A Night with Butterflies in Their Stomachs
Queen Sisi wrapped herself in my cloak, cherishing it as though there was nothing else in the world that could compare, as the two of us had a simple meal.
“Did you go see the businessmen today? I would think that they are the only ones left capable of putting up a resistance against the military.”
“Yes. I went to loan ten thousand gold coins from them, with them listed as the lender on the IOU. In essence, I now owe every merchant in the imperial capital.”
Queen Sisi had a moment to think prior to asking, “I can’t see how there is any point in you loaning that sum. Do we need money for something right now? Put another way, you plan to go meet people from the military tomorrow?”
Queen Sisi was astute enough to comprehend my plan. She could discern what I was planning if I just told her what I did.
“Correct. The IOU is my protective talisman. I now owe everyone money, which means that none of the businessmen wants me to die. If I die, the sum will become a dead debt. I cannot say for certain whether or not the military will kill me. In short, I am just glad that I have this protective talisman.”
“Then, if… if… if… Veirya makes it clear that she is willing to kill you… will you give up on her… and leave with me? If you’re together with me, you don’t need to do anything. You just need to stay by my side…”
“Sorry, Your Majesty. I do not want to think about that at the moment.”
Queen Sisi’s expression stiffened. She then gave me a smile and switched the subject: “Then… do you think it’s appropriate to put all your hope in the businessmen? There is no question that the military has the imperial capital in its grasp, but can those merchants be trusted? I’ve never trusted them. Who knows what sort of absurd requests they will make afterwards? When they do, it won’t be resolved with just repaying ten thousand gold coins. I’m sure that they have their own agenda.”
“True. That said, at present, every merchant’s profits aligns with one another. They want you to return. That is why it is best to avoid destroying their current alliance. We need help to return you to the throne; however, such an alliance is bound to ask for lots of things once you are instated. Therefore, it is best if we can then undo their alliance.”
If Queen Sisi is reinstated thanks to the merchants’ help, they will inevitably ask for Queen Sisi to repay them accordingly. What they ask for in return definitely won’t be as simple as some money. As far as anyone knows, they might ask for some sort of administrative authority within the empire. Queen Sisi never gave any merchant any administrative authority in the empire before. All they were permitted to do was do business, not dip their hands in national administration. That was the farthest she would allow them to go. Should they approach her as a united front, then Queen Sisi will be at a huge disadvantage. Would she agree to their requests if they were to turn around and blackmail Queen Sisi with their contribution when she was soon to be reinstated?
Now, if only Achilles or the bank president provided funding, then Queen Sisi would have the advantage. Have a request when I’m about to be crowned? Would your blackmail work on me when the crown is going to soon be mine again? You don’t want to help? Fine, I’ll ask someone else. Once they’re certain that Queen Sisi will return to the throne, lots of people would be willing to invest into the investment that was guaranteed to have a positive return on investment. Merchants are helpers; however, united merchants are not.
With her face in her hands, Queen Sisi deliberated to herself for a while. Once done, she smiled, “I also have an idea. There is no way I can take the empire from the military, and then handed it to the merchants. With that said, you can just leave that to me. It’s inconsiderate of me to dump everything on your shoulders.”
Queen Sisi carefully placed my cloak on the bed then headed out. I didn’t know what she wanted to do. She took our eating utensils out. There was no need to worry if Queen Sisi, personally, came up with something or dip my hands into it. It was Queen Sisi we were talking about, after all.
When I returned to the room, I saw Queen Sisi come in, struggling to carry a big basin of hot water. Frightened by her wobbling, I rushed over to take the hot basin of water, albeit almost dropping it on contact. Queen Sisi’s hands were bright red, but she was still all smiles.
Queen Sisi shook her hands, “Umm… I figured… you must be tired from this journey, so… I wanted to wipe you down… Sorry…. I don’t know what’s good, either… but, I wanted to help you relax.”
“No need. I can help myself. I am used to it.”
“That’s why I insist!!” Queen Sisi suddenly ran up to me and grabbed the edge of the basin, thereby startling me. She threatened, “I can’t stand that habit anymore!! Why are you willing to be with Veirya when she’s so inconsiderate?! Clearly, there’s no reason for you to suffer all this; you clearly deserve to be taken care of, as well! Why do you have to be used to such things?! I insist on wiping you down today. Else, I’ll go and turn myself in to the military right now!”
“What is the point of this, exactly…?”
Hopeless, I sighed. After everything that happened recently, I no longer wanted to think about anything. I undid my clothes then took off my shirt. Then, I nonchalantly sat down in the chair in front of Queen Sisi.
“As you insist, I shall go along with you.”
Queen Sisi froze. Her determination and bravado vanished into thin air. She didn’t come up behind me. Instead, she just stared at my back for a long time. I turned my head: “I guess Queen Sisi is not good at this sort of stuff, after all.”
“No… I just… feel slightly shy… This is my first time… touching a man’s body… umm… I still feel slightly shy about it…”
Queen Sisi squeezed her towel in her hand. She trembled as she approached me. Even I started to feel somewhat shy with her just staring at my back… I turned back around. I prepared myself for the sensation of the hot towel making contact with my back, but I didn’t feel the sensation in the end. Instead, I felt Queen Sisi’s somewhat hot hand…
Queen Sisi shrieked and tossed the towel in her hand to run to the bed. My heart rate sped up as a result of having a woman touch me… I felt the whole idea was a mistake. The perfectly fine night had turned into a sleepless one…
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