Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
「…… I see, I understand.」
The man answered briefly, holding a magic gem used for long distance communication in one hand. Once he made sure that its light had vanished completely, the man turned towards Klanven and I.
「The shadows are saying that she made that decision all on her own.」
「Hoo? Well, that’s a reasonable result.」
The man spoke in his usual emotionless fashion, and Klanven’s words were also devoid of any emotion whatsoever.
The maid was handed to the knights recently. Apparently, she was taken to the Blue Iris Court in a calm manner, without trying to protest or oppose them. Does that really mean she did choose to do that of her own volition?
None of us were saying anything, and the atmosphere in the room was becoming really hard to bear. So, in order to at least lessen this heavy atmosphere, I got up from my seat and started to prepare some tea for Klanven and that man.
Even though Klanven said he didn’t mind, it was hard for me to actually sit at the same table as those two. The man sat down as well and turned towards me, urging me with his eyes to take a seat a well. I nodded my head.
「…… This is……」
He then procured a certain item out of his pocket and placed it on top of the table. It was a mask that looked neither masculine nor feminine, with a symbol of the dove that was spreading its wings engraved upon its surface with great attention to detail. I recognized that item, for it was worn by the people who were trying to assassinate Klanven on more than one occasion.
What was the meaning of this, I thought to myself while looking at both the man and Klanven. Of course, the item wasn’t going to tell us anything in and of itself, and Klanven just kept on staring at the man while he was…… expressionless, as always.
「How about you stop beating around the bush and tell us what is really going on?」
「I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about. What is really going on?」
「Don’t get upset about it. I think you know as well as I do what this means, right?」
Klanven’s voice was as lighthearted as ever, but the man was not going to let him get away with it that easily. Realizing that, Klanven let out a heavy sigh.
At that moment, Klanven’s smile changed. It was still calm, but now all humor was gone from his eyes as he was looking at the man with a very serious expression.
For those who were unaccustomed to it, it must have been a really dramatic change, as even the man’s eyes seemed to have opened a little bit wider than usual.
「Fufu. So, it looks like you have it all figured out, do you now?」
「Yes. You see, I decided to do a little background research, namely in the old town where you used to live during your childhood, Your Highness. I am sorry for doing that in secrecy, but it had to be done.」
「Hmph, and here I thought you were just a young man with an absurdly high amount of magic at your disposal. I guess they don’t call you the Shadow Ruler of the Castle for nothing.」
As he said that, Klanven laughed loudly as he took the mask on the table in his hands. Then he brushed his hair aside and put the mask to his face, and it matched his features perfectly, creating the image of that mysterious person. He looked at us for a moment and then took the mask off.
「I knew it, so your really are that person, Your Highness.」
「Ahh, yes, that’s right. It would be the third time you have come into contact with that mask, right?」
WhenI asked them about that, I saw a fire that was awakening in that man’s eyes. I saw that mask in the market the first time, and today marked the second time. So naturally I was curious to why he said I had seen it a third time.
「You were involved in the incident at the market, right? It was that person who helped me at that time.」
「…… Now that you mention it.」
Hearing that, I turned towards Klanven who removed the mask from his face.
「Your Highness. Your arm injury at that time……」
「Oh, if we’re talking about that time at the market, that thing was nothing that a little healing magic couldn’t take care of. Sure, it would leave a scar and all that, but it was nothing that Edilka couldn’t do on his own. With the spirit’s protection, something like that wouldn’t even happen.」
He said all that with relaxed expression, even though Edilka was right here, right next to him.
I didn’t know what to say. It was Klanven who injured Edilka-sama in such a way, and that fact alone was making me want to cry. However, Edilka-sama didn’t seem to care all that much about that, as his expression wasn’t changing in the slightest.
Healing wounds wasn’t that complicated of a process, but when we talk about wounds dealt with magic, you needed a specific type of magic to heal them properly. There were also things like the size and depth of the wounds, but essentially, the water spirits responsible for healing were not all that compatible with fire spirits.
Personally, I didn’t care all that much, but according to common sense, the evidence was all there, pointing towards Klanven, and showing that he was trying to set me against Edilka-sama. I wanted to see where this was going.
「Your Highness. Saying anymore will be considered as an attempt at seducing my wife.」
Even though Klanven was completely aware of the fact the man who was right in front of him was not really Edilka Vince but the court magician Agedilus Von Lancent, he was still laughing in an unscrupulous manner. He seemed to be as calm as ever.
「Oh, I’m so scared. Filmina, do you see the look in his eyes right now?」
In the meantime, Klanven seemed to be having the time of his life while he took a sip of his tea. But just like that man, I decided to stop being so lenient with him.
「Please stop trying to tease me like that. And you, Edilka-sama, please calm down and concentrate on your job. We still have much to talk about with him.」
The man looked as though he wanted to retort to my words, but ultimately he said nothing, yet again making his face seem expressionless.
Seeing that, Klanven laughs yet again and throws the mask back on the table.
「Oh well, it’s kind of like that. In addition to being a Priest, I have yet another face as one of the Shadows.」
I knew it. But even though I was kind of expecting that, I was still unable to stop myself from holding my breath. We silently urged him to continue and he opened his mouth.
「I feel kind of ashamed having to expose my secrets like that, but I guess I can trust the two of you, so it’s fine.」
–––– It seems that there are lots of people who wished Klanven unwell, even the ones he calls his friends and close family. It is said that even the Shadows, who usually swear total loyalty to the crown, are a constant threat to his life.
「That is why I wanted to disguise myself as one of the Shadows. You know, when you want to hide a tree, hide it in the forest.」
「I-I guess that is really convenient……」
He said that pretty lightly, but the idea was pretty clever and well-thought.
I was yet again at a loss for words, and I wondered if it was reflecting on my face. Klanven smiled gently at me, poking the Shadow mask that was now laying on the table in front of us.
「Luckily, I had a long history of sneaking out of the castle and temple and going to the old town to catch a few drinks, as you may have seen the other day. It’s a good example. Growing up in an environment like that, I needed to be able to take care of myself, and I am quite fond of that ability up to this day.」
「Yes indeed, we’ve seen that your friends were really quite fond of you. That’s why if they didn’t want to back away at that time, I was ready to take some drastic measures.」
「Oi, oi, what a horrible thing to say. Be that as it may, they are still my precious friends.」
「Excuse me then, that was indeed rude of me.」
Now this was truly an unpleasant situation. While the two of them were discussing the circumstances surrounding that mask, I was stuck in between them, forced to listen. It was like observing two atmospheric fronts clashing with one another –– a storm was approaching fast, and it was inevitable.
It was certainly unpleasant, but there was no way for me to do anything about it. I could only carry the cold tea to my mouth, hoping that the incoming storm wouldn’t catch me by accident.
「Your Highness, there’s something I would like to ask you. What were you trying to accomplish by pointing your blade at Filmina in broad daylight?」
The man’s voice was as cold as winter’s morning, chilling me to the bone. It was difficult to guess his emotions from his facial expressions alone, but his voice was clearly indicating that he was quite angry.
Any weak-willed person would have already break down under the weight of that ice-cold stare, but Klanven was as cheerful as ever. He crossed his arms on his chest, showing that he did not intend to back down.
「That’s simple, really. Don’t you think that as a Priest, it would be problematic if I had Shadows tailing me wherever I go? That could lead to needless anxieties and undermining of the Temple’s authority. This way was the best to prevent that from happening.」
…… I see, that was indeed quite the sound reasoning.
After all, Klanven was not only the current king’s brother but also the High Priest at the Temple. Even if he was targeted by assassins, placing him under an obvious surveillance like that would serve to undermine not only the Temple’s authority, but that of the royal family as well. I wanted to say that I understood how he must have felt, but that would be a lie on my side.
It was still disturbing that he pointed a knife at me with such ease, but as I said nothing to him about it, he just continued to smile.
Wait, what was that sound? It was quiet, but rather disturbing. When I tried to look at the man, I could see small sparks flying in the air all around him. His mana must have started to react with the magic in his surroundings as his emotions were growing out of control. As he opened his trembling lips, the cups began to crack and the tea was starting to boil!
「For such a stupid reason…… You used Filmina for such a stupid reason!」
「It may sound stupid to you, but for me it was a matter of the utmost importance. It had to be done, even if it meant bringing your wrath over my head.」
When Klanven said that, the cups and teapot were already on the verge of breaking.
And once they did, the pieces of porcelain flew all over the floor and the table, accompanied by the spilled tea. It was a good thing no one got hurt, since the pieces of porcelain were as sharp as razors.
Then one of the pieces flew towards Klanven and scratched his cheek. There was a thin red line on his white cheek, and soon enough a small trail of blood began to drip down his face.
There were several more pieces of shrapnel like that, but I stopped them with my own hand before they could reach him.
As I called out his name, the man stopped glaring at Klanven and his eyes eased up. I kept my hand held up to shield Klanven as I continue.
「Edi, stop it.」
「It’s fine, really.」
Even though I said that it was fine, I could see it in his eyes that he thought otherwise. As usual, the cold beauty of his stare was simply captivating.
「It’s alright, Edi. That’s already water under the bridge. You were there to help me, and that’s the only thing that matters.」
What followed was another period of awkward silence. No one was saying anything, but the atmosphere grew a little bit warmer. Seeing Edi step down, Klanven laughed in a merry way.
「See, Filmina truly is a force to be reckoned with!」
「Would you kindly keep quiet, Your Highness?」
His words were just like adding fuel to the fire, and making that man stand down was already hard enough as it was. However, I wonder why he was looking at us like that? As if someone was protecting Klanven from his wrath. Oh, wait. I did just that a moment ago.
「I’m angry not because you were trying to hurt me, but about the fact that you could have hurt someone else by accident.」
And here I was, trying to convince someone that Klanven was harmless, when in actuality he could have hurt me pretty badly at that time. But no matter how much that man overreacts, it will eventually come to hurt him more than it will hurt anyone else. And knowing him, he would surely result to violence rather fast. I didn’t want to see him suffer because of something like that.
「Say, Edi. If you want to be angry with someone, then be angry with me.」
The man didn’t answer to that. He didn’t have to. Instead, the shattered cups and spilled tea began to fly in the air once more, but this time backwards, as if someone was reversing a film. That was the best answer there could be. Soon, the whole tea set was brought back to how it used to be.
「Hee. What a handy ability to have.」
I let out a sigh of relief and calmed down, while Klanven said another unnecessary thing while giggling and wiping the blood dripping down his face with his hand. Then he recited a short prayer and the wound was no longer to be seen.
He smiled gently towards the man, who was still about ready to glare daggers at him.
「You have committed a bunch of unpleasantries while I was Edilka Vince. I demand some time with Filmina tonight as compensation.」
Klanven said nothing to that, instead he began to slam his fists onto the table, laughing like mad, but then he eventually approved the idea.
And just like that, tonight’s unscheduled tea time came to an end.
If two adults wanted to get into one bed for the night, their bodies needed to be dangerously close to each other. I changed into my night clothes and entered the bed in my chamber together with that man, but thanks to my overwhelming anxiety and shame, I was unable to either move or fall asleep. That man’s arm was enclosing my body and was only making things even harder.
His glossy black hair was in my hand’s reach, I wanted to try to touch it, if only for a short moment.
「…… Can’t sleep?」
「Oh my. What about you, Edi? Can’t fall asleep as well?」
I thought he was asleep, since his eyes were closed shut. I could see myself being reflected in those eyes. I asked him that while stroking his hair gently, which was calming me down.
「It’s been such a long time since you last touched me as “Agedilus”.」
I say “Maybe so”, and then I can feel that man hugging me more tightly, making my hand entangled in his hair even more.
「…… You might get angry with me again.」
「Why is that?」
「Edilka Vince. I personally think that his looks and attitude is not so bad after all.」
「Oh my, and why is that?」
It was strange for him to admit something like that, especially since he was quite frank from the very beginning that he wasn’t especially fond of having to play a role like that. Not to mention that Edilka Vince was way more popular than his normal self. What may have caused such a change of his mind?
Seeing me confused like that, there was a slight smile on the man’s lips.
「If I was Edilka, surely you would be able to walk outside with me in a more relaxed manner?」
「–––– My, oh my.」
Was he really still worried about that? It seems that Agedilus Von Lancent was still quite not over the fact that Edilka Vince was more popular. And I could see it in his eyes that he wasn’t joking when he said that. It must have actually hurt his pride that Edilka Vince was so popular with the people. And not only other people, but he thought that I was actually fonder of Edilka over him. –––– I had no idea that he was really that concerned about my opinion of him. It was actually pretty cute of him to act like that. I know that I don’t really have time to think about things like that, but I couldn’t help it but to think just how cute he was. I knew that my tomorrow duties may suffer as a result of that, but I really didn’t care at this point in time.
He must have figured out what I was thinking, for he stared at me with his cheeks stained slightly red.
When I giggled in his arms he hugged me even tighter and pressed me against his chest.
「Let’s go to sleep soon.」
I was still giggling for a while, seeing how ashamed he was because of that, but soon enough his body warmth made my eyelids heavy and I drifted to sleep not long after that.