Sharing the Hot Spring
We went along the mountain path that was clearly man made to reach half-way up the mountain. We could hear the sound of water. Soon enough, a hot spring that was neither large nor small came into sight. It was a pure outdoor spring. Nobody had developed it yet. Steam came from the gurgling water and flowed out from the spring and into the large pool before flowing into the river course.
Queen Sisi’s carriage stopped. She hopped off her carriage and stretched out her limbs. Then, she turned around to face her knights and chuckled: “I love this place. What are you still standing there for? I’ll be here. I want to spend the night here for a bath; it’s much more comfortable than bathing in a barrel.”
The knights immediately responded, “Yes, Your Majesty!!”
They had no regard for Veirya’s opinion when Veirya was the lord of the place. They took out axes from their horse’s backs and began to chop down trees. Apparently, they planned to chop down trees to make Queen Sisi a residence. We also dismounted. We couldn’t do anything but watch them. The ladies-in-waiting looked elated. They could use the hot spring when Queen Sisi didn’t use it. Furthermore, they could direct water there to dig up another hot spring. I didn’t think too much, though. I was more interested in finding out the location of the coal mine.
Edward wasn’t tall. In fact, he wasn’t even as tall as Queen Sisi. He nervously stood next to her and kept trying to get her attention, but Queen Sisi wouldn’t give him time of the day. Instead, she was arm in arm with Veirya, talking about something. Veirya never replied as always and just silently listened. The blonde young man looked blatantly awkward. That was a problem that often had. Sometimes, you should stay in your own lane instead of incessantly trying to approach your boss.
Achilles stood next to me. He looked in Queen Sisi’s direction with his eyebrows pinched together. It was clear that he was somewhat bitter. We could tell how foolish Edward was, after all. It’s frustrating to know such a fool snatched your post from you. Nothing could be done about it, though. Edward’s ideas lined up with Queen Sisi’s agenda. I trusted Achilles was loyal. Anyone who was remotely loyal at that point would’ve agreed that humanity couldn’t attack elves.
Queen Sisi would trust those who’d help her. The way she thought was different; she had no concept of right or wrong. Her belief was that her vassals and people were obliged to satisfy her desires. Her definition of correct was anything that made what she wanted a success. That was the classic “winner takes all, loser is wrong” mentality. I didn’t know who taught her to adopt that philosophy. In any case, it was best for the idea to remain in history with those who believed in nihilism. If that was how a monarch operated, one small mistake would sink their entire nation.
Perhaps Queen Sisi was done talking to Veirya when she turned around. With a cheerful smile, she said, “Okay, okay, gentlemen, you can go back now. It is now ladies’ time.”
Achilles sighed and patted my shoulder. Edward froze. He was anxious and eager to say something; unfortunately, Queen Sisi paid him no mind. The guards on two sides came up to lead him away. He, therefore, had no choice but to turn and leave in disappointment. I had no clue what he wanted to say, but damn it was satisfying to see him disappointed.
I was a male, so, while I didn’t want to leave Leah, I had to turn around and leave. When I went to leave, I suddenly, “Wait, Little Doggy. You stay.”
I saw Queen Sisi’s smile and heterochromia eyes. She folded her arms: “Since you’re my favoured vassal, you must behave as one. As my favoured vassal, you, naturally, have to join me in the hot spring. Furthermore, if you’re not here, Leah and Veirya wouldn’t be willing to be with me at night, would they…?”
I didn’t refuse; instead, I stopped. I noticed two pair of eyes. One from Achilles, who was somewhat relieved, but he also encouraged me. The other pair of eyes belonged to Edward, who oozed jealousy. I knew Edward wanted Queen Sisi’s favour; only by winning her favour would it make things easier for him to enact his policies as a businessman. Further, Her Majesty was interested in just their product; not so much them. That was why he was most likely still concerned.
I stopped. I didn’t plan to say anything during the visit to the hot spring. If I outright told Queen Sisi to not attack the elves, she’d brush me off. I needed to try and figure out what she was thinking. After all, she also seemed interested in the machine. Acquiring the machine should’ve sat well with her.
Everybody was gone soon enough. The knights, who were also the guards of the imperial capital, set up a small campsite nearby. They only had simple large tents in the camp, but they had already finished setting up. The ladies-in-waiting moved everything Queen Sisi needed to the largest tent. I recognised the largest tent. It was the very tent that Veirya threw me into last time.
After checking that there was nobody around, Queen Sisi cheerfully began to undress. She jumped down into the water without even taking off her socks. Veirya dawdled and then jumped straight in without even taking her clothes off. She picked up Queen Sisi; Queen Sisi froze. The Princess carry position that they were in looked similar to a pair of lovers. While carrying Queen Sisi, Veirya asked, “Your Majesty, are you all right?”
I had my living daylights scared out of me. I yelled in my mind, “Veirya, can you please be careful with your body?! You’re currently pregnant!! You may not be truly pregnant, but you need to be careful as a pregnant woman would be!! If Queen Sisi finds out that it’s a hoax, I’ll be doomed! Also, what are we going to do if Queen Sisi tells you to join the battle after witnessing you move so dexterously?!”
Queen Sisi laughed happily. She hugged Veirya around her neck and gently rested her head on Veirya’s shoulder. She shut her eyes happily and snuggled up. Voice soft, she said, “This is nice, Veirya. This is nice. I do feel so at ease with you by my side, after all. There all too many people around who can talk, but you’re the only who’d still come to my rescue when you’re pregnant… Veirya… you’re my true knight. How nice would it be if you were a man? If you were a man, I’d most likely be madly in love with you.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Veirya didn’t understand what Queen Sisi meant. She decided to set Queen Sisi gently down on the bank first. She then looked over to me, apparently to ask me if she just did the right thing. I shook my head with a helpless smile. I only finally felt relieved after Veirya looked to me.
Queen Sisi, to the contrary, unhappily frowned when she noticed Veirya’s gaze: “How upsetting. Veirya is my knight, yet she cares for your feelings instead of mine. Little Doggy, how did you conquer Veirya?”
I answered honestly: “I did not do anything.”
Veirya looked at me as if I lied about something. She then turned to Queen Sisi: “He. Did lots of things. Helped me. A lot. So. I really like him. I care. About his feelings. Very much. Also. He is. Usually always right.”
In a somewhat spoilt and flirtatious tone, Queen Sisi questioned, “What about me, then, Veirya? What about me?”
Veirya lingered for a moment before answering, “I greatly respect you. Your Majesty. I will always. Be loyal to you.”
“That’s not what she wanted to hear!! She wanted to hear you say that you like me!!”
“Mm. Your Majesty. I like you.”
The two of them made me feel incredibly awkward. If Veirya was a man, you’d have an insomnia-inducing, crude romance development by then between a dense main male protagonist and the woman he liked. As Veirya was so obedient, Queen Sisi hopelessly laughed. With a smile, she took hand of Veirya’s hand and said, “Okay, okay, Veirya. I shouldn’t have teased you. Undress and let’s take a dip together. It must be difficult to bathe here, since we don’t have the bath that we have in the imperial palace.”
If you used the imperial palace’s baths as the standard, I doubt there were many people who would have actually washed themselves, then. Veirya obediently undressed. Leah also undressed. The three of them totally ignored my feelings. All of a sudden, I had three charming bodies in front of me. Arguably, I had the most beautiful scenery in the world before me. Nonetheless, I couldn’t react to them. Queen Sisi was present… She wasn’t Veirya or Leah. Those two, I was used to… Okay, maybe not…
“Fuu… how soothing. Hot springs truly are the most soothing. They’re completely different to bathtubs. Fuu, fuu, this feels amazing.”
Queen Sisi stretched herself out in the water to her heart’s content. She shut her eyes and enjoyed what nature had to offer. Leah was very surprised by the water temperature, as it was her first time at a hot spring. She cupped water in her hand and looked at it feeling befuddled, apparently wondering why the water was hot. Veirya turned around to ask me, “Do you want. To join?”
“Huh?!” Queen Sisi and I both froze.
“What’s the matter? We. Bathed together. Before.”
“No! No! He can’t!!” Queen Sisi cut Veirya right off. “I’ll get pregnant. Veirya, you’re pregnant, so it’s fine for you, but not me!”
Veirya wore a stoic expression: “No. Because I am not…”
“Aaaaahhhh!!! I’m done!! I’m done!! I’m going for a walk over there! I’m going for a walk over there!!” I screamed.
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