Chapter Sponsored by Kyon Snow
“Ah, your majesty.”
Castell who was dressed in a dark purple robe bowed before me, and said with a smile: “I heard her highness was not feeling well so I came to visit her. Please allow me to see her.”
Standing at the door of mom’s room, I smiled and replied: “Sorry, but her highness is still resting so I will have to turn you away.” I noticed Lucia who was standing behind him had already drawn her dagger…
Castell smiled and said: “Is that so? That is strange. I heard elves do not get sick, so can I take that as…”
Lucia had her dagger up against his neck before I could finish speaking, and coldly said: “Stop being presumptuous, human. Her highness is doing very well, don’t go spouting nonsense.”
Castell smiled and raised his hands up in surrender as Lucia held the dagger against his neck. Even so, he didn’t look nervous in the least. To the contrary, he looked like it was calculated on his part.
“Don’t do that, Lucia. He’s an envoy after all. Hurting him without good rhyme or reason will ruin our relationship.”
I hurriedly pressed Lucia’s hand down. She withdrew her dagger angrily and stood aside. I smiled apologetically at Castell and said: “Sorry, she’s in a bad mood because her highness is unwell. Regardless of what you may think, elves aren’t rocks, so we naturally have our own ailments. The idea that we elves don’t get sick just means that we don’t contract the same illnesses humans do. Her highness just feels a little sick and should be fine soon. I’m thankful that you care for her highness, but I hope you be mindful of your manners. Please don’t behave disrespectfully during sensitive times like this.”
Castell nodded and he looked around before returning his gaze to me, and said: “My, my. Now that her highness is not around, it looks like you will have to handle all the palace affairs. How do you feel about it? Can you feel what it is like to be a ruler?”
I smiled bitterly, and said: “No. Our kingdom is at peace, so there’s nothing major to handle. Further, I lack talent, I can’t compare to her highness. I hope that her highness gets well soon.”
To be honest, I think elves don’t actually get sick. Mom’s not sick. She’s just in a state of shock at the moment because of what she went through. And the culprits that caused her to be in a state of shock happened to be none other than the two standing right in front of her door… Lucia and I.
Mom was shocked after we jumped yesterday and barely managed to pull us up in time using a vine before she passed out. She woke up in the early morning but was still shocked, so we stopped everyone who tried to approach her. When I tried to approach her, she tightly embraced me and cried. She hugged me so tightly, I felt I was going to get crushed, and she did something nobody could accept. She tried to strip me and lock her into her vine-cage that she’d then take with her everywhere she goes…
She was out of her mind so she couldn’t communicate. Other than mumbling my name, she couldn’t say anything else. The doctor prescribed her some relaxants so she’s sleeping now.
We hushed the news of mom’s condition this morning, and yet Castell still managed to find out. If a ruler falls ill, it must be hushed otherwise it’d lead to civil unrest, and foreign countries may take advantage of the situation to attack. I just dealt with a number of matters within the palace under the pretence of “learning” because there was nothing major, and I could solve them quite easily.
Then I came back here and ran into Castell.
“You must’ve come to our kingdom for unfinished business, but as a stand-in, I’m in no position to make decisions on behalf of both kingdoms. Please do not fret and wait patiently; we will invite you over when her highness is well enough to see you, thank you. I wish you a safe return, Mr Castell. Now, if you’ll excuse.”
I looked at Castell whose aura reeks of deception. It was best that I didn’t stay in contact with him for a long time since I didn’t grow up in this environment, and therefore was prone to revealing things that shouldn’t be revealed. If I did, I’d probably get locked into a cage and lugged around for sure…
“Ah, please wait a moment, your majesty…”
Castell called me from behind. I sighed and turned around with a smile, and asked: “Is something the matter?”
“No, no, no…” He wore a fake smile like a merchant, looked to my sides and noticed Lucia wasn’t around. But, for some reason he seemed to hope Lucia was around. He walked up to me and whispered in my ear: “I know what you are worried about, your majesty. While it’s true that we humans do not understand your magical creatures, your Earth Dragons scales do get imported and exported from our end.”
He retreated with a victorious smile on his face as he smiled at my state of disbelief before slightly bowing and said: “That is all I had to say, goodbye, your…”
Lucia appeared in front of him to stop him and said: “Do you think you can just walk away after saying that?”
“My, my…” Castell raised his hands while wearing a look of mockery and said: “I was just talking about some trivial business stuff between us. I did not say anything disrespectful, did I? Blocking an envoy’s way for no rhyme or reason is disrespectful, miss.”
“Please wait, Mr Castell. Let’s continue our talk in the room.”
I don’t know how he knows I was concerned about the Earth Dragons, but he knows what I want to know. I already mentioned that I’m just a stand-in and therefore can’t make any decisions related to diplomatic matters. I don’t understand why he mentioned that to me. Does he want something from me?
In any case, I need to be extra cautious. The elf capital doesn’t feel like home to me, but I don’t want to put my mother to shame.
“Understood, your majesty.”
A few minutes later, we arrived at a relatively quiet room. Lucia stood guard at the closed door and closed her eyes. As a guard, she wasn’t allowed to participate in negotiations. As such, I was alone this time, so I needed to be extra cautious. In front of me is a veteran-reporter, I mean, veteran-envoy.
Castell smiled and sat next to me, and said: “I know you are on guard against me, but in reality, I do not have any spies placed among your ranks, so you do not even need to inspect me after I leave. However, while I was taking a stroll this morning, I found this on the lawn below your window.”
He placed a small piece of something on the table which left me speechless when I saw what it was.
It was an Earth Dragon scale. It looks like Lucia dropped it on the lawn when she lost conscious yesterday, which Castell then picked up.
“Combined with what happened in the palace before and the reason her highness was angry, I have a good guess of what happened. Your majesty, I do not question your abilities, it is just… I believe your campaign failed. I asked the elder afterwards and asked about the Earth Dragons issue. He told me that he loaned you all his books related to them, so that confirmed my suspicions. Your majesty…”
He leaned towards me and said with a smile: “You want to know how to slay Earth Dragons, do you not?”
I was left speechless. I must say, as an envoy, his eyes and mind are sly and dangerous. It’s unbelievable that he managed to correctly guess what happened in the palace. To be honest, I don’t entirely believe him when he says this was all his guess-work. I’m going to have to double-check with the inspectors after he leaves.
“That’s right. There’s no point in hiding it any further. I admit I failed. That’s why I’m now looking for a way to kill those Earth Dragons.”
He already knows, so there’s no point in hiding it anymore. He already knows the answer, that’s why he came looking for me.
Castell casually said: “Aaahh, I see, I see. Earth Dragons are quite infamous at home too. But we call them giant lizards. They are only considered material for our armour. As for killing them, that is nothing difficult for us.”
Furious, Lucia stood up and yelled at him: “How’s that possible?! We can use magic and yet we can’t kill them, so how could you humans possibly kill them?! Blades can’t pierce their armour! Low level magic is useless against them, and they’re intelligent creatures. You can only trap one or two with traps, but there’s no way you could kill hordes!”
Castell smiled and motioned: “Well, what can I do about it?”
He then rubbed his temples and said: “There is no need to get so worked up, miss. I would not be able to explain to you how humans are able to kill them with ease even if you asked, because I do not know the answer myself. I do not come from a family of hunters. When her majesty hosts hunting events, we just hunt deer and rabbits. But in our country, Earth Dragon scales are not that valuable. They do not bother our day-to-day lives either… How do I put it… Erm…”
He seemed to be looking for a word. Suddenly, he clapped his hands and excitedly said: “Humans must be able to slay them since they cannot use magic.”
I suddenly had an “ah-hah” moment.
Castell shrugged and said: “We cannot use magic, so we have no choice but to find alternatives. Wood, animal skin and gold; things that you would treat as garbage and throw away if placed in front of you. But we are limited to those tools, and so we use what we have. We launch huge rocks into other peoples’ cities. That is the reason we can slay them”
I paused for a moment, and said: “Machines?”
“Wow! You live up to your title, your majesty. Not only do you understand the magic of elves, but even the machines used by humans!” Castell acted like he found a soul mate. He excitedly shook my hand and then said: “Once your magic fails you, you consider yourselves the same creatures as humans. And as humans, you lack machinery, therefore you have no way of slaying Earth Dragons. Is it really true that blades do not hurt Earth Dragons?”
He reached his hand out and said: “Miss, please pass me your dagger.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Lucia, give it to him.”
Lucia looked at me in shock as she pressed her hand against the dagger on her waist and said: “Are you serious, your highness?! He’s a human! What are you going to do if he attacks us?!”
Castell smiled helplessly, and said: “Why would I attack our prince? I still want to be able to return home. All the lives in my family would not be enough to compensate for my sins should I bring him harm…”
I nodded and said: “Give it to him, it’ll be fine.”
“That… That’s… Understood.”
Lucia voluntarily handed Castell her dagger. He nodded and said: “Not bad. This was crafted quite well and the materials used to craft it are not bad either. The blades of elves really are something else. I honestly want to buy a few to take home. Unfortunately, the blades of imperial guards cannot be bought, while the blades of others cannot compare to ours… Please watch carefully, your majesty.”
Castell lifted the dagger up and pointed it towards the scale that I had always thought to be impenetrable.
A loud echo filled the room as the dagger pierced the wooden table. I looked on, completely surprised at the sight of the Earth Dragon scale split in two. Castell smiled, then returned to his seat and said: “The reason they cannot be cut is because their skin surface is extremely slippery. Slashing will not hurt them, but if you stab them, then it is just like any other ordinary scale. As long as the blade is relatively sharp, you will be able to pierce them without any hassles. That said, their skin underneath is still very thick, so just some-blade will not hurt them. I recommend making one-metre long spears… No. One-metre long arrows.”
Lucia looked at Castell as if he were retarded, took back her dagger, and said: “That’s impossible! No one among the elves could possible fire a bow with a one-metre long arrow on it! That’s no arrow. That’s practically a spear for us! I don’t believe humans can load that bow either.”
“No, of course not.” Castell looked in my direction and smiled. He then stood up and said: “Your majesty, I do not have blueprints and nor do I know the method for creating them. I am not a blacksmith, nor did I bring one with me. But I have shared with you everything that I know.”
I stood up and asked in a serious tone: “What do you want?”
I paused, laughed and said: “So what do you want?”
“You’re not going to tell me you’re helping me unconditionally now, are you? What do you want? I don’t have anything I could give you. I’m just a stand-in. If you were hoping to receive some sort of benefits from me, then you miscalculated.”
“No, no, no. I think you have misunderstood my intentions.”
Castell put his hat on, smiled, walked to the door, pulled the door open, and said: “As a retainer, I must help my prince. That is my responsibility. You need not speak of rewards. If you really wish to repay me, please put in some nice words for me to her highness in a week from now. That would be the greatest reward you could give me. I wish you well, your majesty. I shall take my leave now.”
Lucia, who was standing at my side looking at the split scale on the desk, and asked me in a confused tone: “What exactly was he trying to say? I didn’t quite get it. Your highness, not even the previous emperor could possibly fire a bow with a one-metre long arrow on it.”
“Ah… It’s impossible.”
I nodded and closed my eyes as I entered deep thought.
“But a machine could…”
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