Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi

Ofuro Ashitsubo

Chapter 566.5

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Chapter 566.5

Sounds of construction unbefitting the solemn or maybe obscene image of the king’s inner palace echo in the air.

「Five long strides from the pillar……must be around here. May I, Your Majesty?」

「Sure.」

The foreman bows and yells out instructions.

A subordinate taps the marble wall with a wooden rod.

Clacks like a stick hitting a stone wall sound two or three times, then on the fourth time there was a sound similar to a wooden box being struck.

The foreman stares at the wall closely, practically pressing her face up against it.

「Marble was cut thinly and stuck on the wall of plaster. n.o.body would ever have known unless it was previously discovered.」

「It’s either an emergency exit or a pa.s.sage that goes the other way. Used-up tricks are problematic. Do the same for the others, you’ll be told of any suspicious spots but if you find more you’ll be rewarded.」

I say as I stroke the sweaty cheek of the foreman and grope her a.s.s while I’m at it.

This is the inner palace, even if workers are needed men can’t enter.

That’s why a rare group composed only of working females were invited.

Everyone from the foreman to the apprentices are female……since the ability to do physical labor is the primary requirement they are not the prettiest, however seeing trained women work up a sweat is a refres.h.i.+ng scene. Additionally with how indifferent they are to their clothes twisting, I can see their nipples and a.s.s cracks.

「Still I can’t just watch women do manual labor. Here let me help.」

「No no I can’t let my client work……I could never ask a king to carry anything……」

It’s a matter of me feeling like helping so don’t worry.

Before she can stop me, I take the heavy-looking load out of the hands of three apprentices.

「Although it weighs 100 kg, he easily……」

「I heard His Majesty is more brawn than brains.」

「Those bulging muscles are incredible……haa haa……wah, I’m supposed to be working!」

She quickly turns away.

All the female laborers have positive reactions, those two in particular will probably fall if I seduce them after work.

「Hahaha easy easy. I can even take another three-person load.」

I flex my bicep and laugh as I subtly lower my gaze.

(Physical labor is a lowly job. It decreases your dignity.)

As expected, Neisha does not approve, but she blushes when I show off my muscles.

By the way, it seems her resentment has diminished so the laborers can’t see her.

(This pa.s.sage was built in the wake of a great fire before I was married. The conflagration consumed half the city and reached the royal palace, where the prince at the time burned to death.)

It’s an emergency exit?

Then why did it need to be disguised?

Another ghost raises her hand to answer.

(In my time, the area around the palace was turned into a plaza and the emergency exit was blocked off because there was no concern of fire spreading.)

If you’re going to seal it, why not plug it with real marble instead?

Such elaborate concealment methods likely required more time and money.

A different woman raises her hand.

(My father was prime minister at the time, and he bribed the laborers to make it appear as though the emergency exit was sealed.)

So it’s a suspicious hole after all. Let’s seal it.

I listen to everyone’s testimonies and instruct the foreman.

「Aah, the ‘heat haze’ room? That’s the room Leah is using. There is a hidden room in the floor so close it up. While you’re at it, pick up the silver pendant in the corner of the room……she says.」

「Y-yes……a pendant huh?」

Come to think of it, ever since Leah moved to the inner palace, she said she’s been having dreams of a sobbing woman searching for her pendant, and thus has been sleeping with Celia.

(It’s a precious pendant given to me by my family. I died with it still missing, so even though I know it’s there, I can’t find it.)

She might be happy if I handed it to her.

「Next, destroy the hidden pa.s.sage in an abandoned well in the garden that leads to the servants’ room inside the palace.」

「Wow……I’m surprised you found it. I can’t see with how dark it is.」

Apparently, the king at the time had it dug so he could meet his lover disguised as a servant behind the queen’s back.

(In future generations, it was actually used by the girls in the inner palace as a path to invite other men. It was dubbed the secret lover’s corridor.)

One ghost explains excitedly. I guess women love gossip even after dying.

That’s when one woman suddenly twitches, so I grab her.

「Now name yourself and confess.」

(Uuu, I’m the lover of the fourth king, Pessi. I used this pa.s.sage to meet my friend who is a chef. I b.u.mped into His Majesty when I kissed him here……and was turned into a ghost.)

There is an old black stain on a brick by the well and a thin sinister-looking thread connecting to Pessi’s chest.

That reminds me, Mel and her children were out on an evening stroll when they saw something creep up from the well.

Since then, they refused to go near the garden.

Pessi flails her arms as the other ghosts comment how she reaps what she sows and how her grudge shouldn’t be compared to the likes of theirs.

「He’s so petty to do that over cheating. You should only be killing men, pathetic.」

I pat Pessi’s head and pluck a flower to rest on top of the brick.

(Ah……)

The black thread snaps and Pessi starts fading away. Is she disappearing?

I just learned her name and face. Next time do your best to not be found out.

(I’ll reincarnate right away and come to you. 15, no 10, no I’ll return in five years so will you make me your――)

She disperses into droplets of light without finis.h.i.+ng her sentence.

「……I can’t make you my lover when you’re five years old.」

Well, if fate allows it we’ll meet somewhere.

「Next is the ‘rising phoenix’ room――the room Nonna occupies.」

「Her Highness says to enter freely. And she also says to bring lots of paper talismans.」

(That room has always been the room for the legal wife. It must be rife with ghosts.)

The moment we enter the room, black threads sprout from Neisha and three others.

「Was everyone killed here?」

Hands raise instantly.

(I was given a drug that made my entire body inflamed.)

(My death was by a special medicine that made it look like an illness and also killed the child in my belly.)

(Feeling despair for being divorced and exiled for an infidelity I did not commit, I hung myself with a rope on the chandelier.)

Nonna said she felt something walking around in the room.

After she occupied the room by force, she seems to be holding back from saying she wants to change rooms, and she’s using the fact that the salt, which was brought in as a peace of mind, turned black within an hour as a reason to sleep in Carla’s room.

She’s a scaredy cat even though she acts like that, so please stop.

Anyway, let’s destroy all the tricks.

If places where black aura are likely to come from, like the chandelier and bed, are put in the sun I’m sure things will get a bit better.

「Any others?」

(There is a secret room with an outside key under the floor of the ‘wood stone’ room.)

That’s Irijina’s room.

Why is there another room like that?

One of the girls raises her hand shyly.

(During my time, I asked His Majesty for it. I’m embarra.s.sed to say that I have a fetish for being humiliated, and the soundproof room is so I can scream freely while being tormented by His Majesty……the external key is for me to enjoy being locked up.)

It was a s.e.x room? It shouldn’t have blueprints.

Hearing that, another woman begins to be shrouded in a black mist.

What’s wrong, you’re turning into a vengeful ghost.

(I, I was pushed into that room and stayed to this day. I’m still there. I was without food or water in that room created for your lower half and became a ghost.)

(Even if you say that, what happens after I die doesn’t concern me.)

The foreman and I flip up the carpet and find the staircase leading to the hidden room.

In fact, twenty people are already following us.

At the end of the stairs, there was a door which looked like it was installed on a steel plate and a rather big lock attached to it.

「This is incredible, a six-column digit-style steel lock……it’ll probably take a whole day to try and cut it with a metal saw.」

「Fumu, what’s the code?」

(I forgot.)

It can’t be helped.

I grab the lock and twist it.

「No, even Your Majesty can’t rip a 2 cm thick steel lock with bare hands――」

I exert more force.

My arm muscles bulge and the metal starts to creak.

「If you push yourself, you’ll injure your arm!」

I strain myself more.

Blood vessels in my upper body swell and the creaking sound turns into a grating cracks.

「Guoooh!」

Using my full might now, sweat drips from my brow and a groan naturally leaks from my mouth.

With a bright clank, the lock breaks and falls on the floor.

I exhale and then relax my arms.

「Let’s look inside.」

「Ah……」

The foreman turns red when her eyes meet mine.

It’s cute for someone with a masculine face and bulky body to make such a face.

「Fufufu, this pretty much means half has fallen.」

I say as I open the door while the foreman and the other two look on with a straight face.

(Ah, it’s me.)

Sitting in the center of the room is the woman who has dried up like a mummy.

「Urk, this is horrible. There are also many disturbing furniture all around……so this was a torture room.」

The foreman states with a handkerchief over her mouth.

(It’s a s.e.x room.)

(Anyway, let me try going back.)

「Hey wait.」

The ghost returns to her own corpse.

「U……uuuuu……uuuuuuuuu.」

The mummified body reaches out with an arm and slowly stands up.

Because the body is rotten, its movements are sluggish and no words come from its crushed throat.

Both arms are extended in front in an attempt to stabilize itself as it walks toward us with a dry growl.

The foreman collapses to the floor.

I guess she has a good frame but can’t deal with these things. That makes her even cuter.

「Anyways, that body is no good. I’m going to bury it properly, give it up.」

(It’s a body that has taken care of me for 25 years. As a final farewell, I’ll walk to the burial spot myself.)

I smile sheepishly and pick up the foreman.

That’s when Irijina peeks out from the entrance of the hidden staircase.

「Mu, there were stairs in the middle of my room!? I never noticed!!」

She came back after her patrols were finished, huh?

「We’re just searching for mechanisms in the inner palace. Why don’t you go wait in the dining hall for a while?」

「Got it! I’ll go after wiping my sweat!」

We pa.s.s by Irijina, who gets half-naked and wipes herself, and go outside.

「……」

Then I look back at Irijina.

She’s humming as she towels her body dry. She doesn’t seem to be acting strange.

First I carry the foreman out, so far so good.

Next the ghosts float out in a line after me, but she probably can’t see them.

「U……uuu……」

She ignores the tottering mummy though, why?

Does she not care?

That wraps up the cleaning of the inner palace.

A hidden pa.s.sage leading outside, a hidden room where villains can conceal themselves, a shaft that connects to the sewers, and a variety of unsettling mechanisms have been sealed with help from the ghosts with full knowledge of the inner palace.

I also nursed the fainted foreman and slept with her.

Her moans were surprisingly cute, her muscles made her squeeze tighter, and rubbing her sculpted abs as we had s.e.x was also exceptional.

「It seems the cost of refurbishment is also going to be minimal.」

Adolph breathes a sigh of relief.

There’s a big difference between having to search the whole place for tricks and knowing exactly where the mechanisms are from the start.

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「There’s also no need to destroy all of them. If we grasp the complete picture, we can outwit the intruders.」

The times in which they lived were vastly different from the current times so their common sense is unable to distinguish right from wrong.

At the very least, I won’t let servants or slave girls be captured against their will.

「I want this to be done with consent.」

Then someone knocks on the door.

I signal with my hand to Neisha and the others to be quiet.

「Aegir-sama, are you there? It’s past the scheduled time so I cam to get you.」

Entering the room were Celia and Flantica.

Oh right, I forgot that I planned to talk about how to deal with her.

When Celia sees Sekrit and Myla laying on the bed, her tone becomes brusque.

Is she sulking? What a cutie.

「She is supposed to be hanged, by the way.」

「W-wait! Banishment, it was permanent banishment!!」

Flantica hurriedly corrects Celia.

She was sentenced to be exiled forever from the capital.

I was repeatedly told that I’m too lenient, but I can’t kill women so this is the best I can do.

I have a grudge against her for injuring Lucy, albeit indirectly. On the other hand, I deceived her into sleeping with me.

I didn’t want to give her too harsh of a punishment.

「Urk, banishment from the capital……I don’t have backers or savings, what do I do?」

「Sorry, but you’ll have to figure that out. You’re still young so you can probably start anew.」

I hear a loud sound of a hand being slapped.

(You. You――)

Neisha’s presence suddenly grows stronger.

「Eeek!?」

「I-it appeared!!」

She can now be seen by Celia and Flantica, who both back away vigorously.

「I want to talk. The person named Flantica, I want you to lend me your body.」

「Absolutely not! I’m not letting myself be possessed again!!」

Flantica puts up her guard.

I’ll have to stop Neisha if she tries to enter by force.

But Neisha doesn’t pounce, she instead points to a dusty vase.

「……this? Something is inside.」

Celia cautiously reaches inside the vase and retrieves a dull stone.

When it is wiped clean with a sleeve, it starts to glow red.

「Is it a ruby? It’s big.」

As Celia holds it up, Flantica’s legs become weak and she falls on her b.u.m.

「That s.h.i.+ne does not belong to a ruby, it’s a diamond? A red diamond……no, a blood diamond!? T-this is my first time seeing one……」

I have no clue what that is, but this is also my first time seeing one.

It is probably irresistible for those who value jewels.

「I want to borrow your body with the money made by selling this.」

「B-but if my body is taken, money doesn’t mean――」

Neisha opens one hand and sticks it out.

「The time period is half a month. The frequency is five out of ten days, the time is half of a day, and the price――a thousand gold coins.」

Flantica is taken aback.

「A thousand……for half a month……I can’t return to my home and my face is too damaged for me to work a proper job……I can only be a popular prost.i.tute of a nice brothel or a wandering peddler……but with that amount of money……」

Neisha presses the pondering Flantica.

「It’s fine if you refuse. I will negotiate with other servants.」

「W-wait! Alright, I’ll lend you my body! Half a month for 1000 gold!!」

(((Really!?)))

The other ghosts immediately materialize.

I don’t get the ecology of these girls, Casie included.

Now they can materialize when they get excited?

「Hiiiiiih!!」

Celia happens to be in the middle of the ghosts, and falls backward, unable to stand back up.

She has a calm expression for how shaky her legs are……oh, she wet herself.

「Lend it to me too! There’s a ruby in the back of the two-door closet of the ‘purity’ room!」

「There’s a gold necklace on top of the chandelier!」

「Under the stone of the third path in the garden, there is a ring I stole from His Majesty! By the way, it was discovered that I stole it and also the reason why I got beheaded!」

Ghost after ghost appears and offers an item in exchange for Flantica’s body.

I’m surprised those things haven’t been found.

「People found them but when I stood by their bedside every night, they returned it.」

I see.

The ghosts, a.s.suming Flantica agreed, flies into her body.

「W-wait, one at a time! One at a time! I’m going to go crazy again!!」

「I guess the banishment is deferred.」

Then I remember something, and grab a ghost to question.

「You know the grave erected in the corner of the palace? Are there any male ghosts that appear near there?」

The ghost tilts her head with a blank look.

(That was a grave? There was no grudge emitting so I didn’t notice. It’s really empty and clean with nothing left inside.)

That’s good then.

The alcohol I pour there every week goes to waste, but it’s best for nothing to be there.

I pick up Celia, who acts as if nothing happened, and head to the bathroom.

「Nothing happened. I barely held it. I didn’t wet myself.」

Right, right.

We gotta clean it quick or you’ll get a rash.

(Ah, but you……oh, she’s not listening)

And they all lived happily ever after.

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