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In the end, it was Sylvird who brought things to a conclusion. He made all the nobles in the hall stand up and asked them to praise Ain for his abrupt but well-spoken speech. He complained to Ain, who was applauded but said it was admirable.
A little later, the topic of conversation in the hall was all about Ain.
“Ah, he is a courageous man, isn’t he?”
“Umu. He is braver than I had heard, and it is wonderful that he spoke of his own strength instead of his position.”
One of the nobles spoke of Ain’s earlier words.
“It was wonderful. How wonderful that he would put his body on the line like that to protect a young lady who had crossed the ocean.”
“Yes. It was such a beautiful scene… as if it were a scene from a fairy tale.”
The noblewomen were impressed by Ain’s defending of Krone and talked about it, remembering the scene from earlier.
“Even so, I was surprised to see that His Royal Highness the Crown Prince was not afraid of the magic of the magic stone.”
“He must be a very strong man, and it seems that the future of our Ishtalika is bright…!”
Another group of nobles also sounded surprised.
“You are right. I don’t know what kind of power he has, but it’s not something a mere person can do!”
Despite the suddenness of the event, their feelings toward Ain were very good.
After that, Ain exchanged words with several nobles and smiled for a few minutes. But when he calmed down a bit, he asked Warren, who was walking nearby, for help.
“…Um, I think my body is a little overheated, so can I go out on the terrace and cool my head off?”
His face was strangely heated. Perhaps it was the result of nervousness and joy. Ain asked to be excused from his seat, as they had been talking without a break so far.
“No problem. The terrace over there is only open to us, the people involved, but in the meantime, please take an escort…”
Warren wanted to ask Chris to be Ain’s escort, but Ain was adamant.
“I want to take some time alone to think about it. Would that be all right?”
The terrace is located behind the seat where Sylvird is sitting, out of sight of the nobles in the hall.
“…I understand. It gets cold at night, so please take care of yourself.”
“Thank you very much. I’ll leave you to it, mother.”
“Yes, please be careful.”
Thus, Ain left Olivia and the others and went to the terrace near the hall. Olivia, who was left behind, beckoned to Krone, who was watching the situation.
“──Krone-san. Did you fall in love with Ain all over again?”
“Yes… I don’t know how many times I can fall in love at first sight, but I can’t find the answer.”
Last time, he fulfilled her longing in Heim, and this time, he showed up dashing at the party to help her.
The content of his speech was so heroic that it just grabbed her heart. She stroked her cheeks, which had turned red in a different way from Ain’s, and exhaled in a mature gesture.
“I’m in trouble. I don’t know what to say to him… Because he might not be able to remain normal.”
Then, as she did so, she heard the conversation of a nearby nobleman.
“It was an outstanding moment. What a remarkable presence.”
“Exactly… No, no, no, I never thought I’d hear a speech like the one given by His Majesty the First.”
And then she guessed. Why did the nobles in the hall suddenly kneel down?
“…Olivia-sama, did everyone take a knee because Ain just now was like His Majesty the First?”
“Fufu… yeah, that’s what it is.”
Everything makes sense. It’s not just a matter of Ain being the Crown Prince.
“His Majesty the First used his favorite white silver as a metaphor for Ishtalika when he went to defeat the Demon King. The words he used to inspire everyone were exactly the same as the speech Ain had just given.”
Warren said, but it wasn’t just that the words were similar, but also the power and supremacy that Ain possessed. That’s why his thoughts and feelings moved all the nobles in the hall.
Ain is truly an amazing person. When Krone’s inner thoughts were filled with that thought, she wanted to talk to Ain as soon as possible. She stared in the direction of the terrace.
“──Krone-san. You can go if you want.”
Then Olivia smiled and gave her a push.
“You can go now. Ain-sama must be pleased to have Lady Krone to company him.”
Warren said, and Chris put a shawl over Krone’s shoulders.
“It’s cold outside, so take this.”
Before she realized it, they had even arranged everything for her to go outside. She was confused by this preparation, but she wanted to talk to Ain more than that.
“T… thank you very much. Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment…!”
Olivia and the others watched as she hurriedly made her way to the back of the line.
“──She went, I see.”
It was Sylvird; he came right after Krone left.
“Good grief, I would have punished him for what he did earlier, but I’ve given Ain a lot of trouble, including investigating the Roundhart family and the sea crystals. I’ll just put it aside for now.”
It was thanks to this that he ended up with only a bitter complaint, and Ain managed to escape punishment. He turned a disgruntled face to Warren, but Warren opened his mouth without paying attention.
“It is just as well that His Majesty is also here. I have something to report about Lady Krone.”
What is it? Olivia and Sylvird looked at Warren curiously.
“Next year, Lady Krone will be transferring to the Liebe Girls’ Academy. I’ve been giving her assignments for that, and she’s done much better than I expected.”
“Fumu… If Warren says so, then it must be a good result.”
“I’ve increased the number of tasks and have decided on the future of her education.”
Only when the number of assignments increased, she said with a drawn-out smile that said, “…Thank you.”
She, just like Ain, will have to work very hard.
“So, what is the educational plan?”
“Yes. The first is an education plan for… civil servants such as myself.”
He held up a finger and counted.
“The second is to become an all-around educated, unrivaled lady, like Her Highness.”
Sylvird and Olivia listened quietly. They couldn’t help but wonder what choice Krone had made.
“Third, to become something like a queen. This plan is to cultivate a personality that can lead the people.”
“So, which one did Krone choose?”
Warren smiled reminiscently and paused for a few seconds before answering.
“A highly educated lady who can think and judge like a queen and watch over the King. So she says.”
It was a choice that was both selfish and strong-willed, just like her.
Sylvird smiled broadly at her dependability and watched the direction of the terrace.
“…Good gracious. The new generation is too much of a problem for me.”
◇ ◇ ◇
The terrace where Ain is. As Warren said, only a few people can visit this place. On such a terrace, he leaned his elbows on the fence and gazed at the night view of the castle town.
“…The view is amazing as always.”
The castle is big and tall, and this night view is also a view of the castle town from high above. The sky was clear and full of stars, just before the onset of winter.
On the other hand, when he looked down, he saw a cityscape that looked like a jewel box turned upside down.
“But it might be getting a little cold.”
“──Well, why don’t you join me for a shoulder ride?”
It’s fluffy. A soft cloth is placed on the shoulders of Ain.
“Yes. It’s me, Krone.”
She answered and stood next to Ain. Strangely, perhaps because of the remnants of his exuberant mood, Ain did not feel nervous. As they stood there, their shoulders barely touching each other, they both turned their attention to the castle town.
“Thank you, um… for what you did earlier.”
She said with a crimson face, suppressing the throbbing in her chest.
“It’s my fault that I put you in that situation, so don’t worry about it.”
Although he replied, she grasped Ain’s hand tightly.
“I was happy that you protected me. That’s why… I was really happy.”
She stood so close to him, holding his hand and looking at him with a blush. The two were staring into each other’s eyes when they suddenly came to their senses and let go of each other’s hands to look at the castle town.
“A-anyway ─ Ishtalika is really a big country…!”
“Y… yes. I’m still amazed by it all.”
The comparison for both of them was Heim. Ain was born in a port city, and Krone in the capital, but they could not see such a scene in Heim.
In the end, she regained a bit of her composure and asked Ain as if teasing him.
“Hey, what you just said… did you actually think about that before?”
“…What if I told you I had?”
When he said this, she tilted her head and laughed.
“Ain is a terrible liar, you know. It’s easy to tell by looking at your face.”
It seemed that she was just asking a question, and she knew the answer from the beginning. In response to her words, he put his hand on his cheek as if he was unhappy.
“There are still several large cities on this continent, like… the port city of Magna.”
He had never been around, but this continent was more extensive and more expansive than Heim.
“I thought it was great. Just one city is amazing, but there are so many of them.”
“Geez, Ain? All you said was that it was amazing…”
“That’s how great it is. This country is.”
Also, everywhere he looked, all he could see was the difference between it and Heim. Maybe the difference in technology and civilization is as much as a few hundred years.
It’s just like a different world.
“But I know what you mean.”
“That’s good to hear.”
Suddenly, a strong wind blew over the two of them. It was only for a moment, but Krone’s long hair flew up in the air, and the scent of flowers reached Ain.
…It was when Ain was about to fall in love with the scent. The royal capital of Ishtalika changed its appearance as if to congratulate Ain on his speech.
Krone muttered. When she finished combing her hair with her hand, she noticed something that fell into her hand on the fence. It was as cold as ice and would melt if touched with the hand.
“It looks like snow.”
A single snowflake landed on Krone’s hand. That was the start of the snow falling all over the capital.
The city’s lights and the castle reflected the snow and made it sparkle from time to time. There were a few clouds in the starry sky, but it was still a star-filled night.
Looking down, the beautiful castle town was there, with a new glimmer of snow on top.
“I wonder if they’re congratulating His Royal Highness the Crown Prince?”
“…Maybe they’re welcoming Krone, though.”
Then they looked at each other again and laughed.
“So, don’t you think it’s nice to say… that both of those…?”
“I think you might be right about that.”
Ain nodded at her phrasing.
Then, Krone looked at the castle town and said.
“Oh… looking closely, I can see that there’s a water train running. And even though it’s this late, there are still a lot of people walking around.”
She had been thinking this since the day she first arrived in the capital, but there was a difference in these things as well.
“When I got off the train at the White Rose station for the first time. I thought it was some kind of festival or something.”
It wasn’t. The White Rose station is a huge station, always crowded with people.
“It’s different. I still remember how surprised I was when Warren-sama told me.”
Ain listened to her pleasant voice in one ear. They both exhaled white breaths and enjoyed the contrasting warmth of the atmosphere.
“Hey, Ain. Even that is only a small part of the story here in Ishtalika, isn’t it?”
“──Yes. There are many, many more people living all over this continent.”
Ain’s profile, looking at the castle town, was more confident than when he was in Heim.
“…Which one of us is sly, now?”
She thought back to the other day when he had called her sly and complained to the contrary. Krone felt relieved, but she didn’t want to think about being left behind by him.
She took a breath… and spoke while peeking into Ain’s profile.
“I’ve decided to do my best, too. Oh, I’m not going to tell you what it is.”
She told Ain with a mischievous look in her eyes. She looked as if she wanted him to listen.
“Y-yeah… Are you sure you don’t want to tell me…?”
A decision was made between Krone and Warren. She decided to keep it to herself.
“Fufu. I never said anything about telling you, did I?”
What a little devil you are. Ain shrugged his shoulders.
After a while, Krone walked away with a light step. A few steps later, she fluffed out her dress and turned around.
“──There is something you have to do at the end of the party.”
“Something I have to do? What do I have to do?”
*Thump* *thump*. He asked her as he followed her footsteps down the hall.
“There’s no performance, but it’s such a beautiful setting. There’s only one thing to do, right?”
“──So that’s it. I see what you mean.”
Ain cleared his throat and straightened up. He stepped in front of her.
He called out her name and took another step closer. He offered his hand to her, who was waiting to be invited.
“Would you like to join me for a song?”
She puts her hands together in silence. She places one hand on her chest, locks eyes with Ain, and opened her mouth. Her cheeks flushed red as she approached Ain, who took her by the hand.
“No… not just one song, but as many as you want──.”