“Have you ever tasted a meal as wonderful as this?” Reginald preens at the dinner table.
“It truly is splendid!” Another stuffy dignitary responds.
“Quite!” A third bootlicker speaks up.
“Is this noble trying to make a joke of us?” Snow White whispers angrily towards Merida.
Merida gives a helpless shrug. “This is considered fine cuisine here. They don’t have access to as many spices as Riun does. Since we sit in the middle of the three realms, we can import products from all sorts of places. Simply having salt and pepper is considered a delicacy here.”
Snow White frowns as she goes to take another bite. She gives a sigh. It is just cooked meat. Although this isn’t a particularly bad meal, even the goblin queen has grown a bit posh on the meals Jasmine cooks using the modern kitchen and ingredients you have summoned. That’s not even to mention the treats you occasionally provide, such as ice cream and chocolate. Snow White personally likes chocolate the most, but the other girls complain she is too messy with it. Ariel had to clean her up on more than one occasion, although Snow White never understood why it is customary for chocolate to be cleaned up with her tongue.
You decide to do them a favor, flicking your finger to enhance the taste of the meals. The somewhat dried meat became fresh and moist. You didn’t really know every girl’s specific tastes, so the spell more generically improves everything. When Snow White takes the next bite, her eyes lite up. Of course, none of the girls are fools, and they notice you waving your hand. Snow White gives you a proud look, raising her chin as if her lover being able to change the consistency of steak is as expected. However, she also wears a small imperceptible smile, clearly pleased by your actions.
The other girls make exclamations of surprise too as they dig into their meals, now magically enhanced. This put an even more pleased look on Reginald’s face, seeing that the meals are impressing these barbarically beautiful women. You decide to ignore his peacock pruning behavior.
It is pretty clear that Reginald is a major showoff. He likes to display his wealth, power, and advantage. However, he is surprisingly not mean spirited about it. His desire to show these things seem to come from a desire to impress, not demean. You didn’t know what exactly it is, but something about his eyes just seem like he is desperate for praise.
“So, our last guest is actually the King of the former boarder kingdom. That is, of course, if your state establishes its kingdom.” Reginald went on. “He had some maters to attend to, so he won’t be here tonight.”
Merida stiffens for a second, but relaxes when he says the king won’t be here. It didn’t take a genius to guess the border king is in fact the king who had summoned you to this world. Ariel’s father and Aurora’s husband would be staying at this mansion as well. You knew you were going to end up facing him, you just never expected it to be so soon. At the very least, you hope that your existence would goes unnoticed. You really don’t know how well the magic held. It was still early on before you had practiced your magic, and a lot of your magic had unintended consequences.
“The border king didn’t bring any gladiators?”
Reginald let out a little laugh. “Yes, that’s true. Usually, only border kingdoms bring gladiators, and with the Outlands gaining an army, he may no longer need to worry about these things. However, his country will be hurt heavily by losing the Great Kingdom’s support. Therefore, as it turns out, he’s providing something else for the competition this time. I haven’t heard what it is, but it’s supposed to be a large boon. He’s providing an award for the border kingdom who wins.”
“Is that so…” You respond nonchalantly, not really caring all that much.
After the meal, you end up having to convene in a room for after-dinner drinks. All the girls except Tiana leave to the rooms, and Tiana insists that you have to attend this thing or risk insulting all of the nobles. You aren’t really feeling like it, so you mostly stand in a corner, drinking some alcohol. As to the alcohol, you don’t care to drink their stuff so you just summon whatever you like into your glass and enjoy. You even lower your inhibition a bit to simulate the warming effects of alcohol. Not drunk, but not completely sober either.
Most of the nobles group together and speak excitedly about which border country will win the competition. For those not participating, this seems to be more like a gambling event. You didn’t hear anyone put any confidence in the Outlands. Your advance hearing catches everything in the room, and most of the nobles feel that you won’t even be able to obtain the right to exist as a country, which is probably why none of them spare you any glances.
Meanwhile, Tiana puts on the social face for you. For a few seconds, you even think of doing something nice for Tiana. Her performance is really helpful here. She speaks with many of the other female nobles, and most of them seem rather impressed. None of these women appear to know that Tiana is a human noble to begin with. As a result, they only see her as an outland barbarian. Suffice it to say, when your expectations are that low, anything could be a pleasant surprise. As a matter of circumstance, Tiana is treated better as a foreign Outlander noble than she ever was as a standard half-elf human noble.
“So, how was your first day in the city, I hope it showed you some interesting things?” Reginald stats casually.
He has snuck up on you while you are listening to the other women. You put on a fake smile and give a nod.
“Yes, I think it’ll definitely be advantageous to establish trade routes with the Great Kingdom.” I respond simply.
This puts a big smile on Reginald’s face. In truth, this is what he is looking to hear. His responsibility regarding you has of course been to show you all the Great Kingdom had to offer. Food and finery… in order to get you to open trades and create an import/export situation with the Great Kingdom. Even if you are barbarians, your proximity to the demon world meant you were the only place humans could gain some rare and expensive things, especially since the jewel trade between Grimhilde’s country and the border countries collapsed. Whether they acknowledge you as a country or not, the important goal of the Great Empire in inviting you is to establish a trading agreement.
“Well, we can discuss business at some other time. Tonight, I’d rather speak of… pleasantries…” Reginald went on.
“Yes… it is… a bit of a custom, in certain circles of the nobles here… and I thought you might be interested in taking part.” Reginald speaks in a whisper, his face taking on a light smile.
At a loss of how to respond, you can only say, “What do you have in mind?”
Reginald laughs like you said something funny. “Hah… of course… you’ve seen my wife, haven’t you? Is she not beautiful?”
The person he gestures towards is the woman who sat next to him at dinner. She is extremely quiet, prim, and proper. She has the same kind of delicateness of Tiana, without the underlying nasty mouth… or so you thought by appearance.
“Are you… offering me your wife?” You respond with confusion.
“Hah, well, of course!” He responds, looking like a cat who just caught a mouse. “But, naturally… I’d need a fair exchange in return.”
“Exchange!” You hiss, but Reginald doesn’t see the look on your face as he continues.
“Of course, Tiana is quite beautiful, she’s a lot like my wife in many respects. Tall, willowy, fair in skin. However, if you don’t want to see your main with another, I’d understand. I’m amendable to one of your… warriors. I gave you much face by allowing them to eat with us, so I hope you will show me the same. Specifically, that Merida interests me greatly. She looks so gentle and soft, and her boobs or so big. You know the biggest I’ve enjoyed is only a D? I’d love to sleep in those pillows. What do you say? Feel like a trade?”
What the fu…