The King and Famir-sama were inside the room.
Although he wasn’t here the last time I came, the reason why Famir-sama is present right now was probably because he is one of my guardians. As it was a summon after the end of the office hours, I appreciate his efforts even though it’s already late at night.
He was busy with the restoration and repair of the barrier that the demons have pierced.
……Besides, I must have been summoned also because of what happened.
“I’m sorry for calling you late at night, Aria.”
The King was looking at me as he sat in his seat. The King looks like he’s in a good mood, as if he in anticipation. [T/N: Oh no, Aria. *gulps*]
I answered in a laconic manner. With guilty feelings or feeling like running away.
But the King replied, smiling broadly.
“I did not summon anybody else here. I heard some rumors, so I thought of confirming the truth.”
And he then glanced at the bracelet fastened on my left wrist. It seems that he thought of a good speculation, judging how his smile became broader.
Naturally, my fleeing instinct became stronger and stronger, but anyway, I opened my mouth to deny the engagement.
At that moment, I suddenly heard a nearby voice, saying.
“Aria, is it true that you exchanged engagement bracelets with Hero-dono?”
Suddenly, I heard a voice I never expected coming from the place I never thought of, and I shrieked in surprise and jumped on my feet. Even though I was in front of the King.
Gingerly looking with a thumping heart at the source of the voice, I was surprised at Alfred-sama, the Second Prince of this kingdom, for the second time.
Without noticing it, Alfred-sama was beside Famir-sama!
But I swear in the name of the goddess, the door did not open, not even once, after I entered the room.
Well—Because I did not notice it, was Alfred-sama already here in the office from the beginning?
As expected of his 24 hours in operation hidden skill [Stealth]. I did not notice his existence at all!
……A skill that is really bad for the heart.
But it wasn’t really like that when we met during the day, right?
In my mind, Greed-sama’s face appeared and disappeared.
……During that time, I wonder what this person did.
It’s because his [Stealth] skill is active by default.
“I was about to ask you when we met during the day. It is about the rumor. You . . . you are wearing the bracelet you got from Hero-dono on your left arm. The engagement was established!”
“Sigh. It’s true that I wore it this way but . . .”
I do not remember consenting to the marriage, is what I was about to say when at that moment . . .
Suddenly beyond the door, I heard footsteps and distressed voices, and at the same time I was thinking about something, someone knocked at the door.
“Excuse me! I’ve been told that Famir-sama and Alfred-sama are here! Please grant me an audience!”
The voice sounded like that of a very young boy’s.
“Is that Norwen’s voice?”
Famir-sama’s eyes widened.
Norwen. The name Norwen sounds familiar to me. If I’m not mistaken, it is the name of Famir-sama’s disciple who is a magic apprentice. I could not remember that well but I think he is about 13 years old.
Right. When Famir-sama fell unconscious, he was the one who took care of him.
I never got his full name, but we’ve met a few times when I visited Famir-sama when he was sick.
“Hmm. It looks like an emergency. Enter.”
His Majesty seriously replied. The slight festive mood a while ago was completely dispelled, an now, he has the face of a dignified national leader.
The door opened. A boy with eyes like jade and soft, wavy light brown hair entered.
Norwen looked around the room, and upon seeing Famir-sama’s face, he felt relieved, but remembering where he was, he thanked the King in a flustered manner.
Commanding but with forbearance, the King asked.
“It sounds like there’s an emergency. What happened?”
“Ye-Yes! Actually today, in addition to restoring the barrier which was broken by the demons, several magicians repaired the multiple thin parts of the barrier as pointed out before by the Hero, but somehow, it seems that someone made a mistake in the power adjustment……”
“No way, is the barrier damaged!?”
Famir-sama’s face became red with anger.
“Ye-Yes! Just a little, though. But for the time being, the magicians are doing emergency measures……”
“Even if it’s just a little, the barrier being damaged is a big deal. Especially after we were invaded by the demons. Learning from the small failure, the same thing may happen again. Famir, Alfred, head over to the area.”
The king directed his eyes to the two of them and gave them instructions.
Famir-sama readily was ready to follow the King’s orders, but Alfred-sama hesitated for some reason while glancing at me.
I thought his gaze at me was kind of dubious, but I remembered that I was in the middle of being questioned regarding the rumors. The timing was bad, as I did not yet mention the truth.
Speaking of Alfred-sama, the only fact that I mentioned is that I wore the bracelet.
Because it is a very misleading part, it aroused the curiosity.
Seeing that Alfred-sama did not follow at once, the King said with a stern expression.
“You are responsible for the security of the castle, Alfred. What will happen if you will not go?”
“U…… Yes. I understand……”
Alfred-sama nodded with a bitter expression, bowed towards His Majesty and left with Famir-sama and Norwen. But when he opened the door of the room, he looked back at me.
“Aria, please tell me more about that bracelet later.”
I am not engaged, is what I was about to say but the following words hindered me to say it.
“Hurry up and go.”
Of course it was not the king who said it—but the Prime minister. He used a commanding tone.
Even for an instant, I think that the commanding tone he used towards a royalty is unseemly……
Actually, the Prime Minister has been in charge of the education of the First Prince Enwald-sama and the Second Prince Alfred-sama, so the Princes have no match for the Prime Minister.
When they were asked by a reporter from “Schwarze Weekly” if “What is hard for you to deal with?” , and both of them promptly responded, “Prime Minister Hyllingam”.
By the way, the majority in the castle who read the article reacted with, “As expected.”
Alfred-sama, who was scolded by the person he has a hard time dealing with, jerked as he glanced at me with a questioning look, and at the next moment, he left to escape.
“Goodness, that child is hopeless.”
After Alfred-sama and the others have gone, the King leaned back on his chair and smiled wryly.
“I agree. It seems that he lack awareness in his status as a royalty.”
The Prime Minister answered and turn his eyes towards me.
With that glance, I knew what the two of them wanted to say……
The two of them knew that Alfred-sama is interested in me. I don’t know if they already noticed it before Greed-sama proposed to me, or if they noticed it because Alfred-sama’s attitude changed after the proposal.
Because of that, they are doing every thing in order to establish my marriage with Greed-sama. If that happens, then Alfred-sama will give up and the kingdom will have a connection with the Hero. It is like killing two birds with one stone, right?
……Adults play dirty.
However, the royal family has an obligation as a royal family. Since Alfred-sama is the Second Prince, he must marry a woman suitablr to his status.
He must never marry this viscount’s daughter. I think that’s what they are thinking, and I understand that because I am also a noble.
Well, to be honest, I do not plan on responding to Alfred-sama’s feelings, so I do not care about that.
—However, something like this, ignoring the feelings of other people and manipulate their expectations for the sake of the kingdom makes me feel bad.
From the moment I knew that I was sold like a product in exchange for money, no, I think I felt depressed, which I felt long before that, have all jumbled together clearly now—
“So, Aria, returning to what we were discussing earlier, I called you here because of the rumors about you and Greed-dono.”
As the King looked at me, he chuckled. I felt strangely irritated.
“It is said that the engagement is established when you wore the bracelet you received from Hero-dono on your left wrist. It is just a rumor, though……”
“It’s a false rumor.”
Before I noticed it, I have already replied.
“But that bracelet is on your left arm, you know?”
The King focused his eyes on my left wrist. But I answered him nonchalantly.
“It was made as an amulet, not an engagement bracelet.”
“……I heard that Greed-sama also wears it’s pair bracelet on his left wrist?”
The one who said it was the Prime Minister.
“It was necessary to prepare another bracelet, but the artisan whom Geed-sama instructed happened to make a mistake and made a pair of engagement bracelets. So that rumor is wrong, this is not an engagement bracelet. It’s just a pair of amulets!”
“But, the way you put it……”
“Since we did not promise each other eternal love, then this is not an engagement bracelet. Whoever contradicts it is wrong!”
“A rumor is a rumor. If I say that I am not engaged, then I am not!”
……Ever since earlier, I’ve been interrupting the King’s speech.
This . . . is probably a lèse-majesté. The King is magnanimous, so he will not give a heavy punishment, but it is inevitable that the Prime Minister will glare at me.
……But this time I did not care about those things at all.
Because I am very angry……!
In the first place, is Greed-sama and I their own problem?
If this is a marriage between nobles, it may be natural for the King to make some decisions. And if it is related to Prince Alfred, since the marriage itself has a big political significance, I understand that the king make adverse criticisms or objections.
But except for me, Greed-sama is a commoner, you know?
I feel that it is wrong for others to speak out and pressure me on the marriage. No matter how politically meaningful the position of the hero is!
Greed-sama proposed to me, not to the Kingdom of Schwarze. The one who will decide whether to marry or not is me! It is not the country! My will should be respected in regards to accepting or refusing the marriage proposal! Right!?
—The moment I thought that, something inside me burst.
……Or you could say that I became defiant.
I called the King in a quiet voice.
The King seemed a little scared. The Prime Minister beside me seems like he does not know what kind of expression he is making, but I realized that he was anticipating what I will say next.
I laughed silently.
Let me tell these two who thought that it was natural for me to comply with the order.
Even if I’m the daughter of a poor viscount, even if I am lady-in-waiting A, I still have my own will.
—Do not underestimate a defiant mob!
I clearly told them.
“It is I who is courted by the Hero. Greed-sama proposed to me who is a lady-in-waiting in the castle, not to me who is the daughter of Viscount Milford. This problem is between Greed-sama and me. Therefore, it is I who will decide whether I should get married or not. I don’t want outsiders to dictate me on what I should do. Better yet, I’m sorry that I can’t sell myself for the sake of the country.”
And, smiling at the King, I added.
“……Did you understand?”
It is strangely impressive that the King gaped at me.