Continues on from Chapter 1 – Bad News and the Return of Veronica
Continues on to Chapter 3 – Peaceful Life and the Sound of Approaching Military Boots
Chapter 2 – The Dark-Eyed Girl
In the capital of the Chevron Kingdom, Arkham.
The sunset in the west of the royal capital’s sky shrouded the sky with a brilliant glow. The Third Prince Uriel sat in a royal carriage as he travelled on a bumpy road which followed an important route. Sitting beside him was his lover, the Second Princess Cassandra Lautreamont. Her straight dark hair exuded a noble lustre, and its length reached down to her waist. Underneath her straight bangs, her amber eyes shone with a seductive glint. Her curvaceous body was dressed in a gorgeous evening dress. The luxurious fabric shimmered with a silvery light and the top was adorned with colourful gems. The necklaces, bracelets, rings and other accessories which she wore had all been carefully crafted by the most prestigious jewellers, and each one of them added a further touch of lustre to Cassandra’s innate beauty. Cassandra leisurely gazed into the streets from her window.
Presently, the capital was awash with the major news that ‘Zacharias III is ill’ and ‘The Paladin of the Knight Country Oswald will be executed’. At every street corner, it was possible to see newspaper vendors completely surrounded by people carrying small change as they sought to access more information. The person who ordered the execution of Oswald was not Zacharias III, but Uriel himself. The King of Chevron seemed to be in a desperate struggle against death itself in a palace that had been designated for his recuperation. Perhaps when he was involved in the Pluto Incident, his mind had been overburdened. Thus, the chronic diseases which had been kept at bay for many years finally relapsed when he returned home. To Cassandra, Oswald was her own father. Yet, Cassandra hadn’t expressed any objections in response to Uriel’s decision to execute Oswald. It could even be said that the current situation made her feel rather happy.
“…You’re a wicked woman, Cassandra. Even when you know that I’m the one who initiated the decision to execute Oswald, you’re still riding in the same carriage with me.”
Cassandra lightly raised the corners of her lips which had been coloured by purple lipstick.
“Fufu…it’s because I don’t feel bored when I’m with you.”
“If what you say is true, are you saying that you’ll be my woman? Every time I spend the night with you, you make me taste the pain of a living death…”
Uriel stared at Cassandra’s chest with a look of desire and lust.
“Oh dear. Don’t think of me like that, I’m actually rather conservative. It’s the most important thing for a woman, so I can’t be giving it away lightly, can I? Even if my partner is the prince of a country.”
“Hmph…to think that the <Diabolic Belladonna> was capable of such words.”
“Strictly speaking, the two of us don’t count as lovers.”
“…Indeed. The reason why we pretend to be lovers is because of our deeply aligned interests. There is no doubt in that regard.”
“Yes. The Dark Dragon King Mordred currently resides within my body. Although he was defeated at the hands of Ash and Eco, lost to despair, and is currently in hibernation…he will surely awaken once more. I hope until that day comes, I’ll be able to stay in the safest and most secure place in the world to wait and hope.”
“As long as you stay by my side, your safety will be guaranteed, and I also have a personal interest in the power of the Dark Dragon King. If possible, I’d like to borrow that power…”
“Oh my. You meant to say ‘swallow’, and not ‘borrow’, right?”
Uriel revealed a bitter smile.
“You’re so strict. Leaving the matters of power aside, I’m not sure I can hold back in the face of your present beauty—”
The carriage slowly came to a halt, which prompted Uriel to cut his words off halfway. The guards surrounding the carriage also pulled on the reins and stopped. The royal carriage intended only for the exclusive use of members of the Chevron Royal Family had arrived at the entrance of the Royal Opera House. The show scheduled for today was the [Tale of Zauberflöte]. It was an opera that had been written in the Zepharos Empire a hundred years ago. Operas from the Empire rarely had the opportunity to be performed on the stage of the Kingdom. The fact that the Kingdom and the Empire were enemies was one of the reasons, but the main reason was that most people thought the imperial language had cold and rigid pronunciation, thus making it unsuitable for operas. However, [Tale of Zauberflöte] had an amazing soundtrack, the story seemed like a folk tale, and children were able to watch it with gusto. Even though it was marred by the pronunciation of the imperial language, it was an undeniable fact that it was a masterpiece, and it was loved by men, women and children. The story of the opera went like—.
Under the guidance of the <Queen of the Night>, a young prince embarks on a journey with an innocent girl to defeat an evil priest. However, there is a dramatic reversal in the plot halfway through; the priest that they believed to be evil turns out to be an ally of justice, and the Queen is revealed to be the embodiment of evil. In order to defeat the Queen, the prince and the girl undertake various trials. The magic flute mentioned in the title is repeatedly used to help the prince and the girl — <Zauberflöte>. Thus, the prince and the girl successfully defeat the Queen, and formally become engaged—.
…However, neither Uriel nor Cassandra had come to watch the opera today. The coachman dressed in royal uniform respectfully opened the door to the carriage. After Uriel gracefully exited the carriage, he extended his hand out to Cassandra. As the pedestrians passing along the road noticed the Third Prince, they began to cheer and shout with joy, but Uriel turned a blind eye to them.
“Let’s go, Cassandra. The key person who is indispensable to my plan is waiting here for us.”
“You just seem to love teasing me as well. Why not just tell me the answer?”
Upon seeing Cassandra distort her face slightly out of bemusement, Uriel returned a smug smile as if responding to her attitude.
“It’ll ruin the fun of the mystery, so let’s just leave it until you meet.”
The opera had begun. Although the stage curtains hadn’t yet been pulled up, the orchestra was playing a lively prelude. The VIP seats were located in the centre of the uppermost level. The VIP room had been separated into a private suite with the intention that other viewers would not be able to see the interior.
“—I am here, Your Highness Uriel.”
As soon as Uriel and Cassandra entered the VIP room, a noble young man immediately stood up. Cassandra silently looked at the young man. The young man didn’t look as though he was older than thirty, and both his appearance and build were quite handsome. Based on his clothing and demeanour, he was likely a high-class aristocrat. It was just that he seemed different from the opulent Chevron nobility. Compared to them, he gave off the impression that he was more military-like. And the way he spoke the Chevron language vaguely indicated that he had some kind of foreign accent. After Uriel and the young man shook hands familiarly, they both smiled.
“Long time no see, my dear friend — Count Klaus of the Vandenhaar border.”
The moment she heard that name, even Cassandra couldn’t help but feel surprised.
On the stage, the <Queen of the Night> had just begun her solo. After greeting each other, the Kingdom’s Third Prince and the Empire’s military aristocrat began their secret conversation.
“It was certainly a heavy loss for you in Fontaine City, Klaus.”
“There’s nothing else that can be said. I lost the airship Beowulf that was bestowed upon me by His Majesty the Emperor. And now…the rumours in the court of my country about who will be appointed as the next Count of the Vandenhaar border are causing a major ruckus.”
“You look rather calm to me though.”
After Cassandra shook off her initial shock and interjected from the side, Klaus showed a thin smile.
“Of course, that’s only because I have the support of His Highness Uriel here. His Highness is the best candidate to become the next King of Chevron. No, after His Highness annexes the Knight Country and gains the power of the dragons, it would no longer simply be a dream to unify the entire continent of Ark Strada. My allegiance no longer lies with the old and dying Emperor, but you who shall be the future King of the world—”
Klaus bowed to Uriel in a respectful manner. When he raised his head again, Cassandra noticed that his eyes were burning with a dark flame.
“Moreover…I will no longer allow Ash Blake and the young dragon Eco to do as they please. I’ve decided to prepare a grand gift to return to those two people — no, it would be more correct to say a person and a dragon.”
Indeed, after Klaus lost the airship Beowulf, he seemed to hold a grudge against Ash and Eco. Just as Cassandra saw the emotion burning in his eyes, she lost interest in him. The anticipation of the demise of their motherland was something that he shared with Cassandra. It was just that Cassandra disliked how a great man such as him had become obsessed with a personal grievance.
There was a girl who sat alone in a corner of the VIP room. Even though the young girl gave off the delicacy and charm of a white lily, they were unable to clearly see her appearance. It was because she wore a metal mask which covered the upper part of her face. The part of the mask where her eyes should have been was closed shut, and it seemed to be engraved with an eerie pattern. The girl gave off the impression that she was as fragile as a glass doll. Combined with the strange mask that she wore, she completed lacked a feeling of feminism. Cassandra thought to herself
“No matter how I see it, she can’t possibly be Klaus’ lover…”
On the stage, the prince and the heroine began to sing a duet. The treble of their voices was a perfect combination, and a surging wave of emotions poured out from the audience.
Cassandra didn’t miss what seemed to be a sigh from the girl’s mouth. Within this VIP room, it seemed as though only the girl was seriously listening to the opera. While Cassandra continued to observe the girl, the secret conversation between the two men progressed to the next stage before she realised….
“Klaus, I hope that you’ll be able to send troops to capture Ansarivan.”
Uriel’s bold request immediately caught Cassandra’s attention.
“The Knight Country’s government should be preoccupied with the issue of their Paladin. They don’t have the leeway to think about a remote city such as Ansarivan. Even Veronica who was originally recuperating in Ansarivan has immediately rushed back to Fontaine City. By the time the Knight Country’s government realise what’s happened to Ansarivan, it’ll already be too late.”
“You are truly admirable, Your Highness. After anticipating the future, you publically announced the execution of the Paladin. Is that also a part of your strategy, Your Highness?”
A cruel smile surfaced on Klaus’ face.
“In that case — I’ll release the fierce <Ice Wolves(Fenrir)> in the paradise that the dragons live in.”
“That’s the one known as the Empire’s strongest land unit…that’s a dose of reassurance.”
“It’s not just that, we also have a trump card.”
Klaus conceitedly put his hand on the shoulder of the girl who sat beside him.
“Come, give His Highness Uriel a greeting.”
The girl got up from her seat without another word. She then grabbed her skirt with both hands and curtsied towards Uriel.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness Uriel.”
Perhaps out of nervousness, the girl’s movements were rather stiff and unnatural.
“She is a proud creation of the National Institute of Magical Engineering. They used the information provided by Your Highness Uriel on Celestina Lafon as a foundation to successfully develop this weapon. We’ve given her the name of Kriemhild.”
Right in the girl’s presence, Klaus brazenly called her a ‘weapon’. Although the girl wore a pretty dress, it was mostly likely just a ruse so that she didn’t draw attention to herself in the opera theatre. Klaus clearly didn’t see the girl as a human being. Uriel gasped and stared at Kriemhild in amazement.
“The mechanical Empire of Zepharos is truly incredible. I didn’t think you’d be able to artificially synthesise <Pluto Children>.”
“Oh please, Your Highness. Do you not believe in the technical prowess of my country?”
Perhaps feeling thrilled by Uriel’s overinflated reaction, Klaus spoke in jest.
“Of course I believe in you guys. I simply thought that it would take a long time in order to succeed. Speaking of which, can Kriemhild use the same power as Celestina?”
“Yes, she can invade a dragon’s mind and control it as she pleases. According to the experiments we performed with her on the Basilisks in the savannah, she was able to manipulate a hundred lizards at once to act as an army.”
“Oh, it is generally said that Basilisks are relatives of the Asia. And she was able to control a hundred of them at the same time…”
Perhaps because he felt elated upon seeing Uriel’s reaction of praise, Klaus began to wear a confident smile.
“Kriemhild’s abilities are not even comparable to those of Celestina. To prove that these aren’t just empty claims, I will put on a demonstration in Ansarivan. To us, she is our vital <Zauberflöte>.”
“Kriemhild ~A.S.B.1365.11~” is closed.
(All 2 of 2 parts) (21/10)