Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
「The rumor seemed to have begun spreading around the time you began your work as His Highness’ assistant. What’s more, the fact that you are now in charge of preparing his meals only strengthened that assumption. These past few days have been peaceful, but someone will eventually try to get to Klanven through you, and it might result in you being put in danger because of that.」
I felt as though my head had been hit with a hammer. I had no idea that such rumors were being spread around, and if he didn’t tell me now, I would still be kept in the dark. And since no one had the courage to come to me and try to confirm them, they were only bound to become even wilder over time.
If it was about anything else, I would have probably left it be and not pay it any mind, but when there are rumors of this caliber going around about you, you cannot simply leave the matter be as if it was nothing.
「Pray tell, are those rumors based in reality?」
「How can you even joke about something like that? It’s impossible and you know that.」
Even though I responded to his provocation right away, the truth is that although I might look calm about this whole situation, in reality I was at a loss as to what to do about it.
It was also true that recently, whenever I was walking somewhere with Klanven, I would catch passersby looking at us in a funny way, and it would always strike me as strange. I always explained it away to myself that they were simply admiring Klanven’s beauty. Never would I have thought that the real reason would be so venomous.
The only saving grace in this situation was the fact that Klanven himself is bound to dismiss the rumors once they reach him. While I was suppressing the urge to grab my head in a show of irritation, the man looked down on me and continued.
「Oh well, you must be patient and wait until the festival is over.」
「Does it bother you what people talk about me…… about your own wife?」
「Just please be aware of that fact and do try to act accordingly.」
Wait a moment, was that really it? No getting angry? No cold stares? No complaining about this whole situation? I couldn’t help it but to think that something was missing here. …… Or maybe I’m just overthinking things again. If I continue to pry into this matter, I may end up touching a subject that would be best left untouched. Instead of that, I want to enjoy this man’s warmth which I haven’t felt in so long.
I wanted to hug my face against the man’s chest again, but then a short and clear sound of s bell resonated throughout the room. We thought that maybe it was a mistake, but when the bell continued ringing without showing any signs of stopping anytime soon, I could see an irritated look appear on the man’s face as he let out a long sigh.
「It seems that Klanven is calling for me, so I have to go.」
Reluctantly letting go of one another, I put my uniform back on.
「See you tomorrow, Edi.」
「Yeah. See you tomorrow.」
He kissed me on the forehead and then disappeared from my room. Seeing him off, I get ready and exit the room as well, walking towards the chamber next door and then knocking onto the door. I enter it when I hear a voice from the inside telling me to come on in.
「Hmm, nice timing. Really nice timing.」
Klanven was resting on the sofa as usual, his long silver hair scattered about. Contrary to during the day, he wasn’t wearing his Priest robes, but an intricate night robe instead. When he saw me, he lit the magical crystal that was installed in his room.
「Please excuse me for asking this, but what is the purpose of summoning me here this late at night?」
Seeing just how relaxed he was, I realized that this isn’t how someone who was nearly poisoned should act. Now I was starting to feel stupid for actually being worried about him. He then smiled at me.
「For some reason I can’t fall asleep. Would you keep me company until I manage to?」
I was this close to actually smacking him to the head and yelling “Are you a child, or what!?”, but I managed to stop myself from doing that. It was foolish of me to expect him to act in a different way than usual, so the only one I can blame here is myself. So in the end, I had no other choice but to just bear with Klanven’s shenanigans, since there was no way for me to weasel my way out.
「If that’s indeed the case, then please wait a moment.」
I go back to my room, take out the tea leaves that were stored in my closet, and go back to Klanven’s chambers together with a teapot and a tea set. Using one of Klanven’s magic fire gems I boil water and warm the set a little bit before casting the leaves in.
Inhaling the sweet and light aroma of brewing tea, Klanven’s eyes gradually opened up, becoming livelier than they were just a moment ago.
「Is this perhaps an herbal tea?」
「Correct. This tea should help you relax and fall asleep more easily. It was my husband that came up with the idea for this blend.」
I originally brought it over from my house since I was planning on using it myself, but I would have never expected to use it in a situation like that. I pour the tea into the cup and place it in front of Klanven.
He sat up properly on the couch and reached out his hand towards the cup.
He must have had a cat’s tongue, for he blew some air a few times on the tea before eventually taking a sip. The expression in his eyes melted instantly.
「I see. It is exceptionally delicious.」
That was most certainly true. I didn’t think that someone like Klanven, who was only fond of alcohol for the most part, would be able to fully appreciate a tea like that, but I’m glad I was mistaken on that part.
I wait for a while until he finished drinking his tea. Then he placed it back on the saucer.
「Thank you very much. It was delicious and I think I won’t be having any more trouble with falling asleep tonight.」
「I’m pleased to hear that. Now, if you’ll excuse me……」
「Hmm, are you going already?」
「I said, “until I fall asleep”, didn’t I?」
I wanted to say something, but instead I just forced myself to smile gently. Looking at Klanven right now, he was just like a little puppy, wanting his owner to spend some time with it. He also pointed out another thing:
「Since our bedrooms are so close to one another, we can talk some more, don’t you think?」
Even though I went with the flow and came here, it was already bad enough that the two of us were in the same room this late at night, not to mention being dressed as we were. Luckily, no one had seen me coming to Klanven’s chambers, as it would cause a rumor similar in impact to a bomb being detonated in the center of a lively crowd.
However, the man right in front of me was a member of the royal family, not to mention the next High Priest at the Great Temple. That being said, refusing the invitation of someone like that was extremely difficult to begin with. Finally, while I was thinking that Klanven stood up and went to his huge bed.
While I looked at him, Klanven patted the chair that was right next to his bed.
「Well, for now, why don’t you have a seat over here? Maybe you could tell me a story so I can fall asleep faster?」
「…… A story?」
「Yes. I don’t even care what kind of story it is. Just a simple story.」
…… Once again, let me reiterate: “Are you a child, or what!?” It would be a cute request if it came from a small child, but my partner here was an adult. Although I must say, that was kind of cute in its own right.
Even though I could feel a headache rising, I still sat down on the chair as indicated. Once you swallowed the poison, might as well finish the whole meal. Besides, it shouldn’t be a problem since that man understands that this means nothing, right?
I realize that it was a rather poor excuse, but I try to ignore that fact as I open my mouth.
「Hmm, let’s see. Now then, long, long ago……」
「Yup. Please carry on.」
「–––––– In a land far away, there was a place where a Grandpa lived together with a Grandma.」
The story I have begun to tell was nothing special, but it was the first thing that came to my mind. It was the tale of “Momotaro”, which I still remembered it from my previous life in Japan. There, it was one of the classic folk tales.
While going with the story, I tried to arrange it properly so it would suit this world more easily. But still, there’s one thing that kept on bugging me: why was a human born out of a peach? Isn’t it really naïve to think one candy will be able to bring down a bunch of demons? Why there were animals accompanying Momotaro in the first place? Why were they able to speak? I continued to readjust the tale as it went on and by the time I was finished it was something completely different from the original folktale. Still, I was really proud of my version and was going to defend it wholeheartedly if need be.
「…… Your Highness?」
I spoke gently to Klanven, whose eyes were already closed. However, no response came back to me and I could clearly see that he was sound asleep this time. I don’t know how he managed that, but it was surely surprising.
When I looked at his sleeping face, he looked so calm, as if nothing was secretly targeting his life.
Cautiously, as if to not make even the slightest of noises, I raise up from the chair and want to go back towards the door leading outside of the chamber. But when I looked around, there was something here that caught my eye. It was so familiar, laying on the side of his bed, so much that I cocked my head in surprise.
Although it’s pure-white color was still stained red with blood, the embroidery was still the same as what I used to make at our house during the evenings. I would recognize it even at the end of the world.
Why was it here? Wait a minute, wasn’t that the handkerchief that I gave Klanven after the assassination attempt in front of the Great Temple? –––– It was probably that.
Klanven tossed in his sleep on top of the bed. Startled, I put the handkerchief back on top of the table. I quickly gathered my belongings and exited the room, not wanting to risk Klanven actually waking up and seeing me.
Dangerous, it was way too dangerous! What if I had woken him up and had to stay with him until he fell asleep again?
「I’ll have to give it my best tomorrow as well.」
After all, since I was going to be in charge of Klanven’s meals from now on, I needed to put in a lot more effort than usual. To do that, I must be well-rested and refreshed, and so I decided to turn in for the night.
Then I undressed, went to bed and closed my eyes. The pleasant night breeze managed to lull me to sleep in no time, and soon I was sleeping in a deep sleep devoid of dreams.