Ash awoke in a daze as a surge of minty fragrance rushed into his nose.
It was slightly different from Eco’s bodily fragrance though. The bed was also unusually stuffy. It was currently winter. If it was only Ash and Eco, it didn’t seem logical for it to feel so hot.
Feeling that something was off, Ash slowly opened his eyes.
Ash stiffened in fright the very instant that he opened his eyes. All at once, his drowsiness vanished into thin air.
“Princess Mirabel…no, Mirabel-san!?”
The entirety of Ash’s vision was smothered by a view of Mirabel’s beautiful face. The distance between their faces was almost non-existent, being so close that they might as well have been glued together.
Rays of morning light poured in through the window, making Mirabel’s silver hair shine brilliantly. The edge of the blanket formed a soft line with the white skin of her shoulders. For some reason, the shoulder straps of her nightwear appeared rather provocative.
“W-Why is Mirabel-san sleeping in my bed!?”
Although Ash panicked and tried to keep his distance from Mirabel, a soft sensation pressed up against him from behind.
It was Eco. Deep in slumber, her entire body leaned against Ash’s back. Upon realising that her slightly bulging breasts were pressed right against his back, Ash’s heartrate naturally accelerated.
“By my hypothesis…. The Escavaron should have been built…during the Zono Ton civilisation’s era…snuu, snuu…”
While Mirabel murmured in her sleep, she extended her hand to embrace Ash’s neck. A peppermint aroma intensified in his nostrils, further stimulating Ash’s instinct. It was then that Ash realised how her small yet beautifully shaped breasts were pressed firmly against his chest.
“T-T-T-This isn’t good…!”
Ash was unable to move his body freely and could only endure a bitter struggle. Although he always maintained rationality in his actions, he was still a healthy young male. Sandwiched by the bodily warmth, touch and scent of Eco and Mirabel, his heartrate continued to flutter higher with each passing breath.
“—Oh Ash, you sly devil.”
Before his eyes, a bright glimmer of light was produced by magic from which Navi appeared. She had two sharp horns, a devilish little smile, and beauty that would make anyone drool — on this particular occasion, she wore a miniskirt maid outfit similar in appearance to what Celes normally wore. The outfit was completely adorned with frills and lace. To accurately classify it, the style seemed more apt for young girls, but it looked surprisingly good on Navi. Navi floated down from mid-air and straddled over Ash’s abdomen. With a smile, she caressed Ash’s chest, sides and even his thighs.
“N-No, you can’t…Navi. If you touch me like that, I’ll…”
“Oh, do tell, what’s going to happen?”
Navi revealed her tongue as she licked her lips. Her expression was akin to a leopard eyeing down its prey. Just as Ash’s instinct caused alarm bells to go off in his mind—
The ceiling vent that covered the ventilation shaft on the ceiling fell to the ground. Although it produced a rather loud noise, both Eco and Mirabel showed no sign of stirring and remained sound asleep.
“Just as I thought, this shaft is connected to Ash-sama’s bedroom!”
The person who poked their head out from the duct with a joyous expression was Jessica. However, her cheerful voice was short-lived as it soon devolved into one of bewilderment.
“Ash-sama! A-All this time, I was unaware and had no idea that…you’ve already progressed to such a point? And even Mirabel-sama…!”
“Hold on and listen to me, Jessica! This is a misunderstanding!”
From the ceiling, Jessica cackled with an eerie laugh. She then coolly jumped down from the vent and landed on the bed with a ‘poof!’.
Jessica wore rather alluring nightwear which emphasised the curves of her body.
“At long last, I will become pregnant with your child today, Ash-sama!”
“Wait! How did you come to that conclusion!?”
“That was my original intention for exploring the ship. It seems my hard work has not been in vain either, as I’ve discovered a secret route for sneaking into Ash-sama’s bedroom!”
“No no, that’s not something worth bragging about!”
“The only concern I had was about how to persuade the uninitiated Ash-sama after sneaking into his bedroom, but…since you’re all already indulging in such fun, please let me join!”
“Like I said, what you see here is all a misunderstanding!”
“Let’s be honest here, Ash-sama, as the ruler of a country, you should consider the matter of producing a successor!”
No longer paying any heed to what Ash said, Jessica slowly advanced towards him. Her curvy body exuded a strong citrus scent.
“I see, successors huh. What Jessica says certainly does make sense.”
Unexpectedly, Navi seemed to have been enticed by Jessica’s words. She liberated Ash from her position above him and then sat obediently at the bedside. Only then was Ash able to sit his upper body up and begin to coax Jessica.
“Uh, Jessica? I…umm…haven’t thought that far ahead about heirs and all that yet. Moreover, I don’t think this is the right time for such things. We have a different goal worth fighting for right now—”
“Don’t worry. It’ll only hurt a little at the beginning, but it’ll feel very comfortable right away!”
“You’re talking about yourself — no no! Why is your answer so wrong!?”
Just as Ash clutched his head in frustration…
A timid voice came from a corner of the room. Surprised, both Ash and Jessica directed their gaze towards the source of the voice. On the contrary, Navi seemed to have been aware of it for some time as she remained completely calm. Standing in a corner of the room was Mirabel’s personal maid — Eunice.
“Eunice!? H-How long have you been standing there for…?”
“Yes. I’ve been standing here ever since Princess-sama mistakenly stumbled in and fell asleep in Ash-sama’s room, so it’s been around three hours.”
“You’ve been here the whole time!”
Ash felt so embarrassed that his entire face turned red.
“Can you please carry Mirabel-san away from here immediately?”
“But, Princess-sama hasn’t shown such a sweet sleeping face in a long time…I couldn’t bear to wake her from her sleep…”
After saying so, Eunice cast her gaze towards Mirabel’s face.
“Could it be…Princess-sama actually treats Ash-sama as…”
However, Ash was unable to listen to the end of Eunice’s sentence. After all, it was during that moment when his bedroom door was forcefully and abruptly pushed open….
“Ash, you have to get up right now!”
Silvia rushed into his room with a sense of urgency.
“The Lautreamont Order of Holy Dragonars has just arrived! We should quickly hand Uriel over to—”
However, halfway through her sentence, Silvia was rendered speechless and left with her mouth agape.
“Ash!? W-What is going on here!? Eco is your Pal, so I can turn a blind eye to her, but why are Navi, Jessica and even aneue and Eunice…!”
Silvia’s face turned pale as a shiver appeared to overcome her entire body.
“What’s going on? Why is it so noisy…?”
Producing a beautiful voice reminiscent of a silver chime, Mirabel awoke at last. Though, perhaps because her consciousness was still somewhat hazy, she leaned her chin on Ash’s shoulder in a very intimate manner.
Ash choked on his voice as his limbs froze in place. Silky silver hair brushed against Ash’s cheek. Resting her chin on Ash’s shoulder, Mirabel muttered with a tone of surprise and confusion,
“Eunice? You feel…rather sturdy this morning…”
It appeared that she had confused Ash for Eunice. The <Argento Magus> had always portrayed an image of perfection, but she surprisingly seemed to have trouble with getting out of bed in the morning. Ash recalled that Silvia had once revealed her sister’s issue with low blood pressure. Ash couldn’t help but smile at Mirabel’s morning weakness, but his eyes widened in shock the next instant. The quilt and blanket that originally covered Mirabel abruptly slipped off.
The thin silk garment that covered Mirabel’s upper body was exposed in complete view. Despite being aware that it was impolite, Ash found himself powerless to unglue his eyes from Mirabel’s body. Her snow-white skin was bathed in sunlight, giving it an illustrious glow. Her left shoulder strap had slipped down to her upper arm, creating a beguiling sight that Ash couldn’t help but feel aroused by.
It was only upon hearing Ash’s voice that Mirabel noticed something was amiss. It was only natural that she’d feel taken aback when the person that she thought was Eunice spoke with a masculine voice. Her hazy eyes were finally restored to their intellectual brilliance.
Realising that he had no chance of escaping from the situation, Ash decided to simply bite the bullet and pre-empt the situation.
Subsequently, Mirabel let out a shrill scream—.
The magic ship Escavaron was presently stationed at the border between the Kingdom and the Knight Country — closer to a mountain range in the Knight Country. Ash and Silvia were responsible for welcoming the Lautreamont Order of Holy Dragonars. Mirabel fell into a state of traumatic shock as she locked herself in her room and refused to come out. In addition to Eco, the majority of the crew members aboard the ship were still asleep. After all, they had fought through a fierce battle the night before and many of them were injured, so it would be cruel to forcibly wake them up. Upon arriving at the deck, Ash and Silvia found three Maestros lined up in a row before them. Under the radiance of the morning sun, their silver fur was a truly spectacular sight. Among the three of them, the one in the centre was most eye-catching as its head and chest were adorned with opulent ornaments.
It was the Pal that belonged to the Captain of the Lautreamont Order of Holy Dragonars, Ursula L. Selwyn. Ursula led two adjutants as she strode forward in a gallant manner. She possessed such heavenly beauty that she almost appeared to be saintlike. Her magnificent armour that glittered like stardust was the Ark that Galahad had bestowed upon her. It made it seem as if a halo illuminated her very being.
“We have come to visit, Your Royal Highness Silvia—”
Silvia swiftly stopped Ursula just as she was about to kneel down on the spot.
“Don’t worry about the formalities, I have no need for such a grandiose salutation. By the way…have my selfish actions angered aneue after all?”
Silvia asked, as the issue likely concerned her decision to enter the Escavaron as an ambassador of the Lautreamont Knight Country. Fontaine Palace should’ve learned about the series of events which unfolded via the holy ship Esperanza which Pope Raquel IV was on board. That was precisely why Ursula was able to take action in the first place. Silvia’s arbitrary actions were bound to be discovered by First Princess Veronica. However, Ursula shook her head.
“No, Her Royal Highness Veronica hasn’t paid much attention to politics or military affairs lately as she’s been focused on other matters instead. As for the actions of Your Royal Highness Silvia, she hasn’t expressed any opinion in particular…”
Silvia breathed a sigh of relief but expressed doubt.
“Is that so? What do you mean by other matters, then?”
“To be specific, that would be beauty and clothing, as well as…ballroom dancing and the like.”
Both Ash and Silvia were astounded by the unexpected answer.
“…Hey, Ash. This wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with you, right?”
Silvia gave Ash an apprehensive look.
“W-Why would I…!”
Ash froze. He then recalled the dinner party that he attended in Fontaine Palace the other day. Veronica dressed up and attended just for Ash’s sake. There was also a minor incident on the day, where she accidentally revealed her breasts in front of Ash—.
“On another note, where is Prince Uriel?”
As if to break Ash free from the situation, Ursula cut straight to the point.
“Ah, I’ve already asked Cosette to escort him here. Please wait a moment.”
After returning a nod to Silvia, Ursula turned her gaze away. However, she began to stare at Ash’s face for some reason. Ash felt rather embarrassed to have a saint-like beauty stare at him.
“Ash-dono. You did not hesitate to use this magical ship as a piece of territory to declare independence in order to rescue Oscar-sama. You made a swift and bold decision.”
“…You flatter me.”
“The Lautreamont Order of Holy Dragonars owes you a great debt, Ash-dono. If you face any difficulties in the future, please don’t hesitate to rely on us for assistance. Many difficulties surely await you in your journey to rule a country.”
While making a faint smile, Ursula extended her hand out to Ash.
“Thank you for your kindness, Captain Ursula.”
Ash also smiled in return as he shook her hand. Rather than a saint, she’s more like an angel…Ash couldn’t help but hold such inappropriate thoughts in his mind.
“What’s going on here!?”
Silvia suddenly murmured out of shock.
“Princess-sama, is something wrong?”
With a confused expression on his face, Ash noticed Silvia’s intense gaze on Ursula.
“…That’s strange, Captain Ursula. You’re known in the court as the <Silent Virginia> who never takes the initiative to interact with others, and yet of your own volition — you’d ask for a handshake, and from a man as well. …It’s a shame that there aren’t any gossip-loving journalists here to witness this.”
After letting go of Ash’s hand, Ursula fell into silence as she pondered for a while.
“It is just as you say, Your Royal Highness Silvia. What I did just then…goes against my usual way of doing things. I wonder why?”
Ursula tilted her head in puzzlement. The expression on her face was so innocent and pure that one wouldn’t make out at first glance that she was in fact the leader of the Lautreamont Order of Holy Dragonars. It appeared that there was a natural side to Ursula as well.
“I don’t know how to answer that question myself…”
Silvia was probably caught off guard by that question, as she crossed her arms over her chest and cast her gaze to the side.
“—I have brought the captive.”
It was then that Cossette appeared with Uriel in tow.
“Oh. How grandiose it is to have Captain Ursula personally escort me.”
“It looks like you’ve already recovered to the point that you can speak so casually.”
Ash sighed, and Uriel directed a cold smile at him. When Uriel was rescued last night, it seemed like he was almost a goner. At the time, they thought that he might never recover, but he was surprisingly able to walk on his own now.
“It’s all thanks to the medical device that you guys call <Iunones>. I must thank you for saving my life—”
“Third Prince Uriel. I have been ordered to escort you back to Fontaine Palace.”
Ursula declared with a straight face.
“I understand. It’s useless to resist anyway and I have no intention of suicide either. Rest assured.”
“I shall believe in your words.”
Ursula nodded and then handed Uriel over to the two adjutants behind her. Just as Uriel was grabbed on each side by the two Dragonars equipped with Arks and about to be taken away—
“Listen closely, Ash.”
Uriel suddenly turned back to face Ash.
“The name of the court pharmacist who prepared the drug <Galatea> is Kiira Brava Henriksen.”
“…That’s a peculiar name. It doesn’t sound like one that belongs to a citizen of the Kingdom or the Knight Country.”
“Of course. That’s because she’s from the Ecbald Tribe.”
Upon hearing that she was from the Ecbald Tribe, the first thing that came into Ash’s mind was Lucca’s face.
“There shouldn’t be anyone better than her in terms of herbal drug synthesis. If you want to cure Oscar, locating her will be the fastest way.”
“Where is that pharmacist now? Arkham Castle?”
“No, she’s out of the city temporarily. And if word of my arrest reaches her, I’m afraid she’ll never return. To be frank, she’s a somewhat mysterious person…”
“What do you mean by that?”
In reply, Uriel snickered and said,
“For example…when I asked her to produce <Galatea>, she made me a counteroffer. She wanted six hundred and sixty-six lives as ingredients for it.”
“Six hundred and sixty-six people!? It took that many human lives to make <Galatea>?”
“No, that would be incorrect. The amount of blood actually required for <Galatea> would’ve been ten people at most.”
“So, you’re saying…”
“Indeed. Just as I wanted a particular drug…Kiira also had a drug that she wanted to produce. And in order to make it, six hundred and sixty-six lives had to be sacrificed. As for what kind of drug she wanted to make, I have no idea…”
“You’re telling me that you abducted people from the Brailsford territory for this reason?”
“Yes. Those people weren’t taken away for <Galatea>, but in order to satisfy Kiira’s request.”
Ash’s nervousness caused his mouth to become parched and dry.
—Kiira Brava Henriksen.
It seemed that this was a dangerous individual far beyond Ash’s imagination.
“However, the people of the Brailsford territory have already been liberated by the Holy Espada Agency, so Kiira should have no reason to continue, right?”
Uriel shook his head and answered Ash’s question.
“No, the people from the Brailsford territory were arrested just in case they would be required. The criminals provided by the prison in the Royal Capital Arkham were sufficient to meet Kiira’s needs.”
Ash was infuriated by Uriel’s blatant disregard for human life.
“Even if the sacrifices were all prisoners, how could you use human lives as a commodity!?”
Ursula extended her arm to hold Ash back.
“Ash-dono. I understand your feelings, but we must focus on gathering information right now.”
Simply because the gaze of Ursula’s clear eyes rested on him, Ash somehow managed to calm himself.
“You’re right. Sorry…”
After Ash had calmed down, he asked another question.
“Do you have any clues on the whereabouts of this pharmacist named Kiira?”
“Unfortunately, I never asked her where she was going. Though, I did see her constantly studying literature on the Knight Country’s <Three Forests>.”
Uriel directed his sharp gaze at Ash.
“As someone from the Knight Country, you know where they are, right?”
“<Three Forests>? I think I remember it from geography class…which three forests again?”
Ash scratched his head as he felt troubled over something from his studies.
“Come on, Ash! They taught this in geography class!”
Naturally, Silvia gave him a fierce scolding.
“The Three Forests are Albion Forest, Gnome Forest and the Ecbald Forest. Make sure you remember!”
Ash felt so ashamed that he could no longer lift his head, though Uriel continued,
“The <Three Forests> are a well-known treasure trove of medicinal herbs. It’s highly possible that she’s gone off to one of those forests.
“…It might take some time and effort to track her down but thank you for the information.”
Contrary to Ash who frankly expressed his gratitude, Silvia simply glared at Uriel.
“You handed this information over rather easily. Don’t tell me that this is a trap, Uriel?”
Uriel shrugged as he revealed a sardonic smile.
“I’m not providing this information for the sake of you guys or Oscar. To be honest, there isn’t much time left.”
Both Ash and Silvia tilted their heads in confusion.
“With me and Oscar out of the picture, those incompetent princes will eventually start a civil war in the Kingdom.”
“What did you say!?”
Ash and Silvia cried in unison.
“After all, there are over a hundred people who have a right to inherit the throne. If the battle for the throne goes on for too long, it’s possible that it’ll even spread to the neighbouring countries.”
“What Prince Uriel says is logical.”
Ursula sombrely muttered.
“Then…what should we do?”
Ash clenched his teeth.
“No need to panic, Ash Blake. I still have a plan.”
For some reason, Uriel’s calm demeanour made those around him feel somewhat irritated. Even now, Uriel still acted like a ‘prince’.
“With Oscar’s talent, it won’t be impossible for her to resolve this national disaster. If she’s successful, even the ministers and citizens will have no choice but to accept the fact that Oscar will be the first queen to rule in the history of the Kingdom. As long as she can attain that result, the crime of gender fraud will be nothing but a triviality—”
Ash clenched his fists as he watched Ursula and the others fly into the dawn sky.
“We have to lift the curse of the narcotic on Oscar as soon as possible.”
“Yes, I agree.”
Silvia also lifted her head and gazed at the sky as she responded to Ash. And then, their eyes naturally met—. Ash suddenly recalled something. He had previously shared a deeply intimate kiss and embrace with Silvia on this very deck. And when they parted from each other, Silvia had shyly said something along the lines of—
—I-I’ll wait for your triumphant return, and then we can continue!
The moment that incident popped into his mind, Ash couldn’t stop his heartrate from accelerating.
“D-Don’t keep staring at me like that…”
Silvia had probably recalled the exact same memory. Her cheeks became red and she appeared distraught. Under the radiant morning sun, Silvia’s blonde hair gleamed brilliantly. She raised her chin slightly and then gently closed her eyes. Words were no longer required. Just as Ash timidly reached out for Silvia’s shoulders — he came to his senses and looked around him.
“Oh my, please don’t mind me, you two. Ufufufufu.”
As expected, Cosette smiled from ear to ear as she eagerly awaited the scene of the two of them kissing.
Silvia blushed to the point that even her ears became hot, and she fled the scene in a hurry.
“Crisis of The Kingdom ~A.S.B.1365.12~” is closed.
(All 3 of 3 parts) (30/9/20)
Continues on to Chapter 2 – Lucca’s Past