The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 4
The Battle of Cullen and its aftermath delayed us for two ‘long sleeps’ before we could move on, considering the relatively short distance of the Duchy of Braunhauer from the royal capital. Anyway, I realized the Duke of Braunhauer actually sent men to help us defeat the rampaging mercenaries—they were the horsemen that approached the enemy lines from behind, having maneuvered undetected while the paladins occupied their attention.
Well, at least it’s all over now. The only thing that’s left was the interrogation of the captured mercenaries, which could shed light on what happened that led to their rampage.
Meanwhile, I had to confront a new problem at Cullen’s town hall, where we set up our temporary quarters…
“A paladin guard whose armament was a demon weapon,” Maddie had a sardonic smile, “It sure is a great irony, huh?”
“W-Well…I tried to refuse the appointment…but the Marquise of Monfort overrode me.”
“Maddie and I asked her to. We gave her the authority to coerce you into joining,” Lily admitted.
“It’s for your punishment, first. Second, the Marquise of Monfort likes you as her student,” the Head Maid told me, “And also for the third reason, it’s so that you won’t be able to go far away from us. I mean, you’re a paladin guard now, and your job is to protect us.”
“If protecting would come into consideration here, you two are more than enough for an entire army. Maddie’s the Saint, and you’re the Iron Princess.”
“Of course, that’s just the official part of your functions, Kuro,” Maddie’s smile was really jubilant; as if she won a lottery, “The other, actual job you have is to be with us, A.L.W.A.Y.S.”
Your Holiness, you know you sound like a yandere…
“Oh indeed I am crazy-in-love with you, Kuro!” the Saint told me, with an air of impending doom surrounding her, “And Lily as well. That’s why we’re stressed-out worrying about you when the paladins brought you back with a face soaked in blood, see?
“Please don’t do again, Sir Kuro,” Lily backed her up, “Or, I’ll be forced to chain you with us.” She brought out a pink, frilly set of chains with a leather collar at the other end. My name ‘Kuro’ was clearly written on it. Her innocent smile as she showed it to me gave me the creeps, to be honest.
That’s…sweet. Did she borrow it from the Marquise of Monfort?
“Err…” I was not sure if they’re joking or not, but anyway, I guess I should take care of my actions. Some ladies didn’t want to be widowed early on…
Wait. I’m not yet even married to any of them!
Anyway, the cavalry that helped us was led by the Ban of Kistral, Sir Stefan. He was sent by the Duke of Braunhauer the moment the paladins of the Marquise of Monfort arrived to ask for their help in stopping the rampage of the mercenaries.
They were the ones that sealed the victory for us. However…
“Your Holiness!” the Ban gave respects to us before proceeding with his talk, “I was sent here by the Duke of Braunhauer to escort you all the way to his fief’s town.”
“Ah yes, thank you for your efforts, Sir Stefan,” Maddie answered. But her face had an annoyed look at it.
“Hey, Lily, why’s Maddie kind of irritated? Did something happen?” I whispered to her.
Lily replied with a low voice, “The Ban of Kistral may have declared that he’s escorting us to the Braunhauer lands. However, I could tell that he was here to monitor us. I mean, don’t you think it’s strange that they’d only come escorting us after the battle happened and we already jumped into the fray?”
“Well, we rushed out of the royal capital.”
“Don’t you think I sent an advanced party to notify the Duke of our arrival?”
I fell silent when I realized that. Indeed, if aristocratic logic would dictate courtesy, the Duke would send at least an armed escort of men to meet us halfway; or if not, he’d send nothing at all. However, he only sent an escort after we got ourselves involved deeper into this mess. It’s as if he wanted to witness whether we’d commit on either side…
If that happened, then our impartiality would be questioned, and Maddie would lose her credibility to force a negotiated settlement on both factions.
Damn…I failed to see through that possibility!
Maddie graciously conformed to the Ban’s words for the meantime. However, it was a different matter for the Marquise of Monfort…
“Oi, Stefan!” she angrily admonished him, “Why did your men arrive only when we’re almost done with those mercenaries?”
“Pardon me, Lady Monfort, but there were preparations we had to do before we engaged.”
“Don’t give me that crap!” It was the first time I saw the Marquise that mad, “Just tell me if you’re cowering in fear. I already spotted your force, even before we attacked those bastards. You only moved when you’re sure that we’re winning!”
“Milady, as I’ve said before, we had to plan our move, since it was all too sudden.”
“And so do we, yet we attacked them. Are you trying to get us killed so that no one who’d stop you from marrying Eris?”
Lily and I exchanged looks. So, there was that angle in their family, huh? But hey! Isn’t this guy way too older than Eris? I mean, he looked like he’s of my age!
Well, of course, just like what they told me before…they get married early here.
“It’s not that, Lady Monfort,” the Ban kept on explaining his side, but the Marquise won’t listen.
“Hah! Father would surely hear of this, you idiot!” the Marquise threatened him, “And besides, your ‘sucking up’ to the Duke would soon be over!”
Those words that she threw on the Ban weren’t simple insults. She really got angry after her paladins were put into danger by his apparent inaction. I hope it wouldn’t end in ugly terms, though…
“And Eris, she’s better off with the good man I know!”
At that point, the Ban suddenly sprung up to the Marquise. I could tell he got provoked by those words that she just said, “Milady, care to explain what you told me?”
“Hah! Are you pissed? Well, I apologize ahead, but I support Eris’ marriage to Sir Kuro!”
“Hey, Lady Monfort!” I had to speak up for myself, “Why did you drag my name here?”
“Well, Eris likes you, and it wouldn’t be long ’till she desires you as her husband,” the Marquise never paid attention to my protest, “As her sister, I’d wholly support her, rather than be left with this man!”
The Ban’s glare went from her to me. Tensions were running high, and Maddie had to intervene personally.
“Lady Monfort, I understand your anger,” the Saint told her, “But please, let us put it aside for now, and cooperate for the sake of the people.”
With that, the Marquise eventually relented. But I doubt the Ban’s anger to me vanished with those words.
We set out just before dinner towards the central town of the Duchy of Braunhauer, Coventry. After making sure that the refugees and the townsfolk of Cullen were well and protected, Maddie ordered for our convoy to continue its last leg of the journey. The Ban’s soldiers led our group, with the Paladin Corps marching behind them, in a formation that subtly surrounded and protected our carriages from the Ban’s men.
Good thing the Marquise of Monfort has thought of this.
Of course, we had to leave the kitchen princess behind. We’re basically heading to their enemy’s territory, and having her along with our group could put us in danger. Jessica, who was always dutiful and loyal to the Saint, initially tried to insist. However, Lily and I convinced her to stay; it’s for her safety, anyway.
Moving along, the Braunhauer region was located right in the middle of the Amaranthine kingdom. It was a newly created territory, carved-out from the royal fief that included the capital city, as a reward to the exploits of the current Duke of Braunhauer in the last war before the Saint’s Peace.
“And, since it straddles right in the middle of trading routes from the ports and beaches of Amaranth to the south, and the royal capital here in the north, the Braunhauer fief is the most economically stable and richest region in the whole kingdom,” Maddie explained to me while on the road.
“Yep, as you know, the Duke of Braunhauer is a smart man; he developed his land into an economic powerhouse within this country,” Lily added, “And because of that, he gained power and influence almost equal to that of the royal family.”
Of course, that’s bound to happen. In human politics, having a lot of money in your coffers equated to power and influence. Add a formidable mind to the formula, and you get a dangerous opponent, as well as a sturdy ally, whichever that person chose to treat you as.
It’s one reason for conflicts back in medieval Earth. The nobility’s loyalty didn’t lie with the country, but on the person they chose to take an oath of fealty…and sometimes, it’s not the king.
“I’m just having some thoughts about the Braunhauer-von Albert relations though…” Lily suddenly spoke.
“Hm? Care to say it so that Kuro can also hear?”
“Well, back in the wars of the past, the Duke of Braunhauer—still known as the Earl of Dawson, wholeheartedly supported the current von Albert king, William. They’ve forged a powerful alliance that eventually weathered Nerfes’ powerful assault on this kingdom.”
“Now that you’re saying it, I think it’s a waste of opportunity.”
“Makes you wonder why they’d part ways. I mean, if I remember correctly, the Duke of Braunhauer is Prince David’s godfather, too. It must’ve been a big, heavy reason for him to fight against his old friend and his heir…”
Maddie had a point. I knew human politics was petty and quite stupid, but then again, one wouldn’t just turn against his closest friend for a light reason, unless you had personal ambitions to rule yourself.
“That can’t be, Kuro,” the Saint explained, “The Duke of Braunhauer is one of the most loyal men of the old king, and he even swore before to be forever a friend to his house, including his heir.”
“That’s why we’re surprised when the news reached us about the events here,” Lily added, “The Duke of Braunhauer is a well-known man of his word.”
“You said before he’s a shrewd man,” I pointed out, “How’s that possible to be a man of your word and be crafty? In my world, it’s like oil and water—they don’t mix.”
“Sometimes, I wonder how broken your world is, Kuro,” Maddie said.
“Well, it is broken alright,” I chuckled at the thought that even someone who didn’t even live in my world could say that. It only showed how fucked up the society from where I came from.
“Ah, what we meant by crafty, Kuro, is that the Duke of Braunhauer is a dangerous, sneaky opponent on the battlefield,” Lily elaborated, “However, he’s an honest person with his own people.”
“Oh, so that’s it, huh? I guess I misunderstood.”
But well, even with that explanation, something’s not adding up. Indeed, if the Duke of Braunhauer is what Maddie and Lily claimed he was, then why would he lead the rebellion against the heir of his old friend in the first place?
“The Duke of Braunhauer’s power is the reason His Majesty survived our onslaught in the last war,” Lily turned to Maddie, “Remember that campaign we had back in the Dawson valley?”
“Just carry on, Lily…don’t make me remember some terrible memories,” Maddie told her.
“In case you’re wondering, our army’s campaign back in the Dawson valley during the last war ended in a stalemate,” Lily explained to me, complete with a nasty smirk on her face, “Our force was ambushed by the Amaranthine soldiers while we’re on our way to the Amaranthine capital. And Maddie was so scared during that time she went berserk!”
“Oh? I didn’t know about that!” I was honestly interested to hear that story of Maddie during the last war.
“Come on Lily! You know it had to be done, or we’ll be wiped out because your Bloodbath was spent!” Maddie retorted.
“Heh, at least I didn’t piss on my armor and sprayed it around while slicing through the ranks of our enemies!”
“Lily!” the Saint’s face was all red, and she tried to silence her friend.
But seriously, I was glad to hear those kinds of stories about Maddie. It made me feel that she’s more human than ever before.
“You have some weird fetishes yourself, huh?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Y-You t-t-t-think it’s n-n-n-n-n-nice of me to p-p-p-piss while fighting?”
“W-What?” Lily was equally shocked.
“Hah? What made you think of me that way?” I was not some degenerate who’d get aroused from seeing a girl pee, much more when she’s literally fighting for her life! If there’s any ‘preference’ I had in my system, I’d say I’d like to stare at a girl’s ass.
It’s normal, compared to someone pissing…
Hey. Of course it’s with reservations. I put my lewd thoughts in their proper places.
“What do you think, Lily? Does mine look and feel good?”
Lily was feeling up Maddie’s buttocks through her skirt, “Well, it’s kind of firm and bouncy…my hands can cop a feel and it’s great. I think our future husband would love it.”
“Better check mine too.”
“Alright, come over here.”
What the hell are you guys doing?
The rest of our journey to the town of Coventry was quite uneventful. Apart from the region around Cullen, the deeper we went into the Duchy of Braunhauer, the fewer signs of conflict came into our view, much like the lands near the royal capital.
It’s like the simmering war’s effects could be found and felt at the fringes of the territories of the key players in this conflict.
At the town proper of Coventry itself, life continued as usual. It’s like a different world when we entered, and though the militia and the Ban’s soldiers were immediately moved in to secure our path, the people still rushed in to peek at the Saint’s entourage.
“Hurrah for Her Holiness!” the shouts grew louder as we went down the main road that bisected the town. Some even went as far as throwing flowers at us, and confetti came raining down as well. Good thing that compared to Fen, Coventry had fewer people for its population, thus the escorts had an easier time in subduing them.
I was looking at Maddie from time to time. Though she would occasionally wave at her adoring crowd, she kept a reflective distance from them.
I wonder what’s on her mind…
She looked so beautiful with that expression on her face.
Ahem. Alright, moving on, soon a familiar person came into our view.
“Your Holiness, welcome!” the young maid—I mean, Duchess Eris was happily waving her hand at us. Behind her was an armed contingent of men, possibly the Duke’s guards.
I guess we already arrived at our destination, huh?
“Hello, Duchess Eris! It’s good to see you again!” Maddie’s mood quickly changed from prim and formal to friendly once she saw the young maidservant. She alighted from her carriage and came to greet Eris on foot—a Chersean custom of showing ‘mutual respect’.
“Hello, Your Holiness!” Eris responded by giving the Saint a curtsy, “Welcome to Eris’ land, the Duchy of Braunhauer.”
“Glad tidings, Duchess Braunhauer!” Lily also greeted her subordinate, “It’s been a while!”
“Eris missed her Big Sis Head Maid!” the young duchess threw herself on Lily, at which the head maid caught without flinching, “She hopes Big Sis Head Maid, Her Holiness, and Mister Kuro be happy in their stay!”
“T-Thank you, Your…uh, E-Excellency!” I nervously answered. Well, this was an unfamiliar situation compared to when we’re at the Holy Palatial Gardens. Back there, Maddie would encourage her guests (including me) to treat her maids as what they were, servants (with due respect, of course). It’s for them to know how it was to serve, she said.
However, here, Eris would be significantly higher in rank than me, a commoner. So, I got to mind my tongue when talking to her, lest I intend to piss off her family’s supporters.
“Uh…Mister Kuro, you don’t have to be formal to Eris!” the child told me, “Eris’ your friend!”
“Greetings, Your Excellency Lady Eris!” the Ban of Kistral approached her and kneeled to kiss her hand, but the young duchess quickly pulled her hands away and hid behind Lily.
Err…you don’t do that to a kid, you know? It’s creepy.
“Hey, little squirt!”
“Sis!” Eris’ face lit up, and she rushed toward her sister, the Marquise of Monfort, once she saw her. Just like how she threw herself on Lily, the young duchess let her older sister caught her just as she was about to slam on her.
“Heh! You really are used to this place!” the Marquise lovingly doted on her, “You got heavier than last time!”
“Well, Eris missed Mommy Hanna’s cooking!”
“Hehe…yeah, the old lady’s a superb cook.”
“Indeed!” Maddie backed the Marquise’s statement, “I tasted her food once when you brought some of it last time. And it’s great!”
“Right! Mommy Hanna cooked dinner this time, and it’s Her Holiness’ favorite too!”
“Oooh!” Maddie’s eyes suddenly sparkled, “It’s really nice to be the Saint sometimes…”
“Oi,” Lily’s iron hand gripped the Saint’s shoulder, “I know what you’re thinking; but if you overeat once again, I’ll have you run 50 laps, Your Holiness!”
Maddie said nothing back at Lily. But well, from time to time Lily could get scary…especially with her friends’ well-being.
Just like a mother…
“Mister Kuro!” Eris turned to me, “Eris also taught Mommy Hanna about the food you cook for Eris before! You better have a taste!”
“You mean that ‘adobo’ thing? Sure!” Well, it really piqued my interest, hearing that a familiar dish from the world would be given an otherworldly twist. I wonder how it tastes?
Oh, dear. This isn’t good.
The other men who were with us were glaring at me as if they wanted to tear me apart. It reminded me of those mercenaries whom I fought earlier. A few of them were deliberately showing me their well-maintained blades, as if telling me silently that I’d better be watching my back.
Maybe they don’t like it I can talk so casually to these noble ladies?
“I’d mind my back if I were you.”
I turned and saw the Ban of Kistral was behind me, “You may have the Saint’s support with you, but the men of the House of Braunhauer aren’t pushovers, commoner. I suggest you know your rightful place.”
I said nothing back to him, for I didn’t want any trouble for now. Don’t worry, I don’t like you either.
My eyes inadvertently fell on Maddie, asking for help in this situation. After all, I could feel daggers being thrown at me by the Duke’s men. Good thing she was quick to pick up my distress call, “Anyway, Duchess Eris, shall we see your father now?”
“Ah, yes!” the young duchess pulled her hand, “Daddy prepared the family guesthouse, at the eastern side of the town, for Your Holiness. He’s waiting there, together with Eris’ mommies. Please feel at home!”
“Alright, lead the way!” Maddie cheerfully chirped in.
And with that, the second phase of our mediation began.
The Braunhauer guesthouse was like a typical remote French chateau in the middle of a grassy plain, not too far from the eastern side of the town of Coventry, which served as the duchy’s capital. Outside, the walls surrounding the house were quite thick, perfect for keeping off some raiding parties who would try to sack the place.
However, with a determined attacker, I think I won’t like to be in this manor during that time.
But I guess the Duke didn’t even have to worry about that. His primary residence was that mansion at the top of a mound constructed sometime earlier for defense, not too far off from where we were right now. In case of a siege like the one in Cullen, the Duke and his family could also seek refuge at the tower that dominated the skyline of the town, and the town proper itself was surrounded by thick, high walls and a moat.
The Duke and his family could seek shelter in the town proper and direct the defense from that place anytime.
A pretty clever arrangement, huh?
“Daaaad!!!” Eris called out to her father once we arrived at the doorstep of the guesthouse. Fortunately, she wasn’t screaming this time, or it’d break our ears, “Her Holiness is here!”
A few moments of silence followed. Maddie and Lily looked at each other awkwardly. The Marquise came to me and whispered…
“Don’t worry. This is normal. Wait for it…”
“Huh? What is it to wait for?”
Soon enough, we heard the clanging of pots and crashing of plates. And then, there were clucking chickens and some ladies screaming. Finally, the door opened, and a slim, quite disheveled man emerged.
“Told ’ya,” the Marquise silently laughed.
“M-M-M-My apologies, Y-Your Holi-Holiness!” he said, while trying to fix his pants’ buttons, “I was halfway done bathing, and Eris came shouting that you already arrived.”
“Err…no worries, Your Excellency, the Duke of Braunhauer,” Maddie answered, “I understand that you’re in the middle of doing…something. But please, try to wear your underclothing under your pants next time.”
The Duke’s jaw almost dropped upon hearing that, and he stumbled back into his manor. Eris was red in embarrassment, while the Ban of Kistral was shaking his head. The next thing that happened, we heard someone hitting something, a man crying out in pain, and a thud. After that, a dignified lady appeared—who quickly threw a wooden club away from our view, and greeted us.
What, is this some slapstick comedy?
“Uhm…our deepest apologies for my husband, Your Holiness! He got too engrossed in choosing the best clothes for the occasion, that he forgot that you’re arriving soon. I hope you don’t take his foolishness against him,” I think we all heard that she emphasized that word, “If it pleases you, do come in our humble abode. We prepared the most modest fare fit for a Saint, in case you haven’t had your dinner yet.”
“Thank you, Lady Braunhauer!” The girls curtsied while I took my bow, and one by one we entered the guesthouse. I couldn’t help but notice that Lady Braunhauer was taking an eyeful at me from head to toe.
What? I have done nothing yet! Well, no matter. I’d just stick around Maddie this time.
Since it was late for dinner when we arrived at the Braunhauer guesthouse, we were immediately led to the dining hall, where the Duke had prepared a modest feast for us.
Well, yeah. A modest ‘feast’, because though they claimed it was humble fare, this could already feed a battalion of men.
The Duke of Braunhauer, now dressed like a true noble, officially welcomed us by introducing his entire household, “Your Holiness, these are my wives. The Mistress of my house, Yasmin Johanna Braunhauer.”
The dignified-looking lady with auburn hair curtsied before us, “As the Mistress of the House Braunhauer, I gladly welcome you to our lands.”
Once the mistress sat down, the Duke continued his introductions, “This is my other wife, Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna Braunhauer. She’s in charge of my daughters’ upbringing.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you once again, Your Holiness!” the lady with red, braided hair greeted us with a curtsy as well. After her greeting, I noticed she cast a glance at me, before going to her respective seat at the dinner table. Between the two wives, Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna resembled Eris more, so I guess she’s her true mother?
“And Your Holiness, I believed you know them already. However, let me once again introduce to you my daughters, Dusis Luisa Braunhauer-Monfort.”
The Marquise of Monfort then came in the dining hall, all dressed-up formally. Her noble gown was of light purple and had yellow roses on the fringes. The goofy, sometimes tough-talking captain of the paladin guards was looking like a proper lady before us right now.
“…” I guess everyone present at the dinner table was flabbergasted. I mean, for me, it’s the first time I saw her wearing a noblewoman’s attire. And well, though she may be a known tomboy at the Holy Palatial Gardens, it’s easy to mistake her for a lady at this moment.
“As the lord of the March of Monfort, under the authority of the Duke of Braunhauer my father, I, Dusis Luisa Braunhauer-Monfort, welcomes Your Holiness to our humble land,” the Marquise of Monfort curtsies with all grace and dignity.
I was really surprised by her transformation. I didn’t know that the Marquise had this side to her personality.
“Here’s my youngest daughter, Eris Braunhauer.”
At that cue, Eris then entered the dining hall, wearing an elegant dress as well. Well, it was also new to me, for I always see the young duchess in her maid uniform I forgot that she’s a daughter from the nobility. I’d say they really prepared for this welcome for us, since these two Braunhauer children took the effort to fix their appearances here at the dinner table.
“As the duchess of the Duchy of Braunhauer, under the authority of the Duke of Braunhauer my father, Eris—”
“Eris…” the Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna gently interrupted her daughter, “I believed that’s the wrong way you introduce yourself. You don’t have to imitate your older sister every time!”
“Eris is sorry, Mom!”
“Please introduce yourself properly,” the other wife, Mistress Johanna, told her, “You can do it!”
Eris then curtsied before us once again, “E-Eris…is…uh…E…Eris…is…” Her cheeks were both red in embarrassment, and I could tell that she was shaking.
Well, I know it’s bad to think that way, but I think it’s cute.
“Hahaha!” the Duke of Braunhauer suddenly laughed, though he did not mean to mock his daughter with it, “It’s fine Eris, just come to the dinner table! You’ll have plenty more time to practice that later, Chummy!”
Eris quickly dove into the arms of her other mother, Mistress Johanna, to hide her embarrassed face.
“My apologies for my daughter!” Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna told Maddie, “She’s still learning to do proper introductions.”
“It’s fine!” Maddie answered, with an amused smile on her lips. She really enjoyed Eris’ cute way of introducing herself.
Well, at least I got someone who has the same opinion as me. I’m not a lolicon at all!
Anyway, the Duke continued to introduce the rest of the people who were with us inside the dining hall. Well, honestly, I think it’s a kind of time-wasting process, for if you had about 20 individuals to introduce and they all have different ways of welcoming you, the food would be cold before you could even take your first bite.
Really, is this how the nobles of this world do their introductions? I’m hungry…
“Finally, this is the Ban of Kistral.”
“Ah yes, Your Excellency!” Maddie interrupted him, “We already met each other when you sent him to Devyere to meet us.”
“Oh, I did?”
“Yes, you did, Your Excellency!” the Ban of Kistral told him, “You ordered me to meet with Her Holiness.”
“Ah! R-Right…hahahaha!” the Duke had an awkward laugh, “Right, right. Sorry for that, my memories were failing me. Please, I know you’ve all been waiting for this, but let’s partake of the food!”
I looked at Maddie, who seemed to be in a hurry to eat. We’d been traveling before we ate dinner, so it’s only natural that we’re hungry…
The Duke raised his glass for a toast, “For Her Holiness’ success and long life!”
“Cheers!” Every one of us raised a glass to Maddie’s honor. Of course, I had to go along, looking around to make sure that I correctly follow their movements well. I don’t want to make a fool out of myself on a formal occasion such as this.
“Eris, that’s not how you raise a glass properly!” I heard the Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna correct the young duchess once again.
“E-Eris is sorry…”
“It’s fine. Just try to do it properly again next time.”
And then we ate. Of course, it’s the usual Chersean manner of messy, wasteful eating, so I tried my best to appear as dignified as possible while I ate. I didn’t find their customs that appealing to my values.
“That’s not how you hold the fork, young lady,” Mistress Johanna was the one correcting Eris this time, “Why are you doing it that way?”
“Uhm…but Mister Kuro’s table manners looked so graceful!”
“Well, it is. But that’s not how we do things!” she explained with a gentle voice, “Come now, hold it correctly.”
“Y-Yes mother…” the duchess sadly complied.
Oh boy…I didn’t know they really were enforcing such a stupid way of eating. Queen Elizabeth II would surely be embarrassed to witness such manners. Not that I was one to speak about it; I was not much into royal mannerisms, either. But for goodness’ sake, Chersean nobility looked like a bunch of uncivilized people on a drunken revelry when they eat.
They really have stupid customs in this world…
A fork suddenly flew to my plate. Yeah, I kind of expected that, since they ate like barbarians. But this was the first time that cutlery fell right onto me. Surprised, my eyes quickly fell on Maddie’s direction, in which I presumed the fork came from.
“Oh, my apologies, Kuro!” she said.
I was about to let it go, but then I noticed she had a ‘strange’ stare on me. It’s as if she’s sending me a signal that she wanted to talk to me, but couldn’t do it in front of the table.
“Y-Your Excellency…” I raised my hand.
“Yes?” the Duke asked.
“Can I ask for the directions to your toilet?”
The Duke then signaled for a maid on standby to assist me. I quickly stood up and went out.
“M-M-Maddie, I don’t think we…we should do it here…ahn!”
“Uhh…what are you doing, Kuro? You look stupid!”
“Come on, Your Holiness! I’m just joking!”
“Well, I don’t find it funny,” the serious tone of her voice told me that Maddie was not in the mood for jokes.
I immediately turned on my ‘business-mode’ as well.
“Listen, Kuro. I only excused myself for a quick break, so they were expecting me back as soon as possible,” Maddie furiously whispered to me inside the comfort room. Apparently, she teleported to my location—once she got a considerable distance away from the dining room, to avoid being spotted by anyone.
“Well, if you’re in a hurry, then tell me what you found out already.”
“Rrriiggghhtt!” she then took a deep breath before continuing, “I can’t read the Duke’s thoughts.”
“What?” now I was surprised thoroughly, “What do you mean you can’t read his thoughts?”
“There seems to be a dark barrier surrounding the Duke’s mind as I try my best to peer into his mind. The same applies to his wives, and the other nobles present, save for the Marquise of Monfort, and Eris.”
“Then what’s the meaning of that?”
“Well, I need to tell Lily about this as well, but without arousing suspicions. I don’t know, but maybe one of those people who belong to the Duke’s household had been deliberately hiding information from us.”
“Is it really possible for a Saint like you to create a spell to negate your abilities to read minds?”
“Well, it’s only applicable to other saints. For example, I couldn’t read Ruro’s mind, no matter how I try. And she’s the same as well. But for a subject of ours to cast such powerful magic…”
“It means someone powerful is with us!”
“No. It’s much worse…” Maddie clicked her tongue, “To cast this kind of magic, it must be the work of a saint, for that power is only reserved for us.”
“You mean, we’re possibly fighting another saint?”
Maddie nodded, “And it could be connected to the Empire’s provocations. Remember that person you and Lily fought before?”
“The one who calls himself ‘Traveler’?”
“Yes. I know the emperor personally, Jean Durres III—Lily and I fought against him before in the old wars. He’s cautious, and wouldn’t move his armies against the northern kingdoms if he had no support from someone who could equal my powers. And now that the Battle of Hagena Castle happened, the appearance of the imperial legionaries shows that Emperor Jean is confident he could defeat me.”
“I don’t know whether the Duke and his entire household, save for the Marquise and Eris, knew about this. Or it could be the work of an individual, being used by the saint. Or no one knew they were being used at all!”
“Don’t you think we’re surrounded by hidden enemies?”
“Looks like it, Kuro.”
“Well…” I could only laugh dryly, “Seems that we fell for a trap.”
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