Chapter 24: We meet again

“Welcome King Edwin Von William Highland.” Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne greeted as she curtseyed to Edwin

Edwin was taken aback by this. The duchess may have not been royalty, but as ruler of an independent nation, it would put her on equal standing with him.

With a wry smile, he answered, “Thank you for the warm welcome, Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne. It’s an honor to be here.”

“The honor is all mine.” She answered as she and her attendants rose. “Although humble, I have prepared a banquet in your honor. Please, be kind enough to grace it.”

Edwin was startled by her smile. When he saved her on the balcony, she was a mess. Edwin couldn’t see her as beautiful at that time, but now it was different.

With deep blue eyes and silver shining hair. She was one of the three heavenly beauties of the continent. She had an overly sexy body, with perfect curves, succulent lips, and big breasts.

She perfectly wore a bright blue dress with lace borders that boldly showed off the white rose skin of her cleavage, and she wore a translucent cape over her shoulders. She gives off a seductive sort of sexiness, which was enough to enrapture any man who laid eyes on her.

She was the true meaning of ‘beauty perfected’

“Ah…The thing is I have to return to highland quickly. I was hoping that we could have a meeting to discuss how things will move forward from here.”

She was expecting his reply, but she couldn’t afford to let this opportunity pass.

“I understand. However, I must ask you to briefly make an appearance. Great effort was made to prepare it. If you could make a very brief appearance I will be grateful.” She said as she lowered her head.

Edwin thought for a moment. There was no reason to go through with her request, but refusing to even make a brief appearance, might stain the reputation of the royal house of Highland.

“If it will be a brief appearance, then I have no problem with it.”

“Then please follow me,”

The ballroom was large and marvelously decorated. Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne truly had an eye for decor, and it was on full display.

Marvelous paintings where hang all-round the circular ballroom, with bright red curtains in-between every two paintings.

Rather than a common red carpet, white tiles were on the floor, and they dimly glowed. You would think that you were walking in white clouds.

There were other fantastic decorations in the room, but Edwin’s attention was drawn elsewhere.
It took him a while to notice it. The room was full, with beautiful young ladies of marriageable age. It was not there were not men, but the ration could have been something like 1:8 in favor of women.

[Honey trap]

This was the first thing that popped in his mind, or rather another voice whispered it into his mind.

Indeed there beautiful young ladies in the ballroom. Shelley suggested inviting the daughters of high ranking nobles in the duchy, as well as wealthy merchants.

If one of these ladies could catch the eye of Edwin, they could use it to link Vidfamne and Highland.
It wouldn’t be that difficult for Duchess Rania to adopt any of these ladies should the need arise.

Edwin spent almost an hour greeting lady after lady. Normally those of lower-ranking would wait for those of higher ranking to talk to them, but Duchess Rania needed to make sure that he met as many honey traps as possible.

They would first greet her, and in turn, she would introduce them to Edwin.

The beauty about this plan was that even if it ended in total failure, the fact that Duchess Rania introduced a merchant and his daughter to the new King of Highland, who has shown great potential with this victory over the demons, not to mention great wealth he displayed with the extremely generous donations to Vidfamne would remain.

Should Highland open its borders again, she did not doubt that these merchants would rush through its gate. This would allow her to have merchants in Highland who owed her a favor.

After another thirty minutes, the greetings were done.

After a toast and dance between the Duchess and Edwin, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t happen, but he was single, and so was she at the moment.

They were also the highest-ranking nobility there, and with no other suitable replacement for them like a prince and princess, they opened the dance floor before slipping away.

They moved to the audience room she often used when she was entertaining large numbers of guests.
The room was luxuriantly decorated. Golden couches faced each other with a shining silver table in-between them.

Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne sat opposite King Edwin Von William Highland with a smile on her face, but that smile was fake. She was quivering inside.

She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this way while talking to a human. She couldn’t shake the feeling that this discussion would seal the fate of her duchy.

She had determined that none of the ladies at the ballroom caught his attention, which made her even more uneasy.

“Once again, I thank you for coming to our aid as well as answering my selfish request to attained the banquet. I am truly grateful for your support.” She said while lowering her head.

“There is no need for that. We are duty-bound to come to your aid after all.” Edwin replied.

“Even so, considering the current world affairs, it would be understandable if you didn’t come to our aid. That’s why I am truly grateful.” She said before lowering her head once again. Likewise, her attendants did the same thing.

They were six beauties standing behind the duchess apart from Shelley. Under the pretext that her normal attendants were injured during the demon invasion, she quickly recruited the most beautiful women of nobility in the capital.

If she could not offer a daughter or granddaughter, then perhaps she can still form a link through a daughter from other nobles or rich merchants in the city.

These six were the most beautiful in the whole city. She couldn’t take a chance that meeting each one once would be enough to spark an attraction, so she made to ensure that they would be in his line of sight for a longer stretch of time by making them her attendants.

Luckily with it being the capital, most nobles and merchants of Vidfamne had their families stationed there. It wasn’t hard to gather them and pick the most attractive among them to save as a honey trap.
The problem was that seated opposite her was the King of Highland, with only female attendants.

While their beauty couldn’t much her daughter’s beauty or her own beauty, they seem to be on the level of the girls she had picked out.

[Tch…This is not going to be easy. Why does he have only female attendants? Is he a playboy?] She thought to herself.

“Very well, if you insist, then I happily accept your gratitude on behalf of Highland. Now can we move on to the matters at hand?”

His response was not a promising one. As far as she could tell, he really wanted to get this meeting done and over with. This was a bad sign.

“Very well. What matters do you wish to discuss with me.”

“First of all. My tropes will be withdrawing tomorrow. I would have loved to have done it today, but in light of the festival you’re holding, I was thinking of having them enjoy it. Is that alright?”

“The troupes of Highland are forever welcomed in Vidfamne. Please have them stay for as long as you wish.”

The room went silent. Everyone except the duchess and Edwin was shocked at her words.
To put it simply, it was no different than declaring yourself a vassal state. Under normal circumstances, such a statement by a ruler would be unthinkable. However, these were not normal circumstances.
Vidfamne lost many knights in battles against the demons. Its allies are unable to come to their aid, and Highland proved itself able to protect Vidfamne from the demons with great ease.

Given the past relationship between the royal family of Highland and the duchy, there was a chance Edwin would leave the Vidfamne alliance, and that is something the duchess couldn’t afford right now.

“I thank you for your hospitality; but given that Highland will no longer be part of the Vidfamne alliance. Such an action would be troublesome.”

[Shit…he said it] such rude words floated in the duchess mind.