Chapter 6: Smiling face, Grief, and Black Dog II
Hersherik was dreaming of being in the middle of fluffy clouds.
He felt like there was something about this that he needed to consider, but even that thought floated away, not allowing any thoughts to be collected.
(Ugh, it’s too much work. It’s fine if I just leave it like this, right….)
Right as Herscherik was about to start thinking of such listless things, his senses were revived
by a man’s angry voice and a woman’s cries.
Although he was still feeling hazy, he was barely able to process the thought that this place wasn’t his own room. What led him to this conclusion was that the bed he was laying on was definitely not of the same high-quality as his usual one.
(This feeling…..could it sleeping medicine?)
Herscherik guessed that this was an abnormal situation.
When he was job-searching in his past life, there were times when Ryouko’s emotional state would become unstable, and there was nothing she could do about it. Every day she would be unable to sleep because of the anxiety, causing her physical condition to fail. As such, she would accidently make mistakes in her interviews, falling into a vicious cycle.
During that time, she went to a mental health clinic recommended by her parents and received a prescription for medicine after talking to the doctor. However, she had relatives listen to the stuff she couldn’t say to either the doctor or her parents, and this resolved her anxiety. She didn’t take the medicine out of fear of the side effects, but luckily for her, everything went well.
Incidentally, she changed her tactics of applying, breaking, and opening up after all of that. As a result, her job searching endeavor went surprisingly swimmingly, and that was how she landed her job.
The side effects he had timidly read about on the internet were surely similar to his situation right now—
Physical fatigue from dizziness and headaches.
These were obstructing his thoughts.
(Don’t make a 4 year-old kid take sleeping medicine!)
While his mind was still drugged, Herscherik tried to recall to the best of his abilities what had happened before he fell asleep.
He had snuck through the secret path just as usual and had returned to his room without anyone discovering him. Of course, he had held on to the book he had previously borrowed from the library, making his alibi perfect.
He had killed time until dinner by reading, and while he ate the food Meria had prepared for him, he was thinking about where he should conduct his nighttime “Charge In ☆ Internal Audit” this time.
(The sautéed chicken meat was delicious. The pumpkin-like soup was also good…..)
The meals for the royal family were left in the hands of the master chief who prepared masterpieces for them every day. Leaving aside Ryouko’s cooking skills in his past life, Herscherik loved eating.
(…..I have no memories after that. I don’t even remember eating dessert.)
In short, the sleeping medicine had been mixed in with the dinner he ate.
(So that means I was put to sleep by the medicine and kidnapped, huh. Tch, I missed out on dessert. Well then, what should I do now…..)
His thoughts and senses were dulled, possibly due to the medicine’s side effects, and it was fortunate that this didn’t cause any panic in him. Additionally, his headache was gradually lessening, and the thoughts that had been floating away on a cloud had returned. Despite experiencing nausea from the dizziness and headache, he surveyed his current location.
Was this place a storehouse? There were several people in this large space, and right in front of him were a man and woman, arguing.
He didn’t know the man, but the woman was someone who was with him and took care of him since he was born .
This was the first time he had seen her look so shaken.
“Didn’t you say you wouldn’t do anything extreme! I only brought His Highness with me because you said that you wanted to talk!”
“Well, if you had a proper conversation with the king, then we could have gone by without having to do this!”
“I did speak with His Majesty! But His Majesty…..”
“Didn’t he say that he wouldn’t save us!? In that case, we had no choice but to take this extreme measure!”
The argument between the two continued to escalate.
(How should I put it? This is the first time I’ve seen Meria this upset, huh.)
Possibly due to his head being unable to function properly, his thoughts strayed off into something unrelated.
Meria always had her hair tightly tied up in a bun on the back of her head, giving off a prim feeling. However, her hair now was let down and in disarray, and there were tears accumulating in her drooping eyes.
(The number of wrinkles might have increased since I first met her…..)
Meria was much younger than his mother in his past life. As such, she seemed more like an older sister than a nanny.
He was the eldest sister in his previous life and always wanted an older brother or sister. So, he was happy for Meria being there and felt a closer familiarity to her than his own mother whom he had never met.
(From what I can tell, it looks like you talked to Father, but it didn’t go too well. You could’ve talked to me though……)
Herscherik wanted to call out to her, but it was frustrating that he couldn’t move his mouth well.
“Please, we have to let a doctor look at Master Herscherik!”
Meria couldn’t help but worry when Herscherik’s condition from the medicine went further than she had imagined. It was too terrifying for her to imagine if this continued and he wouldn’t wake up. That was why Meria was clinging to the man’s arm.
But that man shook her off from the arm she was clinging to, and the woman with her powerless female body fell to the ground.
Meria’s fallen form reflected in Herscherik’s eyes among the risen dust, and a small voice leak out from him.
At that moment, an unusual event happened inside the room. The door that connected them to the outside was literally blown away. The hinges came off with a loud noise together with dust dancing around in the air.
Standing and surrounded by this dust was a man who appeared completely dressed in black and tightly gripping the napes of grown men with both of his hands.
(This definitely doesn’t seem very spy-like….)
Herscherik had the thought that spies were supposed to be more stylish as he looked at the man, Kuro.
From the completely black clothing that covered his body, he appeared as though he was a dark hero.
He wore a black hood, and a black cloth covered his mouth. The only visible thing was his blood red eyes. His eyes that were usually very cool looked like they were now filled with anger.
He threw a large, exhausted man with one hand at another nearby, who was frozen with no idea what was happening. He let out a voice that sounded like a crushed frog, but Kuro threw the man in his other hand the same way without feeling anything. Although this one didn’t hit anyone, the sound of a crushed frog still leaked out.
Then, Kuro began to slowly walk.
The men came to their senses, picked up metal rods and planks of wood, and ran to attack, but Kuro avoided them with minimal movements. He used his hand like a sword to repel their weapons and punch them in stomach. His movements were fluid, making it look like he was dancing.
In less than 10 seconds, the three men who were trying to attack Kuro kissed the ground, and after that, everyone else gave up on rushing towards Kuro. No, they were like frogs, unable to move as they were glared at by a snake weaving his way through them.
“If you come at me again, I’ll kill you.”
Kuro’s tone was different from the one that Herscherik always heard.
It was a tone so cold that went below freezing, and the sentence deterred anyone from coming close, for it wasn’t just a threat.
The next time, they would really be killed. Everyone in this room understood that.
Kuro slipped past the people, went right in front of Herscherik, knelt down on one knee, and met his gaze.
The eyes that looked upon Herscherik weren’t angry, but shook with anxiety—a complete change from before.
“Were you drugged by them or something?”
Kuro placed his hand on Herscherik’s forehead. As his hand was cool and felt nice, Herscherik closed his eyes.
“It’s only a temporary side effect. Once the medicine leaves your system, you’ll be fine, so relax.”
As he said that, Kuro carried Herscherik in his arms. Herscherik was embarrassed at his current situation being held in a “bridal carry”, but now wasn’t the time for that.
“I cannot let you take the prince!”
Standing up and interrupting Herscherik mid-sentence was the man who had been arguing with Meria before. In his hand was a dagger, and his eyes were bloodshot.
“Our lives……we’re risking our lives, you know!”
“Like I care.”
Kuro coldly scoffed at the man’s anger-filled words. There was no emotion in Kuro’s eyes.
He let out an extremely bothersome sigh as he fixed his hold on Herscherik to one hand. Before anyone noticed, the empty hand was already clutching a knife.
Before Herscherik could finish his word, his brain was shoved to the side. The man had rushed towards Kuro, and Kuro had avoided him.
In his next movement, Kuro used his own knife to flick the dagger out of the man’s hand, and continuing with that motion, he aim for that man’s neck—to the carotid artery.
Just as Kuro had said, he was really going for the kill.
(Listen when people are talkinnngggg!)
Something snapped in Herscherik’s mind. More specifically, his storage of patience snapped. The blood rising up to his head blew away the side effects and cleared the thoughts that were clouded by a fog.
He commanded Kuro like how he had ordered his beloved dog in his past life and patted Kuro’s head.
This attack came from an unexpected place, so Kuro made a face similar to a pigeon that had been hit by a peashooter.
“Even though I said…that I wanted to listen to their story…why didn’t…you wait…for me…..”
Because Herscherik suddenly moved, he was assaulted by dizziness, and the end of his sentence tapered off.
Herscherik felt chills run through his body as if the blood withdrew from his head all the way down to the tips of his toes. He was overcome with nausea, but he endured it. This would all be meaningless if he just collapsed here.
“…..Kuro, put me down. If you keep holding me up, I can’t look at them in the face and listen to their side.”
“Then, Kuro, you will sit. Sit, boy!”
Kuro showed his dissatisfaction, but Herscherik had ordered him like he would a beloved dog. He also didn’t forget to gesture towards the floor with his hand.
Although he had always attached “Mister” at the beginning of Kuro’s name up till now, the omission of it could have meant that Herscherik thought of the man at the same level as his dog. Or possibly that Herscherik thought that the dog Kuro was much more of an obedient child.
In the end, Kuro compromised by setting Herscherik down on a simple bed and himself standing right beside him, ready for orders.
“Okay then, talk, Meria.”
Herscherik called out to Meria who hadn’t move since the other man was knocked over.
“……Master Herscherik, I am deeply sorry.”
Meria bowed her head. Her apology looked like it truly came from the bottom of her heart, but Herscherik wasn’t looking for an apology right now.
“Leave the apologies for afterwards. I want you to tell me why you drugged me and even brought me here. Meria, you know these people, right? And I heard them mention that their livelihood and actual lives were on the line.”
Those were the words he heard while his consciousness was still floating in the clouds. He didn’t know the specifics, but he did comprehend that they were driven in a corner.
“….Our birthplace is the territory once governed by Master Luzeria.”
Herscherik opened his eyes wide at the mention of the name that he hadn’t heard in a while.
That was the name of the man who gave Herscherik his motive. If it wasn’t for that man, Herscherik wouldn’t notice anything and be headed straight to becoming a completely worthless prince right now.
“Master Luzeria passed away, and a new lord had come to our land. And that man is Count Grimm.”
That was also a name Herscherik knew.
He took the opportunity left by Count Luzeria’s death penalty declaration. It could be said that he was the one who drove the count to such.
“….That man’s doing whatever he wants to Master Luzeria’s territory.”
The man Kuro tried to kill opened his mouth.
Everyone from that territory didn’t believe that Count Luzeria sold out his country or any such acts. Their lord was just and at the same time, he treated his people as precious as family members. If there was a famine, he would open up the food reserves and share the hardship together with everyone.
However, after the accident that took his wife and child away, Count Luzeria changed into a different person, haunted by something that kept him investigating. During that time, the citizens repeatedly saw his face filled with distraught as he came and went in all different directions. As the months passed, they were informed that he had sold out the country and was given the death penalty, and then a new lord showed up.
Count Grimm was the complete opposite of Count Luzeria: the lowest and worst lord the citizens ever had.
He collected more taxes than the one established by the country and also sold, to line his own pockets, all the reserved food Count Luzeria had prepared in case of a famine.
Sure enough, the weather turned worse, and a famine plagued the territory, but not only did the lowest and worst lord not lower the taxes, he also hired thugs to forcefully collect them.
“Not even two years have passed, yet many people have lost weight. I don’t even know if the elderly and sick can make it past this year’s winter….That goes for my own parents as well.”
Meria sorrowfully muttered. Since the beginning, that territory of this country had poor land; food was hard to grow, and the climate led to misfortune. Dilapidation happened in the blink of an eye.
“I received a letter from my parents, went into contact with my cousin, and immediately appealed the situation to His Majesty. However….”
“Father didn’t act.”
Meria bit her lips shut. The color of despair was dark in her expression.
(It’s not that Father didn’t act; he couldn’t.)
Herscherik easily guessed his father’s circumstances.
Just like with the Count, he couldn’t save them. However, the complaints from the citizens weren’t enough for proof. As long as there wasn’t concrete evidence, his father couldn’t carelessly move.
But that was why Herscherik studied, learned how to read and write, snuck into the royal castle, and conducted his unofficial audits. This was all to obtain inescapable evidence. As long as there was proof that will become their trump card, his father could banish those tyrannical aristocrats who act like they run the country.
However, the main culprit and his group who have long ruled over the royal castle for so long didn’t leave any traces of a single definitive proof inside the castle. Or, maybe they hid it so skillfully that even they themselves couldn’t find it. Although one could find numerous suspicious aspects, none of them were conclusive.
Nevertheless, there was no way Herscherik was going to give up and admit defeat. Because if he doesn’t take any measures, his father, family, himself, and even the citizens would be in danger.
Herscherik, who had no magic, no physical training, and no one to support him, had to do this.
The only thing that Herscherik could do was to search for where to use his skills from his past life to change and finally support the country.
These people were fundamentally the same as himself. They wanted to protect those dear to them. It was just that they failed in their execution.
“So, you decided to abduct me 1 and threaten Father.”
Herscherik let out a deep sigh, amazed at these people who remained silent.
“Even if you did such a thing, Father cannot act, you know. If anything, it will be your positions that get worse…..You cannot complain about you and your entire family receiving the death penalty for the sin of treason against the country.”
It was a sin to lay a hand on royalty. It didn’t matter for what reason; they kidnapped the prince and threatened the royal family. Even if it was only a plan to do so, doing such to the royal family that rules this country, even a child would know what would come out from this.
“……I understand your situation. Give me some time.”
Herscherik surveyed those around him. He looked at each of those silent and unmoving people in their eyes and nodded.
“I’ll try to do something by winter.”
To those words, not only did Meria and the folks from Count Luzeria’s territory eyes open wide, but Kuro as well.
Those weren’t the words a young child would say.
And it was only Kuro who noticed the slight odd thing in his words.
The boy who would usually refer to himself as a boy changed into a feminine way of addressing himself 2.
“I promised Count Luzeria.”
What Herscherik pulled out from his breast pocket was the old, beautiful, silver pocket watch he had received from the Count.
All of those who lived in his territory recognized it.
The Count that deserved their respect and love always carried and treasured it.
Someone whispered, and tears overflowed from everyone else’s eyes.
Their beloved and respected Count was no longer in this world. The Count’s beloved family wasn’t around either. And now, the land and its people left behind were being oppressed by a tyrant. Their reality was weighing heavily on their chest.
Herscherik said as the resolve he had when he received Count Luzeria’s pledge dwelled in his eyes.
The 7th prince returned that night to a noisy royal castle.
The first one to discover the prince and his nanny was the main gatekeeper.
Even though her hair was let down and a mess, the nanny returned with the prince in her arms and was guarded by the gatekeeper as he led her in.
Receiving the news, the king ran out without listening to his retainers telling him to stop. He tightly embraced the staggering youngest prince.
The king most likely didn’t get any rest last night as his pale face was becoming paler.
According to the nanny’s testimony, this was what happened.
Someone invaded the inner palace and kidnapped the 7th prince and the nanny who was beside him.
They were taken to a hiding place, but luckily seeing an opportunity, the nanny rescued the prince and escaped.
Later, someone from a cabin in the castle town a little bit away from the hiding place in which they were confined had taken the evidence that was there, making it impossible for a criminal to be arrested.
The case of the kidnapped youngest prince closed with his miraculous return.