So I’m not going to list everything that caused this chapter to be so delayed. Instead I will just wholeheartedly apologize and try to make it up to you later. I’m sorry
Attendant Worries about the Cheer Squad’s Heads
Sofia and those like her who stand by Rachel are individuals trained into excellence by their master personally. They are a group that perfectly understands the temperament of their lord and will complete any task given to them using the most efficient means possible.
Their colleagues in the other departments of the Duke’s mansion all watch them and wholeheartedly believe, “They can do anything with little effort.”
They wouldn’t deny it either. However, even for girls such as these there were things beyond their power. Sofia and the rest are only ordinary people after all; they weren’t Rachel.
They were all preoccupied aiding Rachel with her inactivity inside the dungeon………but unbeknownst to Prince Elliott, unbeknownst to even Rachel, Sofia was able to take care of seemingly impossible situations from behind the scenes many times over.
The preparations for making and delivering Rachel’s weekly report had all but been finished, and Sofia had started excitedly thinking about her planned tea outing during her next day off………when one of her subordinate maids jumped in.
“Miss Sofia! The president of the Black Cat Firm is in immediate need of your help………we received a message directly from the vice-president.”
“Campbell does? What’s going on?”
Needless to say, the Dark Night Black Cats are a secret organization, and as such, each department is prohibited from making direct contact with any of the others. Even when someone from the Black Cat Firm has to visit the Duke’s house, they do so in disguise and under the pretext of a business relationship. A merchant arriving breathless at the Duke’s mansion is something that simply shouldn’t happen.
“That is, a visitor showed up at the office unannounced and said she wouldn’t talk unless it was to Miss Sofia directly………..”
When Sofia heard the name of this unannounced visitor her usually calm expression distorted and turned away with a sour look. The other maids all gasped, “Uwaa……..!” when they saw her like that.
But Sofia paid them no mind and rose up out of her chair.
“Meia, Mimosa, follow me………also, call Sylvia and Melina.”
Having named the two subordinates most suitable for more……..physical confrontations, Sofia boarded the carriage waiting for her. The man who had come to pick her up, vice-president Simmons of the Black Cat Firm, was looking quite blue in the face upon meeting with her.
“Should I have someone run down to Waters’s place, have the people down there come in……..?”
Simmons proposed summoning the subordinate yakuza belonging to the firm’s supervisor in charge of the downtown underground community, but Sofia silently shook her head.
“It’d be pointless. If things get violent, those guys would only get in the way.”
Sofia left the vice-president in his speechless state, instead focusing on herself, taking a number of small, deep breaths to try and calm herself down.
An unwelcome guest had arrived.
In other words, one of Rachel’s friends.
There was a calm atmosphere in the Black Cat Firm’s reception area as Sofia squared off against some ‘customers’.
In her mind the person before her was almost equal in status to Rachel, so even if she was only acting as a ‘representative’, she couldn’t simply take a seat on the sofa next to this guest when offered. So sitting down respectfully with a coffee table inbetween her and the guest, Sofia had her four subordinates stand at attention at her back.
The ‘customer’ was sitting relaxedly on top of the sofa with her legs crossed, lightly waving her hand.
“Why, it’s been too long since I last saw the young ladies of the Black Cats.”
Giving a spirited greeting, this woman was an exceeding beauty in her mid-twenties.
She was a similar type to Rachel’s best friend Alexandra. She had wavy, golden locks that reached down to her waist, and a soft smile that didn’t match her provocatively sharp eyes.
Until that point she wasn’t much different form the Marquis’s daughter………but with the difference in their social stature and experience, this woman’s charisma and aura of power made her presence seem much larger.
Sofia bowed her head down to show the maximum amount of respect with the four aids behind her following suit.
“And Your Highness the Grand Duchess seem to be in high spirits……..”
This woman was the Grand Duchess, Eliza Rosandal. Peerage-wise she would stand at equal footing with Archduke Vivaldi, however there are actually three small countries sandwiched between this nation and the Rosandal Grand Duchy. So in reality, her position would be more closer to that of the King where she ruled.
She and Rachel became acquainted with one another at a ‘benefit society’, and they had kept in contact with each other ever since.
The Grand Duchess spoke to the attendant casually, as if the two were a couple of old acquaintances. Unfortunately Sofia had a rather straight-forward personality which was why she wanted to circumvent even the customary greetings to cut straight to the matter at hand.
“Then let’s skip the stiff pleasantries. It’s regrettable, but the fact of the matter is I’m here. I heard that Rachel was unjustly committed because of the Idiot Prince. I couldn’t bear to stay still, so I came rushing over here.”
Sofia silently stared at the Grand Duchess as she explained her presence there with a laugh for a moment before slowly asking her own questions.
“So that’s why you’re here……..and for that we are thankful, but did you have to come all the way here in such a conspicuous, ‘uniform’?”
The Grand Duchess tilted her head to the side, acting as if she was unable to understand the attendant’s question.
“Yes? You see, that cute Rachel had her engagement unjustly annulled after all. So isn’t this the outfit to be worn in this country?”
“Yes, I suppose that would be considered formal wear……..but I wouldn’t think somebody would casually walk around the city like that.”
Sofia had a slight problem with the way the Grand Duchess’s clothes looked……..she was wearing a long, black dress………most commonly seen as ‘mourning’ clothes.
And not just the Grand Duchess either.
Just as Sofia had her subordinate maids lined up behind her, the Gran Duchess had four women lined up at her back as well, each one wearing a veil covering their faces as if they really were in mourning. Each of the women, who appeared to be young beauties going by what you could see of their mouths, were standing side-by-side, staring right back at the maids.
Moreover, even though they all looked to be in mourning……..they were all standing there with their arms crossed behind their backs, standing straight with their legs spread out shoulder-width. In addition, they were wearing a sword belt overtop their mourning clothes with a saber hanging off their waists. Just seeing somebody wearing mourning clothes as an everyday outfit would be strange enough, but with the women wearing them acting as if they were dressed in full military garb………
Of course Sofia and her subordinates were also armed in the event a confrontation broke out. If they were to reach their hands into the small slit inside their skirts located over their hips, they would be able to grab the long dagger hidden underneath.
The reception room for a trading firm was currently filled with one group of armed maids and another group of armed mourning women. What is this?
“Is it so weird to walk through the city? Hahaha, I was in a bit of a hurry. So, let’s not mind it.”
Whether to mind it or not isn’t up for the person being seen to decide.
But the Grand Duchess paid that fact no mind, correcting her posture away from how she was casually sitting before and leaning forward as if she were sharing some secret with Sofia.
“So? When will be assaulting the castle to rescue Rachel?”
She was in terribly high spirits.
Already she was breathing excitedly through her nose as if she were ready to hop off this momentum and lead the charge right then and there.
Rather than the Grand Duchess feeling ‘worried’ about Rachel’s situation……..it’s more like she was feeling ‘confident’ that there was going to be a big taking down Elliott party, and she didn’t want to miss it.
Any way you looked at her she was a beautiful woman…………..thinking like that, Sofia gave Eliza an apologetic bow.
“Regrettably, My Lady has ordered us to maintain the status quo for a while.”
“I see. For a while, so three days then?”
“Why so fast?”
The Grand Duchess unconsciously started impatiently tapping her foot……….even though she was a Grand Duchess.
“Then, how long will it be?”
“Well Your Highness. In the first place, My Lady has already scheduled Elliott’s punishment, so……..”
Before Sofia could finish her explanation, the Grand Duchess dropped her cup.
“That……even though I put in so much effort, desperately doing everything I could to be here for Rachel’s launch, and only being able to make it here by passing over all my work onto my head attendant!?”
A broken engagement causing problems across the globe.
Thinking that she hadn’t done anything wrong, Sofia lowered her head. It’s not like anyone had asked her to come here, but she still had to be shown a modicum of decorum here.
“My Lady had received information on everything that was to happen in advance and is currently enjoying a fun vacation while in the dungeon.”
Sofia properly explained the current situation. Rachel had mostly overlooked the plot against her, only making plans and gathering supplies so she could enjoy a lazy, selfish life inside the prison.
The whole story caused Grand Duchess Eliza to stroke her chin.
“Hmph, as expected of Rachel…….well then, I suppose there’s no need for us ‘Mourning Noble Girls’ to come out. And after we put in so much effort thinking this was a chance to promote Rachel from just support to full membership.”
“That is…….a chance is it?”
‘Mourning Noble Girls’. They were a secret society spread across the world comprised of girls who aimed to relieve the burden on the victims of unjust engagement dissolutions. They devote themselves to helping the young women who have lost everything because of skillful and atrocious engagement abandonments from men, and their activities range from providing new secret homes for these victims to providing them with swords to exact revenge on their former fiancees.
Now because they are a secret society, most of their actions aren’t known to the general public, but the Dark Night Black Cats were able to find out that along with a dozen princesses and a queen, there were also hundreds of young aristocratic wives and daughters who were participating in its management……..although to be frank, what is going on in this world that there are so many similar events going on in the first place? was what Sofia was thinking.
Rachel and the Grand Duchess became acquainted together at that benefit society. From there Rachel agreed with what their organization was doing and had begun providing financial assistance for several years now, even attending regular meetings. There’s absolutely no way she had joined feeling some premonition about her own dropped engagement with Elliott though………
It was thanks to Rachel’s charity that she had such allies………..and was why Sofia was having so much trouble rejecting the forceful assistance of said allies.
“Doesn’t Rachel want that Idiot Prince’s neck though? All it would take is a little *Swish* and she’ll feel refreshed.”
This Grand Duchess, when she was around Rachel’s age her fiancee from an ambitious noble house was successfully enticed by an enemy nation and stabbed her in the back during a battle that would have determined the fate of her country.
From there her front line collapsed, and it was only with her loyal retainers that she was able to execute the traitors, retake her kingdom, and revive her duchy………she brushes it off as just one part to her grand adventure, but still she doesn’t want anyone else to be forced to go through such a harsh experience.
“My Lady seems to be going for a softer approach this time.”
“Say no more……..although why waste time grinding him away when you can just cut off his head instead?”
“So she should execute………did you waste your time Duchess?”
Most outsiders would preach forgiveness here, or so Sofia thought.
With the way this carnivorous woman was going, not just Elliott and his entourage, but possibly even the whole knight’s order would be crushed.
“Beheading might have been over in an instant, but that moment before, when he was fruitlessly begging for his life, that was truly tantalizing. But now that I think about it, perhaps the execution did go too cleanly¹……..I’ll be sure to reflect on it for next time.”
“I don’t think it’s supposed to take more than one though.”
Somehow this woman’s way of thinking is similar to the Lady’s. Was a thought shared by all of the maids there.
Then like a child, the Grand Duchess puffed up her cheeks in a pout.
“Beheading a fool is fine whether it be one, two, ten, or twenty don’t you think? Since they’re already causing trouble let’s just quickly kill them all. I don’t remember his name, but wouldn’t it be better if that former fiancee was dead? Just a *Swish* and he’s dead!”
“That is My Lady’s decision to make. And even if I did hear something like that I’d think her to be drunk.”
Even as Sofia was trying to refuse, Eliza was pushing forward.
“If you just lack the manpower, then please rest easy. My troops can easily take whatever that shitty prince has to offer! Already my subordinates have gathered at the castle, so how about we bring the whole thing down right away?”
“We already have quite a few of our own operatives inside the royal palace, so please do try to avoid having our two groups kill each other……..just a moment please. The whole royal palace………no way, then not just here……..!?”
These women Eliza had brought with her were apparently well-known to others as being especially skilled in combat in the Western District.
The district head there had passed along a message that these skilled fighters were gathered, so Sofia had hand-picked her own skilled subordinates to meet them…….the district head had said they were experienced in battle, but there is no way the whole castle would be laid to waste by only four or five people.
“Isn’t that natural?”
Eliza blinked as if it really were the most natural thing in the world.
“I don’t know how many talented people that shitty prince has on his side after all. That’s why I brought all four squads of our Night Combat Units under my command with me.”
That’s not on the level of being just dangerous anymore. With those numbers you really could crush the knight’s order.
The knights of this kingdom have been operating in an era of peace for a while now, so upon meeting with four elite squads headed by the crippling warrior Grand Duchess……it’s no good. They might as well be pushing back against a hundred crazed Martinas. The contents of those women could all be described as similar. The knights may be able to make up the difference in experience through sheer numbers………..
But we’re talking about that prince leading a royal palace which has already been brought to its knees by a monkey.
Sofia rested her face into her palm, losing herself in her thoughts, but an unconvinced Meia raised her hand, cutting into the conversation in Sofia’s stead.
“Um, Miss Grand Duchess……..your group is made up entirely of noble women……..so where are the forty of you staying?”
When push comes to shove, the Mourning Noble Girls could always camp outside, but in the end, it’s still an organization comprised of originally well-to-do noble girls. If they’re traveling under the guise of being ordinary, harmless people, then surely they would all stay in a nice hotel.
However rumors would surely have spread if forty upper class noble girls were all looking for lodging, so it’s strange that such information wasn’t caught.
It’s natural that Meia, an executive in their group’s information network would hold her doubts, but the Grand Duchess replied in turn with a refreshing smile.
“What, do you have doubts since you didn’t see us come in? That’s because right now, we are staying in the royal palace as special envoys, here from Bakura Kingdom on a cultural mission.”
It was reported before.
It was reported several days ago that a large number of ambassadors were visiting the castle for a so-called cultural exchange.
…….and, the girls never thought at all that a group of unrelated diplomats would actually be these guys……….
Seeing the answer right in front of her, Meia (the person in charge of politics) covered her face with her hands in shame as well. Yep, this would definitely result in a pay reduction for her and Heidi who is in charge of the royal palace both…….of course that goes for their supervisor Sofia as well.
“Weren’t you informed? Our vice-chairman is the third princess of Bakura.”
“We didn’t know……..”
“If we include the men and women we brought along as attendants, then our forces would be almost a hundred strong. And since we are staying inside the castle, we have no need to go up against those solid walls. Won’t we definitely be able to win?”
So without even knowing it, Prince Elliott had already allowed his worst enemies entry into the castle………
“And so openly coming out of the royal palace while in full mourning garb………”
“As you’d expect, we couldn’t come out fully armed, so we told the people in charge of entertaining us, ‘we are going to the funeral of a friend’s fiancee’ as we were leaving. Hahaha, there’s no way they could have ever known we were talking about their own prince of course.”
The Grand Duchess was smiling broadly, but Sofia’s group found it impossible to laugh. It was their job to silently carry out Rachel’s intentions, so there is absolutely no way they could laugh in this situation.
Sofia let out a small cough and tried putting some pressure on the Grand Duchess.
“Your Highness, unfortunately My Lady is currently enjoying living her prison life while teasing the prince, and she plans on cornering him until he becomes a neurotic wreck and have the king dispose of him. Until a resolution has been reached………..it’s My Lady’s intention to avoid a show of force. But I’m sure if you are willing to hold, there will be an opportunity for you to enjoy yourself.”
A crease formed between Eliza’s brows as she thought about Sofia’s words.
“Hmm…….so what you’re saying is Rachel really is enjoying a vacation while locked away in a prison?”
Sofia wanted to say that she didn’t want to hear any objections about what is or isn’t common sense from someone like her, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
“However, what does Rachel intend to do to the other side? Idiot men tend to hold fast to their roots. Can you say for certain that the Idiot Prince won’t simply explode?”
As expected of a ruler and experienced politician. This is an obvious worry to have if you were to think about this situation seriously.
“I managed to recover from my situation, but it took me nearly two years to hunt that guy down and capture him. Don’t look down on the stubbornness of crap……..so after all, we should clean up the Idiot Prince right away. Yes, that makes sense. Let’s go kill him right now.”
………why does she keep coming back to this one crazy suggestion? Is the Grand Duchess also in vacation mode?
“………No, we are to wait until My Lady makes a decision first……..we have several agents in every department monitoring the royal family and the knight’s order, and we have troops that can be moved immediately to protect My Lady should anything happen. There is nothing to be worried about.”
As might be expected, “Because the opponents are Elliott and his group of idiots,” is enough of a reason to not worry about Rachel being in any real danger. However you can’t really say something like that to a group of outsiders.
“Muu……and I was so looking forward to having a sword fly into that Idiot Prince’s neck……”
She was getting her priorities mixed up after all.
But the Grand Duchess looked as if she had a flash of inspiration suddenly and patted her lap.
“That’s it Sofia, how about this? We’ll save Rachel the hassle, cut off that idiot’s head right now and then not tell her for now so she can keep enjoying herself. How’s that for a solution!”
“That idiot visits My Lady almost every single day. It would be inevitably exposed.”
“Hmm………..that’s it! Because the Prince is such a fool, so long as the blade runs cleanly through, then people shouldn’t notice his head’s no longer physically attached to his neck for two, maybe even three months!”
Rather than the Prince, it was the Grand Duchess who was making some truly idiotic suggestions.
“It’s not like we’re talking about fish fillet here²……..and on that note, can you guarantee that it’d be a completely clean cut?”
“If it comes to that we can just claim it to be an unfortunate accident. Everyone screws up once in a while!”
“You don’t even believe in your own plan!”
No more………I want to go home………
Everyone was getting tired, but Sofia, the most tired of them all finally snapped.
“Why do you want to execute the Prince so much in the first place!? It’s My Lady’s right to decide on what punishment Prince Elliott receives, so it is also her right to cut off his head if need be!”
No, it’s actually supposed to be the king’s decision.
The Grand Duchess’s shapely lips edged out a bit.
“Because, I really want to use my sword.”
“It’s no use trying to be cute here………”
Sofia pressed her fingers to her temple feeling a little dizzy. There was no doubt, this woman was Her Lady’s friend.
“Anyways, My Lady’s revenge plan for the destruction of the engagement is perfectly on track! Quit trying to butt in and return peacefully.”
“Do you really understand?”
“Rather, hasn’t that old gentleman in the back been carefreely feeding a bird since we started talking about beheadings and such?”
A few days later.
Sofia unsteadily walked across Rachel’s office, plopping down on the sofa in the reception area. Ordinarily she would be punished for acting so unbecomingly in her Master’s room, but she would ask for forgiveness just this once.
“Suddenly so tired……….”
“……….thanks for all your hard work.”
Lisa wearily called back while brewing some tea. For a while, the calming noise of water flowing into the pot was the only sound echoing in the quiet room.
After making a very dissatisfied Grand Duchess promise to draw back, the Dark Night Black Cats monitored her fake cultural exchange mission until it finally finished and they all returned home. Whenever the other party went out to town, knights would insist on accompanying them and young hoodlums in town would follow them for the sake of ‘always keeping them monitored’. The number of personnel they had keeping watch on Elliott at night tripled as well.
You’d think they would have given up after all that……….but when night fell, some women dressed all in black sprung out onto the roof trying to use the darkness as cover and ran into this extra security……the tension from that critical situation left Meia and the other on-site commanders’ stomachs hurting so bad they couldn’t bear to have any food pass down their throats.
Luckily all the girls have a second belly reserved exclusively for sweets, so they were able to properly maintain their calorie intake.
And now…….the report from the spy they had sent to follow the group just arrived announcing the group had crossed the border. The announcement had caused all of Sofia’s energy to leak out.
“We had nearly twenty people lined up on the roof of the Prince’s bedroom, each one thinking they’d have to draw their swords at any moment.”
“………Meanwhile with the person himself sleeping soundly in bed, I felt so stupid being stuck in the middle……….so depressing, to think I had to help that prince with all my strength……”
“A complete contradiction……..”
“We completely took care of the situation, and the person in question doesn’t even know it…….. I’d like to tear that Idiot Prince and that Grand Duchess into a bunch of little bits……….”
Lisa started pouring her own cup after setting Sofia’s down on the table in front of her as Sofia took a large swig of her tea, “Ha……..,” and let out a deep sigh.
“At any rate, it does seem like the Grand Duchess is getting the means and the end mixed up……..”
“……..my anger at that time just won’t settle, and the grudge over having to help in that fight refuses to clear away……..”
Sofia understood how Lisa felt, but since she wasn’t there when the incident happened, she didn’t want to trouble her by chiming in.
Sofia was resting her eyes, using the couch’s armrest as a pillow, but she was just starting to think that it was time to get up………..
Just then she thought she heard the footsteps of someone rudely running down the hallway, and suddenly the door burst open.
Sofia and Lisa’s eyes opened wide in surprise upon seeing that the person who had run all this way was actually Mimosa.
“Sofia, it’s awful!”
“……..what is it this time?”
“The worldwide feminist organization that the Lady is friends with, ‘Moonlight Ladies‘, has had their black-ops unit Saint Rose infiltrate the city……..it seems that their commander is Rhodesia Kingdom’s Princess Sophie.”
Lisa dropped the tea cozy she had been folding.
“Princess Sophie is it……..the one who thoroughly tormented her cheating husband and ultimately formed her own women’s group after completely breaking him, that Sophie………?”
“That’s right. It seems that she heard about Our Lady’s ‘tragedy’ and decided to gather the resources to do something about it herself.”
Having already lacked the energy to pick herself up off the couch, Sofia yelled out her orders while her face was still buried into the sofa’s armrest.
“Every last one of them………enough already!!”
Rachel was busy enjoying the book she was reading when an unusually off-kilter Sofia came in for the regular report.
“My Lady, I have a request…….”
“What is it?”
Sofia gave her something similar to a ticket.
“In truth, I wanted to increase the type of rewards for your subordinates………”
“I have no problem with it………..what’s this? A ‘Deep tissue shoulder massage coupon’?”
“Yes. One ticket would allow somebody to do whatever they want to My Lady for thirty minutes.”
Rachel put her book down on her end table and thought for a bit.
“So ‘to’ me? Not ‘with’ me?”
“That’s right. Don’t worry, it’s only for the girls who work at the Duke’s mansion.”
“No, I figured that…….so for recognition of your services, my body is the one getting massaged?”
Sofia held out both her hands, excitedly flexing her ten fingers.
“For the sake of relieving stress, we’ll rub you down with everything we have.”
Rachel was silent, but Sofia’s expressionless face was showing more emotion now than ever before.
“Recently, thanks to My Lady’s very wide circle of friends, everyone has accumulated quite a bit of back pay……..we were able to safely and sufficiently clean up My Lady’s mess, so I would like to ask for you cooperation with this.”
“……..somehow, can’t we try something else?”
“Unfortunately I already started distributing the tickets according to a person’s contributions. Everyone is looking forward to having so much fun.”
“……hold on, we’re not to the point where I’ve given my approval though?”
“I’m so looking forward to it………oh, and by the way, I’ve already accumulated thirty myself.”
A large smile broke out across Sofia’s iron mask.
Rachel was drawn in and broke out into a large smile herself.
However, neither’s smile reached their eyes.
“Ah…….I want to stay here forever.”
Rachel was trying to run away, but Sofia’s smile only grew.
“No no, there’s no way we can leave somebody as important as My Lady to rot in a dungeon for forever! All of your devoted servants will work ourselves to the bone to make sure you can get out of there as soon as possible…….really though, aren’t you looking forward to it?”
“Come now Sofia……….ufufufufufu”
“No no, this much is natural………….fufufufufu”
A master and servant too similar to each other, quite a bit of time would pass while they laughed at each other from opposite sides of the iron bars.
1. As in it only took the axeman a single swing to lop off his head.
2. So I don’t know that much about cooking, but this was originally referring to a specific way of cutting a fish by cutting off the head and then the body into three slices vertically. When it’s sold, it’s grouped together and looks like a solid fish although it’s already been cut and gutted.