Chapter 64: To Be Waken Up By A Princess

“-oy!”

“Boy!”

“Wake up, boy!”

The next morning, I was woken up rudely by none other than the Imperial Princess herself, yelling as if she was an angry mother waking up her child for school.

“Urghh…”

My eyes fluttered open, glancing to the side to see her all too familiar face glaring at me as if I had made a grave offense towards her.

“We’re leaving, boy!” She yelled again.

The ray of sunshine coming in from the window beside me nearly blinded me, making me close my eyes instinctively. Groggily, I sat up, yawning as I stretched my arms.

“You know, don’t you think it’s rude for a girl to enter a boy’s room like this? What if I’m sleeping without any clothes on?” I gave a little smirk. The truth is, I never sleep like that. I do sometimes sleep with just my undershirt and briefs however.

“Ha, do you think I care?” she replied with her own smirk. Huh. She’s not reacting like the usual tsundere would.

“Nice try,” I tried to out-smirk her. “You’re just a pervert who wants to peek at half-dressed boys. To think that the second Imperial Princess is this degenerate, what would the people say if they know?” I shook my head in a mocking manner. Heh, did I just get a blackmail material here? Serves her right!

To my astonishment however, once again, she didn’t react the way I wanted her to. Instead of blushing and begging for me to keep her secret, she laughed instead.

“And here we have a prime example of somebody who doesn’t know anything about how high society in this empire works! Go ahead! Spread around the oh-so-scandalous news of me barging into my bodyguard’s room while he’s asleep! See if anyone cares!”

…I don’t get it. Why isn’t she bothered at all by it? It’s the Holy Milicis Empire so it should be all religious and chaste and stuff, right?

“If you want to talk about degeneracy, then my elder brother and sister are far more perverted than I am. The former sleeps around with young noble ladies all over, while the latter is fond of women, to the point of charming the maids in the imperial palace to sleep with her.”

“Wait, seriously?” I exclaimed in disbelief. “Shouldn’t the Church frown on that kind of stuff? You guys are the Holy Empire of Milicis, so you should be pretty close with them, right?” If we’re following real life medieval church, they would no doubt frown heavily on promiscuity and homosexuality.

To add to my embarrassment, she laughed again, to the point that there were tears on her eyes that she had to wipe with her index finger. “You really don’t know anything, do you, boy?”

“Of course not! I just came to this country two months ago! How am I supposed to have any idea how its culture is supposed to work?” I protested. So the Holy Milicis part is a lie then? This empire doesn’t actually follow the rules of the Church? I’m pretty sure with them seemingly being a knockoff of the Catholic Church back on Earth, they wouldn’t tolerate that kind of stuff.

Or maybe it’s just the high nobles that can bend the rules. Yeah. That probably is the most reasonable answer.

So me blackmailing her with such an innocuous thing wouldn’t work in the slightest. In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve read some fantasy stories where servants aren’t viewed as people by their noble masters, so they’re not ashamed at all if they were to stand nude in front of them. That’s why they can have a bunch of maids or butlers dressing them up or helping them in their bath. I dunno if that applies in this world though.

“Then I suggest you shut your mouth about things you have no idea about.” Her haughty look returned.

“Fine. Let’s say the bigwigs at your imperial castle tolerates their shenanigans because of their position. But the citizens of this empire certainly wouldn’t.” I rejected her advice. Dammit, I’m not going to be outwitted by some twelve year old brat! “If you spread the rumors around, surely it would hurt them in some way or form. If you’re lucky, maybe you can get an army running, made out of the people faithful to the Milicis faith that wouldn’t want a bunch of degenerates like them running the empire.” I suggested with a confident smile. I know history or two and I have read a bunch of fantasy novels with medieval politics in them. Maybe she’s born to court intrigue right from the day she’s born, I have my own adult knowledge too, you know.

“So, you’re suggesting that I start a civil war then?” To my absolute surprise, her smile was a grim one this time around.

“Well, if you want the throne that badly, that’s certainly an option.” I shrugged. “You seem to be the kind of person that wouldn’t mind doing something like that.” I couldn’t help but to add.

“…Hmph, I might have to do something like that after all.”

Huh, not going to rebuke that? I just called you a ruthless person that wouldn’t mind starting a war, just to gain power.

“What are your plans on getting the throne after all?” I folded my arms. “Nicole said you’re going around the continent, gartering support from the Grand Priests and Priestesses of the continent. Can they really help you get to the throne? Shouldn’t you just assassinate your other siblings instead? Don’t tell me that you’re being soft on them.” I gave a taunting smile.

“I would, if it was possible,” she replied, looking away as she played with her hair. “They’re always surrounded by powerful people day and night. I don’t even know if there are assassins good enough that could penetrate their defenses. Unlike me, who only had a group of imperial servants protecting me. Sure, they can fight but they’re not that strong. I’m skilled on the sword but I’m not that strong either. Not enough to be able to repel a group of highly skilled assassins on my own.”

So that explains why Helen is like that. A real life battle maid, huh? I suppose it would make sense to have servants that could fight. Especially since assassinations seem to be commonplace on the upper echelons of the Empire.

Though now I couldn’t help but wonder. Just what kind of monsters are guarding her siblings? Surely, they can’t be as strong as Vera. If I have to guess, they’re probably around my level. Or Father’s. And since there’s a whole group of them, they would be much more deadlier than on their own.

“You don’t have any knights to guard you?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Ha, they either have pledged loyalty to my elder brother or they have been charmed by my elder sister. All I have are my personal servants.”

Hmm? Is that… a hint of bitterness I hear in her voice? Don’t tell me that she’s feeling lonely all of a sudden.

…I guess you would, if you’re in her position. No allies, not even your father, and enemies everywhere, including your elder siblings.

Suddenly, I felt a tinge of sympathy for her—the first one ever since I was unfortunate enough to meet her.

That quickly vanished right in the next second.

“Well, enough chat. Get up! We’re departing right away!” She suddenly returned back to yelling mode, putting her hands on her waist.

“I still haven’t said I was going with you, you know,” I responded, still reeling from the embarrassment she just put me through.

“Oh? So you’re not going then?” She smirked again. “Fine. Go back to sleep then..”

She promptly turned around, walking towards the door to my room. How did she get in anyway?

“…Fine. I’m coming with you.” I begrudgingly said. There. That was my answer.

After thinking about it for what felt like hours, I decided to take her up on her offer. Not because she won over me or anything—she’s still a smug brat that I dislike—but because she can offer me what I lack.

Strength.

I need more strength to survive in this world. And to protect those that I care about.

It’s fine if I had to endure for God knows how long of her rotten attitude, as long as she makes me a swordsman just as good as her.

What I lack now isn’t in offensive power. I need defensive capabilities instead. And if you can really deflect magic with her style of swordplay, then I would definitely have to learn from her.

Not to mention the fact that being a swordsman is much more convenient than being a mage, seeing how you can attack much faster than a mage could.

I still remember how I had to rely on my summons to take the enemy blow for me, and how my main weakness is fast attacks that took me by surprise. I remember what Father told me, that the best swordsman could feel an attack coming and respond to it without needing to see or even think about it.

She stopped. “What’s that, boy? I can’t hear you!”

“I said I’m coming with you! I accept your offer!” I shouted. God, she’s enjoying making me squirm like this, isn’t she? “Look, you’re a Galahad-style sword user, right? That precise movement and the ability to deflect spells like you said. I want to learn that.”

She turned around with a prideful look. “Hoo, so you already know your sword styles, don’t you, boy? You are right. I am a Galahad-style sword user.”

Just as I expected.

Father said that his style was closer to the Lancelot school instead, who preferred offensive power over defense and precision. Sherry was the same as well. Maybe that’s why their sword speed was less than her. She could swing her sword really fast, but not with as much power as them. She probably wouldn’t be able to pierce the tough scale of that ice snake we fought.

Well, no matter. I didn’t really need it for offensive purposes. I already got magic for that. I just need it to defend myself.

So that the next time I was in the firing range of a powerful Grandmaster-level spell, I could defend against it on my own.

“Then, in five minutes, go to the stable at the back of the inn.” Still with that triumphant look, she turned around once again.

I couldn’t resist. I threw my pillow right towards her head.

Only for her to dodge it without even looking, just by tilting her head to the side.

“Too slow, boy. Too slow.”

I didn’t even need to see her face to know that her grin had just gotten bigger.

Not a single useless movement. Just a slight tilt of her head, I said to myself once she closed the door behind her. I think I might have just found my teacher after all.

Even though she’s a royal pain in the ass.

———

I arrived at the stable soon after. As expected, Nicole and Helen were already there as well, standing near the carriage I would assume belong to them. It was a large close-roofed carriage, so it had four horses pulling it on the front. It was nicer-looking than the usual variant, but it wasn’t so nice that it would attract much attention.

Nicole gave me her usual kind smile, while the royal brat had her usual haughty look as usual. Only the maid had a neutral expression on her face, though her suspicion of me was still there on her face.

“You know, I expect you to keep your promise on training me,” I declared, just to remind her to keep her side of the bargain.

“Of course,” she replied. “And in exchange, you will help me train.”

“You’ll die if I go all out with my spells, you know,” I replied back, really wanting to wipe that smug look of her face. “My Master-level Wind spell obliterates everything on its path. A puny sword like yours wouldn’t be able to block it, let alone parry it.”

“Puny sword?” She suddenly laughed, covering her mouth in the process. “You really don’t know anything, do you boy? Fine. The next time we take a rest, I’ll show you just how strong I am. Then maybe you’ll start calling me ‘Master’ like you should.”

“I’m not calling you that! That ain’t on the deal!” I objected. Like hell I would kowtow around her like that!

“Hmph, fine! That just means I’m going to train you even harsher. Prepare yourself, boy.”

After our little banter, the brat, Nicole, and I all entered the carriage, while Helen took the driver seat.

Inside, the two seats were far away enough that I could stretch my legs, unlike the usual carriage. The brat sat on one seat while Nicole and I took the other.

Well, this is a pretty nice carriage.

Unlike the usual carriage with their hard, solid wood, this one had soft red couches as its seat. The back rest was cushioned as well so it’s far less harsh on your back. Perfect for long trips.

The two windows to the left and right were unique as well. Their glass was the one-sided type, pitch black from the outside while you could perfectly see through it from the inside. You could decide whether to open and close it as well, if you wanted to let some wind inside. Each of them was also accompanied by a red curtain if you wanted to open the window while at the same time keeping your privacy.

And to my surprise, on the ceiling, there was a miniature chandelier attached.

Whew, this really is quite the lavish— Ouch!

My thought was rudely interrupted by a book right to my face.

“If you’re done gawking, then go read that book. It’s about the basics of swordsmanship. I won’t tell you every detail so make sure to commit everything in it to memory.”

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It was Fiora, of course. Who else could be so bold as to throw a book right onto somebody’s face?

She knocked on the glass window separating our section from the driver’s, signalling to her maid that it was time to depart.

As the carriage slowly moved forward, I gave a short glare before moving my attention to the book.

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Now that I think about it, couldn’t Father just give me one of these back home?

The book was not ornate in the slightest. It was just like any of those leather bound books you could find just about anywhere.

Let’s see here… the title is… An Introductory to Galahad School Sword Style. What is this? Is this like some beginner’s training manual or something?

“Hey, Fiora. I already got some sword training myself, you know. So a beginner book like this isn’t really suited for— “

“You have quite the nerve there, boy, calling me by my first name like that,” she rudely interrupted.

“You let Nicole call you like that though,” I protested.

“Ha! That’s only because I gave her permission to do so, which you haven’t earned,” she replied, her gesture pretty much screaming “Come here and hit me! I dare you!”.  Gah, if only she isn’t some sword prodigy with superhuman reflexes, I am seriously considering throwing this book back right on her face.

“You may call me Miss Fiora. I am already gracious enough to allow you to use my first name like that,” she continued her spiel.

“I’m not your butler or your knight. I’m not going to bow around you and call you like that.”

“You’re my bodyguard. So you’re my servant, no? Shouldn’t you give some respect to your client, especially if she’s an Imperial Princess?” She smirked.

Argh, how could her maid stand her with this attitude? In fact, how could maids and butlers and servants in general stand it when they have to always be all polite and submissive towards their masters, especially one as annoying as she is? I never signed up for the servant life!

“If you hate it so much, then how about this? You can drop the honorific once you can land a blow on me with your sword.”

She said it so casually, ignoring the fact that she could probably block every single one of my sword slashes and thrusts even with her eyes closed.

No, it’s not that she ignores it. It’s exactly the opposite. She knows I’ll never be able to do it, which is why she proposes it in the first place, just to taunt me.

“Hmph, that’s unfair, don’t you think?” I crossed my arm after putting the book on my lap. “I’m more of a mage than a swordsman. I’ll definitely be able to land a blow to you with my magic.”

“I know that. You’ve beaten Vera after all, if you weren’t lying about it, that is.” She smirked, playing with her twintail. “That’s why I’m going to learn from you as well. Though of course, in the end, you’ll learn more from me than I learn from you.”

“You know, if you stop being so smug, you might actually have more allies you can rely upon.”

I couldn’t stop myself. I went straight for the slight insecurity I had sensed from her before.

“Well, that’s curious. Are you saying that you’re not my ally, boy?” she replied, seemingly unfazed by my words.

“Barely. This is just an alliance of convenience. Nothing more.” I gave her a frown.

“And that would be enough. I only need you to perform your duties. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking that I need your undying loyalty.”

I sighed. I really can’t win against her, can I? What a hard headed girl.

Well, so much for my big-boobed innocent princess fantasy. I’m now stuck with a brat instead.

At the very least, I still have Nicole beside me. Right, Nico—oh, she’s reading a book.

So that’s why she’s been silent all this time while we were having our argument.

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