It was the early afternoon on a certain day when Croire was summoned to Renya’s office with the words, “There’s something we have to talk about.”
The act of being summoned doesn’t give Croire a very good feeling.
In the first place, usually when one is called out in such way, the probability that some kind of trouble is awaiting you is extremely high.
That was something I had learned through experience during my time in the elven country, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the very same on the human continent as well, or is it not? Croire pondered.
Meaning, it’s a commonly shared fact across the whole world that this will become a seed for trouble.
Even so, seeing that it had been Renya who had summoned her, she couldn’t ignore it.
On top of it being an official summons by a Margrave, Renya acts as Croire’s guarantor and moreover guardian while she’s in the human continent.
In addition, for Croire he is her benefactor and also her loved one.
There had been times when she wondered whether she could somehow pull him over to the elven country, but she soon abandoned that idea since Renya’s impression towards her father, the emperor, was close to being the worst possible.
Later, after Renya had been appointed to be a noble of the Trident Principality, any paths leading in that direction were basically shut down.
In exchange for becoming a noble, Renya gained a position that allows him to welcome several women as his wives without any problems, thus it’s probably easier for me to stay at his side by now, she judges.
She has also been vaguely telling something along those lines to her father through her letters, but he apparently was uninterested as no particularly conspicuous reaction came back and thus she started to think that her father probably considered this matter as relatively unimportant.
Putting all that aside, since she had to respond to the summons, Croire changed into a navy blue skirt and a white shirt, an outfit which she had taken a liking to most recently, and furthermore put on a navy blue jacket, black knee-high socks and silver pumps. After fixing her outfit in such manner, she headed over towards Renya’s office.
By the way, the entire outfit worn by Croire was handmade by Frau.
Croire, an elf, has quite the resistance to wearing the somewhat unfashionable attires created by human tailors who put priority on the clothes’ durability.
But Frau’s clothes are both durable and of thin make. Moreover the design is completely different from any clothes available on the market.
It’s not that she didn’t feel worried about the fact that the raw materials’ origin was still somewhat ambiguous, but because they look and feel good when worn, Croire became completely dependent on Frau when it came to clothes.
It’s a digression, but even the underwear worn by Croire had been completely handmade by Frau.
However, in regards to the underwear, Croire highly valued design and functionality. However when Rona and Shion saw her underwear by coincidence, they averted their looks with brightly red faces. From that fact alone one could probably guess what kind of design it has.
Having arrived in front of Renya’s office, Croire takes a deep breath to prepare herself and then knocks on the door.
Since she was answered with “Please come in” in no time, Croire turns the knob, opens the door and goes inside. The first thing she sees inside the room is Renya sitting at the desk of his office with a somewhat sullen expression.
Looks like this will be a seed for trouble after all, while sighing in her mind, Croire bowed elegantly and approached the desk with Renya sitting behind it.
“I heard you asked to see me.” (Croire)
“Yeah. First of all…ah, sorry, I didn’t prepare a chair for you.” (Renya)
Given that it’s a room designed for Renya to carry out his desk work, it wasn’t equipped with furniture suitable to receive guests.
Renya didn’t consider it acceptable to keep talking while having Croire stand throughout the conversation, thus, while tapping his index finger on the table as he looks at Croire, who told him to not concern himself with the chair, he asks,
“How about sitting here?” (Renya)
“On top of the desk? Isn’t that bad manners?” (Croire)
“There’s no one present who would be bothered by it, right? Besides, it might trigger some feelings of superiority in me by making an elven princess sit on a desk, since I’m actually one of the nobles doing their own work.” (Renya)
I guess he’s joking about it. However, due to Renya’s expression being difficult to read as to the extent that he’s joking and how far he’s talking about his true feelings, Croire nimbly sat down on the edge of the table after pretending to consider it for a bit.
Croire sat diagonally to the right ahead of Renya with her back turned towards him, but while watching her figure, Renya secretly thinks,
Surprisingly this might actually be a nice view.
With her butt resting slightly on top of the desk, her slender and smooth back could be seen. As a finisher, by looking over her shoulders, Croire’s smiling face was turned his way.
His work doesn’t show any signs of making any progress at all, but Renya felt extremely at ease.
Aware or unaware of the fact that she was being watched by Renya like that, Croire – feeling that things won’t get anywhere at this rate – smiles impishly and addresses Renya in an attempt to get the business as for why she was summoned out of the way.
“So, Renya, what’s your business with me today?” (Croire)
“Eh? Ah, right. Something I’d like to consult you about has been delivered.” (Renya)
As if finally remembering after being spoken to, Renya retrieved a paper roll, which seemed to be as thick as a bundle on a first glance, with an effort from below his desk.
Renya spreads a part of the paper roll on top of the desk in front of Croire, who has question marks floating above her head, not understanding the true identity of the paper roll he took out.
Small, densely packed characters were noted down on the paper.
“A letter?” (Croire)
“It’s in elvish, right? It’s a letter from that elven emperor, your father. It arrived here this morning.” (Renya)
Renya’s expression while answering was one of puzzlement, looking cryptic rather than displeased.
“I can read elvish as well, so I tried to read it from the beginning, but…I don’t get the meaning at all.” (Renya)
“Well, I think it’s probably faster to have an actual elf read it.” (Renya)
“Is it something I’m allowed to see?” (Croire)
So far as it goes, it’s a handwritten letter from His Majesty the Elven Emperor to a Margrave of the Trident Principality.
Croire can’t believe for a second that it’s fine to readily allow another person to read it, but Renya nodded without any hesitation.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s weird for the Elven Emperor to directly send a handwritten letter to a noble of a human country to begin with. He probably anticipated that I would show you the letter anyway, Croire.” (Renya)
While sitting on top of the desk, Croire pulls the letter towards herself and lowers her eyes onto its contents.
What was written in there was foolish rambling.
Beginning with a seasonal greeting, it started from describing the elven country’s state and then proceeded towards the results of field produce.
After that the emperor began to report about his own current condition, then proceeded to state the names and personalities of the many empresses, then moved on to a talk about his hobbies that he had started to enjoy recently and then continued onto the names of the children born from each empress and the origins of those names.
“To be honest, it’s a letter sent by that emperor. I don’t think that it’s a mere letter, but…the contents are far too disconnected from me and my territory.” (Renya)
“Renya, what do you think this is?” (Croire)
“A roundabout harassment.” (Renya)
Croire smiled wryly due to Renya’s plain answer.
That’s because she also thought that this is certainly some kind of harassment by the emperor.
If it was a letter written with the intent of wanting to inform Renya of something, the deciphering would be far too difficult, resulting in Renya racking his brain. On the other hand, even if there was no real information hidden in that letter, it would also mean that there’s some plot at work here, resulting in Renya also having to rack his brain.
That means, no matter which was true, Renya would still fall into a situation where he has to think about this letter, whether he wants to or not.
“Can’t he be at least upfront in a letter? That emperor is…” (Renya)
“This kind of mischief is something we elves like. What did you think after reading this, Renya?” (Croire)
Renya tilted his head to the side in confusion, not getting the meaning of Croire’s question, who asked him while laughing.
“Please tell me honestly what your thoughts are.” (Croire)
“… For something written by His Majesty the Emperor, the contents are too common in many ways. The words used are ordinary as well. However… some places in the letter used cryptic words that bothered me.” (Renya)
Renya wondered whether the emperor had made a mistake in his writing, but there was a fair share of words mixed in which Renya’s different world language ability couldn’t translate.
Without those being changed into words that could be understood by Renya, they look like a listing of elvish characters to Renya.
“This mentions that they wish to meet with the human hero since the elven hero has been chosen. In line with this, they want to hold a preparatory meeting about the date and time and thus wish to dispatch a diplomat our way, but they wonder whether there’s any suitable day for that.” (Croire)
Once Croire says so as she scans through the long letter while winding out the paper roll, Renya looks at her in surprise.
It’s only natural, but such sentences weren’t there when Renya read the letter.
“In addition it mentions various things…and asks how I am doing, but well, I think the important information he wanted to pass on is only the matter regarding the hero, or what do you think?” (Croire)
“Where’s that written, what you’ve just said?” (Renya)
As Renya wondered whether he overlooked something due to the absurdly high number of sentences, Croire confronted him with a question from a completely different direction.
“Let’s see. Can you look at this letter while excluding the elvish characters, Renya?” (Croire)
Being told so, Renya switches his consciousness over to the human language.
As he does so, the letter’s contents, which he understood until then, completely transformed into a series of elvish characters.
“I guess it looks like I can.” (Renya)
“Really? So, which of the unknown words can you actually understand?” (Croire)
Upon Croire’s question, Renya lowers his eyes on the sentences written in the letter once again, but he can’t see them as anything but a listing of symbols that make absolutely no sense to him in that state. He doesn’t comprehend at all what words he’s looking at right now.
“… No, in this state I don’t understand it at all.” (Renya)
“I see. Father might have been aware of Renya’s abilities. Is it fine for me to scribble on this letter a bit?” (Croire)
Croire asked for permission while pulling a nearby quill and inkwell to herself. Renya nods.
After getting Renya’s approval, Croire started to circle a part of the elvish characters lining up in huge numbers in the letter.
“Usually, when you write a letter, it’s written in cursive style, but this one is expressly written in block letters. And, the cryptic words, you couldn’t read Renya, had each a single character exchanged with another inside the word, thus making it incomprehensible to you.” (Croire)
Croire draws one circle after the other on the letter while explaining.
When she had finished drawing a certain number of circles, she then connects said circles in order with lines.
“As encryption method…having the locations, where the deliberately wrong characters are written, holding a meaning is an overused technique.” (Croire)
Once Renya looks at the connected lines after switching his consciousness to the elvish language, he immediately noticed that those lines had turned into the word “hero.”
In other words, that emperor apparently came up with a drawn-out letter on purpose to insert this cipher.
For the sake of encrypting the letter with this method, it became necessary to write a considerable amount of words. Because of that, it apparently resulted in the dummy letter becoming much too long.
Feeling as if he was suddenly hit by exhaustion, Renya fell prostrate on top of the desk.
“Just what is he thinking…” (Renya)
“Hmm, I think I somehow get it though.” (Croire)
In contrast to Renya who speaks up tiredly, Croire said her words somewhat happily.
“You do? The intention of this stupid prank?” (Renya)
“Yes. First he probably wanted to tell you, who possesses the human hero at present, about the hero selection having finished, but…I think, maybe Father wrote it like this believing that you probably won’t be able to read this letter alone, Renya.” (Croire)
“But, is there any intention behind doing that, besides it serving as a prank?” (Renya)
“Yes, after all you will try to consult with someone, if you can’t read it, right?” (Croire)
With a bright smile Croire announces her reasoning.
“As it’s a handwritten letter from the elven emperor, it’s not like you could speak about it with just anyone. Naturally it’s easy to predict that you will likely consult with me, isn’t it?” (Croire)
“Well, after all the only elf close to me is you, Croire, so I guess it’s set in stone that I will consult with you, if we go by logic.” (Renya)
“Moreover it’s a handwritten letter with unknown contents, so you likely can’t show it to other people, right?” (Croire)
If he showed the letter to other humans while not knowing what might be written within, it would naturally turn into a really bad situation if the letter included information that must not be shown to others.
But then again it’s usually impossible for a letter with such dangerous content to be directly sent to a noble of a foreign country. However, the current elven emperor had an unreliable character that made him capable of doing such a thing.
Precisely because Renya has actually seen the real emperor once, that thought had taken strong hold on his mind.
“I don’t follow what you want to say?” (Renya)
“If he sends this letter, you won’t be able to consult with anyone but me, Renya. Furthermore, since you won’t know the content, you won’t be able to allow anyone else to be present either. To sum it up.” (Croire)
While smiling, Croire lowered her voice a tiny bit.
Sensing something dark lurking in some parts of that smile, Renya backs away slightly on top of his chair.
“This letter was sent while foreseeing that it will result in just the two of us being together without anyone else meddling.” (Croire)
Renya stays silent upon Croire’s words.
Renya didn’t know how Croire interpreted his silence, but Croire continued in a good mood,
“I’m surprised that even Father understood the concept of taking others into consideration. In reality he probably wrote the letter thinking that I likely need more time to think various things over for a bit and test a few things, but as it looks like it would be troublesome for you, Renya, he tried to solve it quickly.” (Croire)
“Ah…I got it. I’m thankful for his consideration.” (Renya)
“As such, I’m happy that you are able to understand my feelings as well, Renya.” (Croire)
Being confronted with it directly and openly, Renya silently shifts his gaze from Croire.
For some reason he couldn’t look straight into her eyes, but Croire’s happiness only intensified due to Renya’s behavior.
“If we don’t call anyone, there won’t be even any tea at hand here.” (Renya)
“I don’t mind. … Let’s stay like this for a while.” (Croire)
Being asked that, Renya sighs deeply, leans back into his chair and looks up to the ceiling.
What so interesting about it being just the two of us in a situation where no tea or sweets are available? Such boring thoughts circulated within Renya’s mind, but once he looks at Croire, who is smiling happily while sitting on top of the desk, he ends up wondering whether she’ll be fine at this rate, considering how glad she seems to be about only this much.
Since he has given detailed instructions for no one to enter his office since there’s an important conversation waiting for him, no one will visit his office as long as Renya doesn’t call for anyone.
Like this Croire delightfully spent a very calm and peaceful time next to Renya, which she usually can’t experience very often.