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Chapter 23: I Passed Judgement
Slowly, Seiichirou raised himself up. His fever was gone, but he still felt warm all over from the intimacy he had just shared with Aresh. Exhausted now that the deed was done, he took a moment to catch his breath while his body acclimatized to the magic cast on him.
As a result of the treatment process, Seiichirou was covered in sweat and other miscellaneous bodily fluids until Aresh moved to clean him up with magic. Because Seiichirou was vulnerable to that as well, Aresh proceeded to acclimatize him again with another kiss.
Seiichirou felt only a little numb after the cleansing magic faded, so he understood that a mere kiss would be enough to counteract its harmful side effects.What another convenient use of magic, Seiichirou thought as his lips were claimed by Aresh. It was only moments before that they had shared even more heated kisses than this one in the privacy of this room.
As soon as Aresh pulled away, he immediately asked, “Do you hurt anywhere? Is the pain still there?”
Aresh spoke to him in the same tone he often used when they finished having sex, Seiichirou noticed. Looking down, he checked himself for any leftover wounds or bruises and experimentally moved his arm, which had likely been broken from the beating he sustained. His body was clean, and his arm seemed to function normally.
“Not at all. I’m totally fine now,” Seiichirou reported. He voiced his gratitude to Aresh and looked around the room they were currently in. He recognized this place as one of the medical offices in the palace that he had visited before with the knight commander.
After losing consciousness from being beaten, it was obvious someone had found and carried him to this facility before he was treated by the man now with him. Indeed, luck was on Seiichirou’s side.
Seiichirou made a mental note to thank the one who had brought him here, too, as he redressed. His uniform was stained with blood and torn in some places. Aresh offered to fix everything with magic, but Seiichirou only shook his head in refusal. The knight commander had already done so much for him; Seiichirou did not wish to impose on him further.
“Umm~ Aresh?” came a voice from the other side of the door. “Time’s up. Can we come in now?”
The voice belonged to Cielo, director of the Health Department, who was asking Aresh for permission to enter his very own office. Although he was clearly aware of what the two of them had been doing behind closed doors, there was not a hint of embarrassment in his voice. Once Aresh granted him permission, the door opened to reveal Cielo and another person Seiichirou did not expect to see.
Seiichirou’s eyes widened. “Prime Minister Calvader!?”
“Oh, so the treatment is finally over?” Kamil raised an eyebrow as he took in the state of Seiichirou, the official’s complexion now much improved since the last time Kamil had laid eyes on him. “That took an unnecessarily long time.”
As he entered the office, Kamil closed the book in his hand. It was likely that he had been reading it while waiting for Seiichirou’s treatment to finish. This was the man who held the highest political office in the kingdom, hence his appearance would never fail to shock anyone who came into contact with him.
Before Seiichirou could wonder the reason for Kamil’s presence here, the prime minister explained that he was the one who had found the royal official and carried him all the way to the health department.
Having only just learned the truth, Seiichirou immediately apologized. “I see… I’m so sorry for causing you such trouble…”
“No, you didn’t,” Kamil said with a small smile. “What’s most important is your life.”
It was the same typical, serene expression he showed to everyone. Nonetheless, Seiichirou still felt embarrassed being the one on the receiving end. It was then that Seiichirou made another sudden and startling realization. 1
He had been lucky enough that someone happened to pass by him while unconscious. The fact that this person turned out to be none other than Kamil himself was a wonder, but it did not even account for Aresh treating him afterwards. To be saved by both the prime minister and the commander of the Third Knight Order in one day, one right after the other, was something almost too amazing to comprehend… Seiichirou could not believe how incredibly fortunate he had been.
Though Seiichirou was already feeling back to his usual self prior to the incident, Aresh still seemed unhappy. He appeared impatient and wanted to know the truth. Now. “Tell me who did this to you.” Aresh sat in front of Seiichirou and looked directly into his eyes. He did not ask; it was a demand. The knight commander’s cold persona stood out more fiercely now than ever before. In spite of that, Seiichirou was not fazed by it at all. He understood Aresh’s feelings perfectly. So, without wasting any more time, Seiichirou calmly explained everything.
“No, Captain! That’s not true!!!”
Aresh was in the middle of interrogating two knights who were ghostly pale. Orzif, the vice commander, could only stand and watch the scene unfold in front of him.
It had all begun when Aresh suddenly summoned Orzif and these two knights to the Third Order office. Bewildered as to why, Orzif tilted his head, and the two knights looked at each other to see if either of them had a clue as to what was going to happen next.
Both knights had a reputation for frequenting the accounting department to refute denied expense applications. All either could think was that someone in the accounting department had reported this behavior to Aresh, and now they were set to face the knight commander’s judgement.
However, Orzif already knew about their incessant habit of wasting time complaining and did not mind at all since he was never the one on the receiving end of it. Aresh himself even knew about it, though he had not cared to take any action upon them prior this moment. Thus, all were left to ponder why their leader, who had only recently become more committed in his duties, had called for them to address such a seemingly minor issue.
As soon as the trio had entered the office, they were greeted by Aresh’s intense glare. The typically apathetic knight commander now had an unusually harsh and menacing air exuding from him. Seeing Aresh’s current demeanor like this, Orzif could tell that his cousin had something far more serious in mind to discuss. The negative aura Aresh radiated was so strong that Orzif thought he felt his cousin’s magical power leaking out into the room. As vice commander, Orzif could withstand it, but the two knights were nearly gasping for breath, crushed under the weight of Aresh’s obvious fury.
“What is going on, Aresh…?” Orzif asked, wondering what exactly had angered Aresh to the point that he seemed murderous in nature.
Ignoring Orzif’s question, Aresh’s attention turned towards the two lower ranking knights present. “Harvey Morales and Matthew Nieves2, where were the two of you during the Hour of Water yesterday?”
Both knights started in shock; their reaction unsettlingly betrayed the fact that they knew exactly what Aresh was referring to. Each of the men was visibly trembling as Aresh’s piercing gaze fixed upon them. The two exchanged glances, seemingly desperate to look for support from one another in this very dire situation.
The older of the two, Matthew, gathered his courage to answer their leader. “W-we were checking the storeroom to see if there was enough equipment for the upcoming expedition. We… we rushed straight to afternoon training after that!”
“Is the storeroom you’re talking about located on the second floor of the East Wing?” Aresh asked, his gaze unwavering.
“Y-yes!” Matthew nodded.
“I see…” Aresh narrowed his eyes. Then he paused to take something out of his pocket and presented it to the knights. “Are either of you familiar with this?”
A small black piece of cloth was held in Aresh’s hand.
Upon closer inspection, Harvey recognized it as the fabric torn from the hem of his trousers the day before.
“Ah…! Th-that’s mine!” Harvey admitted, eager to convince Aresh that he was telling the truth. “I did notice the tear in my trousers until later in the evening! I must’ve gotten the material stuck somewhere when I was checking the storeroom equipment.”
Aresh widened his eyes for a split second, then he furrowed his brows. “Yesterday, an officer was found unconscious and severely wounded in the same storeroom you both claim to have visited.”
“Huh?” Orzif was taken aback by what he had just heard. “Are you for real?”
Orzif was not sure if he was imagining it, but he noticed that the last words Aresh’ uttered were done so in a louder, more unbridled tone. It was as if his cousin could hardly maintain his composure at the mere mention of such an atrocity. A cold sweat dribbled down Orzif’s back, followed by a sense of foreboding that was slowly building inside him.
Aresh resumed his interrogation. “The officer in question was covered in bruises, had a fractured arm, and multiple broken ribs. There is no doubt that he was the victim of physical assault. Keep in mind, this officer holds a new high-ranking position within the palace; he is someone important. Subjecting him to such trauma isn’t something that can be so easily overlooked.”
By pure instinct, Orzif guessed who Aresh was talking about.
He chanced a glance towards both the knights to gauge their reactions before he spoke. Neither were able to look Aresh in the eye.
“A new officer that holds a high-ranking position… Do you mean the Saint’s extra?” Orzif asked aloud. He knew that Aresh had some sort of established relationship with the aforementioned officer, but he did not know how deep it went. Either way, that might explain his cousin’s current emotional response.
For being the Saint’s extra, Orzif knew quite a bit about the man. His full name was Seiichirou Kondoh, and he was now serving the palace as the vice director of the accounting department. Orzif knew Kondoh as someone more than just the man who had suddenly appeared at the Saint’s summoning. Though he did not possess magic, was vulnerable to mana, and could only eat certain foods, he was far from useless. Refusing to be a burden or taken care of by the kingdom, he had unexpectedly asked for work of his own volition. Currently, he was serving in the accounting department and had also managed to obtain a top-tier position within a matter of months.
It was because of his diligence and attention to fine details that every single department in the palace had seen their budgets dramatically reduced in the past three months. He had been the talk of the palace ever since, mainly due to the budget cuts he strictly implemented and enforced.
But the official’s story did not end there. Reportedly, he was seen having lunch with Aresh in the palace every day, and it was rumoured that nobody was allowed to provide him with either food or drink without Aresh’s explicit permission.3
Since Aresh was someone who hardly cared for the company of others, having lunch regularly with someone was very unlike him. As Orzif knew his cousin better than anyone else, he had highly doubted the rumor was true, but not anymore.
“Yes, it’s him,” Aresh replied without turning to look at Orzif. His glare at the two other knights hardened. “One or both of you must know what happened to him that day,” he accused.
One of the knights shook his head in fervent denial. “No, we don’t; I swear… We immediately left the storeroom as soon as we were done. We did meet him, but it was only when we passed by him in the hallway… That’s all we know…”
Matthew made a pained expression as he spoke, but Aresh still looked the same as when they had first entered the office. He appeared dissatisfied with Matthew’s harried explanation.
While their knight commander was already frightening in general, today he was even more frightening than usual. Aresh’s eyes were still strongly fixed on the two knights, so much so that he barely acknowledged his cousin’s presence at all. Oh no. Orzif recognized that look very well.
That was a look Aresh rarely unleashed around others, his eyes clearly projecting all of the unvoiced malice from the bottom of his heart. Those eyes were no different from that of a predator locked on to its prey, leaving no means for escape and promising a slow and painful death. Orzif felt relieved that, at least in this case, he was not the intended target, for those who seldomly show their anger are often the most dangerous when they do.
“The victim reported that he had torn the hem off of one of his attacker’s uniforms with a nail he found laying in the storeroom while he was being beaten. That has resulted in this,” Aresh said, holding the scrap of cloth up for the knights to see once again.
“Wha—!?” Matthew and Harvey both cried out in disbelief. Their reactions only served to expose them all the more.
Ah, figures, Orzif thought to himself. Judging from their behavior, even he could tell that the two knights were guilty. Confirming it now for certain made Orzif want to crawl into a hole and die. After all, he was responsible for overseeing the lower ranking knights, and two of them had just participated in a serious act of misconduct outside of his sight. Worse yet, out of all the people they could have done this to, they had chosen to hurt someone from another department, one who even held a higher ranking position than themselves for crying out loud! Said person was also closely affiliated with Aresh, their known fearsome commander!! These two idiotic knights must have had a death wish.
What did I do wrong to deserve knights such as this…? Orzif lamented to himself in disappointment.
“That officer is falsely accusing us!” One of the knights argued in an attempt to defend himself. “There’s no way you can trust someone of unknown origin more than us, Commander!”
The other knight tried his own gambit too. “That’s right! If the officer lost consciousness, there’s no way he can reliably know who attacked him! In that case, it’s even possible that the one who found him is pinning the blame on us, especially if you take into account Harvey’s torn trousers!”
Both knights frantically fought to deny the charges brought against them despite the fact that Aresh had not once stated that they were being named as the actual culprits of this crime. All their efforts to dodge the issue and diffuse blame were ultimately amounting to nothing as they unwittingly exposed the truth on their own through their impassioned rebuttals.
They continued until someone knocked on the door, and it was opened from the outside. “Sorry for intruding,” the person said before stepping into the office. The man who entered looked to be in his forties, had rose blonde hair, and was adorned within a royal blue cloak.
Orzif instantly recognized them from the doorway. “P-prime Minister…!” he sputtered and hurried to move out of the way.
It was Kamil, the man who possessed the most political power in their kingdom. His secretary was also seen following behind, entering the office a little ways after him and closing the door.
Orzif and the two lower ranking knights quickly bowed their heads in reflex, but Kamil raised a hand, indirectly telling them to remain at ease.
Aresh glanced briefly at Kamil and resumed his interrogation. “The one who found Kondoh yesterday was none other than Prime Minister Calvader. He even went through the effort of carrying Kondoh to the health department himself.”
Both knights wheezed loudly at the declaration and looked ready to faint.
“Yesterday, I happened to pass by a storeroom in the East Wing and found Seiichirou gravely injured.” Kamil smiled menacingly at the two young knights. “Are you insisting that I gave a false report to your superior?”
Kamil narrowed his blue-gray eyes. The two knights could no longer speak to save themselves, and their mouths were left visibly quivering.
Kamil then directed his attention towards Matthew. “This is our second meeting now,” he said in a low, calm voice. “We met for the first time in front of the accounting department, do you remember?”
Matthew did remember what Kamil was referring to. Another bead of sweat dripped down his forehead as he refrained from neither confirming nor denying it.
Back then, the haughty Saint’s extra had been granted a vice directorial position by the prime minister right before his eyes. It appeared that not only their commander favored the perpetually exhausted looking man; the prime minister did, too. That was just another crucial fact Matthew had forgotten, one which he deeply regretted now.
Kamil added, “I still cannot forget how horrible Seiichirou looked that day. If no one had found him, he very well could have died.”
“No…” Harvey shook his head in disbelief. “That’s not possible… There’s no way—” From his choice of words, Harvey was no longer bothering to deny anything. Kamil tilted his head in an inquisitive manner, though he still managed to look refined while doing so. He had a certain amount of decorum to maintain as the honorable prime minister.
“Oh? You didn’t know that since he is from a different world, he is vulnerable to both mana and magic? Did you also not know that he cannot be treated with regular medicine or curative magic either?”
What Kamil explained to the two knights was exactly the same as the rumor they had heard before. So it was in fact true all along; both of them were startled to learn this the hard way. If neither medicine nor magic could be used on the otherworldly official, then a single scratch would be considerably fatal.
“Instead, a special treatment had to be administered to him. The one responsible for doing that was none other than your leader, who’s standing right there.” Kamil said, referring to Aresh.
Once again, the two knights were petrified in place. As they fearfully diverted their gazes towards Aresh, the knight commander continued to shoot daggers their way. This time, his glare was a warning.
Unexpectedly, the officer whom they had beaten was taken care of by the two highest ranking men in the kingdom. Neither knight knew what to say to absolve themselves in this situation.
“I’ve also received testimony that both of you frequently visit the accounting department and complain to Kondoh about denied expenses,” Aresh said, adding additional evidence against them.
The two knights grew even paler; they could no longer deny the accusations being thrown at them now. Neither could stop trembling while fearing for their lives.
“Why would you guys do such thing…?” Orzif asked the knights. His unanswered question was followed by a sigh.
Harvey rushed towards Orzif and desperately clung to his superior in the hope that he could still escape whatever punishment was awaiting him.
“No… We didn’t intend to hurt him at all, Vice Captain! Someone else told us to do it…!”
“Someone told you to?” Orzif asked in confusion. “Who?”
Before Harvey could explain further, someone knocked on the door to the office again, and another voice could be heard from outside, “Excuse me.”
The door was opened to reveal a rugged-looking man in his late thirties, dressed in a green cloak. He was bringing a knight in a similar looking green uniform in with him, who was pale as a sheet. Both of them were from the Second Knight Order, as indicated by the uniforms they were wearing. This division of knights were in charge of guarding the kingdom’s royalty or any other notable person of importance.
Orzif recognized the two who entered after Kamil, namely the man adorned with the green cloak.
“Captain Radim…” Orzif muttered under his breath. Radim was the commander of the Second Knight Order. Passing by Orzif, he pushed the lower ranking knight in green towards Aresh.
“I brought him here as you asked, Captain Indrak.”
“Ah! This is the guy! That’s definitely him!” Harvey pointed frantically at the newly arrived knight. “This is the guy who forced us to attack the accounting official, saying we had to teach the Saint’s extra a lesson!”
Whilst trying to calm Harvey down, Orzif finally remembered why the pale, trembling green knight’s face was so familiar now that he had gotten a closer look. This young, handsome knight was surely…
“You’re the Saint’s escort, right…?”
In the end, the only ones who remained in the office were Aresh, Kamil, Orzif and Radim. That is until they were unexpectedly joined by another person. Radim turned his attention and asked them, “Are you fine with just that?”
Once all of the culprits had left, Seiichirou had come out of a private room inside the office. His previously unknown presence was a surprise to Orzif, especially considering how he had looked the day before. Not only had Seiichirou fully recovered after being treated by Aresh, but he was also dressed in a brand new uniform. His pale complexion remained unchanged though.
In response to Radim’s question, Seiichirou nodded his assent. “Yes.”
The punishments imposed on the three knights consisted of the following measures: one week of house arrest, prohibition from ever being in contact with Seiichirou again, a reduction in salary for one year, and monetary compensation for damages incurred.
Kamil looked at Seiichirou and spoke, “The most fitting punishment would be to strip them of their titles as knights. Are you certain these measures are all right?”
In response, Seiichirou nodded again.
“Yes, I believe it is enough,” Seiichirou reaffirmed. “There are not a lot of people in this kingdom who can become knights, and as we are about to send a campaign into the Forest of Magic to face the miasma, we cannot afford having fewer knights now. The Second Knight Order is meant to protect people of importance, and the Third Knight Order to use powerful magic. Both regimes of knights will have their skills in high demand then, so we can’t stand to be in short supply.”
“But the period of house arrest is far too short,” Kamil argued.
Seiichirou shook his head and countered, “No, it should be more than enough for others to realize they are the ones who caused trouble. Besides, more time away means less time available to serve the kingdom.”
In addition to the recommended suspension period, there was another reason behind the monetary punishments that Seiichirou had suggested but kept to himself. Since all of the kingdom’s knights were paid a large sum every year for their service, reducing the knights’ annual salaries would be a good way to save money for the national treasury. The last bit of the punishment was meant as compensation for Seiichirou’s physical injuries.
“Including the cost of treatment, all of them will pay 1,000,000 rula each.”
Converted to Japanese currency, that was the equivalent of ten million yen. The point of this recompensation was because Seiichirou planned to use the money to pay back Aresh for the magic cast on Seiichirou to heal him.
Again, Kamil seemed skeptical and asked, “Why would you have them pay money too?”
Considering what had been done to him, Seiichirou would have much rather preferred a more shameful and degrading punishment that diminished the knights’ pride and dignity. However, he did not see much real worth, outside of stroking his own ego, in doing so when compared to the ones previously suggested.
“Because their money is the only thing they have that I find value in.” Seiichirou nonchalantly replied. Something devious in his eyes sparkled at the mere mention of money. If not for that, what else could they have paid Seiichirou with? Their titles? Their chivalric services? Their honor? All of those things would be useless to a man like him.
“Besides, now that the kingdom has granted me protection, I can ask the Second and Third Knights for help whenever I need it! I can also request they hasten the Saint’s expedition to the Forest of Magic, too! From my perspective, the kingdom saves more money all around this way!”
Having said that, Seiichirou brought over several documents and handed them directly to Kamil. “Please take a look at this, Prime Minister Calvader. I calculated the costs requested for the expedition yesterday.”
“Oh? Do show me, Seiichirou.” The prime minister held a hand out to receive the paperwork from Seiichirou when Aresh interrupted them. Just before Seiichirou could give the documents to Kamil, Aresh’s fingers wound around Seiichirou’s wrist and stilled it.
“Wait right there, Kondoh.” Aresh did not sound amused. “Yesterday, you were badly injured, and you used nearly all of your energy to withstand the treatment… I thought I told you to do nothing but go home and rest after that…”
Ah, crap, Seiichirou thought to himself.
Now that the culprits had been caught and punishments dealt with, the latest focus of Aresh’s wrath was redirected back to Seiichirou. He stealthily managed to hand the documents to Kamil as quickly as he could while Aresh’s eyes were focused only on him.
All the while, Orzif, who had known his cousin as someone not to speak much, and Radim, who was just about to leave the office before Aresh opened his mouth, ended up watching the Third Knight Commander lecture Seiichirou with their mouths slightly agape.
Unfortunately, not many notes today. Whis-chan became Corporate Slave. Help whischan reconsider becoming a female Sei by bullying her at our Discord!