It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (80/107), enjoy~
The next day Ain woke up as usual and headed to the academy as usual.
He had only started attending the academy since the beginning of the year after his body became bigger, but within a week, the other students had gotten used to him and were no longer surprised.
He was now walking shoulder to shoulder with Batz outside the training grounds that he frequented.
“I heard that the four of us will still be in the same group in the sixth year.”
“We are the only ones who managed to stay in the same group since the first year, after all.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Well, as someone who belongs to it, I can say that our group is special.”
Even in this school, which is more difficult to enter than any other, the first group is an even more elite group. The classifications are chosen based on their performance over the year.
That’s why there’s a lot of turnover in the first group.
“Speaking of which, where are the other two?”
“Leonard and Roland are both at work, you know. They’ve been doing some kind of work-study for some time now.”
“What’s that? Do you know that?”
“I’d only heard about Roland, though.”
He had heard about Roland, but he hadn’t said anything about it yet.
“But isn’t Batz supposed to be taking a test this year too?”
“Y-yeah. I have to take the knight recruitment test too.”
He is aiming to become a royal knight. He had thought of this when he went on the social studies field trip last year and made it his goal.
“However, the academy is even quieter than usual. Is it because of that epidemic?”
Ain noticed after he was told that, the academy was indeed quiet.
“I never heard about that.”
“I’ve heard that there’s an epidemic of a troublesome disease that spreads from person to person.”
“Oh… we have to be careful.”
“Well,” Batz continued.
“What are you going to do about it, Ain?”
“About what, you ask… You see, Ain is the crown prince. so I wondered what you were going to do now.”
“I’ll still be a crown prince for a while, though.”
What are you talking about? He answered Batz with such an expression.
“I wonder if that will ever change. When I’m crowned, I won’t be the crown prince anymore.”
“Well, that’s… true, but it won’t be the same as before.”
“We’re graduating in a little over a year.”
Then they won’t be able to see each other casually, Batz implied.
Or maybe it’s the emptiness?
Of course, they won’t be kids forever, but──.
“I feel a little lonely.”
However, unlike the other students, Ain and the others will not be as distant as the others.
“I think Roland will be fine because he’s going to be a great researcher. Leonard is going to be a civil servant, and if Batz wants to become a royal knight, I think we can meet relatively easily.”
“O-oh? That’s also true if you say so.”
When he thought about it, the top grades at this academy were as good as guaranteed to get you a key position.
There will be opportunities for them to meet up with their classmates in the future.
“It’s not so bad if you ask me! All right!”
“I’m going to go swing my sword for a bit!”
They had been walking for a while now and were on their way out of the building to the academy entrance.
But Batz turned on his heel. He went to the training ground where he had been just a few minutes ago.
Ain, who was left behind, looked over at Batz in amazement.
He must have found some motivation in his heart.
“──Let’s just go home then.”
After seeing Batz off, he gave a small laugh and started walking.
The academy entrance was only a stone’s throw away.
It was just afternoon, and there were no other students walking around. He looks at the quiet academy building and decides to enjoy his remaining year.
The lawn was carefully groomed, and it felt good to walk on.
It was still February, so there was not much green on the trees, but there was a sense of season.
(When I get back to the castle, maybe I’ll do some work before I go to Magna.)
In fact, compared to the time in the Magic City of Ist or the adventurer’s town of Baltic, the burden is much lower. It’s not only the travel time required but also the danger.
But Magna is simply safer.
As he approached the large academy entrance that the academy was proud of, Ain noticed it.
The one who said that was Dill.
It used to be Chris’s job to pick him up from the academy. Recently, she had gained a position as Ain’s personal guard, and she was especially in charge of things around Ain.
“It’s unusual for Dill to be here.”
“Actually, there’s a reason Chris-sama can’t come.”
“Is she busy or something?”
Chris has always been busy, so he didn’t feel anything strange about it.
“She seems to have fallen ill and is resting. I haven’t heard for sure either, but it seems that Lady Krone is ill as well…”
In any case, it’s a big deal.
If the two of them were to take time off from work, it would have to be something. It also bothered Ain that they were both sick at the same time.
“I’m worried about them, so let’s get home quickly.”
Ain took Dill with him and left the academy earlier than usual.
◇ ◇ ◇
After arriving at the castle, Ain visited a room set up in the back of the treatment center.
The room was filled with the scent of disinfectant, and the shelves on the walls were filled with many medicines. A woman sitting in a chair in front of a desk says to Ain, who has just walked in.
“What the two of them have contracted is the much talked about epidemic. They will need to rest for several weeks.”
Vara, wearing a white coat, said plainly.
She looks nothing like the orphan she had once been. She seems to be quite diligent and is already a doctor of some sort.
(An epidemic, is that what Batz was talking about?)
When he was convinced, Vara continued to explain.
“Your Highness should not visit them for about ten days. We don’t want you to be infected as well.”
“It’s not like I’m going to be infected, is it?”
“Ah… y-you’re right! That’s true if you ask me.”
“It’s all about toxin decomposition, isn’t it? So, can I go to their room and try to heal them?”
“I wouldn’t recommend it, personally.”
“Eh, why not?”
“Even if Your Highness could heal them, it would only be a temporary fix.”
“…Could it be to build up an immunity?”
Vara nodded at the words.
“It’s called an epidemic, but it’s a disease we all get at least once in our lives. Once you have antibodies in your body, you won’t get it again, so once you endure it, you’ll be fine.”
So if Ain lends a hand, the same disease will occur again.
It’s not always possible to have Ain nearby, so the easy cure is not the right answer ── is probably what Vara is thinking.
“I’ve told the two of them about this, and they said they’d take their time recovering this time.”
If it had been before an important job, they would have had to push themselves.
“But this time, it’s not like they’re going to have to strain themselves, right?”
“Yes… I’m afraid they will either be late or unable to attend.”
There’s no need to push themselves and get even sicker.
“Ain-sama, I will be taking care of the duties on behalf of the two of them.”
“Yes, I can count on you too, Dill.”
Then ── knock knock.
The door of the room was knocked, and Dill exchanged glances with Ain. He opened the door, and it was Mei who appeared.
“Excuse me! …Ah! Ain-sama, welcome back!”
She is dressed in a servant’s uniform made to fit her small body and calls out Ain’s name energetically today as well.
“Hey, Mei! That’s not how you behave in front of His Highness…!”
“I don’t mind it, Vara. So what are you doing here, Mei?”
“Yes! Martha-san wanted me to call Ain-sama!”
“Alright. So, where is she?”
“Uh, let’s see… She’s waiting with the queen on the terrace in the courtyard!”
“Grandmother? Well then, I’d better hurry.”
He said thank you and patted Mei’s head.
Satisfied with her ticklish smile, Ain left the treatment center in a hurry.
The courtyard terrace.
This is a favorite place of Olivia and Laralua, with many beautiful flowers, trees, and even many waterways made of white stone──.
It’s a corner of the castle’s pride and joy, carefully maintained.
“Grandmother, I was told you wanted to see me about something.”
To be precise, it was Martha who summoned Ain. But Martha, as a servant, could not have summoned Ain.
“Welcome back, Ain-kun. Why don’t you take a seat over there so we can talk?”
She smiled graciously at him.
Laralua didn’t look as old as a normal woman of her age.
She should not be too far behind Sylvird in age, but her youthfulness makes her look like she is in her twenties. Perhaps it was because of her race as a Dark Elf, but she looked so young that she and Olivia looked like sisters.
“Excuse me. But it’s unusual for grandmother to be with Martha-san, isn’t it?”
“Actually, Beria got sick and had to take a break. That’s why I had to ask Martha to help me.”
Ain was surprised to hear those words.
She is the personal servant of Queen Laralua. She is also the head servant and the woman that Martha once said was her mentor.
Ain had never heard of Beria taking a day off before.
“That’s unusual. She doesn’t seem to take any more time off than Warren-san does.”
“Well, you’re right… But Beria is old. She won’t admit it, but her body does get weaker.”
Ain nodded and moistened his throat with the tea that Martha had prepared.
“Is Beria-san infected with the epidemic too?”
“No, she doesn’t. Beria just got a common illness. …Now that you mention the epidemic, I wonder if you’ve heard about them.”
“I just heard from Vara about Krone and Chris.”
“That’s good then. You should visit them in moderation, okay?”
“I thought I was going to be stopped, but I was wrong.”
“Well, it won’t happen to you, will it? But they are both girls, and I just thought it would be embarrassing to visit them so carelessly.”
“That’s right. In the meantime, I’m going to go see them once their condition stabilizes.”
However, it feels lonely to not have any contact with them for a while.
If that’s the case, why don’t I write them a letter later? Said Ain.
When they woke up, they could read the letter, and it wouldn’t be too much of a burden.
“By the way, grandmother, you haven’t told me why you called me.”
“There was nothing important, you know. It’s just that I was wondering if you’d like to have tea with me sometime.”
“I wouldn’t trust anyone else with such a big job.”
Ain sat back down and enjoyed the conversation with Laralua. They spent some time together until the sun began to set in the evening.
◇ ◇ ◇
It was evening, long past dinner time.
After finishing her work in the infirmary, Vara came to Ain’s side.
“Here are the medical reports on both of them.”
“Is it okay if I take a look at it now that you’ve brought it to me?”
Even though he was in a higher position, they were women.
“The two of them had anticipated that Your Highness would think so. It was the two of them who asked me to give this to you, Your Highness.”
“…I’ll take it then. I’ll check the contents later.”
“Please do. They both apologized many times…”
“Don’t worry about it. Can you tell them later that it’s nothing to apologize for?”
“Yes, I will.”
These were words that were typical of the responsible Krone and Chris, but…
From Ain’s perspective, he wants them to rest without worrying about anything, at least at times like this.
Ain straightened his back, looking tired.
“And then there’s the whole public affairs thing, and then there’s the Heim thing.”
“…I can understand your feelings.”
They both smiled bitterly.
Then Ain opened his mouth to make small talk.
“I hope I can keep my little brother and that prince in check.”
“…Who are you talking about?”
“My former father. Well, since we are talking about another country, I don’t want to interfere too much.”
[T/n: He said it moto chichi here.]
“So that’s it. ──We both have a hard time with our fathers.”
“You mean your biological father?”
“Yes. Mei and I both have… a hard time with our father, and our mother had a hard time with him too.”
She seemed to have mixed emotions when she said this. She smiled bitterly, her cheeks twisted uncomfortably and looked at the sky with a sigh.
It can be seen that she has bitter memories, just like Ain.
“But I don’t remember much about him because he left when I was very young.”
“Eh, does that mean he went outside of Ist?”
“I don’t know. He suddenly disappeared, saying he had lost interest. My mother didn’t know what it meant, so she looked for my father for a while, but she couldn’t find him anywhere…”
“And then you went to that back alley?”
“N-no, no! I was always in the slums, so my life was pretty much the same!”
Ain thought. Her father was much worse than Logas. He had his reservations about Logas, but at least he provided him with enough food and a place to live.
In comparison, he was much better than Vara’s father.
“It was much harder for you than for me.”
“But after that, Your Highness brought us here. That’s what makes us happy.”
“That is good. Is there any inconvenience at the castle?”
“Oh, of course not!”
She looked flustered, and her voice raspy.
“…I’m really more than happy enough.”
“──That’s good to hear.”
“I’m sorry for being spontaneous…! I’m sorry for such a boring conversation. Then, I’d better get back to work!”
Then Vara bowed exaggeratedly and left Ain’s side.
“If you need anything else, you can always call me.”
“Yes, thank you.”
Vara left the office immediately after she answered.
On the other hand, Ain eventually lowered his eyes and thought back to the conversation they had just had.
“There are many kinds of fathers.”
There are as many different types of families as there are people.
Everyone must be going through some kind of hardship… This made him realize that strongly.
“Okay, let’s read the medical report. ──No, first.”
He got up and opened the window. The air in the room changed as the still cool night breeze came in.
There was not a cloud in the starry sky that filled his vision. When he spotted the largest starlight, he prayed for the safety of the two sick people.