Noblewoman Deepens her Friendship with the Young Lady
When Margaret arrived at the entrance to the dungeon, the Prison Guard was not at his lookout point.
“Mr. Prison Guard? Mr. Prison Guard!”
No one called back.
She confirmed there were no other guards in the passageway leading to and from, and since Rachel was the only prisoner in the royal palace’s dungeon, Prison Guard only worked here part time. It seems that he only comes down here on the occasional patrol.
“Is that so~?”
Giving the guard a polite thank you, Margaret headed into the prison.
“Hmm, there’s no key~.”
Even without the key Margaret was able to laugh about the good fortune of her success when the iron door still swung open after being pushed on.
“That blockhead Prison Guard is pretty clever! Letting the damn woman go unchecked means she doesn’t get to harass him as much as she wants.”
During that first visit the other day when she had eaten a swift beating, the Prison Guard had become upset and inadvertently turned his eyes away towards the ground………..it meant he was unable to spread any rumors since he ended up not seeing anything.
“But well, I wonder how frequently Elliot or Sykes come by the prison. I’d hate for them to show up.”
The young lady then cheerfully descended down into the dungeon.
Margaret was a woman with guts, and she would send back an appropriate response without fail.
Having stayed up late writing the night before resulting in her oversleeping once again, Rachel had herself a brunch of potato pottage with biscuits and had just finished her fruit cocktail.
At first she thought her visitor coming down the steps was the Prison Guard, but it turned out to be Sand Bag who had visited just the other day. Having always wanted to see her again, Rachel was very happy about the visit.
“Well, welcome Miss Bag. I’ve been waiting for you to come see me!”
“Hah!? It’s good to be welcomed………….but who’s Bag?”
The red-headed young lady frowned, and suspicious, she checked behind her to see if there was anyone else there.
Seeing this person act and talk as if she were being mistaken for somebody else, Rachel funnily tilted her head to the side.
“Eh? You’re Sand Bag.”
“Haaah!? I am!? What kind of name is that!?”
“Eh? It’s yours. When you’re the owner of the number one punchable body in the world, when you are being widely talked about as, ‘the most beautiful sandbag’, then it fits that your name be Sand Bag right?”
“What is going on in that head of yours!? Have you been locked in a prison for so long that you can no longer see the line between reality and fantasy!? What the hell is ‘the most beautiful sandbag’ supposed to be!?”
The cute twintail young lady vehemently yelled, looking furious as she violently stuck her finger out at Rachel.
“Remember me properly! I am Margaret Poisson, the eldest daughter of the Poisson Barony! I am the one you continued to harass and who stole Elliott’s love from you, the woman who shall be the next queen! How about it? All right? Do you understand your position? Do you regret how you addressed me? Then show me your tear-stained face as you whimper like a dog!”
So far at this point, if Margaret were to look at herself she’d see the tear-stained face that she wanted.
Rachel closed her eyes, and she began to think.
After a little thought she opened her eyes back up, and she laughed at the irritated red-haired young lady.
“Well, leaving all those good things aside, how about for now you let me have just one shot?”
“Is it no good!? My name!? My engagement to the Prince!?”
As the girl began stamping her feet in frustration, Rachel hesitated on how best to explain………and then decided to just tell it to her straight.
“I’m not particularly interested.”
“Interested, what’s with this damn noble!? That’s why I hate people who grew up wealthy!”
“More importantly, I’m more curious about how an open palm would feel against your soft skin. One good hit on your jaw, and your neck’ll probably turn with an outstanding amount of momentum, or there’s also the sounds you’d make if you’d eat a hit to your stomach, I’ve already grown a tremendous amount of interest in you!”
“It that’s the case then why can’t you remember my name!?”
Blood rushing to her head, Margaret took a step forward towards Rachel……..but jumped to the side in the next moment. Escaping by the skin of her teeth, where Margaret’s foot had been just a second before, a lasso that had been set on the ground was reeled back into the prison cell.
“Close!? This bastard, you set traps to sweep me up!”
“Just a little more and you would’ve been caught…….your intuition is surprisingly good.”
It was a contradiction of a prisoner trying to catch an outsider.
Having bounced off the floor from the momentum of her fall, Margaret slowly picked herself back up, brushing the dust off her knees.
“Heh, heheheheheheheheh……….that’s right. I looked easy to you……Pretending to be an idiotic, sadistic woman, you were trying to capture me and hold me hostage right?”
“No? More than beating you, I wanted to capture you and have you make a good sound.”
A gust of wind blown through the ventilation window passed between the two silent people.
Remaining silent, Margaret tried shrugging her shoulders in a futile effort to laugh.
“……….As I said you were trying to take me hostage, and then in the exchange terms, you were trying to get Elliott to release you or maybe even reinstate the engagement right? I know it to be true.”
“No, I like living in the prison, and becoming engaged to His Highness again would be a nightmare, so I’d like to avoid that. But……..you’re right, the exchange terms for releasing you would have to be you yourself.”
A large question mark floated over top Margaret’s head as Rachel moved her hands to her cheeks making a flirtatious expression.
“Because. If I manage to get you into this cell and it’s alright for me to do what I want, I’m saying I’d let you go right after.”
“………Wait a moment. I don’t understand your reasoning.”
As what was said was troubling Margaret’s head, Rachel sighed from behind the iron bars.
“Well, I can’t negotiate with you since I failed at capturing you in the first place.”
“……….yeah! That’s right, I wasn’t caught to begin with! Aaaaaaaaaah, impatient!”
Margaret was just starting to feel relieved one moment when in the next she was flying through the air, rolling against the cobblestone floor. A lasso meanwhile grabbed the air where Margaret had once been in vain.
“YOOOOOOOOOOU! ACT PROPERLY!?
Rachel began to mutter.
“Does Sand Bag have something to do? I’m pretty busy myself, but not so much that I can’t keep her company.”
“I flew away because of you! I didn’t have the spare time to say anything! ……..and how exactly, are you busy when your in jail!? Crushing lice?¹ Trapping mice? Shouldn’t a daughter of a Duke House be annoyed by insects and rodents……..Hahaha, I’m laughing! I’ve suffered horribly as well, but it happening to a well-off noble girl is too good!”
A former commoner, rather as a person originally destitute until she was adopted by a Baron, the thought of someone as high up as the daughter of a duke falling to ruin was something Margaret found hilarious. She had to clutch her stomach she was laughing so hard while Rachel made a blank expression.
“Eh? But no bugs or mice come out here?
“Or should I say, it might be because in the luggage I brought with me I have some insect repellent.”
“…….they don’t come out? In this type of place?”
Rachel looked at Margaret as if she were looking at a pitiful little thing.
“In the Baron Poisson home……..do they come out?”
“Don’t look at me with such eyeeeeeeeeeees! That’s a story from a long time ago! That’s not my home now! Now I only see them every once in a while!”
Margaret’s confused yelling continued on until after a short gasp, she noticed something important.
“……..You! Didn’t you remember my name just then!? You’re making fun of me!”
“Well of course I remembered since I just heard it.”
Rachel was acting timidly, giving an honest smile.
“But you know, I don’t mean any ill will. Look, wouldn’t you want to call a close friend by a nickname…………?”
Margaret bent down and picked up the chair the Prison Guard usually sits on………and threw it at Rachel with all her might. Naturally it was stopped by the iron bars and fell pointlessly to the ground.
The daughter of the Poisson Barony cried out to the heavens.
“How is there no ill will in a nickname like Sand Baaaaaaaaaaag!!!?”
“Well! It’s a pity that my sincerity just can’t seem to get through………”
“Try having your brain washed once, then have a doctor fix the parts that are broken!”
“Different idea, take in a little pain. After a careful examination, I promise to take good care of you.”
“You’re not thinking about curing your head at all!?”
Just as she was on the verge of shaking off her reason, Margaret remembered her purpose for being here from the weight of the bag she was carrying.
“That’s right! Because of you, I almost forgot the reason why I bothered coming to a place like this.”
Her cute face smugly distorted as she set down the bag she was carrying.
“Ufufufufu, today……..because of the poor, pathetic eating habits of Rachel who has been locked away in a dungeon, I came by to give her something ni~ce.”
Margaret took out a towel and a mint scent bag from the bag on the ground, putting them both over the lower part of her face. In a muffled voice she began laughing at Rachel.
“I got some money from Elliott, so I bought some fresh fruits from the market. They’re very nutritious and good for your health.”
Wearing some thick gloves along with her makeshift mask, she now took out a tightly sealed, irregular shaped object from her bag.
“I chose one that was particularly ripe. It will certainly work wonders for your body that only eats preserved food in a dungeon where no sun shines~.”
Margaret took a knife and cut open the packaging, pulling out its contents. The intense odor of rot quickly spread in the room. Along with the odor, a thorny, yellowish gray object appeared.
“It’s a fruit from a southern country called a durian. The smell is a li~ttle bit strong, but a strong smell is just proof of its ripeness. Ufufu, fresh fruits have such a fu~ll flavor don’t they?”
Margaret carried over the durian², placing it near the cell just outside of Rachel’s reach.
“Since it’s wrapped in such a hard shell, do you think Mr. Prison Guard could open it? I don’t know where he’s gone, so I’ll just leave it here until he’s back.”
As Margaret spoke, she looked down on Rachel and let out a nasty laugh.
Elliott tried to make her yield, but he lacked a level of severity.
He was awful at harassment. It doesn’t matter if Rachel apologizes.
Everything’s fine so long as this woman suffers. If you strike without thinking, she might not actually give up.
Meanwhile the Duke’s daughter looked down at the durian calmly, but there was excitement in her eyes.
“Uwaa, how nostalgic. A long time ago, I saw one of those when I went on an inspection overseas.”
She was looking at the fruit that reeked of death as if it was something truly interesting having not recoiled from it at all.
“…….you, are you fine with the smell?”
“It’s a smell similar to an onion that has gone rotten. Well, this is actually quite pleasant to the locals apparently.”
Rachel, in her time of need has already built up a resistance.
As Margaret was angrily grinding her teeth underneath her mask, Rachel opened a wooden box at the back of her cell and began digging through its contents.
“Hmmmmmm, it’s around here somewhere……….here it is.”
Rachel soon came back with a large can.
“Ms. Poisson, I’ll give you this as thanks.”
“Hm? What’s this?”
The can Rachel was offering looked foreign-made.
“Before, when His Highness Elliott and I went overseas together, His Highness was very pleased with this. Well, you can’t see it since it’s in a can. But since I have a little, I’ll give it to you.”
“Is it something unusual?”
“It’s something rarely seen in this country.”
It sounded like something awesome and valuable. Moreover, it was one of Elliott’s favorite foods that couldn’t be gotten domestically.
There was a sense of weight to it when Margaret took it.
“I’ll have him open it right away!”
“I’m happy that you’re pleased.”
Margaret left like the wind, and Rachel was left alone.
“I thought I had seen her somewhere before, so she was that sucker fish who was stuck to His Highness during the party?”
Because Rachel had only cared about the transition after the disengagement and held no interest in Elliott himself, she hadn’t confirmed who was going to be his new partner. Thinking about it now, it was an unexpectedly basic mistake.
Frankly, with the story being that Rachel was imprisoned after Elliott declared the cancellation of the engagement…………everyone else was just a mob character.
“Ms. Margaret of the Poisson Baron House……….we’ve only talked twice, but she seems like a carnivorous girl who changes her attitude whether she’s dealing with a man or woman. The type who thinks on simple terms whenever she gets excited. She’ll receive gifts even from her target and take them back with her thinking nothing of it.”
Rachel put her hand to her chin and nodded her head while whispering……….,
“In summary, she’s a child who can only think on the level of a shallow fool.”
Rachel was alone thinking in a prison that had just begun to darken when a trembling light emerged and the Prison Guard showed himself.
“What!? Oi Miss, are you awake? What is that awful smell!?”
At the Prison Guard’s friendly tone, Rachel laughed a little and looked relieved.
“A young lady came to visit me and brought a souvenir, but it looks like it’s already rotten………”
The Prison Guard came close, and seeing the cause of the problem, made a disgusted face.
“That girl is really hopeless………wouldn’t you notice something like this before you brought it!? Who, such a stupid bastard is”
“It was Sand Bag, the visitor from the other day.”
The Prison Guard made a face like he was strangely convinced of something, and left with the rotten (probably) durian wrapped in some rags.
Seeing him off, Rachel looked around for the largest plank she could find and dug around for the mask she used when she was painting. She then got to work doing what she could to ventilate the room.
Rachel had received some vigorous education when she was to be the next queen. The results of that education was a first-class poker face.
While carrying a large can, Margaret came running into Prince Elliott’s office while he and his entourage were having tea.
“Elliott, I got you this. Would you like to open it!?”
“Margaret! Eh? What is it?”
Elliott rose up with a smile plastered on his face at the visit of the beloved girl until the rare object in her hands caught his eye.
“I was told that when Elliott went abroad, this was one of your favorite foods!”
“Something I ate abroad? Hmm, what……..”
He had been abroad many times, but was there such a food that had left such a lasting impression on him?
George took the can and read the label.
“Let’s see………Sir Straming? Streaming? It looks like a fish dish as far as I can tell from the picture………”³
It was impossible to understand from just the description. Sykes took the can over from George and gently patted the slightly bulging surface.
“I’ve seen canned food before, but never something that causes the can to swell so much.”
None of them had any knowledge about fermentation.
“Your Highness, what kind of food is it?”
“That is, I don’t remember at all………To begin with, this is my first time seeing canned food before. What is it?””
Elliott and George tilted their heads curious as Sykes began to laugh.
“Won’t we understand what it is as soon as we’ve opened it? If it’s like this I’ll just pop open the lid with my knife.”
“I see. Yosh, let’s open it up.”
Elliott, Margaret, and George all watched as Sykes held the can down with his left hand and drew his knife with his right.
But when something suddenly started to bother Elliott, he peered over towards Margaret and asked her something while keeping the can in the corner of his eye.
“Who did you get this from?”
Just as Elliott began to scream, Syke’s knife became deeply embedded inside the can.
1. So this is some word play here. In Japanese they say shiramitsubushi which means crushing lice in katakana, but it means ‘to search for contraband’ in hiragana. Both phrases are equally apt here.
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian For anyone thinking this might not be that bad, it’s apparently illegal in some places to ship this in public, and the smell can linger for days. As far as pranks go, I’m putting this up there with putting a bee’s nest in someone’s car.
3. Surströmming https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surstr%C3%B6mming