Disclaimer: I do not own Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. That belongs to ATLUS and its respective owners.
A/N: I had been attempting to keep a schedule of updating every Monday, but unfortunately, since classes have started up again, I won't be able to keep that. I apologize for the delay and in advance if the period between updates becomes wider as the semester continues. Let's hope for the best, though!
Aaand here we go for Chapter 4! In which Prince Ferdinand almost gets his bobo! Hope you enjoy!
Rhapsody: The Princely Chronicles
"Help! Assassins! Assassins are trying to kill me in the men's bathroom!"
The nasally voice pierced through the castle's halls with pleading urgency. As the defendant's cries rose in pitch and plea, guards assembled and rushed to aid the victim, the clanking armor adding to the cacophony. Although the words themselves did not carry into the grounds behind the castle where Prince Ferdinand had been training since early morning with the captains and soldiers, they paused momentarily upon seeing the rush of guards heading toward the west wing of the castle.
"I wonder what is happening," Prince Ferdinand murmured aloud to the captain standing next to him. He joked, "Surely they are not greeting noon with that much excitement." He used the pause to wipe the sweat collecting on his bow and to readjust his grip on the practice sword.
"I have no idea, sir, but I believe that is unlikely," Captain Linus replied with a chuckle, lowering his practice blade in turn for readjustment. He turned to a new recruit, who was practicing closest to the pathway to the castle, ordering, "Garrett! Go find out what is happening!"
Garrett nodded to his commanding officer and hoisted his practice lance over his shoulder. He ran over to where a group of harried soldiers was returning from the west wing and pulled aside the officer in charge, Captain Merrill. After an exchange of words, his jaw dropped slightly before it reset into a professional frown, and he nodded to the officer in thanks.
He ran back in as fast as his tired legs could carry him, finally stopping before the captain. He did his best to stop his panting as he relayed, "There's been an—huff—assassination attempt—huff—on Minister Golonzo, Captain Linus!"
The group before him stilled, some of the younger recruits paling slightly at the news. The older soldiers, veterans of the war, only adopted focused frowns as they absorbed the news and switched mental gears, preparing themselves for a sweep of the castle for the assailant.
Ferdinand's grip tightened around his practice sword. Although he would trust Minister Golonzo as far he was willing to throw him (which was not an inch), he did not wish him dead, and especially by an assassin. While assassination attempts were not unheard of, it had been some time since there had been an attempt in Marl Castle. He immediately wondered if the minister was even the intended target, or if he had wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time.
"What happened, Garrett?" the captain pressed the recruit. "Where and when? Who was it?"
Garrett took a deep breath, and continued, "The attackers apparently tried to—huff—either poison or use a girl to seduce the minister in—huff—the Men's bathroom on the second floor." He paused to inhale deeply again, and then said, "It happened just a few minutes ago. The minister—huff—could not personally identify the—huff—assailants."
"Are they still in the castle?"
Garrett shook his head. "They vanished after the failed attempt."
Captain Linus shook his head. "Then I guess it is no use to have us join in on the search parties. The other squads probably already have that covered. However, we will divide into two groups and guard the Queen and Prince Ferdinand, just in case they are lingering for another attack and Minister Golonzo was not the intended target. There are enough guarding the Minister, at this point." At that, he turned around and began assigning the groups.
Ferdinand lingered at the edge of the conversation, listening with intense interest. Something felt off about the recruit's description of the assassination attempt. It was not in the relay, but in the source. He could not put his finger on it, though. Deciding that he needed to hear it from the victim and view the scene of the crime himself, he asked, "Garrett, did Captain Merrill say how the minister is doing, or where is he now?"
Garrett shook his head. "Captain Merrill only said—huff—that he was still in the bathroom."
Ferdinand turned to the captain, who had just finished assigning his orders, and asked, "Captain Linus, is it all right if I go see Minister Golonzo? I wish to see if he is all right."
The captain looked at Ferdinand for a moment, tempted to say no for the sake of security. For all they knew, the assailants were still hiding secretly in the bathroom itself. However, he was curious to hear it from the minister, as well. The Prince should be safe enough, as there would be plenty of guards… He nodded.
"Thank you, Captain Linus."
Prince Ferdinand waited for a moment as a couple of the new recruits gathered up the practice weapons to store them in the armory. Reclaiming his father's sword, he strapped it back onto his belt, and waited for the other soldiers that had become his watchers for the time being to assemble. Once everyone was prepared, they set off for the west wing of the castle.
Time to find out just what had really happened to Minister Golonzo.
The scent of cooked bobo wafted out of the bathroom. At first, Prince Ferdinand thought it was simply an illusion that his growling stomach had envisioned, as he was still wishing deeply for the bobo he hadn't had the chance to catch. However, upon entering the men's bathroom and viewing the sight of the spilled dish on the floor and covering the minister, Ferdinand wanted to cry.
Perfectly good bobo—wasted!
He pulled himself together. He was supposed to be investigating the scene of the attempted assassination, not mourning over the ruined dish. If the food was anything to go by, some new options had just opened up concerning the recent events.
Option 1: The assassins attempted to assassinate Minister Golonzo through poisoned bobo.
Option 2: The assassins were actually seeking himself. It was no secret that his favorite dish was bobo (the cook liked to talk). They attempted to poison him through a faux gift.
Option 3: The Minister stumbled upon one of his fans, who was bringing him a lovely dish of bobo when he was craving it so much. However, the Minister assumed that it was for himself (he was quite full of himself), the girl panicked, threw the dish at him (a waste!), and the Minister started screaming about assassins.
Given the scene of the crime, somehow, Prince Ferdinand was more inclined (almost hopeful) that it had been Option 3. Although no one else was privy to the information (he was not even sure if Minister Golonzo was, although his mother knew, for she had told him), there was a secret entrance out of the castle and into Orange through the last, "Out of Order" stall.
Ferdinand sighed internally to himself. This whole mess may have simply been one of his fans sneaking into the castle to gift him with food. It would also explain how the assassins vanished so quickly and thoroughly. However, while the question now became how said fan knew about the entrance, he pushed that question off until a later date. He needed to focus on Minister Golonzo for now. He turned toward said man, who was now huddled in front of one of the bathroom sinks, attempting to clean himself off and muttering about revenge upon female assassins.
Prince Ferdinand took a step forward. "Minister Golonzo? What has happened here?"
The Minister slowly looked over his shoulder, giving Ferdinand a baleful glare. "Assassins!" he growled. "They attempted to assassinate me by distracting me with an appreciation gift of bobo!"
Prince Ferdinand's eyebrows furrowed. "I can clearly see the evidence of bobo, Minister Golonzo, but how did they attempt to assassinate you with it?"
Golonzo whipped around and pointed at the dish angrily. "After pretending that that was a gift for me, they threw it in my face while I was attempting to graciously thank them. They intended for me to die of suffocation or some other dastardly method! However, I was too smart for them. I dodged enough to leave my mouth free so that I could scream for the guards before they closed in. Those cowards ran away as soon as they heard my mighty voice!"
This was really appearing to be Option 3. He really wanted to raise a skeptical eyebrow, but instead Ferdinand asked, "How were the assassins armed?"
For a second, Minister Golonzo paused as he thought. "The wench had a puppet minion," he finally declared, triumphantly. "She was probably going to use my moment of distraction to give the order for it to kill me with its obnoxious voice, but I was too quick and prevented it."
Puppet minion? This was starting to sound more familiar…
"How would describe the physical appearance of the assassins, Minister?" Captain Linus cut in, his pen poised over the notepad he had been taking notes on.
Minister Golonzo thought back. "The girl was rather cute. She appeared to be about the Prince's age, though a few inches shorter, and had long blond hair down to her waist in a braid. She was wearing a simple dress, and she had a headband in her hair. Her innocent appearance was deceiving," he chuckled mirthlessly.
That sounds a lot like Cornet, Ferdinand thought, a sliver of excited hope bubbling up within him. If it really was Cornet, he was fairly positive that there had been no assassin, and he was flattered that she had gone out of her way to sneak into the castle to bring him food. He really hoped that she had been a part of Option 3. He kept his excited hope from showing on his face, however; they still had to determine that there really had not been an assassination attempt.
Prince Ferdinand and Captain Linus shared a glance while the Minister resumed his grumbling. Apparently, the captain's thought mirrored Ferdinand's in that the "assassin" had been a fangirl. Captain Linus resumed the questioning regardless, giving a small cough to return the Minister's focus. "And the puppet you mentioned?"
"The demon puppet!" he hissed. "It was a tiny little thing, small enough to sit on the witch's shoulder. It was very smart, though. It could talk, and it wore a purple hat and dress. It had butterfly wings, too, and just hovered in the air next to its master. Again, it looked innocuous, but looks were deceiving! If I hadn't acted when I did, it might have cost my life!"
That is definitely Kururu, Ferdinand determined with a mental nod. Although the description of Cornet was a little shaky—his image might have fit any village girl—there are not that many people who can use or speak to puppets. His description of the puppet definitively coincides with Kururu, as well. He looked at the Minister, who had once again returned to mumbling about assassins and his bravery, but decided that, for Cornet's sake, he would not say anything. While he could not definitively prove that there had not been an assassination attempt, he similarly only had assumption that it was Cornet and Kururu who had brought the bobo. There was no need to involve them if it was not really them; regardless of the Minister's age, he was still a powerful political figure in the kingdom. He could stir up a lot of trouble for Cornet and Kururu, even if it turned out that they had only been bringing him a gift as opposed to being assassins.
Captain Linus closed his notebook, having obtained other pertinent information that he desired, like times of arrival and how long ago the assassins had vanished. He nodded to Captain Sangird, who had affirmed that he was in charge of guarding the Minister from further assassination attempts, and turned to Ferdinand. "My Prince, we should return you to your chambers."
Prince Ferdinand nodded absentmindedly, watching Minister Golonzo as he resumed the tale of his heroic escape from the dreaded assassins and tuning out the nasally voice. "All right. Thank you, Captain Linus."
Once the entourage exited the bathroom, it was a fairly short trip to the hall leading to Ferdinand's room. Thankfully, he was allowed privacy in his bedroom, but two extra guards were placed outside his room, in addition to Hans and Franz, at the front of the hall. They snapped to attention as he approached.
"Your Highness," Hans greeted. "How was your weapons practice this morning, sir?"
"We heard that there was an assassination attempt on Minister Golonzo. Are you all right, Prince Ferdinand?" Franz chimed in.
Ferdinand nodded in response to each of them, signaling that they could relax, and decided to start with the first question. "The weapons practice went great, Hans. Thank you for asking," he said. "And you did hear rightly, Franz—there was what could have been an assassination attempt. I am fine, though."
Captain Linus, who had not yet left to report to Queen Siegrind about the events, added, "The apparent assassination attempt is currently being investigated. We will be able to share more details when we get them."
Franz whistled appreciatively. "Pretty daring, attempting to assassinate Minister Golonzo. How did they try?"
"They attempted to murder him with a plate of bobo," Ferdinand supplied.
Hans chuckled quietly, failing to disguise it as a cough behind his hand. "So is that what you meant by "apparent" assassination?" he asked.
Captain Linus nodded. "There is evidence to the affirmative and the contrary in determining if this was a real assassination or not."
"But you believe that it was really one of Prince Ferdinand's fans bringing him food, don't you?" Franz supplied bluntly with a laugh.
Prince Ferdinand blushed lightly and looked away, a little embarrassed now that he was away from the scene of the crime (of wasted bobo), and Captain Linus chuckled, "That is my personal opinion, and I believe it is the Prince's, as well."
Franz reached over to pat Ferdinand on the shoulder. "Aren't you happy that you have such devoted fans, Your Highness? They're willing to risk humiliation at the hands of an egotistical politician to bring you your favorite food." He winked teasingly.
Ferdinand turned back to Franz with a glare that was more embarrassed than annoyed. Franz laughed when the Prince dropped all royal pretention to wrinkle his nose at the guard. "Aw, come on, sir, don't you enjoy the fangirls?" He ruffled Prince Ferdinand's hair, tangled from practice and now messier, and the teen squirmed away with an indignant yelp. The other guards laughed, and Ferdinand did his best to glare, but by now, he could not withhold the laughter, either.
They conversed for a few more minutes, and then Captain Linus escorted Prince Ferdinand into his bedroom. After they had walked away down the hall, Hans whispered to Franz, "You know what, Franz? I think you're the only guard who's brave enough to do that."
Franz turned to Hans, his brows furrowed. "Brave enough to do what?"
"To speak and act like you do with Prince Ferdinand. Most others wouldn't even dare."
Franz shrugged, looking away. "Well, someone has to treat Prince Ferdinand like a normal teen every now and then. It probably gets pretty lonely for him, always having people walk on eggshells around him, like they're scared he'll order their executions for a lack of courtesy. I've only seen him loosen up around ourselves, a few of the Captains, one of the cooks (the one who first gave and still cooks him bobo), and, of course, his mother, Queen Siegrind. If he doesn't have someone he can loosen up with, his position will go to his head, and then all of his dreams he's shared of being a good ruler will go poof."
Hans nodded understandingly. "Yeah."
Captain Linus had escorted Prince Ferdinand to the door and then wished him good afternoon. For a moment, he appeared tempted to ask something, but then decided against it. Ferdinand bid him a farewell likewise, and then closed the door, leaning against the shut wood.
He had a feeling he knew what the captain had been tempted to ask—if he knew who the "assassin" was.
The truth was, however, he did not know who she was—he only had a guess. Perhaps it was a good guess, one based on the very probable identity of the puppet, but it was still only a hypothesis. It was best not to share hypotheses before there was sufficient evidence, and with Minister Golonzo roaring up and down about assassins, it was not a proper time to counter it as simply a possible incident with a fangirl. That, too, was speculation, not fact. Unfortunately, no matter how much he, the captain, and probably most of the guards suspected it was a fangirl bringing him bobo (and he knew that he was going to be teased more about it, behind the Minister's back), Golonzo held too much power to pronounce it as anything but an assassin without proof to the contrary.
As Ferdinand was fairly sure that he was the only person who knew Kururu's description (whose was the most incriminating), she and Cornet should be safe. For a moment, he pondered if this could be considered withholding necessary information in a case. He mulled over it, before concluding that, he only had his suspicions, but as he had not been there, he had no proof.
Besides, his instinct (or the bobo?) told him that it had not been an attempted assassination. He would see what his instincts told him in the future, but for now, he did not feel a negative vibe.
He was actually rather flattered that (if it really was Option 3) that they had attempted to bring him his favorite food, especially since he had been unable to catch some himself when he spent that time out of the castle. For a moment, he felt sad(der) that Golonzo had intercepted them; he had almost had the opportunity to talk to Cornet again. Hopefully she would enter the contest.
Wait… His eyes focused harder in thought. The contest…
Minister Golonzo would probably be hanging around the Contest, both to watch the ladies and to scope out the candidates. If it had indeed been Cornet sneaking into the castle, and if Golonzo saw her…
Prince Ferdinand grimaced. That would not be a good combination. He would have to keep an eye out for her as well as on the slippery Minister. With all luck, she would enter (and beat Etoile Rosenqueen). With further luck, he could have that conversation with her, and Minister Golonzo would never notice her presence.
Pushing away from the door, Ferdinand walked toward his desk. He had work to finish before his tutor arrived later in the afternoon. After deciding upon which subject to start with, his last thought before he became engrossed in political theories was, "Three more days until the Contest… I hope that I have a chance to speak to you, Cornet. May Minister Golonzo not interfere…"
A/N: After realizing that I had a chance to expand upon the "assassination" attempt, I got excited. I hope you enjoyed reading this chapter as much as I did writing it!
Although the news stuck around for a while in the town, part of me wondered by the news of the assassin died down pretty quickly in the castle itself. A part of me considers that they were focusing on the success of the Miss Marl's Contest and finding a bride for Ferdinand, but another part of me wonders if it just wasn't taken seriously. And that's how this take of the chapter was born. What are your opinions? Thanks for the read, and please share your thoughts!