It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (44/85, enjoy~
Chapter 3 – Adventurer’s Town of Baltic
It had been a little while since the day the plan to go to the adventurer’s town of Baltic was decided. Ain leaned back against the window sill of his private room, his eyes and ears focused on the scene below.
“Crown Prince’s Assistant. This is the end of the loading process. Please take a look.”
“Yes, thank you.”
The preparations for the journey to the Baltic were being made in the castle grounds. This included medicines, clothing, emergency rations, and beverages, all of which were being checked in detail without exception.
Many servants and knights were also involved in the work, which was led by Krone.
She has been devoting herself to that task for the past few days.
It was only a few days ago now that she had refused to let Ain help her. So now Ain had one more very important job to do, and that was to watch over Krone’s work from his private room.
“Well,” he said, turning his attention to the floor in the corner of the room.
“Um, Chris-san? I’m really sorry… I hope you’ll be in a better mood after I apologize…”
Even though it was the crown prince’s room, Chris’s figure was in the corner.
Christina Wernstein, the marshal of the Knights of Ishtalika, had been exposed in a very precious, tormented state.
“Don’t worry about it. I will be staying at home.”
“No, it’s… not that I mind, it’s just that…”
“I’m the only one… who’s left behind…”
When looking at Chris right now, even the dog that is being left at home must look happy. There was no sign of life in her sad face, and she didn’t seem to be moving at all, like a clock with broken gears.
Ain moved away from the window frame and approached Chris, who was sitting on the floor hugging her knees.
When Ain’s finger poked the hand holding her knee, it caught her off guard, and she grabbed it.
Eh? Ain said. In the end, Chris’s hand grasped Ain’s finger as if it were a treasure, and Ain tried to release it as quickly as he could, but it showed no sign of being released.
“Ugh… why is my heart so…”
The murmur didn’t reach Ain and dissipated into the clouds.
Chris then pondered in her mind.
(Why does my heart hurt so much?)
She had a position, and there was no way she could always be by Ain’s side all the time. She should have known that, but she couldn’t shake the inexplicable pain.
She suddenly raised her head and looked at Ain. She stared at him with a puzzled expression on her face, her lips agape.
“It’s terrible… You should have told me earlier anyway.”
“Ugh… When you say it like that, I can’t say anything back, but… But, you know, if Chris-san isn’t in the capital, the knights will be in trouble, and the people of the capital will also be in trouble.”
Chris’s lips tightened as she heard those words. Her eyes, which had tears in them, and her cheeks, which were red from the shock, made her beauty look even more dainty.
“…It’s true. But…”
“I was also looking forward to going on the investigation with you, Chris-san. That’s why… I feel sorry for you too.”
There was no lie in these words.
Being with her made him feel at ease, but more than anything, he enjoyed it. So, to tell the truth, Ain was also hoping that Chris would come.
“──That’s not fair. I can’t believe you said that.”
She wiped away her tears and tapped her cheek lightly.
“I understand. I’ll stay home this time.”
She still couldn’t sort out her feelings. But even so, she had to give up.
So she resolutely decided to stay at home.
“Yeah… I’ll buy lots of souvenirs, so please wait for me. But Chris-san is protecting the royal capital, so everyone can feel safe.”
Ain, smiling radiantly, stole Chris’s gaze.
Chris had to admit one unquestionable fact.
──She loved his smile.
◇ ◇ ◇
The day Ain left the royal capital.
The crowd at the White Rose Station was unbelievable. The temperature in Ishtalika, which was approaching summer, was suitably hot, but the enthusiasm of the people who had gathered there was even higher.
Ain was seen off by Chris, Olivia, Warren, and the others in a horse-drawn carriage to the station. When he came to the platform of the royal water train, he waved and smiled at the people and then finally stepped into the train.
He was greeted by Krone, who had arrived earlier and was waiting for him.
“Fufu, thank you for your hard work. Your Royal Highness, the Crown Prince.”
She wiped the sweat from Ain’s forehead with a handkerchief and gave him a big smile.
“Thank you. Where are Lloyd-san and Dill?”
“They’re in the front carriage. This time, we have divided the knights in the front and rear to guard.”
“Hmm? That means it’s just you and I in this train carriage?”
“It’s just Ain and me. Do we need anyone else?”
“…No, I think I’ll be fine with Krone.”
She is a capable assistant, yes, a capable assistant.
He needs to be aware of the fact that she is his assistant. If not, Ain would be strangely nervous.
“I’ll get you something. Would you like something hot or cold?”
“Cold tea would be nice.”
“Yes. Let’s go inside.”
While he thought that she was indeed a capable assistant… he had a realization.
Ain wasn’t the only one who was overwhelmed by the summer heat.
(…Let’s pretend I didn’t notice.)
Krone always wears a jacket over her thin clothes.
However, whether it’s because Ain is the only one here or because she intentionally doesn’t wear a jacket. Ain had no idea which it was, but the thin blouse she wore showed her underwear line from behind.
“Well, of course, I have to remove my gaze from her.”
That’s what gentleness is all about. It must be an important way of thinking for the crown prince, he said triumphantly to the void.
“No, nothing. I’m just thirsty.”
“What is it? You’re so weird, Ain.”
He managed to cover it up. He patted his chest and clenched his fists. After calming down a bit, he followed Krone to the lounge.
───Several hours had passed since they left the royal capital.
Although they are not even halfway through the journey, the scenery around them is changing dramatically. Large rocky mountains surrounded the area, and in the distance, there was a large bird with four wings flying over the mountains.
Unlike the road to Ist, there was only scenery that Ain was not familiar with.
He was enjoying the scenery when Krone said.
“It looks like fun, but don’t get too crazy in Baltic, okay?”
“I know, I know. I already feel more nervous than ever.”
“Geez… I wonder if that’s true.”
“I’m not such a child.”
“No. If you were just a child, I could make you do anything I wanted.”
He couldn’t argue with the painful point.
In the recent past, he had been involved in a break-in at the Tower of Wisdom. And in the past, he ran out of the castle to defeat the Sea Dragon, and because of what he has done in the past, he cannot be trusted.
Krone said helplessly.
“The old Demon Lord’s territory is the place where His Majesty the First went on his expedition. I wonder if Ain would be excited to go to Baltic near that place, as he admired the first king.”
“T-that’s right. It can’t be helped!”
Like a fish that has gained water, Ain regains his vitality.
“But I’m also interested in the former Demon Lord’s territory, where the secret of the founding of the country is said to be located.”
“It’s a story that divides opinion among historical researchers. There is a disagreement among historians as to whether the founding of Ishtalika took place after the defeat of the Demon Lord or before──”
“I was rather surprised that Krone knew so much about it.”
“When I became Ain’s assistant, I had to do these assignments, you know?”
That’s why she got a perfect score on the exam. The shocking story reaffirmed Krone’s competence.
“It is said that the clues to the answer still remain in the former Demon Lord’s territory. This is one of the reasons why there have been so many investigations to this day.”
The first time he heard this story, it made Ain ponder for a long time.
(Did the crisis of the Demon Lord occur after the founding of Ishtalika? Or was it founded as a unified nation after the Demon Lord’s territory was conquered?)
As he looked at the changing mountains, he tried to make his own observations. But he couldn’t come up with an answer. It’s a question that has been debated among researchers for a long time, so there’s no way he can find an answer right away.
“I hope we’ll find the answer someday.”
“Yes, I hope so. …But there’s one thing that’s bothering me.”
“Eh, what’s that?”
“I’ll tell you. Do you remember the term “royal family gacha”?
“Of course. It’s a term that our royal ancestors used to call it.”
To add to that, the royal family of Ishtalika has been intermingled with many races. So even if the parents are human, sometimes their child will turn into another race.
“But what does that matter?”
“I don’t know right now, but a different race in the Demon Lord’s territory intermingled with the royal family. It might have happened, you know?”
“…I’m afraid to say that there is no such thing.”
After all, the line between a different race and a monster is only based on what the state decides. Both different races and monsters have two important organs in their body, the magic stone and the core.
They are able to talk to people and do not cause damage. As a result, there are many races that have been determined to be different races, even to this day.
“What was the race of His Majesty the first’s wife?”
“I believe it was… named by His Majesty the First, the Pixies.”
It’s a cute, fairy-like race that is said to have characteristics similar to elves and dryads. Unfortunately, there are few of them today, and it is rumored that they may be extinct.
(I wonder what kind of race my children will become?)
Ain will eventually take a wife. This is a fixed fact, but if that happens, the next thing he’ll think about is the royal family gacha; what kind of race will be born?
He naturally looked at Krone in front of him.
“E-err… what’s wrong? Suddenly look at me silently and…”
“I’m sorry. I’ve been thinking a lot about the future.”
“It’s weird. Your Royal Highness the crown prince must have lost it in the summer heat.”
The heat did not defeat him, but he would not say that.
For now, he will let her smile soothe him.