I was carried from the princess’s bedroom by that man, who wasn’t smiling one bit. I didn’t voice any sort of objection in response to that. That wasn’t the issue.
「What?」 he asked shamelessly in reply, looking down at me and going so far as to tilt his neck quizzically. There shouldn’t be anything cute about a man his age making such a gesture.
Even so, when this man did it, instead of seeming out of place, it just made me kind of annoyed. I guess that’s the benefit of being attractive. If he was doing this unknowingly it would be different, but the fact that he understood full well what he was doing was extremely irritating.
「Don’t ‘what’ me. Would you be so kind as to let me down? I can walk on my own.」
The response to my dissent came only in the form of silence. His glance laced with dismissal, the man completely ignored me. Continuing to carry me princess-style, he briskly walked on.
The fact that I didn’t shout in the process of being lifted up from the bed in itself was a miracle. At the thought of exposing such scandalous behavior right in front of the princess, I forcibly kept my mouth shut.
Whether or not he knew the extreme efforts I was taking, the man disregarded the princess’s shocked gaze, and continued at his quick pace, paying no mind to the onlookers and carrying me out of the princess’s room.
Perhaps by the princess’s doing, fortunately we were not stopped by any maidservants or guards.
Looking from the outside, a man carrying a girl like a princess, casually prancing through the castle, paints a pretty good picture I guess. Of course, that assumes that I’m not the girl in his arms. That position is too much for me. No matter how many times he asserts that I’m his wife.
「Edi, I’m asking you, would you please listen to what I’m saying?」
「Are you displeased with this situation?」
「I don’t know if I’d call it ‘displeased’, um…, well..」
My muttering trailing off, even at this distance I’m not sure if he heard the end. Honestly speaking, I wasn’t displeased at all. Just embarrassed.
Despite myself, I know my face was red. I was definitely blushing all the way to my ears. His actions toward me overflowing with concern, simply by carrying me he made me unable to calm down.
What would happen if someone were to see this helplessly embarrassing scene? With his and my marriage still a secret, the number of people who know of our relation is few. Even so, a princess carry stroll through the castle would only plant needless rumours.
It’s not like this man shouldn’t know that, but the one who made a reason for him to act like this was none other than me. I was reminded once again of that failure. If not for that, this man wouldn’t be forced to go to these lengths, and I wouldn’t have caused him this much trouble.
The princess had called it 『The seed of the flower』, this curse on me. It had already taken root deep inside me, past the point of being solved easily. In order to lift that curse, he had said that he would 「use a trick」.
‘So cheats have finally appeared,’ I couldn’t help but thinking. I didn’t have time to think about exactly what that meant though, what with the current situation of being princess-carried. Yep, I had no idea what was going on.
「Edi, um, where exactly are we going?」
At the very least I ought to deserve that much information. If possible, it would be nice if it was a place without any other people. Any more than this, I wouldn’t tell him to put me down, if he at least took a route to avoid people. I looked up at the man carrying me. His speed didn’t slow one bit, keeping his pace he briefly answered,
「Black Lotus Court’s, my laboratory.」
「…Are you an i-」
『Are you an idiot?』, the question unconsciously almost rolled off my tongue before I somehow managed to swallow it. The Black Lotus Court that he was aiming for was quite far away from where the royalty reside, at Red Rose Court.
And he was trying to walk there in this form? It’s not even a joke. Shelving the issue of whether or not our marriage and such would be exposed, I was really about to die of embarrassment.
「P-please let me down! Re-really, I’m fine, okay!」
「Your ‘fine’ is not reliable.」
Those undeniable words pierced my chest. But even so, this, this at least I can’t back down on. This is a sacred royal castle, what does he think this is?
Instead of speaking, I just stared at him accusingly, and after a bit of silence, he sighed softly. Wait a second, I can’t overlook that. What’s with that attitude, even though the person who wants to sigh is me?
At my sullen expression, he quietly and briefly muttered something. A magical incantation that I couldn’t understand. Instantly, the view started to distort. My whole body was onset by a strange floating feeling. I reflexively closed my eyes, then within seconds,
「It’s already over,」 he told me.
After a brief instant, I timidly opened my eyes, and spread out in front of me were several mountains of books. The characteristic scent of books, that mix of ink and paper smells tickling my nose, as I blinked repeatedly. Up until just a moment ago, I was in a hallway in the Red Rose Court. How were we here, in his lab, which was in the Black Lotus Court?
Apparently I was making a quite the befuddled expression. In the corner of that book covered lab was a sad looking sofa on to which he set me down. He chuckled from deep in his throat.
「I didn’t do anything fancy. Just a little teleportation magic.」
「But magic use is supposed to be restricted within castles.」
「That level of restriction is no match for me. I was the one who made those restrictions in the first place.」
「…Is that so?」
I’m already out of words. Normally, I’d think ‘Cheat! That’s such a cheat!’ but I had been made to realize that my prior understanding was a bit naive. It was far from a cheat.
Well, certainly from my viewpoint, I should be grateful that he used teleportation magic. Far better than the alternative of being caught in that position
— Wait. Hold on a second. Calm down, me. Don’t be fooled. In the first place, if this man had simply let me down, there would have been no issues. So I can’t be grateful. Or else it would be my loss.
Shaking my head gently to clear my thoughts, I looked up at the man looking down at me.
「Then, for what reason did you bring me here?」
「To lift your curse, obviously.」
「But, um, we don’t know who put this curse on me, do we?」
「Right. So right now I’m going to directly drive it out..」
At his assertive tone I felt somewhat detached, with an echo of unease. ‘Drive it out? Drive what out? and how?’ I wonder. Tilting my head, I looked at him. The expression on his face wasn’t quite emotionless. This was, perhaps, considerable anger, I wonder?
At the thought of his anger for my sake, even though it wasn’t the place for this, I felt a slight itchy feeling.
Geez. It’s strange, if I do say so myself. Being so uneasy when I was tormented by nightmares alone, feeling like the way forward was uncertain. Even so, what is this now? Speaking our true feelings to each other, being embraced, just with that feeling so reassured.
「What are you smiling at?」
Instinctively, I covered my mouth with both hands. But seeing my smile, his glance sharpened. 「Is this really the time to be smiling?」 those sunrise-colored eyes eloquently asked.
But that look just made me smile more. It healed my chaotic heart. Even though it wasn’t that kind of gaze at all.
At my giggle, he gave a sigh even larger than before. That sigh wasn’t aimed at me, rather it seemed as if he was scolding himself for being irritated. Then he held out his hand to me.
「Filmina, come here.」
I put my hand in his, which was so fair-skinned it made me jealous, and was pulled off the sofa to a standing position. Then, with my hand still in his, I followed him through various piles of books and magical tools.
「What? Master? And Ms. Filmina?」
Addressed by the young voice, we stopped. The origin, Widnichol, looked as if he were buried in a mountain of magical books, and appeared to be mixing medicinal herbs. This man’s disciple, how unfortunate… That was mean. The boy’s glittering sky-blue eyes looked back and forth between me and his master.
「What’s up? You weren’t supposed to be in today.」
「Don’t worry about it. I’m not here to bring you extra work」
「Huh? Oh, okay.」
Passing Widnichol, who looked like he wanted to ask more questions, Edi grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill pen and pulled me once again toward the center of the lab.
I could feel Widnichol’s quizzical gaze at my back, but Edi didn’t turn around. I had visited this lab, which was of a large size appropriate for the elite wizard who it was given to, countless times, but I had never gone this far inside before.
When I started to question exactly what he was planning, he stopped in front of one of the countless bookcase.
He put his parchment and quill pen down on a nearby desk, and using the hand that wasn’t holding mine, waved his finger in the air. And before my eyes, the bookcase made a heavy noise and started to slide sideways.
Looking over his shoulder, I saw that where the bookcase had been, there was now a stairwell leading underground.
‘Ooh, this is legit fantasy.’ I was so moved I forgot the situation. Edi once again took up the parchment and quill pen, and pulled my hand.
Holding up the hem of my dress with my free hand, I followed him into down the stairs.
The staircase was wider than I had thought. The magic gems inlaid into the walls pulsed with light as we descended. I had no idea where this was leading. Although the gemstones gave off light, they were dim, and I was having a hard time, being sensitive to the darkness.
Whether he noticed this, or I had unconsciously started to grip his hand tighter, Edi strengthened his grip on my hand.
What was okay, he didn’t say. But even with those two words, I felt a bit of relief.
Holding hands like that, we continued to descend. The unchanging scenery made me lose my sense of time. I don’t know whether we continued for a long time, or just a short bit.
Finally, with a thud, the hard sole of his shoe met with solid ground. Stepping down next to him, I realized that we must have reached the bottom floor.
With this, I guess the only way to return is to climb back up. Just the thought made me depressed. Indifferent to my pains, Edi reached out for the door towering in front of us.
Ring ring, making the sound of a bell, the door opened. And at the scene spread out in front of us, the world on the other side of the door, I reflexively murmured,