(TL: The Chronological Order of these stories: Miranda->Novem->Aria->Vera->Shannon)
“I… don’t want to be eaten up anymore.”
As he cried out a complaint, Lyle found himself in Aria’s mansion of the inner palace.
The inner palace… a part of the new capital’s palace vast enough to hold a small town. Lyle’s harem lived inside the inner palace, and you could call the inner palace as a whole Lyle’s personal bedroom.
Inside the castle, the reason a small town was formed was to prepare a successor to the emperor. To enter the inner palace, you’d have to be Lyle’s wife, or perhaps a servant or maid. On top of that, there were the Valkyries led by Monica.
No men allowed. If any man apart from Lyle were to enter that danger zone, they would have to be one of his children born of the palace.
Even if you called it a mansion, it was for personal use, and not particularly large. But it was clearly bigger than a standard house. In that inner palace lined with detached houses- yards included- the roads were maintained, and where there were streets, you would even find shops.
There really was a small town there.
Dropping by Aria’s mansion in such an inner palace, Lyle sat on the sofa as he sought help from the girl.
In her own mansion, Aria pulled a chair, and sat in front of Lyle. The new capital’s palace had been completed, and had lost the need to go outside and act as a site manager.
The frequency she went out of the inner palace in general was decreasing as well.
“… Even if you didn’t cry, I’d have let you stay. I’ll just say it, but the inner palace itself is your belonging, so you don’t have to act so servile.”
“There are few things that actually belong to me. Just my office, and the small room behind it is all. I just want to live a quiet life there, but Miranda locked it up.”
“You reap what you sow, is all I can say.”
The reason Lyle didn’t think of the inner palace as his own was because he had his own office. A room placed as if hidden behind it was furnished with a bed, bookshelf and desk. Rather than a closet of sorts, a studio apartment had been prepared. With functional bath and shower, and some casual clothes left around.
It truly was Lyle’s room.
It had some width to it, and it was dubious whether to call it a small room at all. But from Lyle’s point of view, that much living space was already more than enough. He had experienced a period of adventurer life, so he even felt a great sense of comfort there.
For that sake, even with the inner palace completed, he showed no signs of leading his feet there…
“It’s because you hole yourself up in that room that Miranda locked it away. Sleep over here more often.”
“I still had to prepare my heart! I’m just… I was just a little embarrassed. I was still in the process of studying the necessary knowledge.”
Aria sighed. The only ones he could ask about such things were the ones he got along with on a regular basis: Maksim and Damien. As a result, there was no way they could teach him anything, and Lyle turned to a hopeless means of asking Monica.
(No wonder Miranda would feel a sense of danger.)
“And Miranda’s terrible. When I came to the inner palace troubled, she invited me to her room… prepared some food and a bath for me… and there was only one bed.”
As Lyle tried to get her to return the key, he was invited to her mansion, and lain hand on. Since the order was wrong, Novem showed her rage, so Lyle was led off to Novem’s mansion next.
A tense air persisted between Novem and Miranda, and whenever the two met within the inner palace, everyone present would flee.
And Lyle, the target of their competition, had come to Aria’s room today.
“There was nothing scary in that story. I mean, you just have to drop by the mansion of whoever you like. Though a few of them aren’t around.”
Clara wasn’t in the inner palace, she was in the library whipping up research documents, and Eva was out spreading her songs.
Ludmilla, Gracia and Elza had to leave their positions to the next generations, and were preparing to make their way there.
“And it’s not as if she treats you poorly, right?”
Lyle raised a dry laugh.
“She said she’d prepare my favorite foods, and every course was a feast. What’s more, she blatantly put out food to say, ‘good luck tonight,’ all of it. It’s heavy on my stomach! I’m still young! I’m young, and yet she put out what would equate to doping! The bath was the same! She was real gracious about it, but what is this!? What was that!? It’s almost as if she had me the moment I got into the bath! Does she really want to mentally abuse me that much!?”
The latter half came out incomprehensibly.
From the point of view of a normal man, that would be a scene to rejoice over. But from Lyle’s point of view, carrying over that treatment to dozens…
There was no way he would hold up. In their competition, Novem and Miranda weren’t seeing those around them. Aria was sure it wasn’t just her misunderstanding.
As Aria stood, she let out a sigh.
“I’ll throw something together, so sit there and wait. Or you could go take a bath first.”
“Thank you! Ah! If possible, I want something light!”
As Lyle said he had come to hate heavy meals, Aria nodded. Lyle headed off to the bath.
“This is it. This! This is what I wanted to eat.”
Looking over Lyle satisfied at his light meal, Aria seemed relieved. As the new capital’s completion approached, large loads of work pertaining to rule were flowing over to him.
Much of it was handled with Lianne at the center, but even so he was busy.
It would be difficult to put off gathering the country representatives and holding a ceremony any longer, so the preparations for that were necessary as well.
There, making a face as if it were only natural to be there, Monica made her entrance. What’s more, from within Aria’s mansion.
“Once you’re done eating you have to brush your teeth. Now start preparing to sleep.”
“… How did you get in here?”
She’d have noticed if she came through the door whether she wanted to or not, but Monica had appeared from the back. There was a Valkyrie stationed, and she’d report to Aria if anything happened. By the way, that Valkyrie was on team Aria.
Monica stuck up her thumb as she made a triumphant face.
“I knew this would happen, so I made a secret passage to the inner palace. This Monica recognizes the castle as her own territory, so she always has a grasp on everything!”
Looking at Monica as she struck a pose, Aria gave up. In a sense, Monica was the ruler of this castle.
Its management and maintenance were under her charge, and if Monica was taken out, life in the palace would prove most difficult.
While bringing the Valkyries together, she even helped support Lyle in his work. “I’m being abused. At this very moment, my high specs are actually being abused!!” or so she cried out for joy, and it seems she had found true happiness.
“Well, just go back when you’re done with your business.”
“H-how terrible! I just want to stay by my damn chicken’s side!”
Monica pretended to cry, but as Lyle dozed off she went quiet. Aria carried Lyle over to the bed. She lay him down and tucked him into the large bed prepared in her room.
She was also yawning, so she stretched out and lay down herself. Monica headed off to a waiting room of the mansion. A room a servant or maid would use. “Take your time. All of us earnestly await the birth of a chick.” She said as she glared at Aria.
Lyle had fallen asleep instantly from his fatigue, so Aria held his hand and dozed off beside him.
“Good night, Lyle.”