52 Chapter 52 The Ball
Joseph was nervous. It was the day of the court ball. He knew it was scheduled so late in the month, so the king would have an excuse to have them leave as soon as it was over, but it didn't matter. All of his slaves had been working in overtime, and would have enough time to copy everything they were searching for. The only thing he was waiting for were notes from the mages and he fully expected to be handed those as he was leaving.
Every time he had asked about them, he got the response that they weren't quite ready. He simply threw that ball at the king, when he received the same response twice. It would now be the king hounding them instead of him. He was sure it was giving him quite a headache.
Stella was just as nervous as he was, as she had come from a literal whore house to be here, at a royal function, and they both knew someone was going to cause trouble. It would be a miracle if there wasn't something that happened tonight.
Before getting dressed, he had surprised Stella with a gift of 2 ounces of soap he had made himself. After his memories of being clean in his last life, the soap that was used here was almost like bathing with lard, so he had tried to make his own on his own time, and Stella knew about that. But the reason the 2 ounces were so amazing, was because he had experimented and abused his poor acute smell, until he successfully made a scent very close to the flowers from the island. The fragrance was subtle, but it was there.
"My lady, may I escort you this evening, to the ball?" he asked with a flourish and a bow.
She took his arm, and they arrived promptly at the ball entrance. They were announced as Mister Joseph and guest, but they both decided to let it go. The night was looking to be a magical time for the two of them, as they had practiced a long time for this. Their clothing was unlike anything else on the planet, and the fabric their clothing was made from was far better than anything anyone other than the king himself.
After eating a light meal from the buffet, they started to dance. It was wonderful. Joseph's single minded kicked in and they twirled and danced until they had to stop to get a drink. That's when the trouble started.
"I can't believe the King would trust a filthy commoner and slave merchant with such power. Had he appointed me, ladies, I assure you the King would have had nothing to worry about. As it is, I am probably going to be cleaning up after them. To think some riff-raff from another country would trick the king so."
Joseph smiled at Stella, "Stella, I think that may be the bravest, or the dumbest, man I have ever met."
His voice was loud. Loud enough that everyone standing around them heard without any problem, what he was saying.
"What was that, brat?" he snarled, turning towards him.
"Oh, nothing, Sir Reginald. I was just surprised. In my home country, something that insolent being said about the king, in his own palace, at his own party, would get you executed. Maybe your king is gracious enough, it will end with just revocation of peerage. After all, you sounded just like those unloyal nobles, who have been spreading the rumor your king was foolish, and taken advantage of by a, what was it? Commoner and a slave merchant?
"That would border on insults to the crown, in the best of times, much less in his own palace, before sending the army off to the front. I only hope the army's morale isn't lowered by such slander, and more casualties occur. What's more, wishing for the failure of the army, that the king proposed, and the death of your citizen's, so that you, yourself, can gain merits, seems, odd."
The ladies he had been wooing, suddenly started looking at him oddly, after Joseph rephrased what he had been stating, into a more negative light. There was quite a crowd by then. He was starting to look a bit green, but it was obvious he was going to attempt to bluster through it.
"Why you little…That is not what I said!
"Most of it you said, the rest was…"
A scream broke out, causing everyone to turn.
A well-dressed lady, with fancy black hair up in a bun, was pointing at one of Joseph's servants against the wall.
"It's him! That man assaulted me!" she exclaimed loudly, pulling out a handkerchief and dabbing her eyes as they turned red and started tearing up.
"The day before yesterday he forced himself on me! I tried to resist, but he overpowered me!"
Another man stood up, "Whose man is that?" he demanded. The woman started crying hysterically, her oversized bosom was heaving so, it threatened to break free of her bodice.
"He's mine," said Joseph calmly, as everyone who had been paying attention, now swung to look back at him. It was obvious from the actors that they weren't expecting him to openly claim the man as his.
"You lowly…" began another noble in rage.
"Enough!" the King yelled out.
Only the sounds of the woman's sobbing echoed in the silence.
"Bring him forth."
Everyone watched as the slave was grabbed and brought forth, but he didn't struggle, and came willingly.
"What is the meaning of this? That man assaulted me!" She sneezed out, through her sobs.
Joseph lost it. He strode over to her and reaching as high as he could, he slapped her in the face. Apparently, the sword training was paying off, because she collapsed to the ground in shock, dropping her handkerchief as she fell.
"Victoria Croft, niece of Duke Winston, I find rapists to be scum." His voice was cold and he had to focus to keep his mana from spilling out, he was so pissed. "They should all be dealt with in ways that are not appropriate to speak of in front of a lady, but I find cheap women who claim they have been raped, just to frame noble and good men, to be just as abhorrent!"
Duke Winston stepped forward as his name was spoke. "Now, see here, you little…"
"No, you see here! There are things **** victims do, and things they don't. If she had been forced, she would have bruises from trying to fight off her attacker. If she had been forced, she would not come to this dance party two days later. If she had been forced, she would not have worn a low-cut dress and have been flirting with men this whole evening. If she had been forced, she would not have had her hair up and exposed her neck like that. If she had been forced, she would not have applied a layer of wax to her makeup so that it wouldn't run when she started crying."
Joseph reached down and grabbed the handkerchief as she suddenly remembered it and started to reach for it as well, and threw it at the duke.
"She also would NOT have needed crimson pepper flakes to start crying!"
The dukes face instantly turned red and teared up from the flakes as the handkerchief broke open and scattered the flakes everywhere.
"She would have avoided people, probably blamed herself for the attack, and may have gone to the grave before admitting, as a noble lady, that she had intimate relations with a slave."
He turned and glared at her, with all of the anger his little body could hold.
"So, what is it, some commoner boyfriend that you love, that your uncle promised you could be with, if you did this for him?"
Her mouth fell open, "How did you…"
Her red-rimmed eyes caught the look the duke was making at her, and she snapped her mouth shut.
"That's a terrible excuse to ruin a man's life. What's more, if you had succeeded with your little theatrics, you may have even managed to void the contract with the king. My father is on that contract, and I will not let a little twit like you cause a breech. I have seen women abused. I have seen innocent little girls tricked into giving up something precious and have seen that light in their eyes fade. I know children who grew up living in terror of that possibility in their lives. You insult them all."
He turned to the king, before he said more.
"I apologize for my behavior this evening, your grace, but I find that I am not feeling well. May I leave with my servants?"
The king nodded without another word, and the slave was let go. Joseph left with Stella on his arm, barely able to contain himself. The entire room was deathly silent.
Back in his room, he was finally able to calm down. He didn't enjoy that. He was triggered far too easily. He used it to his advantage this time, but if he had done something more following that slap, it could have been very bad. His past memories were influencing him far too much. Learning from them was one thing, but losing himself to the past was worrying.
Settling down to sleep, he decided he needed to take thirty minutes each evening to sift through the memories and file them away. They needed to go to their space and be there when called on, but not out in the open, where he would be affected so strongly by them in the future.
For the first time in months, he slept without any dreams. He decided when he woke, that this way of dealing with them, was probably the right path.