The empress didn’t come at dinner time. I was relieved but at the same time felt slightly uncomfortable. Dinner suited my palate more. Perhaps it was because they switched chefs. I had the dining hall to myself at dinner. Nier stood sternly behind me.
I wiped my mouth with a napkin, washed my hands in the jade bowl by the side, turned around to look at Nier who had her hand placed on her sword and called her: “Nier.”
“Did the meal not suit your palate?”
“Not at all… It wasn’t bad.” I shook my head and gripped the bottle in my hand. I was going to give this to the empress tonight, but it looks like I’ll have to make a trip to the inner court now. I’ll need Nier to take me there since the empress isn’t here.
Nier looked at me without any compassion and asked: “What are your orders then?”
I don’t know why but I can always detect hatred towards me and a desire to kill me in her eyes… Had she not received orders to protect me, I bet I would’ve had my throat slit while taking a stroll out at night out of nowhere.
“Umm… Could you take me to see her majesty? I have something I want to give her…”
“What is it?”
Niers eyes turned cold and the killing intent aura she had intensified. It seemed that she gets angry if I mentioned her majesty in her presence. I handed her the small bottle in my hand and said: “Just this… I believe it’s the water from the elves’ holy spring…. I don’t know what purpose it serves either, it’s just what my mother asked me to bring along.”
“Alright, please come with me. I’ll take you to the inner court. However, don’t get scared when you set foot into the inner court.”
Nier bowed. Her tone sounded like she was ridiculing me. I stood up and followed Nier out. The inner court must be where her majesty resides. Judging by Nier’s tone, I guess it’s heavily guarded.
The inner court was situated in the innermost part of the palace. It didn’t look eye-catching. It looked like a normal palace. Compared to all the other buildings, the residence of her majesty was much more… Normal. I scanned the place. There were two young girls with swords by the door. They looked identical to Nier. They had the same getup, the same hair and even the exact same gestures.
When they saw Nier, they bowed and greeted her: “Instructor!”
Nier nodded and responded: “Uhm.”
She then walked up to them and looked at me following behind. She then gave a little smile, shuffled her feet on the steps and said: “Your majesty, if you’ve prepared yourself, please come up.”
I nodded and followed Nier up the steps…
“The inner court is the resting place of her majesty and males are forbidden from entering! Take one more step and you will be killed on the spot mercilessly!!”
It didn’t even occur to me!!
I take back what I said about there being two guards. As soon as I set foot onto the step, swords were unsheathed in an instant from every direction. They were unsheathed so quickly I only heard the clanging of steel. I stood there in a daze in the same posture as when I placed my foot down onto the step. About ten swords were aimed at my neck like a necklace.
I felt the cold steel on my neck. My neck will get penetrated if I even do so much as budge, huh?
I was surrounded by the cold reflection of the blades. My brain was completely blank as I looked at a girl before me whose eyes were filled with killing intent. Had I taken another step my body would be in pieces right now.
“Your majesty, these are the Valkyries. The moment you stepped onto the steps, twelve swords were already aimed at your neck. You probably never imagined you could have so many swords against your neck, right?
Nier stood in front of me and smiled proudly with her arms folded. She clapped her hands and the swords were removed from my neck right away. A shadow moved and I was on my butt. I grabbed my neck and caught my breath as I scanned my surroundings out of shock. There was nothing around other than the two guards by the door. That moment was just like a dream.
“Please wait a moment, I shall go report to her majesty.”
I sat and looked at Nier completely shocked. She looked at me with eyes filled with disdain. She turned around in a chic way. I felt like her black ponytail whipped my heart. The Valkyries are a scary group of women! They should be called crazy, not loyal! With a group of guards like that here, this place must practically be an impregnable castle.
I quivered as I got up. My two legs were like jelly and I struggled to stand on my own legs. How embarrassing… I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone who can maintain their calm when they’ve got twelve swords pressed against their throat.
Nier quickly returned and said: “Her majesty calls for you. Please enter.”
She then led me inside. The interior of the inner court was decorated much more extravagantly than its exterior. The floor we walked on reflected our reflection like a mirror. The swaying candles illuminated the magnificent walls of the inner court. It was as though everything was made of gold. There seemed to be a faint fruit fragrance inside.
Nier led me to a large white folding door and said: “Her majesty awaits you inside.”
“So before you try and do something to her majesty, please remember our existence. After all, we’re capable of cutting you up into twelve parts in the time it takes for you to take a single step. I hope you and her majesty enjoy your conversation.”
Nier’s expression was really scary. You might say it was a polite smile but in my eyes, it was like the fierce gaze of a demon from hell. Nier pulled the door open. I took in a deep breath and entered.
Her majesty’s room was basically structured the same as mine, except more extravagant. The air was also filled with a richer fruit scent. I looked around and spotted the empress sitting at a table. Her long black hair was down while she was scribbling on documents in front of her while still in her military get-up.
That’s fair game. A ruler has a ruler’s work after all.
Without raising her head and while her hands continued to move on the documents, she faintly asked: “You’re here very late my son, is something the matter?”
“It’s about what happened in the afternoon… Your majesty, please forgive…”
“What happened in the afternoon?”
“What I said was too childish and angered your majesty…”
“Oh, that. I… I… I…”
I noticed that her hand holding her pen was shaking slightly.
“Don’t worry, I’m not angry.”
A second later, she took in a deep breath, raised her head and looked at me. Her black eyes were filled with hope as she asked: “Is there anything else you’d like to ask of me?”
“My mother asked me to give you something…”
I handed over the bottle with two hands. Her face turned pale for a moment. She took the bottle, looked at it and then said: “I’m grateful for the gesture. Is there anything else my son? Don’t be nervous, have some fruit.”
Her majesty ripped off a small string of grapes and handed them to me. I quietly ate one by one. She placed her face in her hands and I think she was smiling as she watched me. She rubbed her temples and asked: “Did you manage to adapt to life with the elves over there, son?”
“I adapted just fine, thank you for your concern, your majesty.”
“Did the elf ruler treat you well?”
“Mom… I mean, my mother treated me very well.”
I fearfully raised my head and saw the quill pen in her hand snapped in two… She looked around and then returned her gaze to me. She threw away the now snapped pen, took in a deep breath and said: “There’s… There’s… There’s nobody… Else in my room… So… So… Could you… Umm… Uhh… Call… Call… Me…”
I quickly placed the grape skins and seeds on the table, stood up and apologised: “Your majesty! I know! Your majesty! I won’t misaddress you!”*
“No… I… Haa… Forget it…”
The empress sat back into her chair like a balloon that had its air drained and rested her face on her hand. The atmosphere turned awkwardly silent once again. I looked at her majesty. To be honest, the most important thing I wanted to ask when I came here was…
“Umm… Your majesty…”
Her majesty shouldn’t be an evil person… She shouldn’t be…
She clutched her face and replied as though she was crying: “Speak.”
“Umm… Could I please ask you… to bath with me?”
*Because there’s a chance I’ll be asked, I’ll explain. He thought she meant to refer to her as “her majesty” as opposed to “mom”.
I came across another translation for something else that used ‘Inner Palace’ instead of ‘Inner Chamber’ which is the literal translation. I skipped that because it made no sense and would be geographically tough to visualise when you’ve got a palace, and then an Inner Palace. Therefore, up to now I’ve gone with Inner Chamber since it was more of a dwelling than an actual Palace, because we associate palace with a main building structure comprised of small units. They don’t have a kitchen built into their dwelling for example. Anyway, I did some research and have found that the term used officially for it is “Inner Court” or “Outer Court”. As such, I’ll be using “Court” from now on.
Translator Comments: I haven’t composed any pieces for the recent chapters because the tone in the chapters aren’t as consistent as volume 1. It’s possible to compose a melancholic tone and then switch to happy or jumpy in the same piece, but since your reading speed differs, it’d be extremely awkward to have a melancholic melody when the empress is going dere-dere if you know what I mean.