Chapter 46: 029. Imperial Prince is Going Home -3 (Part Two)
The Paladins had set up a cordon around the crime scene.
People from the marketplace gathered around and whispered to each other.
“Is it another murder?”
“Didn’t something like this happen last time too?”
“Just what are the patrolmen doing these days, I wonder…”
I observed their behaviour while sitting inside my carriage. The vehicle soon set off again.
“Please do not worry, your highness. The Paladins will surely get to the bottom of this and deal with the matter appropriately,” Harman said while looking at me with a concerned expression on his face. “You seemed to be rather greatly shocked at what happened, your highness.”
I shifted my head after hearing that. A deeply sunken pair of eyes reflected in the mirror mounted on the carriage’s door stared right back at me.
Shock? Yup, that sounded about right. Quite huge, in fact. However, it wasn’t because I witnessed a scene of murder.
I’ve already ran into hundreds, no scratch that, thousands of zombies before. And not to forget, I even blew apart a vampire’s head too. All thanks to the characteristics of my class as a Necromancer, my nerves were pretty tough.
If you wanted to know what’s been bugging me…
I held my head in despair. “…I can already see so much hard labour coming my way soon, that’s what.”
Charlotte sitting next to me formed a puzzled expression.
In the meantime, the carriage finally arrived at the imperial palace.
The impressive front gates of the palace opened up and we smoothly entered inside.
Countless maids and manservants had created a pair of long lines with their heads bowed deeply.
After we all exited from the carriage, Harman spoke to a person who looked to be the chamberlain. “His highness the Imperial Prince is fatigued from the long journey. Please guide him to his quarters while I shall personally speak to his majesty and…”
After that brief chat, Charlotte was promptly allocated a separate room for her to rest in. As for Harman, he seemed to have left to speak to the Holy Emperor.
As for me, I too was guided to the room I’d be staying in from now on.
While my feet strode on the glittering passageways of this impressive imperial palace, my mind was still occupied by all sorts of complicated thoughts taking root in there.
One, about the severed head and the bloodless body I saw in the alleyway. Two, regarding the thick demonic energy and the accompanying disgusting stench I smelled earlier.
I was pretty familiar with all of them, actually. I did smell something similar back in Ronia after all. The stench belonged to an existence that transcended the regular undead.
A vampire, in other words.
A stench very similar to that vampire was wafting around in the capital of the Theocratic Empire.
“I’m so screwed. Really, seriously, definitely screwed!”
Holy sh*t! To think that vampires could even exist in the capital of the mighty Theocratic Empire, a city where the statue of Gaia stood so tall and imposing!
Wait, could this whole thing be because Gaia’s love and mercy even extended to those creatures too? What’s up with this messed-up act of all-encompassing mercy that even covered every damn cat and dog under the sun?!
“I better bounce.”
Yup, I needed to escape out of here.
I simply refuse to go through the same hellish crap that I experienced back in Ronia. No matter how much I coveted more knowledge on magic, my life took priority over everything else.
I called out to a maidservant.
“Y-yes, your highness!”
She seemed to be really tense. It made sense though, since the story of the Seventh Imperial Prince trying to assault a lady-in-waiting should still be doing the rounds within the imperial palace’s walls even now.
It was obvious that the ones guiding me would be terrified.
I asked her. “Do you know where the library is?”
Even if I was planning to run, I should at least ‘borrow’ a few expensive grimoires before doing so. This would be the wiser thing to do. In fact, I also wanted to meet this Archbishop Raphael before leaving, but if I did exactly that, I’d have even less of a chance to escape afterwards.
I refused the ‘kindness’ of the maids who tried guiding me there. I simply memorised their directions and headed towards the library on my own.
Since I already had a bit of money on me now, after getting my hands on some useful grimoires, I should be able to find a horse or even a carriage in the city later to take me far away from here.
Fooling the eyes of those escorting Paladins should be easy, since I could just say that I’m going sightseeing in the city. As for Charlotte, there should be no problems on that end because Harman was here. She’d be treated well before being sent back home, I thought.
While thinking this, I looked around with a somewhat dazed expression.
“…I’m lost, aren’t I?”
The imperial palace was much bigger than I thought. Not to mention, the corridors were a series of complicated mazes, too!
The location I somehow ended up in was the imperial palace’s garden instead.
A small and intricately sculpted bronze statue of a woman stood all alone surrounded by well-maintained trees and flowers. With a benevolent smile on her face, she was gently stroking the heads of two boys.
“She doesn’t look like Goddess Gaia.”
She certainly seemed different from the imposing goddess statue erected in the centre of the city’s plaza. I quietly read out the letters engraved near the bottom of the bronze statue.
Was she a person of this imperial palace?
She must’ve left this world about five years ago, judging from the birth and death dates engraved on the statue.
“Eh-gugu! My back… Darn it! I let my underlings take care of things, so why did they do such a sloppy job? I might as well cut off all of their heads and put them on a spike near the castle gates or something.”
I shifted my head in the direction of the series of loud complaints.
“And here I was, expecting something good since they were new hirings. To think that the punks making a living out of the citizens’ taxes would be this lazy.”
An old man was up on a ladder, busy pruning the landscape with a garden shear. After climbing down, the old man began massaging his back. A couple of seconds later, he discovered me and flinched, his expression visibly hardening.
Actually, this was good. I might as well ask this old man the way outta here. “Ah, I beg your pardon on this intrusion. I merely wished to ask you about…”
“If you were here, you should’ve greeted me first, you fool!”
The old man suddenly yelled at me.
It was my turn to flinch and stare dazedly back at him.
“Besides all that. You beg my pardon? What on earth has gotten into this fool… Ah, those things over there, bring them to me.”
The old man pointed to a spot next to me. I looked at the spot and found a hoe plus a metal bucket filled with soil.
“What are you doing? You don’t want to bring them over?”
I was utterly dumbfounded.
Just how many people still alive would be able to order around the Seventh Imperial Prince like this? While thinking about this, I glanced down at my current attire.
What a big surprise, it was the same shabby traveller’s outfit that I wore even back in the monastery. Harman did hand over a far flashier outfit earlier, but I didn’t put it on since it felt too burdensome to do so.
Did this old man mistake me for a new gardener or something?
“What are you doing, boy? Hurry up, will ya?”
I licked my lips.
The old man rolled his sleeves up after I brought the bucket and the hoe. He then crouched low to the ground to tender the garden next. Watching him at work gave me this strange, incongruent vibe.
This old man, he… came off as oddly familiar, somehow.
Was he someone the original owner of this body knew well?
A little while later, the old man dusted his hands and stood back up as if he was finally done with the gardening. Judging from how fast he was, he probably was already in the process of wrapping things up before I showed up.
Whitish air exhaled out of his lips.
His hands were rough and calloused, looking as if it endured long years of labour. He rubbed the dirt off his hands on his overalls. But since I couldn’t bear to watch the pristine clothing get dirty, I pulled out my own handkerchief to clean up his hands instead.
While doing this, I spoke to him. “Are you the only person here, old sir? How can only one person be responsible for such a large garden…?”
Although still awkward, I tried to imitate a princely manner of speech. I was being mindful with this place being what it was, but man, this act of putting up a refined personality just didn’t suit me at all.
I tutted softly and looked at the old man’s face.
Even if the Theocratic Empire was supposedly righteous, abuse of power still existed, it seemed. The head gardener of this palace must not have been a very good person, judging from how a single old man was left alone to deal with everything. He did mention something about new hirings, but seeing that none of them were here, I figured that they dumped everything on this old man’s shoulders and were goofing off somewhere.
The old man had a really stunned expression on his face.
He stared at me for a good while before finally opening his mouth, “I see… the story of you losing your memories is indeed true.”
These words made me do a double-take at the old man.
“Not only did your personality change, you can’t even recognise your own grandpa.”
I flinched nastily at his words and hurriedly activated [Mind’s Eye].
[Name: Kelt Olfolse (Holy Emperor)
Traits: Crushing, destroying, a truly massive divinity pool, thunderbolts, an overwhelmingly monstrous physique.
Eiiit! I should’ve done a better job with my family. Uh-whew…]
The top ruler of the Theocratic Empire, referred unabashedly as the great hero who killed the Necromancer King Amon fifty years ago. The man who was technically my grandfather, Kelt Olfolse, was now standing right before my eyes.
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