And so, while gradually making preliminary preparations to avoid the BAD END, I turned 10 years old.
My studies with Jordan are still going. For some reason, he teaches me various things without being afraid of me so I’m very grateful.
Thanks to that, not to mention a general education, I was able to obtain a richer knowledge than the average noble lady and it doesn’t seem like I’ll embarrass myself in the high society.
In the novel, there weren’t any people like Jordan who would actively approach Claudia, so his existence makes me feel hope for my future.
One day, my father told me important news that would possibly greatly concern my destiny.
“――A tea party hosted by the Queen?”
I, who was summoned to my father’s office, showed an utmost unpleasant face.
My father, sitting on the opposite side of the table, answered with a gloomy voice. My mother next to him was flustered and had a troubled face on.
“Has an invitation come addressed to me?”
It would be one thing if it was from other nobles, but an invitation from the royal family is unbelievable. They should be fully aware that I possess the protection of the Dark Spirit King.
“Yeah. I understand what you are thinking about, but this is definitely addressed to you.”
There was an envelope with the royal family crest on top of the table and it certainly had “To Claudia Letsya” written on it as the address.
“Isana, there are no problems with Claudia’s manners, right?”
My father turned to my mother and inquired.
“Y-yes. It was already perfect since she was 6 years old and ever since then I have been testing her unannounced, but there haven’t been any problems. However…”
I’m also not worried about my manners. The problem is my appearance.
Fortunately, having inherited my good-looking parents’ blood, I have a quite well-featured face. However, its color that’s different from other people might be perceived as eerie.
My mother is probably anxious about the same thing as me too. My father seemed to also understand this and continued talking while furrowing his eyebrows.
“I understand what you want to say, but after two years, you will have to enter the school. We can’t hide the fact that you have the Dark Spirit King protection forever. At school, you will also need to learn how to use your powers to protect yourself. “
Sons and the daughter of noblemen are obliged to enroll in the school when they turn 12 years old. There they make various connections and learn how to behave during social occasions. My older brother, Liam, who is 4 years older than me, is already attending the school.
“Enrolling in the school isn’t the only thing. When you turn 16, you will also have to make a debut in society. This invitation is a sign of the Queen’s thoughtfulness since she is letting you mingle with your peers before you officially make a social debut. We have been hiding you from other people until now, but this must mean that it’s about time we let others know about your existence, Claudia.”
I understand what my father is getting at. I also don’t think that I can continue to be a shut-in forever. But…
I spoke my honest opinion.
“Even if so, is this not a bit too abrupt? The venue will surely fall into big chaos. Shouldn’t we go through the proper procedures and let them know in advance?”
Even if it’s in order to announce that I’m under the protection of Dark Spirit King, I don’t necessarily have to show up in public right away. There must be other ways too.
My father made an expression as if understanding that as well.
“The hostess, the Queen, will also participate in this tea party, so I’m sure anything concerning that would be properly arranged. The same is written in the letter sent by her too. The tea party this time seems to be for the children who haven’t made their social debut yet. Participants are only the children who would eventually meet each other at school and its date is during the day-off of the school so Liam can participate too. Besides, this is an invitation from the royal family. Even if we are the Duke family, we can’t reject it.”
I hate it. I really hate it, but I have no choice but to obey. Since it has come to this, I’ll suck it up and devise a strategy to find as many allies as possible.
I reluctantly nodded and left the room.
A few days later, in order to head to the tea party, I left the mansion for the first time in my life.
The tea party is said to take place in the garden of the royal palace. I wore a dress suitable for such occasion and boarded the carriage together with my older brother.
“Oh, um…Claudia….you’re pretty.”
I am wearing a white dress with a quite open chest. It’s embroidered with a silver ivy pattern and the line of the body appears clearly.
My half-up hair is decorated by the pearl accessory with a small red rose in the middle of it.
“Thank you, but there’s no need to force yourself to compliment me. Gentlemen are supposed to compliment ladies but you don’t have to concern yourself with such formalities between the family members.”
“I-I didn’t mean it as flattery. I always think that you’re pretty. That dress also fits very well with your skin and the hair, Claudia. But today you are prettier than usual so I became nervous…”
“What are you saying to your blood-related younger sister?”
No matter how you think about it, I’m not the person he should be telling those nauseatingly sweet lines to.
“Y-you’re right, sorry.”
I got embarrassed and turned my eyes towards the outside of the window without saying anything. I couldn’t express my gratitude honestly, but I was still happy and the corners of my mouth raised slightly.
Looking at me like that, my brother was dumbfounded. Was I making such a weird face? I hurriedly tightened my face.
After that, the carriage advanced without us making any conversation and after a while, we reached the royal palace.
When we arrived in the countryside where the tea party would be held, we saw the gathered teens who hadn’t made their social debuts yet.
Noble ladies made ecstatic faces after looking at my older brother. Our parents are a famous beautiful couple even in the high society and my brother, who has thickly inherited their blood, is a handsome boy that you can’t meet so often. In addition, being a future head of the Duke family, there are many females who would like to be his wives.
After being directed gazes like those of the animals looking at their preys from the beautifully decorated noble ladies, my brother made a face that looked like he wanted to run away from this place right away. But he was enduring that urge and keeping his smile.
It was my existence that changed such an atmosphere. The moment they noticed me, keeping low behind my brother, their faces distorted in fear.
“That is the daughter of the Duke Letsya…”
“This is the first time I have seen her, but she really does possess an eerie appearance.”
“I am surprised she dares to appear before other people with such brown skin. It would be impossible for me because I would be too ashamed.”
“If I was born with such an appearance, I might have committed suicide out of the shock.”
Even though they’re whispering, I can hear every word annoyingly clearly. Looks like those girls already knew that I had the protection of the Dark Spirit King. Perhaps the Queen has already relayed information about me to each of them in advance through their parents.
Possibly because of that, everything isn’t turning into the kind of chaos I imagined.
Nevertheless, coming face to face with this kind of atmosphere, I couldn’t remain unaffected. I immediately started regretting coming here. At that moment, one female proclaimed.
“You must be Liam and Claudia, right? I’m happy that both of you came. I am this Kingdom’s Queen, Agnes.”
I didn’t expect to meet the Queen so suddenly so I was a bit surprised.
The Queen has gray hair and ice-blue colored eyes. She has slightly droopy eyes, so she gives a bit of a strong-willed impression.
My brother turned towards the Queen and assumed an official posture of the etiquette
“It is my pleasure to meet you I am Liam, the eldest son of the Letsya Ducal family. My utmost gratitude for inviting me to this place.”
Following my brother, I also give a courtesy bow.
“I am the eldest daughter. Claudia.”
Even after I gave a greeting while somewhat nervous, the Queen smiled satisfied.
“This time I have only invited the children who haven’t made their social debut so don’t be stiff, enjoy yourself leisurely.”
It should be said that the Queen wasn’t even a little bit disturbed even after seeing me as expected. Would it lead to avoiding BAD END if I become intimate with this kind of person?
Although I had such a fleeting thought, seeing her dignified figure before me, I was so awestruck that I was unable to follow my plan.
Suddenly I noticed that there were two young boys standing behind her. The moment I turned my eyes towards them, the Queen opened her mouth.
“Let me introduce you. Those are my sons, Levy and Edgar. Levy is the same age as Liam so they see each other at school too.”
The boy who had the same grey hair and ice-blue eyes as the Queen stepped out next to her. Seeing him, my brother gave a friendly smile.
“Yes, we have been getting along as the classmates.”
His Highness Levy met eyes with my brother for a second and turned towards me.
“Pleased to meet you, Lady Letsya. I am Levy Laycia, 1st Prince of the Laycia kingdom.”
His Highness Levy’s demeanor was elegant and couldn’t be said to belong to anybody else but the Prince. But his face seemed to be slightly twitching. Pretending that I hadn’t noticed that, I greeted him back.
“It is my pleasure to meet you. I am Claudia Letsya.”
Next, the Queen introduced the boy with a displeased face who was standing behind Lord Levy.
“This is my second son, Edgar.”
His Highness is a boy about the same age as me with brown hair and the eyes. Shooting a glance at me, his raised the corners of his mouth as if sneering at me.
“I see. Black hair, black eyes, and the brown skin, huh. This is the first time I’m seeing but this is as creepy as everybody says.”
The Queen immediately reprimanded His Highness Edgar who spouted out insults out of nowhere.
Even after being scolded by the Queen, His Highness Edgar only snorted with a “hmph” and didn’t seem to intend to apologize.
Looking at him now, I felt that something was wrong.
Huh? did His Highness Edgar always have this kind of personality?
In the novel, he became engaged to the heroine. Even in my past life, I remember questioning why it was him who got engaged with the heroine and not the first Prince.
In my opinion, in the romance fantasy novels like《The Saint is Loved by the Prince》, heroine tying a knot with the first Prince and becoming the Queen is something that happens very often. However, in that novel despite the first Prince also having feelings for the heroine, the second Prince was depicted more charming as the hero.
Though I wasn’t that interested because he wasn’t my type so I don’t remember well.
“Edgar, apologize to her. It is rude to make such remarks about a lady’s appearance.”
Being told the same by His Highness Levy, His Highness Edgar seemed to have at last give in.
“Even though your face is also twitching.
He muttered quietly. However, His Highness Levy ignored it and turned towards me.
“Lady Letsya, my younger brother was impolite.”
“It’s okay, Your Highness Levy. I do not mind it.”
As I smiled, His Highness Edgar awkwardly averted his eyes.
Once again ignoring him, His Highness Levy further spoke to me.
“If you do not mind, would it be okay to have a talk over there? You have piqued my interest.”
I was surprised by the sudden offer. I didn’t expect that I would be invited by the Prince of all people.
But when I think about the future, this is a heaven-sent opportunity. Since we are close in age, I would be able to talk with him more easily than with the Queen and if I become close with him, he might even oppose if it comes to sending me to marry in the Galdia Kingdom in the future.
In the novel, by the time Claudia was exiled, His Highness Levy had already been involved in politics as his Majesty’s assistant. He was very capable and sincere so he was very trusted by his retainers and thus possessed a strong influential power.
Becoming close to him here will definitely be useful for avoiding the BAD END.
Besides, in the first place, he’s the Prince so I can’t refuse him. For now, I’ll obediently follow him.
“If you are okay with me.”
Hearing my reply, His Highness Levy smiled. It was a sweet smile that ladies would love, but to me, it looked artificial and I also felt that this Prince might have been unexpectedly hard to deal with.
“Liam, I will borrow your younger sister for a while.”
Saying so, His Highness took me and started walking. In the back, my brother’s mysterious words, 「so he ran away」were thrown at us.
Pondering about the meaning of those words, I turned my eyes towards High Highness Levy who was walking next to me. Then, like the kid whose mischievousness was found out, His Highness dropped his shoulders and laughed.
I and His Highness Levy sat down a bit further away from where my brother and others were. My brother and His Highness Edgar were immediately surrounded by noble ladies.
I was watching their figures together with His Highness Levy.
“How pitiful of Liam-sama to have such an eerie younger sister.”
One noble lady rather than getting close to my brother, insulted me with a sweet, coaxing voice. just with that, my brother’s mood visibly got worse.
Older brother furrowed his eyebrows and spoke in a low voice.
“There are surely people who would think of my younger sister’s appearance as eerie, but I have never thought of her as such. Rather, I feel that her appearance is very mystical.”
My brother’s words surprised me to the bottom of my heart. I have never thought about how I looked in his eyes but I would never imagine that this was how he felt.
I wasn’t the only one who was surprised. Noble ladies who were surrounding my brother were also taken aback for a second. However, they instantly recovered and started talking with flattering voices.
“Oh my, mystical, you say? Please don’t joke.
“You are so kind to protect even such a girl.”
Looks like those girls were unwilling to give up and didn’t know when to stop.
My brother flashed a friendly smile, but his eyes didn’t seem to be laughing.
It’s my first time seeing him in such a bad mood. No, not saying anything about my brother in bad mood, I haven’t ever even seen him in high spirits. Because I haven’t been involved with him enough to see his different sides.
My brother said in a low voice with a dark smile.
“Such a girl….huh. What a way to put it. But that girl is also part of the Duke’s family just like me. She’s not a person which lower nobles like you can lightly speak about. Although, I don’t mind it if you want to make Letsya Ducal family into your enemy.”
Realizing that they had committed a blunder, noble ladies turned pale and lost their words.
His Highness Levy who was watching this scene together with me opened his mouth.
“What stupid girls to anger Liam.”
“Your Highness Levy, you ran away from them, right? by using me.”
If I wasn’t next to him, half of the noble ladies would probably be surrounding him instead.
“Sorry. Are you angry?”
Even though he apologized, he didn’t look like he felt remorse at all.
“No, I’m honored that I was of use.”
No idea what he found so amusing, but when I coldly replied, His Highness Levy laughed out loud.
“Ahaha! That face doesn’t look like you thought it was an honor at all.”
After laughing for a long time, His Highness directed his sight towards the noble ladies who were surrounding older brother.
“Even so, what an unpleasant bunch. I wonder if they don’t understand that those kinds of remarks lower their own worth?”
Furrowing my eyebrows, I looked at the noble ladies who spoke ill of me.
It seems that they find me really unpleasant, but it’s something that happens often so I don’t really mind it.
“It’s the opposite.”
High Highness Levy seemed to be unable to comprehend what I said, he tilted his head and looked at me with a blank expression. I thought that that gesture was somehow cute.
“Yes. By looking down on others, they are showing that they themselves are superior.”
“All the girls there are from a lower family than yours though.”
Looks like His Highness Levy still isn’t convinced.
“However, their appearance is better than mine.”
Whiter their skin is, the more beautiful noble ladies are considered to be. I don’t know how it is in another country, but this is how it is in Leycia. There’s no way a noble with brown skin like me would be favored.
“…..have you ever seen your face in the mirror? I think that you’re quite a beauty.”
“Thank you for your concern. But I at least see my face in the mirror every day so I know it.”
For some reason, His Highness Levy gave me a dumbfounded look. I only said my thoughts honestly, did I do anything bad?
I thought of using this tea party to become friends with His Highness, but the fact that I hadn’t interacted much with people before came back to haunt me and I wasn’t able to carry on the conversation effectively. On the contrary, I even took a blunt attitude.
“You don’t believe me, right?”
“Well, I wonder…oh, older brother is coming this way.”
Freeing himself from the cage of the noble ladies, my brother was heading towards us. Looking at his face, His Highness Levy muttered as if it was somebody else’s affair.
“He seems to be in a bad mood.”
“Is it not also your fault for running away, Your Highness?”
“Was it so?”
High Highness Levy said while acting dumb.
After that my brother joined us and we three continued to talk together.
The tea party ended safely, but in the end, I didn’t get to talk with anybody other than my brother and His Highness Levy. And whether or not I even managed to deepen my relationship with the latter is still unclear.
I was a friendless, cynical kid in my past life too so I have absolutely no idea about how to make friends.
My plan to make allies in order to avoid BAD END turned out to have grim prospects.
Several weeks after the tea party.
Waiting for the time when my brother would be at school, I prepared simple clothes that girls in the downtown would wear. Then, I wore a long coat to cover up my hair and the skin and wore the hood low over my eyes.
『Are you going out somewhere, Claudia?』
Gerald asked me with a curious face.
『Wouldn’t it be better if you warned somebody? How about you tell your destination at least to that butler?』
He’s become kind of overprotective recently. He doesn’t trust humans much, but he seems to trust our butler Jordan, my older brother Liam and His Highness Levy and any moment something comes up, he tries to make me rely on them.
『That’s not good. If I do that, I’ll definitely be assigned escorts. It’ll only make moving freely more difficult.』
Being a commoner in my past life, I feel strongly opposed to being escorted. It feels like I’m being monitored and I can’t calm down. When I’m alone I don’t have to be too mindful and it’s much easier.
『Come on, Gerald。Take me to the downtown.』
Within the magic that Gerald can use, there’s one called shadow transportation. This is something like teleportation and he can move from one shadow to another. If he has a clear image of the destination, he can instantaneously teleport there.
When we were going to the tea party the other party, I confirmed the state of the downtown from the carriage. From what I saw, it looks to be the same as depicted in the novel so I can imagine the destination without any problems.
『I get it.』
Gerald read my mind to see the place I imagined and activated the magic.
Then, the shadow under us became darker and covered us.
Just when I thought that my sight was wrapped in darkness, in the next moment, we already reached our destination. Looks like we moved to the shadow of a building there.
『Thank you, Now, let’s go.』
I put on the hood deeply once again so it wouldn’t come off and left the shadow of the building.
To be honest, I have always been interested in the world outside the mansion. I’ve reincarnated into a different world after all, so I’ve been thinking of taking a better look at this world.
Until now I have been refraining from going outside to avoid me having the protection of the Dark Spirit King being discovered, but since the truth has already come out in light, I have judged that there wouldn’t be any problems even if I left the mansion.
Though it would be a pain if they made a ruckus so I’m hiding my hair and skin like this.
This time I came to the downtown without any particular purpose in mind. I intend to wander around and check any stores that interest me. For now, I decided to go straight to the main street.
“What are you doing at a place like this?”
As soon as I started walking, I heard a familiar voice from behind.
When I turned around surprised, I found His Highness Edgar there. Perhaps in order to mix in among the citizens, he was also wearing clothes like commoners.
“I’m surprised that you could know that it was me. I was hiding my face with the hood.”
“Haa, don’t take me for a fool. I can see it just by looking.”
No, I doubt people would normally notice it. What amazing sharp eyes.
“And? what exactly are you doing here? Aren’t you too careless to not even have escorts?”
His Highness Edgar gave me a suspicious look.
“If it’s the escort, the one I have with me is more outstanding than any other regular humans. Rather than that, what are you doing here, Your Highness Edgar? Are you not the one who needs escorts the most?”
I implied that the Prince was roaming in the streets alone. His Highness Edgar averted his eyes and snapped back at me.
“Whatever. It’s fine, isn’t it?”
It’s not fine at all! You’re the Prince of this country! What will you do if something happened?!
I was about to retort back, so I hurriedly closed my mouth.
“Are you here for shopping? I have heard that within the noble ladies there are some strange people who sometimes go to the downtown to buy things.
“W-well….something like that.”
He’s wrong but for now I’ll just play along.
Nobles don’t go out of their way to come to the downtown of all places when they want to buy something. Normally they just invite commoner merchants to their homes instead.
“In that case, it can’t be helped so I’ll hang out with you.”
I unintentionally asked a question in return.
“Even if you possess protection, if mother finds out that I let a girl walk alone, she’ll get mad at me.”
I haven’t said anything yet but His Highness Edgar seems to be fully intending to come with me. Whether it’s “as expected from the royalty” or “as expected from the hero of the shoujo novel”, he’s terribly self-centered.
Anyway, what should I do now?
I appreciate the kindness, but as expected making the 2nd Prince come along with me on the downtown stroll is making me feel uncomfortable.
That being said, this is also a unique chance to get close to him.
“I haven’t come here because I wanted to buy something in particular. I just want to see what kind of things are being sold…Is that all right?”
Hearing this, His Highness made a very surprised expression.
I have only seen his sullen face before, but this kind of expression is more suitable for his age and makes him look kind of cute. Though he’ll probably get angry if I told this to him in person…
“I-I see. It’s unexpected that you want to walk around and see various things.”
He probably couldn’t even imagine that I would be window shopping. Looking at his reaction, I can’t help thinking that making him accompany me would be a bad idea.
“I’ll be okay alone, after all.”
“No, it’s not a problem. I’ve been planning to do the same kind of thing. Then, let’s go.”
Despite my confusion, I chased after His Highness Edgar who walked ahead.