“I see you’ve become so important to call a marquis’ daughter without any honorifics, Alois.”
I wonder if I’ve been face-to-face like this with Alois ever since that awkward lunch. Looking at him again, his appearance is really flashy and frivolous.
Bern, who had hidden me behind him, took half a step forward.
“What do you want?”
Bern’s eyes flashed with a dangerous glint, just like that time when he squared off with the man at Thanksgiving, his usual carefree feel gone. I even felt as if the air crackled.
Alois’s smile faded, and it looked like he wanted to kill Bern.
Doesn’t look like he’s just some frivolous guy.
I recalled Clarissa’s and Darius’ warnings about Alois.
Compared to him, His Highness, who was off to the side, looked a little daunted… Good luck, Your Highness.
“I mean, you already know even without me saying it, right? That’s why you even brought your close friends from your club.”
Surprisingly, I didn’t think he’d be the kind of guy to use such a cute word as ‘close friends.’
Alois persistently kept his provoking attitude, and His Highness eventually grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back.
“Sorry, Bernhardt. We just came to confirm something with Lizia-sama.”
Being friends, His Highness was still worried about the confident Bern, and I nudged him on the arm.
Bern slightly turned around and smiled at me, as if to give me peace of mind. Immediately, he turned around to look at His Highness and Alois with a cold gaze.
That’s not it! Even if I was worried about that, you got it wrong!
Without being able to communicate my thoughts, the conversation continued.
Seems like His Highness felt a little hurt at that. Wait, that’s right. That’s cause he’s royalty.
“Today after school, between 5:30 and 6 pm, my friend, Lila Carneille, was pushed down the stairs by someone.”
5:30, huh… That’s around the time that Darius invited me to the underground storage room.
At that moment, Darius ran to join in. Seems that Bern really chewed him out, seeing as he wasn’t able to meet up with us until now.
As he settles his rough breathing, Katerina repeatedly pokes him with her fan. He looks really pathetic, wasn’t what I thought, but rather, Serves him right.
“Although it only resulted in Lila spraining her wrist, but because of this, her life could have been in danger. Also, this handkerchief was left at the scene of the crime.”
His Highness put out his hand to the side as a male student surrenders the handkerchief.
It goes without saying that the handkerchief was unfamiliar to me.
“With just this, it wasn’t conclusive enough to say it was the culprit’s. However, possibilities were sufficient enough. And finally, the initials embroided on this handkerchief are L.R. The same initials as Lizia-sama.”
His Highness spread the handkerchief to clearly show the initials. On the corner of the white handkerchief was a small, cute flower embroidery, and on the right corner was a detailed L.R. It looked like an exceedingly normal, lady’s handkerchief.
“Lizia-sama, where were you today after school? The mysterious part about this is that no one had seen you.”
His Highness was trying to make it as fair as possible, but in his eyes, you could see that he thought I was the culprit. I don’t know whether it was Alois, or Lila who had been telling him things. His Highness has always had a strong sense of justice.
“I was in an underground storage room.”
“Why were you in that kind of place?”
“My friend, Darius Jill Wehner, called me there.”
What should I do? I don’t know what to say if he pressed further about the reason.
I had no time to rack my brains. Then, Darius stepped up and continued my words for me.
“I called her to help me take some chairs to the art room.”
“You weren’t given permission to talk, Darius.”
Without a moment’s delay, Alois quipped.
“I apologize then.”
Darius replied to Alois with a smile, slightly looking down on him. And for the first time, Alois had on a sour expression.
First of all, seems like the talk between Darius and Bern went well.
Because Darius revealed his relation with our club just now, he must have suggested to help Bern with dealing with Alois and everyone.
This is most likely due to Bern joining the Second Prince faction. Although it’s earlier than planned, there’s no doubt that he’s decided to have the Hidden Student Council join the Second Prince faction.
“…So after going to the storage room, you went to the club?”
It looked like even His Highness was cooperating with Darius and Bern, which shocked me. I don’t know much, but it seems like something happened between the two. In the game, they looked like close friends on the surface. Their actual compatibility must not have been bad.
I glanced at Bern, wondering what to say, as he softly put his hand on my back. For now, I’ll be honest.
“No. When we tried to leave the room, we noticed that the door was broken and were locked in.”
It really was broken, but they won’t be able confirm that because Bern broke it. It did make a loud noise.
“Can you prove that?”
“I’ll prove it.”
“But can you confidently do so? You’re Miss Lizia’s fiancé, and also Katerina-sama’s brother.”
Damn, stop meddling, Alois.
“Plus, there are three other girls that have the same initials as Miss Lizia, but they had proof that they were either at their clubs, or at the dorms. Moreover, those three people said they didn’t own any handkerchiefs.”
“So with that trivial and circumstance evidence, Lizzy’s the culprit?”
“It’s possible. But isn’t that enough? Miss Lizia is friends with Katerina-sama, and there had been rumors of that Katerina-sama not liking Lila.”
“Stop it, Alois.”
Alois didn’t stop even with His Highness admonishing him.
“And isn’t it that even Miss Lizia herself doesn’t like Lila? How about it, Bernhardt?”
“You can disguise as many handkerchiefs as you want. I’d like you to stop insulting my fiancée with such baseless reasons.”
“We’re not insulting her, we’re just making sure of things.”
“Miss Lizia, I’ll ask you again, is this yours?”
His Highness presented the handkerchief for me to look at, and I denied it.
“No, it’s not mine. I still have my handkerchief with me, so that couldn’t be mine.”
“But who’s to say that one’s yours?”
Damn this guy.
Alois had turned what Bern had said about the handkerchief being baseless, on us. He had countered back about this handkerchief being baseless as well.
Like this, it just becomes a pointless argument… No, because it’s Alois, bad impressions of us will spread. If only there was a chance to shut him down, we’d win.
Bern raised his voice, in a slightly annoyed tone.
“I mean, I was the one who prepared the handkerchiefs that Lizzy uses. So I put the Brunsmeier seal on all of them.”
An unspeakable mood wrapped around the air, just like with the Hidden Student Council earlier.
Normally, doesn’t everyone want to be able to say that a man gave them a women’s handkerchief?
I mean, he gave it to me, so you’d normally take it, right? Furthermore, he stitched it himself, although he could have been worse at it than me, I had no choice but to use it, right?
I’m not really that great at embroidery, but if a guy close to me is amazing at it, I’d be motivated to get better. It’s not because I’m frustrated, okay?!
With Bern’s intervention breaking the mood, Alois cleared his throat once and let out an unpleasant laugh.
“Oh yeah, there’s also a rumor I wanna confirm about Duke Brunsmeier.”
“Yeah. Stuff like embezzling funds from the National Treasury, or taking bribes for government work…”
Our surroundings filled with chatter.
“Alois, this isn’t the time to bring that up.”
“But Your Highness…”
Seems like the other party isn’t in agreement. Alois wants to crush Bern by any means necessary, but it seems like he can’t really control the honest Prince.
“Oh, have I done such things?”
He said in a cold voice, and the temperature quickly went down in one fell swoop.
“No, no, I’m talking about Duke Brunsmeier, you’re his son…”
“What’re you talking about? Duke Brunsmeier is right in front of you.”
The surrounding people, His Highness, and Alois all had bewildered expressions.
To say that kind of thing in this situation, I don’t know whether Bern is mean-spirited or a nice person. Anyways, with the fight having cut off at that, it was probably planned.
“It was sudden, so it hasn’t been made official yet, but Father retired because of illness. He also asked His Majesty for permission. Which means I’m now Duke Brunsmeier. If Sir Alois is talking about the previous Duke, then would you be fine telling me how to atone for these crimes, instead of dragging out, and spurring an old, sickly man on? …Well, they’re all groundless rumors anyways.”
“I haven’t heard of this.”
His Highness shouted in a surprised voice.
“Is that so? Since His Highness seemed to have been too busy with something to break off his own engagement with my sister, Katerina, of course the news would come late.”
Sarcasm. That was pure sarcasm.
I knew that Bern had been leaving school pretty often because he had to talk to his father about transferring the title of Duke Brunsmeier.
It seems that the Duke was quite hesitant, but Bern gave him two conditions, and the title was transferred to him without any problems.
Actually, a part of what Alois said was true. And knowing that that’s what he’d attack with, since it’s Bern, he planned for it.
Anyhow, one of the conditions he gave the Duke was that if he retired, he would make all the evil rumours disappear. I can’t even think of what he did to make them disappear, but I want to believe he didn’t do anything underhanded. If he did, then that’s not good.
“May I interject for a bit?”
In the middle of the chatter about the youthful Duke Brunsmeier, Katerina asked in a dignified voice.
His Highness looked terrible as he stared at Katerina, and then gave her permission.
Accompanied by Helena, Katerina stepped forward in a dignified way and slowly looked around. She really looked like a queen and unconsciously became serious.
Everyone concentrated at the words she would say.
“Alois-sama, you wanted to say that because I wanted to take revenge for stealing His Highness, I ordered Lizia to push Lila-san, is that correct?”
“After all, that’s very likely, Katerina-sama.”
“That’s outrageous. To think of me as a woman who’d do such a thing.”
“Is that so? There are rumours about your violent temperament as well.”
“Mentioning more rumours? You must like rumours even more than me.”
Katerina refused to back down, and brushed Alois aside.
“Prince Edwin, if you told me to break off the engagement, I will accept it right here, right now.”
“You fine with that, Katerina?”
Bern looked at Katerina with wide eyes.
Actually, everyone here was, looking like they were seeing something unimaginable.
His Highness stood there with his beautiful face, stupefied.
Smiling at how she was able to surprise her brother, Katerina loudly declared.
“To chase after a man who doesn’t love me in return, no matter how much has passed, I don’t have the time for that!”
Those words were very Katerina-ish, still confident no matter where she is.
She has yet to recover from the time that she became depressed when His Highness didn’t choose her. But even so, it’s like her to choose another path.
Somehow, I think it’s because of Ionius.
She had only looked at His Highness, but when you look at it from outside, those two understood each other really well. And that’s what changed her. I’m sure.
I forgot about the uproar of my surroundings, carelessly moved, but a voice that I didn’t want to hear entered my ears.
“Hey, hey! It’s like a party in here.”
At that moment, with his robe waving and a shit-eating grin, he cut in between us and His Highness.
I unconsciously grimaced, and the sharp-sighted Lucas looked at me. He laughed with an unreadable look in his eyes from behind his glasses.
With disheveled, long hair surrounding his youthful face, you wouldn’t think he’s nearing 30 years old.
I’m surprised he’s a teacher with that suspicious appearance of his.
Moreover, this person is the type of teacher that would show up at the end of a fight.
“I heard all about it. I’ll take care of this, is that fine?”
“To bother Rottger-sensei…”
“Don’t be so cold. For the sake of my beloved student, I’ll even remove one or two pieces of clothing!”
He’s the type of person that never listens to anyone. He’s a little similar to Bern in that aspect, but I still can’t like Lucas. Which is strange. From behind, with his long robe, Lucas looks like a magician.
“I’ll ask both Rietberg-san and Lila-san separately.”
“Since this is a serious matter, I can’t just leave it to the students! Let’s strike while the iron is hot!”
“But I don’t think this is that serious of a matter! W-wai–!?”
Without delay, Lucas dragged me. I shouted as I resisted in vain, with drag marks appearing on the ground.
I unconsciously grabbed Bern’s arm, but he never stopped walking, as if saying he doesn’t mind. Wait, don’t you have too much energy!?