Volume 6 starts.
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At the age of seventeen, in the early spring, it was a very cold day in this country. I was about to turn eighteen.
On that day, I was watching wooden boxes being transported one after another from a sailing ship that was bigger and better than any other ship anchored in the port of the royal capital. It was a three-masted mast with one horizontal sail on the front and two vertical sails at the back.
The contents of the wooden box were cotton. Unspun cotton could be used to make futon and clothes with cotton padding. It seemed to be a big hit in recent years in the royal capital. It was a complete seller market.
Clearly, the amount of profit made from that hard labor was laughable. It wasn’t a matter of making easy profit. It was rather to monopolize the trade. That kind of feeling. Perhaps, this profit would continue until the cotton was oversupplied and the price collapsed.
This was the second ship. The first ship was behind the second ship and it was waiting for unloading. It was an accompanying ship. The third ship was under construction in the Republic of Albio.
It had been a little over a year since the trade with Harold started. It had expanded so far in no time. At the beginning, the trade used the port in Suomi. By negotiating with the preferential delivery rights for rare imported goods, the port of the royal capital became available.
I was sitting at the wharf, and without realizing it, I was lost in thought while watching the two ships and the cargo being unloaded, that were all my private properties.
When I was in Japan, I only made quick money and I had never earned a decent income, but now, I was a businessman who raised a business for less than ten years.
‘The money moved as if it buys human life without further ado for how many times. What is human life? I also want to think of that.’
There was no one at the wharf. It was a quiet place. All the sounds except the sound of the waves were nothing but the distant hustle and bustle. It might not always the case, but the dock workers were busy unloading and had no time to relax because of my ship coming in.
“You are Yuri Hou, right?” (??)
Said the voice from the back.
I rolled to the side, pulled out my dagger and prepared my posture. I looked around quickly. There was only one person, and I wasn’t surrounded. That person was a plain woman with long hair tied to a ponytail. The reaction that seemed overkill was because my instinct was warning me.
“Who are you?” (Yuri)
I asked with a sharp voice.
There was no footsteps. No matter how much the sound of the waves was, I didn’t notice her until she stood on my back. If she was an assassin, she had a considerable ability.
Nonetheless, I put myself on guard. She didn’t have weapons, and she looked like a normal person. It was rather ominous.
‘Maybe it’s better to jump into the river regardless how you pretend to be? No, what if she is a better swimmer, shouldn’t she be able to catch up? If I do so, it will be a checkmate.’
“Why are you being on guard?” (Woman)
The woman mysteriously asked.
“You didn’t make any footsteps.” (Yuri)
‘She seems to get that point.’
“Who are you? Did you come to kill me?” (Yuri)
“You got it wrong.” (Woman)
She made a regrettable face.
“I came here to invite you to the castle.” (Woman)
“Are you the royal family’s liaison?” (Yuri)
“It’s something like that.” (Woman)
“If you want to contact me, it’s good enough with Her Highness Carol. They did that in the past. So, why are you here?” (Yuri)
‘It would be foolish to be kidnapped easily. Besides, I don’t understand why they didn’t ask Carol.’
‘Up until now, they send Carol even if it’s for patent calls. More importantly, I don’t like not hearing footsteps.’
“It’s a direct order from Her Majesty the Queen. Please come immediately.” (Woman)
“Answer me.” (Yuri)
“You think badly of me. I’m the Queen’s Sword.” (Woman)
‘The Queen’s Sword. It is the assassination unit under the order of the Queen, within the First Imperial Army. I see, she’s an assassin.’
‘They are people who kill the head of the General households, who seems to rebel, behind the scenes. In other words, they are a specialized unit for dirty works that worked under the royal family who don’t own armed forces and can’t respond to civil war. From my view as someone who is from the General household, she is a very uncomfortable opponent.’
“The Queen’s Sword, is it? I see. Is that why they didn’t send Carol?” (Yuri)
“Don’t drop the ‘Her Highness’.” (Woman)
“Show me the Queen’s Sword.” (Yuri)
The woman took out a black-sheath dagger from the chest, and pulled out the sheath to the middle without any sound. There was a single-blade dagger inside. The blade part glowed ominously, and the body part was black as if it was covered with soot. The features were the same as the rumored Queen’s sword.
“That is certainly like the Queen’s sword. If that’s the case, I’ll accompany you.” (Yuri)
She put the dagger she had back into the sheath. The woman silently turned around and started walking.
‘I will follow you.’
When I caught up, I quickly kicked the back of her knee from behind.
In martial arts and dagger training, the basic combination was to kick the back of the knee, grab the collar or armor, drag it backward, stab the neck or give a crushing blow with fist. I was trained many times, so I was confident that no one around here could evade it.
However, the woman swiftly avoided the kicking at the back of the knee, turned around, and repelled the hand that tried to grab her body. Then, she looked at me.
“What are you trying to do?” (Woman)
She said with a harsh voice and cold eyes.
“It was a test.” (Yuri)
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“Testing the Queen’s Sword, is it? Do you want to die?” (Woman)
“If you are a Yakuza, you won’t be able to avoid that. If you are the Queen’s sword, you probably can. Her Majesty asked you to bring me, so you can’t hurt me.” (Yuri)
I said it nonchalantly.
Her cold eyes were unchanging.
“I’m trying to confirm it. Don’t be angry.” (Yuri)
“Don’t you think that she’ll be satisfied if you’re in good health?” (Woman)
“Since we’re not in a close term, you probably will kidnap when I’m sleeping.” (Yuri)
‘If the Queen is trying to kidnap me, I’m sure she will use tougher measures. As for this person who isn’t talking as it is now, she probably will fight fiercely to capture me if persuasion is impossible. It’s strange for the Queen to deploy the Queen’s sword, so this mission should be irregular for her. ’
The woman turned around again and started walking, as if she couldn’t find a counterargument, or it was too bothersome to think.
To tell the truth, I wanted to see the Queen’s sword and their abilities. As expected, they are an elite unit… or rather assassination unit, and their abilities are authentic.
‘Is her age around 20 to 25? For those at the same level as Carol, they probably can’t catch up with this woman no matter how hard they try. In the first place, I can feel that her talent is different. Even women can be strong, isn’t it?’
When I entered the royal castle from a place like a back door, we walked in an empty hallway. Then, the woman stopped in front of a room and opened the door. The room looked like a small guest room, with thin curtains hanging over the windows.
The room was nicely decorated, but there was no one inside. So, it was awkward.
“Have a seat.” (Woman)
I sat down in a chair as I was told so. The chair was like a sofa for one person and was very soft.
A square knee-length table was placed in the middle of the two legs, and a tea utensil was placed on it.
When I sat, the woman stood against the wall near the door, with her back resting. She didn’t seem going to sit down.
I sat there as it was for a while until I yawned. Then, the door opened. Her Majesty the Queen came in alone. For some reason, she had something like a steamed kettle in her hand.
“Greetings, Her Majesty the Queen.” (Yuri)
I stood up and bowed.
“I’m sorry to bother you.” (Queen)
She replied with a broad smile. After all, it wasn’t a hostile atmosphere.
“No, I was just spending my spare time.” (Yuri)
“It would be very helpful if you say so. Have a seat.” (Queen)
Her Majesty the Queen sat in front of me. I sat down in the chair again.
“I haven’t heard anything about the business today, but is it for a cup of tea or something?” (Yuri)
‘Let’s probe lightly. The fact that she sent the Queen’s sword is not really a small matter.’
“No, that’s not it.” (Queen)
‘I guess it’s not that.’
“Well then, what is this all about?” (Yuri)
“Before that, I’ll brew tea.” (Queen)
‘Tea? Is that why you have a kettle?’
Her Majesty the Queen began to brew for the tea as she said.
“Yuri-kun, are you interested in classic works?” (Queen)
‘What’s this about?’
“I’m not really interested in classic works. I’m also not good at the Ancient Shan language.” (Yuri)
‘Because the publication doesn’t develop, the translation book of classic works are only available at the super famous place. In order to study classic works, it is necessary to learn the Ancient Shan language. Therefore, I’m not familiar with classic works either.’
“In the olden days, there was a technique of brewing tea between us women.” (Queen)
“I didn’t know about it.” (Yuri)
‘Is it like a tea ceremony?’
“Of course, it was an education. All noble women did it.” (Queen)
“Is that so? I can’t think of it now.” (Yuri)
‘Nowadays, it is usually brewed by the maids. In a place where maids aren’t available like in the dormitory, I may boil and brew tea myself, but there’s no culture of noble women brewing their own tea. That said, the noble woman I know is Satsuki.’
“Tea is brewed usually to entertain someone or to give appreciation to Knight’s work. The manners to brew tea are also neat. But, that kind of culture has disappeared with the end of the Great Empire. Instead, I don’t know who imitated it, but it seems to have become popular among common people.” (Queen)
‘Come to think of it, Suzuya was always brewing tea when Rook came home from work. I thought it was her hobby, but now I wonder if there was such a cultural background.’
“I’ve been thought by my mother, but this is about our royal family. However, I’m not sure about other royal families.” (Queen)
‘I see. This has been in the past, but when I was called regarding the patent, Carol brewed tea. I suppose it’s because of the old culture. I thought it was strange for the royal family to brew their own tea.’
Her Majesty the Queen continued to speak while handling the utensils silently.
“In the days of the Great Empire, there was such a relationship between men and women, Witches and Knights. I wonder was it something like trust? I think they were so strong because of that. I wonder why we are in a situation like this now.” (Queen)
‘It doesn’t seem I’m invited for a history discourse. What is she trying to talk about? Well, let’s just get along.’
“That’s why we lost. Losing to the Great Khanate of Khanjar, our country was destroyed. The Knights lost their face, and the Queen and the Witches respected them.” (Queen)
The Imperial Army was a terribly strong army at that time. At that time of this world, the country called the Holy Xerxes Empire was a large country that united the countries with Isus religion. They had many battles with our country’s Great Expedition Force, and easily defeated them.
It was battles that invited them to the cold region in the north, so there was no doubt that we had ground advantage, but as I expected, they were strong.
However, they were defeated by a large army of horse-ridden warriors. A man named Khanjar, who was called nothing but a child of war, came with five to ten times as many armies as our Imperial Army. As expected, our Imperial Army couldn’t withstand them and the whole army collapsed.
Was it because Khanjar was relieved, he died immediately after winning the battle, and his army pulled back. But then, the Crusaders came in and took the opportunity of the situation. The Imperial Army couldn’t resist decently, probably because they were defeated badly by the Khanjar’s army, so the rich southern region, including its capital, Shantinion, was deprived.
It seemed that the treatment toward the Knights became terrible after that. Both the Queen and the Witches decided that the country’s destruction was due to the Knights.
In other words, there was nothing wrong with people as long as they weren’t Knights, and the country was destroyed because of their weakness. It was decided that way. In fact, it was taught that way in the history class of the school of Liberal Arts even now.
The remaining Knights were thrown with stone, and their pride shattered. It was at that time the Knights rose up, naming themselves the General households as they grasped territories, and the Queen and the Witches also had their own armies.
“As I expected, you studied hard.” (Queen)
“Yes, well.” (Yuri)
‘If you have been in the school of Knights for eight years, you are a fool if you don’t know about it. Regardless of how to understand that, it would be normal to have the knowledge.’
Her Majesty the Queen poured the hot water from the high place in the old teapot. I could hear the sound of hot water filling the teapot while mixing in the air.
“So, is that story related to this?” (Yuri)
‘Perhaps, Carol is getting married?’
“Don’t be impatient. The time to wait for the tea to come out is something to enjoy chatting with.” (Queen)
‘A chat, is it? That was a very informative chat. Is it one of the reasons for brewing tea?’
“I’m sorry. I’m a bumpkin, I’m not good with manners.” (Yuri)
“It’s fine. I thought you’d like this kind of history, but it was boring, is it?” (Queen)
‘Was it one of hospitality? I didn’t notice it at all.’
“No, that’s not it.” (Yuri)
“I’m concerned because you’re not going straight to the point. So, I was wondering what’s this all about.” (Yuri)
When I said that, Her Majesty laughed. The laughing gesture was exactly the same as Carol.
“Brewing you tea is a sign of welcoming you. Perhaps, it’s an appreciation or favor… In any case, I’m not going to brew tea if I call you just to scold you.” (Queen)
“I’m relieved to hear that. I will enjoy the tea as well.” (Yuri)
‘I want to say that she doesn’t have to send the Queen’s Sword in order to welcome me. Although I’m not terrified or scared, they usually aim at the General households. This also means of being vigilant.’
Her Majesty lifted up the teapot and poured tea into a tea cup with a handle on it.
“Here you go.” (Queen)
“Thank you.” (Yuri)
A tea cup on a plate was presented. I held the handle and put the cup on my mouth.
It had a complex and gorgeous scent with a light bitterness. Then, as the tea slid through the throat, a slight honey-like taste remained on the tongue.
‘Is it a kind of blended tea? It’s a taste that I had never tasted before. I don’t know how good the tea is or how it is brewed, but it’s very delicious.’
“It’s very delicious. It calms me down.” (Yuri)
“Oh my, thank you. I’m happy to be flattered.” (Queen)
“It’s not flattering, you know.” (Yuri)
‘It is really delicious.’
“You can have more.” (Queen)
As she said that, she handled the teapot.
“Aah… thank you.” (Yuri)
When I lifted the teacup with a feeling of receiving the drink, the teapot was inclined and I received another serving.
“I’ve prepared some snacks as well. Please eat it.” (Queen)
There were some baked sweets on the small plate offered.
“I’ll eat it.” (Yuri)
Then, I put my hand on the baked sweets. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but the baked sweets were also delicious, so I flattened them quickly.
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