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Ch 28 The Vander Family
They spent the morning riding their horses across the plains toward Aqua City. Strangely enough, Alan felt uncomfortable about how well they were doing and the lack of pursuers.
It was scary to think that they mobilized so many soldiers to search for them, and yet they haven’t been captured.
There was no place to hide because they were in the plains, and he could see far enough to know if pursuers were coming, but he hasn’t seen any pursuers since they’d left the city.
“It’s strange that no pursuers have come after us.”
Danis said doubtfully, as if he was thinking the same thing. Chris seemed to think so too, and nodded.
“I have a bad premonition… It seems that it would be better to hurry on ahead.”
They all seemed to feel the same way, and rode a little faster.
After a long ride from the relay town, they arrived at their destination in the evening, just as the sun was setting.
Alan, who had ridden behind Chris today with his hood up, was dazzled by the beauty of Aqua City. From where he was sitting he had a panoramic view of the place.
The sea, which was normally colored blue, reflected the color of the setting sun. White buildings were lined up from the coast, and their walls also vividly reflected the color of the setting sun. There were waterways all over the city, and many of them were accessible by small boats.
No wonder it was called Aqua City.
“No matter how many times I see it, I still marvel at the view.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean!”
Chris narrowed his eyes happily and smiled at Alan’s surprise and excitement. As the prince, Alan sometimes went on inspection tours, but he had never visited Aqua City before. So it was his first time seeing the ocean and the city.
Alan felt embarrassed that he got carried away like a child, but he hoped they wouldn’t think too badly of him for it. It was a valuable experience for Alan, who rarely got the chance to go outside.
“Do you know the way to the Vander family mansion?”
“I’m familiar with it because I have been training with the Knights of the Royal City and this city’s corps several times.”
Alan felt a little sorry to look away from the magnificent sight, but he turned his gaze forward at the same time as Chris pulled on the reins of their horse once more.
Chris led them to a large brick mansion that was similar to ones in the royal capital; it stood out from the white buildings a little further away from the seafront.
There were soldiers standing at the entrance of the mansion, but their uniforms were different from those of the royal capital’s. Chris approached the entrance on horseback without any issues and took off his hood.
The soldier took one glance at him and reacted with surprise.
“You are!?… Pardon my rudeness, but what kind of business do you have here?”
“I’m sorry to barge in on you like this, but I’m here to speak to Mr. Ys Vander… If you tell him, ‘His wings will be ripped off and his body will go dark,’ he’ll understand.”
The soldier saluted, “Ha!” and walked into the house.
“I’m impressed that they recognized your face.”
Danis said this with interest, and Chris shook his head.
Chris mentioned earlier that there have been training exercises between the Knights of the Royal Capital and Aqua City’s army, so the soldier must have remembered his face from that. Chris seemed to shrug it off, but it must have been thanks to him that the soldier moved so quickly to announce their presence.
After a while, the soldier came back and bade them to enter, and they entered the house.
Once they were inside, they saw a man in a butler’s uniform standing at the entrance. He had dark brown hair that was slicked back, sharp eyes that were behind a pair of glasses, and a very solemn look. He was 28 years old, with a slender and tall figure.
The man looked at Alan and gave a neat bow.
The moment Alan saw the butler, he rushed to him and hugged him. As he did this, his hood came off.
The butler looked surprised for a moment, but immediately recognized Alan and accepted the hug.
Letting go of Alan, Jack turned to Danis, Chris, and bowed neatly.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Prince Alan. Also, Mr. Levsky and … excuse me, who are you?”
“This is Danis Harvard.”
When Jack met Danis’s gaze, Danis replied with a slight bow.
Alan thought it was unusual for Danis to show such civility, but when Jack heard Danis’ name, his eyes narrowed slightly. However, he immediately returned to his usual solemn mien.
“I’m Jack Vander, Prince Alan’s butler. I got most of the information from Mr. Levsky’s message. Thank you for bringing the prince here. Though you’ve only just arrived, Ys Vander would like to know more details about the situation. Would this be acceptable?”
Chris answered, and Danis nodded as well.
So Jack went in front of them and led them inside. It was no surprise that the house was so large and spacious. The Vander family has been serving as royal stewards and aides for a long time. They were led a little further into the house, to a room that was probably the parlor.
The way he opened the door, stood behind the entrance, and gestured towards the entryway really brought to mind the image of a well-trained butler. Why did he still act like this even though he was back home. Alan wondered about this a little as he entered the room. Chris and Danis came in after him.
“I’ve been waiting for you. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you, Your Royal Highness.”
Seated across the room’s table and sofa was Ys Vander, the owner of this abode. He greeted them with a soft, elderly smile.
He was sitting in a wheelchair, which didn’t surprise Alan because he had heard that Ys, the king’s aide, had retired due to a leg injury. This old Ys had been kind to him in the past, when he had still been working.
Alan smiled back instinctively.
“It’s been a long time. I’m glad to see you’re doing well.”
“My leg has gotten worse, but here I am. But you’ve brought some interesting people with you, haven’t you Prince Alan? The heir to the Levsky family, and …you are not a proper member of society, are you?”
As he was speaking, Ys’s gaze moved from Chris to Danis. It stopped when he reached Danis. Was his name that well known as the leader of the underworld? Earlier, Jack had also reacted.
Danis bowed in an uncharacteristically elegant manner.
Alan was somewhat perturbed by the aristocratic bearing Danis was presenting, but he watched the interaction between the two.
“I am Danis Harvath. I’m impressed by your keen eye for detail.”
“I’m just trying to get as much information about the royal capital as I can, you know.”
“Now, tell us more about what happened.”
Ys Vander laughed softly, and then questioned the three visitors with narrowed eyes.
Alan nodded and went on to tell them about the king’s murder, the current state of his position, and the attitude and actions of the Prime Minister, Gabriel.
After he finished relaying the details of what happened to Ys Vander, the place went quiet for a while.
“The king really is dead, isn’t he?”
Ys, who had served the king for a long time as his aide, must have been brooding on this. He closed his eyes for a moment, as if he was lost in memories.
Then he turned to Alan and, as if he was shifting gears, said, “… I’m glad you’ve made it this far, despite your painful experiences. If there is anything this old man can do for you, please leave it to me. Please allow us to give you a much-needed boost in the future.”
“Yes, please do.”
“You must be tired today. I’ve prepared rooms for you. Get some rest and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Alan nodded, and Jake motioned for Alan to go to his room first. Before they left the parlor, Alan looked around the room again and saw Danis talking to Ys.
He wondered what Danis wanted. He tilted his head and followed Jake’s lead.
Chris seemed to be on his way to another room, and was being guided by another maid.
The room Alan was taken to must have been a guest room. The interior was not too ornate. Rather, it was simple, but he could tell it was a luxuriously furnished room. As he sat down on the sofa in the room, Jack offered him a cup of tea and he sipped it as if to catch his breath.
Alan had thought that he would never be able to drink the tea that Jack made again. The past few days had felt like forever. He was so relieved that he fought back the growing urge to cry
“The tea Jack makes is the best tea I’ve ever tasted.”
He couldn’t help but notice that, despite Jack’s solemn appearance, his eyes narrowed in pleasure and he smiled slightly.
“I’m glad to hear it.”
Alan was enjoying the aroma of the tea when Jack suddenly bowed to him in a graceful manner.
Alan’s eyes widened and he blinked, wondering what was wrong.
“For not being there for you during such a difficult time, even though I had been at home then, I beg for your forgiveness.”
“Why would Jack need to apologize? No one could have predicted that this would happen.”
“I’m alive and well and, fortunately, I have people on my side. I’m very grateful for that…”
Alan took a moment to think about the journey he had just been on, and once again felt grateful for the people who had helped him.
If he had been on his own, it would have been difficult to see Jack again like this.
Jack’s brow furrowed a little at Alan’s reply. Although he usually looked dignified and cool, Alan knew that Jack had a serious personality.
However, as a butler, Jack did not express his gratitude any further, but simply nodded and acquiesced.
“I understand. Then, aren’t you tired? I’ve prepared some hot water for you, so why don’t you take a bath?”
“Yes. I would like to soak in the hot water later. I want to think for a while. Can you leave me alone?”
”If that is your wish, I understand.” With those words, Jack bowed slightly and then left the room.
After watching Jack leave, Alan took a sip of his tea and exhaled heavily. At that moment, a blush spread on Alan’s face. It was as if the tension he’d been holding back was released. He felt a burning sensation all over his body, and his forehead was slightly sweaty.
Alan had a slight idea why he had become this way after being distracted. But he didn’t want them to know about the current state he was in here in the Vander’s house, with Jack around.
It would make Jack even more uncomfortable.
“I wish I could get a little better if I just soaked in hot water…”
Alan got up and headed for the bathroom. A change of clothes had already been prepared for him, and the water in the bathtub was already at the right temperature. It smelled of soothing aromas that were meant to ease his fatigue from the journey away from the castle.
As expected of Prince Alan’s butler, he did not leave anything to chance. It was as if the whole journey had been a lie. Alan chuckled to himself.
Alan undressed and slowly eased himself up to his shoulders in the water.As he soaked, he was able to stretch out his legs and lean back against the edge of the bathtub thanks to its large size.
“It has been a while since I’ve been able to relax like this…”
In fact, not much time had passed yet.
Maybe too much has happened, and it just felt like too long. He wished he had lied about everything that had happened, but Alan’s own burning body would certainly deny it.
In fact, his body had been burning like this from time to time on the way to Vander’s house, but he had held back. Sometimes he felt a burning feeling from deep inside my body, and sometimes his lower abdomen itself became hot.
Maybe the large doses of aphrodisiac he had been given hasn’t worn off yet, or maybe it was a side effect. Would it have been worse if Danis hadn’t given him a shot of neutralizer?
He felt that he had done something really stupid…
Perhaps it was because of the soothing aroma around him and his feelings had calmed down that his eyelids got heavier. Before he knew it, he was starting to feel sleepy, and just as he was thinking that he probably shouldn’t fall asleep in the tub, he’d already drifted out of consciousness.
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