~ Chapter 83: Prequel to Fire (Part 1) ~
[Seryanna's point of view]
“Found you!” the fluffy princess said as she grabbed the tip of my tail.
I was hiding inside the castle behind one of the velvet window curtains. I intentionally allowed myself to get found by this cute little golden furball because she was just too cute when she pounced around and smiled brightly.
“So you did!” I replied with a smile as I pulled the curtain away.
“Ehehe!” she showed me a bright smile that warmed me up completely, and I couldn't abstain myself from picking her up in my arms and snuggling her.
Four days have passed since we arrived in the relliar capital Sagar. While I was playing with the little princess of this kingdom, Princess Elleyzabelle was in a real political battle with the King here, trying her best to acquire the trade rights and further open relationships between the Sarakus Kingdom and the Albeyater Kingdom. In regard to our original mission, the acquirement of the baby tooth, the dragoness wasn't able to find the right opportunity to tell him.
Despite all of this, I was told that negotiations were actually proceeding in a favorable direction. It wouldn't be long now before the King signed a treaty with us.
Meanwhile, Kataryna played her role as Princess Elleyzabelle's escort. The relliars thought she was very loyal, but I knew she was just trying to run away from the pesky Tanarotte. That dragoness, while her personality wasn't all that bad, her clingy behavior made the others avoid her.
“Where do you want to go, Shelly?” I asked her.
Eshantiel was a beautiful elegant name that gave of the feeling of a powerful noble woman, but it wasn't cute enough. That was why I gave her this nickname. The little one immediately fell in love with it.
“Um... I want to go see papa.” she said as she held onto my neck while I carried her in my arms.
“Of course!” I told her and then walked towards the throne room.
“I hope he's fwee today...” she said as she looked down.
His Majesty was an important man who lately had very little if no time at all to play with his children. One day, I happened to catch him while he was in the middle of reading a story to Shelly in the rose garden. The expression on his face was one of a dotting father rather than that of a stern, uncaring king.
“If he's not, then he's most likely still caught up in negotiations with Princess Elleyzabelle. She had a rather weird smile on her face when she left the guest's rooms today.” I said with a nod.
“Weird smile?” Shelly tilted her head to the left and twitched her cute little ears.
“Yes. The type someone who was plotting something. I guess these negotiations are stressing her out.” I showed her wry smile.
“She not bad, is she?”
“Nope. Don't worry! We didn't come here to start a war. We just want to open negotiations so that relliars can come to our country and dragons can come to yours to sell stuff.” I told her, but I wasn't sure if she understood my words.
“So... dwagons want to be friends with us?” she asked as she looked up at me with upturned eyes.
“Yes! Just like you and me!” I replied and nuzzled her.
During these past four days, I had the opportunity of seeing more of the castle than my friends. Shelly led me around all over the place. Of course, I didn't care about the layout of the building or to spy on the nobles here, but I did keep my eyes and ears sharp just in case I stumbled upon something worrying. My main objecting right now was to pet and cuddle the little princess. She was just too CUTE to resist!
That being said, it was impossible for me not to notice how many blind spots were around the castle. If the Palace of the Seyendraugher Royal Family was like an impenetrable fortress, then the Palace of the Ruvus Royal Family was like a poorly guarded gigantic mansion.
As a dragoness who stepped on the battlefield and lived through a war, I could tell that there were way too many ways I could break into this place and easily steal or kill someone inside. There were even areas on the big wall that weren't patrolled at all.
When I brought up this situation to Princess Elleyzabelle, she told me to keep quiet about this until the negotiations were over as it could be easily seen as both a threat and mockery by the Sarakus King.
If all things went well, she was going to mention all of these problems.
Another thing I noticed while playing with Shelly in the castle was the way the guards and even her teachers were treating her. They saw her as important and didn't dare to go against her wishes for the most part, but at the same time, they refused any sort of involvement with her. Princess Eshantiel wasn't like her older brother, Prince Estragus Ruvus, who was currently going through military academy. She wasn't the heir to the throne, not even a backup because of the birth of the young Prince Bartak. Eshantiel was essentially the same as Princess Elleyzabelle, a daughter meant to further strengthen the relationship with a foreign country through political marriage or those within the country.
Just the other day, there was this fat relliar noble who brazenly walked up to us and asked why Shelly denied his marriage proposal. This man was quite old, from what Princess Elleyzabelle told me later that day, he was a 56 years-old Earl. He was older even than her father, but what was most disgusting about him was the fact that he was one big ball of greasy fat. The very stench of his presence made my stomach turn upside down.
When he attempted to kiss Shelly's hand, I punched him in the face, sending him flying several meters away. I then threatened to burn his fur off if he dared to get anywhere near this cute little relliar girl. Releasing my killing intent and letting it wash over him certainly had an effect because he ran away as fast as he could from me while shamefully sullying his pants.
Princess Elleyzabelle wasn't too happy about this. She gave me an earful about how undiplomatic and potentially dangerous my actions could have been. After all, that Earl was still an important noble, but I honestly didn't think that what I did was a bad thing. I preserved the purity of my little fluff ball Shelly!
Besides this small incident, there was only one moment that stood out, which proved my suspicion regarding how those around her saw her. It happened on the second day when I came to pick up Shelly to go play. Her teachers rudely tried to prevent me from doing so and constantly advised the little girl that it was highly inappropriate for someone of her status to be seen around me.
Normally, I would have burnt their tails off, but I abstained from violence and instead asked them how inappropriate it was for them to declare such shameful and disrespectful things about a Duchess of a foreign kingdom who also happened to have the power to burn their capital to the ground. Just because I wasn't as good at politics as Princess Elleyzabelle was didn't mean I was foolish enough to let something like that slide.
Later that day, I told the King what happened and advised him that a friendly relationship between a Duchess like myself and the Princess of his Kingdom could only bring about benefits to ongoing negotiations. Shelly also agreed with me and told her father how much she hated those teachers.
I didn't feel any bit of remorse for having them get fired as a result of this. In the end, cute was justice!
For me, the time I spent together with the young princess was precious and quite fun, but when I wasn't together with her, I usually trained. The three knights who came with us were good for target practice, although they were slower than I would have liked. Princess Elleyzabelle told me to act with them as though they were mine, so I did. I made them run after me and use their best attacks when we fought. We even had a bit of a spar with some of the relliar Royal Knights. The matches were quite even, but when I wanted to join in, they all ran away as fast as they could. It was disappointing and a bit rude.
At night, I would often go around for a flight, patrolling the area from the sky. I thought about taking the princess with me once, to show her how the world was from up here, but I gave up on the idea. It would have stirred too much trouble if we were caught. I could have been accused of a kidnapping attempt.
True, any such accusations would have been denied by the young princess, but she was only 7 years old. The stuck-up nobles would never believe her or even go so far as thinking that I cast some sort of hypnotizing spell on her. After all, these were the very first things they accused me of back when they saw me playing with Shelly during the first day. Princess Elleyzabelle spent that whole evening clearing up my name.
I thought I did a bad thing and apologized to her, but she told me that despite how it looked like, she used this situation to figure out how the nobles saw each other and who was against who on the political playground. As expected, there were parties who were eager to start trading with the dragons and others who weren't so sure about it, but there were also some who wanted us out of the kingdom as fast as possible.
Because I didn't stay to listen to their gibberish at the negotiation table, I didn't know the ins and outs of their political mess like the princess did. So far, before even reaching the King, she apparently had to convince the nobles that it was good to support her. Afterwards, the final decision rested with his Majesty, which we presumed it was going to be a favorable one given the fact that I managed to become a friend of little Shelly.
So far, however, I never got to meet the Queen, Shelly's mother. We were simply told that she was currently nursing the 6 months old prince Bartak.
I was thinking of such matters while escorting the princess to the throne room.
When we got close, I noticed the Prime Minister of the Sarakus Kingdom. He was a stripped feline who always wore an elegant split robe and underneath it, a pair of cashmere pants and a stripped jacket with a white shirt. All the nobles here wore elegant clothes which usually complimented the color of their fur.
“Ah! Duchess Draketerus, you are finally here!” he said when he saw me.
“Good day, Prime Ministers. Is there a problem?” I asked tilting my head to the left.
Shelly let out a soft mew to announce her presence.
“Oh, Princess Eshantiel, good to see you are safe and sound!” he said with a smile then looked at me “Yes, human delegates just arrived. Princess Elleyzabelle Seyendraugher is still inside. While I highly appreciated the well mannered knights of your kingdom, those ruffians just didn't care about appearances or laws, they entered together with their knight escort, fully armed!” he spoke in an outraged tone of voice.
“I understand. Well, Kataryna is there. Unless they have a death wish, they won't try anything funny.” I said and then shrugged.
“I like Kataryna. She funny when running from that other lady.” said Shelly with a cute giggle.
That reminded me, she did saw her hiding in some bushes or scaling the walls in an attempt to hide from Tanarotte. For the little princess it was a funny scene, but the palace guards were troubled when they stumbled upon the dragoness clinging for dear life on the side of the wall.
I was rather surprised of how well Kataryna behaved. The old her would have left Tanarotte in an ice cube hanging off a cliff.
“Yes, well... I hope it won't come to that. But I do say, these humans... I never saw a more egoistic and idiotic species!” he growled.
“It depends on the individual, I would say.” I told him while scratching Shelly behind her ears.
She closed her eyes and let out a soft purr when I did that.
“No, I must contradict you, Sir Draketerus! Every human is like that!” he declared firmly.
I let out a sigh and then looked into his eyes.
“W-What?” he asked when he saw me do that.
“I would be careful of where I state such an opinion if I were you, Prime Minister.” I told him.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
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