Table of Contents
“How are you so good at chess Lilinor? Does Johra come from a family of chess masters or something?”
“It’s ok. I can play more if you want.”
“One more game!”
I woke up to a scene of Jerna and Lilinor playing chess on my bed. Jerna’s face was completely covered in charcoal.
“What are you doing?”
“Ah Johra, you’re awake. Jerna wanted me to get out of your bed. So I asked her if we can decide it by a game of chess.”
The charcoal on Jerna’s face was definitely a result of her losses. From Lillinor’s point of view this much punishment wasn’t much. But to Jerna, losing in chess to a little girl who looked even younger than her broke all her confidence.
As we exchanged a glance, Jerna could no longer bear the shame and ran out of the room in tears.
“Is chess a game which involves crying? I had no idea. Should I have cried yesterday?”
“Not really, it’s something unique to Jerna.”
Viezda was awake and tired from having gotten little sleep.
“Do you want to go for breakfast?”
“Is it possible for me to join you as well?”
“Of course, I’ve already paid the cost of your stay here.”
“Right, with gold you can pay for food. You can earn some by fighting. Also, in order to enjoy chess you need to first buy it with gold.”
“Oh, I thought humans were uncivilized, but that sounds quite interesting.”
“Lets go Lilinor, Viezda.”
We joined up with Jillian and Jerna at the dinner table. Her eyes were still a bit wet, but she had calmed down for the most part. She had already gone to wash her face clean, but there still remained some charcoal on her face so I instinctively chuckled.
‘Although Jerna is pretty talented at chess, Lilinor is still in another level.’
Besides me, Lilinor was the best at chess. After having played just a few games with her, I knew that her reading ability and skill in laying traps were several notches higher than any human. Had it not been for Lena’s assistance, I would probably not be able to beat Lilinor either.
“Johra, my father should be returning this afternoon.”
“Oh~ we haven’t seen each other in a while now.”
“He mentioned that he’s bringing back some good news.”
“I look forward to hearing it.”
Jerna began to eat, but kept staring a Lilinor. She in turn cut her food into small pieces and tasted just a small amount.
“Lilinor, that isn’t considered good table manners”
“I don’t know about human’s manners, but when I eat food I like to taste it beforehand.”
I gave her a hard look as I spoke to her.
“ I thought you were a friend of mine?”
“Ah, then should I eat more like you do?”
After that Lilinor would perfectly copy any of my action, as if it were seeing a reflection in the mirror, which caused Jerna to burst out in laughter.
Viezda who was next to her couldn’t help herself either.
“Johra, what’s wrong with them? Why are these the females laughing?”
“It’s because you are following my actions too closely.”
“Is that it?”
After our bit of fun, we finished eating our breakfast and moved to the adjacent lounge room for some tea. Viezda however went to join the manor’s staff.
“I hear that you’re pretty good at chess, Lilinor” mentioned Jillian.
“I can’t compete with Johra though.”
“Well, Johra can’t even be considered human.”
“Is that so?”
Lilinor gave me a strange look before nodding in agreement.
‘Why did Lilinor agree?’
“There are many things about Johra which are too abnormal.”
“Yes I agree.”
Jerna concurred with them.
I tried to complain seriously, but I was completely ignored by the trio.
“The Count has arrived.”
Announced the chief butler, so we went out to greet him.
“What a flashy carriage, and what’s with this retinue?”
There were 20 Knights, dressed in fancy and colorful armours that were escorting the carriage.
“It’s the Imperial carriage… just what is going on?”
Jillian exclaimed in surprise, just as the count stepped out.
“Father, what’s going on?”
“Be polite, it is her Majesty’s carriage”
“A human princess, this should be interesting.”
Hearing the count’s explanation everyone except Lilinor was completely dumbfounded.
As we kept our heads bowed, the Princess exited the carriage and was escorted by the count. She was dressed in a stunning Ivory white dress with the occasional golden sparkle. Her skin was pure white, so I could tell that she had a very protective upbringing.
“Everyone, please raise your heads. Count Sion, can you introduce us please?”
When she raised her face, it was so pale one would almost think she was sick. However her voice was calm and powerful. Her young, 17 year old body didn’t match the maturity she exuded, which was that of an experienced 40 year old woman.
“These are my children, Jillian and Jerna.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you, your Majesty!”
“I am Mayardus Gran Einhart. Nice to meet you both.”
After greeting the others, the princess walked towards me with an easygoing expression. I took the chance to secretly give Lilinor a look so that she would act appropriately. To which she nodded back.
“This is the man I had spoken to you about.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you, your Majesty.”
I used the same formal greeting that Jillian and Jerna had done, and Lilinor copied my actions once again.
“Pfff, how cute! I heard many tales of you Johra, so I came to see you in person. Would you mind introducing me to the cute little lady standing next to you?”
She was clearly interested in her cobalt blue hair and strange clothing which didn’t appear in regular human society.
“Oh, this is Lilinor, a distant relative of mine. Please ignore her strange habits as she has been living in a foreign culture for quite some time.”
“Ms. Lilinor? Pleased to meet you.”
The faces of her knights instantly turned cold, but the princess kept a warm expression.
“Would you be so kind as to guide me?”
The princess reached out to me.
‘Shit, what am I supposed to do in this situation?’
Everyone including the Count was looking at me nervously, but I didn’t have a clue as to what was the proper etiquette here.
“I’ll help you out Johra, just gently place your hand under hers and carefully guide her. It is what they refer to as the noble’s escort.
‘Thanks Lena, you’re my savior.’
As I tried to properly lead the princess towards the reception room, the stomping of the knights around us made it sound like the marching of an army.
‘Damn, why did the Princess and her knights appear here? I was trying to keep a low profile and not affect the flow of history. Was the introduction of chess really that impactful? What should I do? So far it’s fine since I am still alive, but I’m afraid of what may happen if this gets any worse!’
As we arrived to the reception room, we talked while tea was served by the staff.
“So you said you were in the middle of discussing whether Johra was really human?”
“Naturally I think he is.”
Lilinor was having an enthusiastic discussion with the princess, and of course I was their main topic.
I never had the chance to join in on their conversation and could only stand by the side awkwardly, the same was true for the Count’s family. Lilinor and the Princess just kept on chatting away in their own little bubble.
Her knights which were standing behind the Princess were giving Lilinor some scary looks. However only I knew that she wasn’t the harmless little girl she appeared to be, so if the knights ever laid a hand on her, the situation would be quite catastrophic.
‘I have to somehow change the mood….’
“Sir Johra can I witness your godly chess skill?”
‘It’s finally time.’
I had been waiting for this moment ever since I laid eyes on the Princess’ Status. She had [Blessed Intellect Lv5], [Wisdom Lv3] and a [Stubbornness Lv6]. This all indicated to me that she had come to challenge me in chess.
The Count immediately went to fetch a board and placed it on the coffee table before us.
“Johra did you know that chess had taken the royal palace by a storm?”
“I had no idea your Majesty.”
‘Shit, this might have been a big mistake on my part. I never thought so many people would be interested in this….’
I silently groaned to myself.
“My father and brothers have become so engrossed in the game that they have neglected to run the country, dumping all their duties on me.”
“Apologies, please punish me with death.”
The princess reached out to stop me from bowing.
“The game called chess is actually quite complex. It’s purpose is to teach us the aspects of war, politics and the running of a state,right?”
Of course I had never taken that into consideration. My plan had solely been some scheme to make some quick money, but I couldn’t now contradict the princess’ opinion.
“You are very wise.”
“Since even the Emperor has become interested in the game and it has truly spread among the nobility, the Count’s request of the King to have a monopoly on the sales of the game is no longer possible.”
“Oh, I see….”
‘They aren’t giving me exclusive rights?’
I sighed to myself, I guess I’ll have to find another way to make some money.
“But if you were to beat the strongest member from royal family, then it could be possible.”
“Hmm I see, so who is the strongest player?”
“OK, then we play a best out of three?”
“The one here before you is the undefeated champion of the royal palace. I have come here after winning against all my siblings, as well as my father. If you were to beat me then we can grant you the monopoly on the game.”
‘How annoying! I don’t think I should win this game.’
I was quite the complicated situation. On the one hand I could win and make a lot of money, but if I were to do that, then the royal family’s interest in me would be far too high and I would be affecting history even more.
‘Hmm but even if I lose on purpose, they would still be interested in me.’
I had become like a helpless chick, faced with a terrifying eagle.
“Since I’m the challenger would it be okay for me to go first?”
“Yes, I look forward to our first match, your Majesty.”
She started of with the common Ruy Lopez opening, and I just naturally matched her pace.
The early game consisted mostly of probing each other for weaknesses.
“Hmm your reading is really deep, you can see several moves ahead of me.”
With the help of Lena, it was pretty much impossible for a human to defeat me, so I shamelessly flattered her.
“Your Majesty’s grasp of strategy is excellent.
However, the game was done after about 70 moves.
The Count standing by the side was thrilled about having won the monopoly which would result in piles of gold, but on the other side he should control his expression because the princess just lost, resulting in some strange squirming of his facial muscles.
“I don’t think I stand a chance in a normal game, how about giving me a handicap for the next round?”
“Well… wouldn’t that be a bit too much?”
I feigned dismay. Naturally giving some handicap allowed me to have a good excuse were I to lose, but I was still confident in Lena’s ability to come out on top.
“Okay, since I’m the one who is asking for some handicap, then if Johra were to win I’ll listen to two of your requests, as long as they are reasonable. Also, the request have to be deemed acceptable by the Count.
Although getting two requests out of the princess would be a nice prize, I was slightly worried that were I to win, it would just make her that much more interested in me. Still, in the end I decided to accept her conditions.
“Ok, let’s play.”
The princess then took the chance to add a new condition.
“Good, then if you lose you would have to listen to one of my requests. Also, I’ll designate the Count as an uninvolved third party to agree whether our requests are reasonable.
‘She got me.’
It was quite sly of her to sneak in that condition after I’ve already agreed to play. I could hardly refuse since she asked for only one request while offered two.
‘Damn, and the Count has to approve all requests. How could she say that he’s an unbiased third party when as the princess she is like his superior. He would certainly be strict with my requests but would never dare refute the princess’.
The level and the princess’ strategy and political maneuvering was already on the level of a chess master, and I was only capable of being victorious due to Lena’s assistance.
“I look forward to playing a new game with you.”
I chose the French Defense as my opening, deciding to make this into a long game in order to have more time to think about my requests.
“Sir Johra, you are a very slow player.”
The Princess was quite impatient so I couldn’t drag it on for too long.
“I guess that just a single knight is not enough to narrow the gap between us.”
The princess was surprisingly not feeling too down and was instead excited about her loss. This caused me to be all the more worried.
“OK, then I’ll begin the process for you to receive exclusive rights for the game of chess. It trademarked to Johra, Head Knight of Count Sion’s house.”
“Oh? Why don’t you just put it all under the Count’s name? ”
“No, it should be all yours. Just the fact that our family is mentioned is more than enough recompense.”
I had no choice but to follow the Count’s wishes.
“So, I’m ready to hear your two requests. Don’t forget that they have to be approved by Count Sion. I wouldn’t want our honorable duel to be mired by some shameless requests.”
‘Why does it feel like in the end she was the winner?’
Princess Mayardus looked at me with a killer smile, the kind that is so wide that it looks like they want to swallow you instead. My back broke out in a cold sweat as my mind considered dozens of possible requests.
“Johra isn’t it easy, just do the same.”
“The same conditions? Lilinor, what conditions are you talking about?” asked the Princess.
‘No. Lilinor! If you tell them that then they can see through all my lies.’
“The first was to be your friend, second to never betray you, and third is to always believe in you, right?”
I felt like a complete fool right now. I had told everyone that Lilinor was a distant relative of mine, but it didn’t quite make much sense after hearing those three requests. Just as I was going to tell her to stay quiet, the Princess spoke up.
“That sound too weak. If I were you, I would have requested her hand in marriage or at least a slave contract. ”
“Yes I agree. I don’t think of Johra as being ambitious., but rather someone who is straightforward and thoughtful.”
“I understand, that’s why he considers his moves so carefully. Being slave is a bit too much but maybe I could accept an engagement. After all it is the duty of the royal family to welcome talent for the better future of our country.”
‘If I said that I was already married she might probe me for too many details? It won’t be easy to convince her that I’ll only be meeting my wife in 20 years.’
The Count gave a light cough, Jerna was staring at me with her usual beady eyes, while Jillian was looking at me with high expectations.
‘Sigh~ I guess my requests have to try and affect the timeline as little as possible.’
“The first is for you to be friends with me, and the second is for you to be friends with my friends. Is this acceptable?”
The Princess stared at the Count with an awkward expression. He couldn’t very well accept this as being a friend meant that they were on equal status.
“I think it’s a bit hard to accept it.”
Princess also nodded. “This might be too much.”
‘Did I ask for too much? I mean, I don’t think I went too far right?’
Her forced laughter was a bit too obvious, but it did help break the awkward mood.
‘Ugh it was so hard to make the right choice. If I asked for too little it would be considered as an insult, but if I asked for too much the Count wouldn’t approve.’