It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (129/130), enjoy~
Several days passed.
With the Red Fox’s back finally in sight, it was no surprise that meetings were held several times a day, keeping the Ishtalika castle busy in a way rarely seen in recent years.
As time went on, another puzzling point emerged.
Two important people had disappeared, yet Heim was quiet.
Even though Duke Amour was missing, they did not send troops to Euro, nor did they seem to be reaching out to other countries.
The speed of the advance to Birdland and Rockdam also slowed.
It was as if to give them time to prepare their forces.
Because there were so many things to think about, Ain’s mental strain increased proportionately. Therefore, when he decided to take a walk in the castle for a change of pace──.
After an unremarkable turn of events, the person he happened to meet was Tigre.
Lily, who was standing by Tigre’s side as a guard and lookout, let out a sigh.
This was unexpected. She looked uncomfortable and tried her best to keep her composure.
“Is Ain-sama taking a break?”
“A-ah… yeah. I thought I’d have a change of pace.”
On the other hand, not exchanging words was also…
Unable to bear the awkward atmosphere, Ain finally decided to talk to Tigre.
“Um… it’s been a while.”
“It hasn’t been that long.”
Ain smiles bitterly at his somewhat blunt attitude.
“Well, we haven’t seen each other since the summer, and if we haven’t seen each other for a few months, then it would have been a long time.”
“We don’t see each other often, though, do we?”
Tigre had become timid.
That’s what Ain had heard, but it made him feel more at ease to respond in this way.
“In the first place, we have not spoken much. Neither at that meeting nor at Euro.”
“Eh, how detailed.”
“T-that’s not very detailed! Obviously, I’m grateful! But I never expected you to speak to me like this!”
“Well, then, on that unexpected occasion, why don’t you take the opportunity to accompany me for a while?”
“…Accompany you, you said?” Tigre was puzzled when he was suddenly asked to accompany him.
Tigre looked at Lily. Of course, even Lily couldn’t say anything strong to Ain. But it was not a proposal that Tigre could readily accept.
However, Ain walked away without waiting for a reply.
“The garden is quite close from here.”
“Don’t worry; I will ask people to leave here.”
Ain’s first stop was a section of the waterway inside the castle gates.
This is where the twins used to swim when they were little. Ain felt sad that the twins were now too big to enter the waterway.
As soon as he arrived there, he stretched his body wide.
Then he took a deep breath and sent fresh air to his body, which was tired from the daily meetings.
Lily stood there near Ain, though there was no need to be particularly vigilant.
“Lily-san, please disperse the people around.”
“You mean you two want to be alone?”
“Yes. I know you can hear us anyway, but could you please stay out of sight?”
On the other hand, Tigre was still puzzled by the situation.
“What do you want me to do here?”
“What is it? If you ask me, we’ve never really talked before.”
──What a lenient man.
Tigre didn’t know what the heck he was thinking.
What is the point of calling up someone he dislikes and going to the trouble of having a conversation with him?
“I wanted to talk to you at leisure.”
“Do you want to complain about me?”
“No, no, no, that’s not going to happen.”
This behavior revealed Tigre’s immaturity.
Since he was being sheltered, he should not have behaved in such a thorny manner. Tigre was aware of this and felt self-loathing for behaving in this way. But on the other hand, he was surprised that he was able to talk to Ain in such a natural way.
“It’s no use complaining about it now, and it won’t change the past.”
“And about my mother, too. She herself said, ‘I don’t care anymore,’ so I don’t want to worry too much about it either. I’m happy in this country, so I don’t care.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“If you had such feelings, was it necessary to meet with us?”
He said that it was necessary to pay the price for the sparks from Ishtalika, but it was not necessary to have a meeting on a scale that would include the kings of both countries.
Ain smiled wryly when he heard this.
“Ah… So you’re going to ask me about that?”
He scratched his cheeks in embarrassment.
“The reason for that was because I wanted to settle things, but at the time, I didn’t think it would turn out to be such a big meeting.”
“What do you mean, the ending you’re talking about is the one with Heim, isn’t it?”
Then it’s only natural that there would be an overreaction.
“Hmm… That was pretty close.”
“Hmm? What else did you need to settle?”
They even asked for an apology at the conclusion of the meeting, so is that what he meant? However, Ain and Olivia said they didn’t care about Heim, and this seems different. If that’s the case, the story is about something else──.
“It was unintentional. But I couldn’t give in, so I said I wanted to settle it.”
At this moment, a slightly stronger wind blows around them. It continued to blow for a few seconds as it swept through Ain and Tigre’s hair.
“It’s about time you told me. So what is it that you’re seeking?”
Ain looked at Tigre with a different gaze than he had before. With strong eyes that make a person almost kneel down unconsciously, revealing the strength that lies deep within.
“I don’t want to give Krone to anyone. That’s all I was thinking about at the time.”
The eyes, like polished swords, shot out at Tigre.
The air vibrated for a moment, and the trees swayed. Even the water in the waterways stopped as if frozen. Tigre gulped.
“I wanted to say what I just said in person. I guess I didn’t get a chance to say it at the meeting, or maybe I just wasn’t prepared for it. …Well, I guess it was both.”
Ain let out a sigh as he laughed at himself mockingly.
“──That’s a completely different character from the one that Grint told me about you.
“I have a pretty good idea what kind of person he was talking about.”
“Do you want to hear it?”
Ain just said, “It’s okay,” and then laughed.
Perhaps he had really taken his inferiority complex and the words of his mother to heart and had said those things.
Tigre surmised as he thought back on Grint’s words.
This man, Ain, is strong. Although he had not seen him display his prowess, he could at least sense the strength of Ain himself. He did not want to admit it, but he understood that Ain was incomparable to him as a king.
“You’re an outrageous man, aren’t you?”
It was not like him to act so weakly at the end, and he smiled wryly.
“I have one last thing to say.”
With that, he turned his back to Ain and started to walk away.
His walk was as clear as the blue sky above his head, and his imposing figure even exuded confidence.
“I am terribly sorry for everything, Crown Prince Ain-dono.”
Although he didn’t turn his head when he left, it was the best apology he had ever offered.
If anyone else would have spat out the word “rudeness,” Ain would have defended him, saying it was fine.
It was a pleasant, if far from the perfect, apology that expressed the character of the third prince, Tigre.
“…Something doesn’t seem quite as bad as it did before.”
The man’s backside seemed to offer a glimpse of the human side of Tigre.
──As he left, Ain continued to watch the back of the departing third prince until the moment Lily returned.