A Reunion with an Overworked Monarch
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
The old governor led us through the castle. We waltzed through the hallways and made several twists and turns before arriving at a familiar looking door. I’m pretty sure this is where me and the king had that face to face thing I was talking about.
Raylow was clearly familiar with the whole audience thing, as he opened the door immediately after knocking on it instead of waiting on some sort of response. He then held it open and ushered Nell inside by playing the ladies first card. I spotted a pair of familiar faces from over the shoulders of my two companions. One was, obviously, the king we had arranged to meet. The other was his daughter.
“Nell!” Both royals had started atop a couch, but the tiny princess’ energy levels didn’t allow her to stay put. She rocketed towards the hero and gave her a big hug the moment she noticed her walk through the door.
“It’s nice to see you again too, Iryll,” said the hero.
“I was really, really worried! I thought something awful might’ve happened to you!” pouted the princess. “No more suddenly disappearing like that anymore, okay?”
“I’m sorry, my lady,” said Nell with a giggle. “I’ll do my best to stay in touch from now on.” She paused for a moment to smile before speaking in a more teasing tone. “I’ve brought you something really special to make it up to you.”
“You have? What is it?”
Nell took a step forward to free up the doorway as she spun around and directed the princess’ gaze to the person standing behind her: me. The tiny little maiden’s eyes slowly rose from eye level and moved up my body, stopping only once her eyes reached my own.
“Hey, long time no see.” I casually waved at her as I spoke.
What followed was a series of easy to read reactions. At first, she stood frozen with her eyes opened as wide as possible. After a few seconds, she finally defrosted herself, but that didn’t mean she was any less flustered. She immediately looked down at her own dress to verify whether or not she thought herself presentable. Apparently, the answer she arrived at was a no, as she fidgeted around with a few bits of it in panic before finally settling down.
“I-it’s very nice to she—!” She stuttered out about half a nervous greeting before closing her jaws on her own tongue.
Oof. That’s gotta hurt.
“I mean see! It’s very nice to see you again, Mr. Demon Lord!” She almost seemed to brush off the pain that accompanied the action, as she continued to rattle on excitedly. “I was waiting for you ever since you left!”
“Yeah, nice to see you again too, princess.”
I ruffled her hair, which prompted her to close her eyes and prop herself against my hand in a cat-like manner. There we go. Looks like she’s finally calming down.
Once I made sure the petite monarch was sated, at least temporarily, I turned to her father, who had remained situated on the sofa with his haggard old face twisted into a gentle smile.
“Hey there, kingpin,” I said. “Haven’t seen you in a while either.”
“It certainly has been quite some time since we last met,” he said.
“Pretty much, yeah.” I paused for a moment to grimace. “I was thinking of commenting on how well you’re doing, but that’d probably be a bit too much of a stretch, by the looks of it.”
Allysia’s ruler had clearly been subject to a copious amount of undue stress. Like the governor, he was so exhausted he radiated an aura of fatigue.
“The past few months have been hard on me.” He chuckled in a self-mocking manner. “Ruling a country is, unfortunately, far more demanding than I would like it to be.”
I didn’t know all that much about the way his country was structured, but I at least knew enough to deduce the root cause of the king’s problems. The way I saw it, it all stemmed from his personality. My opinion of him was that he was kind, almost overly so. In other words, he was too much of a nice guy. And in noble society, nice guys really did finish last. Most of the dirty schemers that thrived in society’s upper echelon were brutal opportunists. They would take full advantage of every bit of kindness they could—even if that kindness happened to stem from the country’s supposed top dog. RIP king. Dude’s probably been getting played like a fiddle. But man, everything everyone’s been telling about high society has made it sound hella awful. And definitely not for softies.
Our conversation hit a bit of lull, so Nell took the opportunity to step forward and take a knee, as any good knight would.
“I am terribly sorry for all the trouble my absence has created, Your Majesty. It fills me with shame to know that my selfish decisions have only served to worsen the weight on your shoulders.”
“If anything, it should be I who is apologizing to you,” said the king. “You have done nothing wrong. But I’ve clearly failed to keep a grip on my men’s reins. I’ve allowed them not only to make a mountain out of a molehill, but also bring it into the public eye right under my very own nose.”
“T-there’s no need to blame yourself, Your Majesty! The fault doesn’t lie with you! The speaking you’ve done on my behalf in my absence is the only reason that the situation has not completely spiralled out of control!”
Nell shook her head in vehement, flustered denial, but it failed to persuade the monarch; he continued to speak in a self-deprecating tone. “All the speaking I’ve done has amounted to nothing but proof of my own powerlessness. None of this would have happened to begin with if my words carried any true weight.” He paused for a moment. “But whatever the case, let us set this topic aside for now. To me, what matters most is that you’ve returned in one piece.” Again, he paused. This time, he took the brief moment of silence to redirect his gaze at his oldest visitor. “Sir Raylow, thank you. You’ve done me a great service by bringing the two of them here.”
“Thank you very much, Your Majesty. I am undeserving of words so kind.”
The governor placed a hand on his chest and bowed reverently.
Finally, after addressing the other two, the sovereign once again turned to face me.
“So, Yuki? To what do I owe the pleasure today?” he asked before speaking his next words alongside a heavy sigh. “Has another group of imbeciles attempted to infiltrate the Wicked Forest…?”
“Oh, nah, I wasn’t dropping by for anything like that this time,” I said. “I’m mostly just here ‘cause Nell is.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“Well, long story short, I’m basically here to tell you that she and I are getting married.”
The bomb I casually dropped was met with a series of confused monarch sounds. His entire body had frozen, his half-open mouth included. Wow, that’s some deja vu right there. I could swear the governor reacted the exact same way.
“Whaaaat! That’s not fair! I’m so jealous” complained Iryll. “I wanted to marry Mr. Demon Lord too!”
“Errr… uh… how about we save that for when you finish growing up?” I attempted to ward off the question without hurting her feelings.
“Okay! But that better be a promise!”
“Errr… sure… I guess.”
…Welp. I’m fucked. I mean, I’ve postponed the problem, but I’m still fucked. Guess the only hope I’ve got left now is for her to forget about this whole thing. ‘Cause yeah. Fuck.
I grimaced in regret as I once again ruffled the petite princess’s hair. …Please forget.
“I… I feel as if I am not understanding something,” said the king. “I am beginning to suspect that I simply may not have heard you correctly. Did you just state that the two of you have decided to wed? Despite one being a demon lord, and the other a hero?”
“Yeah, basically. I mean, I could explain, but that’d make for a bit too long of a story. So yeah, in brief, shit happened and she’s mine now,” I said. “And I know that her being a hero makes this less convenient than it would’ve been otherwise, and that it’s probably going to cause you at least a few problems down the line, so I figured I might as well drop by and tell you in person.”
After taking a few more moments to digest my words, the king finally spoke.
“…Does that mean that Nell is going to be retiring?”
“Last I heard, she was still going through with it.” I said, as I turned to the girl in question.
“I would love to continue serving this country if you would allow it, Your Majesty,” she said. “The only real change is that, from now on, I’ll always have him in my heart.”
“Look at that. If that’s not smitten, I don’t know what is,” I said with a smirk. “You see, kingpin, become a demon lord like me, and you can easily seduce as many heroes as you’d like too.”
“…Shush, you dummy.”
Nell began to blush as she drilled her elbow into my side. Again.
“You’re so lucky, Nell…” said the princess, enviously. “I wish I could be like you! I want to be on really good terms with him too.”
“I’m sure you will be, one day. He did just promise to marry you once you get older, after all,” said the hero.
“Will I really…? Is that true, Mr. Demon Lord? Will we be as close as you and Nell are right now when we get married?
“U-uhhh yeah, sure.” I said before glaring at the hero indignantly. “…Nell, stop that. You’re digging me a goddamn grave.”
“You mean the grave you’ve already dug yourself?” She shrugged in a way that almost seemed familiar as she flashed me a charming smile.
Zzzzzz… I clicked my tongue. God damn it. It looks like all the dungeon’s other residents have rubbed off on her. She’s gotten way better at comebacks. And she doesn’t really back down anymore. Damn it!
“I was caught off guard at first, but if that is what the two of you truly wish for, then I would be more than glad to give you my blessings,” said the king, sincerely. “Congratulations, both of you. I’m sure that there are many high hurdles for you to cross given the nature of your relationship, but I know that the two of you will be able to overcome them.”
“Thank you very much, Your Majesty!” pepped Nell.
“Thanks. Being personally approved by the guy in charge is sure to make this whole process way less painful.” I paused to momentarily direct my eyes at the princess. “By the way, I kinda wanted to talk about something.”
The king understood the gesture immediately.
“Iryll, it’s about time for you to get back to your studies.” He turned towards his daughter and spoke a line she most certainly did not want to hear.
“Awww… but I haven’t seen either Nell or Mr. Demon Lord in forever! I wanted to spend some more time with them…”
“As they have just arrived today, I suspect that they’ll be in the capital for quite some time.” He looked at me for confirmation.
“Yeah, we’re planning to stick around for a good bit. We’re not going to be in the capital the whole time, but we’ll definitely be in the general area.”
“See? You’re sure to have plenty of chances to play with them later.”
The tiny royal frowned and hesitated. But after a few moments of deliberation, she seemed to realize that we were probably busy and prioritized our intentions.
“Okay…” She looked up at me, anxiously. “But only if you promise to play with me later. I’ll be really mad if either of you disappears without at least saying goodbye!”
“Sure,” I said. “We’ll make sure we say something before we leave.”
“Don’t you worry, Iryll. We won’t be disappearing anytime soon,” said Nell. “In fact, why don’t we spend some time together tomorrow?”
“Really!? Yay! Okay! I’m just dying to know how the two of you fell in love! Can you promise to tell me all about it?”
“U-uhhm… O-okay,” stuttered the hero, red faced. “But I doubt it’ll be all that interesting…”
“I’m sure it will be! I can’t wait!”
The princess bowed in a well-mannered fashion and left the room, a big smile on her face all the while. Once the door closed behind her, the king, who had watched her go, prompted me to continue.
“So? What was it that you wanted to discuss?”