Epilogue: The Strength the Prince Wishes For
“Say Gille. Today you’re…… in such a good mood that it’s eerie.”
I couldn’t help but tilt my head at Vernoux, who said that so abruptly.
“It’s so rude of you to say that it’s eerie. Do I look that happy to you?”
“Yeah. You should learn self-control if you don’t realise it yourself. There’s nothing good about a future king who lets his feelings show on his face. Fix that right now.”
I looked at Vernoux, who had said that firmly, and sighed on purpose. Sure, I was in a good mood, but I wasn’t planning on advertising it so someone could point it out.
So, it was a little surprising; especially the eerie part.
“You don’t have to worry about it, you know I have always acted properly until now, don’t you, Vernoux?”
“Until now, that is. When I look at you now, I can’t help but worry about when your mask will fall off.”
“It’s rude to say it’s a mask. But, I can’t help but act this way now, can I? You’re the only person here after all.”
It was tiring to be tense when I don’t have to be. And what Vernoux had just said didn’t just apply to me. Vernoux was talking to 『Gille』not『Sylvester』, so we were completely in private mode. I guess we’re even.
“Well, don’t overdo it.”
Vernoux, who received my gaze, said, and then shrugged his shoulders. It seemed that he understood that.
It might have been too late to say it, but the reason why I’m in such a good mood is that I was finally able to meet Dilly, after four years. And I even got to meet her twice.
I couldn’t help but be happy.
Our letter exchange continued without pause, but I never had the chance to see how much she had changed. It’s great that I don’t have to…… be jealous of Vernoux for a while. I think it was a coincidence, but Vernoux probably didn’t have the golden lion embroidery that matched my eyes. Speaking of Vernoux, he would probably say something like, “It’s not like I’m jealous of you.”
And now, I was writing letters addressed to Dilly as 『Gille』. I felt like I could write a lot more in them than I did before.
“…… You’re really fuel-efficient.”
I couldn’t tell if he was shocked or amazed. But, it couldn’t mean anything good, since Vernoux was the one who was saying it.
…… I admit that I was too happy, but what is this next part? I don’t even know why he brought up fuel in the first place. Vernoux, who was receiving my stare, grinned unpleasantly.
“Even if you say that you met her, you couldn’t even tell her that you’re 『Sylvester』, and she runs away straight away if you try to talk to her as 『Sylvester』. You spoke to her at the Hale mansion as 『Gille』. Even so, you’re happy about that, and that’s why you’re fuel-efficient.”
I still don’t know why she’s avoiding me, I looked at Vernoux, who was speaking and thought that.
Vernoux certainly had the power to change a flower garden into a snowy field.
“…… My bad. Don’t glare at me.”
“But, I did make a chance for you to meet Dilly, you know?
“And I’m thankful for that.”
I wouldn’t have been able to meet Dilly, or exchange letters with her, without Vernoux’s help.
(…… She still avoids me, even after four years, huh.)
To be honest, I would like to know why she was avoiding me. As long as I know that, then I might be able to dispel my fear.
“Speaking of which, I recently heard this from the magician at Dilly’s house.”
“Dilly said she liked knights before, right? Apparently that’s because she was using Earl Pameradia as reference.”
I thought he had seen right through me, and was going to give me some advice, but he uttered something unexpected.
“Well, the usual magician told me, 『When Ojou-sama was younger, she told Master “I will marry Otou-sama!”』.”
“…… Why did your conversation turn that way?”
“Well, I wasn’t going to ask about Dilly’s taste in men or anything. The conversation just ended up that way.”
Vernoux often talked about the『Funny and Odd Magician』. He was probably talking about that magician, this time as well. I don’t know much about him, since the only contact I’ve had with him, was when I saw him for a moment, when I first met Dilly. But, I somehow get that this magician knows Dilly well, from the way Vernoux acts.
“Nothing. I was just thinking that it’s surprising. So, she also says things like that.”
“Well, it doesn’t seem to be her pattern.”
“I didn’t say that. Isn’t it cute? It’s just that I thought that Dilly is mature, so I’m a little surprised.”
When, and in what situation, did she say it? Even though I thought that, I was a little puzzled by the seriousness of those words.
“The Earl, huh……”
I knew that Dilly seems to be attracted to knights. I can’t become a knight, but I intend to do my best to be like a knight, even if just by a little.
But, I never imagined that the knight that Dilly was speaking of was the Earl.
Earl Pameradia, the person who she might have based her ideals of a knight on. I have seen him around the castle before, but I’ve never had a deep conversation with him. However, I have heard of his past achievements and a lot of rumours about him.
(If I get to know the Earl, then I might be able to understand a little about what Dilly thinks about.)
But, how do create the opportunity to interact with him? It might be a bit easier for me to create the opportunity if I was an adult. I couldn’t help but resent the fact that I was still a child.
It seemed that I was very lucky. The situation that I thought was helpless, wasn’t blocked on all sides.
“Sylvester. It’s nearly your birthday, isn’t it?”
It happened when I passed by my father in the corridor.
My father was particularly busy lately, and he didn’t talk to me much. However, I was honestly happy that he had remembered my birthday.
“Is there anything you want? Don’t be afraid to tell me.”
Father said that to me every year, on my birthday. However, up until now, I had only one thing to say to his kind words.
Which were『Anything father gives me would make me happy』.
Of course, it wasn’t like I didn’t want anything, but I was satisfied with the usual things. There are times when I wanted something new, but I was satisfied with buying it with the money I received, so I couldn’t come up with anything I particularly needed.
I was going to give him the same answer this year…… when I suddenly noticed.
I was a little worried about whether I could say it.
But, father noticed the change in my attitude.
“What’s wrong, Sylvester?”
“It’s rare for you to stammer. If you have something you want, then just tell me. I can’t give you an answer if you don’t tell me.”
“…… Father. Is it fine if it’s not an object?”
I received his words, and asked a little haltingly.
“Are you planning to say something interesting?”
“I…… want to have a match with Earl Pameradia.”
“With Elvis, is it?”
Father opened his eyes wide with surprise, because he hadn’t expected that request.
“Elvis is certainly a peerless master swordsman. But you have a teacher, don’t you?”
“Of course I respect my teacher. And, it’s not like I’m asking the Earl to teach me. I simply want to exchange swords with him.”
“Why do you want that?”
“The Earl, whose strength I have heard of, I want to experience it.”
Of course, I had the option of asking to talk to the Earl, without wishing to have a match with him.
But, the Earl is Dilly’s ideal knight. I want to experience his figure as he swings his sword up close. Even though he has retired from the knights, he is still known as the best swordsman in this kingdom, and I thought that the quickest way is to see that for myself. It might be a foolish idea, but the Earl is someone whom I am interested in, even if Dilly wasn’t involved, I thought as I looked seriously at father.
Father’s eyes widened at my words and then he laughed.
“Hahaa, I don’t know if you’ll be any match for him. But, it’s interesting. It’ll be good if you’re crushed into little pieces, and have your immaturity engraved into you. I’ll tell the Earl that he doesn’t need to restrain himself. But, don’t get hurt on your own birthday.”
I thought, you don’t have to tell me, at my father who was laughing heartily. Of course, I didn’t think I would win, or get away unscathed, but he wouldn’t be punished even if he prayed for a good fight.
――― Oh my goodness. Earl Pameradia was immediately brought to the castle, the next day, thanks to father’s thoughtfulness, and I couldn’t help but realise immediately that it was a mistake.
Father told the Earl, with an exaggerated gesture, “Don’t hesitate and beat him,” and the Earl obeyed his words. As a result, I was literally quite helpless. That day, I couldn’t do anything at all, except for moving the Earl’s hands. The Earl, who hadn’t even moved from his spot since the beginning, bowed at father and left after father said, “Sorry for troubling you, Elvis. I’ll count on you again.” My breathing had risen completely.
The Earl didn’t take a single step during the match. He simply reflected my sword. I was force to understand, however reluctant, that he seemed to be using my strength to sometimes reflect my sword and sometimes repel it.
I don’t know what the Earl was thinking, but I realised that he was proud of his remarkable ability.
“Sylvester. Do you understand Elvis’ strength now?”
“Father…… Would you allow me to continue crossing swords with the Earl?”
I conveyed my wish to father who was speaking cheerfully. Father looked as if he had been caught off guard, but then he laughed hearty in the next second.
And, the evening four days after I first asked for a match with Earl Pameradia.
“Can you stand up, Your Highness?”
The Earl was holding a practice sword, and he was looking down at me emotionlessly.
His voice wasn’t filled with worry at all. He was just asking me if I could continue or not.
“I’m still okay, so……”
I started to stand up as I said that, but my legs got tangled and I fell down on my butt.
The Earl silently sheathed his sword.
“Let’s end here for today. Any more than this and you’ll just get hurt.”
“Shall I send you to your room?”
“…… No, it’s fine. I’ll rest for a bit before going back.”
“Then, please excuse me.”
The Earl left while saying that. The Earl also didn’t move his foot at all today. Of course, I didn’t think that my skills would improve dramatically in a few days, so it wasn’t strange.
But it’s really frustrating. Up until now, there might not have been anyone who has been confronted with such an overwhelming difference.
I thought up until there, and gasped.
“Earl! …… Thanks for today too.”
I forgot to tell him the important thing.
The Earl turned back at my voice and said, “His Highness instructed me to, so please don’t mind,” before he started walking once again. For some reason, his figure overlapped with Cordelia’s when she met 『Sylvester』, the other day. It seems like it’s easy for people……. in the Pameradia House to run away from me.
“…… It’s still fine, I wanted to say it again.”
You’ll just get hurt.
I couldn’t reply to the Earl when he said that. If only I was stronger…… Even though I thought that, my body couldn’t follow at all.
After my first match with the Earl, my sword teacher had said, 『If you can train your body, then the things you can do will naturally increase』. I don’t think that he’s wrong. But I get a little frustrated when I think, isn’t there some way I can do a little more, right now?
I slowly stood up, but I didn’t feel like going back to my room yet, so I sat down on the edge of the flower bed.
I don’t know how much time had passed since then, but it was around the time when the colour in the sky started to change.
“Your Highness? What are you doing here alone?”
I was surprised that someone had spoken to me, but I was even more surprised that the person who had called out to me was the Earl’s son, and he was carrying a package with both hands.
“…… So it’s you, Isma.”
Isma Ismael Pameradia.
Unlike the Earl, he had a gentle smile, and was a kind person; he talked to me occasionally when I’m alone. However, he wasn’t the type of person to suck up to me.
I feel like Isma is talking to me from a guardian’s perspective. I also think that if he thinks about his sister Dilly, then he would be worried about me, since I’m the same age as her.
I thought that and Isma slowly bent down to the same level as me, who was sitting.
“This is the result of me asking for a match with the Earl.”
“Earl……? Don’t tell me it’s my father?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
Apparently Isma didn’t know that I had wanted to have a match with the Earl. Now that I think about it, the Earl didn’t seem like he was the type of person to tell this to people, one by one.
Isma widened his eyes when he heard that and then smiled wryly.
“My father is strong, isn’t he?”
“Yeah. Even though the Earl was only countering my attacks, he still struck in the places where I was careless…… I thought that I might be able to do better before, but I couldn’t at all.”
“Is that so?”
“…… Why are you smiling?”
Isma is the type of person to always smiles anyway, but this smile is definitely different.
As I thought that, Isma put a hand to his mouth to try suppress his smile and said, “I’m sorry.”
“I had the same feelings as Your Highness when I was younger, so I understand it well.”
Isma’s answer was surprising. Of course, I can image that Isma had a childhood, but Isma was a man who excelled amongst the knights. I couldn’t imagine him being in the same situation as me, where he was helpless.
“Do you doubt me?”
“No, I don’t……”
“It was when I was a child, so father was younger and his power was still unmatched. And he wasn’t as soft as he is now, so I was really depressed on days when I had to practice.”
“So even something like that happens to you, Isma?”
“Yes, of course.”
“…… Isma. Do you think I could become stronger?”
If he had the same thoughts as me when he was younger, then would I be able to gain the power to compete with that sword on equal footing someday? I thought, while looking straight into Isma’s eyes.
I want him to tell me that I could.
I wanted those reassuring words from a person who had experienced that before.
But the words that Isma uttered were different.
“Your Highness, what is the definition of 『strong』to you? If you can decide that, then it is possible.”
“Does Your Highness wish for strong 『military』power?”
I, who was asked that question, couldn’t answer straight away, and flinched for an instant.
Isma smiled at me.
“Hesitate, Your Highness. And then, materialise your strong self.”
Isma said that and I nodded reflectively. Then, I became aware of it.
Ah, so this is the kind of adults around Dilly.
…… Seems like I’m still not a match.
I thought that, and once again resolved myself and nodded strongly.
“Your Highness, it will be dark outside soon. I will send you to your room.”
“Ah. But, aren’t you still in the middle of something?”
He’s probably still in the middle of an errand, since he’s holding a package. I didn’t mind returning to somewhere like my room by myself, I thought and Isma looked at the package in my sight and briefly denied, “No.”
“This package was sent by my little sister.”
“Package? From Cordelia-sama?”
“Yes. You know my sister, don’t you Your Highness.”
“Yeah. I met her at the Flantheim House. I also hear a lot about her from Vernoux.”
He desperately swallowed the words that he was going to say on reflex; “From Dilly?”
It wasn’t a surprise for Sylvester to know Cordelia, but he had no reason to call her intimately by the name Dilly.
If I could call her that, then I would be able to hear more about her. I got disappointed when I thought that, but I definitely won’t say it.
“This is the materials for the compress that I received from my sister. You use it by mixing it with water and adding a towel.”
“A compress, is it?”
“I won’t give this to you, you know?”
He said a bit playfully, but maybe he didn’t know that those words disheartened me more than he could imagine. I knew that it was a selfish complaint, but forgive me, just for today, for being a little jealous of him.
I slowly stood up and returned to my room with Isma.
“It’s nearly time for the Founding Festival, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
I replied to Isma, who was looking at the people, who were carrying cloth decorations, as he said that, and once again thought, it’s already time for the Founding Festival this year.
It was the biggest festival in the kingdom.
And, I took the opportunity to ask Isma a single question.
“Will Cordelia-sama be coming to the castle?”
A part of the castle would be opened to the general public, so people who didn’t usually come here would be able to come. But then again, in Dilly’s case, she gets invited to visit, but she doesn’t…… No, it isn’t necessarily true that Dilly refused, just because the Earl did, so the Founding Festival might be a different story.
However, Isma, who was tilting his head, answered easily.
“No, she won’t be. Neither my father, brother, nor I could take her here around that time.”
I didn’t ask any more than that, as not to sound strangely suspicious. Of course, I was disheartened.
“I hope that the festival will be good this year too.”
It would be good if everyone could enjoy the festival.
That’s what I also wish for. I might not be able to meet Dilly, but I hope that I can do my duty well, and after the Founding Festival is over, I’ll go to meet her as 『Gille』.
Because I probably won’t be able to make Dilly pay attention to me if I’m someone who can’t fulfil his own duty.
Finally the end of Volume 2 /o/. Hope you enjoyed it!