Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
The port city of Magna is a big city. A few days after their conversation the other day. Ain had left the royal capital first thing in the morning and had taken the royal water train to visit the place.
“Please take a look, Ain-sama. Over there is the pride of Ishtalika, the battleships.”
Warren showed Ain a huge fleet of battleships. In the morning, the port town is bustling with fishing boats returning from the sea and the market, but currently, Ain is in a part of the port that is set up as a military harbor, a little far from the market.
“As usual, it’s full of large ships.”
“They are the key to our national defense… Oh, please watch your step, okay?”
Chris, who was standing next to him, urged him to be careful. Today they were inspecting a lot of things, including the battleship, equipment, and the city.
“I’m grateful to grandfather for today’s inspection. But lately, he’s been nitpicking every time I see him…”
Ain felt sick to his stomach as he remembered the day he had returned to the castle after the entrance test. It was because Sylvird was very angry. It’s because he knew that Olivia wouldn’t be able to say anything firmly to Ain. Hence, the usually lenient Sylvird strongly reprimanded Ain only at that time.
Since that day, whenever he found Ain, he would sternly urge him to be careful.
“──This port city is really big, isn’t it?”
“It is the largest port city in Ishtalika, and one of the three largest cities in Ishtalika, surpassing the royal capital.”
Seeing Ain’s eyes shining, Chris spoke with a soft smile. This large, bustling city is characterized by the red roofs and white walls of many of its buildings. There are waterways all over the town, and you can see small boats sailing around carrying something.
“The taste of the seafood available here is excellent. It’s one of Olivia-sama’s favorite foods.”
At Chris’s information, Ain’s body trembled greatly.
(That’s not good. I have to buy a lot of it before I go home.)
…And then Warren noticed a certain ship.
“Oya? It looks like the ship we’re supposed to be visiting today has already left.”
“It’s the ship from Euro. It looks like they’re in the middle of processing.”
He nodded at Chris and spoke to a worker at the military port who was walking nearby.
“You there. Have the ships from Euro finished unloading?”
“Yes. We’ve already unloaded a box of materials… I think the box is over there.”
A man in grease-stained work clothes pointed at the box. It’s a box with Ishtalika’s crest stamped on it. Warren thanked him, and he returned to his work at a brisk walk.
“Ain-sama, let me show you the sea crystals before they are processed.”
This is part of the inspection. In fact, this is the main topic of the day.
(From the Dukedom of Euro. The first mining product. Control number 1-1. I see… I guess it’s a complete sample.)
Then Chris stepped forward. She pulled out the sword from her waist and swung it with uncanny speed. She seemed to have used some kind of magic, and as if a gust of wind blew, the metal fittings of the wooden box fell to the floor.
“Look at this. This is the sea crystal before it was processed.”
What was taken out in front of him was a white, translucent mass that looked like rock salt. Warren handed it to Ain, and Ain checked its texture.
“It’s kind of like a lump of salt.”
“Hahaha… yes, you’re right.”
Ain held up the sea crystal to look through it and check its weight. It’s heavy enough to hold in one hand, and even when examined through it, there’s nothing particularly distinctive about it.
“──So, Ain-sama. You’ve seen the sea crystal, and that’s the end of today’s inspection.”
“It was all very interesting. Thank you very much for today.”
“Ain-sama. Would you like to take a look at the souvenirs for Olivia-sama?”
In the meantime, today will be identified as Ain’s official duty. Now that his official duty was over, it was time for him to be free. Chris’s suggestion to buy a souvenir for Olivia would be an excellent choice. But…
“Well, Chris-dono, you’re going to be Ain-sama’s escort ─ No, wait, Chris-dono, you have some documents to confirm.”
Warren said as if he remembered.
“Then I’ll wait until Chris-san finishes her work.”
“Fumu… shall I prepare a room for you?”
Warren’s suggestion was in consideration of Ain. But it is not necessary to prepare a room. With that in mind, Ain turned his attention to the pier.
“I’ll be fine. I’ll just wait on the pier and watch the sea.”
It was already autumn in Ishtalika. Even so, the sea of Magna is crystal clear and beautiful. It was just warm enough in the harbor, and small fish appeared in the water.
“I cannot approve if you are alone on the pier because it is too dangerous.”
Chris said she couldn’t accept it and said Ain should get a room. Then Warren came to the rescue.
“Chris-dono. As long as it’s within our sight, it should be fine. If he were to fall into the sea, Chris-dono would be able to notice immediately. Besides, it’s not a place where suspicious people can enter.”
“This is a military port, so only relevant people are allowed in here, but still…”
Chris was reluctant. Even though it’s close by, she can’t nod at the idea of leaving the crown prince alone.
“Then… Ain-sama, please put this on your body.”
Warren handed him a small red gem.
(What is this? A necklace?)
The jewel was tied to a thin chain. It was evident from the length that it was a necklace.
“It’s the Earth Red Jade… I understand. If you have it, I will allow you to go to the pier.”
“What is it? This Earth Red Jade?”
Ain asked as Chris’s attitude changed completely. When he looked at the jewel with his eyes, he saw something that looked like fire stirring inside.
“It’s a valuable magic tool. The core of a powerful dragon has been condensed and embedded in a sea crystal──.”
Chris began to speak. Whenever a malicious person came near it, the jewel would glow and put up a barrier to protect the wearer.
In addition, it was said that the jewel would also exert its power to sustain life when injured or on the verge of death. It is said that once the power is exerted, it loses its effect. However, even if it is used only once, the effect is so great that it is fit for royalty.
“It’s a very expensive piece of jewelry…”
“Yes, it is very expensive, as you say. I would have given it to you sooner, but it was finally finished last night.”
As Warren explained, Ain put the necklace around his neck.
“Please don’t go far from the pier, okay?”
“Okay, I’ll wait for you to finish your work.”
After telling them that he would not go far from the pier, he walked lightly to the pier.
The water was so clear that he could almost see the bottom of the sea, and the scent of the tide tickled Ain’s nostrils. The sun was just right, and the temperature difference between the pleasant warmth and the sea breeze was refreshing.
“──There are so many fish.”
At the pier, many small fish were swimming freely, within grabbing distance. When he looked closer to the bottom of the sea, he saw a vivid coral reef.
(It looks like it’s going to take Chris-san a while, so I think I’ll take a nap.)
The sound of the sea, the scent of the tide, the warmth of the sun, and the warmth of the sun-drenched pier. All of these made Ain feel sleepy. However, Ain, a member of the royal family, is taking a nap in such a place. Is this really allowed? He wondered.
(…I haven’t been introduced to the public yet, in fact, this might be my last chance, right?)
Thinking about it, Ain made up his mind and grinned. He looked at the crates lined up nearby and imagined that it would be okay if he slept in their shade. He imagined. And then…
──Squeak. The wood used for the pier creaked with that sound.
He slumped down next to the crate and looked out at the blue sky that stretched out endlessly. The crate hid the sun’s rays at just the right angle, leaving a convenient space for Ain.
With that, he decided to shut his eyes and enjoy the sunshine.
…He felt good napping on the pier. The sound of the waves and the cries of the sea birds sounded like a lullaby. The ocean breeze caressed his cheeks, and he was immersed in a unique sense of comfort.
How much time had passed since he closed his eyes and began to soak in the comfort of this place? It wasn’t a deep sleep. But even though it was a light sleep, he had never experienced such a fulfilling time.
Tens of minutes had passed, but Chris hadn’t come for him yet. In his shallow sleep, Ain waited quietly for Chris to pick him up. He wasn’t big yet, so he didn’t stand out when he took a nap on the pier.
Those who worked on the large ships in Magna’s port city rarely looked at anything other than the ship as their only destination. A combination of several conditions allowed Ain to enjoy his precious time of napping.
…However, Ain’s inconspicuousness was only when he was alone. For example, what if he was not napping alone but on someone’s lap? It would surely be only a matter of time before he would attract the attention of others.
Ain’s consciousness is about to awaken for the first time in tens of minutes. Since the wind was blowing hard, it shook his hair and tickled his cheeks.
“Geez… is it tickling you?”
His hair was gently brushed away by someone’s fingers, and a pleasant voice reached his ears. The gentle movement of the fingers on his face and the pleasant voice. Feeling both of these, Ain’s consciousness begins to awaken.
His eyes are still not open. This is because the slumber has not fully awakened.
After a pleasant, sunny nap, Ain was feeling satisfied. But something was different. He had slept so close to the crate that his head should have felt hard against it. However, his head was supported by something soft, and the sweet scent of flowers drifted over it.
(Eh… I was supposed to be sleeping on the pier…)
Ain wondered at this and rubbed his eyelids in disbelief. He slowly opened his eyes to see what was going on… And then he saw it.
Why this nap was filled with a sense of fulfillment that he had never experienced before.
“──Hey, Ain? What’s the first thing you’re going to say? Has it been a while? Or thank you for lending me your lap?”
A girl was reflected in Ain’s eyes. She was the one who had lent her lap to Ain. She was speaking to him with the same bell-like tone as before. Then Ain immediately reached out his hand to check if she was real or not.
To touch her cheek? He was afraid to do so. The outstretched hand touched the tips of her hair. It felt silky smooth, and he laughed as if tickled.
I see. It’s real. Ain thought. When Ain turned a kind expression on his face, the words naturally leaked out of his mouth.
“…I’ve missed you. Can’t I just say that?”
She had grown a bit more mature, and her beauty was even more polished. The girl’s face turned slightly red, and she stroked Ain’s cheek.
She brushed her long light blue hair to hide her embarrassment. In her hand, a rose-shaped jewel shone as brightly as her loveliness.