<– Previous Chapter | Table of Content | Next Chapter –>
As soon as the door was opened, a cold wind blew into the carriage, making it pretty clear that winter was right around the corner.
“Lord Chrono, we have arrived.”
“Thanks, Fay,” Chrono answered her and stepped outside, just to be greeted by the sight of the Aldemilan Palace in front of him.
This was a palace situated in the suburbs of the capital. The grounding for it was laid by the previous emperor who had built a brickwork castellum――nowadays called Old Castellum. Two new castellums flanked the old one in the east and west, basically either side. Those new castellums stood for the characteristic of the Aldemilan Palace’s exterior. And adhering to that characteristic trait, the palace had been built symmetrically at all possible places, as if to imitate the reflection of a mirror.
This gave the palace a touch of eccentricity, but there was a reason for it. This whole setup served the purpose of not letting old and new nobles meet. It was an ironclad rule that the old nobles would gather in the eastern castellum while the neo-nobles would assemble in the western castellum. Hearing that his foster father and his comrades were the cause for this, Chrono felt somehow apologetic, but――
“The moon is pretty tonight.”
“Lord Chrono, the others will not be able to get out of the carriage if you stay there,” Fay retorted no sooner than Chrono muttering his impression of the moon.
But, seeing how she definitely had a point here, Chrono immediately moved on. Following him, Chrod and Mayla got out of the carriage. His foster father wore an outfit closely resembling a military uniform while Mayla’s body was hidden beneath a black dress――an outfit that combined a frilly skirt and a bustier with shoulder straps. As far as Chrono was concerned, he’d sum it up as a typical evening dress.
The one leaving the carriage next was Elena. She was wearing a one-piece dress. The fabric was adorned with frills at various places and its skirt was widening as it extended downwards. Probably because of the gloves reaching all the way up to her elbows, Elena looked like a princess out of a picture book.
“I finally feel like having returned to my true self. What do you think? Does it suit me?”
“Quite well, indeed.”
“I see, thanks,” answered Elena curtly.
The one leaving the carriage last was Layla. The design of her dress resembled Mayla’s quite a bit, but hers was white and had no shoulder straps.
Layla was fidgeting, and going by her trying to hide her chest, Chrono guessed that she had to feel embarrassed.
“M-Master, what do you think?”
“You look very lovely.”
A white dress on brown skin looks perfect.
“We shall head over to the stab――”
“We’ll handle that part, so you go ahead, big sis.”
“But, as your commanding officer…”
Fay furrowed her eyebrows while pulling a troubled expression. She kept throwing glances in Chrono’s direction. And as soon as he nodded, Fay broke into a grin.
“Please take care of it then.”
“Aye, we will. You lazy bums, hurry up and take the horses to the stable!”
Sub and the other three soldiers walked away.
“It’s damn cold out here, so let’s hurry inside.”
Chrod started to walk off, followed by Mayla.
“We should go as well, I guess.”
“Hey, wait a sec!” Elena stopped Chrono just as he was about to head towards the palace.
“Holy cow, you don’t even know something so simple? It’s the man’s duty to escort the ladies on such occasions, no?”
“Ah, you’re right. Okay, take my arm,” Chrono said and held out his arm.
Elena casually wrapped her own arm around his.
“Is it alright for me to join you as well?”
“Thank you kindly,” Layla wrapped her arm around his as well.
“Aren’t you treating her a lot differently compared to me?”
“It’s the same, exactly the same.”
“Oh well, whatever,” Elena responded while appearing sulky, but once Chrono started to walk, she silently followed.
After a while, the entryway of the Old Castellum came into sight. Two men stood there. Given that they were wearing white uniforms, Chrono judged them to likely be members of an Imperial Knight Order. Both had tough and burly builds. And seeing them, Layla put more strength into her hooking of Chrono’s arm.
“Is it alright for me to attend with a half-elf like me? As I thought――”
“Leave them to Dad, if they dare to stop us. That’s why we’re having him walk in front.”
As they drew closer, the knights silently nodded at each other.
“Wait! Demi-humans are forb――gh”
“You’re in the way, brats.”
The two knights blocked their path by crossing their spears, but Chrod grabbed their heads and slammed them against the door. All the nobles in the Old Castellum’s hall looked at Chrono’s foster father with startled looks because of the loud noise this had caused.
“Humph,” snorted Chrod and tossed the two knights away like random trash.
The two slid across the floor, but immediately got back up.
‘Wow, I guess they aren’t imperial knights for show, huh?
“You insolent fiend! This is――”
“You moron! Idiots like you, who call other people demi-humans, have no right to talk about insolence, do they!?”
The two knights could only grunt in frustration in response to Chrod’s roar. Chrono and the others had visited the palace after being invited. And yet, they not only had tried to stop them, but even insulted one of theirs as demi-human. It was plain obvious which side had been insolent here, but the nobles instead revealed their disgust by glaring at Chrono’s party.
As soon as the knights put strength into the hands holding the spears, Chrod broke into a ferocious grin. And just when Chrono started to wonder whether this would end in bloodshed――
“Lord Chrod!” A voice calling out to Chrod boomed across the hall.
Probably having heard all the ruckus, a giant of a man, wearing a white uniform, wedged himself between Chrono’s foster father and the knights. Chrod was already a tall man, but this guy was even taller than him. Moreover, he was broader, too. In short, he had a physique that could easily rival that of a minotaur or lizardman. His grizzled hair was kept short, and although countless scars riddled his face as if to tell a tale of all his past battles, his eyes were rotund and the way he was scratching his head had some charm to it.
“Taur? Ohhh! Long time no see!!”
“Right back at you.”
“Well, I’ve been stuck in the southern borderlands for most of the time, and you’ve been hanging out at Noji. Perfect combination for us to not see each other for a good chunk of time, right?”
“You got a point there,” Taur answered with a calm voice.
Even Chrono had heard of Count Taur Elnath. 1 He was a veteran warrior with the alias of 『Iron Wall』 who currently served as captain of the 2nd Imperial Knight Order.
“So, why did you show up here? If you’re going to side with these guys, even you… You understand, don’t you?”
“No matter how old you become, you always stay true to yourself, Lord Chrod.”
Once Chrono’s foster father cracked his knuckles, Taur sighed lightly and bowed his head very deeply. The two knights gasped at that. Though Chrono assumed that to be natural since they had forced their commanding officer to apologize in their stead.
“Please allow me to apologize for my subordinates’ rudeness. Could I have you pull back while thinking of it as saving my face?”
“No choice, if you’re going that far.”
“I owe you,” Taur lifted his face, and turned his eyes to the two knights, “Both of you, get back to your posts. No matter who might shop up from now on, welcome them as guests of Her Highness the Imperial Princess.”
“”Yes, Sir! Please forgive us!””
The two saluted and left the hall.
“Your men are lacking training, aren’t they?”
“No kidding. What an embarrassment.”
Taur took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
Suddenly, he looked at Chrono, “Lord Chrod, is it him?”
“Yeah, he’s Ella’s and my son.”
“Excuse me for a sec, you two.”
Chrono exchanged a look with Layla and Elena, before separating from them.
“Nice to meet you, Sir Taur,” Chrono walked up to the older man and saluted.
“The pleasure is on my side, Lord Chrono,” Taur returned the salute while showing a faint smile.
His salute was messy like you’d expect of a veteran soldier, but in his case it actually suited him rather well.
“I have heard of your outstanding achievements on the battlefield, Lord Chrono. Back when I heard the rumors for the first time, I doubted their veracity, but if I take into account that you’re Lord Chrod’s son, I can fully agree.”
“No, me being flooded with unmerited prestige is all thanks to my men. Back then, I only managed to survive because my men fought for me while risking their lives.”
Taur faced Chrod, showing a daring smile, “It looks like you’re top-notch, even when it comes to parenting, Lord Chrod.”
“Gahahaha! You got it totally right!”
Chrono’s foster father started to walk towards the western castellum while roaring in laughter. Mayla quietly tailed him.
“So you had it in you to respect those older than you, huh?”
“Oh, you could tell.”
“No matter my current situation, I’m still a baronet, so I do at least know that battalion commanders belong to the highest ranks in the army.”
Just as Elena said, battalion commanders were categorized as top brass within the army. This was owed to the Empire using a system where it’d deploy its regular forces to military bases with the smallest units having the size of a battalion. In case of an emergency, those battalions would be called together and assembled into army corps.
“I always bear in mind to be courteous.”
“I truly admire how you can sleep talk with your eyes open,” Elena wrapped her arm around Chrono’s while showering him with stabbing comments.
With a slight delay, Layla followed her example.
“Ah, you should know that I’m not all that good at dancing,okay?”
“Master, I cannot dance.”
“I think we don’t really need to worry about dancing anyway.”
Chasing after Chrod and Mayla, they advanced through a long corridor. At its end awaited a heavy-looking door. As soon as the court lady, who was waiting next to the door, opened it, they could see a bunch of old people drinking wine and other liquors. A few of them were also eating, but not a single person in the whole room was dancing.
“I mean, no one here is interested in dancing.”
“This is why I dislike neo-nobles so much,” Elena spat out.
Chrod picked up a wooden tankard from a table. Going by its size, it was more like a barrel, though.
“You lazy bums! Time to chug the booze down!”
Upon Chrod’s address, the old men lifted their respective wine glasses and tankards high into the air. Meanwhile their wives were sitting on chairs, completely engrossed in their chitter-chatter while tilting their own wine glasses.
“I thought we were supposed to visit a ball…”
“Dad and the others simply don’t know how to dance.”
Or maybe I should say they didn’t have any time to actually learn it.
“You drink as well.”
Chrono accepted the tankard――filled with beer――from his foster father, and chugged its contents down in one go.
“That’s how you gotta drink!”
“Nothing less of Chrod’s son!”
“Aye, you’re totally right!”
The old men applauded while Chrod stretched his back in pride.
“Is it alright for me to excuse myself for a bit?”
“I don’t mind, but come back soon, okay?”
“Yes, I promise,” Elena nodded with a broad smile before leaving the ball’s venue.
Chrono suspected that she intended to head over to the eastern castellum in order to search for her mother’s murderers. But he also knew that no one could say she’d be lucky enough to find them
Fay showed up at once. However, she remained silent. Mostly because her cheeks were stuffed with food, making her look like a hamster. After chewing on it quickly, she audibly swallowed it all down.
“What might it be?”
“Fay, you’re a noble, aren’t you?”
“Of course. I am the head of the Muhlifain family,” answered Fay with a proud snort while throwing her chest out.
“It’s ruined, though.”
“I-I-I-It i-i-is not r-ruined! Just…”
“It is just in a slightly deplorable state!” Fay exclaimed, her face bright red. “Did you expressly call me over to tease me with your sarcasm?”
“I thought I asked you to guard Elena.”
“I am, guarding, I suppose,” Fay nodded with a meek look, but her eyes were focusing on the meat dishes.
“I’ll secure a share for you as well, Fay.”
“I got it!” Fay saluted at Chrono, and then rushed out of the ball hall.
The gentle timber of harpsichords filled the air. Dispassionately and adhering to a fixed rhythm, it sounded like the pattering of rain. However, as soon as the flutes and percussions joined in, the harpsichords’ heavy melody gained a deep pathos.
Nobles were relaxedly moving around and swaying their bodies in the ball hall filled with such music. The instant their hands touched, they smiled bashfully. As if understanding each other’s feelings.
Once I was allowed to experience something like that as well, Elena gazed at a man and woman dancing on the floor with a wine glass in her hand.
The man wore a white uniform, proof of him being an imperial knight. His hair was frizzy and his skin was sunburnt. The expression of his eyes was gentle. At least on the surface――
“…Philip,” Elena muttered the man’s name.
Her voice was so flat that it surprised even her.
He had been laughing and enjoying himself. Despite his fiancée missing. That alone told her that he participated in the attack. The white uniform only strengthened her conviction.
Imperial knights were the elites of the imperial army. Let alone actual skill, they were also required to have a certain family status. And going even further, one wouldn’t be even able to take the entrance exam, if they didn’t have the recommendation of a superior.
Elena guessed that Philip had received money in exchange for his cooperation with her uncle. Money he then used to bribe people.
Elena brought her wine glass at the height of her own chest and let go of it. The glass fell on the ground, shattering.
At once, Philip stopped dancing to look her way. And then his face froze. As if he’d seen a ghost.
Elena, on the other hand, laughed before turning on her heels. She was sure he’d follow her. For the sake of finishing her off for good.
But, the same could be said about Elena, too.
“Now then, come after me, little rat. This time it’s my turn to kill you.”
When Chrono was sipping on the wine served to him by Layla, the door was suddenly flung open. The hustle and bustle inside the hall immediately died down.
The reason wasn’t to be found in the door having been opened, but because the one having opened the door being none other than Tilia.
She was wearing a crimson dress. It consisted of a bustier which allowed a deep peek at her cleavage, and a frilly skirt that widened downwards. You could basically say you might get something similar if you combine the dresses worn by Elena and Layla into one.
Tilia stomped up to where Chrono was sitting. Planting herself in front of him, she haughtily lifted her chin. He felt like her chest seemed bigger than when she was wearing her uniform. Or rather, he’d label that bust as scandalous. A true incarnation of lewdness.
“What’s the idea of you not even coming to visit me, despite me having gone out of the way to invite you to my ball?”
“Because I’ve been drinking wine?”
“Why are you answering to my chest?”
“What is!?” Tilia answered Chrono’s yell with one of her own.
“Personally, I believe that your boobs are actually your main body, Tilia.”
“Is it fine for me to take these as your final words?”
Tilia cracked her knuckles.
Oh damn, I might have become a bit too drunk.
Suddenly, a thick arm wrapped itself around Chrono’s neck. Not Tilia’s but Chrod’s.
“Come over here.”
“Ouch! It hurts, I’m telling you!”
They moved around ten meters away from Tilia while his foster feather kept Chrono’s head locked in his hold. There he finally released Chrono.
“Who’s that boob girl?”
“Tilia. Princess Tilia. First successor to the throne.”
“That boob girl is Ramal’s daughter, eh?” Chrod threw a look at Tilia over his shoulder, before turning his head back to Chrono, “They don’t resemble each other at all.”
“Oh, so you met His Majesty the Emperor?”
“I frequently did during the civil war. Though I never met him again after it finished.”
“What a nasty story. Dad, you’re a war hero who brought the civil war to its end, aren’t you?”
“Don’t put it like that. I’m sure Ramal had his hands full after becoming emperor.”
“Dad, you’re unexpectedly broad-minded, aren’t you?”
“The unexpected was unnecessary there,” objected Chrod sullenly.
“So, are you aiming for that boob girl?”
“If you are, give it a rest,” Chrod warned him before Chrono could even finish his sentence.
I’d like him to at least listen to my answer to his own question. Then again, that’s how drunkards usually operate anyway.
“That boob girl will be beyond your control.”
“Certainly, my hands are too small to hold both of them.”
Chrono moved his finger, imitating groping gestures.
“But, why are you telling me something like that?”
“Listen. You might have learned about women and gained a reasonable amount of confidence, but that’s the most dangerous time of all. You’ll be unable to recognize danger while already being in danger,” his foster father told him in a tone a veteran soldier would use to scold a new recruit. “To give you a figurative example: You’re a sheep wearing the skin of a wolf.”
“Doesn’t that make me nothing more than a sheep!?”
“But, that boob girl is a lion by nature,” Chrod continued while ignoring Chrono’s response.
“You can’t even exclude the possibility of her raping you.”
“No way. She’s an imperial princess, okay?”
“Listen, boy. Don’t let your guard down. You’ll be exploited, if you do,” Chrod said with a grave look, but to Chrono it sounded like no more than the nonsense of a drunkard.
“I’ll leave you alone, but make sure to be careful. Otherwise, you’ll be torn apart.”
Chrod went back to the other old men after his foster son nodded.
“Did you finish your talk with him?”
“As you can see.”
Tilia grabbed Chrono’s hand and started to walk off. Passing through the western castellum’s corridor, they entered the Old Castellum. And at that point, Chrono realized where she was taking him. She was trying to drag him to the eastern castellum.
“W-Wait a sec!”
“You just need to stay quiet and follow me.”
Tilia made her way through the Old Castellum, disregarding Chrono’s protests.
“Why must I come to pick you up anyway? Wouldn’t it have been common sense for you to have come to greet me right after arriving at the capital?”
“Even if you tell me all that――”
“What? Do you have anything to say?”
Chrono dropped his head, trailing after Tilia.
Exiting the Old Castellum, they entered the ball’s venue――the eastern castellum. No sooner than that, the music stopped and the looks of all old nobles focused on Chrono and Tilia.
To be honest, I don’t feel like I’m at the right place here at all.
However, the music started to play again after a moment, and the old nobles resumed their dancing. Chrono guessed that it was a necessary ability of old nobles to block out anything inconvenient to them.
“This is bad for my heart, you know?” Chrono complained while placing a hand on his chest.
“You’re too much of a wimp,” retorted Tilia sullenly. “You won against me, and that Ign――”
“Yo, Your Highness,” a casual, cheerful voice interrupted Tilia.
The aroma of sickly-sweet perfume hit Chrono’s nose like a wall. As soon as he looked in the direction of the voice’s owner, he saw a woman walking up to them. She wore a dress with a bustier. She was tall for a woman and possessed a rather muscular body. Her chest was――quite moderate, to put it kindly. Her looks in general could be described as androgynous.
Her lips, glistening thanks to the lipstick, warped in a mocking way. However, since the look in her eyes appeared to be gentle, Chrono could only regard this as her acting more evil than she was.
“…Count Rio Cheiron.”
“You’re the current Marquis Erakis, correct?”
Ignoring Tilia, the woman――Count Rio Cheiron clumsily wrapped an arm around Chrono’s.
“Would you be as kind as to introduce us?”
“HE is Count Rio Cheiron, the captain of the 9th Imperial Knight Order,” Tilia said while stressing the pronoun.
Chrono guessed from her words that he had to like cross-dressing as a woman, but decided to shelve the issue since it wouldn’t be smart to touch on a possibly sensitive topic.
“Hehe, nice to meet you, Marquis Chrono Erakis.”
“The pleasure is all mine. I am glad to meet you as well, Count Rio Cheiron.”
“Could you please call me Rio?”
“Sure, then call me Chrono.”
“Thanks, Chrono,” replied Rio and pressed his chest against Chrono.
Chrono felt like he was sensing something faintly soft there.
“Won’t you accompany me to my mansion next? I’ll let you experience a night you’ll never forget, you know?”
“What’s the point in a guy asking another guy out!?” Tilia shouted with a bright red face when Rio put an arm around Chrono’s neck.
Rio looked miserable as soon as Tilia called him a guy.
“Although you call me a man, Your Highness, I believe to be a woman at heart.”
In short, he’s got a gender identity disorder, huh? I can only imagine it, but I’m pretty sure that this world has to be quite hard on him since it possesses zero tolerance when it comes to gender identity.
“Would it be wrong for us to start from being friends?”
“Chrono! He’s a guy!”
“I offered to start with friendship because we’re fellow men.”
Rio blinked at that, apparently confused.
“Chrono, you’re an interesting guy. Most men run away as soon as I seduce them.”
“I can’t go along with your temptation, but you’re not so bad that I’d feel like running away. Anyway, how about it?”
“I don’t mind starting from being friends.”
“That’s great to hear,” Chrono breathed out in relief as he didn’t know what he should have done if he had angered Rio. “There’s something I’d like to tell you as your friend. Are you okay with that?”
“What’s up?” Rio asked.
“Maybe it’d be better to go with a slightly more natural make-up?”
“Oh dear, did you just steal my lipstick?”
In response to Chrono wiping off the lipstick, Rio shrugged his shoulders in a theatrical way.
“Also, the scent of your perfume is appalling.”
“Chrono, you sure don’t hold back, do you?” Rio sighed lightly. “Okay, the perfume is asking too much, but I’ll fix the make-up right away.”
“I think I’ll have returned to the western castellum by then, so――”
“So I just have to go over there if I don’t see you here, right?”
“That’s how it is. Over at the western castellum, they got a drinking party going, so I think you’ll be quite surprised.”
“Sounds like it’d suit me more anyway. Hehe, it looks like I’ll be able to drink some delicious wine tonight,” Rio answered, turned on his heels, and left the venue.
“Guuuh, just how did he get here anyway!?”
“Didn’t you invite him?”
“Of course not. That man is known to mess up any event.”
“He didn’t seem like that to me, though.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll stop talking about Rio,” Chrono raised both arms when showered by Tilia’s glare.
“Chrono, we’re taking a walk.”
“Are we going to move again?”
“It’s just a walk.”
Tilia wrapped her arm around Chrono’s and started to walk. Her bountiful chest pressed against his upper arm.
It’d be great if I could focus on that blissful, soft touch, but the looks of the surrounding nobles sting. Even so――
“Why are you making such a show out of this?”
“What, so you realized?”
“Usually, you wouldn’t even be aware of it, if you pressed your boobs against me.”
“Who’s doing anything like that!?” Tilia bit back with her face crimson. “As a matter of fact…this ball also serves as a marriage meeting.”
“Why did you invite my Dad and his friend then?”
“It’s because the ball is being held without having had enough prior preparation. People didn’t gather. And it’d be extremely bad if people didn’t come to a ball hosted by me.
“In short, it’s basically for show?”
“At least call it saving face,” Tilia objected huffily. “People attended a ball held by me on short notice. That will also serve as a display of my authority.”
“Dad and his friends only came for the booze and food.”
“As long as they’re here, it’s fine,” Tilia answered with what sounded like a groan.
Chrono realized that an imperial princess had a lot of things going on as well.
“Deliberately bringing me to the eastern castellum is――”
“You’re bug-repellent. I don’t plan to marry yet, after all.”
“We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“Sure, guys will expect more if you tell them suggestive things. Or rather, even if you use me as bug-repellent, won’t it be bad for you if weird rumors crop up?”
“If you think so, become a suitable man for me.”
“I feel like I just heard a very arrogant line.”
“I’m an imperial princess, no?”
“That’s true, but…but…”
If you consider our difference in standing, it’s only natural for her to treat me with a condescending attitude, but I don’t really feel all that happy about it.
“Obtaining military achievements and becoming the prince consort…the husband of the noblest woman in the Empire; isn’t that the aspiration of any man in this country?”
“It’d be quicker and easier for you to fall out of grace, Tilia.”
“Why would I have to fall out of grace!?”
“Because clawing my way up all the way to prince consort sounds like a suicide mission.”
“Bah, you’ve got absolutely no ambition whatsoever. Take a bit of an example of Lord Leonhart.”
“The guy who’s being surrounded by women over there,” Tila said and jerked her chin.
Once Chrono looked there, he spotted a man in the midst of a throng of women. He wore a white uniform. He had soft-looking blond hair and graceful features. Yet, he was tall and even his uniform couldn’t hide that his body was well-trained.
His entire posture showed no openings. And since even Chrono could tell, he had to be an astoundingly skilled fighter. Moreover, the aura enveloping him was different. It even felt as if he himself was shining. Chrono didn’t believe in occult stuff, but if auras truly existed, he’d be the prime example of one.
“Leonhart Palatium, the heir of the ducal Palatium family. After graduating from the military academy at the top of his grade, he was assigned to the 2nd Imperial Knight Order. He’s a courageous warrior who took down an enemy commander during his first expedition at a time when Argo invaded our lands. He’s also a divine arts user of the God ruling over Pure White Order, holding the alias of 『Holy Knight』. By the way, right now he’s the captain of the 1st Imperial Knight Order.”
“His level of cheat is way too crazy,” Chrono groaned, scowling at Leonhart.
At that moment, their eyes met. Chrono quickly averted his eyes. It’d be a huge issue if he was being misunderstood for picking a fight. He knew he’d be beaten black and blue.
“What a pathetic guy you are.”
“I think so as well.”
“Won’t you become Lord Leonhart’s friend?”
“I feel like I’d go insane if I had to stay close to a guy who seems to be loved by the gods. But, women sure are amazing, seeing how they’re swarming to a guy like him.”
Chrono turned his eyes to the women surrounding Leonhart, just to spot an acquaintance over there.
“What might it be?”
Fay approached with a puzzled face, when Chrono blurted out her name with a sigh.
“Fay, what about your duty?”
“Lady Elena went towards the balcony.”
“Tilia, wait here for a moment! Fay, keep her company!”
Chrono entrusted Tilia to Fay and dashed to the balcony. He had a very bad feeling about this.
Elena waited for Philip with her back leaned against the balcony’s railing. She knew that he’d definitely come after her. And just as her belief, which was bordering conviction, suggested, he showed up a short while later.
A sheen of sweat was glistening on his forehead.
He must be quite flustered.
Seeing him silently keep his distance, Elena decided that she had no choice but to start the conversation from her side.
“Long time no see.”
“I-I was worried about you. E-Elena, where have you been all t-this time?” Philip squeaked with a nervous voice.
Elena almost burst into laughter. Just when she wondered what he’d say to the person he tried to kill, he came around the corner with 『I was worried about you』.
“Considering that, you appeared to enjoy yourself in there, didn’t you?”
“T-That’s…” Philip faltered.
After all, he had apparently truly enjoyed himself as he danced. But Elena believed that to be only reasonable. He had been enjoying the springtime of his life. She had no doubt he had had a blast, even if all of this was grounded on the sacrifices of others.
“Oh well, whatever. I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing up until now.”
“O-Okay,” nodded Philip his agreement with a meek expression while loosening the collar of his uniform.
“After the mansion was raided by bandits, I was sold to a slave trader.”
“――gh!” Philip gasped, but Elena continued without care.
“It was really terrible. I didn’t get raped since it’d lower my value as merchandise, but those guys don’t shy away from using violence whenever they feel like it, you know? They hit me whenever I defied their orders. They hit me whenever I talked back. They hit me as a lesson. I don’t even know how often they beat me up.”
Recalling her slave self, which had looked just like a goblin, Elena felt like crying. But, she endured.
“While painfully gasping for air inside a narrow cage, I had persuaded myself that you’d definitely come for my rescue, Philip. That you’d open the cage’s door and save me. I believed in that. I believed that you’d come to save me!”
As soon as Elena roared this at him, Philip flapped his mouth open and shut like a fish on dry land. Before long, he closed his mouth, just to suddenly smile in the next moment.
“Forgive me that I couldn’t come to your rescue. But, I had my own circumstances to deal with. Various things happened, but you survived and managed to come back to me. Isn’t that all that counts?”
“True. That might be all that matters now.”
“Yes! Right now we should rejoice over our reunion,” Philip declared, relief coloring his voice.
“But, how were you saved?”
“Someone bought me as a slave.”
“Oh, then I must thank that person.”
“Don’t worry, I have already thanked him plentifully. With this body, that is.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You don’t understand? That person bought me as his slave. My chastity was robbed by that man. At times I was raped all night long, and other times I was forced to act like a filthy pig. My shit hole was violated as well, by the way. Aren’t you happy that we could reunite thanks to this? Will you be able to love me like before?”
“Of course, Elena. Let me hug you,” Philip said and drew close to Elena.
Closer, come a bit closer, fucker, Elena snickered in her mind, gently caressing her glove.
A thin dagger was tucked away underneath. Its blade was narrow, but she assumed she’d be able to kill him, if she stabbed a vital spot.
Now! Elena stepped forward, but Philip’s arm was faster. He grabbed her neck and put his strength into his hold. He was trying to push her off the balcony.
“You’re a bad girl. All would have been fine if you let yourself be kept obediently, but no, you had to come here.”
Elena glared at him while about to be pushed off the balcony’s railing.
“You piece of shit! Isn’t that because you killed my mother!?”
“That was your uncle’s idea. My only task was to pretend that a servant’s corpse was actually yours.”
“I’m going to kill you!”
“With this dagger?”
Philip pulled out the dagger with a nasty smile.
“Since I have the opportunity now, let me tell you. I always hated you. You kept flaunting your knowledge and money, despite being no more than some lowly baronet!”
“I haven’t done anything like that!”
“Don’t lie, bitch!” Philip tightened his grip. “Do you even understand my feelings!? Do you know how it feels to be continuously looked down upon!? Each time you waved your money and knowledge around in front of me, I felt like going mad from misery!”
Suddenly Philip loosened his hold.
“My current fiancée…your cousin is cute. She’s slightly dumb, but she doesn’t despise me like you do. In the end, a woman should be a bit stupid to be perfect. I should have never considered a betrothal with an educated woman!”
Philip raised the dagger overhead. But, Elena didn’t look away. She felt like she’d lose if she averted her eyes here and now. At that moment――
“Heavenly Pivotal Dance!”
A jet-black orb engulfed the hand holding the dagger, causing Philip to leap back with a shriek.
Once Elena lifted her face while coughing violently, she found Chrono standing at the balcony’s entrance.
Chrono felt relieved that he had been in time as he forced himself between Elena and the man.
“Elena, can you stand?”
“…Yes,” Elena got up while holding her throat and then hid behind Chrono.
So this guy is Philip, huh? Chrono scrutinized the man in front of him. His only redeeming feature seemed to be that he had none. He wore a white uniform, but lacked an aura like Leonhart had.
“Are you the owner of that girl?”
“I’m her master.”
Philip directed a scornful look at Chrono, making Chrono guess that Elena had likely told the guy something.
“I saw how you wrung Elena’s neck, but did she do anything to you?”
“I merely tried to give her a good beating since a slave had sneaked onto a ball for nobility.”
“I understand. But, who has allowed you to touch the property of other people?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll reimburse you for the damages. No, I’ll buy that slave off you. How much do you want?” Philip jeered.
Meanwhile Elena pinched Chrono’s uniform, apparently trying to tell him to not sell her.
“Elena sure isn’t upfront. How about this?”
“100 gold? I feel like you’re overcharging way too much for a used slave,” Philip commented when Chrono raised his index finger.
“You got the digits wrong.”
“I mean, she’s used goods that even had her butthole deflowered, so ten gold seems reasonable enough.”
“That’s the wrong digit, too. Say what you like, but I have taken a liking to Elena. She’s quite cheeky, but her expression when she’s scared is irresistible. I always end up handling her roughly because of that.”
“And that’s why you’re telling me to fork over 1000 gold?”
“You got the digits wrong again. If you want to buy Elena off me, you’ll need to cough up 1,000,000 gold.”
“Don’t be silly!” Philip shouted.
“I’m very serious. Elena, stand in front of me.”
“O-Okay, as you wish.”
Following Chrono’s order, Elena positioned herself in front of him. Philip widened his eyes in surprise. Chrono suspected that he hadn’t expected Elena to obey without so much as a word.
Chrono hugged Elena from behind. This caused her body to stiffen up with a start, but ignoring it, Chrono caressed her modest chest.
“Are you defying me?”
“F-Forgive me! It was my fault!”
As soon as Chrono grabbed her collar, Elena apologized with her face bright red.
“Come on, tell your former fiancé how we’re loving each other usually.”
“W-Why do I have――gh!”
Elena’s body trembled once more when Chrono pulled on the collar.
“I serve him with my hands and mouth…,” Elena mumbled, faltering to continue.
Even her ears had now turned crimson, but her stammering didn’t just stem from shyness. She was aroused by this whole situation. Her rubbing her inner thighs against each other was a dead giveaway for that.
“You serve me with your hands and mouth and?”
“I-I service him with my b-butthole.”
Elena averted her face from Philip.
“How do you feel when servicing me with your butt?”
“Nothing but pai――gh! S-Sorry! It feels great! Very wonderful!”
“Ah well, this will do.”
Once Chrono separated from her, Elena sank to the floor.
“Cute, isn’t she? She won’t become yours anymore, though.”
Philip’s face turned dark red as soon as Chrono declared so with a laugh. Chrono expected that the other guy might attack him, but he turned around and stomped out of the balcony. After confirming that he was nowhere to be seen anymore, Chrono felt relief spread in his chest.
The other party appeared to not be that much of a fool to start a bloodshed during a ball.
Just as he looked down, Elena was in the middle of unsteadily standing back up.
“I couldn’t avenge my mother.”
“I’d really like you to stop with the revenge business.”
“You can only say so because it doesn’t concern you!” Elena screamed in rage while whirling around to Chrono.
She looked like she’d start crying any moment now.
“That’s why I feel that I don’t want you to dirty your hands, Elena.”
“For the time being, let me thank you. You have my gratitude for saving me.”
“That doesn’t sound like you’re grateful at all.”
“I’m obviously being sarcastic here! Damn it!” Elena cast her eyes down.
Seeing her shoulders tremble, Chrono guessed that she had started to cry.
“――nh!” Elena lifted her face as soon as Chrono touched her shoulder.
And in the next instant, light exploded. A little moment later, he tasted iron spreading in his mouth. He’d been head-butted by Elena.
“That was my kiss of gratitude.”
“What an aggressive kiss. Tastes like blood.”
“The same applies to me as well.”
Elena quickly wiped her lips with the back of her hand, dyeing her glove crimson.
“Did you say you hate kisses?”
“What I hate is being kissed or having my chastity stolen as a slave,” Elena barked huffily, and then sighed very deeply. “My business here is done. Let’s go back inside.”
With those words, Elena grabbed Chrono’s hand and started to walk. Once they stepped inside――
“Chrono, you’re back?” Tilia approached in a good mood.
Fay was behind her.
“Did something happen?”
“Fay and I hit it off. She’s a wonderful knight. She also understands my hardships.”
“Hmm, what did you talk about?”
“I used the Secret Art of Back-Channeling as it was imparted to me by my pupil.”
“Back-Channeling was a secret art?”
“As long as you say that you understand or that it must be quite difficult, you will be OK. It’s super easy. Humph!” Fay said before breathing out loudly through her nose.
“What might it be?” Fay tilted her head cutely once Tilia called her name with a deadly frosty voice.
“I withdraw my offer to make you my retainer.”
“I don’t need any people, who only back-channel, among my retainers.”
“O-Once again, my path to success was closed off,” Fay mumbled, her shoulders dropping in disappointment.
“I’m going back to the western castellum.”
“Me too!” Tilia wrapped her arm around Chrono’s no sooner than he started to walk off.
Then she glared at Elena who occupied the other arm. Elena reacted by quickly hiding behind Chrono.
Once they left the eastern castellum, they immediately ran into Rio.
“Yo, I’ve fixed my make-up.”
“Tsk,” Tilia clicked her tongue, but Chrno ignored it. It’d just lead to unnecessary problems if he pointed it out. Instead, he closely examined Rio. The make-up had visibly become less compared to before.
“What do you think?”
“It feels more natural than earlier.”
“Hihi, that’s great to hear.”
Rio laughed happily, and then looked at Chrono’s sides which were occupied by Elena and Tilia.
“I’d love to link arms with you as well, but seeing how both your sides are taken, I’ll regretfully desist.”
“I don’t think friends would link arms anyway.”
“You think so?”
“Yes, I’m pretty sure.”
Rio widened his eyes as if having heard something completely unexpected, but Chrono assumed that to be an act.
“How long are you going to keep this up?”
“You’re right,” Chrono resumed walking as soon as Tilia rebuked them with an irritated voice.
As they walked through the corridor connecting the eastern mansion and the Old Castellum――
“Look what you have done!?”
“Please forgive me.”
They heard a hysteric voice, and then Layla apologizing. Chrono suspected that she’d come to check up on him since he was gone for so long.
“Sorry, it sounds like there’s some problem.”
“No helping it.”
“Do your best.”
Tilia and Elena separated from him. Chrono entered the Old Castellum’s hall at a quick pace. Over there he found a middle-aged guy scowling at Layla. There was a box at his feet, and a mummy was protruding out of its open lid. The upper body was that of a monkey while the lower body resembled a fish.
Maybe it’s the mummy of a mermaid? No, now’s not the time to think about the nature of the mummy. First I must help Layla.
“Do you know how much trouble it took me to get my hands on this mermaid? It’s an item I wanted to offer to Her Highness the Princess!”
Layla lowered her head. Probably thinking he was being ridiculed here, the man raised a fist. But, that fist didn’t hit Layla as Chrono grabbed the man’s wrist.
“Who are you bastard!?”
The middle-aged guy shook Chrono’s hand off in irritation, just to stagger right afterwards. A stench of alcohol hit Chrono’s nose. Seeing how his legs were quite shaky, the man appeared to be fairly drunk. Chrono had a hunch he could tell what had happened to Layla.
Chrono suspected that the man had run into her while tottering around. But he also knew that the man would deny it, if he pointed it out.
“Didn’t you hear me? I’ve asked you who the hell you are!?”
“Forgive me, but did my lover do anything to you?” Chrono planted himself in front of the guy as if to protect Layla from him.
“Lover? You’re saying you have a half-elf as a lover?”
“Yes, is there any problem with that?”
“A guy taking a half-elf as a lover is no more than a disgrace for all nobles!” The man grimaced as if watching something disgusting. “In the end, half-elves are failures which couldn’t become full-fledged humans or elves. Expressly bringing such a failure to a ball for nobles…oh, I see, you gave her a try and liked what you saw, huh? You seem young, so in that case, I can und――”
“…Hey,” Chrono grabbed the man’s collar.
He had planned to apologize about the broken mummy doll to settle things peacefully, and was even willing to pay for the damages, if he had to. He also intended to allow the man to hurl some insults and abuse at him, but he had no plans to pull back when it came to that guy ridiculing Layla.
Just when he started to believe that it couldn’t be avoided even if things went out of control, someone gently touched Chrono’s arm. Once he reflexively looked to the side, he found Leonhart standing there. Chrono got almost overwhelmed by that man’s aura, but still scowled back while cursing at Leonhart being such a damn cheat. He’d lose Layla’s trust if he pulled back here. That would be much scarier than dealing with Leonhart.
As soon as Leonhart shifted his eyes to the middle-aged guy, the other men shrunk back, clearly overawed.
“I understand your feelings, but don’t you think it’d be better to pull back here?”
“Right, right, it’s just as Sir Leonhart says.”
Rio, who had arrived at some point without Chrono noticing, supported Leonhart’s calm rebuke.
“It’s a pity about your present, but you don’t have the resolve to pick a fight with the son of the Slaughterer, do you?”
“Slaughterer? You mean Slaughterer Chrod?”
“That’s the one. Well, Chrono himself has a sizable amount of military accomplishment as well, though.”
The middle-aged man fell silent. Chrono guessed that he had to be quite afraid of his foster father, seeing how his face had turned ghastly pale.
I’ve succeeded in saving Layla, but that still leaves the source of the problem. No, I think I should consider how to smooth things over after having gone as far as grabbing his collar. If possible, I’d like to avoid festering conflicts further down the road.
As he wondered whether he could somehow muddle his way through, Tilia arrived.
“Tilia, come here for a sec!”
“Just so you know, I’m an imperial princess…” Tilia bickered while planting herself next to Chrono.
“She’s Her Highness the Princess. Please talk to her about the doll as much as you like.”
“Oohh! Your Highness! I am――”
The middle-aged man knelt down at Tilia’s feet and began to rattle down his own personal history. For an instant Tilia looked surprised, but then she dealt with him properly, seeing how she had invited him in the first place.
“Now then, time for me to go, I guess.”
“W-Wait!” Tilia called Chrono to halt when he started walking off after putting an arm around Layla’s shoulder.
But, there was no way Chrono would stop here. He believed that the middle-aged guy would prefer him to leave as well. A short moment later――
“I won’t forget thaaaaaaaat!”
――Tilia’s yell thundered across the building.
Chrono’s group returned to the western castellum and sat down around a free table. He sighed while letting his eyes wander across the venue. In the eastern castellum they were holding a ball, but over here it was all one huge drinking party. The old men were sitting on the floor, drinking their liquors together while their wives enjoyed themselves by chatting. Mayla was holding a fervent speech to the attending servants.
“――In other words, loyalty is an investment. Your loyalty to your master, his wife, and their children will come back to you as profit. If you think of your work being for your own sake――”
Since it seemed like he’d lose any trust in Mayla if he listened any longer, Chrono turned his attention away from there. Thereupon, Layla, who had been sitting next to him, drew close. She felt more coquettish than usual.
“Master, thank you very much for earlier.”
“I did nothing worth mentioning.”
“Even so, thank you.”
“Chrono, are you going to neglect me? Though I don’t really hate being teased.” Rio drew close from the other side.
“Thank you for earlier. You were a big help.”
“Hehe, that comment is already enough for me.” Rio smiled cheerfully and extended a hand for his wooden mug.
After taking a sip, he grimaced.
“This is beer? My gramps would scold me if he knew that I drank something like that.”
“It is great! Really great!”
“Your manners are bad. Aren’t you a noble, so far as it goes?”
Next to Rio, Fay was stuffing her cheeks with meat while Elena watched it happen with an appalled expression.
“Not so far as it goes. I am a genuine noble!”
“Yeah, yeah, sure. Look, you’re spilling meat juices.”
Elena wiped Fay’s mouth with a handkerchief. Meanwhile, Chrono looked across the table, opposite of him. Leonhart was sitting over there.
Chrono wondered why that guy was here.
“Why are you here, Sir Leonhart?”
“Am I bothering you?”
“No, that’s not that I mean…”
Chrono huddled his shoulders. He couldn’t be too rude to Leonhart since he had tried to mediate for them.
Come to think of it, I haven’t thanked him yet. Showing gratitude is important. It avoids the unnecessary creation of enemies.
“What is it?”
“Thank you for earlier.”
“I should be the one to thank you. I was actually fretting what I should do if I couldn’t get you to withdraw there.” Leonhart lightly shrugged his shoulders upon Chrono fixing his sitting posture and lowering his head properly. “Besides, I was curious about you anyway.”
“W-What do you mean by that?” Chrono responded shrilly when Lenhart smiled at him meaningfully.
“It’s not what you’re thinking right now. I wanted to know the reason why you glared at me in the eastern castellum.”
“No, that’s, umm…”
“You don’t need to be so wary around him. Sir Leonhart lacks the basic skill of being able to read the atmosphere. He’s quite capable of putting the people around him in a bind by asking them such things without even harboring any ill-will.” Lio snuggled up to Chrono and whispered this into his ear as the young man was struggling with Leonhart’s response. “People, who own everything from birth, do not understand the feelings of the less blessed around them.”
“As always, you’re quite harsh, Sir Rio. So, why did you glare at me back there?”
“That’s…I heard Her Highness talk about you, so I felt an unusual pang of animosity.”
“I see. Would it be okay for me to ask you one more question?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Even though you averted your eyes at the eastern castellum, you didn’t do so earlier. Why?”
“It’s because I believed I’d lose Layla’s trust had I pulled back there.”
“I wasn’t your enemy, so I don’t believe it’d have been a problem even if you had pulled back, though?”
“Back then we couldn’t define you as an ally either. It’s important how things look from her perspective.”
“Certainly, perspective does matter with such things.”
With those words, Leonhart drained down the content in his mug. As Chrono admired him for his wild drinking style, Rio drew even closer while rubbing his body against Chrono’s.
“Are you already intoxicated?”
“No, I’m still close to being sober.”
“Rio straightened his body and then looked down at his own chest.
“As I thought, it won’t work with this chest, huh?”
“I’m not one to fuss over size…”
“You don’t need to be so apologetic about it. Oh, come to think of it, the half-elf over there is your lover, isn’t she?”
“What, so you heard that part?”
“Well, I’ve always had good ears. Though, not as good as the hearing of elves or beastmen, mind you,” Rio said with a giggle.
It was a smile so charming that you wouldn’t expect it to stem from a man.
“So, why have you taken a half-elf as a lover?”
“Is her being a half-elf of any importance?”
“Many people fuss over that part. A majority of the nobles believe in the god ruling over pure-white order. Those people regard beings like half-elves as abominations as they deviate from the common order of things. Right, Sir Leonhart?”
“…Is this the right place for you to bring me into play?” Leonhart furrowed his eyebrows as he placed the mug down on the table. “As Sir Rio has said, some people regard half-elves as going against the order while other people regard them as half-baked beings like that man from earlier.”
“Judging things based on religion and imperial value systems is wrong to begin with, I believe.”
“Okay, so what do you believe they are instead, Lord Chrono?” Leonhart asked curiously when hearing Chrono’s mumbled monologue.
Given that he hadn’t thought it over until now, Chrono hadn’t an answer at hand. But, he knew what he should consider as a criterion.
“…A species related to humans?”
“What does that mean?”
“Close as living beings…no, well, in this case it’s not the half-elves being close to humans, but the elves,” replied Chrono while recalling what he had learned during junior high school.
Since they shouldn’t be able to make children if the number of chromosomes didn’t match, humans and elves had to be fairly close as species.
“I don’t know whether the humans are a specialization of the elves or the other way around.”
“A specialization? I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell us here, you know?”
“The evolutionary theory…ah, evolution is about living beings adapting to their environment by changing or branching into different subspecies.”
“Are you saying living beings deviate just like families or martial arts schools?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
Leon knitted his eyebrows, looking conflicted, when Chrono agreed with his question.
“That’s a fairly interesting way of thinking, but to me it sounds like a blasphemous ideology.”
“Really? I think it’s a pleasant way of thinking. Hehe,” Rio said with a smile, before bringing a wine glass to his lips.
“Why do you think about such things in this way, Lord Chrono?”
“One of the reasons is my weak belief in religion. Given that myths are compiled by humans, I feel slightly hesitant about taking them for granted…”
“I see, that makes sense,” Leonhart agreed as if having found a common ground. “Where do you believe the gods to be then?”
“Even if you ask me where…” Chrono faltered.
“No need to think too deeply about it. I’d like you to give me your honest opinion, Lord Chrono,” Leonhart urged him with a gentle tone before taking another hearty swig from his mug.
Given the relaxed atmosphere, it didn’t seem like Chrono had to worry too much about a waterproof reply here.
“Since the six cardinal gods are incarnations of fire, water, earth, wind, darkness, and light, they exist everywhere, don’t they? I mean, take this beer as an example. The barley grows out of the ground, and after being raised by sun, water, and wind…anyway, it’s a product of the gods.”
“Haha, I see. So my god was here with me all the time, huh?” Leonhart cheerfully laughed and took another swig.
Chrono had worried what he should say when Leonhart asked him about fire or darkness, but it seemed like Leonhart hadn’t lied when he told him to not delve too deeply about it.
Nevertheless, considering the evolutionary theory as blasphemous despite showing understanding for it; religion sure is a bother.
At that moment――
“Chrono! How dare you leave me behind like that!!!” Tilia’s angry roar filled the room.
Once Chrono looked towards the door, Tilia was stomping his way while carrying a box under arm. Her stomping was so loud that it sounded as if she was trying to crack the ground.
Probably also because of the earlier case, Layla moved to the neighboring seat. Tilia placed the box on the table, and once she opened its lid, a mummy came into sight. Wire could be see jutting out of its damaged part. To all eyes, it was clearly a fake.
“Afterwards, I had――”
“Now, now, drink some wine first.”
“You think you can deceive me with something like that!?”
Even though she answered like that, Tilia accepted the glass from Chrono and drained the wine down in one go.
“It must have been terrible.”
“Don’t talk about it as if it’s someone else’s affair! I had to suffer like that because you left me behind as a scapegoat!” Tilia placed the glass on the table and scowled at Chrono.
Layla poured new wine into the glass.
“Sorry. It was terrible, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I already started to wonder what I should do when he started to yap about getting stranded at the end of the ocean.”
“I know. I can totally relate. It was quite nonsensical, wasn’t it?”
“Indeed. It was obviously made up, but I couldn’t just shut him up either.”
“Well, you’re an imperial princess, so that makes sense.”
“Right. I got my own status to keep in mind,” Tilia declared and drained down another glass of wine.
Layla refilled the empty glass once more.”
“You must be under heavy pressure, I’m sure.”
“No kidding. What, so you do understand, don’t you?” Tilia smiled in satisfaction and downed the wine once more.
She’s going at quite a high pace with her drinking. Still, I gotta say the effect of my Secret Art – Back-Channeling is truly outstanding.
“Come to think of it, I met Hugo and Simon.”
“My classmates from the academy. You don’t remember them? Simon fell for your trap during the practice――”
“Don’t bring up something so disreputable. That was a tactic,” Tilia objected in a huff and drank more wine.
This time just around half the glass, though. Hence, Layla topped it back up.
What a decent support she is.
“Hmm, that guy, huh? I remember. So, who’s Hugo?”
“The guy who tried to pull a cavalryman off the horse while getting repeatedly kicked.”
“Now that you mention it, that sort of guy was around as well. Quite a gutsy one.” Tilia muttered with a distant look
“Such things actually happened?”
“Hehe, it’d have been great if we had visited to take a look.”
Leonhart and Rio responded to her while drinking their ale. Apparently neither of them had come to watch the exercise. Simon had been very motivated over the prospect of getting the chance to possibly become an imperial knight, but now it was hard to describe it as anything but pitiful.
“The military academy, huh? That’s a nostalgic memory.”
“Even though you went around begging until right before graduating?”
“All’s well that ends well.”
“I see. Is there something that left an impression on you?” Tilia asked while somewhat tilting forward.
Her cleavage was a sight for sore eyes. Chrono suddenly recalled the moment when he saw Tilia for the first time.
“When I saw you for the first time, I thought you were like the sun.”
“I-I see.” Tilia’s face bloomed into a happy smile.
“That was the climax, I’d say.”
“When the cavalry charged us while I was running down the hill during the exercise…”
“What about it?” Tilia swallowed hard as she awaited his answer.
“I thought, “Die, you bitch!””
“Y-You thought something like that about me!?”
“And when we got into a verbal dispute after the exercise――”
“Give it a rest!” Tilia interrupted Chrono and drained down another glass of wine.
She grimaced, looking quite annoyed.
“Do you hate me?”
“If you make me choose between liking or hating you, I’ll go with liking.”
“I-I see,” Tilia mumbled while blushing out of embarrassment. “Alright, today I’m going to drink!”
“Very well, let us toast once more then,” Leonhart lifted his mug in response to Tilia’s announcement.
“Toast on what?”
“Of course, we’ll toast to our meeting.”
Tilia groaned in a weird manner when Rio answered her question with a sidelong glance at Chrono.
“Your Highness, please do us the honor.”
Being urged by Layla, Tilia picked up her glass, “To our meeting! Cheers!”
Tilia thrust her glass high in the air, followed by Chrono and the others imitating her. Just like this, the night of the ball advanced.
Once Chrono came to, Tilia was drinking from her glass next to him. Layla and Elena were lying prostrate on the table while Fay was deeply leaning back on her chair, snoring peacefully.
“You finally woke up?”
“What about Rio and Sir Leonhart?”
“Sir Leonhart went home. And I don’t care about Count Cheiron.”
Chrono let his eyes wander across the venue. No one besides them was present. That probably didn’t mean that they all went home, but――
“They said they’d get ready to return and left.”
Tilia put the glass down and stood up. Her steps were firm and unwavering.
“You’re going back?”
“No!” Tilia retorted sullenly and held out a hand. “The nuisances are finally gone. So, won’t you dance with me?”
“Sorry, I can’t dance.”
“You’re really a lost case, aren’t you?” Tilia spat out with a sigh, dropping her shoulders.
Even though she finally took the chance to offer me a dance, I’m really sorry, but I truly don’t know how.
“You really can’t dance? I’d even be fine going with a dance of your country.”
“You might say that, but I totally forgot the choreography of folk dance, and inm the first place, I only saw dances, which are suited for balls, on TV.”
“What, so your world has balls as well?”
“Well, I suppose you could call them similar.”
“What sort of dance is it?”
“You embrace each other, slowly swaying while occasionally whirling around.”
“Ugh,” Tilia groaned and held her temple.
Apparently it exceeded her imagination.
“O-Oh well, we’ll somehow manage.”
“Even though we don’t know the steps or anything?”
“We’ll cope with feeling. Yep, feeling.”
Tilia grabbed Chrono’s hand and pulled him over. Just like that, she moved to the center of the room.
“So, what sort of embrace is it?”
“Both partners clasp each other’s hand while putting the other hand around the waist of the other.”
Tilia clasped Chrono’s right hand and put her right arm around his waist. Her boobs were clearly pressing against him. It also felt like she was way too close, but Chrono felt it’d be too boorish to point that out.
Boobs are justice.
“You put your hand around my waist too.”
“O-Okay, on it.”
Once Chrono touched her hand with his left hand, Tilia’s body stiffened up with a start.
“And just like this we sway slowly and turn around, right?”
Chrono shook his body left and right while holding Tilia. It wasn’t anything so magnificent that it’d justify being called a dance, but Chrono deemed it acceptable after a drinking bout.
Tilia looked at him and giggled.
“Is something wrong?”
“I remembered the time when the half-elf was in trouble.”
“That’s a really bad taste to have.”
“You got it wrong!” Tilia exclaimed angrily.
“What is then?”
“I recalled your appearance. It made me think that you’re a guy after all. Hihihi,” Tilia giggled cheerfully.
I think she’s really pretty. It might not be a bad idea to aim to become her prince consort, but I’ll trash that thought. After all, I cannot afford to put my subordinates in danger just for the sake of my own desires.
“…Oh time, come to a halt.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I just thought I want to dance a bit longer with you, Tilia.”
“I see,” Tilia muttered and snuggled up to him.
I might have drunk a bit too much. With those thoughts Leonhart got out of his carriage. The air was cool, causing his breath to be white puffs. He walked through the garden to sober up. The garden itself was wrapped up in a serene silence.
The Palatium mansion was located in the First District ― the Old Town. It was an area where one mansion of a prestigious noble family lined up to another. Because the guards were frequently and predominantly patrolling this area, public order over here was good. It went even so far that this place was disconnected from the usual hustle and bustle of the city.
Leonhart paced through the garden. The floaty, fluffy feeling that filled his mind was comfortable.
As I thought, I’ve drunk too much. But, it’s not bad to do so every once in a while.
He had enjoyed talking with Chrono. This also applied to the evolutionary theory, but Chrono himself was even more interesting than that. He possessed a value system that could only be described as heretic, and yet it felt fresh and comfortable.
“…I want to share a drink with him again.”
Leonhart stopped his feet and looked up. The moonlight was illuminating a stone statue installed in the garden. It depicted a man who hoisted up his sword. The man was the founder of the ducal Palatium family ― the little brother of the second emperor.
As a divine arts master of the God ruling over Pure-White Order, he had turned into a light on the battlefield to protect the emperor and vanished. It was said he did so for the sake of using the secret divine art of Summoning God’s Might, no one could tell whether that was really true.
Almost no one throughout history was able to to reach a level allowing them to use the other secret divine art ― Divine Treasure Summoning. Leonhart couldn’t even make an educated guess just how much studying would be necessary to reach those heights.
“As I thought, I drank too much.”
Just when Leonhart headed towards the mansion, a maid hurried his way, “Lord Leonhart!”
She called his name with an accent, meaning it was Leela.
Leela ran up to him while pulling up her skirt, and then glared at Leonhart with upturned eyes.”
“Did you wait for me, Leela?”
“It wasn’t just me. All of us stayed up while waitin’ for you. If we’d known it’d become this late, it’d have been best for only me n’ the old man stayin’ up.”
Leonhart had addressed her gently, but Leela pushed out her lower lip, looking displeased. He tried to caress her head, but she brushed his hand away.
“Stop treatin’ me like a child. I may look like tis, but I’m older than you.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.”
“Sheesh, you really get what I’m tellin’ you?”
“I’m not sure.”
Leela averted her face, apparently angry. Leonhart stared at her profile.
She wasn’t plain-looking by any means, but compared to the noble daughters he had seen at the ball, her looks definitely fell short. Because of her broken canines, she looked like a downer whenever she opened her mouth to laugh. Her tied hair was shabby, too. She had a plump body――calling it like that would be rather diplomatic――and her chest and butt were pointlessly stout. Moreover, her waist was somewhat drooping.
She could handle her work reasonably well, but her accent was bad and because of her lacking education, she was unsuited to serve guests, too. Though that couldn’t be helped if you considered that her birthplace was that of a poor farmer’s family who had sold her off as a servant.
Because of that upbringing, many of the other servants didn’t think highly of her. Even so, Leonhart allowed her to speak freely. The best medicine was a bitter one. And as long as he got used to it on a regular basis, it was that much easier to pay attention to his subordinates’ admonitions.
“Did you enjoy the ball?”
“Yeah, thanks to that, I drank too much.”
“I hate the stench of alcohol.”
“Okay, then let’s walk while staying apart.”
When Leonhart started to walk, Leela hurled herself at him. He gently caught her.
No matter how drunk I might be, I’d be a disgrace for an imperial knight if I couldn’t catch her.
“You’re a meanie, Lord Leonhart,” Leela pursed her lips peevishly and grabbed the sleeve of Leonhart’s uniform.
“You don’t like the smell of alcohol, right?”
“That’s why I’m staying away from you like this.”
“Good grief,” Leonhart started to walk while pulling Leela along.
“What are you goin’ t’do t’day?”
“Just take a bath and go to sleep.”
“Alright, I’ll sleep with you then. But, no more than that.”
“It’s not like I asked for more anyway.”
“You’re a meanie, Lord Leonhart.”
He had simply pointed out the truth, but Leela pushed her lower lip out, looking displeased.
Like this series? Like the work of the translator? Do you wish to continue reading it?
Then support your local translator by becoming a Patron. Without support, this translation will sooner or later stop.
If you can’t support this series financially, at least help by spreading the word across various platforms!!
<– Previous Chapter | Table of Content | Next Chapter –>
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 4 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 1 »
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 4 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 2 »
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 3 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 3 »
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 3 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 4 »
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 3 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 5 »
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 3 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 6 »
Pingback: Records of Chrono’s Wars – Volume 3 – Chapter 4: Ball – Part 7 »