Translation and editing: Team Foxsunes
As if to make up for the time lost yesterday, Lucius was charging at the man again and again since the morning. I had no clue how Edi would react to it in the end, so I held my breath and watched over the two of them. The man curtly responded with 「do as you please｣, and accepted Lucius’ wish to accompany him in his travels. After witnessing such an exchange, I breathed a sigh of relief. I realized that I adored the youth a lot, and it seemed like I supported him. Is it because of his face? Could it be that Lucius’s face, which was almost identical to that man, was causing me to feel this way? Was I really that into pretty faces? I was a little disappointed in myself. Even if the faces of the people around me were, for the most part, outstanding, I’d say that I was still too naive if I could be so led astray by looks. Even though my desire to believe in him didn’t stem from his face alone, I should reflect upon myself so that I wouldn’t have to face this in the days to come. After admonishing myself, I turned back and began to walk.
Just like yesterday, after seeing them off from the entranceway, I had the rest of the day to myself. I might as well read the book I borrowed yesterday at the national library about the neighboring country. I decided to do so and poured some tea in the kitchen to accompany me while I read, and sat on the rocking chair in my room. Just as I was about to begin reading, the pendant made of the magical communication orb, the one I had received from the princess and had left on the side table, began to glow. I tilted my head and blinked while wondering what it could be. I placed my book on the side table and touched the pendant.
｢『May your heart be with me too 』｣
As always, after reciting the line from the old poem, the pendant suddenly shone big and bright. That light soon took the form of a person.
「Sorry for calling so suddenly, Filmina｣
Like a wreath of white lilies in bloom, our country’s precious jewel, her highness, the princess Clementine, smiled. Despite being practically a transparent image, the princess still seemed to glow. With the beauty which lives up to her name, the living treasure, I felt like I was practically enchanted every time I saw her. However, even if it was through the pendant, I felt as if it were improper to be seated before the princess, so I hurriedly stood up and bowed.
「No, I’m honored that you would go out of your way to speak with me. You must be busy, did something in particular occur?｣
The various delegates from different countries must still be staying at the royal palace. The princess probably spent every day looking after them, so we hadn’t had the chance to speak at all this last week. Upon my query, she stopped smiling and she made a wry face. Even with a tired expression, the princess was as beautiful as ever. It was a rare expression to see her with, as she usually had a calm smile imprinted on her face. After tilting my head as if to say 「what’s going on｣, the princess’s expression quickly turned to a tired, almost bitter smile, and she let out a deep sigh.
「Your face always brings me such relief. So much so that I no longer want to see the faces of foxes and raccoon dogs.｣
When did the princess suddenly begin taking care of animals? A beautiful woman playing around with animals, now this was something I’d like to see. I wanted to watch over them from the shadows. Just imagining this made my heart flutter. Although it was weird that she had only mentioned foxes and raccoon dogs, perhaps the princess was taking care of some special breed of foxes and raccoon dogs at the royal palace. I’d like to take a look at it sometime. I kept on questioning and thinking when that『sometime』would be. Whether the princess noticed my thoughts or not, she lightly shook her head as if shaking something off, and finally, she turned to me as usual with that soft, bright, smile.
「That doesn’t matter. More importantly, I have a request for you.｣
「A favor? If it’s for you I’d do anything.｣
「Thanks. Then, Filmina, if you don’t mind, could you lend me your time today?｣
Although it wasn’t really a demand, the fact that it felt more like 「Hurry up and hand over your day!｣ definitely wasn’t just my imagination. I could see that she was under considerable stress. Was taking care of foxes and raccoon dogs really that difficult? Since I usually spend my days all alone at home, I’ve considered maybe getting a cat or a dog, but seeing how the princess is reacting to having pets, I might reconsider. Before I could give it any further thought, I noticed that I had nodded to the princess’ demand.
* * *
The princess’s request wasn’t really a big deal. That is to say, she invited me to have tea with her, as per usual. Since I had too much time on my hands, such an invitation wasn’t really a request. In fact, I was glad to spend time with her. It would make a good distraction for me to stop worrying about the youth, Lucius, and have tea with the princess whom I adored more and more as our friendship deepened. With these thoughts, I arrived at the Red Rose Court, the royal estate, with happiness and high hopes.
「Mr. Yuri? Mr. Alhelm and Mr. Widnichol too… Why has everyone gathered here? ｣
I thought for sure it was just the princess and me, but to my complete surprise, it wasn’t just the two of us in the usual gazebo in the courtyard where we had tea parties. The champions who vanquished the demon king seem to have congregated, apart from Edi that is. They had casual clothes on, unlike the formal clothing that they had in the festival ceremony. They all sat there, looking somewhat tired. I wondered what’s going on. I had brought a small jar of freshly made autumn rose jam, a small jar of clotted cream, and a basket of scones to spread the jam on for lunch. I held the basket and tilted my head. Ignoring the worn-out men, the princess who was elegantly drinking tea smiled softly and invited me to sit next to her with a pat on the chair.
「Thank you for coming all this way, Filmina. Go ahead, have a seat」
「We..well then, excuse me.｣
I did as the princess said and sat down next to her. As soon as I placed the basket on the table, all the men gazed at me at once. I let out a small scream in shock and who would have blamed me for that. The light green of the hero’s eyes, the deep reddish-brown of the commendatore’s eyes, the sky blue of Widnichol’s eyes, looked like that of a dead person, devoid of any light. To be precise, like the eyes of a person who had died of overwork and extreme exhaustion.
I tilted my head and questioned whether this was the voice of the hero who was the embodiment of Dashingness. His voice was low as if it were crawling on the ground and it lacked vitality. I wonder if I had accidentally done something that offended him. Shaking in fear, I looked at the hero’s face which remained a masterpiece, despite the wary expression. The hero shifted his gaze towards the basket on the table.
「Are those your handmade sweets?｣
「Do you mind if I eat some?｣
「Of course, I wouldn’t mind at all｣
I wonder if I was able to properly get my words out. At almost the same exact time as my answer, the usually calm and quiet eyes of the hero shone with the hunger of a wolf chasing its prey as he quickly reached into the basket and took a scone. He took a big bite of it and then proceeded to take out the jars containing rose jam and clotted cream. He spread plenty of them on his scone before once again bringing it to his mouth. He moved with the refined grace of a son of nobility but the speed was fast… too fast.
Without missing a beat, the commendatore and the youth Widnichol soon followed suit. They extended their hands towards the basket, took out a scone, spread rose jam and clotted cream extravagantly, and carried it into their mouths just as the hero did. They began chewing, not a single word uttered. One by one the scones began to disappear into the men’s mouths. The princess just shrugged her shoulders and muttered to herself 「How pitiful.｣ I didn’t understand what she meant by it and while I was pondering about what she meant, the basket was completely cleaned out.
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