Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
「My, oh my, but I’ve already drank so much. So don’t you think it would be a bit unfair for me to fight you as you are right now?」
Klanven said that while pointing towards a mountain-load of empty bottles piling on the table and all around it. The man looked at the bottles and then at me, his eyes saying “How much did you manage to drink?”, but I couldn’t remember. But judging by the sheer number of bottles, it must have been a lot.
Getting no answer out of me, the man turned back and sighed heavily, and then faced Klanven again. His expression still stone-cold, he took the mug in his hand.
「If that’s the case, then let me drink twice for every glass you drink.」
Hearing this clearly insane offer, I raise my voice in protest, but that man didn’t even bother to look back at me.
「Way to go, mister!」
「I’m betting again! Two silver coins on the blondie here!」
「I’ll bet three silver coins! Maybe this time Lady Luck will be on my side!」
「Mister, do your best!」
Hearing Edilka-sama’s bold remark, the crowd began to cheer again, and a new bottle of ale was brought to the table. It looks like for these guys it didn’t matter who was competing, as long as they could have their share of fun. Klanven only smiled gently seeing all that.
「Hmm? I see, this should be interesting. If that’s how you want it, then let’s change the betting fees a little bit, shall we?」
Klanven smiled softly while pouring another portion of ale for himself. His reddened cheeks were indicating that he was already quite intoxicated, but at the same time he was still able to go on.
「If you manage to win, I will return to the Red Rose Court immediately and return Filmina to you. But if I win, I’m not heading back and Filmina stays with me. What do you say?」
Klanven said something like that, but something wasn’t right here. I know that this was a competition and they were getting more and more drunk, but I’m not some kind of a prize that can be tossed about as they saw fit!
But before I could say anything, the man poured himself another cup, raised his mug to his mouth, emptied it in one swift go and slammed the mug against the table. The crowd cheered loudly seeing that. From that alone one could easily say that Edilka-sama was also quite good at holding his liquor.
「Fine by me. But don’t you dare to go back on your words once you lose.」
Said the man while pouring another cup for himself, drinking exactly the same amount every time as Klanven.
Just like that, with my will being completely ignored, the competition between the two men began. There was no way for me to intervene and stop this madness. None of them wanted to lose, and so they kept on drinking.
Looking at them going at it, it was easy to say that Klanven was going easy on me during our competition, since the amount of ale and the pace at which they were drinking it right now was simply brutal. I could now understand why the crowd was getting so excited earlier.
The match continued at the same wild pace, with Edilka-sama always drinking twice as much as Klanven did. I had no idea that Edilka-sama’s tolerance to alcohol was so high, but so far he was able to keep up with Klanven without flinching, and neither his complexion nor the animosity in his gaze changed. The patrons all around us were getting wildly excited by all this.
I continued to watch their match while sipping on the lemon water that one of the waitresses gave to me earlier, I could feel someone patting me slightly on the shoulder. Looking in that direction, it was that woman who was so clingy with Klanven earlier, I do believe Aisha was her name. She smiled at me and said,
「You are one lucky woman, having two fine men like that competing over you.」
Aisha smiles at me and winks in a sexy manner. Hahahaha, that’s strange. I don’t feel happy about this. Not in the least. If anything, I would consider them to be a nuisance right now…… First of all, why is it that men had to turn everything into a competition? I looked up at Aisha while trying not to lose my balance and fall off the chair.
「What is it?」
「Does everyone here know about His Highness’s circumstances?」
Hearing my question, Aisha get a chair for herself, sitting right next to me. Her lips were arching in a soft smile.
「You mean that Klan is the High Priest at the Temple and also a member of the royal family?」
There was one of the male patrons coming closer to Aisha and I, bringing Aisha a glass and pouring some red wine for her. Oh. So they did know. That’s unusual, to say the least. Aisha brought the wine glass to her lips and smiled cheerfully.
「For me, no matter who he is, Klan will always be Klan –– a very important friend. Nothing will ever change that fact. And if he ever was in trouble we would do everything in our power to help him, and he would do exactly the same for us. Being a High Priest or royalty has nothing to do with that.」
Aisha said that with iron conviction. I could see that she wasn’t looking at me right now, but rather right at Klanven. He looked back at her, but I wasn’t sure what was that feeling that was reflected in his blue eyes.
–––– Ahh, could this be? Yes, it may have been so.
After all, if you think about it, I don’t know anything about Klanven. I only knew that someone was targeting his life, but even so he would still risk it all to come over here and have a drink with his friends. Maybe I was lacking in life experience to understand. There was still much I needed to learn.
What was Klanven’s real thoughts? It looks like he didn’t really wanted to invite death onto his doorstep, but at the same time he didn’t wanted to be protected all the time.
As I was thinking about it, I heard a loud round of cheers coming from the drinking table. Apparently there was a sort of a breakthrough over there.
「Ooohhh!!! Yeah, that’s right! That’s the spirit, mister!」
「What the hell are you doing, Klan!? I thought you weren’t going to hold back!」
The voices of patrons echoed in my drunk head, as well as Aisha’s voice, who was getting all mad at Klanven for some reason. As for Klanven himself, he just held the mug in his hands, shaking his head and laughing.
「I am genuinely impressed. Just for how long are you going to keep drinking?」
「Until I manage to win, of course.」
「Fufu, well said. But my time together with Filmina is on the line, so I cannot lose either!」
「…… Do you really think that I’m going to forgive you for making a statement like that?」
「And who said I want your forgiveness in the first place?」
「I would like you to refrain from saying things like that. I might misunderstand and go all-out against you as a result.」
「Hmm, hmm, aren’t you going to regret saying stuff like that later?」
Just what are they doing, a member of the royal family having a drink battle with the leader of the knights in a run-down bar?
I also just noticed that Aisha was looking at me in a funny way, smiling brightly.
「Dozed off a little bit, have you? Maybe you drank way more than you should have? Come on, you should rest, let me help you. Oi, you guys, bring some bench here!」
「No, please, that won’t be necessary!」
「It’s quite alright. Just lay down and rest for a bit. I’ll let you know about the result of the match as soon as it is over.」
Aisha didn’t want to hear my excuses, and so she brought me to the end of the room, where a long bench was empty. Together with another male patron, they lowered me onto the bench so that I could get some rest. I rested my head on Aisha’s lap and I must say, it was surprisingly comfortable.
As soon as I laid down, I realized just how drunk I really was. I was overcome by an urge to sleep, but since the room was so loud and bright I could only kick around, unable to fall asleep. It was then that Aisha’s hand was placed on top of my eyes.
「Sweet dream, missy.」
With those words said, my consciousness finally gave up to the sea of liquor coursing through my veins.
I felt as though I was riding on top of a small boat, floating on the lake’s surface. I wanted to enjoy this feeling as long as I possibly could, but I knew that I couldn’t do that. I had my fair share of responsibilities, and if I didn’t do them properly, I would need to face a whole lot of consequences down the track. And so I opened my eyes and slowly lifted my head up.
「Oh, finally woke up?」
I could see golden hair coming out of the deep hood. His hair were shining like the moonlight during the night. I know that this gold is beautiful, but his jet-black hair were even prettier in my opinion.
Seeing how close his eyes were to my face and a gentle swaying I was feeling for a while now, I realized that he must have carried me in his arms. I wanted to get out and stand on my own, but he held me firmly in his arms, preventing me from falling and hurting myself.
What exactly is this situation? I really wanted to speak up and ask that man some questions, but it seems that alcohol was still holding me in its grasp, for I was unable to speak up properly.
「This is the Red Rose Court.」
That short answer was not enough for me. Sure, it would justify the look of our surroundings, which looked like the nobility lived here. Sure, it would make sense, since it was the place where we were staying until the Grand Festival. But that doesn’t explain the fact why that man was hugging me and carrying me like a Princess in his arms.
「Edilka-sama, umm, what about the drinking competition?」
Yes, about that. The last thing I remember was falling asleep on Aisha’s lap. Even though Aisha told me that she would wake me up the moment the victor was decided, but seeing how she didn’t do that and that Edilka-sama was carrying me in his arms right now, I could probably imagine how the match went.
「If you are worried about His Highness, he should be on his way to his room in the Red Rose Court as well. He said that our job for the day was over.」
This was more proof to me than I would have hoped for. That Klanven was back to the castle with us, and that I wasn’t by his side by now.
「So this means that you have won.」
「Naturally. But even if he won instead, would that make that much of a difference to you?」
His sharp tongue said that without emotion, staring down at me with his cold stare. It was tense, but I endured it nonetheless, and eventually he stopped looking at me. Now he was only looking ahead.
「Once I realized that both of you disappeared, I didn’t know what to do. I knew that you had that bracelet with you, but still, I was afraid what I would do if I hadn’t found you in time.」
It seems that it was indeed this bracelet that allowed that man to find us. Realizing that, I unconsciously lifted my hand and looked at the bracelet. It reflected the light of the moon and looked pretty. But, there were still some things that I didn’t understand.
「Why are we walking through the corridor like that?」
I didn’t wanted to mention that, but I ended up doing exactly that. The man seemed to be offended by that remark of mine, but then he just let out a deep sigh while looking somewhat irritated. Again, he gave me a short answer.
「It would be impossible for you to walk properly on your own while being this drunk.」
It was a natural answer, but for some reason it made my cheeks go bright red. It was the middle of the night, and the moonlight coming into the corridor through the windows was so bright that I had to close my eyes a little bit. Ah, it’s so beautiful. A thought like that slips out of my mind before I even notice.
「It’s such a wonderful thing, a walk in the middle of the night.」
「What’s so wonderful about it, I wonder? For someone who doesn’t even drink on a daily basis, you sure went all out there.」
The man complains at me while marching without stopping, and for some reason I reach out my arms towards him and encompass his neck with my hands. I would never normally do that, and while he seemed to be initially surprised, he quickly regained his composure and smirked at me.
「Are you still drunk?」
「Fufu, do I look like I still am? Then maybe that exactly it.」
That’s right. Maybe I was still drunk. And even if I was already sober, it wasn’t bad to pretend for just a little bit longer, just to see that man’s reactions.
He let out sigh after sigh, clearly irritated. He lets me act freely because he knows that I am intoxicated, and I continue to hug him still. He could have pushed me away, but instead he only gripped me tighter. That action was more than enough for me, it told me more than any words would.
「I don’t want you to keep accompanying His Highness ever again.」
No, just because he was saying that it didn’t mean that I was going to forfeit my responsibilities. But instead of saying that, I said to the man:
「Yes, I will keep that in mind.」
The gentle night breeze blows in the face of the man, and I enjoy the cool breeze brushing against my skin. I shake my head a little bit, sensing that my mind was becoming clearer. The man lifts me up a little bit, making sure I was comfortable.
「This is such a waste.」
「I want to enjoy this moment some more, but I feel so sleepy.」
We had so little opportunities to be alone together, and before the beginning of the festival I think that’s all we can really count on, so I wanted to cherish it as much as possible, but I was so sleepy.
The man stopped in his tracks, probably because of my reply. Ohh, I thought that nothing would be able to move him, but he averted his gaze from me and looked towards the sky.
「…… The moon, sure it is beautiful today.」
「Eh? Why, yes, it is beautiful indeed.」
Without realizing the intentions of the man I leaned on his neck, and then look over the window at the moon and slowly close my eyes.
Why was it that he was so upset when he was seeing me together with Klanven? Why was his smile making him feel so furious? Not to mention that he was probably the first member of the palace guard that came down to a lowly bar in the old town and drank there surrounded by its patrons.
What were his intentions? I didn’t wanted to think that he would purposefully expose himself to danger like that. And that he totally disregarded the person he was supposed to protect. I turned out to be safe today, but how do we know that next time will be safe as well. I think that Klanven wanted me to meet all of his friends at that bar, including Aisha.
The more I was thinking about it the more worried for Klanven I was getting, but my thought were currently going all over the place and I couldn’t focus quite well. As the man escorted to my room, I was able to fall asleep again, lulled to sleep by the warmth and swaying of his body.
The very next day I woke up terribly sick and I wasn’t able to get out of bed even if I wanted to.