Intermission 01: One Day in a Section of the Royal Castle
“Beautiful white clouds are swimming in the blue sky, aren’t there? Don’t you think it’s boring to be studying at a desk on such a beautiful day? Personally, I think it would be more meaningful to do sword training.”
In the quiet room, the person who had said that was Vernoux.
Vernoux had been reading a textbook in the corner of the room before, but he had thrown it onto the desk now. And, that book was fanned by the wind that blew in from the window and the pages were flipping on their own. The pages became stationary when the wind stopped, but I don’t think that was the page that Vernoux needed.
I also wanted to agree with Vernoux’s opinion.
When the weather was this nice, I wanted to be grateful for the peaceful day with a cup of tea in the garden. I don’t even mind sword training. But, I was hesitant to say those words.
If I was alone with Vernoux, then I am sure I would agree. But we weren’t alone. There was another person in this room apart from Vernoux and I.
He was disgusted and advised Vernoux in a voice that sounded as it was crawling on the ground.
“…… Vernoux-dono, do you still not understand? This is not study; it is a substitute for you taking His Highness out of the castle.”
His name is Clive Leif Eames.
He is Marquis Eames’s son and a young man who had studied abroad, until a few days ago. And, after he had returned home, the situation was that he was now working by my side. I have no recollection of seeing his face before he went to study, but now I see it every day.
“Honestly, you can’t even settle this matter without someone watching over you?”
Clive complained with a sour look on his face, but unfortunately, his expression had no effect on Vernoux at all. Vernoux sat shallowly on the sofa and stretched his legs out in a bad manner, as he refuted.
“I didn’t really take him out. His Highness wanted to ask Earl Hale something, so I granted his wish. We also made a proper report prior to him going out, right?”
“Proper, you say? Vernoux-dono, don’t anger me too much. You left His Highness and pretended to be him. Then, you deceived me until he returned. And you say you 『reported』it?!”
“Isn’t it fine? If it’s needed, even if I substitute for His Highness, it was proven by the people around us that they didn’t notice, was it not? This is proof that my substitute technique is skilled.”
“I think it’s an important lesson, in many ways, you know?”
Vernoux was talking with Clive frankly, but Clive looked really irritated.
“…… Your Highness, why are you laughing?”
Indeed, even Clive wouldn’t say, “Have you reflected, Your Highness?” But, I think the fact that I didn’t regret sneaking out has been conveyed to him. The slightly exaggerated sigh that I could hear coming from him was proof.
I’ve only known Clive for a short amount of time, but even I know that he is earnest, and recognises himself as our watchdog. And I also thought that he was the opposite of Vernoux.
Vernoux was very flexible with things, and that was why he was acting as an intermediary between Dilly and me. However, in other words, there was a part of him that thought, 『it’s okay if we don’t get caught』. Compared to him, Clive was very serious. He was faithful to his principles, enough for Vernoux to call him hard-headed.
The way those two treated me was, of course, different because their personalities were complete opposites.
To me, Vernoux…… was a good friend to 『Gille』and『Sylvester』. Speaking of rash things, he has warned me not to do something in the past, but he was a bad friend who got me caught up in his plots.
On the other side, Clive was by my side at the command of his father. That was probably why he thought of himself as a watchdog…… I can’t say that our relationship is that of friends yet.
By no means do I hate Clive. Instead, I think that he is a reliable person. So, I want to be friends with him; now then, how do I become friends with him?
“…… Your Highness. Please don’t go out of the castle whenever you want, until the Founding Festival is over.”
“If you really don’t understand this, then the castle will seriously be closed off.”
“Everyone would be troubled if that were to happen, so I’ll behave myself.”
Clive said gravely, and I answered while smiling wryly. Apparently, he feels as if I am not listening to him. I promised, once again, when I saw him frown.
“Don’t worry. I’ve already stretched my wings, so I’ll properly act as 『His Highness』during the Founding Festival.”
“…… Okay. But, please restrain yourself from going out after that too.”
In the first place, I didn’t intend to neglect my duties. On that day too, I did as Vernoux said; I finished all my work and went out when I had time…… However, I didn’t inform them when I would return to the castle and had Vernoux change his appearance and go back to the castle first. The ability to disguise oneself was really reassuring to have on one’s side, but I think it’s an ability that I definitely wouldn’t want my enemy to have.
“Then, we’ll change places so that you won’t find out next time he comes home.”
The voice of Clive, who replied to Vernoux’s half-joking words, sounded like the ground had frozen over. I couldn’t help but laugh at that, but I knew which one was irate.
“…… Clive, won’t you forgive Vernoux? He was only following my selfishness.”
It would have been different had Vernoux invited me to go out. But, I had asked him to help me sneak out, and he’d just accepted. He hadn’t been reluctant to do it, but that probably couldn’t be used as an excuse. If I hadn’t asked him to help me, then he probably wouldn’t have had to write a reflection like that.
But, Clive’s tone got deeper at my words.
“No matter what Your Highness says, Vernoux-dono needs to reflect. This much is obvious from his current behaviour.”
I should have stopped this earlier, I thought, but I also felt that Vernoux would irritate Clive, even if he had said something else.
“How rigid, Clay. And, it’s too early for you to be so obnoxious at this age.”
Despite me wondering how I should reply, Vernoux once again threw words out to tease Clive.
This isn’t good. Although Vernoux was pouting, he was definitely having fun. They weren’t words used to convince someone.
If Vernoux is having that much fun, then I don’t have to force myself to come up with a reply…… as I thought that, I felt uncomfortable.
“…… What’s with that name?”
There was no way the person himself wouldn’t notice that.
“Well, if I called you Clive, then you would make a face that says, 『I really don’t want to let you call me by my name』, right? Clive Leif Eames. If you read the first letters of your name it becomes Clay, right? This works in Japanese because the first letters of his name becomes グレイ, which is Clay but not so much in English and I tried to get the English ones… But it just looks weird.”
“I’ve never heard of such an abbreviation. Why do I have to be called that in the first place?”
“It’s a pet name, do you have a problem with that?”
“I’ll ask you in return, where is there not a problem with that?”
The serious Clive said, “Where should I retort?” and twitched his face. However, it didn’t seem like Vernoux cared at all.
“I don’t mind if you don’t add the 『dono』to my name. Don’t worry about it.”
“I have no idea what you’re saying.”
Certainly, Vernoux did not reply with an answer that answered Clive’s question. However, I was able to understand what Vernoux was doing somehow. He was teasing Clive a lot, but it seemed like he was trying to deepen their friendship…… Probably, I think.
However, at least at this stage, Clive didn’t show any signs of understanding his intent. Clive looked so dissatisfied that it could be said that he didn’t have any other expressions.
But surprisingly, Clive didn’t rebuke Vernoux any further. Perhaps, he thought it was too troublesome to deal with Vernoux so he might have thought that it was useless to say anymore.
But from that attitude, Vernoux decided to call Clive, Clay from now on. Even if Clive refused to give him permission to do so, Vernoux would continue to say the same thing until he received approval. Vernoux was a skilful talker, so I don’t think many could win against him in that aspect.
“…… Then, can I also call you Clay?”
“Joking. Clive, can I end the greetings here?”
I shrugged my shoulders as he glared and handed him the homework I had received. This was the greetings used for the Founding Festival.
I have not yet been given the opportunity to greet the general public since I still haven’t reached adulthood. But still, I had the chance to do my greetings in extremely private circles. Just because I gave Clive what I had just written, didn’t mean that he would correct the manuscript. But, if he had set himself up as my watchdog, then he would read what I just gave him. It was embarrassing to show someone something I had written, but I could do it without hesitation if I put up with that feeling here.
“…… I will give this to the teacher.”
He didn’t really point out anything in particular. He seemed to have understood me and folded the letter in half.
“I’ll leave it to you.”
When I said that, the sounds of an imitated bell rang throughout the room.
When I looked at the clock, I saw that it was two in the afternoon.
“Your Highness, it’s about time.”
I stood up as I listened to Vernoux, who was also looking at the clock.
Today was the day of my match with Earl Pameradia.
“Clive, do you mind if I go?”
“…… Go ahead.”
Clive probably didn’t want to let me go. His voice was mixed with a bit of a sigh, and I got the impression that he just agreed because I would go even if he tried to stop me. He might also see it as bad if I were late since the Royal family was the one who invited the Earl here.
Unfortunately, I was pressed for time, and it would be hard to convince Clive right now.
“We’re leaving, Your Highness. Vernoux-dono, stay here.”
Apparently, Clive wanted to come with me to the training hall too. He warned Vernoux and opened the door for me to walk through.
The training hall was a short distance away from the room, but Clive continued to walk diagonally behind me. It was a lot easier to talk to him if he walked next to me, but he always declined. He could relax a bit more, I thought, but that seemed difficult if we didn’t become a little closer. If possible, I wanted to talk to him a bit more, so that we can get to know each other, but it couldn’t be helped.
He might be a little bit less stiff if I acted as 『Clive’s ideal Prince』. I somehow understand what image Clive had of a Prince.
But, nothing would really change even if Clive recognised me as a 『Wonderful Prince』from me changing only my outward behaviour. Was there any point in just smoothing things over? Clive was going to be someone who I will associate with for a long time. Therefore, as much as possible, I didn’t want to fake my true feelings.
Generally speaking, I didn’t think that what Clive was saying was wrong. Therefore, I felt that I would be admitting that my behaviour was wrong if I fake myself.
“What you said was true Clive, but I don’t think I was wrong either.”
“…… Your Highness, did you say something?”
My monologue had not reached Clive. Still, I dare not repeat it.
Setting aside whether I would be praised for my behaviour to not, I am just going to do what I can do. As a Prince, I might say something that is hard to agree with, but bothering people…… Well, I did this time with Vernoux, but I will bear in mind not to bother people anymore. I’m sorry that I dragged Vernoux into this, but he had suggested it, so I’ll return the favour one day.
Of course, I don’t want to ignore Clive’s ideas. I must amaze him and not give up. On top of that, I felt bad for Clive, but I definitely won’t give up.
“Clive, I’ve caused you a lot of trouble.”
For a moment, Clive showed a strange reaction to my abrupt words, but I immediately soothed it over. After a little more time, would I also be able to talk honestly with Clive? I can’t adapt to his aspirations, but I think I should try to talk frankly with him.
If so, then I should start by interacting with him.
“Clive, do you like swords?”
“I wouldn’t say I like it. But, it’s necessary, so I have to master it to a certain degree.”
“I see. Then, have a match with Vernoux and I sometime.”
“…… Your Highness is fine, but I would like to beat Vernoux-dono once.”
I smiled bitterly at Clive, who said that with a straight face. Considering he said that, he looked quite serious about it. However, I was happy because that competitive side of him would get along well with Vernoux.
But, in contrast to the positive feelings I had, Clive lowered his voice.
“Your Highness, there is something I would like to discuss with you.”
“What is it?”
I tilted my head at his tense voice, and he mentioned someone I never thought he would.
“Do you know that Earl Pameradia has a daughter your age?”
“Yeah, Cordelia, right? Vernoux talks about her a lot.”
I put my guard up a little while being grateful that I was able to speak.
I can’t say that Clive and Dilly have never interacted with each other, but the possibility was high since he had gone to study abroad. So why was her name coming out here? Clive seemed to have felt that I was encouraging him to talk with my expression.
“She might be using Vernoux-dono. Vernoux-dono talking to you about her might also be something she wished to happen.”
“I don’t know what the Earl is thinking. He might be using the opportunity to talk to you, to try and bring his daughter closer to you.”
I blinked several times as he continued to give me unexpected advice. Then I felt it. That’s impossible. If that were true, then I wouldn’t be able to hold back my laughter.
“Rest assured. Vernoux isn’t that stupid, and she isn’t interested in me in the slightest, since before.”
“What do you……?”
“I have met Cordelia before at the Flantheim mansion. However, we only exchanged greetings, and she had fun talking with other ladies her age.”
I wanted to talk with her more if possible. She would converse with『Gille』, but one of my worries was that it was hard to talk with her as 『Sylvester』. I regretted it a little that I didn’t say it, while confessing that to myself, and smiled wryly.
However, Clive didn’t frown even though he heard words from me that sounded as if I was inflicting damage to myself.
“It would be fine if that were true……”
I don’t think he doubted my words. As far as Clive was concerned, Dilly and I have never interacted with each other, so that was only natural. But there probably was a reason why he still wasn’t convinced.
“Do you not have a good impression of her?”
Clive didn’t deny my words. However, he did stop looking a little unpleasant. I have never seen Clive have that reaction before. Judging from his appearance, he didn’t seem to have a clear basis for his remark.
However, I don’t think Clive was the type of person to think badly of someone without reason.
“I’m not criticising you. I just asked because I was curious. I won’t force you to answer if you can’t.”
“…… I thought that you weren’t used to woman, Your Highness.”
“Huh? …… Perhaps, are you worried that I would be seduced by someone?”
“I don’t know what to make of those words being used by you…… But, yes.”
Is that really something he should worry about when Dilly is only 12? I thought for a moment and thought that things like that did happen in this world while listening to Clive’s next claim.
“The Pameradia House has a strong influence. And I’ve heard that the Earl, who has this strong influence, has had strong ambitions since long ago. And I’ve heard that his daughter is beautiful.”
Clive spoke earnestly until the end. But that thing…… Instead, I couldn’t deny that with the present condition, when it was something I desired.
“Indeed, if I get a proposal like that from the Pameradia House, then it’s true I must consider it a bit. It’s hard to completely ignore it.”
“But, the Earl doesn’t want power that much. I don’t know about the past, but right now he doesn’t. Father said so. Also…… The Earl loves Cordelia a lot, so he wouldn’t even let her marry into the Royal family if the man isn’t good enough.”
Again, my words pierced at my heart as I calmly stated those reasons. However, Clive didn’t seem convinced, even with those reasons. But it was a bit difficult for me to state any more reasons calmly.
However, of course, Cordelia didn’t think like that, and the Earl probably didn’t as well. The Earl already completely controls the critical parts of the political world, and there may be rumours that he could easily restrain the other nobles. But even so, the Earl would be careful not to mess up the current state of affairs, even if he were to cause a boycott ―――, or so father said. And, I already remembered what he said at the same time, “Elvis had the tendency to be too impatient ten years ago, but he has become very calm. Is the existence of his daughter that big?”
At any rate, the older brothers of Dilly, Cyrus and Isma, had never recommended their younger sister to me, either. I wanted them to tell me….. But, it was too bad.
“…… However, please think about it. If the Earl loves his daughter that much, then you won’t know what he would do for her. And it wouldn’t be odd if he raised a thoughtless daughter.”
Clive had said that because he was anxious. But, I would be offended if he kept talking bad about Dilly.
“Many people are blinded by power around Your Highness. You’ll have the opportunity to talk to a lot of ladies at the Founding Festival, regardless of whether or not they’re from this kingdom, and there may be those who consider Your Highness as theirs.”
“I know that even without you telling me. I have been 『His Highness』for more than 10 years after all.”
“I am not joking.”
“I’m also not joking.”
However, I finally realised it once I countered him. Oh, Clive has been saying too much because of the Founding Festival. Indeed, it is the season where a lot of ladies come…… But, Dilly, the person whom Clive is worried about, probably wouldn’t come to the festival this year either.
When the heck can, I finally talk to her in this appearance?
“Ah, sorry. I was thinking.”
“However, don’t worry. There are certainly people who want to approach me with wicked desires. However, they are not the only ones to approach me. You understand that when you look at yourself and Vernoux, don’t you?”
“Even if I look like this, I can judge people.”
Clive’s expression became very hard to read when I said that jokingly. Is this because he doesn’t agree with my words? Or is he rejecting the fact that I brought up Vernoux’s name? In any case, it seems like I can’t get him to agree with me right now.
“I’m not saying it has to be right now, but I’ll appreciate it if you can understand it.”
Clive didn’t reply to my wish. However, I decided that he was interpreting the meaning since he didn’t deny it. So…… I requested him to do one thing to deepen his understanding of this.
“Let’s see…… For that reason, first of all, could you call me 『Sylvester』?”
“Names are important, aren’t they? 『His Highness』feels a little distant. If you like, I don’t mind if you use an abbreviation like 『Clay』.”
Clive looked like he had a hard time replying to my words, and then he cleared his throat quietly before long.
“Understood, Sylvester-sama. I would like to call you this, but you can call me whatever you want, Sylvester-sama. As long as it’s not Vernoux-dono, you can call me Clay.”
It was just a compromise, but he had said my name. I felt a little closer to him, and my mood improved. It would be nice if Dilly could also call me 『Sylvester』.
We got close to the training hall while we were talking, and the Earl had already arrived.
“…… It would be nice if I could get a blow in today.”
Although I had said that, I couldn’t endure half the time. Although I thought that I would do it today, the only image that springs to my mind is of me being overwhelmed by him.
“Your Highness. If you imagine yourself losing, then you’ll only lose.”
I’m sure Clive can’t see me winning, but I’m glad that he’s supporting me and cheering for me.
“I’ll do my best. I also need to be diligent so that I’m not being rude to the Earl, who is giving me his precious time.”
Those are my true feelings, but I also had a lot of hidden feelings that I couldn’t say out loud, like: I won’t look good if I keep losing forever and I don’t know if Dilly can use swords. However, I would probably never get a blow on the Earl no matter how much time passes if I think like that. I thought that as I braced myself.
|↑1||This works in Japanese because the first letters of his name becomes グレイ, which is Clay but not so much in English and I tried to get the English ones… But it just looks weird.|