I stood up and looked up at the two rows of retainers on both sides which were as long as the length of a table, and said: “Is that all for today? You may all leave if there’s nothing else you wish to bring up.”
Mom isn’t available, so I meet with the retainers when they have something to discuss. There are no major issues to handle in the Elf nation. Most of the topics they bring up are about taxation, natural disasters and developmental areas requiring financial funding etcetera. They were relatively minor matters.
They nodded, stood up in succession, proceeded to bid farewell and then turned around to leave. I watched as they left one-by-one. I let out a sigh, passed on all the documents pertaining to their reports today to my servant, and then turned around and asked: “Ah, call Miss Lucia over. I need to speak to her.”
“Did you forget, your highness? She has to go and replenish her energy today. She is supposed to head to the wind elves temple alone.” My servant looked at me, titled his head and said: “It looks like you’re having trouble since no one is accompanying you today. It looks like dealing with the nation’s matters has kept you busy. How about you have a good rest for now?”
How would I know that? Lucia’s wind elves don’t give her an eternal buff, she needs to go replenish it every once in a while. She never told me… Ah, she must’ve told the original owner of this body. She probably didn’t complain and went to the temple alone after seeing how I had to handle all these national affairs alone day-after-day. My servant looked at me silently, slightly bowed and left with the documents, leaving me to stand there in a daze.
What can I do without Lucia? Am I supposed to go to the Black Forest on my own? Get real~ if I were to run into an Earth Dragon, I’d wind up dead even if I rode a fast steed, since they’re faster than horses. In short, I can’t go anywhere until Lucia returns. I can only stay in the palace.
The question is: When is she going to be back?! I really want to know, but I can’t ask! From a logical standpoint, I should know. What? Am I supposed to ask something that would cause everybody to go into a gossiping-frenzy like: “Hey, uhh, I forgot when my fiancé is supposed to return, could you tell me?” What would I do if Lucia found out I forgot about something so important and thought that I didn’t care about her…?
Are elves that petty? It’s safer to presume so than presume otherwise. If they turn out to be, then I’ll be screwed! I imagine Lucia would be pretty scary if she got angry… She does get buffs from wind elves after all…
As I was deep in thought, someone came out from the corner and collided into me. I think the person I collided into was dressed in full golden heavy armour. I felt like my nose was dislocated. I clutched my nose and picked myself up from the floor with tears streaming down my face. The person in front of me quickly said: “I sincerely apologise, your highness. I was in a rush and wasn’t watching where I was going, and ended up colliding into you. Are you alright, your highness?”
Still clutching my nose, I looked at the male elf dressed in full golden heavy armour in front of me, and said: “Ah, I’m fine, Ecthe!”
He looked at me worriedly, knelt down on one knee, and said: “I sincerely apologise, your highness. I was worried about my daughter and didn’t notice you in time, please punish me as you see fit.”
I waved my hands with a smile, and said: “It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s normal to bump into someone when walking, it’s nothing major. I was thinking about Lucia while walking around so I didn’t pay attention to what was in front of me either. We were both in the absent-minded.”
Ecthe is Lucia’s father, so he’s also my father-in-law. He’s referring to me as “your highness” and I’m addressing him as a retainer right now. But in private, I still treat him with the respect he deserves as his seniority dictates.
Ecthe said with a smile: “It’s Lucia’s fault then. When she returns, you must punish her severely.”
“Hahaha, you’re right. It’s all Lucia’s fault for making us worry.”
I laughed, then looked out the window with a worried expression, and said: “Today was a busy day, and I couldn’t accompany Lucia on her trip. I wonder how she’s doing. She should be back soon, right?”
“You need not worry, your highness. Lucia goes there every month. All she needs to do for the so-called replenishment ritual is sacrifice the head of a white deer, and then take a bath. She is highly skilled at hunting deers. The only time consuming part is getting there, but she can fly back, so there is no need for you to worry, your highness. You just have to stick with your usual routine. I will take responsibility for guarding the palace while she is out.”
“Thank you for your hard work. Though I hope you won’t turn the next corner while thinking of your daughter.”
“Hahaha, same to you, your highness.”
“Ah, that’s right. Are the palace guards ready yet?”
“They are. They are just waiting for your orders to set out.”
We bid each other goodbye and went our ways. Guards in the palace don’t remove their armour. Their armour is made from gold and the scales of Earth Dragons. Gold is usually used for plate armour, while Earth Dragon scale armour is made of, well… Earth Dragon scales. The queen provides all armour with buffs, which reduces the weight of them, and increases their defences. Moreover, by having the queen herself reinforce the armour, it signifies that they have earned her trust. Elves consider that an honour the same way we view medals and trophies. As such, palace guards don’t remove their armour.
The battle strategy for elves resembles the formation centred around the long-bow invented by the English. The archers begin by firing arrows from the frontline, then once the enemy army comes forward, the spear troops from the back stop them, finally, once the enemy approaches close range, the swordsmen charge forward towards the spear wielders. Elves are natural-born archers, so their frontline archers are deadly.
Elves form teams of three and engage in mock guerrilla warfare games in mountains and forests. They wait for the enemy to lose patience and break formation. Once they do, the soldiers charge the enemy with broadswords and straight swords.
The foot soldiers in the imperial palace guard unit are even more battle-thirsty. I once saw an elf shoot a bee down because he was annoyed. The mastery of archery I witnessed is considered the average standard for palace guards. The imperial palace guard unit also includes the most elite cavalry unit. Those wearing armour with buffs break through enemy lines, while the cavalry wearing the dragon armour follow closely behind and engage the enemy.
Elves know how to ride horses, but their equestrian skills don’t garner praise. On the other hand, the imperial palace guards ride them as though they were part of their body.
They form the guard force for the imperial palace, and are also the strongest fighting unit of the elf race. The elf shadow squad are spread out within the palace. Sometimes I can sense the presence of a few, but for the major part, I can’t detect their presence at all. For instance, I never detect Lucia’s presence when she appears by my side. It’s just as she says: She won’t ever be detected unless she chooses to reveal herself.
The shadow squad takes orders directly from the ruler, so not even I can order them around. The reason I can order Lucia around is because she’s my fiancé and we have a good relationship. By right, I shouldn’t be able to order the squad around, but Lucia said, mom ordered them to follow all my orders because she dotes on me. This is the only reason why I can order them around. The palace guards have always taken orders directly from the imperial family, so I have the two strongest squads at my command.
They’re the reason for my confidence in this upcoming Earth Dragon hunt. I can’t say with absolute confidence that I’ll be able to shoot them all down. If I don’t have troops who can hold the line in close combat, once the canyon length is too short or if the dragons are too quick, then I’m pretty much toast. Last time, I went after them for prestige and the palace guards didn’t come along. But this time, I’m going to bring them along.
Everyone in the elf capital respects mom. If we were to conduct some sort of vote, she’d easily win one-hundred percent of the votes. Therefore, I’m not worried about safety in the palace, but I’m going to leave some palace guards to protect her.
We have to keep this campaign under wraps because everybody believes they’ve already gone extinct. Our troops and equipment will be moved to the Black Forest in small units this time, and then we’ll form units once we arrive under the cover of the trees. It looks like the lie I told last time has finally found its use.
Lucia will be back tomorrow morning. The ballistae are due to be completed in three days, so there’s nothing much left for me to do right now. I paid mom a visit but she was still in a slumber. Left with not much to do, I decided to take a stroll outside on my own. Who knows, maybe I’ll encounter a beautiful female elf and start something with her.
I checked to make sure my head cloth was on properly and left through the main palace doors. The prince of this country may be really famous, but nobody recognises me when I walk alone on the streets. Everybody has their own business to mind, so it’s not like they can spend their days watching me.
I saw stalls selling grilled meat on the side of the road, so I reached for my pockets, but then realised that ever since I came to this world, I seem to have forgotten the concept of money!! I haven’t spent a penny ever since coming here. Elves use gold coins as their currency, and I happen to not have a single coin!!
It’s not like I could run up to them and say: “Hey, I’m the prince, please give me a rabbit thigh…” I’d bring disgrace to the entire imperial family! Lucia has always accompanied me outside, but I’m alone this time so I completely forgot! Do princes not carry money on them?! To be honest, I completely forgot about the existence of wallets!
Whatever, I’ll just window-shop… I can’t trade my reputation for a rabbit thigh…
The streets of the elf race were bustling while I just strolled around aimlessly. The buildings close to the vicinity of the palace are beautiful. They’re very neat and exude the air of nature. The buildings closer to the city walls on the other hand are rather normal. They’re just timber buildings. In fact, there are some places which are already damaged. The buildings are also arranged without order. The people here don’t look glamorous, but they don’t look like they’re suffering either. They’re probably just your average folks.
Just as I was about to turn around and head back, I suddenly heard someone call out to me. I turned around and saw a girl dressed in black. She asked: “My~ it’s rare to see you out here alone, your highness. Is the young lady not with you today?”
I paused for a moment before saying: “Oh, it’s you. I just came out for a stroll today. Do you live around here?”
The young lady I met yesterday nodded. Her red eyes looked as though she was smiling as she said: “This is rare. In the past, I would not even see you once a year, but you’ve been appearing a lot more often recently. I originally thought you came out to announce your engagement, but I never thought it would be to experience life as a commoner. Are you appearing more frequently because her highness is about to step down or something?”
I smiled bitterly and said: “You probably shouldn’t be making wild guesses about these sorts of things. Mom is still around after all… I didn’t come out here for any particular reason, nor am I inspecting the lives of commoners. I’ve just got nothing to do, so I came out for a stroll.” Elves seem to be really sensitive. But it’s only right, since I usually don’t leave the palace because of mom. With me appearing so frequently without mom, it’s only normal for people to assume I’ll be succeeding her position.
“We would be happy if she were to step down and be replaced. Ah, please do not misunderstand, I am not trying to criticise her or you. It is just that you have not yet accomplished anything, so we cannot help but question your abilities. There is the matter of the Dragon hunt from before, and now someone has been hurt, so everyone has their doubts about you.”
I smiled bitterly and said: “You’re right, which is why I’m going to make up for it. I underestimated them last time, but I have to wipe them out this time. Scratch that. I will wipe them out.”
“Give it your best, your highness. I do not know what your strategy is, but I can tell you are very confident, so that is a good start. We ourselves lack power, and therefore rely on you and your family to protect us. The imperial elf family has always done an exceptional job, and I believe you too will do an exceptional job, your highness.”
She bowed deeply, then looked up at me and said with a smile: “By the way, may I ask where the young lady with you yesterday is? I require some more ingredients to complete the perfume she requested.”
“Oh, Lucia? Lucia has left on business. What do you need? I’ll get it for you. As long as it’s something that can be bought, it doesn’t really matter who buys it.”
She looked at me with her red eyes, and I caught a glimpse of her playful mood. I couldn’t see her lips hidden behind her face cloth, but I had a feeling she had a cheeky smile on her face. She took out a tiny bottle and said: “Actually, the missing ingredient is only something you could provide me with… Since you brought it up, I would you to provide me with your hair, fresh blood and saliva.”
“Are you really making perfume?”
She gave me a surprised looked. She squinted her eyes, laughed out loud and said: “Haha… I know it sounds strange, but I really do need them to make perfume. I will not ask her for her opinion. I am just doing as she asked. So, please give me your hair, fresh blood and saliva. I am going to mix them into this tiny bottle…”
I’m fine with giving you my hair and blood, but…
I don’t think spitting is something a prince should do in public…