The cold, electronic buzzing from his cell phone next to his pillow slowly woke up Zenjirou’s consciousness from its slumber.
Still half-asleep, Zenjirou reached out his right hand routinely, searched for his cell phone and turned off its morning alarm. Then he brought the cell phone close to his face and looked at the time.
Compared to the time a salary man woke up in modern Japan it was rather early, but in this world it was already considered late.
In a culture, where nearly no other sources of light but natural fire existed, the daytime was a very precious period.
It was common in this world to raise after the sun came out at four in the morning and sleeping in until late was a sign of luxury.
However, there was actually no need for Zenjirou to wake up at this hour by specifically setting an alarm.
He had the LED floor lamps to illuminate the night and nothing special to do during the day.
There was but one reason that Zenjirou used the alarm function of his cell phone, the loyal partner of his salary man days, to wake up this early.
His wife— Because he didn’t want to miss out on Aura.
It was a rather lonely experience to see that your wife had already gone to work when you woke up after going to bed together.
Zenjirou put the cell phone back to where it was before and turned his body to the left on the bed. There was Aura, exposing an innocent sleeping face while making peaceful sleeping sounds.
Today it had been ten days since their bridal night.
After their marriage, Zenjirou and Aura had spent their nights together here in the chamber of the inner palace.
Even yesterday, they satisfactorily completely their conjugal duty, then fell asleep right after wiping their bodies with a wet towel, so both of them were stark-naked right now.
Technically a thin blanket made of something similar to towelling covered them, but the nights in the Carpa Kingdom were so hot that even that thin blanket seemed oppressive.
Still not fully awake, Zenjirou twined his arm around his wife’s back.
Embracing her with his right arm around her back while still resting sideways, Zenjirou caressing patted Aura’s back with his palm.
Her heartbeat he felt on his chest and the feeling of her skin on his palm made him remember the act that was conducted nearly every night in the last ten days.
He had slept with this woman.
This feeling of reality had quickly fostered his love for Aura. Zenjirou had embraced Aura so closely that her bare nipples were pressing on his chest and he caressed the back or red hair of his beloved wife numerous times with a lot of affection.
It was inevitable that Aura would wake up from that.
“Mm… Ah…? Zenjirou?”
Having woken up, Aura indulged herself in Zenjirou’s arms and docilely stuck her naked body onto his. Then she nuzzled her head against his neck like a spoilt cat and purred.
(Ah, rather than a cat, I feel like I tamed a large feline carnivore like a “lioness” or “tigress”)
Squinting from the tickling, but comfortable feeling around his neck, Zenjirou squeezed Aura tighter while such a thought crossed his mind.
People often matched women with cats, but such an adorable animal didn’t do Aura’s appeal justice.
Even a pantheress was no match for her. She displayed the aura of a supreme ruler pretty much like a tiger or lion, carnivores at the top of the food chain.
For a while then, they r
“Now then, what do I do today?”
After sending off Aura, Zenjirou was lazing around on the couch in the living room, dressed in a T-shirt from his world and loose, white trousers without a tuck from this world over his trunks.
Ever since he came here, he had been busy with things like the marriage ceremony or setting up the generator.
His real “lifestyle of doing nothing but lazing around” only started today.
In time he might not know what to do with his free time, but at least for today, he had a mountain of things he wanted to do.
During his salary man days, he had recorded as much as he could on DVD, but never watched any of it, and bought as much games as he could without ever opening them.
He had also continued to buy the songs of the bands or singers he liked during his university days at legal download portals, more out of habit than anything, but the only time he listened to them was during commuting between home and work. There were still a lot of songs he hadn’t listened to even once.
“Guess first comes my backlog of TV series. Ah, but if I start now, it’ll coincide with breakfast.”
When it was time for breakfast, the waiting maids of the inner palace would appear.
Practically, Zenjirou was the master of the inner palace, so he could change the time for breakfast on a whim if he wanted to, but it wasn’t something to be mentioned casually.
After all, this world didn’t even know of gas stoves or water pipes, let alone microwaves. Preponing breakfast meant that the attendants had to scoop water faster and postponing meant that it had to be redone at a later time.
It wasn’t as simple as in modern Japan, where one could just reheat a prepared meal in the microwave.
“In the end, I merely married into the family. I don’t want to get on the attendants’ bad side. Let’s see, how much is left of the food I brought with me?”
Zenjirou felt a little bit hungry, so he peeked into the refrigerator.
The five-door refrigerator powered by the hydropower generator thankfully operated without problems so far.
At present, the refrigerator was filled with fruits and alcohol from this world and the rations Zenjirou brought with him from Japan.
That said, most of these rations were chocolate, dry bread, beef jerky, biscuits and the like. He had packed all these dry foods into his backpack for emergencies and there was no real meaning in putting them into the refrigerator.
The remaining rations were forced onto him by his aunt as she believed his lie about “transferring overseas”: Handmade dried plums together with some dried and buckwheat noodles from Shinshu Soba on the recommendation of his uncle.
“The chocolate are too good to eat. From what Aura told me, they don’t even know of cocoa here. It’s pretty much hopeless to make any. Luckily, they seem to have no shortage of sugar, but it’s crude brown sugar.”
Most likely, it was just a substitute product they got by wringing out and filtering the essence of sugarcane or a plant with just as much sugar content. The sugar of this world had a peculiar flavour to Zenjirou’s tongue as it was used to the first-rate sugar from Japan.
Technically he had the receipts for cakes, cookies or pudding on his computer, downloaded from a homepage with pictures to the explanations, but it was a little doubtful if he could properly make them with the sugar and wheat flour from this world.
To begin with, Zenjirou didn’t bring any hand mixer or microwave with him, so it was impossible to make sweets as easily as in modern Japan.
If he were to do it, he had no choice but to call for the waiting maid in charge of cooking and teach her the rough method.
Zenjirou had thought he had gathered the essential things as best as he could during the one month of preparation, but now that he started his life in the different world, he often found himself regretting “Why didn’t I bring that with me!”.
His greatest regret was “window glass”.
Zenjirou looked at the window, which mercilessly let the outside air through the opened wooden shutters, and all the parts of the air conditioning in the corner of the room, raising an empty voice.
“Quite the blunder. The interior in Japan’s buildings is naturally enclosed by windows, so it totally slipped my mind…”
Even if he were to assemble the air conditioning in this room without window glass, he wouldn’t get the comfortable temperature he sought. The air conditioning wouldn’t even reach half its effectiveness with the windows gaping wide open.
On the other hand, closing the shutters in the middle of the noon, cutting of the sunlight and living with just the LED lamps was certainly a bit too unhealthy. Even if he were to do that, he couldn’t hope for the architecture of this world to be as airtight as an average building in modern Japan.
All the same, it was doubtful how much the domestic air conditioning could cool down the living room, since it exceeded a size of sixty-six square metres.
“Well, it’s more likely I’ll screw up the assembling anyway, so I might as well resign myself to never having one to begin with. Hah…”
Zenjirou sighed and decided to put the matter with the air conditioning and window glass on hold for now. As a sop for his dilemma, he had figured out that when he put a block of ice, made in the refrigerator, in front of the fan, it gave a chilling in a local area more than he had expected.
“Oh well. It’s no use lamenting. I have to live with the inconveniences.”
Adopting this clear-cut attitude, Zenjirou took out a bag stuffed with DVDs from the TV stand and started to pick a show to watch for today.
“Mhm, up to where did I watch this show? I remember Solar Car going to an island where they held bullfights. I think Game of Tag vs. 100 Detectives Part 3 was the last I watched?”
* * *
While refreshing himself with the ice fan, Zenjirou enjoyed watching DVDs by himself. Meanwhile, his wife Aura pursued her duties as the Queen in her office.
Most of her duties as the leader of the country were councils and meetings.
Since the Carpa Kingdom currently had no prime minister in charge of politics and no admiral in charge of the army, Aura was extremely pressed with work as the Queen.
The little free time between councils and meetings elapsed just from looking through some submitted reports.
Aura was going through the bundle of dragonskin parchments (made from skinned hide of raptorial dragons) helter-skelter when Secretary Fabio, standing next to her, called out to her.
“Your Highness, it is time.”
Aura raised her eyes from the dragonskin parchment to the monotone voice of the middle-aged man with a slender face.
“Mh? Ahh, already time, huh. Who is next?”
As there was no precise way to measure time like in modern Japan, this world was rather loose with time. Even so, official business in the palace had an accurate take on time by measuring quarters of an hour, namely fifteens minutes.
The majority of her work had to be taken care of while the sun was out, so the Queen was as busy as a politician in modern Japan during the day.
“Yes, the next meeting is with the General of the Knights, Sir Puyol Guillén.”
Aura obviously grimaced upon hearing her secretary mentioning that name.
It was the name from one of the two candidates that were deemed to be most suited to be her husband before Zenjirou was summoned.
There was no doubt that he was a competent soldier that often distinguished himself in the previous great war at a young age, but regretfully, he was too ambitious, so Aura deemed him unfit to be her husband.
Now what would that ambitious person have to say after his position as the “Queen’s Husband” within his reach had been snatched away by someone mysterious from a different world at the last minute?
Just from imagining it, Aura inadvertently spilled a sigh.
“Your Highness, a soldier with the rank of a general and a civil officers with the rank of a cabinet member have the right to request a direct meeting with the Ruler. Sir Puyol is merely availing himself of his legitimate privilege.”
Aura’s irritation only grew stronger from the all too composed words of her secretary. Even so, Secretary Fabio was making a sound argument, which Aura thoroughly understood.
“I know. Fine, bring him inside.”
After a deep breath to blow away the irritation, she ordered with her usual dignified voice.
“Your Highness Aura, first of all, let me congratulate you again. I wish you all the very best for your marriage.”
“Thank you, Sir Puyol. It makes me feel better to hear this. We were not meant to be bound as a man and a woman, but I would like to keep our bond as ruler and subject important from now on, too.”
“…Yes, you honour me.”
The exchange between Queen Aura and General Puyol Guillén, sitting opposite one another in the office, started with obvious pleasantries.
To put in a nutshell, the man called Puyol Guillén was a stereotypical soldier.
He was one head taller than Aura, who was already tall for a woman, and had a keen and fearless face. His arm, appearing from the half-sleeves, were cluttered with scars and the palms of his big hands showed firm and big calluses from handling a sword.
Most likely a hundred people out of hundred would choose Puyol when asked who between Zenjirou and Puyol was a suitable Prince Consort for Aura based on appearance.
It even looked impressive when Aura with her red hair and light brown skin stood next to Puyol with his black hair and brown skin. And even height-wise, Puyol was taller than the average man, so he made a good balance to Aura, who was also taller than the average woman.
A skilled soldier, a competent commander and the young hero of the previous war with numerous deeds of arms.
The Hero had failed to become the Prince consort, but he faced the subject of his loyalty, the Queen and declared without beating about the bush.
“Your Highness, I believe you know already, but I have a younger sister. She inherited the royal blood, too, albeit as shallow as myself, and has high magical power. Her personality just like her education, will not embarrass her in public.
What do you say? I suggest to make her Zenjirou-sama’s concubine, to spread the royal blood of course.”
Upon Mr. Ambitious sudden and frank proposal, Aura desperately suppressed her urge to facepalm right away.
That was the very reason. Because he was so obvious ambitious, he was extremely unsuited to be the Prince Consort, no matter how capable he was as a soldier.
Since Aura herself would never content herself with being a puppet to her husband, the Carpa Kingdom would have split into Queen and Prince Consort Factions for sure if Aura had wed Puyol, causing a national split.
Anyway, suggesting a concubine to a wife, who had only just wed, was outrageously ruthless.
Aura didn’t break her composed expression and asked back.
“Mhm, that sounds intriguing. What is your sister’s say on that matter?”
“? I am the head of the Guillén Family.”
Puyol tilted his head puzzled on Aura’s question. Practically, he was not mistaken.
The family head decided on the marriage partner for the woman. Puyol was merely making a sensible decision according to the tradition of this country.
Instead, Aura was the one against common sense, since she had lived so far by upkeeping a stereotypical turn of mind as the Queen.
That said, most family heads made allowance for their daughters or sisters’ own will when they decided their marriage partner, but Puyol apparently wanted to marry off his sister solely for his own conveniences. And he unwavering believed that it was his legitimate right to do so.
Aura realized that she had steered the topic in the wrong direction and strived to adjust it while keeping a composed smile.
“Certainly. However, my husband only came to this world recently and has not settled in yet, both emotionally and physically. As of now, he has his hands full with just me.”
Puyol squinted his sharp eyes on Aura’s clear refusal.
“…Has Zenjirou-sama truly expressed that himself?”
The question of the subject, doubting the Queen’s words, could very well be seen as disrespectful, whereat Aura threw out her chest more than necessary.
“Of course. You do not mean to say that you doubt my words?”
“Never. Excuse me. However, as one of the nobility, it is my honest desire to ‘personally’ greet my new lord Zenjirou-sama.
Can I ask you to pass that on to him ‘unaltered’?”
“…Fine. I will definitely forward it to my husband, ‘word for word’.”
At the end, Puyol saluted like a knight by bringing his right fist to his left shoulder and left the Queen’s office.
Once she had confirmed that the ambitious general was no longer in range, Aura sighed deeply.
“… Good grief. His own marriage failed and he tries to send of his sister next. He makes no bones about his ambitions as ever. That is so much more refreshing.”
Contrary to her words, the Queen spit them out annoyed. Secretary Fabio, standing there like a carved stature so far, replied with a flat voice.
“Still, since General Puyol is so extremely loyal to his ambitions, it helps us predict the actions of the nobility as a whole. Most likely, identical request will come rushing in the next few days. And when you continue to turn these down like just now, then a rumour saying ‘Her Highness takes the freedom off her husband to preserve her own power even though she is his wife‘, will inevitably spread.”
The secretary didn’t mince matters like always, whereat Aura grimaced and objected.
“My husband decided to stay in the inner palace and not leave there by none other than his own will. I have told him nothing.”
“Yes, I am aware of that. Because he is wise, virtuous for now and extremely cooperative to you outwardly. However, if even your relationship with him remains hidden in the inner palace, the nobility haunting the palace will not know about it.”
The secretary made a valid point after another, whereas Aura could only sigh.
“In that case, I guess we will have my husband appear in the palace to some degree and have him assure that our relationship is going well directly from his own mouth.
I get the feeling that I am causing nothing but trouble for him.”
It made her feel a bit mean to push unexpected troubles onto her Prince Consort, who showered her so honestly with love.
She really kind of felt like a wicked woman that restrained her husband’s freedom for her own good.
But the secretary was oblivious to the Queen’s melancholy and continued to speak without moving a muscle on his inexpressive face that looked like an iron mask.
“There is nothing else we can do. In fact, the suggestion by General Puyol for Zenjirou-sama to ‘have a concubine’ is more than warrantable if you consider the continuity of the royal bloodline.”
Aura had to admit the truth behind these words.
No matter how passionately Zenjirou and Aura loved each other, there was a limit to how much children a single pair could make. Not to mention, Aura had severe duties as the Queen. She couldn’t afford to back out often to give birth.
“As things stand now, what is your opinion? I guess you think I should accept General Puyol’s suggestion?”
Aura asked her secretary like that on a spontaneous suggestion.
The opinion of her middle-aged secretary, stressing effectiveness above everything else, served as a valuable general guideline.
Secretary Fabio shrugged his shoulders a bit upon Aura’s question, then
“I have my personal view on the matter, but speaking it out might be interpreted as contempt towards the royal family. I find myself unfit to ascertain if it is something meant for your ears, Your Highness.”
lowered his head with that.
But Aura turned a deaf ear to it and shook her hand, then urged him to continue.”
“I do not mind. To begin with, hypocritical courtesy is the signature feature of nobility. Even if it angers me, there will be no punishment, so speak your mind.”
With the permission from the Queen, the secretary bowed once with “Understood” and started to talk.
“To come right to the point, I object making General Puyo’s little sister a concubine for Zenjirou-sama.”
Aura leaned forward interested upon the secretary’s unexpected straight-to-the-point words.
“Making important noblewomen, who inherit the royal blood, his concubines will appear at first as the royal family grows with the next generation and secure its future, but in fact it will be a dead-end, considering what happens in the generation after that.
After all, all of them will be siblings with Zenjirou-sama as their father, but different mothers.”
“Yes, I see now.”
Aura nodded consenting. That was indeed true. Although a lot of children would inherit the royal blood, it would make marriages arrangements extremely difficult in the generation after them as all of them were half-siblings with the same father.
Per se, the marriage between half-siblings with different mothers or fathers was allowed in the Carpa Kingdom, but it wasn’t recommended either.
A child would be born with disabilities when the blood-relation was too close. They must have figured out that fact from previous cases.
“Therefore, if you simply wish for continuing the royal bloodline, it would be the best to marry General Puyol’s little sister to your other previous husband candidate, Sir Raffaello from the Márguez Family.
And at the same time, you should welcome a suitable daughter of nobility, a magician with rich magical power, as Zenjirou-sama’s concubine to establish a branch family with thin royal blood. Then no one would have anything to complain. Zenjirou-sama’s blood is strong enough that we can hope for the child with such a woman to inherit the ’Space-Time Magic’.
Ah, needless to say, everything is under the basic prerequisite that you have a child with Zenjirou-sama yourself.”
Aura showed Secretary Fabio a tense smile for his indifferent presentation.
“It almost sounds like the marriages between the royal family and nobility are the same as crossbreeding between ‘raptorial dragons’ for you.”
The slender-faced secretary didn’t even show an reaction to her cynicism.
“Hence I told you beforehand that it would be impolite. To begin with, this is merely a standpoint for spreading the ‘Space-Time Magic’. Marriage always involves people’s feelings and if two influential noble families like the Guillén and Márguez Family were to merge through marriage, it would bring a too influential nobility into being and implicate drawbacks for the royal family.”
“I know. The one to make a final decision after looking at all the facts will be me.
…At any rate, as long as my husband does not stand in the breach of the nobility for a bit, the suspicion towards me will only grow.”
For a while, Aura was lost in thought with her hand on her chin, then suddenly raised her eyes and asked the secretary.
“Fabio, for how long can we keep the nobility’s suspicion down when my husband stays hidden in the inner palace?”
“At least one month and at best one and a half, I would say. If it is any longer, we cannot avoid rumours saying ’Her Highness put the words into his mouth’, no matter what Zenjirou-sama might say then.”
As he anticipated Aura’s question, the secretary answered fluently at once.
“One month… Well, guess so. Okay, got it. Fortunately, my husband already expressed the desire to learn about this world’s manner and common sense. Let us find him a private tutor.”
“A private tutor, you say? Though males are forbidden the entrance into the inner palace?”
On the secretary’s inquiry, Aura smiled profound.
“Of course we will advertise the vacancy for women only. And I want her to teach him the basics of magic as well, so a female magician above average would be best.”
A female tutor with high magical power. With just that, it only sounded like Aura gave her authorisation for a concubine. However, she added premonitory.
“In case there are no ‘appropriate candidates’, call for beldam. We can only hope that no one imprudent presents itself.”
Beldam was referring to the wife of the archmage Espaldion: Pascuala. She was an old woman in her 70s. If anyone still recommended a young, unmarried woman as a tutor after hearing that she was a “candidate for the private tutor”, then they were either too stupid to understand Aura’s intention or were so ambitious that they prioritized their own gain over the Queen’s request.
The middle-aged secretary shrugged his shoulders troubled a bit and advised the Queen.
“Your Highness, you will lose your subjects’ sympathy, if you bluntly put them to the test too often. Please be more careful.”
“I know. Anyway, just like you said, I cannot dismiss the idea of welcoming concubines for my husband and establishing a branch family when I think of the future. That being the case, we have to weed out ‘dangerous concubine candidates’ as quickly as possible.”
Actually, Aura was a bit reluctant about it as she was enjoying the unique newly-wed lifestyle so far. It was only natural that she got a bit sullen.
Political marriages were an obligation for the royal family. She realized that, but even someone from the royal family could fall in love and desire to monopolize it.
“Good grief, it would not hurt anyone to let me enjoy my newly-wed life for a bit without disturbances.”
Aura shrugged her shoulders in annoyance.
* * *
Evening on the same day. After finishing their dinner together, Aura and Zenjirou were cuddling relaxed on the couch.
“Mhm, even if there is the risk of staying up too late, the nightlife is quite worthwhile with this much illumination.”
“Haha, yeah. Though I’m too used to it and don’t appreciate it as much anymore.”
Watching the six LED lamps that lightened up the room, Aura said that admiring, to which Zenjirou replied with a small smile.
During the day, Aura had worked hard as the Queen, but after the sun set, she had relatively free time on her hands. Of course nighttime didn’t equal free time as she had to attend social gatherings like a dance once or twice per week, too, but her finishing time was rather “early” when comparing it to Zenjirou’s salary man days, where he worked overtime until midnight like it was a given.
Due to that, they could spent some quality time together without any disturbances like this.
Still, even though it was an relaxed evening for them, they couldn’t avoid to touch upon political matters as the Queen and her Prince Consort.
“So, you advertised a vacancy as a tutor to teach me manners and common sense?”
As he had heard the circumstances from Aura, Zenjirou confirmed it with his wife, who wore a pious expression without any surprise.
“Yes. It will take some time until employment. In the meantime, I will teach you when I have time. Actually, I would have liked to teach you everything myself, but I just do not have the time for it. Forgive me.”
“It’s fine. I understand that you’re busy. Ah, but that tutor will be understanding, right? I fear I might say something inappropriate.”
Worrying about using improper language towards the person that taught one manners and common sense was mistaking the cause for the end, but his worry was plausible.
One would expect the person chosen to be the tutor for the Queen’s Prince Consort to be someone of a certain standing. If Zenjirou conducted himself improperly, unfavourable criticism might spread about him in the palace.
But Aura shook her head with a smile to Zenjirou’s worry.
“No, you should be fine if you act like usually. I will give you a crash course in manners and common sense until your tutor is hired.”
She purposefully said that with a bright tone to wash away his worries.
“Ahaha, go easy on me.”
Zenjirou replied like that with an involuntarily wry smile. At that moment, the door of the living room was knocked.
“Excuse me. The bath is prepared.”
Zenjirou raised his voice out of reflex, to which the a waiting maid reported with a clearly comprehensible voice from beyond the door.
“Oh? Right, the time has already come. Okay, I’ll be right there.”
Standing up from the couch, he took the LED lantern from the shelf.
Zenjirou had been dumbfounded how dark the bath at night was when he entered it for the first time, but now this device he had bought by going all the way to the nearby do-it-yourself store, came in handy.
Usually it required four d-cells, but he used a battery spacer to power it with rechargeable AA cells and normal AA cells instead.
Even as a layman, he knew that it would be lethal to run an extension cable into the soaked bathroom, so the only light there was this LED lantern.
Nevertheless, this LED lantern with its twenty-eight miniature LED light bulbs lightened up the bathroom to a degree, where it was still dim, but passable for his senses.
Incidentally, to quote Aura and the waiting maids on this matter: “It is unbelievable bright”.
“Okay, good. I don’t need to recharge yet.”
After he confirmed that it lightened up alright by turning it on once, he headed for the door with the lantern in one hand.
“Well then, let us go, Zenjirou.”
Aura linked arms with his free one in an all too natural manner and embraced it close to her chest.
“Ehm, do you mean, well… taking a bath together…?”
Speaking of, they were already sharing the bed, but never went into the bath together.
Zenjirou became nervous from his wife’s bold temptation, whereas Aura smiled bewitching.
“As long as you are not against it.”
“No, never. Not against such a charming offer.”
With a lecherous face, he headed towards the bath with light steps as if walking on clouds while closely linking arms with her.
* * *
After their intimate bath together, Aura and Zenjirou cooled down their heated bodies with the ice fan while each holding a glass with their respective favourite alcohol.
For Zenjirou it was the low-malt beer he bought by the box and Aura had the rest of the white wine she had opened yesterday.
Both were cooled nicely from the refrigerator and pleasantly refreshed their dried throats after the bath.
“Fuh, I could get addicted to this.”
Aura, dressed in a light nightgown, narrowed her eyes to slits from the cold breeze of the fan through the ice and the cold white wine in the wineglass, raising a voice of admiration.
Drinking cool wine while bathing in the refreshing breeze of the fan after a bath in the Carpa Kingdom with its permanent sultry nights.
Normally, that was a luxury not even the nobility would ever get to experience.
No matter how used Aura was to the climate here, there was no way she wouldn’t feel discomfort from the sultry nights.
“Not good. If I do not keep a strong will, I will end up staying in the inner palace, too.”
“Gladly, is what I would like to say, but that won’t do for a Queen. Well, just drop by when you find the time. You’re always welcome here.”
Zenjirou countered Aura’s joke like that.
“Sure. If possible, I will take lunch here as well from now on, so look forward to it.”
Aura said so, not necessarily joking around, and declared to prolong her stays in the inner palace from now on.
“Okay. Then I’ll ready some ice for lunch time.”
Zenjirou assured his wife with a smile.
Even if the refrigerator was pretty big, it couldn’t supply enough ice to put in front of the fan 24/7. He had to keep some ice in stock for the right time, otherwise the important ice might be out when Aura especially came for some cooling.
The nights aside, temperatures of over thirty-seven degree centigrade could be recorded already in the noon. When the temperature surpassed the body temperature, the fan alone would no longer be cooling as it just blew hot air around.
Well, even without ice, a basin with water in front of the fan did the job, too, but it wouldn’t be such a dramatic cold breeze as with ice.
An air condition would be a highlight now.
Before long, the afterglow from the bath and the drought in her throat were soothed and Aura faced Zenjirou again with a slightly stiff expression.
“It pains me to bring this up when I told you before that you do not have to do anything, but let us begin with the lecture. We will start with the general response for royalty.”
“E- Eh!? We’re starting tonight already?”
Aura replied with a complacent smile to Zenjirou’s surprise.
“Of course. We have such wonderful illumination, so we have to make use of the night effectively.”
Saying so, she peered into his eyes as he sat next to her.
Opposite from before, Zenjirou looked up to the ceiling with a sullen face.
“Uwah, my long awaited quality time with you gets wasted with studying!”
On his frank and forthright remark, Aura showed a bashful expression for a moment. However, before Zenjirou shifted his gaze from the ceiling back to her, she recovered her usual composed expression and answered.
“I, I am happy to hear that, but time is limited. Why, rest assured. I will not use up our bedroom time.”
“Well, can’t be helped then. If anything, I wish I could use the daytime when you‘re gone for studying… Mh? Wait a sec.”
After putting his contradictory wish into words, Zenjirou stood up from the couch as he suddenly remembered something. He headed for the corner of the room, where he kept a bunch of goods that he had brought with him from Japan.
“It should be here. It was so small that I incidentally put it onto the carpet…”
“Good, found it. This is it.”
Before long, Zenjirou found what he was looking for and returned to Aura on the couch with a rectangular, silver box in hand.
“Zenjirou, what is that?”
Aura asked with a slightly puzzled face, to which Zenjirou
“This is a ‘digicam‘. A digital camera to be exact. Originally it’s a device to take photos— a still image, but it can also record moving images with sound.”
answered like this and showed her the digital camera by holding it up.
However, Aura tilted her head, not knowing what was going on.
“Fodos? Still imitsch? Muwing imitsch? With saunt? What is that?”
Upon Aura’s reply, Zenjirou mused about how to explain it for a bit, but couldn’t think of anything accurate. It was unexpectedly difficult to explain a device of this level with words to someone who didn’t know anything about it.
“Well, what can I say. It can instantly make a really detailed picture and record voices and tape mobile pictures.”
But even a supposedly simplified explanation only made Aura incline her head to the side in doubt. Seemingly it was impossible to explain with words.
“Well, I’ll show you how it works. Aura, can you begin with your explanation about manners and common sense?”
After saying that to her, he directed the powered digital camera at Aura sitting on the couch.
Aura looked confused by the unfamiliar device and gibberish explanation, but in the end, she stood up from the couch and started like he had told her, as she had decided to trust him.
“…I am still a bit confused, but okay. I will start with explaining the basic response.
Usually, royalty rarely confronts someone of higher status than themselves on public occasions. So I first want you to learn about dealing with people of lower or equal status.
Basically, you start with approaching the lower ranking ones. Typically, they are…”
Zenjirou kept filming Aura, who continued to explain the manners with demonstrations, with the digital camera.
He had bought the camera one year after he started working, so he was accustomed to it by now, but at the beginning, he had only filmed something a couple of times out of curiosity.
He was a bit anxious, but there was no reason to take it so serious. If he screwed up, so be it. Not like he would be bogged down when he recorded it wrongly.
Casually giving it a try, since he had nothing to lose, Zenjirou continued to tape his wife explaining the basics of etiquette with the camera.
“…That is the gist of it. For now, that should be enough. Were you listening properly, Zenjirou?”
When Aura stopped her explanation for the moment, Zenjirou too stopped the recording.
“Good, thanks, Aura. Now I just have to check if it turned out alright. Sorry, it’s hard to explain with words. Give me a second.”
Telling her so in advance, he moved to the desk with the computer, still holding the camera.
He started up the computer right away and took out the SD card from the camera, inserting it into the computer slot.
“Mhm, I am not sure what is going on, but this is a tool from your world, too?”
Aura had appeared behind Zenjirou at some point as he was tampering with the computer, and looked at the screen over his shoulder.
“Yeah, it is. Ehm, let’s see if it works before copying it to the hard-disk.”
Saying so, Zenjirou opened the video file directly from the SD card.
Several seconds after he used the mouse to click the desired file, the computer display showed a fascinating beauty with red hair and light brown skin, standing in the middle of a familiar room while speaking and gesturing with her hands.
“Oh, what a surprise! Is that me? The words are the same what I told you just now, too. How does this work? I have never seen something like this before, not even amongst the magical tools from the Twin Kingdom!”
Impressed, Aura asked Zenjirou, but he was in no situation to answer.
After all, he had received an even greater shock than Aura, who saw a video for the first time in her life.
“Usualmente, la realeza rara vez se opone a alguien de estatus social superior al suyo en público. Así que primero quiero que aprendas a lidiar con gente de estatus menor o igual.
Básicamente, comienzas acercándote a los de menor rango. Típicamente, ellos son…”
The words spoken by Aura on the screen only sounded like an incomprehensible, foreign language to him.
* * *
He couldn’t understand the speech from the recorded Aura.
After Zenjirou confessed this shocking truth, Aura inclined her head and asked puzzled.
“In other words, this tool can pick up the sound, but not the ‘soul of words’? In fact, I do not feel any magical power from it.”
“Huh…? ‘Soul of words’?”
Unable to comprehend it, Zenjirou gave Aura a dumb look as she naturally threw a term at him that he had never heard before, and repeated the word he had heard for the first time like a parrot.
Aura watched his expression bewildered for a while, but apparently noticed that they were talking past each other on a fundamental level.
“Wait, Zenjirou. Let us do this in order. First off, what are you so shocked about?”
On Aura’s question, Zenjirou answered in a voice that betrayed his confusion.
“Well, usually I can hear your words just fine, but I can’t understand them at all on the camera… Wait, now that I think about it, it’s weird that I could communicate with Japanese just fine, even though I’m in a different world.”
He had never questioned that fact in the slightest up till now, even though he had been living here for nearly a month already and his first summoning dated even further back.
“Okay, that is it. That is the fundamental point, where our views differ, Zenjirou. Could it be, you cannot communicate with someone that uses a different language in your world?”
What Aura said was so obvious that Zenjirou was about to reply with “Of course not”, but refrained from doing so.
“Yeah, I thought that was normal, but seeing that you ask me that means it’s different in this world?”
“Yes. Each country or race uses their own language. On our southern continent alone, we already have completely different languages for the north, south, west and east, but we do not have any trouble communicating with each other. The reason is that the ‘soul of words’ is inherent in the utterances, which a number of people perceive as the same.
In this world, this is such a common part of general knowledge that people are not even conscious of it, so I never even felt the need to explain it until now, but you seem to require an explanation.
Okay, this will take some time, so let us sit down first.”
After she said this, Aura pushed Zenjirou towards the couch in the middle of the living room to explain the most common knowledge of this world: the “soul of words”.
Back on the couch, Zenjirou simplified Aura’s lengthy explanation in his head and put it into words to confirm it with her.
“Ehm, in short, in this world, words have this so-called ‘soul of words’ and even people that use different languages can mutually understand each other without any problem?”
“Indeed. Hence it is basically impossible for “communication problems’ to occur in this world.”
Aura nodded, so Zenjirou confronted her with the next point of uncertainty right away.
“Ehm, if you have something so convenient, why even bother to learn the language? I mean, wouldn’t the meaning come across by just randomly saying ‘Ah’ or ‘Uh’?”
Zenjirou frankly spoke out his mind, but Aura shook her head to the question of her husband.
“No, it does not work like that. The soul of words is only inherent in ‘exact utterances that everyone perceives as the same’. For example, if a newborn utters ‘Ah’ with the meaning of ‘breasts’ for breastfeeding, the soul of words will not work as only the baby perceives it as such. At least a few thousand of people would need to perceive the ‘Ah’ as ‘breasts’ for it to work.”
“Oho. Wait? But what if a bad adult teaches his young child that a ‘chair’ is a ‘table’ and a ‘table’ a ‘chair’, would someone from a different linguistic area still only hear ‘chair’ even though the child means a table when saying ‘chair’?”
“Yes. The soul of words is only inherent in the ‘exact utterance with a common perception’ itself. Your own will does not affect it.”
“I see… But why couldn’t I understand the recorded words just now? They are correctly reproduced, no?”
Aura nodded and gave her own theory to Zenjirou’s valid doubt.
“I presume it is because that tool has no magical power. All of us are not conscious of it when we usually use it, but the mutual understanding from the ‘soul of words’ consumes a bit of magical power. So the ‘soul of words’ does not work for magicless utterances, even if the utterance is reproduced ‘exactly’.”
Aura’s explanation was easy to understand. Zenjirou nodded firmly while still voicing another doubt for confirmation.
“I see, I see. Then I guess there are hardly any people in this world, who speak multiple languages? You will make ends meet by remembering one of the languages and since it gets translated on its own, it must be difficult to learn a second language.”
For example, even if an American said “apple”, it would automatically sound like “ringo” to a Japanese. With a mechanism like that, it was close to impossible for a Japanese to learn English afterwards.
As Zenjirou’s conjecture was correct, Aura replied with a firm nod.
“Indeed. For that reason, only a small number of magicians know multiple languages, because a skilled magician can deliberately stop the flow of magical power. Like this:”
Saying so, Aura deliberately cut off the magical power and
“Te amo, mi querido.“
said this short sentence. Just like in the video from the camera on the computer earlier, Zenjirou only heard a foreign language.
“One has to be taught by a magician from another country that can control their magical power likes this. On the other hand, when you can control the magical power yourself and cut it off, the soul of words will no longer work either, because it requires both parties, the speaker and the listener, to be endowed with magical power to invoke it.
Also, some special places apparently radically blockade the invocation of magical power, too. So the soul of words is not working in such places either.”
If Aura was telling the truth, then either the whole Earth was one of these special places that blocked magical power or Earthlings were a race without any magical power.
Either way, Zenjirou’s ancestors, who came to Earth 150 years ago, must have surely gone through a lot of trouble. After all, two people, who didn’t know the concept of “communication problems”, were thrown into a world, where they couldn’t communicate with anyone.
It was rather wondrous that they lived in peace for so long and even left offspring behind.
“Hoo. Seems it’s pretty difficult to learn multiple languages here, but there’s no merit in it. But a few magicians go through all that trouble to learn it, right? Why do they go so far? Doesn’t seem like they would need it.”
Aura laughed a bit to Zenjirou’s plausible suspicion and answered.
“Because they rather want to learn the ‘writing’ than the words. Writings are records of the pronunciation of words. It is difficult to learn the writing when you cannot even converse in the language. Since the soul of words is not inherent in the writings, you have to learn it to read texts of other countries.”
“Ah, right. Reminds me, I don’t have seen any writings of this world yet. Hey, can you write something for me?”
Jumping at the chance, Zenjirou passed Aura a ball pen and a copy paper that were placed near the computer.
“Oh, that is some rather white and thin parchment. And this quill has a strange form as well. Where is the ink?”
“Ah, no. This isn’t made from animal skin, but from wood. And that pen is called a ball pen and you can write with it just fine when you press it down. The ink is inside of it.”
At first, Aura was a bit bewildered from her first contact with the writing implements of modern Japan, but a ball pen wasn’t as difficult to handle as a dip pen anyway. She got familiar with it in no time and said impressed.
“Ohh! Now that is convenient. You save a lot of time without dipping it into the ink and above all, it is so easy to write onto this thin paper without tearing it or getting stuck.”
“The paper aside, I bought a dozen of these ball pens, so you can have one or two if you want. I have other colours beside black, too, like red or blue.”
Aura accepted Zenjirou’s offer with a smile.
“Why, thank you. I will gladly take them.
Okay, I am done. These the thirty letters are in use here in the western part of the southern continent with our country at its center.”
Before long, Aura had written thirty different symbols that he had never seen before, onto the copy paper and showed it to Zenjirou.
“Oho, I thought as much, but it really are phonetic symbols. Seeing as there are thirty, it’s close to the English alphabet? Hey, Aura, try writing down ‘a’ ‘i’ ‘u’ ‘e’ ‘o’, ‘a’ ‘ka’ ‘sa’ ‘ta’ ‘na’.”
“Mh, what? Sorry, please repeat that.”
“Okay, I’ll go one by one. First one is ‘a’…”
Luckily enough, short syllables without a meaning weren’t affected by the “soul of words” and Aura listened to Zenjirou’s unaltered pronunciation.
While she wrote it down, he confirmed that the letters of this world roughly used the same system as the alphabet from his world.
Linguistically speaking, there was no clear distinction between vowels and consonants, but the way it made up a sound by linking up various letters was exactly the same. However, there were a lot of small differences like no distinction between R and L (there was no letter for L) and various letters for M.
But it seemed like most of the thirty letters could be directly converted to the English alphabet.
As for another obvious difference, there was no distinction between upper and lower case. It made it a bit inconvenient for small nuances, but the few letters might make it at least easier for learning it from scratch.
“Okay, since I only have to learn these thirty letters, it seems easy. Though the trick is to learn the sentence structure afterwards.
But I guess it would be more useful to learn numbers first? Aura, while we’re at it, can you write down the ‘numerals’ of this world, too?”
After adding the reading for the thirty symbols above it in Katakana, Zenjirou casually asked Aura that.
However, Aura’s reaction was far beyond his expectation.
“’Numerals’? You mean writing down numbers? I would say it takes a lot of effort to learn the numbers without preparation.”
Saying so, Aura carefully started to write on a new copy paper.
“This is 1, this 2 and this one 3. I believe it is better if you only learn up till 10 for now. Merchants and soldiers aside, even amongst normal nobility, there are few, who know to write the words for ‘a hundred million’ or ‘one billion’.”
Zenjirou unconsciously fell silent and looked at what Aura had written. For each number, she had linked various letters into one word.
Just like writing 1 as “one”, 2 as “two” and 3 as “three” in the English alphabet.
“…Don’t tell me this world doesn’t know of ‘numerals’?”
For a moment Zenjirou feared as much, but thinking about, it wasn’t all that unbelievable.
In Japan too they calculated rather complicated with the help of Chinese numerals, sliding rules or abacuses in the past before Arabian numerals were introduced.
They also used early simultaneous equations like the Tsurukamezan or applied the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the depth of water from the length the afloat part of an aquatic plant could be pulled to the side. When looking into the documents of merchants or supply caretakers of the feudal lords during the warring state period in Japan, one would apparently find examples of unexpected detailed calculations.
Considering that, having no numerals didn’t equal having no arithmetic. To begin with, it was unthinkable that such an imposing palace was built without some kind of higher mathematics in the architecture. Actually, it would be even more amazing if they built this palace by rule of thumb instead. That would be magic for you.
However, having Arabic numerals or not obvious affected the “lower class’” ability to calculate.
To improve the ability of written calculation for an ordinary person, the concept of the decimal numbers, including the zero, was indispensable.
“Numerals? You mean special characters for the numbers? Now that is intriguing. What is the advantage of having something like that?”
Aura asked curious, whereat Zenjirou spontaneously explained the benefits of numerals with passion after having pulled himself together.
“Yeah, first off, it’s easy to learn. With the decimal numbers, you only have to remember ten characters, the zero included, and you can write any number, be it ever so big. And when you remember the four symbols +, -, ×, ÷, too, anyone can do the four basic arithmetic operations in two or three years…”
At some point, Zenjirou had forgotten the restraint of “ not contributing any noticeable influence as much as possible“ he had set for himself before coming to this world and passionately explained numerals.