Herald of Steel

Chapter 203 Home Security (Mass Release)
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After the Queen mother and company bid their goodbyes, Alexander addressed his own people, "Mean, Cam, Gelene, please come to my study," He asked.

This sudden request made up of the unusual combination drew a bit astonished looks from all of them, but they nodded in assent nevertheless.

"Master, I have something to say as well. May I join too?" Ophenia asked

"Sure," Alexander easily consented.

Though he did wonder, 'What could she want?'

As the five people made their way to the study, Mean couldn't help but let Cambyses fill in on

how Alexander had made a fool of himself in the kitchen.

And it was every bit mortifying as he thought it would be.

"You should've been there mistress. There Alex was, grabbed and almost pinned by a mama, and then Juminus went, 'You…who are yo…yach…Alexander. I mean..commander! I mean…plop'..." Mean very animatedly used faces and body language to reenact the whole 'play' eliciting guffaws and giggles from the trio.

Even Ophenia bit her lower lips hard so as to not appear laughing at her master.

"Haha, Alex, when did you become so weak? Pinned down by a girl, hahaha," Cambyses held back no punches as she mocked Alexander, making Alexander swear in his heart, 'Just wait! I will show you who is weak.'

The five reached their destination amidst all the laughing at Alex and were led inside the study, which due to the floor heating was nice and cozy, making all five of them stretch their bodies in comfort.

The servants had already finished renovating the portico, and many noticed the statue that could have been usually seen through the window was nowhere to be found.

"Please sit everyone," Alexander gestured to the comfortable leather couch as he bought a pitcher of wine and some glasses with a few tangerines.

"Master, let me," Ophenia quickly then poured the drinks for everyone while the other trio sat like princesses.

'These girls really love making her work,' Alexander half-joked in his heart.

And then moved to the real topic,

"Now, why I brought you here," Alexander began which commanded the other's attention.

"Today's …fiasco at the kitchen has made me realize that even I cannot access my own house without an escort. And so I intend to assign uniforms to the guards and servants. What do you say?"

Alexander looked around for their opinion.

"I too have run into this problem a couple of times. So, I think it's a good idea. No, a great idea," Cambyses nodded to display her approval.

"Yes, we can have different uniforms for different kinds of servants. There have been many times where I mistook a maid for a cook or a cook for a sweeper."Gelene gave her own input.

"Yes! That's tight. Different uniforms for servants. They can have specific colors too. Like black for maids and white for cooks" Mean excitedly added. 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝓮𝓌𝑒𝒷𝘯ℴ𝑣𝓮𝓁.𝒸ℴ𝘮

'Wow. you girls sure are full of ideas today, aren't you?' Alexander half-jokingly commented in his heart, internally very pleased that the three basically came to the same conclusion as him on their own.

"Haha, well you have said basically everything I wanted to say." Alexander chuckled.

Then turned to Ophenia, "Does Tayin want to add anything?"

The tall, dyed brunette only smiled and politely shook her head.

So, turning to Mean Alexander said, "Okay, then, I will give designs for the clothes to Mean. And then you can order them in the appropriate numbers."

"Okay." Mean agreed.

Alexander afterward raised another issue, "Now, there is another issue about the kitchen that caught my eye, that is it's too big."

This analysis by Alexander caused Mean to furrow her brows a little as she asked Alexander, "Alex, why are you saying the kitchen is too big? You yourself saw that we needed the whole space to do our job!"

"Oh, you misunderstand." Alexander gestured using his hands, saying, "What I meant was that the kitchen was too big for us, as in for me and the guests. As demonstrated by…me, such a big kitchen leaves holes for spies and saboteurs to exploit." Alexander warned.

And then proposed, "So, I want to build a secondary much smaller kitchen staffed by only a few people and led by Mean in the backyard."

This wasn't anything major and the others happily accepted.

"But who will then run the big kitchen?" Mean couldn't oversee both, especially when they would be in different buildings.

"You will be in charge of all the servants. For specifically administering the big kitchen, you can choose among the loyal, competent servants under you," Alexander gave Mean the power while also stressing the point of loyalty.

Then he heavily emphasized another point, "Remember, you must personally oversee the food that is made for us and the guests. And I mean personally, as in seeing the food being prepared and cooked with your very own eyes."

Such repeated underscoring made the others think Alexander was being too cautious as they reasoned that although poisoning one's hated rival was not unheard of, it was not as if nobles were falling like flies all around them.

In fact, such occurrences were really once-in-a-blue moon happening.

But Alexander didn't feel it that way.

After the dinner conversation, he was again made aware that the guests living with him were not harmless, innocent beings, but scheming spiders who had little love for him.

And he shared such worries with the girls, "All of you have seen what happened at the dinner table just now. So who knows if they will get some ideas out of spite or bitterness? Remember, Mikaya's two maids have free access to the kitchen!"

Cambyses too helped build support for Alexander, "Alex is right. It's said Ptolomy is madly in love with the Queen-mother and Hellma. So, it's possible he might do something stupid to get them back more quickly. And also don't forget, the previous king was also poisoned by the Queen-mother."

Gelene too jumped in with her own warning, "I have seen the food preparations for us when we were in Adhan. Its security was exactly like how it is ours. If the Queen-mother can penetrate that, she can penetrate ours."

"Fine, fine. I get it. I will be extra careful." Mean promised in a bit irritated voice, annoyed that the others were questioning her capabilities and work integrity,

"Ahem, master," A mellifluous voice that had yet to speak rang out.

It was Ophenia.

"While I was in the temple, I noticed that the supplies meant for the higher-ups like the archpriest and the sacred priestess were always bought and kept separate from the rest of the kitchen supplies. Also, special attention was given to make sure that the two supplies were never interchanged,"

Ophenia made her suggestion using some of her own shared experience.

And continued.

"Furthermore, the cooks were every day stripped and their clothes and bodies were thoroughly checked for any contraband before they could enter or leave the kitchen."

And even then, the kitchen would at times get surprise visits from some special priests that would check the kitchen for any dumped or hidden goods that might have escaped inspection."

The food security in the temple was no joke.

This level of prudence shocked everybody hearing such, as Alexander asked the question everyone had in their minds, "What happened at the temple that they took such draconian measure?"

Ophenia obediently answered, "Historically, during its adolescent years, the temple of Shiva had suffered a series of high-profile poison assassinations from rival temples which almost destroyed it, This then led the archpriest at that time to develop such security methods. And a hundred years later, they still strictly adhere to it."

"Hmm, such things shouldn't be known to even insiders in the temple." Cambyses was basically asking how Ophenia came to know such a secret.

"As their intended successor of the Sacred Priestess, I was taught to cook for the higher-ups and thus had access to the kitchen." Ophenia gave her reason.

"Ohhh? Taiyin can cook? I must taste her homemade meals one day," Alexander joked with a large smile.

"It would be my greatest honor, master," Ophenia humbly lowered her head.

After a small chuckle, Alexander then made the final decision, "Good, we will do it as Taiyin suggested."

Later adding, " Taiyin, give Mean some tips on how the temple did it and help her emulate it."

Done with that, Alexander was about to move on, but then a thought came back to him.

"Ohhh, Mean, I almost forgot. What's the name of that mama? I want to reward her." Alexander asked.

"That…I'll ask," Mean said after a bit of pause.

It was after all impossible for the girl to know the name of all the hundreds of servants under her.

And this little exchange suddenly reminded Alexander of something vital,

"Names! The uniforms don't have names! " Alexander exclaimed.

And then even more loudly said, "The uniforms must have names."

And the ID was born.

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