom of Amaranth itself.
Contrary to our previous arrangement, Maddie and Lily were with Eris and Jessica in the Saint’s personal carriage to monitor those two. The Beastman Saint, Ruro, decided that she had ‘something to do back in her land’, and left Holy Palatial Gardens just as we left.
Not wishing to invade their privacy, I took another carriage—a smaller, simpler one. The saint insisted I ride with them, but I refused. I believed I would even be fine in the baggage cart; however, Maddie won’t allow it, so she arranged for my carriage.
Well, I also would like to be efficient with things, so I asked that they put their baggage in my carriage to minimize our convoy’s size.
The entire travel cost us five ‘long sleeps’, with Maddie passing by the town of Arles to check on the hourglass she ordered. By the way, just an update, the glassmaker was prioritizing it but said it would still take time. Lily had specified that the hourglass was made human-sized so that anyone could see it, and the master glassmaker proposed that golden sand was used.
And finding golden sand would take a while. So, we left Arles fairly contented with the progress for the creation of the time-reckoning device.
“Your Holiness, the city of Devyere lies ahead.” the Marquise of Monfort reported to Maddie as we approached past the border of Savoy and Amaranth, “Shall I send an advance party to welcome your presence?”
“Ah, please do.” it was Lily who answered, “We don’t want to delay with all the people blocking the road just to see us.”
The Marquise then selected a group of four paladins as our advance party. However, it didn’t take long for them to return.
The Marquise of Monfort stopped the entire convoy upon seeing them going back.
“What seems to be the problem, Lady Heath? You forgot something?”
“Nothing of the sort, Lady Monfort!” the other paladin replied, “But we met this group coming towards our direction, from the city of Devyere. They claim they are from the city of Amaranth and are on their way to meet and welcome us.”
“Oh?” the Marquise looked behind Lady Heath and saw a long yellow banner with a red silhouette of a giant on it. Beside it, flew another banner with a green gryphon imposed on a blue background and trimmed with gold, “That yellow one is the banner of the Margrave of Nocturna, the minister of the right of Amaranth, and the blue banner is for the Ban of Kistral!”
“If I remember, those two nobles are eternal rivals, right?” Lady Heath asked, “Why are they now marching together?”
“I don’t know. But we’d rather tell Her Holiness about this.” the Marquise of Monfort then sped towards our carriage to do her report.
By the time the advance party and the other groups arrived, we already alighted our carriages because we’re wondering the cause of our delay. Upon learning of the ‘strange event’, Maddie herself went forward to greet the two parties personally, followed by Lily, Jessica, and Eris.
“Ah!” the head of the House of Nocturna quickly got off from his horse once he saw Her Holiness appear. He bowed, almost kowtowing, on the ground to show his reverence for Maddie, “It has been a while, Your Holiness! As a representative to His Majesty, William, and his son, Crown Prince David, I welcome you—as well as Her Holiness’ companions and Her Royal Highness (he’s referring to Jessica) to our kingdom.”
Jessica, Lily, and Eris did their respective curtsies. The Marquise of Monfort and the other paladins also curtsied, though it’s kind of strange to see them do that. After all, I’m used to watching the armored guys only bow before someone as a sign of respect…
Of course, I bowed as well.
The leader of the other group, that of the House of Kistral, gave his respects as well, but not as reverent as the House of Nocturna’s…well, at least in my opinion. However, upon bowing, he took out his sword and presented it before Her Holiness.
“My sword is your sword, Your Holiness! As the representative of the Council of the Nobility, I, Stefan Lugo Kistral, welcome you, as well as Your company, to our lands!”
Maddie then blessed the two leaders before speaking to them, “My presence here was because of the alarming news we received about the situation here in Amaranth. However, as much as I’d like to proceed with the negotiations as soon as possible, I’d want to see and learn for myself first what caused this brewing tension and strife.”
“Yes, Your Holiness! We apologize for disturbing you, and for your efforts, we’re willing to compensate for the trouble.” the head of the royal delegation answered, “In fact, we already planned for your accommodation at the capital! His Majesty the King would love to speak with you.”
“If Your Holiness is looking for answers as to the cause of this conflict, then the Duke of Braunhauer would gladly tell all that happened that led to this.” the noble faction’s representative interjected, “Like our worthy opponent, we also organized the best quarters fit for our most holy and dignified guest.”
“Sir Stefan, I suppose you are not thinking of being first before our king?”
“Well, Margrave Landsberg, I think it’s not about His Majesty, but that accursed prince of yours who wants to be the first in everything!”
“How dare you—” the Margrave quickly pulled his sword, but the Ban was also fast in escalating the tension. Their soldiers followed suit, with their spears and shields ready to strike their opponent anytime the blood flowed.
“Margrave Nocturna!” Jessica cried out to the Margrave, “I implore you to cease this violence at once!”
“Sir Stefan, please stop your men!” Likewise, Eris pleaded to the Ban.
Fortunately, those two were not the only ones who were quick. Maddie’s voice thundered when she called out to her paladin captain, “Lady Monfort!”
The Marquise of Monfort and her girls immediately sprang into action and disarmed the two sides. Perhaps the men wouldn’t dare struck the ladies—at least not until an actual battle, and so they were easily convinced to lay down their arms. Tension remained, though it was significantly reduced after that.
“Gentlemen, please put aside your swords!” Maddie ordered, “At least, do your violence someplace else, where the people won’t be affected.”
The Margrave and the Ban both threw threatening looks at one another. It’s all that they could do, after all.
Her Holiness continued, “As much as I’d really want to get things underway already, I need first to weigh the demands of both sides. For it is said, ‘Those whose eyes look on one side, will never see the other’. However, to continue, I would request that one of you yields to his rival. Please be rest assured; I’ll listen to both of your points.”
“Well…” it was the Margrave; his voice was sarcastic, “I’m sure that the wise and reasonable Duke of Braunhauer, through his equally knowledgeable envoy Ban Stefan, would have no qualms of allowing us to be the first to Her Holiness’ audience.”
“You are right, Margrave.” the Ban mockingly countered, “Just as you said, we are indeed full of wisdom, and so we see the urgency that Her Holiness listens to the demands of the nobility first.”
Honestly, I think they’re just being asses. Typical entitled nobility…
Ugh…no matter how ‘eloquent’ and ‘rosy’ the words they spoke to each other, we could all tell that they’re just being sarcastic against the opposing side. Neither of them would give way, and so, the more we dawdled in this, the more time would be wasted.
I cast a look at Maddie. I could tell that she’s having her headache right now, occasionally shaking her head in dismay.
Uhh…seriously guys, you needed to get your shit together already. I didn’t think you’d like it when Maddie gets pissed off once again. That memory of the ‘Black Death’ spell back at the Battle of Hagena Castle was still fresh in my mind.
I guess I should step in now?
“I’m really sorry for interrupting, good Sirs!”
Everyone’s attention then turned to me, who was just silently watching them a while ago. I raised my hand and waved it so that their eyes would be pasted on me.
“Pardon me, but if you’d like to, we could decide who’s going to be first to be visited by Her Holiness fairly!”
“Who’s this man?” the Ban asked, obviously annoyed at my entrance.
“Ah…” Maddie was quick to back me up, “He’s Sir Kuro, a wise friend of mine. Currently, he’s visiting the land of Chersea, and so he was staying with me.”
“Oh? I didn’t know that Her Holiness would get an adviser this young…” the Margrave commented, “Youths are reckless with their decisions; you’re an exception, of course, Your Holiness. Is this one different from the others?”
I don’t like how this guy thinks…
Maddie was quick to defend me, “Well, he has proven time and time again that his mind is truly formidable.”
Ha! Take that, old boy!
“So, how should we decide this issue at hand fairly, Sir Kuro?” a visibly annoyed Ban Stefan stared at me as if he’s recording every detail of my appearance.
“I propose we do a ‘jack-en-poy’ to settle this,” I told them.
“A what?” Everyone was confused when I said what I had in mind—except for Maddie, who had a proud look on her face, as if a mother was boasting for her child.
“Well, a ‘jack-en-poy’ is actually a ga—” I was about to say ‘game’ but remembered that if I told them that, they wouldn’t seriously consider my proposal, “It’s actually a set of gestures used to decide things back in my homeland.”
“Set of gestures?”
“Here, I’ll show you.” I clenched my fist, “This gesture is called a ‘rock’. And then, this one is called ‘scissors’. And the last is ‘paper’.”
“How do we decide things about that?”
“It goes like this…” I took the Marquise of Monfort and told her what she should do. Though she’s a bit confused at first, she went along with me and hit ‘rock’ against my hand’s ‘paper’.
Obviously, I won.
“To do this, you must remember: rock beats scissors, scissors defeat paper, and paper wins over the rock. And, you should not let your opponent know what gesture you will use, or you will lose. Want a try?”
The Ban and the Margrave still had their apprehensions, but after a few practice games against me (I didn’t tell them it’s a famous game back in my old Earth), they became confident and finally agreed to settle their differences with the jack-en-poy.
In the end, it was the Margrave who won; his score, 2 to the Ban’s 1. It sure was the most nerve-wracking jack-en-poy game I’ve seen. Not only did it stop a potentially dangerous armed confrontation, but we also avoided our personal loyalties and feelings from being jeopardized by any side.
After all, jack-en-poy is supposedly a ‘random’ game of chance…
“Nothing.” Maddie laughed silently, “I find it amusing how you solved the problem with those two stubborn nobles by using a game from your country. They didn’t even suspect a thing!”
Ah, she must’ve read my mind during that time, “Well, jack-en-poy is indeed a game. But we also use it when we’re indecisive about something we should decide on immediately.”
“Really?” there’s a mix of surprise and amusement on Maddie’s face, “What an interesting land you have.”
Jack-en-poy was my country’s version of the Japanese hand game ‘jan-ken-pon’ (hence the similarities in the name). I’ve read before that one could predict a pattern on how it’s played by unsuspecting players. But well, this was Chersea…
Jack-en-poy is an entirely new thing to them. I guess they’ll be fine with that…for a while.
What I told Her Holiness was true; we use it from time to time whenever we’re unable to reach a decision. And, in my place, we had a lot of ‘indecisive’ moments, like from when choosing a restaurant to eat (our usual answer was ‘up to you’ even though we didn’t like it in the end), or when we’re deciding on a dress to wear.
Also, it’s a popular ‘poor kid’s’ game every afternoon…Haa…I miss Earth.
I was not aware that during that time, Maddie was casting me a long stare.
Anyway, after that episode with the two envoys from the opposing camps, we continued our travel to the capital of the kingdom of Amaranth, which was a city of the same name as the country itself. Since Eris was with us, she was fetched by the Ban of Kistral to bring to her father.
Honestly, I guess they just didn’t want Eris to appear at the capital since she’s the daughter of the royal enemy’s leader.
Well, at least, that young girl is safe there than she is with our group.
Maddie, under the guise that she had something to ask from me, went to the carriage where I was. Lily, seeing through her friend’s intentions, accepted but with certain conditions. She asked the Marquise of Monfort to come with her inside.
“I’m just making sure of your security, Your Holiness; Head Maid’s orders.” I heard the Marquise reiterated. But the tone of her voice revealed to me she’s also teasing the Saint, for it was written on Maddie’s face that she wanted to be alone with me.
I tried to divert the topic, “It looks like the armies ravaged the countryside with reckless abandon.”
Maddie remained silent as she surveyed the damage of the villages—some of those were still burning—as we passed them on the way to the city of Amaranth. On the roadside were some villagers, desperately searching for something they could still use.
The Margrave of Nocturna went ahead of us with some men to bring the news of the Saint’s arrival at the capital. He left most of his men together with the Paladin Corps to help with our security, since the more we travel inside the Amaranthine kingdom, the more it’s becoming clear the extent of the simmering conflict.
Finally, Maddie broke the ice, “This is why I hate wars.”
I only looked at her. I found I could say nothing, even though we had the same opinion.
However, the Saint continued, “I only took the holy mantle out of my desire to stop these things from happening. You see, before, I was also a lady of Nerfes—and we women of Nerfes would never back down from a battle. I’ve killed my share of men…”
It’s my first time I heard Maddie talked about that aspect of her past. I just could not imagine her donned in armor, with a bloodied sword on her hand, and several corpses at her feet. However, with her words, that’s possible…and that would also explain her seemingly remorseless killing of the Imperial soldiers back in Hagena.
“And, because it’s war, you must kill, or end up getting killed.” Maddie further said, “It’s inevitable that I murdered innocent people to come back alive to my family.”
“Your Holiness, I don’t think anyone can blame you for that.” I tried to console her, “Your job is to defend your lands and fight for your king and country. You only did what you were told to do.”
“Is it?” she countered, “Just because killing for your king and country is legal, you can use it as an excuse to murder people? Like, that village over there has nothing fortified in it, save for those few burnt-out fences meant to keep livestock.”
I couldn’t find any words to tell her. Honestly, though it may sound cruel, this was a normal scene in a war. Villages, towns, and cities would be decimated and burned to the ground. People would be killed, save for those who were deemed useful. The defeated would be crippled enough not to let them get up and take vengeance on the victors.
This was one of the brutal facets of the concept of ‘total war’.
“Tell me, Kuro…” Maddie asked, “…did I fail? Are my visions for this land doomed to come crashing down?”
“Well, honestly, Your Holiness…I think it is.”
“You know us, humans. We’re stubborn, selfish, extremely hard to deal with. Not to mention, if you’re not careful enough, you could end up betrayed. So yeah, I think your vision of peace for this land is doomed to fail.”
Maddie’s face was all gloomy when she heard that, “I…I see…”
“But well, if you know you’re in the right, might as well go down with style.”
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
“So, you know your plans would fail, right? Tell you what, Your Holiness, go down standing your ground! Fail, but fail in a grandiose manner, something that will be remembered for generations to come!”
“But, don’t you think my efforts would only be in vain?”
“Precisely, that’s it. Struggle in vain; however, do it gloriously. Personally, Your Holiness, I think it’s better that you take the 99.9% chance of failing than 100% sure failure if you do nothing. 0.1% is a pretty big number of attempts, you know.”
Maddie was awfully silent. She was all-ears on me.
“Here’s my take on your situation, Your Holiness—no, Maddie. Since you’re the Saint, even though your plans won’t come true, do it anyway. At least you did something than nothing at all. There’s a saying from my world that ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’. I think you fit the bill. Think of the instance you did absolutely nothing; I bet there’d be a lot more corpses here than as of the present.”
To that, Chersea’s human saint had nothing to say. I knew her mind’s kind of conflicted; confused whether she’d have to continue what she had been doing, or stop wasting her time and efforts for something that we knew was bound to fail.
But, if Maddie’s plans were going to end up the tragic route, as her fiancée, I wouldn’t leave her alone! Of course, I’ll go down with her!
We should do something than leave the people of Chersea at the mercy of war and death.
Now, Amaranth was a kingdom at the plains southwest of the Holy Palatial Gardens, just to the western borders of the Duchy of Savoy. I’ve read in history books that it was one of the great powers locked in an eternal struggle in the past against the kingdom of Nerfes, the Empire of Chersea, and the Confederation of the East (kingdoms of Colveente, Calabria, and three other eastern kingdoms).
While Nerfes was renowned for its military excellence, Amaranth was a legend with its wealth, boasting an economy on par with that of the Empire of Chersea. There were a lot of mercenary companies thriving in this place, and the kingdom’s army had its roots from being hired blades in the past.
And it was interesting to note that the guilds here also employ ‘private guards’ to ensure that their interests would be secured. It’s just another word for ‘private armies’, so I guess you get the idea of their purpose.
Maddie was also getting uncomfortable the more we get close to the Amaranthine capital. I could tell it from her face, though she uttered nothing.
The convoy halted suddenly. Before we realized it, our group had already reached the city gates, closed and fortified in anticipation of the nobility’s armies. However, we were delayed not because the Amaranthine militia was about to conduct a security check; it’s more like the royals of the kingdom came out to welcome us.
The Marquise of Monfort was the first one to get down from our carriage, holding the door open for Her Holiness as she alighted from it. I followed behind, though not too close, for I didn’t want anyone else to suspect that something was going on between us.
This is a political-diplomatic mission. The last thing that we need to have are rumors that might jeopardize our purpose.
I think the Marquise of Monfort and her paladins could be trusted, and Maddie—through Lily—specifically instructed the kitchen head maid and Eris to remain silent about everything going on at the Holy Palatial Gardens. So, unless someone among us had a loose tongue, our goal here would be accomplished nicely.
“We thank you for coming over to our kingdom, Your Holiness!” a middle-aged lady appeared at the head of an armed contingent of impressive-looking knights and soldiers just outside the city gates. The Margrave was holding the reins of her horse, and once they saw Maddie, they all bowed before her.
“It’s been a while, Queen Jocasta!” the Saint acknowledge them and flashed her usual smile, “Please forgive me for arriving just now, but I made haste once the news of the situation here reached my ears.”
“Oh please, don’t apologize!” the queen pleaded, “It’s us who should be ashamed. We even took your precious time.”
“Well, it’s all fine.” Maddie then went straight to the point, “Anyway, Your Majesty, can you give me the picture of the entire situation?”
“Ah, for that, I guess my son could give you the information you need!”
Our attention then turned to the Amaranthine princess at our party, Jessica. She was running towards the queen, and the moment they saw each other, the old lady stretched out her hand to meet her daughter. The soldiers behind the queen stood at attention once the princess came into their view.
“It’s alright, Jessica! We’re also surprised by the events.” I heard the queen tell her, “How are you? Your father would be happy to see you again in these trying times.”
“Your Majesty!” it was Lily, following Jessica, who also gave her respects before the Queen.
“Welcome to our kingdom, Princess of Nerfes.” the royal consort greeted. I couldn’t miss the difference in greetings between Maddie and Lily; is this because of Lily’s reputation in Amaranth as the Iron Princess before?
“Ah! On another hand, mother, did you prepare the accommodation fit for Her Holiness?” Jessica asked.
“Oh, yes!” the Queen fished out a group of keys from her chest (how did she do that?), “These are the keys to the Red Diamond Palace, a royal chateau located to the northwest of the city boundaries. It’s a small place, but I think it’s good for Her Holiness to stay. It’s pretty secured, and, we’ve already posted a company of our most trusted knights to guard the area.”
“That’d be good, Your Majesty,” Maddie commented.
“Your Holiness, to whom shall I give the keys?”
The Saint turned to her head maid, “Lily?”
The Queen handed over the keys to Lily, and though it’s quite fast, her eyes gave off a sense of dread as Her Holiness’ servant came near her.
It looks like Lily’s infamous around here…
Maddie then continued, “Shall we head to the Crown Prince? I want to talk to him about the situation.”
“Ah, yes!” Queen Jocasta was brought back to her senses, “Please head this way!”
The Queen and her escorts, with Jessica in tow, led our convoy into the city on our way to the Amaranthine royal castle.
Meanwhile, back inside the carriage, Lily pulled me and the Marquise of Monfort aside. She gave us the keys and whispered, “Lady Monfort, Kuro, can I ask you two to go to the Red Diamond Palace and check it out? Though I don’t like to offend the royal family, we’re still women of Nerfes in the end. I just want to make sure about the place.”
“No problems, Head Maid!” the Marquise of Monfort grabbed me by the head, “We’ll make sure that place is A-okay for our heads to stay!”
Well, that’s a rhyme!
We planned to stop in the royal capital for two ‘long sleeps’. As we were esteemed guests of the king, the von Alberts gave us the place they called the ‘Red Diamond Palace’ to stay.
Compared to Maddie’s palace, this one was modest, both in size and furnishings. It was located a few distances away from the northwestern defensive walls and moat surrounding the city of Amaranth, since it was meant as a hunting lodge before it got upgraded to an aristocratic chateau. Her Holiness had specified in her letter (sent in advance by our party so that all arrangements would be made) that she would never accept opulence during her tour for as long as the Amaranthine people were suffering.
However, not wishing to be embarrassed, the royal house compromised by offering the Red Diamond Palace to our group.
Yep, it’s ‘simpler’ than the Holy Palatial Gardens…
“The Red Diamond is formerly owned by a vassal of the von Albert house.” the Marquise of Monfort explained to me while we inspected the place, “If I remember it right, it’s the La Vebrunes of Dawson Valley.”
The Head Maid, Lily, sent the two of us since the Marquise was an expert in military matters, while she’s confident with my ‘defensive’ skills. I didn’t know what she exactly meant by those, but I’m hoping that we never really had to apply those things in the future.
“I wonder why it’s called like that when the most prominent color I see is that of blue and gold…”
“Ah, same here as well.” the Marquise laughed, “Well, the La Vebrunes head, Count Henri, is eccentric. No one knows what or how his mind thinks. Anyway, don’t bother with those things. What’s important is that we’re quite far from the royal palace itself.”
“Oh?” I smirked, “What, looks like we got someone scared, huh?”
“Of course! Are you an idiot?” the Marquise gave me a weird stare, “It’s not a hidden fact that I’m my father’s daughter, no matter how illegitimate I am. The royal family would view me with suspicions even if I belong to the Saint’s retinue!”
“Well, true.” I shrugged. I guess the royal dudes back there couldn’t help it; this was a time of war and uncertainty. It’s normal for spies to run about and gather damning information about you, “But why did you go with Her Holiness here, instead of returning to your father’s house?”
The Marquise then grabbed my nape (in a friendly manner, of course) and messed with my hair, just to annoy me, “Look here, black-haired guy! First, Her Holiness the Saint asked if I could come. As her personal paladin and guard, loyalty to her is my priority. And second…”
I noticed the temporary pause in her voice before continuing.
“…I think I’m more useful here than in the Braunhauer lands.”
I kept silent, expecting the Marquise to further elaborate on what she just said. However, she let go of me and gave me a pat on the back.
“Come on Kuro, Her Holiness is waiting. Let’s tell her this place is good.”
“Ha? We haven’t gone around the entirety of it!” Well, honestly, we have just seen around half-percent of the entire property. I could tell that, while this was a nice place to stay in, the sheer thinness of the walls and relatively unfortified gates (though the queen said before that it was defensible) would be a headache to any defending party if their enemies decided to place it under a siege.
Plus, the location was relatively isolated, so yeah…it’s a sure-death for the defenders.
But hey, why am I thinking of such things? Wasn’t it why we’re here, to prevent the escalation of this conflict?
“That won’t be necessary.” the paladin explained, “I’m sure you also saw it; this place is a security nightmare. And you know your lover, Kuro! Her Holiness the Saint won’t be fazed by this, and would still insist on staying here. If she does, I and my girls would act accordingly.”
“Alright…” Well, if the head of the security said it’s fine, then it must be so. I’ll try to convince Maddie to reconsider, but knowing her, I guess this was a done deal already. There’d be no problems with it, right?
Damn…I think I already doomed my group by setting up that ‘flag’, eh?