Claude and Luka
「Who… are you? This is nuts. There’s no way Her Majesty would introduce me.」Claude was suspicious, yet not entirely wary.
「I asked a certain someone to introduce me to a student from a prominent family in Kirihal. I don’t know what your relationship is with Her Majesty.」
「You look like you don’t know much about Kirihal, so I’ll tell you. I’m related to the royal family.」
「A duke then?」
「There’s no such thing as dukes anymore. Technically that goes the same for the royal family too, though. Anyway, my family fought for the right to be ruler a hundred years ago when Forestia was founded, and lost.」
「So the Miralka family and Zahad family are enemies?」
「Exactly. So there’s no reason for the queen to introduce me.」
「But you don’t think the letter is fake. On the surface, you’re enemies, but I think there’s a reason why Her Majesty chose you. Any ideas?」
「Kinda. My relatives said it’s sheer folly to enroll in the academy when the principal is from Zubura. But I still pushed for it.」
Hikaru nodded. The queen might be trying to connect to the Zahad family through Claude, who was the rebel of the family.
「You pushed for your enrollment because of that lady, correct?」Hikaru said.
Luka gave a start, hiding again behind Claude.
「That would be correct.」
「I’m surprised you admitted it that easily. She’s from Ludancia, isn’t she?」
「Since the queen introduced me to you, you wouldn’t dare turn into my enemy. Otherwise, you’d be disgracing Her Majesty. A wise boy wouldn’t do that.」
「I don’t really like being called that.」
「You’re plenty wise.」
「No, I meant the “boy” part.」
「So what are you after? What do you want me to do? Don’t think you got dirt on me. I might have to cut your head clean off.」
It didn’t seem like he was going to retract calling him “boy”. Hikaru sighed.
「Claude, you should be much more careful in what you do or say if you want to hide your relationship with Luka.」
「You basically admitted you were good with the sword with what you said just now. A short-spear user would say something about thrusting a weapon into the heart. I don’t know what excuse you gave so you could study under a Ludancian Professor, but you shouldn’t let them know that you’re a sword user.」
「Hmm, yes. You have a point…」Claude muttered.
He actually made an excuse about gathering information on Ludancia, an idea that shocked the people around him.
「Also, you stare at Luka during class too much. Even an idiot will figure out your relationship. Men from Ludancia have their eyes on her too, right?」
「Claude, were you really looking at me that much?」
「…I’m sorry. You’re just too close. It’s hard not to look at you.」
The air seemed to be turning pink. Hikaru cleared his throat.
「What position do you hold in Ludancia, Luka?」
「I’m… the current king’s third daughter.」
Third daughter? Great, more trouble.
「This love’s full of hardships, it seems.」
「Yes, we know that. I’ve actually considered just leaving Forestia.」Luka said.
「Luka! Not right now!」
「But we’re surrounded by people either working for my father or the Zahard family. This man’s opinion would be helpful as he knows the situation outside.」
「That’s true, but I don’t know if we can trust him.」
「We don’t have a choice. He already knows about our relationship.」
Luka looked at Hikaru with determined eyes.
I’m getting dragged into more trouble.
It was, however, too late for regrets.
「Hikaru. Since you’re asking Claude for help, can we ask for help in return as well?」
「That’s a tough question. I’m not actually the one who needs your cooperation.」
「What do you mean?」
「I suppose I can tell you now. My job is supposed to be done after introducing you to my client.」
Hikaru had gone too far now to turn back.
「This benefits the both of you as well. There’s an alliance of students from the seven nations being formed right now.」
The couple listened carefully to what Hikaru had to say.
Back home, Hikaru groaned just as Lavia returned from the library.
「Why the frown?」she asked.
「Well, League asked me to introduce students to him, right? But I think I’m getting dragged further into this whole thing.」
「You didn’t think this would happen?」
「Well I never thought it would be over after I introduced him to them. But still…」
「You met Claude today, right?」
「Claude Zahard Kirihal. It must be because I found out about his story.」
Hikaru told Lavia about Claude’s position in Kirihal, how he was a relative of the queen and that their families were enemies, and about how he was in a relationship with Luka, the third daughter of the ruler of Ludancia.
「I thought the monarchical system was abolished when Forestia was founded, but it seems it still remains.」Lavia said.
「Did they completely get rid of it?」
「According to the books I read, the system was completely abolished, but a loophole was prepared that essentially allowed succession to the throne of each nation.」
「The seven nations still have their own separate government…」
The European Union back on Earth came to Hikaru’s mind. Forestia was similar to that, but each of the seven nations was supposed to be more integrated.
「Queen Marquedo clearly doesn’t want to be the ruler.」Hikaru said.
「I think it’s more convenient to have a puppet on the throne. Maybe members of the Kirihal royal family are pressuring her, secretly or openly, to elevate Kirihal.」
「And to counter that, they appointed someone from Jarazack as Prime Minister?」
「I think so. Up until recently, the prime minister and members of the cabinet were all from the same nation as the ruler.」
「Every ten years, both the ruler and the cabinet are changed.」
「Sounds chaotic, right?」
「I’m surprised they lasted this long.」
Hikaru had complaints about the King of Ponsonia, but the man at least didn’t go too far.
「It’s strange, though. Claude should’ve been taught that Ludancia was an enemy. Why did he fall for Luka」Lavia asked.
「Well, apparently when they met they didn’t know each other’s background. Claude was at a party attended by Forestia’s bigshots when he walked out to get some fresh air. That’s when he met Luka in a garden. She snuck away just like him.」
「Really?! And then what happened?!」
「That’s it. Wait, Lavia?」
Hikaru was taken aback as she quickly sidled up to him, her eyes glistening.
「That’s not enough for them to be lovers! What happened next? Who professed their love first?」
「I-I didn’t ask them.」
「Aww! The next part’s important!」
Ah, that’s right, Hikaru thought. Claude and Luka’s illicit love affair was exactly something out of a romance novel. Lavia must be thrilled to know it was happening in real life.
「Y-You can just ask them yourself some other time.」Hikaru said.
And by some other time, he meant three days from now, a school holiday. League set the date himself, surprised at how fast Hikaru was able to gather people.
On the appointed day, Hikaru and Lavia headed to the meeting place. For Forestia, it was an ordinary summer holiday. But right now, no one knew that this would be a big day in the history of Forestia – a day that would usher in a great change.