Hi people. Here is the first part of Chapter 3. It is a bit later than usual because stupid me managed to catch a cold this Friday and has been laying on her bed in misery. That’s why I apologize if there are more grammar mistakes than usual as I had to edit this part in my half-dead state.
Also thanks to everyone for suggestions on how to deal with the aggregator sites, I might look into them once I feel better.
Anyways, onward to Chapter 3~
Sekka walked behind Eishun through a long hallway, surrounded by soldiers.
There were, of course, soldiers distributed in every strategically important point of the courtyard of the Imperial Villa. Even an ant couldn’t find a gap to crawl out of with such strict security.
It was probably impossible to escape from here even if by any chance Kishoh did want to kill him… Sekka softly sighed as he calmly analysed the current situation despite his mounting anxiousness. He sighed, because in any case depending on the content of the meeting with Kishoh, he did not know what will become of his life.
Once they had turned numerous corners, a door guarded by soldiers on both sides appeared. These were probably Kishoh’s rooms. Recognizing Sekka who was following after Eishun, the soldiers opened the doors in silence.
“I’ve brought Princess Shungetsu.”
Eishun informed respectfully.
Kishoh was sitting on a long couch in the depths of the room, looking over some letters. There were fruits and drinking vessels on the round table, so the room gave of a feeling of home.
He had not seen Kishoh face-to-face since his departure from Ka. He was not adorned in armour like at the time of the battle, but all the same the robe he wore was black. In the candlelight he could perceive the robe was made from the highest quality silk and interwoven with patterns of dragons.
The inside of the room was rather simple, instead of being gaudily decorated, as the mother of pearl inlay felt compatible with the ebony fixture. Rather, the room allocated to Sekka and his party was much more pompous.
Keeping a distance from Kishoh, Sekka bowed with his arms folded.
“We apologize for summoning you at this late hour you are probably tired after the long journey.”
As he had surely not expected words of apology for his rudeness coming from Kishoh, Sekka was bewildered. During this Eishun took his leave, and he and Kishon were left alone.
He felt Kishoh’s gaze from beyond the cover of the fabric of the veil falling over his face. However, as usual the stare held no hint of a greedy desire. His manner was that of observing an object of interest.
Like always, he could not read the man’s thoughts. Such as for what reason he had summoned him here. Bearing his own discomfort with determination, he waited for Kishoh to open his mouth.
“From what We understand you had a younger brother.”
Kishoh finally spoke, after he had gazed at Sekka till he was satisfied. Without thinking whether Kishoh had meant anything by it Sekka answered, “Yes…,” in a small voice so to not betray the sudden turmoil in his heart.
“They say the prince committed suicide alongside the Empress. We found bodies that seemed similar to him, but there was nothing of the prince’s that could serve as proof.”
Among the members of his Royal Family that had committed suicide in the Mausoleum, there were also Sekka’s cousins who were of a similar age as him. His heart broke as he thought of his cousins, who had spent their last moments with their family. However, he could not reveal the truth. It was better for him to let them guess which of the male bodies belonged to Sekka.
“While We were in Ka, We heard a very interesting story.”
He could not see how they got to the point of storytelling. Fighting the desire to guess at the man’s expression, Sekka left his face covered.
“The thing is, last autumn, Princess Shungetsu took to her bed due to illness. After recuperating for a short while, she recovered, but the once strong-minded, lively princess had become remarkably feminine like and graceful. Almost like she was a different person…”
Kishoh added one thing after another in a suggestive tone. He had a strange way of speaking, considering the person talked about was standing in front of him.
It was not certain that this man knew he had taken the place of his older sister. Or, had he really grasped something? Cold sweat ran along Sekka’s back.
“The prince has a demure personality, and he rarely came out on official occasions, but according to the people who have met him, he and the princess are as alike as two melons.”
This conversation kept getting increasingly worse. Emphasizing his vigilance, Kishoh rose from the long couch and came closer. The scent of clothes perfumed with incense gently hung in the air.
Is this man also fond of incense? Sekka thought about the strangely clear question in his head, while he held his breath in worry.
Shortening the distance until he would be able to touch him with his hands, Kishoh spoke in a mutter.
“The prince’s name is Li Sekka.”
There was nothing he could do as his shoulders trembled. His heart felt like bursting open, and his heartbeats became louder.
“Your name is?”
Although taking the shape of an enquiry, Kishoh’s tone was full of conviction.
Somehow he was discovered. He was supposed to conduct himself in an unaffected manner, but instead he’d ended up provoking suspicion.
Or else, there were people who had told the Yoh army Sekka and a group of people had escaped the castle. However, besides all the soldiers that guarded the secret passageway leading outside the castle being restricted, they all believed Sekka was Shungetsu. Aside from Shohen and Baigyoku, the handmaids who had known the situation had all followed his mother in death.
At any rate, this was a being driven into a corner kind of predicament. If he made him strip and assailed his body, he had no way to evade. On the contrary, his disgusting secret would be known.
Taken with a skin shuddering worry, Sekka slowly raised his face. He met Kishoh’s eyes as the man gazed at him. Even now, the man’s graceful face held no special expression.
“…why does Your Majesty think so?”
He listened to the man’s words repeatedly, without confirming or denying them. Kishoh raised his brows peculiarly at Sekka’s unexpected reaction.
“A princess who became a different person after a sickness. A prince who never comes out before the people. An older sister and a younger brother as alike as two melons. At this point the case becomes clear. Thinking that the two have changed places seems natural.”
This was not just a deduction. This was a conclusion based on an objective analysis of the situation.
While exposing the fact Sekka had taken the place of his sister, Kishoh’s expression remained aloof, and not triumphant. His manner was not that of disdain at the ridiculousness of Sekka dressing up as his older sister for the sake of survival up to now.
“We questioned the prisoners, and investigated the remains of the Royal Palace, but the prince’s presence seemed unnaturally lacking. As though, all the things connected to the prince’s existence had already been concealed from the start. Is it a custom of Ka?”
“In my country, the throne is passed through the female line. …the first prince is to become a priest worshipping the Moon God in the Moon Palace.”
It is not just that though. In Sekka’s case it was due to the loathing he felt towards his strange body that he avoided most official situations.
“If you are Prince Sekka, what has happened with Princess Shungetsu?”
Sekka at once hesitated to answer. But since they had investigated up to this point, there was no point in keeping secrecy.
Since he’d been captured by Kishoh, he had suffered anxiousness that was not unlike treading on thin ice. Now that he knew his true identity, Sekka’s heart that understood the truth of his situation was overwhelmed by a feeling resembling despondency.
He had probably guessed that Shungetsu had died. Kishoh had grasped everything quickly. People who had known of Shungetsu’s death had been under a strict gag order, but there were probably people who had spoken out when interrogated by Yoh army.
“What are you going to do with me?”
Preparing himself for the worst, Sekka gazed at Kishoh.
He had heard that at Yoh the punishment for criminals was carried to the extreme. Flaying skin, slicing off flesh, breaking bones. There also seemed to be a method involving wet paper and death by suffocation. Compared to that, death by beheading seemed much more preferable.
“That is true…what should be done?”
Kishoh murmured suggestively, pretending to be thinking. He had the composure of a man who held Sekka’s life in his hand.
“Formerly, the boys of noble and royal families of subjugated countries were castrated, and made to serve in the Imperial Court as manservants, but…”
Despite the discovery of his true identity, without pleading for his life and not asking for the man’s forgiveness, Sekka stood shaking in discomposure, mocked by Kishoh. However, the moment he met Kishoh’s smiling eyes, inside Sekka’s there were things that wanted to burst out.
This man, he knows.
He knew the secret Sekka wanted nobody to know. The blood in his body froze.
If it was the usual Sekka, he would not have had such a hasty thought. The thought of his identity as the prince being discovered made his composure crack.
His body moved, before he could have another thought. This man was the enemy who destroyed his home country. And if he was killed, before that he wanted to at least repay for one disadvantage.
The white veil fluttered softly in mid-air.
Drawing out a small knife from the ornate hairpin arranged in his hair, he faced Kishoh and charged him. The hairpin he’d received from Yougetsu was a fine article of rare beauty made of silver and decorated with pearls and diamonds, and the small knife built into it was meant to be used in one’s hour of need.
The drawn knife flickered in the candlelight. Sekka pushed the point of the knife with all his might, but Kishoh easily sidestepped it. Rearranging his stance, Sekka lunged for him a second time, however his wrist was seized.
Sekka frowned in bone-breaking pain as his wrist was constricted with merciless strength. Unable to bear it, he let the small knife in his grasp drop. As it fell on the floor, it made a sharp sound.
“You really thought you’d be able to kill Us with such a thing?”
Still holding Sekka captive, with one hand Kishoh had already picked up the small knife. Glancing at it, he snorted in amusement and flung the knife to a place Sekka could not reach.
Sekka tried to shake off the male fingers which were biting into his wrist, but they did not loosen one bit. More than just the difference in physique, he was made aware of the overwhelming difference in strength between them.
Kishoh looked down at the resisting Sekka with a faint smile.
Frustrating. This man was so detestable. The resentment he had held back since the destruction of his home country finally gushed out of Sekka’s mouth.
“Ka country was a small country, however, we lived well under the peaceful rule of our Empresses. If you had not invaded…!”
“Subjugation of the midlands is the longstanding desire of every Yoh Emperor. Above all, the conquering of Ka was my father’s last request. It seemed the lost battle twenty years ago was a great humiliation to him.”
Sekka was shooting daggers at him, but Kishoh stayed completely unaffected. With eyes reminiscing about the past, his sarcastic lips curved.
“As such, for Us, following in Our father’ footsteps, the conquest of Ka was necessary. By carrying out the last will of Our Father Emperor, this Ryuu Kishoh did it for a suitable verification of Our power as an Emperor.”
“A thing done for one’s convenience, shameless…”
No matter with how many assertions of necessity he tried to justify his actions, the beginning of hostilities was nothing more than selfish desire. For such reasons, he’d trampled Ka under his foot. His mother, relatives and citizens died for that. Inside his body, a quivering fervent anger burst.
“If you did not wish your country trampled down, you should have immediately surrendered. We had sent dignitaries several times, recommending capitulation. Why did your mother not surrender?”
“Why? Should we capitulate, just so we could suffer humiliation equal to death?”
He persisted talking so egoistically. Sekka’s gaze grew all the more grim.
“Our people being enslaved, The Empress being deprived of her throne and confined or executed, for such things, there is no reason to surrender. My mother chose to fight for the sake of our country and its people.”
“Wrong. Your mother chose to die to protect her pride as the Empress. She prioritized her own pride above the needs of her country and people.”
Kishoh curtly cut off Sekka’s point. And in addition to that again just talked of the empress’s selfishness.
“We heard the Empress had taken to her sickbed. Moreover, the Imperial Heir Princess Shungetsu had died. Ka’s fall was inevitable.”
Without thinking, he shouted in a blood vomiting voice. When it came to his older sister’s death, it was true that Ka’s future had become clouded over. Sekka understood that too, but he could not endure it pointed out by Kishoh, the perpetrator of Ka’s destruction.
Shoulders struggling with violent emotion, Sekka was stared down by Kishoh’s stern eyes.
“The path We’re walking down is the path of military rule. Shedding a lot of blood, piling up numerous corpses, more and more We will continue to walk down the path of supremacy. We will not allow anybody to hinder Us.”
Filled with a will of steel, the man’s dark pair of eyes shined. Being overwhelmed by the man’s Supreme Ruler like character, Sekka averted his eyes from Kishoh.
“Those are nice eyes.”
His jaw being seized, Sekka could feel the man’s breath as Kishoh peered at his face. He was left breathless by the striking delusion of seeing his own figure being reflected in those jet black eyes.
“We had thought it curious. When We captured you, We guessed you to be Shungetsu from a portrait in our possession. We also had the testimony of the prisoner. But strangely, there were still things We were bothered by. You felt out of place, We should say…probably because you have a stiffer air, different to the princess.”
He had felt something was out of place from the start. He had terrible insight. Moreover Kishoh did not let even a hint of his scruples be visible on his face.
Though few, there are skinny women. After his mother’s instruction he had put on crafty lingerie that gave him female like lines, but they had not hidden his thin and not plump hands and neck. They wouldn’t have been likely to cause Kishoh doubt.
“Just nice. I was just about bored with all the ready to please women of the Inner Palace.”
“Wha..what are you saying? Let me g…go.”
Supporting his seized hand, he promptly planted himself on the spot. However, Kishoh, without a care, dragged Sekka along.
Crossing the room with long strides, he opened the doors leading to an adjourning room. It was a bedroom. In the candlelight, a bed stood out vividly.
I’m sorry. I know It’s evil to leave it off here, but I promise next week is gonna be a more than 6000 words long smutfest. So be patient, my fellow pervs~
Also, I’ve been asked this a few times, so I feel I should put it out there that there are no free RAWS of this novel on the internet as far as I’m aware. I have a physical copy of the book and I have no plans of scanning it, since it would be hard to do and would probably ruin the book. (The way Japanese books are glued together is really annoying.)
Anyways, if you wish to support me and my work, please consider buying me a coffee, so I find the strength to climb out of bed and start work on Chapter 4.