Ain Von Ishtalika
【Job】 Crown Prince
【Skills】 Dark Knight／Dense Fog／Toxin DecompositionＥＸ／Absorb／Gift of Training
……Ahh, I’m becoming really strong. With this, I’ll be like a celebrity.
“HAHAHAHAHA! Truly unbelievable! “
Silvird eyes opened wide and the corners of his mouth rose slowly, then he laughed out loud.
Even if the magic stone was called a national treasure, the resulting effect was so considerable that he was quite surprised.
“Fufu……Ohh Ain, you’ve become even more wonderful.”
“Ahh, uhmm……Thank you? “
“Umu. This is a good result. ──But there’s something I don’t get.”
So far, their excitement was too great.
However, after feeling this much shock, Silvird suddenly noticed something.
So, while placing a hand over his mouth to think, he sent a glance towards Olivia.
“──Olivia. You didn’t plan for all of this to happen, right? “
With the atmosphere suddenly turning heavy, Olivia opened her mouth with a look of contemplation.
“Ara, was I found out? “
“There were many things that didn’t fall into place. There’s no way for you, who love Ain so much, to have his ability to absorb magic stones go unnoticed.”
……So, when did all of this start? Saying so, he asked for an explanation without roundabout methods.
“Ojii-sama? What are you talking about……? “
“It’s nothing to worry about. All I mean is that Olivia carefully planned for this day.”
With Ain feeling confused, Olivia laughed gently and then began to talk about her true intentions.
“……I was afraid of rooting in Logas. I knew I was doing that for Ishtalika, but I couldn’t prepare myself to give my life to that house, and share life and death with Logas.”
He remembered that word, ‘rooting’.
However, since he didn’t hear the meaning, Ain kept listening.
“I didn’t want to offer my body as a wife. But this was something that wouldn’t be allowed. However, I’m a Dryad. It was easy to just take roots, but this was something that made me cry just by thinking about it.”
Olivia continued speaking with a clouded expression.
“Still, I was married. If I didn’t have a child, then the secret agreement between the nations would be null. That’s why I gave birth to Ain as a Dryad.”
Then, Silvird’s expression also turned cloudy. Because he also felt guilty.
“After that, I started to think about Ain’s happiness. He was compared to his younger brother and treated so terribly that I don’t even want to remember…… So, I thought there was no reason for us to remain in that house.”
However, the issue with the Sea Crystals remained.
That’s why Olivia investigated about the Sea Crystals on her own to solve that problem.
“The ability to absorb magic stones. If that became publicly known in Heim, where there are no anthropoid races, in the worst case he could be killed.”
In other words, she was aware that Ain could absorb magic stones.
However, having that be known in Heim was a bad idea so she didn’t want to risk by telling someone.
Thus, with Ain’s wellbeing in mind, she thought about returning to Ishtalika.
And she also thought of this, a plan to give Ain the Dullahan’s magic stone.
(Is……Is that for real? Was she thinking about this for so long?)
He was taken aback by those plans he couldn’t begin to imagine.
Silvird, on the other hand, opened his mouth with a meek expression and asked Olivia.
“So, you mean to say Ain was born because of that Dryad’s trait?”
Olivia nodded after hearing this, however, her expression seemed a little embarrassed.
“What’s being born because of that Dryad’s trait? Also, what does rooting mean? “
“I’m sorry but, I don’t think I can say it myself.”
He let out a weak, lamenting voice.
Silvird laughed hearing his voice, but then he spoke in a slightly demanding tone.
“I have to lecture Olivia. Sorry but, there’s something I want you to tell Warren and Lloyd.”
After that, he left the disorganized treasure vault.
I wonder what are they talking about? Ain wondered after parting with them and walked through the castle in search of Warren.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Fumu……no matter how many times I look at this, these are wonderful status.”
“Indeed, it’s as Warren-dono says. All thanks to the power of Absorb and Toxin Decomposition, and the Gift of Training that you’ve gained by yourself, Ain-sama! There couldn’t be a better combination……! “
The place where he came was a salon in a corner of the castle.
Here, he found Lloyd and Warren taking a break, and told them about what happened in the treasure vault.
For about a dozen minutes after showing them his status card, they looked at it over and over, expressing words of amazement.
“Ahh, Warren-san. Come to think of it, I also came here because I wanted to ask something.”
“To me? Alright, please ask me anything.”
“──What does rooting mean? “
Immediately, the atmosphere in the place froze.
Looking at the pair’s expression, Ain wondered if he said something wrong.
“Asking about rooting all the sudden……did something happen?”
When Warren said that, Ain spoke about what Silvird said before he parted with them.
And, although the contents were short and the information he had limited, Ain explained in detail.
“……Haha, I see. So that’s the reason why.”
Lloyd nodded with a convinced expression.
“I didn’t understand any of that or anything that seemed to worry Ojii-sama.”
In the first place, what are the Dryad’s traits? He wanted an explanation that started with that.
Then, as the two people were at a standstill about how to answer, a new person appeared.
“Oh, Ain. So you were here, nya.”
Almost like a lifeline, Katima came in with her usual lively attitude.
“Huh, Katima-san? What’s wrong? “
“I heard my little sister wanted my help, so I came here, nya.”
Approaching the sofa without hesitation, she sat on it and threw some cake that was on the table into her mouth.
Glancing at the two people who remained silent, she started speaking after wiping her mouth.
“Well, let’s me teach you some things, nya.”
Ain gulped in anticipation. After all, the mystery was finally being solved.
“Dryads, once in their lives and without having to interact with the opposite sex, can birth another Dryad.
“……Like asexual reproduction? “
“Not quite right, in the case of Dryads it’s called root division, nya. But you’ll still need the blood of the opposite sex, nya.”
According to Katima, it was a somewhat complicated trait.
She explained they were able to divide their magic stone and core to create a new existence that’s similar to their own.
The appearance, character, and other details are a reflection of the Dryad and the provider of the blood.
And there was a reason for those characteristics.
“Also, another trait is called rooting nya, you wanted to hear about this, right?”
She threw another piece of cake into her mouth.
Hurry up and tell me. Ain almost wanted to scream at her.
“Dryads are a race that can only have one partner in their whole lives, nya. When you copulate with someone, you will share your life with that person……That’s a burdensome trait of the Dryads, rooting, nya.”
What’s this cat talking about? Ain looked at her with such questioning eyes.
However, she was serious.
“W-What’s with those eyes! It’s true, nya! That’s why the number of Dryads is small, nya! “
“……Are you serious? “
Turning away, Ain saw Warren, who simply nodded with a bitter smile.
“I see, then I’ll believe you.”
“W-Why didn’t you believe me when I said it, nya!? “
It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her, however, Warren’s expression was more persuasive.
And him being the Prime Minister, his influence was larger.
“Well, that was a desperate measure taken under pressure of necessity. It’s because they didn’t do it that she had no other choice to birth a child like this……Also, Dryads have a hypnotic ability, so they can use it to avoid the nights, nya.”
It might be a measure to avoid the so-called intimacy that a husband and wife exchange at night.
Being told this all of a sudden, Ain was mute in shock.
“And, the cause for all of this is most likely, the death of the previous Earl Roundhart, nya.”
Olivia originally was planning on fulfilling her marital duties when she married.
The reason why that changed quickly was probably that she was disappointed by many things.
Her feelings of disappointment were not only directed towards the Roundharts but also at the research team from Ishtalika, her motherland.
──So, while carrying all those sorrows, she was afraid of risking her life, of taking root.
A strong regret was visible from the two vassals present.
“……Olivia might’ve slightly run away from her duties, but I want you to forgive her, nya.”
The method by which she gave birth to Ain was special, but still, she gave birth to him.
It also should be taken into account that she feared to share her life by taking root.
So, while suffering, she chose to use what she could.
This was something necessary to protect her own life.
“Otou-sama told me to lecture her too, but most likely they are talking about it right nyaw.”
“……Thank God. I’m relieved.”
Ain’s heart hurt because this all felt too unfair for Olivia.
The same could be said for Warren and Lloyd, who wore dark expressions.
“Haaa……Somehow, I don’t know if it’s because I feel relieved or satisfied after hearing all this, but I’m feeling hungry.”
He laughed lightly with a non-serious expression.
“Y-You, are you really that strong-minded, nya……? Or, are you just an idiot, nya……? “
“I just didn’t want to say it, but I’m glad Okaa-sama didn’t take root in Chichiue──In Logas. That way she doesn’t have to worry about her life, right?”
Right after, Ain spoke as if lifting a weight from his shoulders.
“That’s enough for me, after all, you’ve taught me many things I didn’t know.”
Olivia had worked herself desperately for Ishtalika’s sake.
Because of her fears, she avoided having sex with Logas, and in the end, it paid off.
And it can be said her duty as a Princess was fulfilled since she put together a deal for the trading of Sea Crystals.
“Still, this might feel somewhat unreasonable for the two of you, but I don’t think it could be helped.”
What do you think? He looked at the pair with eyes that expressed that question.
“The Royal Family has a duty to fulfill, however.”
Warren spoke. Then, before he continued, Lloyd complemented.
“However, with those blunders from our subjects, I feel we’ve wronged Olivia-sama quite a lot.”
“It’s as Lloyd-dono says. Moreover, the secret agreement was violated by Heim side in the first place.”
That secret agreement violation was that Olivia’s child would become the next family head.
And it was the Roundhart family the ones who broke it first. As for Heim, they didn’t reprove this.
“We don’t have any plans of complaining about Olivia-sama’s actions.”
Finally, after Warren said that, Ain took a sigh in relief.
“Huh? Speaking of which, how was I born? “
“Dryads are zoogonous, so you should’ve been born from a large tree fruit, nya.”
Ain didn’t understand this. He looked at her with a look implying ‘What’s this cat talking about?’.
“In their human form, the abdomen grows larger like it normally does with humans, nya. But when it’s time to give birth, they go back to their Dryad body and drop a fruit from the branches, nya.”
I see, I don’t really get it, thought Ain.
However, he could only accept it was such a race.
“……Rather, Katima-san. Aren’t you eating too much? “
He said this after seeing Katima, who should’ve come to explain, throwing cake sweets into her mouth one after the other.
How could she eat this many without her mouth running dry?
“If you eat too much, you’ll get fat, you know? “
“I need sweets because I use my head a lot, nya! Don’t say weird things, nya! “
From Ain’s perspective, this woman called Katima was quite easy to talk to.
Maybe because of all the nya nya, she gave off a carefree vibe.
(She’s almost like a pet, huh?)
He couldn’t say it out loud, but it was a funny story.
“Incidentally, returning to the subject of magic stones, there’s in fact another one……Another magic stone that’s considered a national treasure.”
Lightning and wind……thinking back on that scene when he was wrapped in fog, he wondered if there was another magic stone similar to that.
“──In truth, that’s the Demon King’s magic stone that is displayed in the audience hall.”
“Eh……EHHH!? REALLY!? Demon King……You mean the one the First King defeated……? “
The heroic First King that he just recently heard about.
Hearing about the magic stone of that Demon King, he was so surprised he couldn’t speak.
“Indeed, nya. That’s why, Ain, to avoid any accidents, don’t go near the audience hall when you’re hungry, nya. Let me say this again, we can’t have you causing an unexpected accident, alright, nya? “
While hammering the nail deeper, Ain’s gaze wandered around since he knew he was both innocent and guilty.
“……There’s no way I would do that.”
“Ohh? Ain-sama, your expression says otherwise, you know? “
Having his thoughts noticed so easily, he tried to hide it by drinking some tea, but managed to spill it.
He failed to gloss over it, causing everyone to laugh with soft expressions.
“The First King was a King stronger than anyone. Not only about power, his heart too. He’s someone admired by all our knights.”
Lloyd then started speaking, telling about an anecdote he had told many times.
“……Stronger than anyone? “
Immediately, those words left a big impression on Ain.
The First King was stronger than anyone, which was obvious since he defeated the Demon King.
“Indeed. Everyone living in this country has a deep respect for him.”
In other words, not only he was renowned as a splendid King, but he also stood at the pinnacle of power.
After sorting out his ideas, Ain recalled his interaction with Silvird.
『Well, I haven’t sorted that out yet, but……I do admire the First King.』
In response to that, Silvird said that it was good admiring him.
He noticed something. And spoke to Lloyd with that bearing.
“I wonder if you become like the First King, will your name reach Heim? “
“That’s obvious. No matter how far the country may be, your influence will reach.”
After hearing this confirmation, Ain felt as if the last piece of the puzzle fell into place.
(I see, if I could do that……!)
He could prove the value of Olivia not only to Logas but to all of Heim.
Also, since he was the Crown Prince, everything was perfect as a way to solve this matter.
(Isn’t that the solution? ……To be like the First King and work hard enough so that my reputation reaches Heim──!)
The moment he realized this, his heart was filled with a refreshing feeling.
“Uhmm……Lloyd-san, what can I do to become like the First King? “
Before absorbing the Dullahan’s magic stone, Ain wouldn’t have dared to ask such a question.
But now, thanks to Olivia, he held a strong and confident mind, and looked at Lloyd with resolute eyes.
“Hmm, it seems that you also long for His Majesty the First King. That’s marvelous……Let’s see……”
The exploits of the First King were immeasurable, he was a hero who defeated the Demon King and unified the whole continent.
So, when asked how he could be like him, Lloyd was at a loss about how to answer. However.
“……You can’t do the same as the First King. However, you can reach the same height.”
“Still, that height is far away, and it’s impossible to reach it with just the same effort others put. In other words, you have to study and improve your swordsmanship even further than Lloyd, who was able to become Grand Marshal.”
“……Okay. I’m aware of that.”
Still, Ain wanted to become a person like the First King.
It was possible to solve all his worries like this, but it was also true that he admired the First King.
Ain turned his gaze toward Warren, not yielding to the enormous pressure emanating from him.
“──Alright. Then allow this Warren to cooperate with you in everything I can.”
“Yeah. This might be too quick but let’s start working on your studies this evening. Accumulated knowledge can become a weapon, and be as useful as wielding a sword.”
Ain rejoiced by having this reassuring ally.
Now that he had a clear goal in mind, he didn’t feel bothered by being told he had to work hard in his studies.
“Alright, it’s about time to go, nya! “
At that moment, Katima stood up energetically.
“Ka-Katima-san? Go? Go where? “
“Whaaaat!? To check out the power of the Dullahan, obviously, nya! “
She was also helping in verifying Ain’s new power.
But in the end, it was just her researcher’s side wanting to see the results with her own eyes.
“Please wait! I still have some paperwork left……”
“You can just throw that away, nya! Come on already, nya! “
Answering with pushy words to Lloyd, she threw another piece of cake into her mouth then began walking off.
Then, with loud steps, went out of the salon.
“Warren! Have Lloyd train Ain, nya! Got it, nya!? “
“Hahaha. I was planning to ask Lloyd-dono and Chris-dono to be in charge of Ain’s swordsmanship training, so that’s perfect.”
The Prime Minister, the Grand Marshal, and the Vice-Captain of the Royal Guards.
The three teachers that Ain would get were all heavyweights who wielded great power in Ishtalika.
This made him tremble, feeling joy all over his being.
“Please be careful. Also, I would appreciate it if you could send me a report later.”
“I’ll also want a report later. Well then, shall we go?”
Like this, Ain’s life in Ishtalika began for real.
After the three of them left, Warren was left alone happily speaking to himself.
“Alright, now let’s think about the contents of the studying. For the sake of the future King.”
He was already thinking on several matters regarding how to raise Ain as a fine King.
He wanted Ain to start studying as soon as by this evening.
Ain had high goals, and he knew more than anyone that the road wouldn’t be easy.
“Geez. Ain-sama really looks like him.”
Warren muttered profoundly, and eventually, he also left the salon.
◇ ◇ ◇
The night of the day when the Dullahan’s magic stone was absorbed.
At that time, Krone was alone in her bed at the Augusto’s mansion, thinking.
“……I wonder if my feelings are too shallow?”
There was no lie nor falsehood in her love towards Ain.
However, she thought that maybe her heart had been too easily captivated.
“Haaa……I guess in other’s people’s minds……I might look like an easy woman.”
She tried to ridicule herself as if to excuse herself from others.
Then, she got up from the bed and headed towards her desk.
Bringing out a key, she opened a locked drawer, taking out a jewel she cherished.
Unlike before, it was now secured inside a solid box; while hugging it, she returned to bed.
“……Gosh. To be gone without saying a word.”
Along with a weak grumble, she expressed her feelings.
She recalled that day, that night, many times.
Ain’s gentle face as he offered her the Star Crystal was burned in her mind, unable to be erased.
“Who is it? “
“Ojou-sama. Please excuse me.”
The one who entered was the mansion’s steward.
“I’ve been asked by the Master to check on your progress of the task he assigned to you.”
From father, huh? Krone got up and sat on her bed.
“About the task entrusted to you by Master last night──How far have you gotten? “
“I’m already finished, you can take it with you.”
“……What? Already finished……All of it? “
“That’s what I said. Can you bring me the next task?”
The steward was shocked to see Krone speaking so matter-of-factly.
“How surprising. Master said it was a task that would take almost a week.”
“Well, since I was only focused on it, I finished in no time.”
Also, I promised him──That by the next time we meet, I’ll become someone more worthy……She thought to herself.
Although the words and the contents were vague, this promise was one of the connections she had left with Ain, who had suddenly become royalty, and it was a pillar that supported her in her efforts.
“U-Understood……Well then, I’ll convey those words to the Master.”
“Please do. Ahh, by the way, can you tell him if he could make the next task a bit more challenging? “
“……As you wish.”
Seeing her, the servant thought.
Even this task should’ve been difficult enough for the young Krone.
Looking at the out-of-standard Ojou-sama, who still wanted more than that, he couldn’t help but to smile wryly to himself.
“Was that all? If so, I’m sorry, but I was in the middle of thinking.”
“N-No. The old Master also told me something……”
“Ojii-sama did? “
She turned her face at the servant, asking him to continue.
“Please prepare a letter for ‘him’, it can be about anything…… Is what he told me to convey.”
“──Oh, you should’ve started with that! Gosh, I have to hurry up and write it……! “
She hurriedly stood up and kept that momentum as she went towards her desk.
At the same time, she placed the Star Crystal carefully by her side.
“Ahh, but……What should I write? ……I’ve never written a letter to someone of the opposite sex……”
She was full of confidence until a moment ago, but now she felt puzzled by how should she write a single letter.
The steward, looking at her cute behavior laughed lightly and threw her a lifeline.
“If it’s alright with you, why don’t you ask the old master? He is a bright person well versed in poetry and more.”
Besides, he would want to be relied upon by Krone.
“Y-You’re right……! Thank you, then, I’ll be going to Ojii-sama’s room……! “
“Understood. Please take care.”
With distressed footsteps she ran, making her gloss, pale blue hair flutter dazzling.
It was unusual to see the figure of Krone running in a hurry.
In her facial expression, one could see several emotions, but the predominant one was that of joy.
She was more pleased by the chance to send a letter rather than having to reply to one.
“Ara ara……Do your best, Ojou-sama.”
The servants cheered for her as they saw her running, watching her show a charm befitting her age.
With their support, Krone’s steps got even faster.
“That’s right, I have to write a letter to Olivia-sama too…… not good, I guess I have to talk to Ojii-sama after all……! “
There was too much to write. A plethora of things to convey.
And while thinking of him, far across the sea, Krone felt her steps light.
Thus, with her cheeks tinted in a slight red, she wondered what would he be doing right now?