Risou no Himo Seikatsu - Volume 2 - Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Chapter 07: The Secret Contract is signed

One month later.
In the living room of the inner palace, Zenjirou faced his computer and typed down the contents of the secret contract that his wife Aura was reading to him.
The season had now changed into what would be fall in Japan.
On the South Continent this period was commonly called the “rainy season”. Just as the name implied, it wasn’t all that unusual that rain clouds covered the sky for more than half the month and it rained for more than ten days in a row.
Downpours on the level of small typhoons went on endlessly, which made the rainy season of Japan with its drizzling rain look adorable instead.
Of course this weather brought along the problem of many floods, but the rain of this season nurtured the vegetation of the Carpa Kingdom and left the soil with a rich blessing of water, so it wasn’t all loathsome.
And today, too, the rain poured down heavily since the morning, true to this season.
The shutters of the windows were closed tightly as the wind was unfavourable while the downpour continued.
Due to that, the interior of the room was so dark that he would have trouble seeing the keyboard at his hands without any lamps, even though it was still noon. Needless to say, the six floor lamps were turned on right now, spending sufficient light, but it facilitated the illusion that it was already night.
“…, the Twin Kingdom will have to pay the Carpa Kingdom three thousand gold coins as a penalty. That is the end. Did you get all of it? If you want, I can read it out one more time.”
Sitting on the couch dressed in red maternity clothes, Aura called out to her husband with that after she had read from the dragonskin parchment in her hands.
Zenjirou typed clattering on the keyboard with his back still to his wife and replied a moment later.
“…No, it’s okay. I got all of it, I think. Just in case, I’ll read it out loud again, so can you check if anything’s wrong?”
Hearing his wife’s response from behind, Zenjirou corrected his posture on his chair and read the text he had typed just now, from the computer display.
“Good, here I go.
1) Zenjioru Carpa [henceforth Z] will not make a child with anyone except Aura Carpa [henceforth A] from now on.
2) The Twin Kingdom will never meddle with the direct offspring of [A].
3) When the Carpa Kingdom breaks term 1), namely [Z] makes a child with someone else than [A], the Twin Kingdom has the right to examine the child [henceforth C] about its bloodline aptitude.
4) When the ‘Bestowal Magic’ element is confirmed in [C], [C] will study abroad in the Twin Kingdom for three years, starting with its fifteen year of age.
5) When the Twin Kingdom forces [C] to emigrate during the study stay, the Carpa Kingdom can send [C] home to their country ahead of schedule.
6) When [C] wishes to emigrate to the Twin Kingdom out of its own will after the three years abroad, the Carpa Kingdom has no right to prevent that.
7) [C] has the right to spread the knowledge it learned in the Twin Kingdom only amongst the Carpa Royal Family after returning home.
8) When the Twin Kingdom breaks term 2), namely tries to meddle with the offspring of [A], …”
Zenjirou smoothly read out aloud the Japanese text shown on the display.
Simply put, this treaty dealt with the added conditions from the respective countries in regards to the “restriction on Zenjirou’s reproduction” and the “restriction on the Twin Kingdom’s meddling with the Ca

rpa Kingdom”.
From what he could tell on a glance, Aura seemed to have worked very hard to force through these details.
It was clearly specified that Zenjirou was not allowed to make a child with someone beside Aura, but considering that a breach of that term was minutely written out, it seemed that the Twin Kingdom also regarded it unlikely that this condition would be kept in reality.
In fact, most of the conditions concerned the treatment of “a child, born between Zenjirou and a woman besides Aura, that could use ‘Bestowal Magic’”.
At this point, he had no intentions to make a child with another woman and there were no restrictions for a child with Aura, so there was nothing to complain about as far as he was concerned.
However, that didn’t mean he had no doubts. Zenjirou was used to the detailed contracts of the modern age, so this secret contract with only a good dozen of terms seemed rather sketchy to him.
With that in mind, he turned around on the chair to look behind him.
“Mh? What is the matter, Zenjirou? Did anything bother you?”
Lifting her body a bit from the backrest of the couch, his wife looked at him with a smile, whereupon he was convinced for no reason.
(Okay, Aura and the Twin Kingdom must have purposefully left in some room for “convenient interpretations”)
Zenjirou had sensed the shortcomings of the contract from a single glance, so it was hardly thinkable that Aura and the agent of the Twin Kingdom failed to notice this in their negotiations that lasted for more than half a year.
He came to such a conclusion of his own accord, but he was actually giving the royalty in the different world a little bit too much credit.
It was an undeniable fact that Aura and the middleman of the Twin Kingdom were smart people, way more used to negotiations than Zenjirou, but the culture of this world didn’t had a custom, where contracts were concluded right down to the last detail like in developed nations of the modern age, to begin with.
His line of thought, accustomed to considering all future possibilities and apprehending any inconveniences for the own side, was basically unorthodox.
(Oh well. Aura or Secretary Fabio will surely intervene in the middle of it when it goes wrong)
“Hmm, give me a sec. There’s something I would like to speak about a bit more.”
With that in mind, Zenjirou said this sentence in advance, then checked if the printer had enough A4 copy paper and printed out the secret contract he had read out just now.
With the Japanese version of the contract in hand, he said down next to Aura.
As her stomach was growing bigger, Aura was forbidden to lean forward.
Zenjirou held up the dragonskin parchment in the local script and the copy paper he printed out just now, in front of Aura in such a way that she didn’t have to change her seating posture, and stated his own opinion.
“Look here. That’s the first thing that bothered me. When 2) becomes inconsistent with 3) in the future…”
The pregnant wife was a bit surprised about the surprisingly attentive pointer of her husband, but she responded politely.
“Mhm. Then 2) will obviously…”
However, Zenjirou wasn’t convinced by Aura’s explanation and probed into it.
“But since it hasn’t clearly been written there, they could insist…”
“You certainly have a point, but…”
Then the two of them huddled together and continued to discuss the contents of the secret contract until one of the waiting maids came to announce that the dinner was ready.

* * *

Early afternoon of the next day.
After lunch, Zenjirou was walking down the hallway of the palace next to Aura.
He wore cloth shoes with a leather sole from a hulking dragon, yet he was unsteady on his feet for a while now, just as if walking on sponges.
Under the pretext of supporting his pregnant wife, Zenjirou was walking hand in hand with Aura, but the sensation of her hand actually helped him to somehow keep his composure instead.
Aura must have grasped the mental state of her husband. She encouraged him by periodically returning the tight squeeze on her hand. He was grateful for it, but at the same time, he felt a bit pathetic.
(Nonetheless, it would be more absurd to be not nervous here. I haven’t been this nervous since my senior told me to be in charge of a contract all by myself for the first time)
Zenjirou unconsciously made such an excuse at heart.
The assigned task back then had been rather insignificant, but the whole shebang around it was in an entire different league.
He would gladly take a deep breath now to ease his nervousness, if he could.
And he would have undoubtedly done so if it were only Aura and himself here. To his sorrow however, they weren’t alone right now.
Even if it was inside the palace, the Queen and the Prince Consort were walking around together.
They were guarded by a total of eight soldiers as they walked next to each other: Four in front and four in the back.
The soldiers’ armament consisted of a white leather armour and a splendid short spear, which seemed to be more fit for a ceremony if anything, but the defence of the armour and the sharpness of the short spear were the real deal.
Zenjirou shivered his spine when he happened to see the glint at the tip of the spear.
In his head he knew that they were his guards, but he felt uncomfortable to be surrounded by people, who were armed with tools to kill a person.
(Well, considering our positions, the escort is actually extremely small)
If Zenjirou were to operate “outside” instead of the far interior of the palace like here, then at least ten times as much guards ought to accompany him. In fact, more than five times as much guards had protected him when he attended an official event in the palace in Aura’s stead.
While such thoughts crossed his mind, the vanguard stopped in front of a door.
The soldiers took position to both sides of the door, standing at attention and holding their spears vertically. Aura and Zenjirou, too, stopped in front of the door.
The envoy from the Twin Kingdom of Sharrow and Jilbell was waiting beyond this door.
Zenjirou naturally faced Aura, standing next to him. The moment their eyes met, his wife nodded curt, to which Zenjirou nodded curt in turn as well and shortly ordered the soldiers left and right to him, suppressing his reflex to open the door himself.
“Open it.”
“As you command!”
Upon his order, one soldier slowly opened the door.
Zenjirou took a short, deep breath, so that no one around noticed it, and passed through the door with deliberate slow steps.

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Zenjirou-sama. My name is Moreno Militello, a diplomat from the Twin Kingdom of Sharrow and Jilbell. I am terrible honoured to be granted the chance to meet you in person.”
The middle-aged man lowered his head respectfully on the other side of the table, whereat Zenjirou nodded collected on his chair and replied shortly.
“I’m Zenjirou, the husband of Her Highness Aura, the Queen of the Carpa Kingdom.”
When he introduced himself internationally, he always said this. A declaration of his intention that he was present as the Prince Consort of Queen Aura, not as a member of the royal family.
Whether the diplomat sitting across him understood his aim or not, he lowered his head once more with a respectful expression, saying “very well”.
“Now that my husband has introduced himself, let us get to the issues at hand. We have not much time after all.”
The one to broach the topic was Aura, sitting next to Zenjirou.
She sat somewhat slovenly on the chair, resting against the backrest so that her grown stomach wouldn’t be a hindrance, but even in that posture, her words were overflowing with the characteristic strong pressure of a person that was used to give out orders arbitrary.
“Yes, very well.”
The diplomat lowered his head yet again with polite words, whereupon Aura put her hand against her chin, whose recent roundness worried her a bit, and
“Mhm, okay then, which matter do you want to start with, the official one or the real one?”
“Yes, please allow me to settle the simple, official matter first. The ‘rings’ you have requested, have arrived.”
The middle-aged diplomat responded to the Queen’s words with that and put two rings wrapped in a thick purple cloth onto the table.
It were pair rings with three brilliant diamonds embedded in a golden socket.
There was no doubt that these were the two wedding rings Zenjirou had bought on Earth.
To the “normal eye”, they looked completely unchanged, but Zenjirou had awakened his ability to detect magical power through the continuous lessons with Lady Octavia in the past one year or so, thus he now saw the radiance of magical power emitting from the rings.
Compared to the magical power coming from his or Aura’s body, it was rather faint, but it was his first time seeing a simple, inorganic object with magical power.
The delivery of their wedding rings, which they had requested to be turned into magic tools. That was the “official” matter for which the diplomat of the Twin Kingdom was granted an audience with both Aura and Zenjirou. Zenjirou usually only left the inner palace to “substitute for Aura”, so an official reason like this was necessary for him to accompany Aura here without raising suspicion.
As Zenjirou viewed the rings curiously, the diplomat eloquently explained the magic effects of the rings.
“The ring of Her Highness Aura has the magic ‘Ignition’ and the ring of Zenjirou-sama has the magic ‘Spring of Water’ worked into it. The Ignition is the beautiful handicraft of ‘Prince Francesco’ while the Spring of Water is the delicate handwork of ‘Princess Margarita’.”
The one, who reacted to these names, was Aura.
“Oho, it is quite an honour to have Prince Francesco and Princess Margarita deal with it. I will prepare a letter of gratitude later on, so please pass it on to them.”
Prince Francesco and Princess Margarita. Both were direct descendants of the Sharrow Family and famous practitioner of the “Bestowal Magic”. Apparently they weren’t so stupid to skimp on a request for magical tools, even if they were disputing with the business partner on a secret matter.
“Yes, I will make sure to deliver them.”
With these words of the diplomat, the official matter, namely the delivery of the rings, was concluded.
Now the real issue at hand followed.
“Well then, I would like to address the real matter, seeing as we are pressed for time. This is the official document for the ‘treaty’ this time. Please read through it once now and sign it here when you consent with it.”
Saying so, the diplomat spread a light green dragonskin parchment on the table.

Although it was a secret contract, the official document was still written on surprisingly exquisite parchment. Black letters on light green parchment, which was close to white in colour.
Zenjirou’s reading skill of the characters of this world was still only on the level of a 7th Grader for English, but even he could tell that the letters on the dragonskin parchment were written extremely cleanly, worthy of being called a “neat handwriting”.
Confronted with the document of the treaty, Aura spoke first.
“I am afraid that my husband still cannot read our characters. Please read everything out aloud.”
“Oh, right. Forgive me. Allow me to read it then.”
The diplomat pointed at the lines on the parchment before them one by one as he read them out aloud.
“I will begin now.
1) Zenjioru Carpa [henceforth Z] will not make a child with anyone except Aura Carpa [henceforth A] from now on.
2) The Twin Kingdom will never meddle with the direct offspring of [A].
3) When the Carpa Kingdom breaks term 1), namely [Z] makes a child with someone else than [A], the Twin Kingdom has the right to examine the child [henceforth C] about its bloodline aptitude…”
Zenjirou pricked up his ears as not to miss anything while keeping an inexpressive face with all his might, but so far, nothing seemed off in the contents.
The voice of the diplomat, reading out the document, only showed a small change at the end.
“…will have to pay three thousand gold coins as punishment.”
That was the end of the contents that Aura had read out to Zenjirou last night. However, the dragonskin parchment, which the diplomat was reading out line by line while pointing at them, had another paragraph below.
After a moment of silence, the diplomat let his cheek twitch and read the following line while pointing at it.
“Extra paragraph: When term 2) becomes inconsistent with term 3) in the future, term 2) gets priority. …That is all of it.”
That paragraph was proposed by Zenjirou to Aura last night.
Term 2) became inconsistent with term 3). To put simply: The question whether the Twin Kingdom had the right to meddle with a future child that was born in a marriage between a direct offspring of Zenjirou and Aura, and a branch offspring of Zenjirou and a concubine, or not.
According to term 2), the Twin Kingdom had no right to meddle with that child, since it would have descended in a direct line from Aura. However, according to term 3), the Twin Kingdom had the right to meddle, since that child also descended in a line from a concubine, which was a breach of the contract.
This didn’t concern the generation of Zenjirou’s children, but it was a realistic problem for the generation of his grandchildren at the earliest, or his great-grandchildren at the latest.
Zenjirou glanced surprised at Aura, whereat she smiled at bit and nodded slightly.
Last night, he had pointed out various shortcomings of the secret contract, but he had heard that the contract would be signed as scheduled today, so he had jumped to the conclusion that his opinion hadn’t been considered.
(Did she add the paragraph in a meeting prior in the morning? …I just can’t hold a candle to my wife)
He was once again smitten by the effort of his wife, but likewise, Aura had a similar sentiment for her husband, too.
In compliance with common sense, it was only normal that term 2) would take priority over term 3). However, it was possible that they reasoned against it when it wasn’t put down in writing, just like Zenjirou had feared last night.
At the present time, the Twin Kingdom could hardly quibble about it, since the balance of power between the two countries was nearly equal, but the future was uncertain. It wasn’t a pleasant prospect, but if the Carpa Kingdom were to greatly fall behind the Twin Kingdom one day, it was thinkable that a direct descendant of the royal family in the future was manipulated under the pretext of term 3).
To exaggerate it: Zenjirou nipped a future threat to the Carpa Kingdom in the bud with his suggestion. This actually might be an incredible achievement.
As the matter was confidential, the addition was principally considered to be done at Aura’s discretion, so it wasn’t an official achievement for Zenjirou.
(Thus, at least I will keep his achievement that stilled the fears for the future of our country, in mind)
Aura put her name under the secret contract with the dragon bone dip pen after she dipped it into the ink pot while she vowed that in her heart.

* * *

Zenjirou and Aura returned to the inner palace by late evening after signing the secret contract without problems.
Back in their living room, they quickly took off their formal attire and changed into the comfortable casual wear.
“Allow me to give you a hand.”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
As one might expect in her current state, Aura let the waiting maids help her with nearly all of her change of clothes.
Two maids helped her out of the dress she had worn and exchanged it for just a thin dress that resembled more a negligee than maternity clothes. Then Aura immediately sat down on the couch as her grown stomach was too much for her.
With her body buried into the couch, Aura leaked a big sigh from her mouth.
Even she was exhausted today. In the morning she had done the final adjustments to the secret contract and in the evening she had signed it.
Aura was blessed with a good physique and even had trained as a soldier, so her stamina clearly differentiated from an average woman, but even so, it must have been a great burden to her to adjust and sign a secret contract, which determined the future of the country, during her pregnancy.
On the other hand, Zenjirou changed into a T-Shirt and jeans by himself in the bedroom, since he still felt uncomfortable to change in front of the waiting maids, then returned into the living room.
“Good job, Aura. Here, a cocoa.”
Zenjirou put the freshly prepared hot cocoa he had made by pouring hot water from the water boiler into a mug with two tablespoons of cocoa powder, in front of Aura.
He had gotten a black tea for himself. After letting the teabag soak in the hot water in the mug, he put plenty of brown sugar into the nicely dyed tea, adding a slice of a sour fruit like a lemon as the final touch.
Although he often drank his black tea straight, he just craved for some super sweet and sour tea when he was exhausted like today.
“Oh, thanks.”
Taking the mug with the cocoa, Aura sipped the foaming sweet liquid and sighed relieved.
Normally Zenjirou would sit down next to her, but today he took a seat on the couch on the other side of the table, as he wanted to discuss something face-to-face.
At the same time, the waiting maids, who had stood at attention on the side so far, bowed and left all together.
They did that in consideration for Zenjirou, who still couldn’t relax when the maids were in the same room.
“For now, the trouble with the Twin Kingdom has settled down, I guess?”
After confirming that the waiting maids had left, Zenjirou broached that, whereat Aura put her mug back on the table and nodded once.
“Yeah. Now they should no longer be able to say anything, at least as long as you do not take a concubine.”
Zenjirou showed a slightly sullen face in response to her words.
“Okay. I’ve been thinking about this since I read the secret contract, but is my concubine matter still prevailing?”
He went through great pains to endure the shame as he gave the impression that “he was head over heels over Aura” at the night banquet, yet that sacrificial effort was all in vain?
Aura smiled a bit at the spiritless Zenjirou and shook her head.
“No, that matter has died down at the present time as well. It seems your activities were successful. The number of people trying to promote a concubine has decreased. Right now, their whole attention is caught by the question whom to send in as a wet nurse for our child.”
Saying so, she lovingly caressed her big belly.
Determined, Zenjirou started to say something, but Aura shook her head once again before that.
“No. I know what you want to say, but that is not possible. You are better off not relying on any wishful thinking.
Sure, under normal circumstances, you could have stopped worrying about the future once you have three or four children with me. However, the current royal family only consists of you and me, as you know.
This situation is extremely abnormal for a major power. To give you a concrete example: In the Twin Kingdom, the Sharrow Royal Family has twenty-three members and the Jilbell Pope Family has nineteen members.”
A royalty in this world was automatically a practitioner of a bloodline magic. The smaller the royal family, the lower the national strength. Simple as that. Her personal feelings aside, Aura, too, fully agreed with the viewpoint of the nobles, who deemed it necessary to expand the royal family, on a rational level.
Even now, Zenjirou stubbornly stated his opinion, as he probably still couldn’t get it out of his mind despite understanding that reasoning.
“Ehm, then… we two should give our best?”
In response to his viewpoint, which could only be considered as thoughtless, Aura showed a wry smile without surprise and answered in a playful and affected behaviour of anxiety.
“Do you want to kill me!? How many children do you want me to bear while I manage a kingdom?”
“Well, in my world, there was a woman in the past, who was called an Empress and had a dozen of children with her husband while she ruled over a large country at war as a grand duchess, you see.”
“…Was she really human? Maybe she had some blood of the ancient dragon race in her?”
Aura wrinkled the space between her eyebrows and tilted her head puzzled as if she had heard a shady story.
As expected, the anecdote of Austria’s sovereign Maria Theresa only sounded unrealistic to Queen Aura.
“Nah, that can’t be. I’m pretty sure she was a simple human.”
Zenjirou’s knowledge about Europe’s history was limited to what he had learned in history classes in high school, so he couldn’t explain it any further and the topic died.
Trying to think of a new topic, he suddenly recalled the rings in the pocket of his trousers.
“Oh, right. Hey, Aura, can you hold out your left hand?”
The topic change couldn’t have been more obvious, but Aura knew that he carried a profound aversion towards the concubine matter, so she dared to go along with this poor attempt of a topic change. The issue would surely settle in an unfavourable way for him anyway, so it shouldn’t hurt to put it off for a little while longer now.
“Mh? Okay, but give me your ring first. If we are going to do it, we might as well repeat ‘that’.”
Aura held out the palm of her right hand with a smile.
“Yeah, okay.”
Zenjirou put his own wedding ring in her hand, stood up from the couch and stepped up in front of her.
“Ah, you can remain seated.”
He stopped her by raising his hand, as she was about to stand up, and kneeled down before her while she sat on the couch. Then he took her left hand und tried to put the ring onto her ring finger.
“That will not work. My fingers are swollen right now. Take my little finger.”
“Ah, right, sorry.”
During her pregnancy, her whole hands had become swollen, increasing the size of her fingers by one. The ring was actually a perfect match for her ring finger, but now it was unlikely to fit.
It looked a bit lame, but Zenjirou tried to put the wedding ring onto his wife’s little finger while he kneeled in front of her, whereupon she whispered into his ear.
“Oh, you are not going to say anything? And here I was hoping you would say the words of that night again.”
Upon these words, Zenjirou flinched and stopped moving.
“That” night was referring to their first night together. After the marriage ceremony during the day, they had carried out their bridal night, then he had presented her that ring in the bedroom.
On that occasion, he had spoken the “marriage vow”, which was usually asked during the ceremony by the priest, by himself.
“No, well, that was kind of a once in a lifetime thing…”
Aura snorted a bit with laughter towards her bashful and flustered husband and threw him an affected sorrowful look.
“Oh, too bad. The chance rarely presented itself again, yet you will not say it. Hmm….”
“….Aw, geez. Fine!”
As his wife tightly clenched her left fist, so that he couldn’t put the ring on, Zenjirou realized that he had no other choice but to give in.
“Hah… Fuh…”
He took a deep breath and after temporarily blowing out his shame, he started to recite with a voice as dignified as possible.

“I promise to love and respect, to comfort and help you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, until death do us part. I take this oath on this ring.”

Aura showed a smile without saying anything and opened her fist.
The wide, yellow golden ring with the embedded three diamonds slipped onto her little finger.
A proof of love. A symbolic vow. Aura certainly could feel the warmth of her husband from the cold metal around her little finger.
For a while, Aura kept looking at the wedding ring on the little finger of her left hand and smiled sweetly, but before long, she faced her husband kneeing in front of her again and said in a small voice.
“Stand up, Zenjioru.”
“Stand up.”
“O- Okay.”
Zenjirou had been looking up to her as he was on his knee in front of the couch, and now obediently stood up, albeit tilting his head puzzled.
This time Aura was looking up to Zenjirou.
Still sitting on the couch, she softly took the left hand of her husband in front of her, then repeated the vow.

“I promise to love and respect, to comfort and help you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, until death do us part. I take this oath on this ring.”

After reciting this, she put the ring, which was a pair with the one around her finger, on his left ring finger.
Surprised, Zenjirou looked dumbfounded at his wife, who was looking up to him.
He looked down. She looked up. Their eyes met.
On their first night, Aura hadn’t returned the vow when she had received the ring. Zenjirou had believed that she couldn’t respond due to surprise of experiencing that custom for the first time, but the actual reason was something different. Instead of being unable to respond, she chose not to response.
She knew that the vow was nothing but a formality, but as a Queen, she couldn’t allow herself to “love a single man until death did they part”.
She had endeavoured to deal with him sincerely. She had been prepared to develop love. And she had been prepared to grant her husband’s wishes as much as possible. However, the country, the royal family had always taken priority.
If Zenjirou were ever to become a disadvantage to the kingdom at a crucial time, she would abandon him. The marriage was supposed to be concluded with that kind of resolution. However.
(That is no longer possible. At least I will not be able to abandon him as long as he stays as he is now)
Aura told herself that at heart.
Of course that didn’t apply, when Zenjirou lost himself in power or status and became an entirely different person, but as long as that wasn’t the case, Aura was convinced that she wouldn’t make a “cold-hearted and lawful decision”.
After putting the ring onto his ring finger, Aura spread her arms upwards as to receive her husband in front of her.
Discerning her intention, Zenjirou slowly brought down his body, so that he was leaning on his wife, sitting on the couch, from above.
Their lips overlapped silently. For Zenjirou, it was the second “wedding kiss”, for Aura the first.
Although the kiss lasted a bit too long to be called a wedding kiss.

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