A certain night exactly one month after Queen Aura of the Carpa Kingdom safely gave birth to her first child. The Capital was overflowing with fires, dispelling the night, and merry glee.
Large bonfires were lit at the crossings of the main street or parks while here and there soldiers patrolled through the city at night, accompanied by valets carrying torches.
In the business district, the majority of the taverns had lit a couple of oil pans within the store and a special night business boomed.
Normally the stores wouldn’t open in the middle of the night, since the light wasn’t cheap and there was a good risk of the fires spreading, but today was an exception.
Because tonight was a night to be remembered, where they celebrated the news that most citizens of the Carpa Kingdom had eagerly awaited: The birth of a healthy first prince.
“To the health of Queen Aura!”
“To the birth of Prince Carlos!”
“To the future of the Carpa Kingdom!”
Shouts of joy and the sounds of wooden mugs, filled with alcohol, clashing against each other resounded through the bar at night.
The place was only illuminated by oil pans in each corner, but the atmosphere there made this dim light seem “bright” instead.
Tonight was a festival to celebrate the birth of the prince. He was actually born one month ago, but the medical treatment was undeveloped in this world, so there was no guarantee that the child would live on without problems, even if it was royalty. Therefore it was customary to celebrate the birth one month after the actual birthday.
And that one month was reached today. The Capital burned the candles at both ends.
Still, while it was true that the guests here were celebrating the birth of the prince, it was just as true that most of them were simply elated about “eating and drinking for free”.
Yes, the royal family mainly shouldered the costs for illuminations, drinks and food, which arose throughout the night.
They prepared the oil or wood for the bonfires, paid the taverns up front and arranged for soldiers to patrol, so that no fires or fights would occur.
The financial burden was nothing to be sneezed at, since the royal family was still rebuilding the war damages, but neither could they ignore a celebration like this. Besides, a subsidiary outcome could be expected as well: a temporary boom in the economy in the capital.
Although the royal family was catering “free drinks and food”, it was limited to cheap fruit wine and a cheap soup, which was made in a cauldron all at once.
One could get drunk on that wine and stuff one’s stomach with the soup, but the alcohol made a few people generous enough to order better wine or food against their better judgement, paying for it with their own money.
In the end, the taverns were operating quite in the black, even if the sponsoring from the royal family wasn’t counted.
“Man, I gotta say, lately it’s one good thing after another. First we won the war, then Queen Aura got married. And now a year later, a prince is born. Too good to be true.”
A corpulent man, sitting on a chair inside the bar with spread legs, declared that with a loud voice and heavily pounded his empty mug onto the table. The wooden mug made a melodic sound as it hit the wooden table.
“Nonsense! We had a tough time during the long war, so the ‘good things’ piled up and now come up altogether.”
The one, who replied like that, was a man sitting across from him. That man was relative
Send it flying.
In other words, he was saying that he should amply spray the water over their heads instead of sparsely splash it to their feet.
Splashing water onto the ground for a chilling aside, the act of sloshing around water directly over their heads inside a store was a somewhat crude behaviour, even in the Carpa Kingdom. However, this was a tavern on the outskirts. The crude suggestion was welcomed with a hurricane of applause.
“Yeah, do it!”
“At this rate I’m gonna dry up!”
“Hold it! Wait until we cover our food!”
The water “shower” seemed to get common, since everyone was versed in covering their soup plates and lightly baked bread on the table.
As to substantiate it, the shopkeeper, keeping an eye on the cauldron behind his counter, also made no attempts to stop them and just showed a wry smile on his frowned, brown face.
Quite the opposite,
“Be careful not to hit the oil pans.”
he permitted it with these words.
Hearing that, the man grinned broadly, saying “got it”, and plunged the tip of the ladle into the square water bucket. Then,
“Okay, brace yourselves. Ready, go!”
He swung the filled ladle in a wide arc with his right hand and let it rain over the bar at night.
The water drops, flying around through the air, sparkled shiny as they were illuminated by the fire on the oil pans in the four corners of the room.
“Oh, so refreshing!”
“Hyah, I’m back to life!”
“Don’t be so stingy with it. C’mon, more!”
The drinkers said arbitrary and unanimously.
“Aw, shuddap. Gimme a sec.”
The man refreshed himself by pouring the water he had scooped with the ladle over his head, then rapidly scattered water throughout the store by swinging the ladle over and over again.
“Fuh, feels good! Long live the Queen!”
“Yep, long live Prince Carlos!”
“Long live the Carpa Kingdom!”
Feeling better from the shower, the guests erupted with joy once again.
“And while we’re at it, ehm, huh? What was his name again? …Anyway, long live Queen Aura’s husband!”
Apparently “Zenjirou’s” name recognition as Queen Aura’s husband was so low that the common folk in the outskirts couldn’t remember his name when their ability to think was dulled by the alcohol.
* * *
A new morning was breaking.
The festival with alcohol and flames ended after a single night.
As soon as the scorching sun appeared over the horizon, business took place as usual.
Especially now during the hottest season of the year. The time period, where the morning sun was raising and spent light without skyrocketing the temperature yet, was quite valuable.
In the streets of the capital at dawn, people were already full of life and taking up their work.
To avoid a heatstroke in this season, it was customary to preserve one’s stamina by taking a midday nap indoors during the time of the day, where the temperature was on the rise the most. Therefore they had to get done as much as possible during the morning and evening or they would be running out of time.
A bustling, but lively morning in the Capital. Although the inner palace stood in the heart of that very Capital, his room was the only place that had nothing to do with that bustle and Zenjirou greeted a calm morning like any other day.
Zenjirou greatly stretched himself in the room, which looked chaotic on a glance and had classic furniture in an exotic style combined with mass-produced electronic appliances from Japan.
The only light source was the sunrays that came through the gap of the closed wooden window shutters, so a darkness beyond dim spread over the interior.
Wearing indoor dress consisting of a white shirt and twin pleat, hemp trousers in black, he stretched his arms upwards and opened the window in the living room while craning his neck.
Once the window, ornamented with detailed carvings, was opened, stifling air and sunlight so strong that it seemed unlikely it came from the morning sun, found their way inside.
Faced with the mighty light and aggressive heat invading after opening the window, Zenjirou unconsciously turned his face away. As his eyes had been used to the darkness, the bright sunlight stung them, but the heat was even more intense.
“Wow. It feels more like my life’s in danger than hot or gross.”
He instinctively said that with a serious face.
Breathing this excessively hot air felt as suffocating as air with low oxygen concentration, even with a full deep breath.
This living room, where he usually spent his time, and the bedroom next door were cooled down by the ventilator and water buckets around-the-clock.
Since the small prince, sleeping in a different room, got the prior claim on the ice recently, the temperature in the living room tended to be a bit higher than before, but compared to the outside, there was a difference as wide as between heaven and earth and thus still comfortable.
Zenjirou frowned in response to the stream of hot air, merciless coming in through the open window, and quickly took the tools, so he could get the task over with and shut the window again as soon as possible.
He fetched three things from the corner of the living room: A digital table clock, a mechanical pencil and a digital camera.
“Good, I’m right on time.”
Placing the rectangle clock on the window frame, he then looked at the display of the camera and nodded short.
A small, needle-like nail stood vertically in the centre of the frame.
While keeping a watch on both, the tiny shadow cast by the nail and the digital clock, he silently waited for the right moment.
As soon as the liquid crystals in the table clock displayed that time, Zenjirou drew a line with the mechanical pencil by tracing over the shadow line on the window frame.
Then he took a photo of that shape with the digital camera shortly after. The shutter sound rang out after the typical short time-lag for a digital camera, whereupon the integrated clock of the camera displayed 7:00:09.
This had become a daily morning routine for him these days.
“Hmm, there’s a small discrepancy after all. The problem is, I can’t judge whether the discrepancy is due to the fact that ‘a day hasn’t exactly twenty-four hours’ or that ‘the time for sunset and sunrise changes every day’.”
He mumbled while looking at the screen of the digital camera. This routine was only a few days old, but every day, he was drawing the same shadow line at the same time, yet the line shifted slightly to the side every day.
It was his second year in this different world after transferring here. Now that he had fulfilled his greatest duty, namely making a child with Aura, Zenjirou started to settle down enough to show an interest in the different world bit by bit.
This matter, too, was something he had decided to investigate at long last now.
Namely: “How does the calendar work in this world?”
“Well, the clocks from Earth still are applicable even now after a year without tuning, so it’s certain that one day has as good as twenty-four hours either way.”
He muttered to himself like that.
If that weren’t the case, the clocks he had brought with him would no longer be useful by now. For example, even if a day was only longer by a single minute, it would account for a discrepancy of three-hundred and sixty-five minutes when projected to three-hundred and sixty-five days. To make it easier to understand: Three-hundred and sixty-five minutes amounted to roughly six hours.
If the time were to be deviated by whole six hours, he would’ve noticed it for sure, even if he only had a vague reference like the sunrise and sunset. In other words, it could be concluded that the discrepancy in the period of one day between his original world and this world was something so extremely small that he was unable to perceive it even over roughly one year, if there was one at all. However.
“Ignoring the discrepancy in dates, I could measure the discrepancy of one day, if I record the position of the shadow exactly one year later, but… the problem is, I don’t even have the guarantee that one year has three-hundred and sixty-five days here.”
Zenjirou sighed once again.
The calendar of this world had a total of twelve months from which six months had twenty-nine days and the other six had thirty days. In short, a year had three-hundred and fifty-four days. However, that apparently caused an obvious discrepancy, so they regulated that by adding an intercalary month every couple of years, making it a year with thirteen months.
Thus it seemed that one year in this world had more or less three-hundred and sixty-five days on an average, too, according to a quick calculation he had made on the aforementioned calendar.
“If I could somehow be sure that this world has the same 24/365 allocation as Earth, I would be able to make a few useful suggestions.”
Zenjirou closed the wooden shutters while he grumbled like that.
Of course he had no intention to change the current calendar, which the citizen were used to, for his own convenience.
But if he succeeded in making a somewhat accurate solar calendar, it would definitely be useful in various ways.
The current calendar caused a discrepancy of about thirty days, since it added an intercalary month every few years.
Considering that the first day of the fourth month last year could become the first day of the fifth month this year, it was obvious just how pointless it was to hope for this calendar to announce the “seasons”. At least it was extremely unsuitable for marking the time when they had to sow or do embankment work.
Due to that, the periods for sowing and harvesting were currently all based on the experience and intuition of the farmers in the Carpa Kingdom.
“Hmm, it would need tens of years to collect enough data for making an estimate that could beat the experience of a veteran farmer. And this world has no thermometers either.”
Nevertheless, the creation of an accurate calendar and the gathering of weather data throughout the year along with it, should prove to be useful in some way in the future.
Telling himself that, Zenjirou turned on the six LED floor lamps and lighted the interior of the room in an artificial white light. At that very moment.
The sound from knocking on the entrance door resonated trough the wide living room.
A waiting maid would state her business right after knocking. Since that didn’t happen, it limited the list of possible people down to one.
Zenjirou looked at the clock reflexively.
“Mh? These days, she’s usually already at a meeting in the palace by this time. Oh well. Yes, come in.”
While tilting his head puzzled, he raised a voice, whereupon the door opened. Beyond it stood exactly the person, whom he expected.
“Good morning, Zenjirou.”
The tall beauty, tightly holding a small baby against her voluptuous chest like a treasure, was accompanied by two waiting maids behind her and smiled at him.
Zenjirou returned the gentle smile on par with hers and beckoned his wife with their child, into the room.
“Excuse me, but is this position suitable?”
The waiting maid took a large ice block from the metal basin in the refrigerator, as she had completely gotten used to it in the past year, and positioned it next to the couches, where Zenjirou and Aura were sitting. Behind it, the ventilator sent a refreshing breeze at Zenjirou from the perfect angle.
As Aura was sitting on the couch across of him, its effect didn’t reach her, but that was alright for now. She was holding their one-month old baby in her arms after all. It was not a good idea to directly blow cold air onto the sensitive skin of a baby.
“Yes, well done. You may leave.”
“Yes, excuse me.”
Keeping her gaze down on the child in her arms, Queen Aura said that, whereupon the two waiting maids, who had positioned the ice and ventilator, lowered their heads respectfully, then retreated.
After the door closed with a clatter, only the couple with their child remained in the living room.
The mother dandled the child and the father watched over her. Such a scene was ordinary all over the world, but it wasn’t all that usual for Zenjirou and Aura.
“Normally you would be at the morning meeting already at this time, so what’s up today?”
Zenjirou asked his wife, who was sitting across of him, this in the living room after the maids had left.
During the period, where the heat was especially severe in the Carpa Kingdom, even the Royal Palace issued long breaks at noon for reasons of health. To compensate for that delay even a bit, the morning meetings around this time were started earlier.
Just like Zenjirou had said, Aura would normally have no time to relax like this.
But while dandling the child in her arms, Aura
“Yes. Today’s meeting is with Marquis Guzzle. And since the crucial party is arriving late, the start of the meeting has to be postponed.”
happily replied like that.
“Oh, I see. That’s great. Wait, can I say it like that?”
“Not great at all. The agenda was merely delayed, not resolved, so it is rather troubling instead. But it is a rare free time and it would be a waste to not use it effectively. Right, Carlos?”
Aura showed a wry smile for a moment, but right afterwards, she resumed her broad smile and said that, peeking at the face of the child in her arms.
The one-month old baby— Carlos looked up to his mother’s face and laughed happily.
The image of “looking like a skinny monkey”, which Zenjirou had when he was born, had completely vanished and the young prince was growing steadily by sucking milk from his mother or wet nurse. His cheeks and arms, peeking out of the sleeves of his baby clothes, also had become cute and chubby. Altogether he was overflowing with an adorableness that involuntarily made you want to nudge him.
Curly hair in a glossy olive brown tone. A big pair of black wide eyes. Skin coloured in a mixture of brown and yellow. ‘My parental bias aside, could it be that he’s the most adorable being in this world?’ Zenjirou was actually thinking that for real, but he was the only one, who didn’t realize that his opinion couldn’t be biased any more, seeing as he especially added “parental bias aside”.
“Carlos~? Lookie, lululu…Bleeh!”
Looking at the face of his father, who was playing the fool by sticking out his tongue from the opposite couch, the infant starred blankly for a moment, then raised a shrill voice for joy.
As he liked the reaction of his son, Zenjirou then repeated it over and over and over again.
“Oh, he laughed. Am I funny? Lookie, lululu… Bleeh! Lulululu, Bleeh!”
The baby continued to laugh happily, but the mother, who was holding him, contributed a complain with a wry smile.
“Zenjirou, I can relate that you want to make Carlos laugh, but please stop doing these ‘weird faces’ one after another. As your wife I cannot help but feel sad about it, even if I am his mother.”
For a moment, Zenjirou wanted to object with “what’s the point of putting on airs at this point?”, but when he looked at it the other way around, he could understand Aura’s standpoint a bit, too.
Even if it was for the sake of making the most adorable life-form from both worlds— Carlos laugh, Zenjirou definitely would demand her to stop, too, if his beloved wife were to let her lips vibrate snorting or were sticking out her tongue so far that it could reach the tip of her nose or chin.
Politeness is not just for strangers.
A proverb he mustn’t forget, even if their relationships as a “married couple” remained perfectly harmonic over a long time after two actual strangers had become family now.
The Queen gave her husband, who reluctantly ceased to do “weird faces”, an affectionate gaze, which differed from the one she was giving their child, and said in slightly teasing manner.
“Besides, why are you calling our child like that? ‘Carlos’ is not his only name. You are the only one, who can make the correct pronunciation for his ‘other name’, so should you not be calling him by that name?”
Zenjirou was a bit taken by surprise by the words of this wife and showed that on his face, but nodded.
“Ah, yeah, right.”
Their child certainly had another name. A Japanese name that Zenjirou had given him. It was a lot less known in the world than the name “Carlos”, but he had chosen the name for that very reason. After all, this name definitely made up a part of their child, too.
After taking a deep breath, Zenjirou called the name in a whisper, as if breathing only a little bit of the air that brimmed his lungs, out.
The second name for his child that he had come up with after a lot of consideration.
Due to the simple idea of keeping the first Chinese character of his own name, he had suggested relatively common names like Yoshihiko or Yoshito at first, but the people of the Carpa Kingdom, Aura included, didn’t know about the culture of “ideograms”, so it was extremely difficult to explain that one and the same character could be either read as Zen or Yoshi.
In the end, he had given his son the name Zenkichi.
“Carlos Zenkichi Carpa”
That was the official name of this baby, the first prince of the Carpa Kingdom.
Carlos was a relatively common name in the Carpa Kingdom. At least two former kings and ten or more people, counting the royalty that hadn’t become king by reference to the family register, have had the same name, so some people called the new prince as “His Highness Carlo-Zen”, shortening his two names.
It was also possible that he would be called “His Majesty King Carlo-Zen” in the future. But then, “Prince Carlos” was mainly used amongst the common folk, so it was quite likely that he would simply be called “Carlos III”.
Meanwhile, the little prince suddenly contorted his smiling face and cried woefully.
“Fuah… Fuah… Fueeeh…”
“Oh, what’s wrong? Zenkichi? Carlos? Carlo? What’s up?”
Half-rising from the couch, Zenjirou called out to him worried, but his wife
“No, everything is alright, Zenjirou. This cry means he is hungry.”
answered without any agitation.
“Ah, I see.”
He made a sigh of relief upon his wife’s assurance, then asked something he had suddenly realized.
“Mh? But I’m surprised you can tell, Aura. Don’t tell me you can differentiate whether he’s hungry or soiled his diaper from his crying?”
The Queen nodded to her husband’s question.
“Indeed. Cassandra taught it to me the other day. Although I cannot do it as well as her, since she can tell whether it is number one or number two from the crying.”
She mentioned the name of the wet nurse, who was usually taking care of their child.
Nursing a child was such a demanding task that it was incongruously with the exhausting work of a Queen. After all, a baby was a little tyrant, who wants milk, relieves itself and cries when these two desires aren’t satisfied, all day without regard for others. Even Aura with all her toughness would undoubtedly collapse after five days if she were to raise the child with her own hands while still fulfilling her duties as a Queen.
Nonetheless, from Cassandra’s point of view, it was surprisingly easy to take care of Carlos, seeing as she had three children herself.
That didn’t mean that Carlos was a good boy, who didn’t need any special attention. Rather it was thanks to all the goods like baby bottles or freezer Tupperware for breast milk, which Zenjirou had brought with him from his world.
The breast milk, milked from the breasts during the day, was perfectly safe to use for around another day, too, when kept cold, so the wet nurse was relieved from the task to have to wake up to breast-feed the baby when it cried in the middle of the night, since it could be fed the stored breast milk, warmed to body temperature, with the baby bottle.
When the wet nurse was tired or extremely sleepy, one of the waiting maids could just fed the baby with the bottle in her stead.
Luckily enough, Carlos was a good sucker, so he could drink the milk from the wet nurse’s breasts, from Aura’s breasts or even from the baby bottle without problems.
“Well then, time to breast-feed. Zenjirou, as you can see, my hands are occupied, so could you please get behind me and untie the strap of my dress?”
Upon her request, Zenjirou quickly went around the couch she was sitting on. The lukewarm air felt gross on his skin, since he left the sphere of action from the ventilator, but now wasn’t the time to worry about that.
To satisfy his child’s hunger as soon as possible, he stood behind his wife, who had her red hair tied up, on the couch and reached out for her shoulders.
Right now, Aura was wearing a red dress without sleeves, where the front and back were tied together over her shoulders.
“Aura, tilt your head a bit to the side.”
“Mm, like this?”
Aura obediently inclined her head to the right, whereupon Zenjirou reached out for her right left shoulder from behind and untied the strap there.
Normally it was tied more firmly, but right now it was just a simple butterfly knot. She probably had anticipated to breast-feed here form the beginning.
One side of her dress gently slipped down and exposed one of Aura’s big breasts.
“Thanks. Here, Carlos, milk.”
With one breast bared, the Queen promptly brought her voluminous breast closer to her child’s face.
“Fueeeh…. Fuaah? Ada…”
The baby’s reaction was dramatic.
With his mother’s breast right in front of him, the infant started to feast with all his might by sucking on the nipple right away.
“Mm… Mmm… Mm…”
“Fufu, look at him sucking. He really is an energetic one.”
Aura looked down at her child, who was sucking on her breast, which had gotten even bigger than before due to the pregnancy, with a truly affectionate gaze while holding him firmly.
“Good. He must have been really hungry.”
Once he confirmed that Carlos had stopped crying, Zenjirou sat down on the other couch again.
“Mm, Mh, Mm, Mmm…”
The baby was drinking milk with all its might while the mother held it. And the father was watching over them from a bit apart.
At some point, the parents had fallen silent and just fondly gazed upon their child.
“Eat your fill. Now is the only time I can give you milk today.”
Aura unconsciously let these words come out of her mouth. As Aura was a Queen before she was a mother, she had few chances to breast-fed her child herself.
The peaceful and heart-warming scene lasted until the baby removed his mouth from Aura’s breasts.
“Mh? What is the matter? Done already?”
Just to be sure, Aura brought her breast closer to his mouth once more, but he averted his face to the side. It seemed that he had eaten his fill.
Zenjirou, too, couldn’t help but make a gentle smile when he saw his child with drool and milk around his mouth. However, this gentle expression of his crumbled upon Aura’s next words.
“Did you drink your fill? I see, you are full. Then the rest is ‘for Papa’.”
“Papa won’t drink it, you know!? Mama, stop making scandalous jokes in front of Zenkichi!”
Zenjirou resolutely objected with a frantic expression in front of the mother dandling the sleepy baby.