BBYW Vol. 1 Chapter 24

Chapter 24 – A Traitor’s Demise

“ —and that’s all I heard.”

“…how exactly did you manage to hear all that?”

I shared the rumors about the royal family related to me by my “friend” in the capital to my father, who reacted half impressed and half worried.

The broken engagements, Sullivan’s marriage into the Nommes house and arrival in the eastern province, the attempted assassination of the margrave’s heir, its aftermath, and Selena’s punishment.

One month had passed since that series of events agitated the eastern province.

After taking care of all related issues, I took a leave from work to “recover” in my private residence, with Eliza, Sakuya, and some of my favorite maids.

In my private residence, I enjoyed days of complete leisure accompanying my maids, crossing swords with Shana, and playing a game called “Shogi” against 『Fangs of Steel』 members.

One day, however, I received a visit from an unusual guest: my father.

He was apparently worried about his son and the attempted assassination, so he came to see how I was doing.

Father and I were sitting at a table in the garden, drinking tea.

I had the maids stand by a bit farther away, so it was our first private time together in a while.

The damage caused to the garden in the fight against Sullivan was already fixed. The soil drenched with blood had been replaced as well.

In stark contrast to the elegance of the garden decorated by seasonal flowers in bloom, our topics of conversation were rather dreadful.

“People’s mouths cannot be sealed, as they say, no matter how hard Duke Rosais might try. The king letting go of the national treasure, the new king is considered an illegitimate son by the former king…there’s no way juicy rumors like these would stay hidden forever.”

“Hnng, my migraine is starting again…I shouldn’t have come here.”

After hearing me talk about the many issues that shook the Lamperouge kingdom at its core, father pressed his fingers against his temples with a pained expression.

“Let me ask, just in case…this isn’t my fault, right?”

“…I wonder.”

Father answered my question coldly.

The entire tumult brewing in the capital originated from my broken engagement after all.

I honestly felt I owed an apology to Duke Rosais, who was terribly busy dealing with the aftermath.

Father’s next words then made me wonder if he just read my thoughts.

“If you really feel sorry, why not return 【Herakles】 to the royal family? I heard from the soldiers who went to arrest him. He was wearing the royal family’s treasured bracelet.”

“What’s that about? That bracelet disappeared with Sullivan, right?”

“For heaven’s sake…so you really plan to make off with that? I must warn you, my son. If they find out you took it, you’ll be accused of treason. Even if it was all the former king’s or Sullivan’s doing. ”

I had never seen father take such a serious expression.

His fierce look would not allow any excuses or loopholes. It was the face of the guardian of the kingdom, the man who had protected the eastern borders since before my birth.

I averted my eyes from his serious look, looked up to the sky, and replied.

“Rest easy, I don’t want to pick a fight with the royal family. I’m not as reckless as to believe I can take on the central nobles with the empire breathing down our necks.”

“…you make it sound like you would do it if it wasn’t for the empire.”

“Don’t glare at me like that, old man. I have my own plans, that’s all.”

I wasn’t exactly intimidated by my father’s pressure but decided to express my honest thoughts.

I also wanted to know how he would react to what I said, as margrave of the eastern province.

“This country is pretty twisted, isn’t it? The empire to the north and east, the 『Evil Armies』 of the desert to the west, the pirates and island countries to the south. The four margrave houses are fighting endlessly against these threats, but if just one of the Four Houses was defeated or turned to the enemy’s side, the whole kingdom would crumble just like that.”

“…..”

“In this castle built on sand, the central nobles live coddled and protected, but look down on us as countryside nobles, as if it was the natural order of things. Sullivan called me a murderer to my face, but I imagine the central nobles all see us like that even if they don’t say it out loud, you know?”

I paused for a moment, took my teacup and brought it to my lips. I sipped on the tea while thoroughly enjoying the aroma of its high quality leaves.

Father did not press me and waited until I finished drinking.

“Hmm, delicious…anyway, even if I didn’t do anything, something will burst eventually, be it in the north, south, east, or west. I’m just preparing for that. Fifty years…a country as corrupt as this sure managed to last long, huh?”

“…are you planning to rebel against the kingdom?”

“As I said before, I’m not going to do anything as long as the empire’s in good health. I don’t have enough pawns or weapons anyway.”

I tapped the bracelet in my breast pocket, careful not to let father notice.

The immortal bracelet 【Herakles】 was the greatest fruit borne by this series of events, but I wasn’t satisfied yet. Not by a long shot.

What I wished was not only to be able to win against the central nobles.

My wish was to attain overwhelming power, something that could not be opposed by anything or anyone, something that appeared invincible in anyone’s eyes, and ultimately declare the Maxwell territory independent from the Lamperouge kingdom.

I honed my fighting skills, trained the soldiers.

I gathered magic tools with the money I earned via domestic affairs, assimilated the 『Fangs of Steel』 into our forces as an assassination – spying division.

Such preparations, however, were not nearly enough.

“Old man. I love the Maxwell territory. I love this eastern province. You can rest assured that I will never start a war that could bring suffering to the people of the east. As long as the royal family and the central nobles have even the smallest chance of victory, I will not do anything.”

“I see…”

Father fell into thoughtful silence for a while, then leaned against the back of the chair.

“…my headache is getting serious…can I retire?”

“I can’t move freely if you retire this soon, so no.”

“I thought so…aah, this is painful. I miss my wife…I want to see Grace.”

“…not another word about the old witch in my residence.”

I frowned and abruptly cut off father’s words.

At least, I now knew he had no intention to punish me.

I breathed a sigh of relief and sipped on my tea.

“Oh yeah, I hired a new servant recently. Let me introduce her old man.”

The serious conversations were done for the day, so I changed the mood.

Father shook his head, a sour expression on his face.

“Another one of your lovers, I bet. I can’t say I’m interested.”

“Don’t say that, just meet her. She’s a really intriguing one.”

“Hm? If you say that, it’s fine, but…”

I rang the service bell and told the maid who approached the table to bring “the girl” here.

The maid quickly complied and led “the girl” to us.

“This girl is…”

“Let me introduce you. She is Kanna, the newest member of the 『Fangs of Steel』.”

“………”

Father looked at her unusual appearance and swallowed his breath.

The girl I introduced was about 18 years old.

Kanna was completely white, from the tip of her head to her toes.

She had bright white hair, pale white skin, and eyes the color of ash. She wore a “kimono”, traditional clothing from the 『Fangs of Steel』 homeland, which was now completely white too.

Only her lips were dyed bright red, looking like bright crimson flowers blooming in completely white plains.

Her facial features could be described as charming but were devoid of any emotion.

Unlike Sakuya, who had learned to hide her emotions through training, she looked purely empty of any emotion, as if she had not felt any since the day she was born.

Father looked at Kanna, perplexed, then whispered.

“Kanna…you say? That can’t be. She is…Selena Nommes, isn’t she?”

I grinned at my father’s reaction.

The girl I called Kanna was indeed what became of Selena Nommes.

Kanna — the girl formerly known as Selena Nommes — slowly raised a hand and pointed at me.

“…treasure, woman, collect. Sword, devouring hero — cursed black dragon, Fafnir.”

“What the…? What is she saying?”

Kanna started speaking in a monotone and father frowned.

She did not even react to my father’s question, but pointed at him instead.

“…protect, east, heart. South sea, stretching branches, to eternal maiden — guardian tree, Sephiroth.”

“Hey now, Kanna. Don’t point at father, that’s rude.”

“I’m…sorry…I, apologize, deeply.”

“…Dyn. What did you do to Selena?”

Hearing Kanna listing words and broken pieces of sentences, my father glared at me again.

I pursed my lips as if whistling and replied.

“I told you, she isn’t Selena…she’s Kanna.”

I motioned at Kanna to come closer.

She pranced closer, so I pulled her hands and had her sit on my lap, then hugged her from behind.

“Look, Selena would never let me do something like this, right? She hated me to the point she tried having me assassinated after all. Look at this. Squeeze!”

“Squeeze…”

I buried my head in Kanna’s whitened hair and enjoyed the light fragrance of her sweat.

“…………”

Father was rendered speechless.

The “kimono” Kanna wore was a sort of gown worn by passing your arms through it, which was then tied over the waist.

Its greatest advantage was that it was easy to put your hands inside the chest part. I slipped my hands in between the folds and played a bit with her breasts.

Even if her breasts were being touched, Kanna’s expression did not change at all.

Her former self would have surely started crying out of fear if I ever attempted such a barbarous act, but now she accepted it normally.

“…she’s just like a doll…what in the world did you do?”

Father seemed sincerely disgusted.

I grinned as I continued playing with Kanna’s body.

“I didn’t do anything myself, really. It’s all the 『Fangs of Steel』 guys’ doing.”

Selena, who I had captured during the aftermath of the incident as Sullivan’s accomplice, was so shocked her mind was shattered.

She just laughed and laughed, without even eating or going to the toilet, so I was honestly at a loss for what to do.

In a state like that, I couldn’t put her to work as I did with Sullivan, nor use her for pleasure in bed.

I thus discussed what could be done with the 『Fangs of Steel』 ninjas, and they proposed to take her with them. After about one month, the girl named “Kanna” was born.

“According to the 『Fangs of Steel』 people, she had the potential to be a Miko.”

“Miko? One of those priestesses of the east, was it ?”

“Yeah, the female priestesses that can see things not of this world and hear the voice of the gods. They can even predict the future sometimes, apparently.”

In the 『Fangs of Steel』 there was an old woman with a similar talent: under her guidance, Selena could develop her talents.

(Develop her talents…she must have gone through some horrible experiences though.)

Selena was apparently forced to go through grueling training, such as being forced to drink special potions or being thrown naked in cold water. Based on her pure white hair and ashen eyes, it was evident that she had gone through something unimaginable.

After such harsh training, her shattered self was reborn in the twisted form of the white Miko, Kanna.

“I haven’t asked about the details yet, but it looks like Kanna can see a person’s soul and their true essence. She also says some bizarre prophecies sometimes.”

According to Kanna, the true essence of my soul was the “cursed black dragon Fafnir”.

An evil dragon who snatched away women and hoarded treasures. It did sound fitting for me, honestly.

“It looks like they taught her all sorts of techniques for night services too. I haven’t tried yet, but I’m looking forward to it.”

“…don’t give me even more headaches now. How am I supposed to face Baron Nommes?”

Father held his head tightly and leaned forward on the table.

Incidentally, Baron Nommes was cleared of his responsibility for Sullivan’s rebellion because of his collaboration in Selena’s capture.

Some of the other nobles in the service of house Maxwell protested as it was too light a punishment, but I had forced Sullivan on them in the first place. I had great expectations for the next head of house Nommes, Cray, so I thought that the dishonor of one of their family members having rebelled against their lord was punishment enough.

“Well, just tell him she’s doing fine. It’s not like he’ll ever see “Selena” anymore anyway.”

“…I’m going back. You better wrap up this vacation of yours and come back to the manor, there’s work to do.”

“Yes sir, I shall do my very best.”

I raised my hands in surrender and looked at my father leave, accompanied by his guards.

“…sorry for all the trouble I cause you.”

So I whispered to myself as I looked at my father’s horse carriage depart.

I did not think of myself as a good son. I was well aware of what kind of weight I exerted on his nerves.

Even so, I could not contain my desires and ambitions. I did not think that containing them was the right thing to do.

I was probably going to continue causing all sorts of trouble and all sorts of headaches.

“You better live long, old man.”

“Live long…great tree…not wither…”

I embraced Kanna’s shoulders and went back inside the residence.

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