Chapter 2: The Strongest Onmyouji Considers the Future of the Slave Girl
Ifa looked at me in confusion, as if she did not understand what he had just said.
However, I didn’t know what to say to him either.
The prince continued.
“The current ruler of Astilia is my mother, Her Majesty the Queen, and the current harem is nominally reserved for me, the first in the line of succession. You can even be educated in such a splendid academy. Ifa, you must be a very intelligent and noble woman. For the sake of me and my country, I would like you to come to the palace.”
Ifa finally understood the situation.
“I’m sorry… but I’m Seika-kun’s slave. I can’t do something like that.”
“How …… you’re not a student of this academy?”
“No, I am a student……”
“I see. Then you are still a brilliant woman, aren’t you? Then there is no problem. Sir Seika, I’ll buy her at asking price. Will you accept payment in our country’s large gold coins?”
I was stunned, but barely managed to open my mouth.
“Oh… that is…”
The woman of a different race said in a cold voice.
The prince looked embarrassed.
“I know, Rize. I am sorry, Sir Seika. This was not the purpose of our meeting. Let’s get down to business.”
“…. Let’s move on then, Your Highness. This place attracts too much attention. Let’s rent a room in the academy, this way.”
As I walked out, I thought to myself.
Is this guy okay?
The Dean of the school knew in advance that the prince was coming, so she was able to smoothly rent a reception room for the dignitaries.
In one of the rooms, we faced each other.
For some reason, Ifa was sitting next to me looking nervous.
I don’t know why. Maybe because of the prince’s wish. …… Well, it’s okay for now.
I collect my thoughts and spoke.
“So, could you begin by telling us about the situation in the old royal capital?”
“Um… I’ll start with that, Sir Seika.”
“Before you go any further, Your Highness, you need not address me as “Sir”. I have not inherited the title from my father, nor do I plan to.”
“I see. You’re right. I will call you Seika-dono……. I’m also comfortable with you since we seem to be close in age.”
The prince said this with a smile.
He has dignity in every word and deed.
“Now, the old royal capital, do you know exactly which city this is?”
“Yes, it’s a city located about half a day’s ride west of the royal city of Asta, Proto Asta.”
The old royal capital is a city with precisely such a name.
It means ‘the former royal city of Astilia’ or something like that.
The prince nods and begins to speak.
“Although the momentum has slowed since the capital was relocated about 100 years ago, Proto Asta is still one of the largest cities in our country. Since the transfer of the capital, it’s customary for the next in line to the throne to serve as its head of state. That’s the reason why I went to the capital this time and met with you here.”
This was unexpected.
I thought it was just an envoy, but the prince himself was the head of the old capital.
It was a practice I’d never heard of in my previous life, but it might make sense for him to experience the bureaucratic work beforehand.
The prince continues.
“And the dragon of Astilia has lived with the people there for more than a hundred years before the transfer of the capital. It made its home in the mountains that stand just outside the city.”
I was frankly astonished.
Even in my previous life, I’d never known a case in which a powerful creature had lived with people for more than 200 years. Apart from guardian deities, it’s usually difficult for such beings to coexist in a place like a human village.
The prince nodded mysteriously.
“Once, together with our ancestors, it fought an enemy army approaching King’s Landing and drove it back…… However, as you have probably heard from Lord Blaze, Seika-dono, the dragon has been acting strangely for the past year or so.”
“I heard it started attacking livestock and people.”
The prince nodded gravely.
“The damage is not that serious. Even when it comes to livestock, only a few stray sheep were targeted during the grazing season. It only attacked people from outside the city who carelessly entered the mountain where the dragon lives. They were injured but not eaten, that said they had to step of a cliff to escape. But there’s something wrong that’s for sure. This has never happened before, and it’s clearly becoming more cautious. Lately, it’s been particularly bad, threatening even the people in town that it encounter outside the city walls.”
“Does the dragon distinguish between the people of the city and the rest of us?”
“Hmm. I wonder if he remembers the faces he sees over and over again. Although he doesn’t alight within the city walls, he used to alight near the meadows and fields around the city, and often does nothing but stand around in a daze. He wouldn’t care if there were people nearby. However, many peddlers and travelers from other towns say they have been stared at or followed out of the sky.”
Is the dragon wary of those coming from outside the territory?
I just don’t understand how he accepts the people inside the territory.
“Why doesn’t the Astilian dragon attack people in the first place? From what I’ve read in the literature, I don’t think dragons are monsters that can live with people.”
“I don’t know exactly, but that’s the way it’s been for a long time.”
The prince said.
“But there’s a legend …… that a dragon was once hatched from an egg by the queen of Astilia.”
“A dragon hatched by a human……?”
“It’s just folklore. Dragon eggs are said to appear on the market on rare occasions, but I’ve never heard of one being hatched by a human.”
Eggs of snakes, turtles and lizards usually hatch without any effort.
I thought dragons were similar, but aren’t they?
“I said the damage wasn’t serious, but I’m not so optimistic about the situation.”
The prince says gravely.
“The livestock are frightened, which is hindering their grazing and the peddlers are refraining from doing any major business. The people are also becoming anxious. And then there’s the empire’s vigilance…… .”
The prince’s gaze turned straight to me.
“I want Seika-dono to see this matter through.”
The prince said with a serious expression.
The prince’s ostensible position is higher than mine, but my actual position is higher than his. Depending on my report, the situation in Astilia could be better or worse.
From the way he was talking, I guessed that Astilia must have some kind of solution to the dragon’s problem.
I smile back.
“Of course, Your Highness. My role, as ordered by my father, is to conduct an academic investigation, study, and report on this matter.”
When I said the obvious premise, as if I was trying to be neutral, the prince’s expression softened.
“I’m also interested in the academic study. What do you think, Seika-dono? Do you have any thoughts at this time?”
I think about it.
While there are some concerns, there is too little information to say at this time.
“No…… I’d have to go to the site and check out the detailed records.”
“I see. What about Ifa?”
The prince then turned his attention to Ifa, who had remained silent for a long time.
Ifa was clearly embarrased.
“Mm-hmm. Any ideas?”
“I…… Seika-sana… I don’t……”
The prince smiles and tells her.
“I’m the one asking for it. You don’t need to worry about your master. I want your opinion.”
Ifa pondered for a moment and then spoke.
“I don’t really know what to say….. Did something similar happen in the past?”
The prince put his hand on his chin and thought about it.
“I’ve never heard of it, but it might be worth reviewing the records. Thank you, Ifa. I will rely on your insight from now on.”
“Speaking of which, I’d like to have dinner with you this evening. We could have a long talk with Seika-dono……”
The sub-specie woman standing beside him said quickly.
“This is going to interfere with the escort plan.”
The prince had a bitter expression.
She seems to be an attendant or an escort, but her position is strong.
She has silky platinum hair and green eyes. She’s tall and has long, pointed ears.
Probably a forest elf.
A race that excels with bows and magic. It’s no wonder she has a strong current of power.
But what’s worrisome is that since we met at the cafeteria, she’s been giving me strong cautious glances.
The reason for this is not for protection either.
If anything, it’s closer to the way they used to look at me in my previous life.
Eyes filled with awe.
I wonder what it is. Does she sense my power?
But I’ve only just met her.
“I know, Rize.”
The prince replies to the forest elf with a bitter look on his face.
“I’m sorry, Seika-dono. My escort is a bit of a worrier.”
“…… No problem at all.”
“If you’ll excuse us now. I’ll see you when we leave.”
“Yes, your Highness.”
The prince and his forest elf escort leave the room.
This is exhausting.
It reminded me of my days as a government official, when I was humbled by the great aristocrats.
I was really fed up with that. It was one of the reasons why I left the onmyodo dormitory halfway through my disappearance.
Ifa, who was still standing, asked me anxiously
“Um, Seika-kun. I didn’t do anything rude, right?”
“Huh? Oh. It’s all right. I think you had a pretty good opinion.”
Similar cases from the past are often the first thing to look for. From there, it is often possible to determine what may happen in the future and how to solve the problem.
Although it’s doubtful that he would have done it by the looks of that prince.
Remembering our earlier exchange…… I was getting somewhat annoyed.
Is that prince…… okay?
Didn’t he think it would be taken as the least bit disrespectful to ask the attendant for their opinion without the master?
I mean, he invited someone else’s slave to the palace and then tried to buy them.
What kind of nerve does he have to try to seduce a woman who is another person’s attendant in the first place?
The word “no good man” comes to mind without any denial.
“Ah, Ifa….. about this time, you don’t have to force yourself to follow me.”
“Eh? Why? I’m not forcing myself. I’m going to follow you, Seika-kun, I’m your attendant.”
I’ll return that much to Ifa.
He seemed to understand his situation. His language and mannerisms were refined.
He was not a complete incompetent.
Even though he’s a vassal, he belongs to the royal family. He’s also in the first place of inheritance rights.
He had status and money. He’s not a bad guy because he likes her.
I’m certain that the back palace would treat her well. It would be a perfect place to marry into the family.
I glanced at Ifa.
I think she has become beautiful. It seems that she is popular among the male students of the school and it is no wonder that princes of other countries have taken notice of her.
This year she will be fifteen. This is the age of adulthood in our world as well.
It’s time for her to decide where she will go.
It’ll be a shame to see her leave my hands, but it’s not a bad idea to be able to make contacts in other countries.
If Ifa wants to.
I might even let her marry into Astilia.
On the way back to the men’s dormitory, I was pulled into the bushes by a strong force.
“I’m going to make you tell me everything.”
I was held by the mouth and looked up at Mabel and Amiyu.
“What have you been talking to that prince about?”
“…… What? It’s about the situation in the old royal city, about the dragons and so on. We talked about it at lunch.”
I waited for Mabel to remove her hand before answering and Amiyu raised an eyebrow.
“That’s not important. What I want to ask you is about Ifa. You even went to the trouble of taking her with you.”
“Eh….. you’re trying to sell Ifa?”
“No!. All we really talked about was dragons. So there’s nothing else to tell you.”
“Yes. Well, His Highness seemed to like Ifa a lot.”
The two girls looked at each other.
“…… You really won’t sell Ifa?”
“I wouldn’t. I’m not that untrustworthy.”
“Well, just …….”
I stood up, brushed the dirt off my clothes, and said.
“If Ifa wants, I’ll free her from her slavery. In the empire, it was difficult because of the need for adult guardianship, but in Astilia, that shouldn’t be necessary.”
“If it is in Astilia…. does that mean that Ifa will be in the palace?”
“If she accepts his highness’s invitation.”
“What are you talking about? She’d never say such a thing.”
“What are you talking about?”
The tone of voice is unintentionally a little reproachful.
“Ifa is coming of age this year. It’s not every day you get a chance to be approached by royalty from another country. It’s time for her to decide her future. We shouldn’t interfere.”
The two girls looked at each other with a delicate expression on their faces when they heard this.
Mabel said timidly.
“I understand what you’re saying, Seika, but …… don’t tell Ifa about it, because she’ll probably be sad.”
“Why would she be sad? If I don’t tell her, she might be too shy to accept it.”
“I get it. But not if she wants to.”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
Mabel pulled Amiyu who still wanted to say something, and they both went away.
Well, I’m sure they were both worried about Ifa.
It would certainly be pitiful to be forced into a rear palace by a prince who seems to be a no-good man.
Don’t worry, both of you.
I’ll respect Ifa’s wishes.
Both Amiyu and Mabel have the ability to live on their own. I’m sure Ifa is the same way.
It’ll be good to build a career at the academy.
But there are other options.
Some of my apprentices chose that path even though they were gifted.
I’m not going to deny the lives of those who lived and died happily.