Yuusha no furi
83: Audience at evening and a feeble wish
Late at evening.
I left the inn after dinner and headed to the castle.
The pedestrian traffic on the streets had decreased. A drunk man walks while singing a song.

I went to the southern side of the castle, invoked flying magic and landed on the balcony on the top floor.
It was the king's private room.

Only the lamp at the bedside was dimly lit when I entered the bedroom.
The king was drinking in the bed. He's wearing a nightcap.
"Good evening, King-sama. I came to talk."
"You always suddenly appear."
"I'm a hero after all."

I was urged to sit at the bedside and sat down.
The king sipped at his drink.
"So, I guess you want to talk about something that you don't want others to hear about when you sneak in like this?"
"As expected of you, King-sama. Should I talk about the truth about the dragon first?"
"Well. I'm certainly curious."

I talked about how I searched for the eggs that were stolen from the dragon by the Demon Lord's army, how their content is influenced by those who warm them and that they might give birth to disasters like starvation or mass panic if warmed by demons.

"There are eggs that bring forth disasters? Didn't you say that a treasure was stolen?"
"I couldn't tell the truth because people were around."
"I see. Have you recovered all?"
"I'm only halfway yet. Three are still left. I asked Leo to look for them."
"Hmm. That young man, huh. It seems I lost a youngster with a promising future. You did a good job, Keika."

"By the way, might you have heard rumors about the remaining eggs? --They are about this size."
I showed the size with my hands.

The king tilted his head.
"Hmm. There was a merchant who brought a round ball of about that size. It wasn't black though. It was red with golden stripes, and the merchant said that it was a phoenix."
"Eh!? Is that true!? What have you done with the egg?"
"I refused because he requested a ridiculous price. I told him to try it at other aristocrats."
"Thank you very much, King-sama. Just that information is helpful."
"Maybe I should also discreetly investigate."
--I also thought about asking Kynmerick and Driad.

The king spoke.
"But, you said that you couldn't talk about the eggs while people were present, does that mean that there are people among my subordinates who are leaking information to the Demon Lord?"
"There's no proof. --But, it's already dangerous enough with the Vanus Church around."
"How can you say so? Isn't he a god who caused many miracles?"

"Ah, that's a self-made performance. The true identity of the Demon Lord is Vanus after all."
"Wh...what!? Is that true!?"
"It's definitely true since I heard it directly from the Ocean God Lilille."
Then I talked about Vanus while omitting considerable parts.
I also kept silence about how Lilille lost the holy sword.

The king listened with his hand at his forehead. He looked worn out.
"That the Vanus Church itself is moving at the Demon Lord's will... moreover, the priests are working without knowing the truth. This is troublesome. I get why you're wary of my subordinates."

"Which reminds me. King Ronheim was manipulated by the demons and the defense minister was replaced by a Magic Doll when I went to the Fabrica Kingdom."
"So that's what was happening? I heard rumors that they were about to go to war, but to think that the Demon Lord was behind it... They might have chosen that way because that country doesn't follow the Vanus Faith but the god of fire and smithing, Kandence."

"Even if the Demon Lord is defeated, there won't be true peace as long as the Vanus Church is around."
"Understood. I express my gratitude for telling me, Keika. I'll also think about a counterplan against the Vanus Church. Maybe something can be done now that the Demon Lord's leadership is crumbling."
"Thank you very much, King-sama. I'll help wherever I can."

"Is there anything else you want to tell?"
"Let's see... I thought about going to the frontier continents, so I want to build a ship."
"Oh...that'll cost a lot of money... Maybe I can give some financial assistance for your achievement since we'll be able to cultivate new agricultural land with the Keika Water Drawing System."
"Thank you very much."

The king frowned.
"Also, there's the thing with Etoile."
"What about the princess?"

"She grew up to be very arrogant, but she became very modest after being rescued by you. She also doesn't look down on the people anymore. I'm really grateful. Thank you."
The king's nightcap swung when he lowered his head. There was no kingly dignity but only the gratitude of a father.

My heart hurt for a moment, given that the truth was somewhat different.
"No, it's alright, King-sama. I only did what was expected of a hero. *hahaha*"
"As expected of you, Keika."

"Well, whatever. Now then, it's time for me to return."
"Please let me know when something comes up again."
"Yes, I'll visit again. Good night."
Now I felt like running away and quickly left the room.

I stepped out onto the balcony and was about to return to the inn.
Then, I heard a voice from the neighboring balcony.
I turned my head in surprise, and there was Etoile with her red hair, that reached until her back, fluttering in the evening wind. She's wearing a dress-like negligee.

"Ah, Etoile. Please keep it to yourself that you've seen me. I only came to talk to the king."
"Is that so?... How about coming to my room?"
"I really shouldn't sneak into a princess's room."
She puffed her cheeks sulkily when I said this.
"Although you are spending the nights with Celica who's also a princess..."

I walk along the balcony to Etoile's side.
"We're only often sleeping together because it feels good to embrace her, but we're not doing anything."
"E-Embrace...! Ah, of course, I know! Celica is a lot cuter than I after all. I'm really sorry."
"If you mean, that you rarely come across such large breasts, then you're right."
Etoile looks sorrowful as she puts her hand on her small chest.

Now that I look closely, her negligee is transparent. I could clearly perceive the shape of her firm breasts and underwear-less body line. She has a delicate body with modest curves.
Although her breasts are small, they are well balancing with her slender arms and legs.
"You are cute enough as you are, don't worry."

Etoile came closer without trying to conceal her naked body that could be seen through the negligee.
"You'll defeat the Demon Lord someday, right?"
"Of course."
"Then... with me... ugh."
She cast her eyes downward while her cheeks got red from embarrassment.
Now she looked even smaller than she already is.

"Ah--. The hero is supposed to marry the princess after he defeated the Demon Lord, huh."
"Yes... My big sister is already married, so..."
"I see. Rejected."
"Too fast... please, Keika-samaaa."
She clings to me and looks up to me with teary eyes. Her modest bulges are pushing against me.

"I already have Celica. I wouldn't have become a hero and wouldn't have done a lot of things if not for Celica, who was by my side and supported me. I can't betray her."
"Is, that so..."
She feebly presses her face against me.
"Is something wrong?"

"If I won't marry you, I'll... have to politically marry into the Fabrica Kingdom."
"It's common though, you don't like it?"
"He's a really unsightly man... he doesn't think of people as people and always looks down on them."
"Sounds just like your former self, huh."

Her face distorted from shock. Tears are flowing from her violet eyes over her cheeks.
"Just as you told me to, I apologized to my nanny and attendants for all the terrible things I did. Some got angry but others forgave me. Some of them were even happy. I was taught that people can't live alone."
"That's right."
--Well, that's also true for myself.

"Thank you very much for letting me realize what's important. I'm really sorry. It might be the punishment for my selfish behavior. I'm sorry to speak out of my own convenience."
She tried to separate from me after telling this, but I put my arms around her thin waist and hugged her strongly.
"*Ah*", a delicate voice leaks out of Etoile's lips. Her red hair was swaying and disheveled.

I bring my mouth close to her ear.
"You can't become my legal wife since it'll become a matter of succession. Because once the inheritance rights are with your children they'll surely back the Daphnes Kingdom. Then the small Edelstein country won't be a match anymore. -- Well, I might just kidnap you on the spur of the moment."
"Keika-samaaa... please."
"That wish, I'll keep it in the corner of my heart"
I kissed her on the forehead and separated my hands.

Etoile is one step apart from me. Her transparent negligee flutters in the night wind.
She looks up at me with a heartrending face.
"Keika-sama, I'll be waiting"
"...See you"
I flew from the balcony back onto the nightly street.


I went back to the inn.
Kynmerick was still preparing for the next day in the kitchen, so I asked him to use his connections to merchants to search for the eggs.

Celica was still awake when I entered the room on the third floor.
She was lying face down on the king size bed and reading a book. She had placed her chin on the pillow to relieve her breasts.
"Welcome back, Keika-sama"
"I'm back. ...I met with the king and princess Etoile"
"How was it?"

"I talked about the eggs and Vanus with the king. He was really astonished."
"That the Demon Lord is Vanus... it's frightening."
Celica frowned.

I lie down next to Celica and gently hold her shoulders.
"After that I met Etoile. She begged me to marry her."
"...Etoile-sama, she's cute, right?"
"I think that you're cuter though..."

Celica's cheeks are blushing behind her blond hair as she gazes down.
"Ah... don't say that while looking that serious..."
"Then, should I rather say something like '*uhehe*, Celicaaa, you cutie' while drooling with an insincere attitude?"
"Definitely not!"
Celica strongly shook her head. Her blond hair hits me.

"By the way, Etoile was wearing a transparent negligee. Is that normal for royalty? Should I buy you one as well?"
--Or rather, I want her to wear it.

"Eh!? Etoile was looking like that? ...Then she's being married off, huh. It might be part of the bridal training."
"Is that so? ...Maybe that's why she looked so forlorn. ...Do you really not want to wear one?"
"I-I don't think I have to... yet."
Celica murmured anxiously while looking at me.

I put my arms around her shoulders and hug her tightly.
Celica pants awkwardly while diverting her gaze.
"Celica. I only want you to know this. --No matter what anyone says, you're the most important to me."

"...what has come over you suddenly? Did something happen with Etoile?"
"Ugh... No, not really."
Celica stretched out her arms and hugged me.
"You're tired, aren't you, Keika-sama? You really should relax from time to time."
She speaks in a gentle tone. Her soft body presses against me.
My heart feels calm by Celica's warmth that is transmitted through the skin.

We kept embracing each other in silence until late at night.