Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 9: Lidsalessaloth
There were two possible routes we could take if we were to travel from the Kingdom of Palcemith to the Kingdom of Hinoe, which lay at the eastern end of the continent of Yugena.
The first was a southbound route that went through Aron, a trade hub where the borders of the three countries of Cemthoah, Sahana, and Palcemith met. Then, after Cemthoah, it passed through the Grand Duchy of Oakneth and the Kingdom of Dardenia to reach Hinoe. During the rainy season, Cemthoah often suffered from flooded roads, making it difficult to get around. However, if we were to avoid it, there would be no major problems. Plus, the countries we would be passing through were all countries with calm political situations at present. That was the route that Princess Shirayuki and her party had taken on their way to Palcemith, and although it was a relatively safe route, it was a rather lengthy one. The time it took to reach Palcemith from Hinoe was one month, which was quite long.
The other was a northbound route that would take us straight east from the royal capital into Cemthoah and then across the massive nation of Lidsalessaloth, which lay to the east of the Kingdom of Palcemith, to reach Hinoe. Like Palcemith, Lidsalessaloth was located in the northern part of the continent of Yugena, but obviously, its lands were not blessed by a dragon. Although its territory was vast, it was not very fertile. It lacked agricultural production, so it made use of the many mines in the country, leading to a thriving iron and steel industry. The road through there was somewhat rough. However, if all went well, we could make it to Hinoe in about ten days.
There was also the option of going via sea from the Kingdom of Palcemith to Hinoe. But, the Northern Sea of the Yugena continent was famous for its complicated currents and turbulent weather. It was not a very practical transportation route, but it was the best we had at the moment.
As a result of our prior discussions, we chose to cross the nation of Lidsalessaloth along with Princess Shirayuki. The Princess, as well as her attendants from Hinoe, were all surprised by this. But naturally, we had a plan in mind when we made our choice.
“How much do you know about Lidsalessaloth, Princess Shirayuki?”
In response to my question, Princess Shirayuki, who was carefully holding a box full of parting gifts and a bouquet from the twins, tilted her head slightly. She was sitting opposite me in the swaying carriage headed out of the capital.
“All I know is that it’s a country that has been plotting to bring Hinoe under its control for a long time… and that its king, His Majesty is…”
“Oh, he’s famous. The King of Lidsalessaloth, Neuschler Radav Heine…the Blind Evil King.”
The royal capital of Lidsalessaloth, Nephimen, was located in the centre of the country, in a relatively warm area heated by geothermal energy from the magma flowing deep underground. The current King, Neuschler, was a young man who would turn twenty-six this year. However, he had already been king for more than ten years. At the age of fifteen, he overthrew his father, the former King Aego II, and took the throne for himself.
In case we crossed that country, I had read through all the materials that Morino and Vanellope had researched regarding it. This was in addition to the information that I had originally known about the internal situation of the country of Lidsalessaloth.
…It was a nation that had been continuously governed in a rather bloody manner.
“King Neuschler was born with the ‘Demonic Eye’ in both of his eyes. Those who stare into his eyes lose their will, blindly trust him, and want to give up everything for him… Those are some troublesome eyes.”
The first to fall prey to those eyes were King Neuschler’s mother, the Queen, and his father, King Aego. Both parents were instantly captivated by their child, who blinked his still unseeing eyes and reached out to them for warmth. The two were at odds with each other, vying for the favour of their newborn child, grappling and cursing at each other like children. Fortunately, the effect of the Demonic Eye was not permanent, and they came to their senses when their subjects pulled them apart, and the infant Neuschler started to cry and closed his eyes.
Immediately, a renowned doctor and a sage were invited to investigate. After repeated examinations, it was concluded that the eyes were the “Demonic Eye” that had been handed down from generation to generation in the Heine royal family.
“In the past, the Heine family had had rare occasions when someone was born with the Demonic Eye. However, it always manifested itself only in one eye, whereas King Neuschler was born with it in both eyes, a first.”
If it were only one eye, it would have been easily dealt with. He could have gone about his daily life with an eye patch or something to cover his Demonic Eye and only remove it if needed. Though it was temporary, its effect was immense. It could be used as a trump card in dealing with any enemy.
But, if it were in both eyes…
“If it were in both eyes… he’d have to wear a blindfold to cover them completely.”
I nodded at what Jolga, who was sitting next to me, had said.
“Exactly. King Neuschler had both of his eyes covered with a black cloth and spent his childhood in a world blocked from the light. Also, even if a person who had been bewitched by the Demonic Eye came to their senses, their memories of the time they were bewitched don’t disappear. As a result, the King and Queen had a falling out, and the Queen refused to raise King Neuschler, to whom she had given birth, confining herself to a remote palace.”
And then, an incident took place.
“It was when King Neuschler was five years of age. The Kingdom of Dardenia in the south, which had repeatedly engaged in skirmishes with Lidsalessaloth, sent an envoy to the royal city of Nephimen to establish peace. The envoy was the second Prince of Dardenia, Luvent Morris Dardenia. He was twenty-six years old at the time and was said to be a good-natured young man who supported his eldest brother, who was soon to succeed to the throne. He also made efforts to ensure the security of the country. He had visited Lidsalessaloth when he was twenty years old when the two countries were in a brief alliance. Thus, he had been chosen as an emissary of peace because of his experience.”
At that time, King Neuschler lived in a small hut built in one of the corners of the castle’s backyard. He had servants who lived with him, but all of them were afraid of his Demonic Eye and did not want to have any contact with him beyond the bare minimum. Even though he was a young boy, King Neuschler somehow understood his situation. He would secretly take off his blindfold away from the watchful eyes of his servants and continue his life of solitude by admiring the flowers blooming in their flowerbeds.
“One day, while the young King Neuschler was looking at the flowers, an unknown young man walked by. King Neuschler was so surprised that he made eye contact with the young man. By chance, it was Prince Luvent, who was strolling through the backyard. Prince Luvent instantly fell under King Neuschler’s spell, picked him up, and tried to carry him away. A knight of noble birth, who was serving as the king’s bodyguard, saw this and condemned him. He noticed that King Neuschler was being kidnapped and tried to stop Prince Luvent. As a result, the prince, who had lost his will, drew his sword and attacked the knight, who in turn killed Prince Luvent.”
That knight was the fiancé of King Aego’s youngest sister.
Though the other party was misled by the Demonic Eye, he had to bear the responsibility of killing the prince of another country. The young knight was beheaded, and the King’s youngest sister committed suicide by poisoning herself.
“Although it was clear from eyewitness testimonies that Prince Luvent was at fault, there was a great deal of backlash from the Kingdom of Dardenia. When the King sensed that the talks that had managed to reach an amicable settlement were in danger of collapsing, he ripped out both of King Neuschler’s eyes in front of the masses, blindfolded him, and threw him directly into the winter wilderness.”
Princess Shirayuki’s young face contorted, and she bit her lip.
Although it was indeed a terribly cruel story, this decision could not necessarily be said to be wrong for a ruler to make.
By punishing the first prince himself, he was taking responsibility, saving face with foreign nations, and at the same time, eliminating the possibility of domestic unrest. It might seem inhumane, but if it were done for the greater good of maintaining national stability, it could also be considered just.
“…That is if there were any truth to this overblown story.”
It was the second night after leaving the royal capital of Palcemith.
Our party, accompanied by Princess Shirayuki and her attendants, had made a smooth journey and reached the town bordering Cemthoah and Lidsalessaloth. Tomorrow, we would be entering the Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth at last. We had spent the previous night in our carriages, but tonight we were going to stay at an inn in town to be fully rested.
Princess Shirayuki and her entourage were asleep in their assigned rooms. The knights guarding her were probably taking turns keeping watch and resting. Jolga and I were sharing the same room. After wiping each other down with a large tub of hot water, we lay on the bed, Jolga’s body lying underneath me, with his arms around me.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that tomorrow would be the real start of this itinerary.
Jolga, who was recounting what I had told Princess Shirayuki about the inner workings of Lidsalessaloth along with his thoughts, brought up the truth that I had not shared with her.
I stroked Jolga’s chin as he questioned me and, with my other arm, I rested my cheek on his chest.
“For example, Jolga, if your son… Sigurd or Lutora was born with the Demonic Eye in both eyes; what would you do with him, your child who possesses the Demonic Eye that can bewitch others at will?”
“If it were me…I would educate him.”
Jolga’s answer was straightforward and exemplary.
“Yes, that is the norm. You would make him practice so that he could lead his daily life without the use of both eyes. As soon as he was old enough, you would teach him how to use the Demonic Eye properly so that he wouldn’t use its power carelessly, yet he would be able to use it as a weapon to protect himself in case of an emergency. That’s what a parent would do. If you care about your children, whether you are a nobleman or a King, these principles won’t change.”
Furthermore, even though it dwelled in both eyes, it was very valuable and rarely appeared in the Heine family. The fact that he had charmed both of his parents in one go was proof that his Demonic Eye was that powerful. Wouldn’t it seem like a bad idea to treat the first prince, Prince Neuschler, so coldly?
As in any country, scandals at the heart of a nation tended to get covered up with a bunch of post hoc reasons, especially when it involved the first Prince born to the King and Queen.
“Everything was too good to be true. The fact that the parents were fascinated by the infant King Neuschler, the fallout between the King and Queen because of it, that the envoy of peace was the Second Prince of Dardenia… And that the Second Prince happened to stroll into the backyard and ran into the young King Neuschler.”
“The former King of Lidsalessaloth, Aego II, and the former Queen, Clareth, were a married couple with a huge age gap between them. When King Neuschler was born, King Aego II was already forty years old, but Queen Clareth was only eighteen.”
“Don’t tell me…”
“At the age of 20, Prince Luvent was staying at the Royal Castle as an honoured guest. It was about a year later that King Neuschler was born. The direct line of the Dardenian royal family is famous for having distinctive pupils. They are so charming and beautiful that they are described as flowers blooming within one’s eyes.”
One by one, the missing puzzle pieces were probably snapping into place in Jolga’s head.
If what was in the baby’s eyes was not the Demonic Eye, but evidence of the blood of someone other than the King, then…
What if the quarrel between the King and the Queen had not been influenced by the Demonic Eye but had been a validated mutual cursing?
What if the Queen had not confined herself to a remote palace, but had been imprisoned there?
What was the reason behind the Second Prince, who had visited Lidsalessaloth when he was 20 years old, taking the trouble to risk his life to visit the royal capital again as a peace envoy? He was, after all, a young man who held the second most important position after his elder brother and was in line to the throne.
Why did that Prince try to kidnap the young King Neuschler, who had been raised as a prisoner behind the castle?
Even if it was in the name of bearing responsibility, what was the point of King Aego’s ripping out both of his own son’s eyes without hesitation?
If one were to flip over the well-drawn front side of the completed puzzle…the facts displayed on the hidden back were indeed…
I slid my palm over Jolga’s cheek as he furrowed his brow and muttered in exasperation. I stretched my back, licking his bitten lips, and smiled.
Jolga’s words were probably directed at his past self as well.
Yurikano, who was destined to be my wife, and the past Jolga, who made a mistake one night and impregnated her.
That was a matter that had already been settled. If anything, it was probably due to the coercive force of the “Otome Game” scenario that was the setting for this world. When you got right down to it, it was also my fault for being the “Evil Prime Minister.” Well, I was not going to tell Jolga about that.
“Jolga. What’s done is done.”
“Because of your mistake, Sigurd, Lutora, and Julieta were born.”
“But you suffered.”
The hazel eyes that reflected mine were quivering with anguish.
“I don’t care… In exchange, I got you. That’s more than enough to make up for it.”
His voice shaking, Jolga put strength into his arms that encircled me and kissed me deeply. After swapping our positions and pushing me down on the bed, he hungrily sought my body.
We had promised to refrain from any physical activities, as we still had to continue our carriage journey tomorrow, but…
Well, I guess it can’t be helped.
No matter how much I tried to fix him, I, too, had a soft spot for my one and only lover.
The knights who were guarding our door were clearly sleep-deprived the next morning, so I did feel bad for them.
“Let us depart, then, to Lidsalessaloth.”
With Jolga’s voice as our cue, the line of people heading for Hinoe began to move again.
A valiant general, known as the Black Panther, a blind evil King, and a blood-drenched country waited ahead.
A world not spun by the whims of gods, but created by human hands.