It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (5/32), enjoy~
──Today’s academy district is showing its usual calmness after the commotion of the other day.
At a café terrace near the Royal Kingsland Academy.
“Your Majesty is incredibly worried, you know…? He’s sometimes so flustered when Ain-sama isn’t looking; it’s the first time we’ve seen him like that.”
It’s a secret, okay? Chris said at the end.
“Grandfather did that?”
“Yes. He behaves with a lot of dignity on the outside, but you’re his first grandchild, after all.”
I’m so sorry, Ain thought, reflecting once again on the other day’s incident.
(But this sandwich is delicious.)
Compared to the sumptuousness of the meals at the castle, it was simple. However, Ain liked the sandwich he ordered, with its fresh vegetables, chewy meat, and strong flavor.
“Aren’t you going to eat, Chris-san?”
“I’ve already eaten at the castle, and I’m at work right now.”
“…You don’t have to be so reserved.”
“Ain-sama is very kind, isn’t he? But if anyone who knows that you are the crown prince sees you sitting and eating with your guard, they may think that I am disrespecting you.”
Ain nodded reluctantly at her answer, turned away, and chewed on his sandwich.
“Today, we had some assignments for some subjects, but aren’t the assignments at this academy too difficult?”
“The Royal Kingsland Academy is the highest academic institution in Ishtalika… so it can’t be helped.”
He looked at the bundle of papers he had taken out of his bag.
“When you return to the castle, you can start working on it little by little.”
“…But why does the pen seem to be moving so slowly when the weather is so nice?”
“I have some advice for you, Ain-sama.”
Is there any good way to learn? He turned his expectant gaze to Chris.
“The shortcut to the right answer is just to keep moving your pen.”
“──I see. Yeah. That’s excellent advice, awesome.”
“Hahaha… well, I’m rooting for you.”
Ain nodded helplessly and turned over the paper. Overlapping, he saw the documents of the academy district competition that had just been handed out this morning.
“Come to think of it…”
He took a sip of his tea and changed the subject.
“I was suddenly told, but what kind of event is the academy district competition? I know that all the academies have something to do with it, but…”
“There is no such thing. Unfortunately, the first and second classes of the Royal Kingsland Academy are excluded.”
“This is because there is too much of a disparity even between people of the same age. Only students from the third class onwards are allowed to participate from the Royal Kingsland Academy.”
She told him that it had nothing to do with him, and Ain’s expression tightened. He’s convinced. It’s reasonable that there was no information about this until today.
“However, Dill is going to have an exhibition match with the winner of the sword fight. It will be on the last day of the tournament; maybe you can go see it.”
“Well… that’s all I’m looking forward to.”
Rather, that’s all he wanted to look forward to. Even though it was an event that he was going to enjoy, the fact that he was told that it had nothing to do with him made him feel down.
As he squeezed the rest of his sandwich, he noticed the voices of several women approaching a nearby seat.
Suddenly, his eyes met with one of them.
It’s Krone. She was wearing the Liebe Girls’ Academy uniform, and she was accompanied by some people who seemed to be her friends.
Ain wondered what to do, and he averted his gaze from her.
Krone purses her lips, and her expression says that she is not happy. Isn’t it okay to say something, even a greeting? She seemed to be saying this, but before she could mend her ways, she too averted her gaze.
“Hey, Chris-san? Do you think I was wrong?”
“Ah… ahaha… um… you wanted to bail on something, didn’t you? This place is separated from the other seats by a planting, so I don’t think it would have been noticeable…”
“I see, you have a point…”
While the two of them talked about it, Krone sat down with her friends across the planting.
“Krone-sama. What would you like to order?”
“Y-yeah… I guess I’ll go with, uh…”
It was somewhat awkward. Ain is confused, wondering what’s the problem.
“I don’t think that Lady Krone is angry with you.”
“I don’t think she’s angry. But she did seem unhappy, didn’t she?”
“Being affirmed silently is painful, you know?”
It’s not that Krone is scary, but if she is dissatisfied, she might do something to Ain once they get back to the castle. Mostly, it’s the kind of behavior that baffles Ain’s mind.
“It was near here. The other day, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince saved me.”
“Well! I heard about it, too. He appeared gallantly and defeated the ruffians with ease.”
“I also heard that it was the Vice Commander of the royal knight who defeated the ruffian in the end, but he’s a very brave man, isn’t he?”
What Ain heard was a voice praising him. Speaking of which, it was near here that he saved the female students the other day.
“It seems that the girl from the other day is also here.”
“Coincidence, huh? Yes, it’s a coincidence.”
He wanted to go back to the castle, but that would be bad for his image in the eyes of Krone. However, he’s reluctant to leave now, given the flow of this conversation.
“That’s right! You know the Crown Prince very well, don’t you, Krone -sama? If you don’t mind, could you tell us about him?”
(What? I feel like this is the most inopportune time to talk about it.)
He could imagine the look on Krone’s face right now.
She would probably look down and smile for a moment, then look up and smile brightly the next moment.
“I think he might be a little mischievous. His Highness is getting along well with the First Princess, and I always see him enjoying himself in the courtyard.”
The girls listened with great interest. Naturally, Ain was uncomfortable. He thought that Chris would try to stop her, but she didn’t, because Krone was exquisite and didn’t say anything terrible about Ain.
“But… His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is kind. He is very attentive to everyone and very courageous… I couldn’t be happier to be by his side.”
Eventually, Chris smiled.
“How is it? If you’re embarrassed, I’ll stop her.”
“…No, it’s okay. I think it’s better to say it myself.”
After drinking the remaining tea in one gulp, Ain exhaled once.
“Does Krone-sama have a chance to talk to the crown prince?”
“I’m curious. If so, I wonder what you talk about?”
“Could it be that the reason you are turning down so many invitations is that you are interested in the Crown Prince…?”
The question was asked in rapid succession. Krone also tilted her head in puzzlement. She took a breath to choose her words and answer one by one, and then Ain stood up behind the planting.
He walked quickly and approached the seat where Krone was sitting.
“──It would be nice if you could excuse me for that.”
He stood next to the seat where the girl was sitting with a happy smile and said that before Krone could answer.
“That’s right… so I’ll leave it at that.”
An apology for earlier? He had a feeling that Krone, who was looking up at him, was saying that, so Ain nodded back and said, “Yes,” and she raised the corner of her mouth and cutely tilted her face.
The schoolgirls turn their dubious face to the boy who came over for a moment. However, they soon realized that the other party was Ain, the crown prince.
“Your Highness, the Crown Prince…?”
“No way ─ why are you here ─ n-no! I really wanted to thank you for protecting me from the thugs the other day…!”
“Ah, yeah… Don’t worry about it; it’s okay. I didn’t do anything serious.”
Ain pushed by the momentum, he replied with a safe word. He went on to look at Krone, who had a clear face.
“You’re not going to accept an offer from the mischievous crown prince, are you, Krone?”
“No. If Your Highness invites me, I don’t mind being in a place like this.”
“Yes, yes… Since I’m a naughty prince. I wouldn’t mind being in a place like this as well.”
The girls looked at Ain with a flabbergasted look. They thought that maybe he was angry with Krone’s words. But Krone took the hand that Ain held out and stood up.
“Are you coming to the castle today?”
“Yes. I have an assignment from Warren-sama.”
“Then let’s go to the castle together.”
“Fufu… Is that an apology for ignoring me before?”
“Well, maybe something like that.”
The two of them, Ain and Krone, tried to make conversation familiarly. As with Krone’s behavior towards the crown prince, the crown prince’s friendliness caught the girls’ attention.
“Everyone. I’m really sorry, but I have to leave now.”
Bowing to the stunned girls, Krone stood next to Ain and walked away. The two of them joined Chris, and the three of them walked side by side.
─That Krone-sama is on good terms with the crown prince…
─No wonder she refused all of the invitations…
As they leave, the voice of Krone’s friend reaches them. At the very least, the royal family has not announced what kind of relationship Ain and Krone have, nor do they have any plans to do so at the moment.
“Both of you? I don’t mind if you’re all here today, but…”
In his heart, Ain was thankful that Chris hadn’t interrupted him and was watching over them. The two of them hadn’t said it, but they must have been happy to have met in the academy district like this. Thinking of that, Chris didn’t say anything firmly.
Seeing the two of them enjoying themselves, she didn’t feel like doing so.
“──Ara? That thing sticking out of your bag… is that an assignment or something?”
“Yes. When I was depressed because it was difficult, Chris advised me to move the pen to solve the problem.”
“That’s great advice. That’s the best shortcut.”
Krone looked at Ain’s slightly dissatisfied face. She then pulled Ain’s assignment out of his bag and read the contents.
“This should be fine. I’ll teach you when we get back to the castle.”
“Eh… Do you understand it… K-Krone…?”
“I’m older than you. Besides, I’m working hard too.”
“…Please take care of me.”
Although he didn’t like the idea of being taught all the time, he would take advantage of it today. When they saw Ain nodding regretfully, both Krone and Chris broke into a gentle smile.
◇ ◇ ◇
Around the same time, Dill, who was at the academy, was about to go out as well. He, too, had finished what he had to do today and was going to the castle to join the knights in their training.
He looked out the academy gate.
“…What’s with the men just now?”
Dill’s voice leaked out in displeasure, and his eyes were met by four men he had never seen before. Then one of the men staring at Dill, gave him a damp smile that was not pleasant, and walked away.
Only one man wore a conspicuous gray robe, but the other three were not uniformly dressed. Judging by their clothes and behavior, they were a group of four people who did not belong in this academy district.
Dill’s mind was struck by the adventurer who Ain had defeated the other day.
Are they from the same group? Dill thought. But it didn’t seem like they had come all this way to avenge them, so Dill started running without thinking.
The destination is where the men left off, at the back of a row of buildings.
──The sword that Dill carries on his hip has an actual blade and is capable of killing people. His father, Lloyd, had given him a fine treasure that wouldn’t embarrass him as a member of the Duke Glacier family.
Feeling the reliability of this partner of him, Dill quickly ran after the men.
“They’re not here…? Where on earth are they?”
He entered the alley and passed several turns but came to a dead end. Dill clicked his tongue lightly, wondering where they had run off to.
“…I’ll have to report this to father.”
Something is wrong in the academy district these days. Although there was a slight sense of discomfort, as if he had missed something, Dill thus left the alleyway.
As soon as Dill left, on the roof.
“Haa… troublesome. That guy is a little troublesome. He’s got good instincts, and his moves aren’t bad… What will that guy be doing on “that” day?”
“He won’t be at the academy. He’ll be in the arena for an exhibition match against the tournament’s winner.”
“That’s good then. The troublesome swordsmanship instructor won’t be there that day either. …Ha, I’m glad they’re making it easy for us.”
“Yeah, I bet our client will be happy with that.”
The men were satisfied and left the alleyway just like Dill.
◇ ◇ ◇
“It seems that Marquis Magnus is in good standing.”
Many nobles participated in an important meeting. The agenda is mainly administration and law-making, but there are many other things as well.
In the meantime, Sylvird looked at the income and expenditure of the nobles and mentioned Marquis Magnus, whose expenditures were conspicuous. Marquis Magnus was not present. The head of the family had reportedly fallen ill and couldn’t attend the meeting.
“Indeed, there seems to be a lot of them.”
“I felt something disturbing…”
The meeting room was buzzing with discomfort, but Lloyd calmed everyone down.
“It’s nothing serious. It’s probably due to mansion renovations. Marquis Magnus’s mansion is quite old, after all.”
“…Ah! That’s true now that you mention it.”
“The Glacier family is closely associated with the Magnus family. If His Excellency the Marshal says so, then…”
Everyone was convinced because of Lloyd’s high speaking power.
In the castle, the most influential people are Sylvird, Warren, Lloyd, and the royal family. In this great country, the power to speak is much heavier than one might imagine.
Warren stroked his beard and inquired curiously.
“But that should be reported. I doubt that it has been received yet.”
“Maybe you forgot about it? Well, I’ll ask them about it immediately.”
“…It seems so. Well, let’s wait for Lloyd-dono’s report, shall we?”
The other nobles did not interfere. They just listen to the conversation between the two of them quietly.
“Fumu… It’s probably alright if Lloyd says so, but shouldn’t we send an inspector?”
“Your Majesty has a point, but… that’s right.”
Sylvird words made Lloyd’s face tense. He raised one of his eyebrows for a moment. Warren opened his mouth after confirming the gesture.
“…No, it’s all right. Let’s leave it to Lloyd-dono this time.”
Lloyd breathed a soft little sigh of relief. The next moment, he lets out his typical high-pitched laugh.
“Haahahahaha! What’s with this incomplete report? I’ll go ahead and scold him while I’m at it! There’s no need to waste manpower on this!”
“Umu, so it’s decided that I’ll leave this matter to you, Lloyd… and it looks like it’s about time.”
Sylvird looked at Warren and instructed him.
“This is the end of today’s meeting. Thank you, everyone, for gathering here today.”
The nobles follow his lead and bow. As everyone leaves, Lloyd sputters.
“Your Majesty, Warren-dono. I have some business to attend to, so I apologize for leaving early today…”
“I understand. I’ll see you tomorrow, Lloyd-dono.”
“Thank you for your hard work.”
“Yes! Now, if you’ll excuse me…”
While watching Lloyd leave with the nobleman, Sylvird opened his mouth.
“What do you think, Warren?”
“It’s not very typical of Lloyd-dono to behave in such a way.”
Warren rubbed his beard worriedly; this gesture is what he does when he thinks about something. Sylvird kept quiet and waited for his decision.
“I will do some investigation. Would you be willing to leave it to me?”
“I don’t mind.”
“──Then, leave it to me.”
When the two of them looked out the window, they saw clouds floating in the sky, which had been blue just a moment ago. The sky, which had begun to turn gray, seemed to speak for the two of them, who were not in their best spirits.