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Chapter 1 – Lively School Life
A few days after the first day at the school. On a holiday afternoon, Ain was in the treasure room after a long time. He was surrounded by three women.
“Ain. It’s been a long time since you’ve been here.”
The first one was Olivia, of course. The second was a beautiful brown-skinned woman who looked a lot like Olivia, looking around the treasure room.
“─Now, I wonder where the dagger I was going to give to Ain-kun was…”
Her name is Laralua. She is the only wife of the king, Sylvird, and is known as the queen. She is a demi-human, a Dark Elf. She looked a mature age for a human, but she had a youthfulness unique to elves.
Laralua moves forward, making noise with the heels she wears. Then, the third woman, Chris, opened her mouth as if she remembered something.
“Laralua-sama. It’s a dagger, so I think it’s probably lined up with the weapons over there.”
When she looked in the direction Chris indicated, there was a line of what seemed to be valuable weapons, including a treasured sword and a golden spear.
“Ah, is that it?”
(I wonder if I can really take a dagger from this place…)
The reason they came to the treasure room was because Laralua said she wanted to give Ain a gift.
When they arrived at the place where the dagger was placed, they found a black box.
“Now, I’ll give this to you, Ain-kun. It’s something that the Crown Prince carries on his hip, so it must be something magnificent.”
The box was rectangular and about sixty centimeters long; it was not thick enough to hold the dagger, and it was easy to hold despite its size.
“Can I open it?”
“Of course. It is already yours, Ain-kun.”
“Thank you very much. Then, I’ll open it right away──.”
After hearing the reply, he placed it on a comfortable stand that was close by. He removed the metal fittings attached to the box and opened the cover.
“…It’s also a dagger for dark knights, isn’t it?”
The whole thing shines with a dull black color, and there is a crimson gem embedded in the hilt as an added touch. The beauty of the dagger as if it were a piece of art attracts the eye, and it is a splendid piece of work that by no means makes one think it is a disaster.
“Well, well! Mother, you found the perfect dagger for Ain!”
“Yes, he absorbed the magic stone of Dullahan. So this one’s perfect for Ain-kun.”
Chris laughed as Laralua and Olivia were happy.
“──W-well… ahaha… that’s an amazing dagger, isn’t it, Ain-sama…?”
Chris didn’t really know how to praise, but she gave him a quick compliment.
“It was a little bit confusing, but I actually like it.”
“R-really? That’s glad to hear!”
(Even so… it’s strangely comfortable in my hand, or rather, it’s easy to hold, it’s like an extension of my arm.)
Ain was grateful for Chris’s concern and was surprised at how well he could grip the jet-black dagger. The weight, the grip, all of it felt right.
“Grandmother! Thank you for the wonderful dagger!”
He thanked his grandmother for the dagger and picked up the black sheath and belt from the same box. Once Ain sheathed it and carried it on his hip, it was just suitable for him, who was not yet very tall, without being overly long.
“It’s perfect for you, Ain-kun ─ a royal son should always have at least one weapon on his hip.”
Laralua said, but Chris seemed a little worried.
“Um, Ain-sama. It looked like its blade didn’t need to be sharpened, so please be careful not to get hurt, okay?”
“I’m fine. I sometimes make a fuss with Katima-san, but this is just a blade.”
“…I think Katima-sama’s research also deals with dangerous chemicals… I’m relieved for now.”
“Ain has become more dignified, hasn’t he?”
Chris and Laralua both saw a familiar scene ─ the sight of Ain being hugged by Olivia’s chest, and the matter at the treasure room was over.
Ain left the treasure room feeling overjoyed that he had received something unexpectedly good.
◇ ◇ ◇
“So, I got it from grandmother.”
“Heh… It’s so sudden, but it’s nice. I think it suits you.”
The place has changed; Ain is in Katima’s laboratory in the basement now.
Ain, Krone, and Katima, the room owner, were all sitting on the sofa. The reason why the first two are here is that when they were talking in Ain’s room, Katima told them to come with her to the lab.
“Nya… I’m sorry to bother you while you’re being so friendly to each other-nya, but do you have any suggestions for me-nya…?”
Katima, who was sitting on the opposite side of the table, called out for help. Today she was also investigating the cursed magic stone that Ain had purchased, as in the previous day.
“K-Krone, what about you-nya? You must be a lot smarter than Ain-nya!”
And now, Ain had a thin blue vein on his face as he was being humiliated. But when he noticed that Krone was about to answer, he refrained from complaining.
“Since I don’t know much about it, I can’t really give you a good answer… The only thing I can think of is to look it up in the library of the Royal Kingsland Academy, maybe…”
“That library-nya… They indeed have an incredible amount of books-nya.”
However, she had checked the library before for another matter and found no interesting books about magic stones.
Seeing Katima drop her shoulder, Krone tilted her head as if troubled.
“What about Ain? I have a feeling that Ain is smarter than me.”
“…It’s nice to be praised, but I’m afraid I can only think of the same thing as Krone.”
“Sigh… What a useless Crown Prince ─ Ouch, aaatatata! Ain!? Stop it! The fur on my ears is sensitive, so please don’t pull on it-nyaaaaaa!”
Ain pulled her ear with a blue vein on his forehead.
“Hah… hah…! G-good gracious! What a grumpy nephew-nya!”
“U-um… Katima-sama… are you okay?”
“I’m fine-nya! I’m used to this-nya.”
Krone turned her sympathetic eyes to Ain.
“You can’t do that, Ain. You can’t be too rough with her.”
However, she also stood by Katima’s side and rebuked Ain. She had a calm expression on her face to tell him so.
“I know. I won’t do it again…”
“…Geez. Then, you need to look a little more convincing.”
Ain and Katima are probably enjoying themselves in their own way. Then again, she can just say it lightly. Krone stepped back and raised the corner of her mouth softly at the sight of the two lively people.
“Really, ever since I came to Ishtalika… it’s been so lively that I’ve never experienced any boredom.”
“Nya, nya, nya? Is it because of me-nya?”
“Fufu… Yes. It’s all thanks to Katima-sama, Ain, and everyone at the castle.”
“That’s good to hear-nya!”
Feeling better, Katima put the earlier commotion aside and threw the fruit on the desk into her mouth with vigor. Then, as the fresh crunching sound was heard, there was a knock on the door.
“I think someone’s coming, so let me check it out.”
When Ain approached the knocked door and opened it, he found Chris holding a small wooden box.
“Oh, Ain-sama. So you’re here.”
“Yes. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you, but do you have business with Katima-san?”
“Actually, I received a package for Katima-sama…”
When she said that, she stepped into the lab and approached Katima.
“The vendor told me to give it to you. Here you go.”
“Nya, nya! It’s finally arrived!”
Katima took the wooden box and jumped up and down on the sofa.
“Thank you-nya! There’s a package on my desk that I want to send over. Can you check it before you leave-nya?”
“Thank you-nya. The destination is on a piece of paper, so I need you to look it over-nya.”
Then Katima opened the cover of the wooden box dexterously with her paw. The contents were a piece of silk packed as cushioning material and a book placed in the center.
“Nya, nyaaa… The book is so valuable, and the paper feels like it has a lot of history.”
“Katima-san? How valuable is that book?”
Katima replied, looking proud.
“It took me months to get it! You will be surprised to hear the price! I paid most of my yearly allowance for it!”
It was a book that the first princess was willing to spend a fortune on. But even though she had spent almost all of her so-called allowance, Katima did not show the slightest bit of regret; instead, she trembled with joy.
“Katima-sama, what kind of book is it?”
“Hmm! Well said, Krone-nya! This is a book that a famous elf is said to have spent his whole life writing-nya.”
It is said that the elf spent his entire life studying the Demon King and wrote more about him than any other book.
“Well, the cover is magnificent, by the way.”
A master Dwarven craftsman made the leather cover. The beautiful and austere leather cover was either stamped or carved into the leather. The technique was completely unknown.
Katima imagined that the leather was from a species of scaleless dragon, which is naturally a precious material.
“This is so magnificent-nya, even I feel a little nervous-nya.”
She then took out a glove from inside her lab coat and put it on her hand, covering her paw.
“…Can I read this for a moment-nya?”
“Yeah, sure, but…”
Then can Krone and I leave? Ain wanted to ask her that, but before he could ask, Katima already opened the book.
“Hmm, it’s not so easy to read after all…”
She talked to herself, but her ears were deaf after this.
When Ain sighed and looked to the side, Krone smiled and replied.
“It can’t be helped; I’ll make you some more tea. I’ve gotten better at it, haven’t I?”
“I’ve always enjoyed your tea. Do you learn it at school?”
“No, not really. Actually, I’ve been secretly learning from Martha-san.”
Martha must be a good teacher. She is the second most senior servant in the castle, but she is also Olivia’s personal assistant. There is no doubt that her abilities are in line with her position.
Ain nodded that Krone had chosen a good teacher.
“Now, try it.”
In the meantime, a refill was quickly poured, and Ain tasted it once more.
“…This is very good.”
“Fufu, I’m glad you like it. I’m pleased if it’s to your taste ─ Your Highness.”
As the two of them enjoyed their conversation, Katima, in contrast, wrinkled her brow. Even though she had purchased the book, she found it difficult to read.
“Nya… this is going to take a while-nya…”
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
“The letters are difficult-nya… It’s a complicated script called “Old Elvish Script,” which is only handed down to a few elves-nya…”
“Then can Chris-san read it for you?”
“It’s a script that’s been handed down for hundreds of years. Chris, who had lived in the Royal Capital for a long time, wouldn’t be able to understand them.”
“Katima-sama! Are you calling for me?”
Chris called out from the desk; perhaps she heard her name being called.
“It’s nothing-nya! Please keep checking-nya!”
“Well, now I have to find someone who can read it-nya… Mumumu?”
Just when she was about to give up, she noticed an illustration.
“I see-nya, a book that knows more about the Demon King than any other… I predicted that there would be a copy, and I was right.”
Katima then showed the book to Ain and Krone.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it-nya.”
“…Katima-san? W-what’s this?”
“Umu, be ready-nya. This picture must be the owner of that magic stone ─ Dullahan-nya.”
Dullahan, who is depicted as the Demon King’s aide, has a fearless face and beautiful, long, silver hair. Somehow, the atmosphere of Dullahan is similar to that of Ain.
“Dullahan has such a human-like appearance.”
“Y-yes… I’m just as surprised as Krone.”
“Nya… I wish there I can read it more than just look at his appearance-nya…”
She felt frustrated. It must be sad that she can not read the book that she has obtained.
“I guess I’ll have to find someone who can read it-nya…”
She put the open book on the table and stood up, flipping her lab coat.
“You two! I’m sorry to call you here-nya, but I’ve got to go now-nya!”
“I knew it. …Then we’ll go back upstairs.”
“Yes, let’s do that.”
“Chris! When you’re done, I want you to take the big package out of the room-nya.”
“Yes! Be careful out there!”
The three of them left the lab, leaving Chris behind.
─Eventually, Chris finished checking the packages and took the large package that Katima had told her to take outside.
When she finished carrying it, Chris noticed a book on the table.
“Is it the book that just arrived…? Wow, it looks expensive.”
She picked it up to close it, feeling bad for the book if she left it open. Then, she was surprised by the cover, which she could tell at a glance was high quality.
“…A study of the truth about the Demon King and his close aides?”
When she read out the title in the old elven script, she was intrigued to see what it was about. As she flipped through the pages with some trepidation, her finger stopped at the picture of a woman.
“…What a beautiful woman.”
It was a picture of a woman dressed in a black robe and wearing several jewels. It’s probably some kind of magic tool, but the large staff in her hand is impressive, and from her face, she can tell that this woman is beautiful.
“A witch…? No, if she’s a witch, she should have a skeleton face…”
In the village where she was born, Chris had been taught about old monsters. As she thought about the woman in the previous illustration, she remembered what she was.
“I see… an Elder Lich, maybe?”
Chris looked at the illustration and closed the book, not really reading the contents. She crossed her arms and left the lab, humming happily.
The Elder Lich, as Chris knew it, was more skilled in magic than any other monster.
She had heard that it was powerful enough to be convinced by the fact that it was a close aide of the Demon King who had spread fear throughout the continent. She had a beautiful face and beautiful lips… and she thought as if she were someone else.
“Woaah… I’m sleepy…”
She leaked out her soliloquy and ran up the stairs with a light step.