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Chapter Seven: The Prince of a Dying Country
Saito was caught and imprisoned by the pirates. It seemed like the Marie Galante's crew had helped to take over the ship.
Since Saito's sword and Wardes and Louise's wands had been taken, they were allowed to keep their hands and feetunrestrained. Without their wands, mages, just like the weaponless Saito, were harmless. Though the same could not be said about Louise.
In the background, one could see wine barrels, cereal sacks and gunpowder casks disorderly thrown around. Heavy cannonballs were piled up in the corner of the room.
Wardes explored the cargo with a great interest.
Saito sat down in the corner of the hold, frowning because of the pain in his injured arm.
Louise looked at Saito with a worried expression after seeing him in such a state.
"...What? Just as I thought, the injury hurts after all."
"It's nothing." Saito said snappishly.
"It's not nothing - show me!" Louise forcefully gripped Saito's arm and tucked up clothes.
It looked really awful. The Masked Man's lightning spell had inflicted a severe injury going from shoulder to wrist on his left arm. More so it seemed to be getting worse; his shoulder was having awful convulsions.
"Is that not awfully burnt?! Should I feel relieved now?!" Louise shouted. She stood up and started knocking on the door
"Somebody! Somebody come!"
The guardian stood up.
"Water! Is there a mage? We need a water mage! There is an injured person! He needs to be healed!"
"There is no such person."
"Lies! It is so!"
Wardes, who was taken aback, watched Louise’ dumbfounded. Saito gripped Louise's shoulder.
"Be obedient. You are the prisoner here."
"No! I won't, you are injured!"
"Stop saying that!" Saito shouted. Louise cringed because of his threatening attitude, and her pupils started getting moist. However, she gulped down her saliva and tried to fight back the incoming tears.
"I am not crying. There is no master who would cry in front of her familiar!"
Saito turned his face away.
"I would never cry in front of you."
Louise walked towards the other wall and sat down facing away from Saito, her body shivering. Saito headed towards Wardes and tapped his shoulder.
"Please comfort her"
"Aren't you Louise's fiancé?"
Wardes nodded and turned towards Louise, and hugged her shoulders from behind, comforting her. Saito collapsed on the ground, averting his eyes from Wardes and Louise. The pain in his arm kept on getting worse. It was his own fault for stopping Louise from helping him.
It's a suitable punishment for such a worthless being like me.
"My punishment... doesn't hurt that much. Uwaa-"
His muttering was interrupted by the door opening as a fat man with a plate of soup entered.
When Saito, who was near the door, tried to take the plate of soup. The man suddenly lifted the plate up.
"Only after you have answered a few questions."
Louise, whose eyes looked puffy, stood up.
"What business do you have in Albion?"
"Travelling." Louise said with a decisive voice, putting her hand on the waist.
"Tristain's noble, why would you travel to Albion? Why would you be sightseeing in such place?"
"I do not have to tell you such things."
"Still pretending to be tough, despite being scared and crying?"
Louise turned her face away as the pirate started laughing. She grabbed a plate with soup and water to throw at him, but...
Saito took it from her.
"I cannot eat a soup made by such people!"
Louise turned her face away again.
"It's not healthy to stay hungry."
When Wardes said so, Louise took the plate of soup with a pouting face.
Three people ate the same soup from one plate, though in normal circumstances that would never happen.
Wardes leaned onto the wall with a tired expression on his face.
Louise tore up the sleeve of her shirt and soaked it in water, trying to cool down Saito's wound with it.
"It's not alright!" Louise stared firmly at Saito with her puffy eyes. "Because, you are my familiar, you have to listen what I tell you!"
Saito averted his face. Louise, who was treating his arm softly, looked up at him.
"What is it?"
"You have more important duties to care about."
"I do, but an injury is also very important! Is that clear?!"
Saito kept on looking away, before noticing the barrels with gunpowder.
"We could escape by using that."
Louise suspiciously followed Saito's look. Saito opened the barrel and filled the plate with gunpowder.
Wardes muttered tiredly.
"And where would you run? Only emptiness surrounds us."
Saito sat down again with a thump.
"...but, sitting like that and doing nothing..."
At that time, the door opened again. This time it was a thin pirate standing before them. The pirate looked at the three with piercing eyes and asked.
"Good evening, are you the aristocrats going to Albion?"
Louise did not answer.
"Oi oi, judging from your silence it's true. Although we do not look like that we respect nobles, thanks to the aristocrats our business goes well."
"But, isn't this a warship of rebels?"
"No no, though we are employed, we are involved in the fifty-fifty relationship with both sides. We are related to both factions. So how is it? Are you nobles? If it is true, then you will be let go free in the closest port."
Saito felt relieved. Since Louise was an aristocrat everything could be settled peacefully then. Also, they would be taken to the closest port.
Louise, however, did not nod her head in agreement and kept on glaring at the pirate's forehead instead.
"How dare you have anything to do with those dirty rebels? Do not disregard Albion nobles. I myself am one of the noble families. Albion is still a kingdom, as the royal family is still a legitimate government in Albion. Because I am an aristocrat who comes here on behalf of Tristain, I am, in other words, an ambassador. Therefore, I demand an ambassador's treatment from you."
Saito widely opened his mouth and muttered. "Are you an idiot?"
"Who are you calling an idiot? The idiot is you! Trying to act cool while being injured this badly!" Louise angrily turned to Saito and shouted.
"But! You should choose the time and place for your straightforwardness better!"
"Shut up! You are my familiar and you should listen to what I say! Anyway, show your arm! Hey!"
The surprised Saito clasped his arm, while Louise tried to pull Saito's arm with a jerk.
The pirate laughed after seeing such scene.
"Honestly, you should stop doing that!"
"You're wrong, I can't let you get hurt so carelessly." Louise asserted.
"Eh?" Saito said in a surprised voice.
"It's because you are my familiar... t-that's why..."
"I'll go to report to the Boss then."
The pirate left laughing.
Saito was so surprised that he wasn't able to reply to Louise properly.
"Arm, show it."
"Don't act this way. Aren't there more things to be concerned of? Like our present situation."
Louise responded decisively "I won't let such things take me down as long as we have the slightest chance to survive."
Louise stood up straight. Though the thought of marrying Wardes made her feel funny at the start, it wasn't so strong anymore.
"...In any case, you lied to them."
"Don't talk nonsense. Are you seriously thinking that lying to such people is a bad thing?"
Saito sighed tiredly. Wardes came near Louise and tapped her shoulder.
"Don't say such things Louise, you are still my bride."
Saito looked away dejectedly. Louise's face showed mixed feelings as she looked down.
The door opened again, it was the same thin pirate.
"The boss calls."
The aisle passed up the narrow stairs and took the three to a splendid room built on the upper part of the deck.
The Boss... apparently, the chief of the pirates, was there.
As the door opened, one could see a gorgeous dinner table and a pirate sitting at its end, playing with a cane that had big crystal attached on top of it. Seemingly, he was a mage himself. The Boss' room was very different from what one would expect from a pirate.
He looked intensively at Louise who entered the room. The thin pirate who had brought her there poked her slightly from behind.
"Hey, you, you are standing in front of the Boss, so greet him properly."
However, Louise just stood there glaring at the Boss as he smiled at her.
"Ah, I like a strong willed woman, you are not a child at all."
"I demand the treatment of an ambassador."
Louise, not paying attention to the Boss' words, repeated her demand.
"And what would be that message you are trying to give?"
Asked the Boss as he ignored Louise's words.
"And did you say royal?"
"Yes, I did."
"Why are you going there? They will be gone tomorrow."
"I won't tell you."
But the Boss spoke to Louise in a joyful voice.
"Are you willing to betray the nobles? Otherwise, even if you are a mage I might not guarantee your safety even for considerable fee."
"I'd rather die."
Saito poked Louise, and at that moment he noticed her body trembling. She was scared. But even if she was scared, she kept on looking straight into the eyes of the Boss.
Saito remembered his duel with Guiche.
I was scared at that time. I thought I was going to die. But I didn't bow my head down. I think that Louise today resembles me at that time. She stands against a scary opponent but is able to withstand it because she has something important in her mind, just like me.
This Louise looked really amazing.
"I'll ask you again. Are you willing to betray the nobles?"
Louise looked straight ahead. She crossed her arms, and put out her chest.
However, Saito interrupted her before she could open her mouth.
"She told you her answer already."
"And who are you?"
The Boss looked at Saito with a piercing glare. The eyes that seemed to see the deep secrets. But Saito looked straight at the Boss, just like Louise did.
The Boss started laughing. He laughed loudly.
"I knew that Tristainan nobles were weird but not so helplessly. Oh my, my stomach hurts." Said the Boss as he stood up laughing. Saito and the others were puzzled by the sudden change of atmosphere and looked at each other.
"Oh, I am sorry. As a noble I should properly introduce myself as well."
The pirate who was laughing loudly suddenly stood up straight.
He removed his black curly hair from his head. It seemed to be a wig. He also took off the black eye patch, and also removed his fake beard. Before them now was standing a young person with blond hair.
"I am a general of the Albion Royal Air Force and also the commander of our country fleet. Though to tell the truth this warship named "Eagle" is the only ship in our fleet. A powerless fleet. Oh dear, even people from the street could easily beat it."
The young person bowed while introducing himself.
"I am the prince of the Albion's Kingdom, Wales Tudor."
Louise's mouth opened wide and Saito couldn't take his eyes from the surprising appearance of the young prince of Albion. Wardes watched the prince with great interest.
Wales smiled with a charming smile and moved a chair for Louise to sit.
"Welcome to Albion, Ambassador. Now, let’s talk about your message."
However, Louise was still speechless. She just stood there dumbfounded, unable to move.
"Why do I dress up as a pirate? To hide myself? No, the rich rebels sent a lot of support to the rebellion, and it is a basic war tactic to cut enemy's supply line. It was necessary so I had to dress myself like an undignified dirty pirate."
Wales said laughingly.
"No, it was really impolite to treat an ambassador like that. But you have to admit you don't look much like a royal messenger yourself. And I never thought about support from other country's nobles. Yet I still should apologize."
Even after Wales' words, Louise's mouth still kept opening and closing without uttering a single sound. She hadn't been mentally prepared to meet the prince so suddenly.
"We brought a secret letter from Her Highness Princess Henrietta." Wardes said while gracefully bowing.
"Ohh, from Her Highness. And you are?"
"Captain of Tristain's Griffin Knights, Viscount Wardes."
After that, Wardes introduced Louise to Wales.
"And this is the ambassador sent by Her Highness from the Vallière family and her familiar, Your Highness."
"Indeed! Such a splendid noble. And I only have my ten bodyguards to greet you, such a miserable greeting. Then, do you still have the secret letter?"
Louise panicking took out Henrietta's letter from her clothes.
However, she stopped before giving it to Wales. After a few moments of hesitation she opened her mouth.
"Excuse me, but are you really a prince?"
"Oh dear, you won't believe me even if I showed you my true face. I am Wales. And I am really a prince. I will show evidence then."
Wales said after seeing the water ruby ring shining on Louise's finger.
Louise's hand was taken and the ring that shone on a finger was removed. The prince brought it close to his ruby ring. The two rings reacted to each other, shining with a bright light.
"This ring belongs to the Albion royal family, the ruby of the Wind, while that one belongs to Henrietta from Tristain royal family and is the ruby of the Water. Am I right?"
"Water and the wind make the rainbow. A rainbow which is formed between royal families."
"True, I am sorry for my impoliteness."
Louise handed Wales the letter and bowed.
After looking at the letter lovingly, Wales kissed the signature. Then, the seal was carefully removed, the paper inside was taken out, and Wales began to read.
For some time he kept on reading it with serious expression.
"Is the princess marrying? That beautiful Henrietta. My beloved... cousin."
Wardes bowed silently, with an affirmative expression. Wales dropped the glance to the letter again and smiled when the last line was read.
"Understood. The princess is informing me with this that she wants you to return that letter. And more importantly, the princess also hopes that I return a letter from her. Seems like it."
Louise's face beamed with pleasure.
"However, it's not in my hands right now. It's in the castle in Newcastle. I didn't want to bring the princess' letter to this pirate ship." Wales said laughingly.
"So, even though it's troublesome, please come with me to Newcastle."
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