Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi - Chapter 566.1
「Kuh! As expected, someone who kept him in check during his youth is formidable. Is there anyone else that knows Aegir-sama’s extreme fetishes!!?」
「Catherine-san, this is also not the time to be cheating. Do you have anything!?」
「I-it’s not like I cheat all the time!」
「Everyone, you’re in front of the children! Don’t talk about such graphic things in front of the kids! This whole fetish contest of their father is horrible!」
The female community have gathered at the corner of the table and begun to discuss sexual dispositions.
It is awkward to join and listening to the subject is bad for my mind so I am continuing to eat my meal away from them.
「Umm……I……didn’t have any ill intent……」
Mumbling in a feeble voice and trembling is the girl who sent the soup plate at my face earlier.
「I’m not going to punish you.」
Regardless of me saying that though, the girl likely can’t relax considering the mess it caused in the palace and my reputation.
That’s why I shift the chest area of her maid uniform to the side as I speak kindly to her, slip a hand in her skirt, pull off the cloth inside, and sit her on my lap.
「Now, prove to me you didn’t have any ill intent.」
The girl grinds her hips and starts serving me my food with her mouth.
Fumufumu, you have a plump body and skilled tongue for how childlike your face is, plus your precious hole that is warming up on my lap shows me that you didn’t have malice.
I suddenly sense a piercing death glare at my back.
Is the real one here?
「Obviously, it’s us. What do you think you’re doing at the family dining table!?」
Before I knew it, my seat was surrounded by the women and kids.
Nonna grabs and tugs my ear. Carla presses my nose. Mel knees my side, and Celia drags the maid away by the hair. Don’t be rough on her.
Copying their mothers, Sue and Ekaterina also deliver cute punches to me.
「Hahaha, it’s a group-beating.」
As I made the joke, someone stomped on my pinky toe.
Being a sensitive place, I pull my foot back in reflex and turn around to find a tearful Bartolome……or rather, it’s probably Anastasia, hiding behind him, who did it.
On top of realizing her powerlessness, she aimed for the most painful spot and blamed it on someone else? I’m worried about her future.
I grab Anastasia and sit her on my lap.
She immediately covers her face and wails, but I already know she’s a master of fake-crying.
I ignore it and stuff the same kind of vegetable she threw out the window earlier into her mouth, causing her sure-to-be-beautiful face to distort in disgust as she chews.
「Father, me too.」
Rose tugs on my sleeve, so I also feed her a vegetable.
「Do it more forcefully, stuff it to the back of my throat.」
What are you saying?
Antonio comes over and pulls Rose’s arm.
I thought he was standing in a weird position, but he’s actually keeping himself between Catherine and Lucy.
「I can’t tell you not to be vigilant after all the fuss, but you better quit leaking such a strange aura.」
Antonio hangs his head as if he made a mistake.
I’m impressed that such a young child can emit a perceivable bloodlust.
「I have to call Rebecca after I’m done eating.」
I can repel any number of assassinations targetting me, but it’ll be trouble if they enter the inner palace like before.
It’s possible that there might be more than one hidden passage.
「I have to do something about that too.」
When I look at the corner of the dining table, the girls stop ganging up and hide behind my back.
「Ke……kekeke……hee hee hee.」
At the place where I’m looking, Flantica is clearly acting strange, with her maid uniform disheveled and her head tilted at a 45-degree angle while her mouth is moving like it’s chewing something. Dropped by her feet is……what appears to be a mouse’s tail, but let’s hope I’m wrong.
「So the Intelligence Minister made a mistake shortly after taking up the post.」
Rebecca kneels before the throne with me seated on it as I place my elbow on the armrest.
Celia is next to me while Adolph and Tristan are a little further away.
Apparently Myla has taken the initiative to confine herself.
For this incident, because the assassin snuck directly into the inner palace through a secret tunnel, blaming Myla――and the guards tasked with guarding the palace and capital from frontal attacks is unreasonable. Especially because guards aren’t allowed in the inner palace, they can’t keep watch over that area.
That means the blame falls on Rebecca who failed to detect the conspiracy plot.
Not to mention Rebecca and the girls under her are permitted to enter the inner palace.
「I-I actually detected the plan. I just thought they didn’t have the personnel or the weapons to break through the royal guards and thought it would be better if they roamed a bit more so we can catch them with the mastermind all at once……who would have expected that such an underground passage existed……urgh.」
The shivering Rebecca resembles a cute little animal.
On the other hand, the waiting maids are saying some disturbing things.
「Pst pst……no way a cruel man like His Majesty will forgive her……」
「Will it be death by hanging or by burning at the stake……pst pst.」
「Pst……maybe he will gobble her up after violating her……pst.」
「Give me another chance, I’ll make up for it. I beg you, please don’t demote me or reduce my salary……and if you could also let me keep the bonus……」
I can’t bring myself to do something horrible to Rebecca.
I also owe her for helping me become king. Well, it’d be different if she was a man.
「Although the result would be the same this time regardless of whether you were a man or woman. I don’t have the luxury to dismiss you.」
I can also just dismiss her immediately if she shows incompetence in a trivial matter.
But if prompt action is not taken for this case, who knows when the next assassination will come.
After all, there was a hidden passage that nobody knew about smack dab in the middle of the inner palace.
I don’t have time to kick Rebecca from her position and find someone else to take over.
「Are there other secret tunnels?」
Once Rebecca believed discussion about her post had ended, she lifted her head and began to talk without pause.
「Yes! There was one when I turned over the floor of Mel-sama’s room, there was a set of stairs hidden in the back of the closet in Nonna-sama’s bedroom, and I also found a passage leading to the sewers in the side of the maids’ toilet.」
「There are holes everywhere.」
I spread my arms in bewilderment and leaned back on the throne.
「There are also multiple suspicious walls and mechanisms that I discovered. They won’t open unless you have a special key or trigger it a certain way. We certainly can’t demolish the entire inner palace.」
「Take care of all of them. Do it as soon as possible, either today or tomorrow.」
Rebecca stops herself from nodding on instinct, and instead looks up at me and shakes her head.
「I’m afraid it’s not possible. There are too many hidden mechanisms. Aside from the simple escape routes, there are other contraptions which I can only assume are for nefarious purposes like holes small enough for a needle to pass through……there was even a skeleton with a cracked head in one of the hidden rooms……if only Your Majesty’s room could be made perfectly safe, but for such a vast palace……no blueprint should be laying around for……wait!」
Celia retrieves a knotted rope from within her clothes, causing Rebecca to retreat.
「Do something about it. That’s your job.」
I try repeating myself in a more serious tone.
Rebecca closes her eyes and opens them after careful consideration, then shakes her head again.
「I’m sorry. I really can’t do it. The palace’s history goes back centuries and with it comes an accumulation of an inevitable dark side. It’s not something that we can handle from a hurried investigation.」
I hold back Irijina from bringing a physical restraint attached to a wooden cross and stop Celia from setting up a bale of hay with a match, and think about it myself.
「Then what should we do?」
Rebecca quickly presents her idea, staying cautious of Irijina.
「There are three solutions. The first is that we check every inch meticulously over several months. However, it’s possible that we might still miss cleverly disguised traps.」
Time is also an issue, but if something gets overlooked and Nonna is stabbed, there’s no way to undo it.
「The second solution is to abandon the inner palace or overhaul it and construct a new building. This way guarantees complete safety.」
「How many years will it take? Also reconstructing something of this size won’t take a mere 1 000 000 gold. That is way out of our budget. Surely that is an act of a tyrant.」
Adolph is the first to object.
「Building a simplified version won’t work either. The inner palace may seem unnecessary at a glance, but it is the symbol of power. Not using it is one thing, but destroying it and building a smaller one has only demerits. And even if those on the inside are satisfied, an external dispute might occur next time.」
Tristan chimes in next.
In other words, rebuilding is out of the question.
「The third solution is to ask the people who know. Secret escape routes, treasuries filled with royal heirlooms, hidden rooms meant to spy on foreign guests……I doubt blueprints exist for these, but it’s possible that information was passed down verbally through generations of royalty or royal knights……」
「Everybody’s dead though.」
「It’s a serious crime to waste Aegir-sama’s indebtedness.」
Celia pushes out a metal apparatus shaped like a cow. What is that thing?
「W-wait! The successive generations of the king’s wife……no, even banished lovers may have a clue! I will devote all my effort and find something in three days……no, in one week!」
A thought flashes in my mind at the last second.
I hit my hand with a fist and stood up.
「I know who has lived in the inner palace for a long time. There are dozens of them actually.」
I rose from the throne and lumber out of the room.
「Where are you going!? Or so I want to say, are you alright with not punishing me? You’re really fine with letting me go?」
Rebecca screams, surrounded by the rope, the cross, and the cow.
「Celia, put those dangerous things away and bring ‘that’ out. I’ll have her work while wearing it for some time.」
A dissatisfied Celia fetches the clothes I mentioned, and Rebecca shrieks hysterically when she sees them.
I am headed to the room Flantica was locked in.
When I removed the lock put on the door for the sole purpose of punishing her, Flantica rotated her head from side to side with her eyes glued to the ceiling. It feels like her condition has worsened, but I’m sure she’s fine.
「Flantica, I have a favor to ask. No, I have a favor to ask the girls in the room!」
「It hurts. So hot. I hate it. Keh, kekekeke.」
I grab the girl whose skin has an odd green tinge to it.
I try not to pay much attention to the tongue that sticks out and her googly eyes.
「Okay, come in.」
On my signal, men enter the room.
They are all dressed differently.
One is in royal knight gear, another is in the attire of my personal army, yet another is in the formal dress of a noble, and some are even in dirty peasant or farmer clothes.
The one thing they all have in common are their detestable faces.
「「「Yes, Your Majesty?」」」
The group of handsome men crowd around Flantica.
Flantica, who had been repeatedly behaving strangely with a crazy expression, stops.
I could have sworn multiple white wisps popped out of her open mouth, then rushed back into her mouth.
The creepy laughter also stops, and then after she rubs her face with both hands, she takes out a mirror from within her pocket and grooms herself.
Her face rapidly returns to its normal complexion.
Hey, that’s a big difference from when you were in front of me.
「I am the grudge that nests in the inner palace. Aah so bitter and envious. I hate it, I hate it.」
What she’s saying is the same, but she’s saying it in a more decipherable and even charming feminine voice.
Somehow that frustrates me, but nothing will be solved if I overturn this room.
The ones that know the most about the dark history of the inner palace are none other than these girls.