Five Kings - v1c1 Part 5



Hisoku the Star Seer

"Umm..."

I called out to the cook again. The man turned around with a look on his face as if to say, "You're still here?"

I felt defeated, so I strained my voice a little more.

"Can I use the kitchen? And some ice, please. I'd also like some milk and honey."

"What are you gonna do with the ice? Won't you eat them?"

"Yes, I just use it to cool things down."

"What?" The man scratched his head.

"Anyway, we'll prepare the meal for Miss Ruri. You'd better get back to the palace quickly. They'll be very mad if they find out you're here."

The man laughed dryly, so I asked back, "Who's gonna get mad at me?"

"What? Who? King Azure, of course. You're the Blue Princess, aren't you?"

"Princess? Do I look like a girl?" I tilted my head and touched my flat chest.

"Oh, no, we just call those who have the tincture a princess, even though they are a boy. And we rarely have princesses in the kitchen."

So that's why I was told to get the hell out of here.

"By the way, I don't pass by other Blue Princesses very often, do you know why?"

"No, I don't know anything about the palace, if that's what you mean. You probably know more than I do since you live in the Blue Palace."

"I've only been here a short time, you know."

I shook my head, emphasizing that I was not yet familiar with the palace.

"...It's just a rumor but... don't tell anyone that you've heard this from me."

The cook said in a hushed voice, probably because he didn't like the rumors.

"I think it's because of Miss Ruri? It is said that Lord Azure and Miss Ruri have been sworn to love each other since they were children. With such a person by Lord Azure's side, maybe he just wants to be cautious about his side women wandering around..."

He was about to say something more when he must have realized that I was one of the "side women". He frowned at his gaffe.

"If you want ice, there's a crate over there." With a look of embarrassment on his face, the man continued, "Be careful not to use them too much. Ice is very expensive in countries with high temperatures."

"I understand. Thank you very much."

"And that outfit..."

"What?"

"If you're going to be here, you'll have to be careful not to show your tincture. Many young people are here and it's not good for them to see that."

I looked around the kitchen and saw several men looking away as if in a panic. I borrowed the same white uniform that the cooks wore, and put it on tightly to cover my chest. I tied the loose sleeves so they wouldn't slip down, then washed my hands thoroughly in a water tub before starting to chop up some date palm fruits.

After that, I searched through the wooden basket for the cooking utensils I would use. There were two metal tubes of different sizes. I poured a little milk and honey into the smaller tube and covered it, placing it in the larger tube and filling the gaps with crushed ice and salt. After tightly closing the larger tube with the lid, I wrapped the cold tube in a large cloth, then checked each side several times to prevent the contents from spilling.

After leaving it for a while*, I opened the lid again to check if the liquid had thickened.

"Um..."

A voice called out to me. I thought it was the cook from earlier, but it was a young man I didn't know staring at me curiously.

"What is it?"

"I've been looking at you for a while now. What are you doing?"

"I'm making ice cream."

The young man had a white turban covering his head. His eyes were the same color as his floppy brown hair, which stuck out slightly.

"Ice cream? You mean if I sprinkle salt on it, I can make that?"

He stared down at the tube I was holding.

"I put ice in the tube and use salt to lower the temperature of the ice even further to chill and thicken the cow's milk."

"Wow, I've never heard of it before. Now, I wonder if it could be a cure for disease or something."

"It's not to cure diseases. It's sweets."

"Sweets?"

"Cow's milk is nutritious, and the weather's hot today, so something cold will go down your throat better."

"Oh, I see."

He made an impressed response with a childlike look of curiosity on his face while asking, "Can I have a bite?"

I felt a little amused remembering how often Hisoku used to make that face.

"Just a little, please." He pleaded.

With a spoon, I scooped out the ice cream from the inside of the tube, satisfied that it thickened perfectly.

"Wow, it's really good. It's cold, but it doesn't feel like ice, I wonder what's going on."

He seemed genuinely surprised. His honest tone made me feel like I hadn't had a conversation with someone in a long time.

"The temperature drops quite a bit, so it's a good idea to cover the tube with a cloth when you make it. To prevent the temperature of your hands from melting the ice. Sometimes, when I had ice on hand, I would make this for my little sister."

After saying all that, I suddenly realized how much time had passed.

"Oh no―I have to hurry or it will melt."

In a panic, I placed the ice cream tube on a wooden tray.

"How about the flower?"

He noticed the red flower I picked up earlier and placed it together onto the tray.

"Thank you."

"Thank you, too, for the bite."

"I'm sorry it took me so long in the kitchen. I'll borrow this tray."**

With that, I left the kitchen, running down the corridor to Miss Ruri, excited to see her.


❍ ❍ ❍


When Ruri woke up, she was more than happy to see the ice cream that I'd made. Her breathing sounded better than it was before.

Ruri's eyelashes were golden, and her long hair of the same color was spread out on her bed like a noble princess as she fell asleep again. It must be because of the painful large scar from her shoulder to her throat.

I gently placed the red flower beside her as she slept. Then I picked up a book from the chair and sat down. I pulled out a dry leaf that I had tucked into the book as a bookmark. It had become a routine for me lately to read it when I was around Ruri.

It was a book about the origins of this country and the customs of the royal court. Cyan had told me to read it after we returned from the Fountain.

I've never learned to read, so I couldn't read the book. I asked one of the maids who visited Ruri's room frequently to read it to me, but it was still difficult to remember even the simplest sentences.

I took my time and read through the book slowly.

This country, ruled by five kings, was called Chevron. Its history began with a God named Or.

To rule Chevron, Or split his body into five parts and created a king for each region of the country.

On each back of the king's hand was a tincture that would appear in the form of Or. It was a sign that they had inherited the blood of God. Upon their death, the tincture would disappear and a new king with the same tincture would soon appear to take their place.

The five kings could exist at the same time and become one God, so no one would be left out.

After the story about Or, I found a book about the founding kings of the country. I flipped through each page, and was immediately disgusted by the sheer amount of text.

"Hah..."

I took another book. It was an old book that I asked to borrow from Cyan. The book seemed to have been read so many times that it seemed it would fall apart if I handled it roughly.

Flipping through the book carefully, I found a star map with dots and lines. The book had a lot of pictures. And the words were easy to read. But above all, just gazing at the stars, like how Hisoku used to love to do, made me feel at ease.

"You're a slave, but you can read?"

When I looked up in annoyance, I saw that the Blue King was standing on the doorstep. I lost track of time, and as it turned out, it was already dark outside.

I stood up and bowed to him. The Blue King took the book I was holding and said, "Are you seriously using this children's book to learn about the stars?"

"If I don't know the name of any single star, you'll be the one in trouble anyway." I retorted.

"That's the book Cyan used to carry around with him when he was a kid. It's so familiar. How far have you gotten?"

"I can hardly read the text... though this book is easier to read since it has pictures."

I said in a small voice, feeling sorry for myself. I didn't want to be told that I was a slave again, so I continued, "But I've learned all the stars' names."

"Then, what's this?"

As if to tease me, the Blue King pointed to the first constellation.

"This is Aries. Next is Taurus, and this is Gemini. Oh, and Shah's name is written here, Azure and..."

"Did you know that Gemini has two bright stars?" The blue king interrupted.

"Uh... Castor and Pollux?"

"Yes, you've read it well."

His voice was calm, which caused me to gulp in surprise.

I could smell a faint scent of alcohol, wondering if he just got drunk. His white face, staring down at the book, looked as calm as ever. Then I remembered that I had never looked at the Blue King as closely as I should have.

"Shah?"

I gasped at Ruri's voice calling out to Lord Azure, turning around to the only bed in the room in surprise.


-     N O T E S     -

*It takes about 10-30 minutes to make ice cream the way Sage did.
**Sage thought that he (Lord Gules aka the Red King) is one of the cooks.

tl/pr: Greenteaa/Lo_OnyOnion