Chapter 12:

CHAPTER 9: AT THE BRAUNHAUER HOUSEHOLD

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 4


After dinner, there was a bit of time before we head to the talks with the Duke of Braunhauer. While waiting, and aware of the ‘hidden’ enemy inside the Braunhauer guesthouse, I took my free time to rest outside, in the courtyard. The mood within the manor was heavy—at least between Maddie, Lily, and me. I knew it’s a futile attempt to escape here; but it’s a welcome breather to the otherwise suffocating atmosphere inside.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Well, to be honest, Amaranth was a beautiful place. Unlike the dull grayness of my world’s urban setting, and the sinful opulence of the Holy Palatial Gardens, this kingdom was of a green, simple and homely environment. The rolling grasslands that surround the Duke’s place were, as far as my eyes could see, interrupted only once by the town of Coventry nearby.Bookmark here

To be honest, I’d like to settle here than in the city of Kamran, which is my original plan…Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

I heard a voice somewhere near me. Turning around, I saw the familiar tiny figure of Eris walking towards me with a book in her hand. Behind her was the Ban of Kistral, following her as if he’s her chamberlain.Bookmark here

Ah, hello there, Eris—I mean, Lady Eris—”Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro, Eris wanted to be called just by her name!” pouting, she corrected me. I could still remember that she asked me to refer to her just like how I do it back at the Holy Palatial Gardens. But I knew my limitations; this was her turf, and because of that, I had to mind my manners.Bookmark here

Haha! My apologies, Lady Eris, but I’m afraid I can’t do that.” I answered, “Your father might get angry if a commoner like me doesn’t give you the respect you deserve.”Bookmark here

“Indeed, Your Excellency.” the Ban told her, “You shouldn’t tolerate such a brazen display of ‘commoner courtesy’. Please be aware of your social status.”Bookmark here

“Daddy? Nope! He’s okay with it!” Eris replied, dismissing our objections, “Eris doesn’t know about her mommies though…”Bookmark here

“I’m sure the ladies wouldn’t assent to this disrespect.” the Ban reminded her.Bookmark here

“Sir Stefan, Eris had told you earlier that she wanted to be alone.” the young duchess finally confronted the arrogant guy, “Could the Ban leave her be? She wanted to have a private talk with Mister Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Your Excellency, your father had strictly asked me to watch over you.” he glared at me once again, “Not everyone who says they’re your friends is your real friends, Lady Eris.”Bookmark here

What? You suspect me of doing something bad to this kid? You wanted a fight, douchebag? Well, I won’t give it to you…just yet.Bookmark here

“Eris feels safer with Mister Kuro, thank you.” Eris brilliantly countered him.Bookmark here

Heh! Take that, you mustache-wearing bastard!Bookmark here

I could tell that the Ban was taken aback by Eris’ rebuke of him. However, not wishing to embarrass himself further, Sir Stefan swallowed his pride and took a bow before the young duchess, and headed back to the Braunhauer guesthouse.Bookmark here

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Now that the douchebag left us, Eris’ disposition considerably lightened.Bookmark here

“Eris doesn’t like him,” she confessed to me.Bookmark here

Hoh? Well, what a coincidence! So do I!” I told her, “That guy’s been angry towards me ever since we came here. He’s been glaring at me back when we arrived at Devyere.”Bookmark here

“Sir Stefan is from an old noble house.” Eris explained, “Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like commoners that much, Mister Kuro?”Bookmark here

“Maybe…I don’t give a damn about him.”Bookmark here

Eris laughed.Bookmark here

“Well, Lady Eris—”Bookmark here

“Muu!” the young duchess pouted, “Eris told you to call her by her name!”Bookmark here

Err…but your mothers might don’t like it!”Bookmark here

“B-But…Eris is e-embarrassed…Mister Kuro is her friend.”Bookmark here

Well, she had a point, “Alright, if it’s okay with you, then why don’t I call you like a friend whenever we’re alone?”Bookmark here

The young duchess smiled and nodded.Bookmark here

“Well, great! So, what brings you here, Eris?”Bookmark here

Oh…Eris saw Mister Kuro went out for a walk, so she thought he would like someone to accompany him?” she suddenly sighed, “But then, Sir Stefan came along with Eris, and he made Mister Kuro feel bad.”Bookmark here

“I don’t see any problems with it if it’s fine with you!” Honestly, I didn’t know what’s the deal with that guy, but I got other matters to attend to. He’s irrelevant.Bookmark here

“Eris is fine—no, happy, to accompany Mister Kuro!”Bookmark here

“But what about that book?” I pointed out, “You can’t possibly read while walking!”Bookmark here

Eris laughed, “No, Mister Kuro, that’d be silly! Eris brought this along because she was reading earlier, before she saw Mister Kuro go out. The library is far, so she has to bring it with her.”Bookmark here

Oh…alright…”Bookmark here

Hm? Mister Kuro, are you interested? It was a book Daddy gave to Eris as a gift before.” she showed the title of the book she was reading. It’s all about the history of the Amaranthine kingdom.Bookmark here

I was like a light that was flipped on. I love history, and for her to offer such a thing to me was just irresistible, “Uh…E-Eris…if it’s uhm…okay, can I borrow it?”Bookmark here

“No problem, Mister Kuro; just let Eris finish it first!” she laughed, “Eris loves it when she sees the sparkles in Mister Kuro’s eyes whenever he reads a book!”Bookmark here

Haha! Well, I really love them. When I was your age, I would rarely go out of my house to play with other children; I would just immerse myself in fantasies while reading books.”Bookmark here

Hoh? Looks like Mister Kuro has read a lot of books!”Bookmark here

“Well, not really…” I admitted, “I only read 7,901 books so far, out of 129,864,880 titles.”Bookmark here

“Seven thousand—whoa!Bookmark here

“And that’s not all, there were still uncounted books that don’t reflect in that 130 million number. It’s a conservative estimate, really.”Bookmark here

Wow…it’s a lot of reads!”Bookmark here

“It sure is!” I told her. “There were millions of books I like that were published already.”Bookmark here

“What books that Mister Kuro wanted?”Bookmark here

“I love history, philosophy, politics, and general knowledge. And some romance and comedy novels. Basically, it just revolves around those.” I returned the question to Eris, “So how about your preferences other than history?”Bookmark here

“Eris loves to read philosophical books as well, Mister Kuro!” she answered, “So that Eris would be a big help to Daddy in the future.”Bookmark here

“I see…that’s a wonderful goal, huh?Bookmark here

Haha…yes, Mister Kuro. Eris could only hope that she’s helpful; most of the time, she’s always being scolded by her mommies because of her mistakes.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

There was a strange silence between us when Eris said that. I also noticed that; unlike back in the Holy Palatial Gardens, she was frequently being corrected here. Is Eris that unreliable and clumsy before? If I recall, there was never a time that she could not finish a chore, even if she was being overworked by her bullies.Bookmark here

What happened here?Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro?”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“Is Eris stupid?”Bookmark here

Eh? Where did those words come from?”Bookmark here

“Well, Eris tries her best to be as perfect as big sis. But she always ends up making her mommies angry at her. Only dad would praise Eris, but it’s very rare.”Bookmark here

I could only stare at the young duchess, “I think you’re wrong, kid.”Bookmark here

Huh? So, it’s true? Eris is stupid!”Bookmark here

“Wait, no! I did not say you’re stupid.” I was frantically explaining to her, “I mean, you’re wrong in assuming that you’re stupid. You see, I believe you’re smart; you gave us useful information about the situation here, better than Princess Jessica. Do you remember that?”Bookmark here

The young duchess nodded.Bookmark here

“Well, maybe there’s something that you did your mothers didn’t like? For example, at the dining table earlier. You didn’t follow how your family ate their dinner.”Bookmark here

“But Eris believes that Mister Kuro’s manners are much graceful and dignified! That’s why Eris is imitating you!”Bookmark here

Haha…I couldn’t say anything back to that. I’m also of the same opinion as you, Eris. If the nobility here would only watch the table manners back in my world, I guess they’d be put to shame.Bookmark here

“And Eris is just repeating big sis’ actions because they don’t scold her as often as they do to Eris!”Bookmark here

Makes sense. If that’s indeed Eris’ reasons to do those things, then it could be said that she’s just looking for the approval of the people she looked up to…which would be the Marquise and me.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

I fully understood Eris’ problems, so I couldn’t help myself but give her a head pat. I mean, the kid’s doing her best to be a dutiful child, and yet, her efforts were being ignored.Bookmark here

“You know, you’re not stupid, even if others say you are. Don’t believe in those words.” I told her, “Listen, I believe everyone has a strength and a weakness as a person. For example, I can always explain the histories of things and places around me just by reading a book, while in combat, I’m basically useless.”Bookmark here

“But big sis told me before that you fought in the Battle of Cullen!”Bookmark here

“Well, I did, but it was after your sister, the Marquise of Monfort, taught me how to. If she didn’t, I’d be long dead by now. Haha…” Recalling those angry men who rushed forward to kill me brought me the shivers once again.Bookmark here

“Your sister was a great warrior, yet she’s dismissive towards books.”Bookmark here

Eris laughed, “Oh yes! Eris would always get angry with her every time she uses books as her pillow.”Bookmark here

Heh, try smacking her head too.” I knew it’s bad to teach children to do bad things, but hey, I didn’t enjoy destroying books either, so this would be our revenge, “Anyway, my point is, all of us had something where we were strong and weak, so I guess we shouldn’t always try to run after someone else’s shadow.”Bookmark here

“So Mister Kuro thinks we should create our own path?”Bookmark here

“Exactly. We’re all different. Copy some prominent people to a certain degree, but carve your own story. It’s much more fun than imitating someone. If you did the latter, you’ll only be number 2 beneath that person, see?”Bookmark here

Eris smiled and nodded. I could tell that she was pondering on my words.Bookmark here

“Give it your best, Eris. This world is enormous and sometimes intimidating. However, don’t let it swallow your identity. Create your own legend. I’m sure it’s worth it in the end.”Bookmark here

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Our talk had gone from that topic about individuality to several other matters concerning politics, philosophies, and similar issues. I really enjoyed the time conversing with the young duchess, and she could keep up with my pace, much to my pleasant surprise.Bookmark here

I could tell that Eris was well-read and informed on things going around her. If she’s a student back on Earth, I’m sure she’d be one of those called ‘prodigies’.Bookmark here

“Your Excellency Lady Eris, Sir Kuro…”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

A maid suddenly came in and interrupted our talk, “My apologies for butting in, but Her Holiness is calling for you, Sir Kuro. She wants you to come to the main living room as soon as possible.”Bookmark here

Oh, right! So, it has begun, huh?” I turned to Eris, “Anyway Eris, I guess we should cut our talk here for now.”Bookmark here

“Can Eris have a chat with Mister Kuro again sometime later?”Bookmark here

“Well, sure! If you have the time.” I winked at her.Bookmark here

“Right this way, sir!” the maid then led me, as Eris followed us.Bookmark here

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The Duke of Braunhauer entertained us together with his wives in the main room of the guesthouse. Eris and her stepsister, the Marquise of Monfort, joined us, with the paladin captain taking a position on our side and the daughter standing in-between our two groups.Bookmark here

Aside from the key parties, the douchebag Ban of Kistral stood nearby, ready for any request his lord might ask from him.Bookmark here

“My apologies for suddenly coming over, Your Excellency.” Maddie began, all prim and proper.Bookmark here

“It’s all fine, Your Holiness.” the Duke reassured her, “We expected you to come; it’s just that we don’t know when. Good thing the Marquise of Monfort sent a message telling us about your arrival.”Bookmark here

Ah yes, the Marquise is a reliable servant of mine indeed.”Bookmark here

The Duke stared at the Marquise of Monfort like how a proud father looked at his daughter. I think the Marquise was happy about the praises; however, because of the situation, she opted not to show it.Bookmark here

“Well then, let me start with the introductions of my companions.” Maddie pointed towards Lily, “As you may have known already, she is my servant, Princess Lilyhaven Tamriel von Leese of Nerfes.”Bookmark here

The Head Maid graciously curtsied before the esteemed noble.Bookmark here

Oh! If I remember correctly, aren’t you that brave young Nerfes princess who fought against us in the Dawson Valley campaign back in the last war?”Bookmark here

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Your Excellency.” was Lily’s reply to him.Bookmark here

“And this man beside me is Sir Kuro, a commoner from a faraway country and a friend of mine.”Bookmark here

“Hoh?” the Duke’s interest suddenly became apparent when Maddie mentioned that I’m a commoner, “Are you that Kuro that my daughter Eris has always been telling me?”Bookmark here

“I-I am, Your Excellency!”Bookmark here

“He’s also the one who led the Paladin Corps to victory at the Battle of Cullen; though we’re outnumbered, we never had casualties because of his leadership.” the Marquise of Monfort added.Bookmark here

Aren’t you adding too much credit for me, Marquise? What’s your deal, lady?Bookmark here

“Oh…” everyone’s eyes fell on me. It’s as if they’re peering past my skin and into my very soul.Bookmark here

“Nice!” the noble smiled, but then, his face’s expression immediately changed to a serious, menacing one. He also intentionally used a gruff voice to amplify his threatening aura, “Just so you know, I’m Eris’ and Luisa’s father.”Bookmark here

Err…hello?”Bookmark here

“You may have fooled Luisa and Eris into thinking that they like you, but I’m their first love! I’m their dad after all!”Bookmark here

You’re getting creepy, sir.Bookmark here

“I know all of their three sizes, and I always watch them from afar. And finally, I won’t easily hand over my daughters to you.”Bookmark here

The Ban of Kistral had a nasty smile on his face, as if telling me I get what I deserved.Bookmark here

Am I dealing with children?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“You won’t get my approval to marry them in a flash, Sir Kuro! Let me be clear about that!”Bookmark here

What? This again? Well, I’m not asking for Eris or the Marquise of Monfort, and you shouldn’t do that; I’m a commoner and you’re a noble. Think of our difference in social status!Bookmark here

I think I heard Maddie chuckled. She’s reading my mind once again…Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

We’re all surprised when Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna Marie Hana brought out a paper fan and hit her husband on the head.Bookmark here

“Get serious, my dear.” the lady reminded him with an ominous expression on her face, “Stop embarrassing our house to our esteemed guests. And Sir Kuro isn’t here to get your approval for the hands of our daughters, so please stop with your baseless presumptions.”Bookmark here

“A-Ah…I-I’m sorry, love.”Bookmark here

I can’t help but wonder, is this guy even right in the head?Bookmark here

The Marquise of Monfort was trying her best to keep herself from bursting from laughing. And Eris’ face was unusually red, probably because of embarrassment. Meanwhile, I could feel the sharp stares being thrown at me by the Duke’s supporters, led by the childish Ban of Kistral.Bookmark here

“Anyway, Your Excellency, shall we start with the talks?” with the introductions done, Maddie proceeded with the purpose of her visit.Bookmark here

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We prepared ourselves for the long talk just as the Duke also readied his documents, aided by his wives. Eris was also helping, too. But she was serving tea and cookies, along with the maids in her house.Bookmark here

“First off, Your Excellency, I’d like to call your attention to what happened in Cullen.” Her Holiness began, “I believe it is inexcusable that such armed groups would go on rampaging and destroying the lands under the jurisdiction and protection of the lords who had the responsibility of governing them.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean, Your Holiness?” the Duke had a serious look on his face; he couldn’t take this issue lightly.Bookmark here

“We captured a few of those mercenaries alive, Your Excellency, and of course, my paladins asked questions.” Maddie motioned for the Marquise of Monfort to hand over a piece of paper to her father, “Those are the results from our interrogation. According to these people, they were hired by the lord of the fief herself, the Viscountess of Lascerny, to ravage the land that was suspected of harboring royalist sympathies.”Bookmark here

The Duke remained silent as he read the contents of the letter. And then his eyebrows drew a frown.Bookmark here

“The Viscountess of Lascerny is under your authority, right? With all these simmering tensions waiting to explode, do we really have to act with violence to the common folk who had nothing to do with such matters?”Bookmark here

“You Holiness…” the Duke folded the paper and placed it neatly on the table nearby, “I really would like to offer my apologies for what happened at Cullen. When your paladins arrived here to bring in the siege’s news, I ordered the Ban of Kistral to rush there with his cavalry. And once the battle was over, I also sent in some precious supplies from my fief. These are out of my own pockets.”Bookmark here

“Noted, Your Excellency. And on behalf of the people, I thank you for your efforts.” Maddie told him, “However, can’t you do something about your supporters? Your opponent here is the royal family, and not the people.”Bookmark here

“I wish I could that, Your Holiness…but alas, I am only but a figurehead of the opposition to the crown prince. The nobility rallied behind me, but unless we’re under great pressure to unite, we are each to his own.”Bookmark here

“I understand. However, I’d like to reiterate my stand on this matter. The Holy Office would only side with the people. And we would tolerate no harm being done to them, as you and the other nobility from Chersea signed the terms in the peace agreement.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness.”Bookmark here

“That’s why, for what happened at Cullen, I demand justice for the people. I’d like to see that the Viscountess of Lascerny be punished for what she did in allowing the murder of her own subjects.”Bookmark here

“B-But Your Holiness, the Viscountess—”Bookmark here

“I won’t hear any excuses from you, Your Excellency. I hope I made my point clear.” Maddie had a steel resolve to back her demands, “This problem was of you and of the crown prince’s making. And as the Saint, I insist on the quick resolution of this matter.”Bookmark here

The entire room had an extremely awkward air hanging around, all the while Maddie stood her ground. The Duke could say nothing back to her, other than…Bookmark here

“Y-Yes Your Holiness. I deeply apologized for this fiasco.”Bookmark here

“Apology accepted. But please move with haste; the people are suffering.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness.” Seeing that further resistance was futile, the Duke humbled himself before Maddie, and so we proceeded to the next topic.Bookmark here

“If you have nothing else to object with, Your Excellency, then let’s talk about the next issue at hand.”Bookmark here

I guess the Duke was in a hurry to move on to other matters as well, for the Battle of Cullen was an embarrassing note to their cause. If such news appeared on Earth’s modern media, I doubt if the support for their movement would even last a day…Bookmark here

Honestly, I was amazed by how Maddie handled someone of the Duke’s age. I mean, back on Earth, teenage girls like her would be usually concerned about making themselves famous or dreaming of the ideal man that existed only in fantasies or fight some fan-wars over Korean boy groups. While I don’t think that’s wrong, Maddie’s case was a good exception; she’d been trouncing adults who didn’t agree with her vision for Chersea.Bookmark here

She’s much wiser than these fellows, who should’ve been setting an example to her.Bookmark here

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So, continuing on Your Excellency, for us to reach a satisfying conclusion to this negotiation, I’d like to know your side’s complaints. What made you take up arms against the royal authority?” sensing that she already won the first issue, Maddie had considerably mellowed the tone of her voice.Bookmark here

“Your Holiness, I assume that during your stay at the royal capital, you have already conducted your own observation about the crown prince, David.” the Duke answered, “And I’m sure, you’re already aware of his demanding nature?”Bookmark here

“I am aware.”Bookmark here

“Yes, and because of that, the nobility is rebelling against his authority. They don’t want someone like him to rule over them, now that His Majesty the King is old and weak.”Bookmark here

“Is that all of it?”Bookmark here

“Well, it’s a summary of our complaints. We nobles have varying concerns and problems with the prince; however, if you ask all of us, we can agree on some points.”Bookmark here

“Like?”Bookmark here

“Matters concerning governance, Your Holiness. You see, the crown prince is a shrewd man, just like his grandfather before him. However, his rule is heavy-handed, and would impose his will on us with utter disregard to the situation and consequences.”Bookmark here

“Are we talking about the unpaid debts here?”Bookmark here

“It’s one aspect, yes. I won’t deny that my colleagues have large, unpaid debts to the crown, and it is the royal prerogative to enforce the payment of these so that the state coffers won’t be empty. However, how could we pay those debts if we’re imprisoned in the first place?”Bookmark here

“Imprisoned, huh?Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness. I don’t think it’s illegal to throw into prison anyone who deliberately cannot pay his debts. But what about those who are working hard to pay back what they owe? Does the prince have the right to imprison our colleagues without the benefit of a fair trial?”Bookmark here

Hm…it is indeed unjust.” Maddie admitted, “How could one repay when he’s in prison, even though he’s honestly working to pay back what he owes? I don’t think that’s reasonable.”Bookmark here

“Precisely, Your Holiness.” the Duke continued, “However, that’s not all. We also demand that the royal authority cease the practice of forcibly remarrying the widows—men and women—to another person, and let them keep their deceased partner’s inheritance, instead of ending up being claimed by the royal officials.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t know that such a practice is still prevalent here.”Bookmark here

“It is Your Holiness. While it is our old tradition as humans, we feel like it’s unfair to the family of the Master of the House, who, throughout his/her life worked for the betterment of his/her household, only to have it end up in the state treasury on his/her death.”Bookmark here

“I agree, Your Excellency. I tried to forbid it; but, it’s rooted in our system.”Bookmark here

“Thank you for your efforts, Your Holiness.” the Duke commented. He then asked Mistress Johanna to hand him a piece of paper, then gave it to Maddie, “And finally…”Bookmark here

“This list is about?”Bookmark here

“Those are the names of the royal officials. While I acknowledge the ability of the crown prince, I could not say the same to his ministers. Most are just favorites out to grab influence over the young heir. Some don’t even know the laws of the kingdom, and would abuse their power from time to time, such as forcing the peasantry to give them ‘entertainment’.”Bookmark here

Maddie was taken aback by the last sentence. Perhaps she saw something ‘lewd’ in the Duke’s mind, regarding that ‘entertainment’ thing.Bookmark here

Is this what Eris is telling us about the ‘right of the first night’?Bookmark here

The more I listened to the Duke’s words, the more I couldn’t help but compare the situation here to the events that led to the creation of Earth’s ‘Great Charter of Freedoms’—better known as the ‘Magna Carta Libertatum’ of 1215. That piece of ancient legal document was also born from the abuses of royal authority, led by King John of England, and contained clauses that guaranteed the rights of English freemen, who were the barons of the time.Bookmark here

I don’t know if it’s possible, but anyway, I’d like to tell Maddie about the Magna Carta. While the Chersean society was deeply traditional, I believe they should codify their laws—not only would they benefit from a standard reference for future use, it would also filter what should be law, and what was tradition.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“There goes Kuro in his silent mode once again.” I heard Lily say.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry. I’m reading his thoughts all the time.” Maddie told her.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro?” it was Eris, “Do you have a solution in mind?”Bookmark here

“Is this what you’re telling us about, Luisa?” the Duke excitedly asked his older daughter, “Once he had gone quiet, it means that Sir Kuro is about to solve the problem?”Bookmark here

“He is!” Eris excitedly interjected.Bookmark here

“I only said that he has a solution in mind once that happens, Dad!” the Marquise shot back at her old man.Bookmark here

Whoa! It looks like they are really expecting something from me. Well, anyway, I should get to work, huh?Bookmark here

“Okay, guys! Here comes Kuro, and his ideas!” Maddie promoted me like I’m some oddity.Bookmark here

“Yeeeeey!” Everyone clapped and cheered—including the Duke, his wives, and some of his supporters (I’m presuming they’re just going along).Bookmark here

Seriously people, are you even taking my words into consideration?Bookmark here

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Ahem. Anyway, Your Excellency, I have several recommendations about the situation.” I explained, “You see, the nature of the problem stems from the abuse of royal authority, which is represented by the crown prince himself. And because of that, I think it would be beneficial for your cause, as well as for the kingdom, to limit the power of the monarch, as well as his officials.”Bookmark here

“How do we do that?” the Duke doubtfully asked, “The von Alberts have been ruling this land simply because they have the power to do so.”Bookmark here

“Dad?” Eris suddenly interjected into our conversation, “Don’t you think that the king’s power was because the people supported them? Eris read those in the books…”Bookmark here

“Eris. Don’t just barge in adults’ talk.” Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna sternly rebuked her.Bookmark here

“E-Eris is sorry, mom…”Bookmark here

What the young duchess said had substance to it, “Well, I agree with what Eris—I mean, Lady Eris said. If you put it into practical terms, their power is from the support of the military and the guilds, both of which are in personal allegiance to them. And with those, the powerless common folk had no alternative but to give their support to the monarch as well.”Bookmark here

“See?” Eris had a triumphant look on her face, “Eris is right!”Bookmark here

Shh! Eris, please be quiet!” Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna tried to hush her up once again.Bookmark here

The Duke chuckled, but eventually never paid attention to what happened, “Hmm…I get your point, Sir Kuro. But how do we limit their power?”Bookmark here

“First, codify your laws. Write them down, complete with specific terms and punishment system.” I asked for a pen and paper, then wrote my concept, “For example, what is considered a ‘debt’? What are the options for your people to pay the ‘debt’? In case they cannot pay it, what happens to them? What punishments can be applied, according to the severity of their violation? For how long will it last? Questions like that, Your Excellency.”Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro!” Eris’ eyes were sparkling, “If the king did that, then he will have a factual basis for our laws, right?”Bookmark here

“Yep, it’s like it would be set in stone: no one could easily break or bend it.” I also added, “Codifying your laws would also help you identify which applies to the actual situation, and what should be kept in the ‘tradition’ department.”Bookmark here

“Hoh…”Bookmark here

“M-Mister Kuro!” Eris once again raised her hand.Bookmark here

“Eris. One more time and we would have to send you out of the room.” Mistress Johanna finally gave her a warning, “You’re interrupting the talk of the adults.”Bookmark here

“S-Sorry…mother.”Bookmark here

“It’s okay, Madame.” I told Mistress Johanna, “Lady Eris could learn a lot from this.”Bookmark here

“She’s still of tender age.” Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna replied, “I doubt she’ll have any useful ideas in this matter.”Bookmark here

Well, it’s quite true. But hey, sometimes, a kid can offer insights that can lead to resolving the problem…Bookmark here

I stole a glance at the young duchess from the corner of my eyes. She remained silent and meek, but I could tell from her face that she had a lot of things to say. Really, what’s the harm of listening to a child sometimes?Bookmark here

I continued, “Another benefit of codifying laws is that every time a violation happens, you could always consider it for reference. For short, your kingdom will have a legal ‘basis’ for judgment, potentially curtailing the abuse of those in power.”Bookmark here

Oooh! Mister Kuro, so if it is not in the code of laws, then it is illegal judgment?”Bookmark here

“Precisely, Lady Eris.” I’m surprised that the young duchess could perceive that concept, “And such pronouncements should be disregarded.”Bookmark here

Because of me praising her, Eris had a proud look on her face. Well, I got to give it to her. She’s pretty smart.Bookmark here

“Are you taking this down, Joanna?” the Duke asked his wife.Bookmark here

“I do! It’s really interesting.”Bookmark here

Maddie and Lily’s smile on their faces was extraordinary, as I continued with my recommendations.Bookmark here

“Second, once you codify your laws, form a parliament as a counterpart to the royal authority. A parliament is basically a group of prominent people of the land, focused on creating laws aimed at improving the government system of the country. Its secondary purpose is also to scrutinize the king’s government thru investigations and inquiries so that they could take preventive measures from his abuse.”Bookmark here

“Is parliament like the Council of Nobles, Mister Kuro?” Eris could not keep herself from speaking, “Because their functions are the same!”Bookmark here

“Eris!” Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna finally raised her voice, “You’ve taken this too far! Please return to your room at once!”Bookmark here

“B-But Mom—”Bookmark here

“No ‘buts’ young lady! A child should act like a child and leave serious matters to the adults. Off to your room you go!” the lady then turned to the Marquise, “Luisa, could you please…”Bookmark here

“Okay mother.” the Marquise had an indifferent expression on her face; contrary to her personality when she’s with Eris back at the Holy Palatial Gardens, “Let’s go squirt!”Bookmark here

“But sis, I’d like to listen to Mister Kuro…”Bookmark here

She took Eris’ hand, and…Bookmark here

“What the fu—” I almost blurted out that expletive when I saw the Marquise suddenly grabbed the young duchess and swung her over her shoulders like a sack of rice, and left the room.Bookmark here

What the heck happened?Bookmark here

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We went back to our conversation once that episode was over. I asked about the ‘Council’ Eris referred to earlier.Bookmark here

“It’s our kingdom’s advisory body to the king. Sometimes, they would also recommend decrees to His Majesty.” the Duke explained.Bookmark here

“Well, is this ‘council’ sanctioned by law?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Nope. But it’s established by tradition.”Bookmark here

“Then the king can dismiss it anytime?”Bookmark here

“Yes. It’s one of our problems here for a long time now.”Bookmark here

“Then you should make that council into a parliament, with legal foundations written on your code of laws. For example, who could sit in the parliament? What are their functions and responsibilities? How long could they sit in the parliament? And, also add, in case of absolute necessity like an emergency, what would happen to the parliament?” I took a sip of the tea that was served, “So that, the king would have a tough time in dissolving it.”Bookmark here

“I see…”,Bookmark here

“And third, which is equally important, take away the interpretation of the law from the king as well.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it that your king has the right to pronounce judgment? I’d say you give that power to someone else. Appoint several persons who know the laws well, and under them, give the authority to appoint judges as well. Basically, this council of judges would be the supreme authority in reading the laws throughout the land, and in whatever way, they interpret it would be the basis for future judgments. Not only this would save time for passing a judgment on a certain case, but it would also break down the authority of the king as the supreme ruler.”Bookmark here

Hoh…sounds plausible.” the Duke commented, “But how do you take away the authority of the king over the military? You haven’t answered that question of mine earlier.”Bookmark here

Oh, that? Well, let’s get back to the codification of the laws. Have a clause in your codes that specifically requires the military to swear loyalty not only to the monarch but also to uphold the laws created to govern the land. However, make sure that you guys put the laws in the first line of precedence over the king, so that, if he directly violates what was written, the military would know where they should stand without legal repercussions.”Bookmark here

Ugh…all that talk about laws sure is headache-inducing,” Maddie commented.Bookmark here

“I’m really admiring Kuro for keeping up with all of those things in one sitting…” Lily added.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Seriously, guys?Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro, I have one last concern though.” the Duke continued, “If the power to create laws and interpret it was taken off the king’s hand, then isn’t the royal authority will be rendered useless?”Bookmark here

“No, it’s not, Your Excellency.” I defended my position, “The responsibility that the king could do is to make sure that the laws of the land are followed. It’ll be like this, the parliament is the law-giver, the supreme judges will be the law-interpreter, and the king would be the law-enforcer. That way, the power of governance is not centered on one person alone.”Bookmark here

Wow…those ideas sure are sound and promising.” the Duke commented, “Now I could see the reason my daughters are always telling me about you!”Bookmark here

“My apologies, Your Excellency, but those ideas aren’t from me. It’s how my country is run. We believe all men are created equal, and could advance due to merit, not by his birth.”Bookmark here

“What a blessed country that is, then!”Bookmark here

Hah! You wish! It’s not an open secret that my land was full of self-serving people in authority, and they always get away with it. However, this was another world, and I didn’t want to get too political with things, or this would become a political thriller rather than a fantasy.Bookmark here

“See Johanna? It matters not if a country is ruled by a noble or a commoner; it’s the personal character of the leader that would make a difference!” the Duke of Braunhauer boasted to his first wife as if he pioneered that idea in this world.Bookmark here

In contrast to him, was the Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna who asked another question, “Sir Kuro, is it? I’m quite concerned about the royal officials. Most of them were capable, yet they often serve themselves, rather than do their duties. How do we curb them?”Bookmark here

“For that, Lady Ulrika Marie Hanna—”Bookmark here

“Please, just Lady Hanna is fine, Sir Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Alright then, Lady Hanna. For the situation you raised, the parliament and the council of supreme judges would come into play.” I elaborated as everyone listened intently once again, “First, the parliament could look into their performances as royal officials, and to recommend to the king whether to keep them or demand their dismissal. As for the council of supreme judges, one could appeal to them to pass judgment whether the actions of these officials are in line with the laws of the land or not. And then the royal authority could do the correct course of action.”Bookmark here

Haa…so what do you think, Your Excellency?” Maddie asked the Duke, “I know it’s a lot of work, but Sir Kuro’s plans are sound and practical, right?”Bookmark here

“Indeed.” the Duke was convinced by my suggestions. However, it’s clear that he had his reservations, “But I need to talk to my colleagues about these; I’m sure they’d be interested to hear these recommendations.”Bookmark here

“Yes, please do. Time is of the essence.” Maddie pleaded.Bookmark here

“I agree, Your Holiness.” the Duke turned to his assistant, the Ban of Kistral, “Sir Stefan, may I ask you to send for the nobles for an assembly later, after one long sleep?”Bookmark here

“Yes Sir, I understand.” Sir Stefan bowed, “I’ll have a courier dispatched right away.”Bookmark here

“Be swift.” the Duke gave him his blessing as he left the room.Bookmark here

“Alright.” Aware that we’re already done with the first round of talks, Maddie happily clapped her hands, “And with that, I guess we have to take our leave for now.”Bookmark here

“Oh?” Mistress Johanna was surprised upon hearing that, “Won’t you stay at least one long sleep with us, Your Holiness?”Bookmark here

“Really?” the Duke and Lady Hanna were equally shocked.Bookmark here

“Oh, no! No!” I quickly entered the conversation, deliberately cutting off Maddie, who was about to answer them, “What Her Holiness meant was we’re taking our leave for the beds. I apologize Your Excellencies, but we’re exhausted from the long journey.”Bookmark here

Maddie, don’t give them an idea that we’re aware of someone among them sabotaging our negotiations, no matter how much you wanted to get out of here as soon as possible.Bookmark here

“Ah, y-yes!” she was quick to back me up. Fortunately, Maddie’s reading my thoughts.Bookmark here

Besides, it’s not like the Braunhauers would stay here. This is their guesthouse, after all.Bookmark here

Lily was all calm, preferring to sip silently at the tea that was served. I’m sure she’s also concerned about us staying here; earlier she was urging us to move away as soon as possible, after all.Bookmark here

“Ah, right! While we appreciate your tireless efforts, you really need to take your rest, Your Holiness!” Mistress Joanna then stood up and motioned us to follow her, “We prepared several rooms to accommodate you and your servants. Please, come this way.”Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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