I Became the First Prince - chapter 93
Anyway, I’m Not A Guy (2)
‘Duruuuk – duruuuk.’
One could imagine the Marquis of Montpellier’s eyeballs making that sound as they turned to the closed door, then to the first prince, and then back to the door.
The sight of his eyeballs swiveling so clearly showed what type of thoughts were troubling his mind.
“It seems that you are still in doubt,” the first prince quietly said as he stared at the imperial ambassador.
“Let me help you gain certainty.”
‘Swaank!’ came the terrifying noise of the first prince drawing his sword, baring its blade to the world.
“Are the mists of hesitation clearing from your eyes now?”
The marquis did not answer – he just stumbled back from the prince in fear.
“Or are they still there?” the prince demanded as he strode toward Montpellier.
“It seems like I am about to sheath my sword in your skin.”
The first prince wasn’t just saying that he would at least cut an arm off the ambassador if no one stopped him.
“Your Highness!” the horrified palace knights cried as they made to step forward, intent on stopping their master. The Marquis of Montpellier moved before they had taken a single step.
‘Duk,’ came the sound of his knees slamming to the floor.
“It is a misunderstanding! Your Highness!” cried the imperial ambassador as he knelt before the prince.
“I was just taking care that my eyes and words did not reveal the relationship between Your Highness and me. I was not trying to disobey Your Highness’s orders!”
The palace knights’ mouths gaped open.
Even the monarchs of the kingdom had not dared go against imperial ambassadors. And yet here was the Marquis of Montpellier, a man who had been given absolute power by the emperor, kneeling before the first prince and begging for forgiveness!
It was a sight that not one person in the kingdom would ever have imagined seeing.
However, the first prince remained cool and uncaring in the face of such utter obeisance.
“A misunderstanding,” said the prince, his sword still out.
“Is it a misunderstanding; that you have tricked and deceived me?”
The ambassador started to swear greatly upon hearing those words.
“I will explain that as well, Your Highness,” the marquis said as he bent his waist forward, as servants are required to do when kneeling before their masters.
“But, this place has a lot of ears,” came the ambassador’s whisper.
The prince sheathed his sword with a blurred motion. However, he had not just sheathed the blade.
A thin red line appeared on the marquis’ neck after the sword had moved so quickly that it had been difficult to track its motion.
“Huh-uh?” the shocked marquis whimpered as he groped at his throat. As he saw the light trickle of blood, it seemed as if his soul had been sucked from his pale face.
“Next time, you will be belching up blood.”
The marquis nodded like a madman.
“Follow me,” said the first prince as turned about and headed for his private quarters. The marquis followed happily, like a dog who had been scolded instead of kicked.
“What the hell just happened?” asked one of the palace knights as they looked at one another and then scattered in all directions. Some went to guard the passage that the prince and the marquis had taken, while others took their posts on the southern, northern, eastern, and western sections of the First Palace.
Gwain and his comrades had observed the entire scene with blank stares.
“Had he wanted to show us this?” one of them asked, referencing the fact that the king always wilted under the attention of the ambassador, while the prince had made him kneel and treated him like a servant.
The men nodded, but Gwain disagreed with their conclusion. He knew that the first prince had not wanted to show off his prestige or power; his message was rather the opposite of that.
The first prince wanted the knights to realize that the royal family possessed no dignity and that the spirit of the kingdom had been quashed. He wanted to show them that cold and stark reality, and in so doing, make these broken knights reach their own conclusions and ask their own questions.
Even if their rings had not been broken, would the kingdom have been able to enter a golden new era?
“He is a powerful guy,” said Gwain as he chewed on his lower lip, “and I really don’t like it.”
Even though the other knights had reached different conclusions, they still nodded, for they all sympathized with Gwain’s words.
“Hey, now! So we’re alone, my dear marquis.”
The sword was touching the Marquis’ neck, and his mouth nervously twitched.
Occasionally, when I saw a slight lie in his eyes or noticed him try to become more comfortable with cold steel kissing his jugular, I unrelentingly put some power into my grip and gave the sword a little push.
And each time that I did that, the marquis screamed as if his throat would be cut.
“So, tell the truth.”
“I do, I do! I am telling the truth!”
The empire had long been seeking the sword of the kingdom, my body. However, it seemed that the royal family’s will was strong, and they had not given up Dragon Slayer – Instead, they gave up their knights and allowed the tower to be sealed.
That is why Montpellier had conceived of a secret way to get the sword out of the palace.
His plan had been absurd. He had been thinking of spiriting Dragon Slayer away like a common thief, stealing that most potent symbol of the Leonberger dynasty.
He had failed.
“Well, it was possible to break the magical barrier which had been doubled and tripled around the sword, but the problem was Dragon Slayer itself. If someone touched it, they died. Even precious wizards and knights died upon contact,” the marquis said as he looked at me.
I wasn’t so angered by what he told me. All those fearless people who had dared touch my body have already paid the ultimate price. When I had been awake, anyone who did not have Gruhorn’s – my friend’s – blood in their veins died the moment that they tried to wield me. That fact didn’t change even while I had slumbered. The only person who managed to get me got me buried into his guts.
That was why Montpellier had encouraged the prince. An idiot that could touch my body without dying and who would be willing to sell out the royal treasure that his family had kept for centuries was just what Montpellier had dreamed of. There had never been and would never be a better opportunity for the empire to steal a Dragon Slayer than by using Adrian Leonberger.
From the kingdom’s perspective, it was an unfortunate shame, but the empire must have considered it to be a lucky eventuality, indeed. But the imperials did not know – they did not know the absolute idiocy of the foolish agent they had chosen; they did not know Adrian Leonberger.
How could they have known? Meanwhile, the entire kingdom must’ve hoped that the stupid prince would push a royal sword into his stomach. Thanks to the fact that he did, the marquis failed, and the king strengthened his guard of Dragon Slayer more than ever before. All the secret tunnels and hidden rooms had made Dragon Slayer quite inaccessible. Considering the attitudes of Nogisa and the palace knights, I doubt they would even have given up my body to Maximilian
It was all so absurd.
It had been an idiot who had tried to steal my body, and it was that exact idiocy that had, in the end, saved it.
If Adrian had just been a little less stupid, I would have woken up in the damned palace of Burgundy instead of here, in his body.
“So, what were you trying to do with the Dragon Slayer?”
The marquis almost stuttered as he answered my question.
“I don’t know. I had just received the mission when the former ambassador had failed, and I also tried to accomplish it. I don’t know the exact reason- Hac! Ugh, ugh, really! Please believe me!”
I increased my pressure upon the blade, and blood started to flow from the marquis’ neck.
“Well! I had only heard the tale that the Dragon Slayer might possess similar powers to the Four Wonders of His Majesty, the Emperor of Burgundy!”
I had stiffened.
“What did you say?”
“The former ambassador, he had said that there is a possibility the royal Leonberger sword is an artifact that is as powerful as the Four Wonders of the empire, so it must be obtained!”
“The Four Wonders?”
“Well, it is… Your Highness! Please take away your sword!” the marquis begged me, but I did not listen to his pleas, having more important things on my mind.
“Is it possible that it refers to the sword, shield, armor , and helmet used by the emperor of Burgundy?”
The marquis nodded, his face now so very near to weeping.
“Yes, that’s right-Agh! Highness! Highness! It hurts! Please remove the sword, please…”
As the marquis had wished, I took the sword away from his neck.
“Gah! Thank you, Your Highness,” he said as rubbed his neck. I hadn’t thought of the marquis when I had taken away my blade. Instead, I was no longer able to control my laughter and had feared that I would stab the point into his gullet when I started laughing. And I laughed like crazy.
“Well? Your Highness?”
The marquis retreated from me a bit when he saw me in that state. He seemed to think that I had lost my mind, no longer able to control my anger. His face was one that showed his terror, for he was afraid that my anger would be taken out on him. The truth was that I could not stop laughing. I bent my back and grabbed my belly as I laughed and laughed.
It was all so funny, and I could no longer bear to keep my mirth contained.
“Ah, ah… I am going crazy,” I said as I recovered my senses after a long while. But soon, the laughter came on again.
The way the chubby pig made the empire lose their one shot at me! And the Four Wonders! Those crude old things?
“Well… uh … Your Highness?” The marquis trembled as he looked at me, and I could read in his gaze that he thought me a madman.
“Sorry, sorry… I do apologize, my dear marquis. It’s just so funny!”
After letting the laughter run its course, I cleared my throat and my thoughts.
It was not difficult to guess what the Four Wonders were.
A sword with half its blade missing.
A shield with its top cut off.
A suit of armor that was missing a pauldron.
A helm with broken horns.
It was the arms and armor of old heroes that had existed four centuries ago, and even before that.
They were ancient objects that had deep scars, having suffered such damage in their many battles.
“Those old things … they are similar to the Dragon Slayer?”
I started laughing again because it was all so very ridiculous. I was sure that the imperial ambassador knew so better than anyone else. I knew that he knew, because why else would he have risked so much to send Adrian after me?
Those things are amazing!? They are considered on par with my body!?
“It has been a long time that I have laughed so, without a care in the world.”
The marquis inadvertently chuckled at my words.
“Go on,” I said.
He hesitated and then continued. However, his story wasn’t special. The marquis also knew nothing.
“This is all I know,” Montpellier stated at the end. He kept glancing back at the door – as if he wished to flee at any moment. I stepped forward and swung my sword in deathly silence.
“Ah?” the marquis gasped before realizing what had happened.
‘Tuk’ came the sound of something falling to the floor. The marquis looked down, his eyes stretching wide.
The little finger of his left hand, which had been attached mere seconds before, lay there.’
“Aah …. Waaaaaaah, wooooohaaah!” the marquis screamed as he looked at the bloody stump from where his digit had been severed. His scream did not last long, for I opened the door while he stared at me, his eyes filled with pain and fear.
“That is the price you pay for trying to use me.”
As things stood, I should have cut something from his neck and never turned back to watch him fall. No matter how much he loved his empire, that was no excuse for him trying to deceive a Leonberger.
Still, thanks to the scheming of the marquis, I had been able to enter the body of the prince. He had sinned, yet, he had still done the things I had told him to do, and he had done them well. I judged his punishment to be adequate, though, of course, the marquis would not agree.
“It will really be your neck the next time.”
Montpellier only nodded his head. I wasn’t sure whether he had truly understood my warning. Honestly, I didn’t even want to know. If he hadn’t grasped the direness of my warning, he would inevitably pay the price.
I already held my dagger to marquis’ throat, and I didn’t even need to be near him. He didn’t know that, of course. He couldn’t dream of how close he walked to death day by day.
The elven woman, Gunn, was his personal shadow, and she watched him even when he slept, observing his every move for a full twenty-four hours.
You can imagine that a woman from that bloody race of elves wouldn’t even so much as lift an eyebrow if she was ordered to slice his throat.
Carls entered fearfully after the Marquis of Montpellier had left.
“The ambassador’s hand was bloody.”
“Oh, okay? I hope he didn’t smear blood over any of my paintings?” came my casual reply.
Carls sighed and ceased his pretense.
“His little finger had been severed.”
“Oh? That sounds like a big deal.”
“Your Highness,” said Carls, “I have no intention of speaking about it. From the ambassador’s attitude, I could tell that there exists a relationship between Your Highness and the ambassador that I am unaware of.”
The knight’s expression grew more serious.
“I just… I just want to know what happened to Your Highness out there, up north.”
I silently regarded Carls, waiting for him to speak his mind.
“And what Your Highness is going to do in the future?”
“What do you plan to do if I tell you?”
“I cannot trust my body to someone if I don’t know the aspirations of the person who will be its master.”
I burst into laughter as I heard Carl’s words. In the past, I had acted as a member of the royal family could act, so Carls had stepped back and held his peace. Only now did he seem to seriously consider following me.
Ah, today is a day that brings many new ways in which to laugh!
Still, I did not laugh for long.
“Once again, I think of becoming king.”
“So, it won’t take that long to get back to work.”
It was a more likely prospect than before, even if the king hated me. Carls’s face showed no doubt, for he clearly did believe that I would become the king. I knew him for an honest and loyal man, for he had guarded my vacant palace for the entire time that I had been gone.
“The north is cold, Carls Ulrich.”
“I will purchase a fur coat for winter, Your Highness.”
I had told him that I would not tarry in the capital for long, leaving soon, but that had not shaken his resolve.
And he was not alone.
Beside Carls, all the palace knights who had guarded my vacant palace had sworn their allegiance to me.
And so, I gained the loyalty of some royal palace knights, who were loyal to no other prince.
And they had sworn to serve me, even if their armor would no longer be engraved with the royal emblem of the Dragon Slayer.
I had guessed that the king would call me right away and tell me of the test, yet he did not send for me for a long time.
During that period, many nobles came to me. I met with none of them.
No matter how much Prince Adrian had been reviled before, the nobles had somehow lost all their hate, becoming very polite and figuring that I would be the next king.
It seems that the bait of the Spire had been quite tasty, and so all the fish came swimming.
“He takes too much time,” I complained. Two weeks had already passed since I had arrived in the capital. I had accomplished my purpose and was really not in the mood of waiting for the king’s task forevermore.
So, I went to king myself.
“Tsa,” Lionel Leonberger clucked his tongue when he saw me entering, sparing no dignity for his eldest son.
I didn’t keep him long in waiting, though, for I had work awaiting me.
“Tell me what I need to do.”
He then informed me of my task, his face remaining passive. Still, at first glance, I sensed a subtle sense of victory behind that mask-like face of his. That did not last long.
“Oh? It’s not so difficult, then.”
The king’s expression hardened as I smiled at him.
“I don’t think you understood what I just-“
“I understand completely.”
The king looked like he would have a seizure after I had interrupted him.
“Is that all?” I asked, not caring about his mood or any type of seizure he might experience.
Perhaps, I had expected him to look more worried, but the king had replied firmly.
“Well, it won’t be long until I’m back.”
Much to my disappointment, the king’s test would not be difficult – it would not even be a hassle.
Rather, it would be a nice and scenic trip, for it was a mission related to my very essence.
After I had met with the king, I immediately left the capital. We traveled on the royal road, heading north.
“I have a job to do, so I’m going to take care of it. You head north,” I told the lords of the north, and they did not question me. They just followed my orders. The same counted for the rest of my party. Arwen remained silent, and Adelia had never been outgoing anyway. The once-secret and now broken knights, who had only recently taken up the sword again, were absolutely not in a mood to hold deep conversations with me.
All who remained to talk with were my new followers, the former palace knights.
“Your Highness, why aren’t you heading north?” Carls asked.
“Because we have to go west,” came my profound response.
“What do we mean to do in the west?” was Carls’ next question.
What is there to do in the west?
“I need to meet someone.”
And I had to meet them if I wanted to pass the king’s test.
“Who are we to meet?”
I had no reason to head to Winter Castle.
No, I was going to the Dwarven Kingdom.