The dolls were cute, but the packaging’s complete lack of embellishment reminded me once again that the gift was from Sabelian.
…A gift? From that guy? …It’s not a bomb, is it? I subjected the dolls to thorough pat down, noticing that the doll resembling myself even had purple eyes like mine, before coming to the conclusion that they were indeed just dolls. What’s up with the detail? Did he order that, too? No way. But to think a guy like him would send a gift… Maybe he isn’t… as bad as I thought?
My gaze drifted over to the box nearby where I finally noticed a card inside. A letter from Sabelian? Hoho, I suppose he really did repent his actions. Fine~ I’ll forgive him this time. I opened the card with excitement.
[If there is a repeat of yesterday’s incident, I’ll cut your allotted budget posthaste. Please refrain from taking such actions in the future.]
I threw the card away. Gaaah! Sabelian! I take back everything I said about you! Everything! You mean sonuvah-…! What an annoying guy. Well, it’s not like I’d ever get involved with him again, so best not dwell on it. I’d much rather spend this time nerding out over Blanche!
2. In The Name of Mother
The sharp sound of footsteps hitting the floor reverberated throughout the hallway, a ringing note akin to shattering glass whenever the high heels met marble. Abigail seemed to be hurrying towards the meeting room. The guards opened the doors for her as she approached. Inside, a man awaited. He seemed to be rather wealthy based on his clothing, but he didn’t give off an air of nobility.
“Thank you for granting me a moment of your time, Your Majesty.” The man kissed Abigail’s hand lightly, his own shaking from nervousness.
Oozing an ice-cold aura that put reptiles to shame, Abigail spoke with a frown on her face, “I came because I heard you had the goods?”
“Yes, of course.” A servant came in with a small box in his hands. When the box was opened, Abigail’s eyes glittered with a dangerous light. ”There are no problems with its quality, I presume?”
“Of course. Not even Princess Blanche would be able to resist something like this.” She took out an object from the box, a glass container the size of an apple. Contained within were strange spiky brown objects, like dried pieces of dirt. They looked ominous, not unlike Abigail’s current expression. As her gaze remained focused on them, she grinned, her lips twisting to form a devious smile. “Good. With this, even Princess Blanche would…”
“Kukuku.” The sound of low laughter rang throughout the room, a rather creepy sound, if truth be told. The dark overcast sky outside only served to add to the sinister atmosphere. “This isn’t something easily imported. I’m surprised you were able to obtain it.”
“I managed to procure a few bottles during my travels.”
When Abigail uncapped the container, a sweet fragrance wafted through the opening and into her nose. The smell came from none other than the violet sugar cookies of Abigail’s home country, Cronenberg. It was something of a rarity that wasn’t even exported outside its borders. The smell alone was enough to make Abigail’s mouth water but through sheer inhuman will, she managed to turn her head away. “You’ll be greatly rewarded for this.”
“I’ve brought other goods with me if you’d care to take a look?” When Abigail nodded lightly, several servants started carrying a great number of boxes into the room. They were filled with accessories and toys that seemed to be meant for children.
Looking at the boxes filling up the room, Abigail was reminded of a certain merchant from a while back. Back then there were a number of merchants who came to visit Abigail after she entered the palace. After all, she was a customer that all merchants dreamed of having. Not only did she like accessories and clothing, she also harboured a great interest for magical items and exotic goods, purchasing anything that caught her eye.
Merchants streamed in, each trying to get her attention, and even on that day, there had been several merchants in her meeting room. One in particular, a man with white hair, appeared before Abigail. The man was someone Abigail held in rather high regard for he had brought her many exotic trinkets in the past.
[Your Majesty, please take a look at this pearl necklace here. Not even the mermaid queen herself would be able to get ahold of something so precious. It can be yours for just a small sum of 20,000 Deronas.] The man was holding an extremely ostentatious and shiny necklace in his hand, which boasted a massive pearl at its centre. To either side of it were smaller pearls all laid out along the necklace line. The individual pearls gave off an almost hypnotic, enchanting feel. The one in the middle, especially, was something that not even Abigail had ever seen before.
The merchant smiled inside, thinking that this was the one thing guaranteed to catch Abigail’s attention. He fully expected her to demand that he bring the necklace over for a closer look, but contrary to his expectations she simply eyed the necklace with little interest from where she sat. [Do you have anything else?]
[What? Oh, of course. Of course I do. How about pottery from the far East?] The man hurriedly took out a piece of pottery from his bag. It was a white porcelain piece with blue patterns emblazoned all across it. [They say that this piece of pottery is something treasured by even the nobles in the East. I worked very hard to…]
[Anything else?] Abigail’s cold response gave the merchant pause. Did the woman realize that the pottery was a fake…? Pottery wasn’t something reserved for the nobility in the East, rather, it was considered commonplace there.
But Abigail was a woman with no taste. The man had sold more than a few fakes to the woman, but he had never been found out. Thankfully, Abigail looked more bored than angry. It didn’t seem that his ploy had been discovered.. But even then… If the queen had no interest in either the necklace or the pottery, what should he sell?
Right then, a thought sparked in the man’s head. Knowing Abigail, she’d probably even buy ‘that’. The man grinned, and took away the pottery. He then bowed down to Abigail in a very respectful manner. [As I thought, mere goods like this won’t suffice for one such as yourself. In that case, I’ll show you something I managed to get from the fairy kingdom itself.]
The man gave a glance to a servant behind him. [Bring me that thing.] The servant seemed a bit shocked when he heard the man say this. But immediately after, a grin floated onto his face, and he soon returned with a big box in his arms. The merchant opened the box, and slowly took out its contents.
The maids seemed confused by his actions. The man was clearly holding something, but they couldn’t see anything. From his gesture it looked as if he was holding up a piece of cloth. Looking on, Abigail’s bored gaze turned into a small frown.
[Isn’t it beautiful, Your Majesty? It’s a dress woven from the light of dawn, silvery cobwebs and morning dew.] The merchant spoke in a relaxed tone. Of course, everything coming out of his mouth was a bald-faced lie. He leisurely continued his spiel in front of the queen. [This dress holds mana within it. It is said that the halfwits and the villainous won’t be able to see it.]
He noticed the queen’s nearly imperceptible flinch. Right, there’s no way you’d be able to say anything given your pride. [It’s light, almost as if you aren’t wearing anything. It even keeps the wearer cool during the summer and warm during the winter.. More than anything, it’s very exquisite.]
The merchant turned to his servant. [Isn’t this quite beautiful?]
[Yes, it really is.]
This time, the merchant turned to the maids. [What do you think? Don’t you think this would look good on Her Majesty?]
[Wha-? Ah, yes… I-I think it’d look wonderful!]
[It looks very refined!] The maids also sang its praises despite their confusion. They couldn’t see the dress, but they didn’t want to appear stupid or evil.
[How is it, Your Majesty? If you wear this dress, your beauty will surely shine throughout all the kingdom! Since it suits you so well, I am willing to part with it at a mere 300,000 Deronas.] He already planned on starting fresh in a different country after this, so why not one last big scam for a sendoff?
Abigail seemed to flinch slightly before gathering her composure. She then opened her mouth to speak. [That’s a dress?]
[Yes, yes. Can you not see it, by any chance?] The merchant goaded the queen shamelessly. It wasn’t like the woman could say no to his question.
[Of course I can see it. It’s very beautiful indeed.] The merchant swallowed back a smirk. Abigail continued speaking in a very conversational tone. [But you see, rather than a dress, it looks more like a man’s clothing.]
[…What?] What did she just say? The unexpected response had the man scrambling for his composure.
[I think this would look much better on you. I suggest you try it on first. I’ll send it off to His Majesty if it looks good.] Abigail’s eyes shone with malice. It was then that merchant had his first inkling he’d made a horrible mistake.
[N-no need. It looks like I brought the wrong clothes by mistake. Allow me to move o…]
[Did you not hear what I said?] Abigail’s voice was beginning to fill with impatience. Her blazing eyes were locked directly onto the merchant. [I told you to Put. It. On.] Her voice reminded one of a very dangerous beast. The maids, too, seemed to have noticed something at this point. [Take this man away to an empty room. Bring him to me once he’s finished changing.]
[Y-your Majesty…!] The merchant tried to say something, but the servants were faster. They quickly dragged the merchant out into the hallway. The door closed with a bang, followed by silence in its wake, compounded by the menacing aura Abigail was still exuding.
A few moments later, the merchant returned. He was wearing the invisible clothing from before… That is to say, he was naked. He stood, trembling in front of the queen, with only a small garment to preserve his modesty.
[The clothes suit you very well. I know a place where they would truly shine.] Abigail continued to speak with a grin. [Put him in jail.]
[Your Majesty! Please, give me another chance…! Aaargh!] The merchant was dragged off by the guards. The door closed with a bang behind them once again.
The entire room seemed to have frozen over. The queen glared at the rest of the merchants with a forbidding gaze that promised retribution. [Anything else you people want to show me? Don’t tell me you all came into the castle with wares as boring as these? Show me what you’ve got.]
[I-I understand.] The merchants hurriedly pulled out everything they had to place it in front of Abigail. There were countless dresses, jewels, and imported goods. All things that Abigail was supposed to like.
But the queen was frowning more than ever. [Is this all you have? Nothing cute or unconventional? Something a child would like?]
The merchants all simultaneously froze at Abigail’s words. Something that a child might like? The Abigail they knew never once made such a request in the past.
TL: Soju Jimmy
Editor: MWO Gimlet
QC: Solistia Cosmopolitan