Inhuman power and Magic stone shop
The season changed, turning to early summer.
It was a great day with the sun shining brightly. Chris walked in the castle, a letter in hand, feeling troubled.
It was a letter addressed to Ain, however, due to special circumstances, she struggled about whether to hand it to him or not.
Thinking ‘for the time being, I need to find Ain’, she continued walking.
“Nyahahahaha……! For the Prince to, For the Prince to, such a ……Nyahahahahaha! ”
“All in all, I see it as a success, so isn’t it good?”
“There are monsters that fall under the category of national disasters, nya. I wonder what would happen if you were to suck their magic stones, nyaa……? ”
Ain aimed to change the opinion of Olivia in Heim, so he was filled with joy.
Right now, they were at the courtyard, and he was doing something together with the laughing Katima.
“Huh? What are you two doing? ”
In fact, Ain was planning to go outside the castle with Chris and Lloyd after this.
There was still the matter of the letter, but Chris thought it was a good start finding him this soon.
“Fufufufu! Eight painful months. But out research has finally paid off, nya! You can applaud! ”
Chris, taking into consideration Katima’s mood, clapped her hands while wearing an expression of not understanding what was going on.
“I see……come to think of it, it’s been already eight months.”
Ain was basked in deep emotions, thinking it had already been eight months since his arrival here.
He remembered the many things that happened in these last eight months.
How Chris and Lloyd became his teachers under whom he learned the way of the sword, how he trained to control the power of his Absorb skill, and many others; all in all, Ain’s life in the castle was quite lively.
Besides, over the winter, Ain had turned six years old, growing moderately in height.
Looking at him having grown up and recalling the first time when he saw him, Chris naturally smiled.
“By the way……What’s this research about? ”
“I’d like to explain in detail, but right now I have another job to do, nya! Chris! I leave Ain in your care, nya! ”
“Eh? Ahh…… Leave it to me.”
Suddenly, Katima left the same as she always is, like a storm.
Her appearance of holding a wooden box as she made her way out, made it look as she was quite busy.
“Ahh, Chris-san. How did the meeting go? ”
In response to those words, Chris’s expression turned sour.
“……It wasn’t a report that I was happy with.”
Rather than depressed, it seemed she was tormented by negative emotions such as anger and regret.
It is said that a powerful beautiful woman is threatening, and one could indeed feel that presence from Chris.
“One of Warren-sama’s men is hiding in Heim. And according to his report──”
Apparently, the Roundhart family had been crushed, becoming commoners, but the story didn’t end there.
“I see. Punishment for breaking the secret agreement. Still, is that all? ”
“……No. In virtue of giving birth to a child with the Holy Knight skill in Heim, Logas-dono was bestowed the peerage of Viscount. His desired household name remained as Roundhart.”
When he heard that, Ain nodded deeply and looked at the sky before speaking.
“Just as I thought. I didn’t think the country would just throw away the Roundharts.”
The man named Logas was the Chief Commander and a famous general who made a name for himself in the neighboring countries.
Thinking about everything he had done so far; Ain was certain they wouldn’t simply discard him.
“Apparently, he lost his territory, but got a mansion in return──This is just too much……! ”
It was a naive attitude that screamed that they looked down on Ishtalika.
Or at least, this is what she wanted to say. But-
“We don’t really care about it. Both me and Okaa-sama are just happy with having severed our ties.”
But with that being said, Chris’s expression was still stiff.
The punishment given to them was just essentially a demotion to Viscount and the confiscation of his territory.
With a punishment of this level, not only Chris’s but also Silvird and the others’ anger would not go down.
“They must’ve given a punishment of this level since they know we wouldn’t start a war.”
They knew that since Ishtalika followed the will of the First King, they would have a lenient attitude towards this.
But from Ain’s point of view, he wondered why the other countries had too much trust towards this fact.
“But, Warren-san has taken retaliatory measures, right? ”
“──Yes. Of course, our diplomatic relations have been severed. If a ship from Heim arrives here, it would be dealt with accordingly. Also, there’s the matter with Euro.”
Olivia’s trade deal.
The detailed conditions were also reported at today’s meeting.
“To provide technology related to the transactional value of the mining. In the end, Euro also made another request.”
“Request? What was it? ”
“Euro is doing business with us. They wanted us to announce this publicly.”
In other words, to be their backer. Euro asked for this, although it wasn’t near the level where they made it a demand.
But even with this made public, the other countries should become vigilant.
Rather, this being such a reserved request made Ain smile lightly.
“With such fruitful results, our ship is scheduled to head to Euro soon.”
“That’s what’s important── Well then, it’s about time to go meet Lloyd-san……Huh? Chris-san. What’s with that letter? ”
“……A-Ahh……this is, you see……”
She was too careless.
She felt she should’ve kept the letter in her pocket before calling out to Ain.
But it was too late now. Chris was at a loss as to how to answer.
“Can it be a letter from Heim, by any chance? ”
Ain easily noticed the matter at hand after seeing her twitch in response.
“Hmm……You don’t have to worry, it’s not like it bothers me……”
He sent a lifeline to Chris, who was feeling lost and asking for help with her eyes.
“──Actually, this is not a letter from Heim, but Euro.”
“What? A letter for me from Euro? ”
She resigned herself. Or rather, she decided to speak about it.
Ain, on the other hand, wore a puzzled expression.
“About Euro, I don’t have any acquaintance there……”
“I……I’m sorry. It would be more correct to say it’s a letter from a certain Heim noble sent via Euro.”
“A certain noble? Do you know their name? ”
Ain furrowed his brow after hearing such an unclear answer.
“……In its place, they added the following statement. 『I always carry with me the flower that you gave me, Ain-sama』, do you know someone who would say that? ”
Eh? Was something like that? Ain tried hard thinking with his arms crossed.
“Haa……I was worried, but it seems to be some tomfoolery. I will dispose of this letter.”
Was this harassment from a Heim nobleman? Chris clicked her tongue thinking this was the case.
At that moment, she tried to store the letter in her pocket, but-
“──Can it be? Sorry, Chris-san! I want to see the letter after all! ”
He realized there was only one possibility.
There was at least one person whom he had given a flower before.
“S-Sure……It’s not a problem to show it to you……”
Chris then handed the letter over to Ain, who suddenly became fidgety.
Ain cut the seal with his fingernail and took out the piece of paper inside in excitement.
“Haha……Speaking of flowers, it is that one after all.”
He spread out the paper, reading the letters written in it.
And then, his expression softened, as if being immersed in a nostalgic memory.
“『That night. I lost myself in that time, more blinding than any sparkling gem. However, the single flower that you gave me reminds me of that dazzling time』──Or so she says.”
“A-Ain-sama? That sounds somehow like a love letter……Is that what’s written in it? ”
It was a letter that purposely crossed countries and was delivered with hardships.
If the contents were just those of a love sentence, Chris would feel it anticlimactic.
“It also says 『I apologize for not stating my name. But after receiving a reply that you accept me in Ishtalika, at that time allow me to properly introduce myself again』 afterward.”
Ain felt embarrassed by the passionate contents.
With a smile, he tried to hide his shyness, and then returned the letter to Chris while in high spirits, who then also looked through it.
“Are you sure it isn’t a love letter……?”
Just as Chris said, the diplomatic relations had been cut off, so that’s why it had to be sent via Euro.
“……Will you be giving a reply? ”
“I will. Okaa-sama also thinks she’s a good person so I’d like her to come here as she wishes.”
After those words, the confused Chris suddenly felt better.
If the other party was in friendly terms with Olivia, then it was a different story.
“If Olivia thinks like that about her, then I will also welcome her. Let’s inform Warren-sama.”
She made a mental note not to forget about this girl.
After that, she remembered the conversation between Ain and Katima.
“By the way, what’s this result of eight months of research you were talking about with Katima-sama? ”
“Ahh, that’s──Here it is.”
After being asked by Chris, Ain took one big fang-like thing from his bosom.
It was a special item whose surface was covered with metal.
“You know about the Phantom Hand, right, Chris? ”
“I do. It’s supposed to be the main skill used by the Dark Knight……by the Dullahan.”
A third arm created using magical power.
This was the only Dark Knight skill that Ain could use and had been training so far.
The attack power, durability, and arm length changed depending on the amount of skill of the user, and depending on how much magic was put in it, the Phantom Hand could exert an amazing power.
“So, you see, this claw was specially made by Katima-san, and when combined with my Phantom Hand……”
Immediately, Ain put power into his body.
Then a black tentacle-like arm appeared from his back, and the claw was attached to the tip.
“We were experimenting before you came, Chris-san, and if I put this on and pierce with it a monster, I’m able to suck the contents of the magic stone while the monster is alive……”
“Haaa……What a dangerous thing you’ve developed.”
She couldn’t even say she was surprised since they spent eight months developing this dangerous thing.
As usual, this was a prince with plenty of things to talk about.
Realizing this, Chris simply said “How amazing”, in a dry voice. Then Ain continued.
“Ahh, its name is Dark Straw. Isn’t it perfect? ”
“……Allow me to refrain from answering that, please.”
I see so that that was the reason why Katima-sama was laughing like a maniac.
After the ambiguous response and having those thoughts in her mind, Chris guided Ain to Lloyd.
◇ ◇ ◇
Lloyd had prepared a carriage and was waiting for Ain and Chris by the main gate.
Where were the three of them going and what would they do there? ──the place was a forest, located a few dozen minutes away from the Royal Capital.
After some time, the horse-drawn carriage with Ain and the others arrived at the destination, the forest near the capital.
“The weather is nice, and the air in the forest feels great.”
“Fufu……Yeah, I think so too. Now, please come this way.”
After getting off the carriage, the scenery was of deep greenery and one could hear the singing voice of the birds.
“A beautiful place, isn’t it? You wouldn’t think there would be monsters.”
“Dangerous monsters do not live here. Still, don’t let your guard down.”
Hearing Chris’s advice, Ain tensed up a bit.
The reason they came to this forest today was to let him experience a fight against monsters.
With the training in the ways of the sword reaching a certain point, the need for him to gain new experiences also arrived.
“Alright, let me be at the lead, Ain-sama, please stay close to Chris.”
In front of Ain was Lloyd. And Chris walked next to him.
These two had the highest strength in all Ishtalika, so with that power also came a great reliance.
“Lloyd-san. What kind of monsters live in this forest? ”
“In here, Forest Rats, Large Hornworms, and Green Slimes often appear.”
Not missing a beat, Chris complemented on that information.
“All these three kinds of monsters are about 1 meter in size. They aren’t very strong monsters, even while swarming.”
“I see. I’m relieved then.”
He felt at ease.
After all, he didn’t feel it would be a great idea to try and beat a strong opponent right from the start.
“This is easier than your training against the castle’s knights. And you’ve become able to fight fairly even against those knights, Ain-sama. So, with that being the case, these wouldn’t be opponents you’ll be struggling against.”
──Or so Lloyd said. Then immediately after.
“This is just perfect……That’s a Forest Rat! ”
A large rat emerged from the shade of a tree.
The gray-haired body looked like an ordinary rat, but it had two tails instead of one, and its claws were quite sharp.
In general, it looked like a normal rat.
“Ain-sama. First, think about how you’ll fight it──”
“No, it’s alright. I’ll think about how to deal with it as I fight.”
“……Luck be with you.”
After expressing his denial of Chris’s proposal, Ain stepped forward.
He pulled out the iron dagger and calmly held it.
(Alright, let’s do our best.)
Fuuu…… Ain breathed deeply and calmly as he looked at the Forest Rat.
The next moment, he took a step and dashed out at the Forest Rat.
“Come, this is Ain-sama’s first battle. I don’t believe he will have many problems dealing with this.”
“I suppose. But despite these are opponents being a step below the castle’s knights, I was worried he might not know how to deal with them……”
The pair watched with joy over their Prince’s, Ain’s first battle.
However, their expectations of some hardships were easily betrayed after some tens of minutes.
The reason, Ain was easily coping up with the monsters.
──Some tens of minutes later.
After defeating the first Forest Rat, Ain continued fighting against many other monsters.
“……Lloyd-sama. It seems that the monsters here aren’t putting up a fight against him.”
“Umu…… To be honest, I expected this to some extent. After all, he can go toe to toe against the castle’s knights in swordsmanship.”
Chris and Lloyd were watching Ain from behind.
And from there, they could see that Ain wasn’t struggling against the monsters at all.
“Yeah, it’s different from fighting people, but…… he seems to be managing himself.”
While saying that, he finished defeating a Green Slime.
At first, he was puzzled about how to fight the monsters, but Ain immediately got a knack on how to deal with them.
“Also, it helps that there aren’t but weak ones here.”
One of Ain’s pleasures was investigating the taste of the magic stones.
Neither the Forest Rat nor the Large Hornworm had a good flavor.
However, Green Slimes appear to be different.
“Green Slimes look like melons and have a great flavor……”
Lloyd, who was listening to him from a distance, laughed out loud after hearing his thoughts on the training.
“Hahaha! Ain-sama! It looks like they weren’t good enough.”
When a man as large as him opened his mouth and laughed, it gave the impression that the whole forest was shaking.
“Since the opponent wasn’t a person, at first I was confused about how to attack.”
“I guessed so. And they might be desperately trying not to be defeated by you, Ain-sama.”
If they ran away from an opponent their reputation might get damaged, and the other monsters in the forest will attack them.
In the first battle, Ain didn’t have a bad experience.
“Still, I’m glad they were this strong today.”
“That’s the most important thing. From the next time on, let’s go to a place with slightly stronger monsters.”
“Ahh……Come to think of it, how strong is a really strong monster? ”
In Ain’s mind, the strongest monster was the Demon King…… and then, the Dullahan.
“Let’s see, for example, there are dragons that are larger than our battleships.”
“……Let’s forget I asked that.”
As he said so, Ain looked over to the Green Slime that was nearby.
Ain, wanting to test out that technique once, took out Katima’s special fang out of his pocket.
“Ohh, that, are you……”
Chris noticed it. The thing she saw in the courtyard for the first time.
“Since I got the chance, I want to try and test it in an actual battle. Is it alright? ”
“I don’t see the problem. I would like for you to show us your new skills.”
Lloyd was also curious about the results of the rumored research.
Thus, he gave an affirmative reply. After jumping with joy, Ain made the Phantom Hand appear and attached the fang to it.
“Lloyd-sama. Apparently, the name of that thing is Dark Straw.”
“U-Umu……As for its principle, I don’t think that’s a wrong name……I see……”
Leaving aside whether he thought it was a good or bad name, he just looked at it with a wry smile.
Not paying attention to the other two, Ain stretched out his black tentacle──no, his dark straw.
It surged through the air in a weaving motion, making it hard to imagine it being a technique used by humans.
That tentacle, created by absorbing Ain’s magic power, stretched out with the fang pointing towards a Green Slime.
Being pierced, the body of the Green Slime shook.
Just as the Green Slime’s magic stone gradually lost its color, something similar to a pale, shining bubble passed through the insides of the Phantom Hand.
“That’s the life force of the magic stone……I see so that’s why a straw.”
“Y-Yeah. A straw, huh……?”
It was a great skill with a remarkable effect.
The shining bubble-like things stopped once the magic stone turned colorless.
“I’ll have to say it’s richer and more delicious than sucking it directly.”
After returning to the castle, I’ll have to tell these results to Katima-san, he thought.
……This technique was extremely strange, but there was no doubt about its usefulness.
The black tentacle from the back of a little boy, which was unusual in itself, pierced a monster and sucked the contents.
The two people who were watching this had emotions beyond description.
“──Well then, Ain-sama. Shall we end for today?”
Lloyd proposed. He couldn’t remain in a daze forever.
He looked at the sky, the sun beginning to set, and then turned to his side to Chris, who nodded quietly.
“I guess you’re right. Thank you both for your precious time today.”
Ain bowed his head.
They answered Ain with a gentle smile and then they returned to the carriage they came on.
This was his first fight against monsters. And if one asked about the results, the answer would be, a success.
◇ ◇ ◇
On the way back from the forest.
Ain, traveling in the horse-drawn carriage through the castle town, smiled inwardly at the ambient inside.
(That’s an air cooler, right?)
A thin, square-shaped magic tool was attached to the ceiling of the carriage.
And from there, a pleasant cold breeze could be felt. Thanks to it, they were able to travel comfortably.
He could see a huge difference from Heim even in the smallest of details.
(Even so, there are a lot of different people here……)
A wide variety of races walked through the town, such as beast and winged people.
Not only the magic tools but also the sight of so many different anthropoid races could be said that made Ishtalika, well… Ishtalika.
At that moment, Ain turned his attention to a certain building.
Maybe in that store……he thought, feeling a strong attraction.
“Chris-san! That store……! ”
Various large magic stones were displayed in the huge windows in that store.
The decorations in the gate were also splendid, giving off the air of a “high-class store”.
“Uhhh……Ahh, that’s a shop that sells high-class magic stones.”
“It’s a well-known shop that wholesales magic stones to the castle……Hmm, this is perfect. Ain-sama, if you’d like, why don’t you take a look? ”
“L-Lloyd-san──Is it alright!? ”
“Of course. However, because of some concerns, I can’t accompany you.”
Lloyd said with regret in his voice.
The concerns he was talking about referred to Ain’s social status.
“Today I’m wearing my personal armor, so I can come with him.”
Chris directed a smile towards Ain while she spoke to Lloyd, then she wore the helmet she was carrying.
By doing so, her gold-like hair and her beautiful appearance were hidden.
“Excuse me, can you stop the carriage in that alley?”
Lloyd instructed the coachman. Then, moments later, the horse-drawn carriage turned to a narrow alley and stopped.
“I’ll be waiting here; you can go ahead and bring Chris with you.”
Chris was the first to get off the carriage, then she helped Ain down.
“I’ll be right back, Lloyd-san! ”
Being sent off with a smile, Ain began to walk alongside Chris.
“Actually, Ojii-sama gave me some pocket money the other day, so this is just perfect.”
“His Majesty did? In that case, if you see a magic stone you like, you can buy it.”
How much pocket money did King Silvird give him? Chris wondered.
“By the way, the name of this store is “Majorca’s Magic stone store”. They trade a wide variety of magic stones.”
After walking for a few seconds, they arrived at the front of the store.
As Chris was explaining to Ain, he reached with his hand to open the door.
“──Oh my. Welcome.”
Those words came from inside the store just as Chris was about to enter. However.
“A-Ain-sama? Why did you close the door……? ”
He silently had closed the door without saying anything.
The reason being, the appearance of the clerk was simply too much shocking.
“I wanted to go to a magic stone store (maseki no mise), not to a sexual fetishes shop (seiheki no mise).”
“Yo-Yo-Yo……You’re wrong! This is a real, high-end magic stone shop! ”
Chris denied those words in haste, but it was no wonder why Ain thought so about this store.
The clerk was a blonde, shirtless man with solid muscles covered in oil and wearing suspenders. And, to go even further, he covered his nipples with magic stones.
Rather, this made it more difficult to think of this as a magic stone store.
“The owner here is……a peculiar person, but he’s a very nice person, you know? ”
Chris said with a troubled expression, but he wondered if “peculiar” was enough to describe him.
After heaving a deep sigh, Ain opened the door and met the clerk once again.
“I thought it was some kind of prank. Welcome, my young customer.”
“T-Thanks……Sorry to bother.”
“It’s been a while. Majorca-san.”
After making sure nobody else was inside the store, Chris took off her helmet.
The clerk, Majorca, smiled when he saw her.
“Oh my, isn’t it Chris? Can it be you’re accompanying this boy? ”
Saying so, he tried to pry in the identity of the boy.
“That’s right. However, that’s all I can say.”
But Chris just gave a vague answer.
This because although Ain had already been recognized as the Crown Prince, he had yet to be presented in public.
Only his name was made public, so she couldn’t call him Ain in here.
──This was also part of Lloyd’s concerns that he talked about.
As a result, since Lloyd was wearing the Royal Guard’s armor, he couldn’t accompany Ain.
“Hmmm……Is that so. Well, that makes no difference, a customer is a customer.”
Probably sensing the circumstances, Majorca obediently gave up.
“So, are you looking for a magic stone? ”
“Yes. I came to see the types of magic stones.”
Majorca asked Chris, but the one who answered him was Ain.
“Ohh, ‘you’ are? ”
Looking at Ain, Majorca’s expression suddenly loosened.
“Don’t touch the magic stone in the Sea Crystal pedestal. It might hurt your body, so be careful please.”
“Okay. I’ll be careful.”
I wonder what’s in there…… Thinking that, he explored the store, which was about 33 square meters.
He immediately felt relieved that the fragrance of the magic stones was not too strong.
In the past, he felt a rich scent coming from the Ripplemodoki magic stone, so he was afraid that his nose might not handle the aroma inside a magic stone store.
However, and perhaps because he trained in order to control his Absorb, he felt relieved by the degree of the faint scent.
(Even so, this place is indeed filled with magic stones.)
A magic stone had a color that looked it was made of pure gold, another had something like a lightning raging inside.
There was even a reddish-black magic stone inside a case with engraved decoration. And then.
“Huh……? Steak? ”
He felt a rich meaty scent coming from a 40 cm gray magic stone.
“Oh my, you’re quite sharp. That’s a magic stone from a White Bison. It’s a monster whose meat is high-quality.”
I want to try it. Ain thought to himself.
“Let’s see……Since you’re Chris’s companion, just 30,000G is fine.”
Feeling grateful for the discount, Ain took out the gold coins from his leather wallet.
“Thank you for your purchase. I’ll wrap it up and give it to you when you leave.”
Saying so, Majorca disappeared behind the counter carrying the magic stone that Ain had just purchased.
After he went away, Chris called out to Ain.
“Ain-sama. Don’t let the fact that you can smell the magic stones be known, okay? ”
“Ahh……Sorry. My bad.”
This was an obvious matter to point out since not even a bit of information about Ain should leak out.
After this, Ain enjoyed Majorca’s shop for about an additional hour.
Aside from the White Bison’s magic stone, he also bought a magic stone from a monster called Green Wyvern.
The price was slightly more expensive than the White Bison’s one, at 52,000G.
“Chris-san. Should we──.”
After being fully satisfied, and thinking he should make Lloyd wait longer, Ain opened his mouth.
“Yeah, that’s true. Let’s pick up the goods and head home.”
“Alright. Please wait for a moment.”
Majorca replied and went to grab the packed magic stones for Ain.
At that moment, Ain’s ears caught a strange sound.
Turning towards that direction, he found the reddish-black magic stone that he noticed when he entered the store.
He felt as if he could hear a voice coming from inside the engraved glass case.
“Here, sorry to keep you waiting…… Oh my, boy. Are you interested in that? ”
“……Yeah. I thought it was a beautiful engraving, so I looked inside.”
Since it would be foolish to say he heard a voice, he switched the answer to complimenting the engraving.
“It is a special seal. I got it to serve as a seal for this magic stone.”
“To seal it? ”
“It is said this has a curse. It apparently appears in the owner’s dreams, repeatedly saying ‘not you, not you’.”
It seems this arrived at Majorca’s shop about five years ago.
Is it a seal against that? Ain asked with curiosity.
“It’s a strange story, right? It’s weird for someone to hear a voice from a magic stone.”
Although it had been sealed, he still seemed wary.
And yet, Ain felt something from the magic stone, however, it didn’t seem to be evil.
“Majorca-san. That magic stone……how much would it be with the case included? ”
“Uhh, I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch on……what did you say? ”
On second thought, Ain thought he shouldn’t have asked.
“──P-Please stop! It’ll be bad if something happens! ”
“Majorca-san. How much for that magic stone? ”
Still, Ain decided to not back down. He also decided to ignore Chris’s complaints.
(It doesn’t feel strange, and I think it will be nice to have Katima-san look into it.)
“……It doesn’t seem you’ve been charmed by it.”
He looked at Ain straight in the eyes while ascertaining that.
And for a moment, the inside of the store was enveloped in a cold atmosphere. This made Ain wonder if Majorca had done something.
“It’s okay. It’s all my own will.”
“……If something happens, you bring it here, alright? This goes also for you, Chris. ”
“To be honest, I’m not really okay with it. However, I know how stubborn this person can be…… And if it’s your seal, Majorca-san, even His Majesty will trust it.”
Chris accepted reluctantly.
Even in the chance the curse being real, it was only a voice.
“I’ll only charge you for the materials of the case. Would 300,000G be alright? ”
“Yes. I’ll pay it.”
Ain quickly paid said amount.
This made Chris wonder how much Silvird had given to Ain as “pocket money”.
“This is the last of the money I brought today, thank god.”
So, she felt relieved to hear this.
It was too much money to give as pocket money to a child, but she could accept it since Ain was the Crown Prince.
“Thank you for your purchase. Well then, let me wrap this one as well.”
“Ahh, then, I’ll go see some magic stone while you finish wrapping it.”
Ain left the two of them after saying those words.
“Seriously……Isn’t he a handful? Our Crown Prince.”
“──W-What are you talking about? ”
Chris answered in a panic. You could work a little harder on your acting, thought Majorca.
“You, you’re the one who dug your own grave. Remember? ──His Majesty will trust it.”
“Ah……T-That……U-Uhm, Majorca-san? This matter is confidential……”
“It’s not like I’ll tell anyone……Geez, Chris.”
In the first place, having the Vice-captain of the Royal Guards as the escort of a noble. This alone was weird enough.
He was suspicious from the beginning, but it all became clear when she self-destructed.
“You show your clumsiness even in front of His Highness? ”
“I haven’t shown anything……And I’m not clumsy……! ”
“Who was the fool who spoke out of line then? ”
While wrapping up the magic stone, Majorca’s rebut caused Chris to stiffen.
Chris’s face turned a shade of red, and small tears gathered at the corner of her eyes.
Finding such an aspect of Chris interesting, Majorca laughed.
“Come on, His Highness will see you, you know? Here, it’s all wrapped up, take it with you.”
After giving it to Chris, he pushed her back towards the direction where Ain was at.
“Huh? Chris-san, your eyes are red……”
“……It’s nothing, I just had an itch in my eyes. ”
Chris put on her helmet to cover her eyes.
Ain wondered what was going on, but since nothing happened, he simply ignored it and left Majorca’s store.
◇ ◇ ◇
──A certain day, in the capital of Heim.
A mansion was newly-built for the newly appointed Viscount, however, it was too luxurious for a simple Viscount family.
Still, no noble complained about this, and everyone even gave them their blessing.
At the party celebrating the completed mansion, Krone overviewed her surroundings while resting her chin on her hand.
The nobles surrounded and celebrated the main figures, Logas, and his family.
Looking at them from the side and thinking what a boring pretense, she couldn’t help leak out a sigh.
(Haa……If it wasn’t for Ain, there would be no meaning in those people coming to the Royal Capital.)
Being bored out of her mind, she stared at her empty glass.
“Ojou-sama, I could get you a replacement if you’d like? ”
At that moment, an old servant called out to her.
She was the woman serving the Roundhart family that had in the past given Ain cookies.
“……Yes, I’ll take you up on that.”
Hearing that answer, the servant poured some fruit water to Krone and then spoke to her.
“I’m very sorry. It seems like you’re not liking this evening gathering……”
“It’s not this household’s fault. It’s just that the person who I wanted to meet isn’t here, so I’m just bored.”
“The person you wanted to meet? ……Someone from the Roundhart family? ”
If it’s Grint-sama, he’s over there, you know? She said, but Krone answered with a wry smile.
To her, Grint was the same as the other mob characters, and she had no interest in him.
“I’m not interested in that child. The one I wanted to see was Ain.”
She wondered if she should’ve used the proper honorific, but she was a little lost in her thoughts that it didn’t feel like it mattered.
She couldn’t help speaking about that since she couldn’t stand someone thinking she was there for Grint.
“──Have you met the Young Master? ”
At that point, the servant quickly approached and spoke in a quiet voice.
Her somewhat sorrowful expression caught Krone’s attention.
“Yeah. I met him at my little brother’s……Ahh, or should I say, at Ain’s little brother’s presentation? ”
She deliberately spoke those words in a sarcastic tone to test how the servant would answer.
She thought she might call her rude, her attitude would turn nasty, and she would go back inside the mansion.
“No, that was supposed to be the presentation for the Young Master.”
However, the old servant answered with a dignified attitude.
“The Young Master’s big moment──All of us servants were looking forward to it.”
“……Is it alright for you to speak like that? ”
Here, the servant raised her index finger and placed it against her lips. I see, she wants to keep this a secret.
For the first time today, Krone smiled and continued to talk happily.
“Hey, could you tell me more about Ain? ”
This servant should know, and she would be able to tell me what kind of boy he was, she thought.
Her mood gradually improved, as she finally found some value in coming to today’s party.
“He was a hard worker, considerate, and very kind to us servants……He was a wonderful person.”
No matter how his relationship was with Logas, he worked hard and continued to train even when he was all alone.
The servant also said he liked to read books, and although there were some places where he still lacked, the eldest son was still a respectable person.
“There were a bunch of notes left by the Young Master──You could even call it a mountain of papers──but we actually stored them on a bookshelf in this new mansion’s library.”
“Is it alright for you to do something like that? Won’t they……punish you if they find out?”
“That’s something I’d like for you to keep a secret, Ojou-sama.”
Despite the possibility of her being punished, she happily talked with Krone.
“Speaking of which……Please look at this. This is something I got from the Young Master.”
“……Is it, a wood-carved animal? ”
“Yes. The Young Master carved it for me.”
She took out a small wood-carved bear and showed it to Krone.
She was surprised that he could do something like this, but more than anything, she felt happy.
──She enjoyed hearing about Ain’s daily life, of which she was unaware of, more than listening to any story of old.
If a play was made with these stories as a base, she would surely come to watch it every day.
“I also got something from Ain, a flower. It’s a beautiful flower that resembles a starry sky.”
“Oh my……That sounds like something the Young Master would do.”
She gave a vague description instead of calling it a Star Crystal and laughed together as she talked with the servant.
Of course, the servant knew about why Krone was sitting here.
And she was happy to see that she laughed in joy as she heard the stories, and told her she wanted to meet with Ain.
“──Krone. I’m sorry to have left you alone.”
Moments later, Harley finally returned.
Seeing him approach, the servant quietly left.
“It doesn’t matter. Thanks to that I was able to hear about Ain.”
“……You shouldn’t speak out too much about that. Also, for the sake of the future plans.”
“I’m aware of that. But I didn’t want people to think I was looking for another partner.”
After taking a glance at Grint, Harley noticed her intentions.
“Haa……I understand you.”
And, after he replied, he was amazed to see Logas get up from his seat and come to where they were sitting.
“Excuse me. We’re honored to have two members of the Archduke Augusto’s family here──Pardon me, this is the first time we’ve met, Krone-sama, it’s a pleasure.”
Logas, dressed in formal attire had a dignified figure, and there might be many women who would feel attracted by his appearance.
However, Krone simply stood up while heaving a sigh as if she was not interested.
“Same here, a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
If it were an ordinary noble lady, she would continue to make some small talk after this.
However, since the other party was Logas, she was firm in her attitude and kept silent after greeting him.
“……Are you enjoying today’s party? ”
“Please don’t let that bother you.”
With Logas wondering the meaning behind those words, she continued.
“There’s only one party which I have enjoyed.”
That night, the party the three of us had was exceptional, she thought.
Seeing Logas feeling a bit mortified, she opened her mouth to continue.
“By the way, it looks like Grint-sama and Shanon-sama are in a good relationship.”
“Wh-……? Y-Yeah. Just as you’ve said, Krone-sama, they seem to be compatible with each other.”
What’s this all the sudden? Logas felt confused, but he was happy to hear this being said about Grint.
“──It’s a shame we couldn’t create a bond with you, Krone-sama. But if that child grows to become a good man……Then.”
“Fufu. Certainly, a Holy Knight is a promising power. However──”
Harley felt like holding his head on his hand.
After all, he didn’t think his daughter Krone would stop at just simply giving a compliment.
“That, right? I can’t feel any sort of attraction to him as a person. That why I don’t think there will be a bond with him.”
She showed a wry smile while saying this as if implying this was just a trivial matter.
Even though she’s the granddaughter of the Archduke, isn’t she being a bit too rude?
The inside of Logas’s mind wasn’t calm at all, but he had heard that Krone was such a woman.
“Haha…… don’t you think you’re being too harsh?”
In the end, he had no choice other than to play it as a vague mockery.
“But even though I said that, I believe your decision was brilliant, Logas-sama. I think it was great that you chose him as the next head of the family.”
“……Yeah. I think choosing Grint was a better choice both for my household and for Heim.”
Suddenly, Logas was once again puzzled by these words, which contained neither irony nor prickliness, like the ones before.
Looking at his curious expression, Krone laughed and spoke to Harley, her father.
“And I’m grateful for that. Well then……Otou-sama. Isn’t it about time to leave? ”
“Yeah, let’s do so.”
It was already getting late, and it was customary that the top-level nobles would leave their seats first.
When Logas offered to see them off, Krone refused, and as she left, she said “Speaking of which……”, and turned back.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who has the appeal as a person, and the strength of mind……Only Ain.”
Why did Ain name come up……? Logas was shocked with his mouth agape.
After dropping that last bomb, Krone left the venue wearing a charming smile.
After the two of them got inside the carriage, Harley asked her.
“By the way, Krone. Why did you praise Logas-dono for his decision? ”
“For what else? Didn’t Ain become part of the Royal Family of the best country because of his decision? ”
No matter what problems might have occurred, for her, the happiest thing was that he was living a happy life in Ishtalika.
In the end, Krone had a consistent attitude from start to finish.
“By the way, what are the plans for going to Euro? ”
“……I’ve been talking with my father, and it’s like this.”
Graf will yield his position to Harley, and then he will go to the Trade Cities of Birdland to rest.
There are a lot of inns catered to nobility in Birdland, so it wouldn’t look strange for Graf to head there.
And then, Krone will accompany her grandfather with the excuse of broadening her views.
──That’s the official story, and from there, the two of them will disguise themselves and travel to Euro.
“Thanks to the considerations of the second princess Olivia-sama, you’ll stay for a while in a ship from Ishtalika. And when they carry the Sea Crystals back, you’ll cross to Ishtalika. That’s more or less the plan.”
“……I understand. I’m grateful you’re doing this, Otou-sama.”
This was probably the end of the current life of their parent and child relation.
Krone and Harley looked at each other, both immersed in a sad atmosphere.