It was a luxurious enough room for an inn, but it was quite plain as far as a living room for a king would go.
In such a room, a messenger was lowering his head after the King had raised his hand to silence him before His Majesty lightly flipped the hem of his royal robe and took a seat on his temporary throne.
The King kicked off his slippers revealing his bare feet before taking a sip of his green tea and giving the messenger a relaxed reply.
“I’m healed, this is how relaxing in a hot spring is supposed to be. Relax a bit like your lord.”
The chamberlain adjusted his posture ever so slightly before pulling out a large stack of reports from the royal palace and dropping them in front of his king.
“We’ve received complaints from every department…….when you divide them out, the majority are voicing their worries about the way Prince Elliott handles government affairs, particularly about how he broke off his engagement with the Duke’s daughter Rachel Ferguson that we reported before…….”
“If the contents are similar to what was said before, just summarize it.”
The chamberlain spread out the numerous reports in front of his king.
“Quickly come home. That’s the gist of it.”
Finding his glass empty, the King set his cup aside and examined the documents spread out on the low table before him.
“Hm. There’s a mountain here of requests for me to come back, but my back has been killing me lately…….”
“Hahah……….with that, the castle chamberlain was tasked with handing this to me.”
“It’s addressed from Uncle?”
As you’d expect, an official letter from a heavyweight in the royal family couldn’t just be read by a subordinate, so the King took the envelope, his jaw dropping when he read the contents. The message of the letter could be summarized in the following sentence:
My heart can’t take much more of this, and my body is wasting away. Hurry up and get back here.
Using the envelope that Archduke Vivaldi had used to send his letter, the King took a pen, and scribed out his own letter on the paper in response.
I’ll do my best.
“Have this delivered to Uncle. I’m really worried about the state of the city right now, but regrettably, the condition in my shoulder just hasn’t been cured yet. I’ll contact you again when I’m ready to depart.”
Once the messenger had left, the King vacated his designated audience room as well, heading to a detached lodging house.
“Welcome back Your Majesty.”
Sitting down on a lounge couch, the Queen alongside the Duke and his wife greeted him. They were all wearing bathrobes. And once the King removed his royal vestments, it was revealed that was all he was wearing underneath as well.
The King flopped down onto the sofa next to them with a bored look on his face, receiving a somewhat large beer stein from a serving maid.
“Seriously, it’s nothing but people telling me ‘come back’ ‘come back’. I keep telling them my feet are in pain, and I need the hot spring to cure them……..with my physical condition so poor right now, isn’t riding in a carriage for so long too much to expect from me?”
It was just yesterday that His Highness had worked up a good sweat playing a refreshing game of polo, and he was in at least good enough condition to gulp down his pilsner filled beer stein though.
“Well Your Highness, if that’s the case then maybe we should cut back on the drinking.”
The Queen gave the King a teasing laugh, but the King gave her a calm response after a healthy burp.
“Nonsense. Alcohol is a disinfectant.”
Glancing over to the side, you could see a smorgasbord of strong-tasting commoner dishes lined up that you would never see inside the royal palace. The soy boiled chicken legs were already on their way to the King’s mouth, coupled with some of that delicious golden carbonated beer.
“When you consider that we can’t have fun like this when other people are watching, it really makes you wonder who the king is.”
“Image is just that important in this business. And cutting loose like this is fun because you can only do it once in a while.”
Licking the grease from the chicken off of his fingers, the king fingered through some of the reports sitting on his side table.
“Really…….all of these reports from the government offices and the royal court, yet they’re losing in both frequency and content to those sent by a noble girl currently sitting in prison.”
The King had only given the mountain of reports the chamberlain had expressly brought him from the royal palace a simple glance through, but their contents could be mostly boiled down into two simple points.
First was on how unreliable Elliott was. He was focusing all of his attention on harassing Rachel whom he had already thrown in prison while leaving any governmental affairs to rot.
The second point also had to do with the strife created from Elliott neglecting his governmental duties. All of these weren’t necessarily Elliott’s fault, but they usually did have something to do with his group’s mistakes.
Therefore the only conclusion at the end of the day was for the King to quickly return home to bring about some form of order, and………..was how each and every single one of the reports concluded with a few subtle differences here and there.
“Those guys, saying before to go in peace, and they would show me they could take care of things while I’m gone……….”
The King made a face like he had just swallowed something exceptionally bitter while remembering the faces of those people he had left to take care of things in his absence.
“As expected, the strife this time around is a little more irregular.”
Duke Ferguson let out his own slightly bitter laugh. He knew the Prince and his daughter very well, but he never would have thought the two of them would cause this much of an uproar.
……….with his daughter, it was more like he just didn’t want to think about it though.
“It shouldn’t be too much to ask any politician or bureaucrat to skillfully cope with this. If it’s like this, then our abilities will be called into question by the other nations.”
Saying that much, an evil smile floated across the King’s finely chiseled, intelligent face……..unfortunately him wearing a bathrobe from the inn took away from his impressive, unshakable demeanor.
“At any rate, there might not be a single person who could actually handle this situation adequately, right Father?”
Being called like that, the Duke frowned.
“You’re saying that like you could handle the chaos, but don’t you mean you’d just enjoy it?”
The Duke glanced over at the maid who was busy filling up everyone’s steins again.
“I don’t want visits from some shadowy figure either, but if you’re going to leave me a note, can’t you just put it on my desk? Finding a letter placed at my bedside table when I wake up in the morning is bad for my heart.”
Rachel’s maid attendant, Lisa bowed her head.
“Master, the letter from My Lady I handed you the other day was the first one I’ve ever delivered to you.”
“Officially you mean.”
The worry that these maids were enjoying the current state of affairs too much was a valid one.
The contents of the report that was delivered three days ago next to a man’s pillow as he was sleeping was written in a completely business-like manner, yet there were numerous details inside just waiting to be tsukkomi’d.
The Queen set down her glass and handed over the report from Rachel that she had already read through to her husband.
“It’s still impossible for me to think of anyone besides Rachel as the next queen. Just take a look at this report. The contents are so detailed and the main points beautifully arranged. Meanwhile we get incomplete reports from those spineless fools back at the castle once a week……….”
Speaking of the details in the report, the Duke figured it was probably purposely written with behind the scenes details to trip up the Prince. You can’t expect the courtiers to draw something like this up when they’re just the audience to the show.
“However after looking at this, there’s no way we could continue with a marriage between Rachel and Elliott. Just from this you could tell their married life wouldn’t last a year.”
The Duchess threw in her own two cents on the matter, her head starting to spin from all the alcohol. The report in hand mentioned that Sykes had already been sent off to a remote region.
The Queen poured some more cold wine into the Duchess’s glass with the demeanor of a cold politician.
“We’ll just have to detain Elliott and raise our second son Raymond as the crown prince. Originally I’d try and convince Elliott……….but if he’s guilty of all of this, then it’s already too late for him.”
The King climbed on to the Queen’s words.
“Or more precisely, Rachel would have been thinking this way since the beginning.”
The King drained another stein of alcohol before asking Lisa to fill up his cup once again.
“Firing back at Elliott, doing as much damage to her surroundings as she can, and creating one problem after another to keep Elliott’s hands tied. By now I’m sure everyone in the royal palace has seen enough of Elliott’s talents for a lifetime. Hmph, it’s best to beat down your opponents so completely they will never even dream of revenge I suppose.”
The King and Queen shared a look.
“It was no mistake picking out Rachel to be the next queen. She’s showing great cunning, toying with an opponent who holds more authority than her. She was able to accurately gauge how such a situation was going to develop, not to mention her ability to make preparations for the situation without anybody noticing.”
“Yes, I was astonished that time she pushed Elliott into a pond and started pelting him with stones………but she left a deep impression with me when she explained her side of things so calmly. Maybe it was because she was somebody else’s child? She seemed so competent, thick skinned, and most of all appeared as if she understood everything from the beginning. I knew right away she was suitable to guide subjects and move this country.”
“Moreover she’s able to run an operation of this scale despite being locked in a prison……just as you’d expect.”
“The very fact that the subordinates of said operation stuck by her despite her losing virtually all official standing means she scores highly.”
The more Rachel messed with Elliott, the greater the King and Queen’s trust in her grew. As a result, rather than a conversation about who Elliott’s next fiancee would be, they were discussing which prince would become her husband instead.
Considering that Rachel’s initial goal of running away from her queen’s education was instead netting her even more responsibilities, well, Lisa was left thinking only of how ironic it all was.
Meanwhile the King and Queen asked for another cup from the reflective Lisa and happily clinked their now full mugs together.
“Hooray for prison!”
The Duke started to gather up the randomly strewn together collection of back reports, handing them over to Lisa who had slightly distanced herself from the group.
“However if you’re thinking like that, then you’ll have to solve this problem soon. You can’t leave the administration’s leadership empty forever………”
“Ah, I suppose……..oh dear, our fun two month hot spring treatment is about to come to an end………”
The King let out a weary sigh while leaning back in his seat. The Queen also shared a somber look with the Duke and Duchess.
“Our wonderful days of nothing but eating, bathing, and napping……..”
“All that delicious street food you can’t find in the royal palace with none of those annoying dinner manners required……….”
“Being able to act how we want without worrying about ‘high society’…………..”
“No subordinates rushing us forward, or political enemies wasting our time with pointless sarcasm…………”
All four of these nobles let out one, long sigh on top of their comfy sofa.
“Ah~ I don’t want to go home…………”
Inside the darkness of a dungeon, a maid wrapped in pitch black clothes emerged from the shadows.
“Hm? Today isn’t a report day is it? What’s wrong?”
Rachel turned her attention away from playing with Haley towards the bowing maid and listened in to her report.
“We received an urgent message from Lisa at the Fracker Hot Springs. His Majesty and His Lordship are finally coming back.”
Rachel rose from her seat and put her finger to her chin.
“I suppose that’s it for the surface of the report? What about underneath?”
“We’ll be able to get more details when Lisa returns this week……….but it seems that Their Majesties wish to cut Elliott off, making Raymond the new heir to the throne, or so the hidden message goes.”
Rachel tilted her head to the side slightly.
“His Highness, I wonder what he could have possibly done to warrant that”
It didn’t seem like she was actually looking for an answer, so the maid decided to just let her master’s shameless inquiry slide.
Rachel remained quietly in thought for a moment before absentmindedly muttering a question aloud.
“By the way, about Raymond……….what kind of person was he again?”
“…………even though you’ve controlled everything until now, somehow the most important part failed to hold your interest.”
“I remember he was three years younger than His Highness Elliott.”
“…………I’ll have a report written up for you by tomorrow.”
“Oh, in other words he has a disposition you don’t want to talk about aloud?”
“Even if you say it……….”
Rachel rolled back onto her bed, staring up at the ceiling of her cell.
“Ah~………my vacation is coming to a close after only three measly months.”
“My Lady………generally speaking when somebody in this world is gone for three months, they’d usually worry about still having a job when they come back.”
“I suppose so.”
Rachel gave a complacent laugh while beginning to roll around on top of her mattress.
“My Lady. Considering future utility values, then I believe My Lady’s current way of thinking is unsuitable for a daughter of a duke to have.”
Having heard the words of her maid who had so cleanly and calmly hit the nail on the head, Rachel stopped and looked back over to her heartbroken.
“………please, can’t you just let me enjoy my fantasies while I’m in this room?”
“Because it’ll be difficult for you if you’re suddenly told to work without having realized it yet.”
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