Although I had defended my portion of the dinner with all my might, in the end, they had fallen into the abyss that is Pochis stomach.
Isnt she becoming too much of a glutton lately, even by her standards
Moreover…why hasnt she been getting any fatter
Oh, I sure would love to dissect her up and get those answers…
But now I have some business to attend to – I securely locked the door and headed to Junes room.
Though I arrived a little earlier than the appointed time, I reckon there wouldnt be any issue.
I knocked lightly on the door several times.
However, there was no response.
I certainly did sense that she was in the room, though… huh…
I knocked again with moderate force.
This time, I heard some thumping echoing inside the room, followed by Junes voice through the door.
Her tone sounded a little bit different from the usual… Oh, from what Im hearing, I think some things just got knocked over in there.
She seemed a bit fl.u.s.tered – perhaps I had startled her Was I wrong to arrive too early after all
I waited in front of the door for a few minutes, after which June coughed once to clear her throat behind the door, and then opened it.
I, my eyes widened in surprise, held back my voice before any remarks leaked out.
Normally, June would always don her armor even while in the mansion, either of the heavy or light variety.
“S-sorry for the wait, Sir Poer.
Im not quite used to wearing this, you see, so it took longer to dress up than I had anticipated.”
June said awkwardly, her cheeks flushed.
In a way, this could be the most surprising thing I had seen all day today.
I had never noticed the bulge of her c.h.e.s.t, what with it being tightened under the vest of her armor, but now she looked so feminine… Pochi would probably get mad at me for that assessment if she had come along.
Hmm… her tan skin matched very well with the color of her dress, too, I must say.
“Excuse me… I would prefer that you do not stare for so long…”
I said as I closed my eyes, prompting June to chuckle.
“Mm-hm… Well then, come on in.”
“P-pardon my intrusion…”
Her room was mostly the same as young Brights and the one I currently occupied; some aspects were slightly more ornate.
A good part of the interior was in yellow, to go along with her dress.
The curtains and the beds sheet stood out in particular.
…Oh, no, Asley, stop thyself – I shouldnt stare too much at a womans room, should I Well, I mean, I had been told not to do exactly that just moments ago…
June proceeded to lead me to the main table, one elliptical in shape, where I intended to wait for her to be seated first, however-
“Dont mind me.
Go ahead, have a seat.”
Since she had insisted, I sat down on the round stool opposite to where she was standing.
June then went to bring two tulip-shaped glasses and a bottle of what seemed to be mead, putting them on the table.
Then, suddenly, I heard the breaking of the bottles neck.
What a mess!
She had tried to open the bottle but put in too much force, and as a result… obliterated its neck.
Just the neck, though, so that was good and all… but it still wasnt something one would expect to see in a noblewomans private quarters.
Goes to show how shes a level-190 warrior.
Or perhaps not – her personality might have been the bigger factor at play here.
“Ah – no, please dont worry about it, milady.”
“Your concern is appreciated.
Do you drink, Sir Poer”
“In perfect moderation, yes.”
I held up my glass for June to pour the drink into.
Wait… huh Shouldnt I have offered to do that for her, being a man and all
But then again, this was Junes expression of goodwill.
Ill just be thankful and accept it.
June proceeded to pour a moderate amount of mead into her own glass.
Then, after she set down the neckless bottle, we shared a quiet toast; I reckon the clink wasnt even audible through the whole room.
I took a few sips while waiting for June to get into the topic, and eventually let my eyes wander – which led me to a shocking discovery.
What I saw in the corner of my eye, I assumed, was the closet in which she stored the rest of her clothes.
Though its door was securely shut, from the crevices of it, I could see… hems of dresses of various colors… jutting out.
I say shes letting a lot of that good stuff go to waste… in more ways than one.
“Let me first apologize if any of this has made you feel uncomfortable.
I had thought I should be properly dressed when letting someone into my room… or so I was taught by my late mother, you see.
Well, do you find this… strange”
“Oh, no, I would never.
I think you do look very beautiful, milady.”
“…I appreciate it.”
June said, sounding as if to silence herself, before taking another sip; her face reddened up slightly.
Ngh… Things arent looking good.
Oh, my friend Pochi, I have a feeling that things might get dangerous.
The image of Pochi lecturing me surfaced within my mind, prompting a streak of cold sweat to run down my back; it was now that I decided to initiate the conversation myself.
“Well… to get into the topic of todays incident-“
June was clearly startled by that – I probably caught her by surprise.
It was now apparent that she had been waiting for the right moment to begin, too.
“Sir Alfred had already told me about the Traditionalist and Reformist Factions, but I still know nothing more about them, you see… So I would like an explanation of how they relate to todays case, if possible.”
June leaned her back against the rails of her chair, then let out a sigh.
“…Yes, of course.
But first of all, Sir Poer… I dont want this information to be known among most of the mansions employees.
What Alfred currently knows is only the concise version of the story, too; not many of us are aware of all its fine details.”
I see, so THIS was why she had summoned me to her room.
Even in a professional environment, there were almost no cases of a non-relative visiting a womans room at night.
And if one was on Junes level of social standing, they would have to pay very little attention to sense any suspicious characters approaching them.
It must be tough, not having many she could trust – right in her own house, no less.
“The Adams and the Fulbright… These two houses are the leading figures of the Traditionalist Faction.
The Traditionalist Faction is powerful, holding a great deal of influence within the Senate.
The issue in the big picture is that Lord Hudl, the Holy Emperor, is no longer young and independent.
As a result, we are in conflict with the Reformist Faction over the issue of his abdication.”
“The Holy Emperors abdication… Could that feasibly be prompted”
“That entails a complete replacement of the head of the Nation, after all – of course it is not so simple.
It can never happen while the Senates balance is in disarray.
Originally, the rulings of the Nation were handled in equal measure by Lord Hudl and us of the Senate, but due to the importance of this decision, a third-party is needed.”
A third-party… When it came to political figures with influence as prominent as the Holy Emperor and the Senate back in the day, I could think of but a single one.
“Could that be the Empress, then, milady”
June nodded silently; now I could feel the pieces coming together in my head… Like invisible threads weaving into a ball of yarn.
“Yes; in fact, the Reformists are functionally the Empress Faction.
It is only in the distant past that Lord Hudl and the Empress, Lady Idïa, were on good terms with each other.
The faction is most likely taking advantage of the Devil Kings Fetal Stage to have the Prince, Lord Zaths, succeed the Holy Emperors throne.”
“Why is there a need to do that It may be rude of me to ask this, but would the Prince not eventually succeed the throne by default in the event that the Holy Emperor has grown too old”
June said nothing, only shaking her head.
“Things are not so simple, you see.
Not now that the Holy Emperor had another, eligible son.”
Oh, I see – that does complicate things up quite a bit.
“A son born between the Holy Emperor and the departed mistress, Lady Luneth.
His name is Lord Leon.
Now, Sir Poer, I ask that you keep the knowledge of that name to yourself.”
“…Did you mean to say that this Lord Leon is…”
“He is Lord Hudls illegitimate child, yes.”
I see, I see – that does complicate things up quite a lot.
Additionally, it is most likely that this is yet to be public knowledge, considering how even most of this mansions inhabitants arent aware of it.
From what I could deduce from the story, the child must have been born only recently… Now I regret ever asking for the information regarding the Factions.
“Having long been aware of the Empresss ambitions, Lord Hudl had hidden Lady Luneth away, and in time, the latter had given birth to Lord Leon.
However, Lady Luneth had always been physically frail – word has it that she had died shortly after giving birth.
It was only a matter of time before this case was discovered, and in turn, the knowledge would have reached the Empress and spread among the Senate.
But then, at just the right moment, Lord Hudl had granted Lord Leon the first priority in succeeding the throne.”
The Empress probably wasnt amused by that.
Still, though, I presume its unlikely that the Holy Emperor had been mistaken with his decision, considering how long he had been in the office.
Perhaps he didnt like the future he had seen in the Empress character, and by extension Prince Zaths, who carried on her bloodline.
“And so the Empress had promptly reined the Senate to her side, proposing plans for the Holy Emperors abdication…”
And so thats how the situation got to the current state, huh…
To summarize, the Traditionalist Faction would like Leon, the illegitimate son, to succeed in the Holy Emperors position.
That makes them the Holy Emperor Faction.
The Reformist Faction, on the other hand, would like Prince Zaths, son of the Empress, to succeed the throne.
That makes them the Empress Faction.
Good God, I wish they would get ready to deal with the Devil King before worrying themselves about politics…
“Does all this mean that your side is short on time, milady”
June shook her head.
“Currently, the Senate is in a tense power struggle, so as of now, the topic hasnt been escalated to the greater legislation body.
Time is indeed an issue, but so long as the status quo isnt broken, well be able to hold our own.”
“Which leads us to todays incident with Master Bright… doesnt it, milady”
June nodded weakly, her face clouded up.
“I have indeed guessed that they were under some sort of agenda, but never expected to find such a conspiracy under the hood…”
“If they were to successfully take Bright hostage, I would not be able to firmly assert my opposition – That is likely what they thought.”
“…The kidnapper did introduce herself as Chiquiata.
Does that name tie to anything of significance, milady”
June set her mead glass on the table and pondered over the information for a moment.
That wasnt much information to work on, I suppose.
“She had a Cobalt Dragon as her Familiar.
Also, she was accompanied by a girl… most likely her apprentice, named Myans.”
“Myans! Are you sure”
Looks like June did have a name in mind after all.
Its still not certain whether thats the same Myans as the one I had met, though.
“There is this certain minor house among the Reformist Faction – House Douglas.
If I remember correctly, their sole heir is a girl named Myans.
Tell me – did she have a Kaiser Dyno in her employ”
It seems that weve found a connection now, milady.”
“…I knew it.
Them hatching a Kaiser Dyno egg was a hot topic at one point, you see.”
That would be the correct procedure to forge a Familiar Contract with an S-ranked monster, yes.
The imprinting wouldnt work otherwise.
“Moreover, I have heard that she had taken an apprenticeship under a skilled mage in the north… yes, of course.
I ought to investigate this information further.”
“Also… I have another favor to ask of you-“
Junes face was slightly red, perhaps due to the mead.
Doesnt really matter, though; its quite easy for me to guess what she would say next.
Later that day, I was allowed a seat at the main dining table and partook in a meal with June, Bright, and Ferris.
Young Bright excitedly recounted todays incident, while young Ferris listened intently.
All the while, June had a broad smile plastered onto her face.
I wonder what Pochi is up to now – is she properly preparing for tomorrows departure, just as I had asked her Or is she doing nothing but filling herself up with nutrients, as if just that would fit her definition of a preparation With no doubt in my mind that it was the latter, I asked for an extra serving of dessert to bring back to my room… I wonder if its sweet enough.
“ITS SOOOO SWEET! I feel like my cheeks are gonna fall right off, sir!”
It was, apparently.
Well then, tomorrow, we head for Kugg Village.
And well also be meeting Ferris father, Polco Adams… I wonder what kind of person he is.