Chapter 44: 028. Imperial Prince is Going Home -2 (Part Two)
Gril went past the state of fluster and straight into freaking out. “Y-you mean, ‘that’ imperial palace, sir?!”
“I’ve been informed that you provided crucial aid to his highness when he hunted down the Vampire Count, as well as during the Witch Morgana incident earlier. As you’re a representative of the empire’s citizens, it is only correct that your accomplishments are properly recognised.”
“T-that isn’t right! I haven’t done anything so grand!”
Gril’s denial only made Harman shake his head.
How could he even say that he hadn’t done anything?
Judging from the recent events, the farmer went on to hunt thirty-odd zombies as well as the King of Gluttony. He then even managed to corner Morgana the witch afterwards. And according to the Imperial Prince’s own testimony, this supposed farmer even defended against the vampire’s breath with a mere steel shield too.
These series of feats were almost too good to be true.
‘Not only that, even his daughter is extraordinary.’
Charlotte even knew the imperial swordsmanship. Without a doubt, this Gril was a guardian knight sent by an as-yet identified noble house to protect the imperial prince.
If this arrangement was put in place with good intentions, then all was great but if not, then it was Harman’s duty to stop this man. To get to the bottom of the matter, Gril simply had to be brought to the imperial palace.
Charlotte alternated her gaze between Harman and Gril, an awkward expression floating upon her face. She could tell that Gril was deeply troubled by what was happening.
“…Excuse me, Gril? May I ask what this is?”
So, she decided to butt in, hoping that she could help him out somehow.
“Mm? Ah, that…?” Gril lightly scratched his head after spotting the aged document she was currently holding. “That thing showed itself while we were taking care of the undead remains back in Ronia fiefdom. Mister Hans gave it to me, and since I figured it could fetch us some coin, I brought it back home with us. I’m not sure of the details, however.”
“…You shouldn’t have done that, Gril. If you carelessly handle items found on an exterminated undead, it can bring about a powerful curse on you.”
“H-haha, haha… y-you think so too? You know, since I didn’t know what it was, I was thinking of asking you to show that thing to the Imperial Prince-nim, so that he can check it out later.”
Something like what Charlotte said would occasionally happen. Items that zombies or skeletons used back when they were still alive would sometimes drop after they were defeated. And oftentimes, random villagers or travellers would end up picking those items up.
However, most of the time, those recovered items would be plain and ordinary. But in some rare circumstances, the recovered items could carry a curse.
Charlotte frowned as she stared at the document again. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be a cursed item. She then proceeded to read the biggest letters that were still legible on the document, “Count He… Hera… Herai..?”
Harman’s brows shot up high when he heard Charlotte’s voice. He then quickly walked over to her to take a closer look at the document in her hand.
The document that seemed to be abandoned and forgotten for a very long time just so happened to be a certificate of authentication, one that featured a genuine emperor’s official seal, proving that the one holding this paper was a noble.
And this certificate, it used to belong to…
“Haha, hahaha… It’s nothing to worry about. W-wait, now that I think about it… Aha, you must be starving right now, Sir Harman. My good neighbour shared some of their fresh bread, so how about we have some…?”
Gril worked suspiciously hard to hide the document away.
‘Oops. I can’t boast about something I pilfered from a corpse like some dummy in front of a Paladin, now can I?’
Harman watched this scene play out while standing there dumbfounded, his expression somewhat dazed.
‘The… Heraiz family?’
That noble household was renowned for their skill with the sword. Their undying loyalty to the Theocratic Empire was the stuff of legends, too.
The family also happened to be in charge of the Land of the Dead Spirits fifty years ago, and tragically, the whole household was massacred during the bitter battle against Necromancer King Amon. They had become a near-forgotten footnote in the annals of history.
Harman continued to dazedly stare at both Charlotte and Gril.
“Is something the matter…?”
The farmer and the ‘nun’ began tilting their heads in puzzlement.
‘I see… So that’s what happened.’
Harman slowly rubbed his face.
These two… they were none other than the remaining survivors of the Heraiz bloodline, their true descendants. Were they the unknown noble house supporting the Seventh Imperial Prince?
‘Was this the true reason why Charlotte knew the imperial swordsmanship?’
Everything seemed to make sense now.
Gril hid his true identity, and while living on this Land of the Dead Spirits, he faithfully carried out his duties and protected the north. His daughter, meanwhile, was protecting, supporting, and serving the prince from the boy’s side.
Despite being forgotten, and with fifty years of lengthy history going past them, their loyalty to the Holy Emperor and his family still remained strong to this day.
‘How happy would his majesty be when he gets to meet the Heraiz family’s descendants after all this time?’
Without a doubt, the emperor would bestow a great reward upon them.
However, this was not a decision that Harman could make on his own.
‘There must’ve been a reason for them to hide their identity.’
It’d be too much of a waste to let the world forget about this family, however.
Gril kept his true identity a secret. There was the chance that the reason why he didn’t openly support the Seventh Imperial Prince could be that he wished to let the family’s duties end with his generation.
Even if that was the case…
Harman’s gaze shifted over to Charlotte.
…This child still wished to serve the Imperial Prince.
Just this fact alone was enough for this family to be recognised.
Harman broke his silence, “I shall write a letter of recommendation.”
“How about sending your daughter to the imperial palace?”
Gril’s jaw nearly hit the floor, “O-oh my goodness! As a maidservant working in the palace?”
Harman shook his head. “No. I’d like her to join us as a knight… Wait, as a Paladin, actually.”
“I shall also inform His Majesty the Holy Emperor and urge him to bestow her with a suitable peerage. If you wish, I can also write a letter of recommendation to the Academy as well.”
There shouldn’t be any obstacles for this. They were from a ruined noble family, after all. Since they weren’t originally commoners to begin with, the other nobles shouldn’t be that vocal in their opposition, either.
Harman pressed on, “So? How about it?”
Gril forgot what he wanted to say and stared at Charlotte. His lips did bob up and down from sheer mental shock, but from Harman’s point of view, the ‘farmer’ seemed to be waiting for his daughter’s opinion on the matter, instead.
With this understanding in mind, he too looked at Charlotte and asked her. “What do you think? If you wish, the imperial swordsmanship will be taught to you properly. It also means that you will become a great help to his highness.”
His words caused her brows to shoot up high. “I can become a great help to Imperial Prince-nim?”
“But of course. You will be bestowed with the title of a Paladin after all. If you want…” Harman narrowed his eyes. “…I’m even willing to hide your true identity and disguise you as a mere nun, maybe even as a maidservant. I’ll lend you my assistance so that you can serve and protect his highness from his side.”
Those words put an end to Charlotte’s hesitation. She nodded and responded back, “However, I’d like to remain by the Imperial Prince-nim’s side.”
It sounded as if she was unwilling to go to the imperial palace without the prince by her side.
Harman replied to her, “That’s obvious. I’m planning to escort his highness back to the palace no matter what it takes, so you can allay any fears you might have.”
Charlotte formed a slightly troubled expression when she heard Harman. How did their conversation end up going down this route?
Harman nodded his head, looking even more determined than ever before. He now had more reasons to escort the Seventh Imperial Prince back to the capital.
Later that night, he wrote a letter and had it delivered to the Theocratic Empire.
(Back to 1st person POV)
It had already been two months since the vampire incident.
The weather remained chilly even then.
Currently, I was staring helplessly at the bookshelves.
“…I have no choice, do I?”
There simply weren’t enough books here. The grimoires found in the monastery were too limited to satisfy my thirst for knowledge.
“However, this guy… he sounds like he definitely knows something.”
I stopped reading a grimoire related to healing techniques and took another look at its author.
[Author: Raphael Astoria.]
I had seen this name before. After thinking about it for a bit, I began rummaging through other books next, mostly historical records.
Finally, I found it.
He was one of the historical figures who stood alongside Holy Emperor Kelt Olfolse and fought against the Necromancer King Amon. He was also one of the five archbishops in the Theocratic Empire, too.
Raphael Astoria – the dude that everyone referred to as the empire’s best when it came to healing techniques and divinity control.
This guy might be able to provide me with some hints on how I can control a huge amount of divinity without facing a heavy rebound. I mean, surely he must’ve penned other grimoires besides these ones here. Wait, maybe it’d be better to personally talk to him, instead.
Suddenly, a knocking sound could be heard coming from the door. While still holding the grimoire, I stood up and opened it.
“…I came to escort you, your highness.”
As usual, it was Harman saying the exact same thing.
However, there was one big difference this time. A big crowd of Paladins and Priests were standing before my eyes. There was that unmistakably huge horse-drawn carriage on standby too.
Charlotte, kitted out in a maid’s uniform, was looking a bit baffled while shifting her worried gaze in my direction.
Harman stood in the centre of this crowd and bowed before me.
“Let us get going, your highness.”
It seemed to me that this guy was done asking me for my opinion.
I stood still in a daze before looking down. Specifically, at the grimoire written by the author Raphael Astoria still held in my hand.
“Fine. Let’s go.”
My short answer prompted a stunned expression to form on both Harman and Charlotte’s faces. The corners of my lips curled up when I saw their reactions.
Well, I guessed that going back to the imperial palace was an unavoidable fate for me. Actually, this was probably for the best. Someone like Raphael Astoria probably knew how to control Amon’s skull, that’s for sure.
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