It happened soon after I started walking along with His Highness Edgar. A figure of a certain girl was reflected in the corner of my sight. I have never met her before, but I do know about her. She is Emily Lushan, daughter of Earl.
In the novel, she is the heroine’s best friend. She was a character who would stand up to Claudia every time she bullied the heroine and sometimes even cheered the latter up.
Red hair and emerald-colored eyes, along with a strong-willed looking features. She seems to be dressed as a commoner girl right now, but her red clothes stand out rather strongly. Even in the novel she liked to wear red clothes just like her hair so I realized that it was her right away.
While I was staring at Lady Lushan, a dangerous-looking guy approached her. I have a bad feeling about this.
Sure enough, the man flashed a sinister smile and grabbed Lady Lushan’s arm.
“What are you doing?! Unhand me right this instant!”
The man looked at Lady Lushan who raised her voice in surprise with a gaze as if licking her.
“You’re lost, right? I’ll kindly show you the way.”
“No thank you!”
There were some people who stopped by after hearing the exchange between the two, but perhaps because they didn’t want to get into a trouble, nobody tried to help her.
Even though Lady Lushan tried to brush off the man’s hand, her strength wasn’t enough and she was unable to escape.
I couldn’t keep still anymore and turned towards where she was.
“Hey, what happened?”
His Highness Edgar asked, probably finding me abruptly changing my direction strange. Looks like he also noticed the ordeal after taking a look at the way I was heading towards.
“Your Highness, please call the knights. Gerald, restrain that man.”
『Leave it to me.』
As Gerald briefly answered, the man’s shadow twined around his body and he immediately became unable to move.
Lady Lushan and curious onlookers seemed to be confused after seeing the man restrained by his own shadow. Eventually, the man was taken in by the knights called by His Highness.
Lady Lushan stood dumbfounded, unable to understand what had happened.
The knight, who misunderstood that she was under shock due to being assaulted, gently called out to her and took her somewhere. I wonder if they are going to conduct a questioning.
While tilting their heads, the onlookers also eventually scattered among the crowd.
His Highness Edgar asked worriedly. Gerald took care of anything so there is no way I would be injured, but being worried about like this made me happy.
“I have none.”
“I see. ….It’s a bit late now, but I think that at those time you as a girl are the one who should call the knights. It would be safer that way.”
His Highness Edgar scowled, but I don’t think that it was a bad way of dealing with the situation. I couldn’t endanger a royalty and I have Gerald so I’m stronger.
“Is that so? but there were no problems, right?”
“It would be too late if something happened to you!”
His Highness Edgar yelled. I know that he’s seriously angry.
I was very surprised. Before this there were no people who would scold me. Everyone was afraid of my retaliation, so they couldn’t go all out.
“Would it not be troubling if anything happened to you too?”
“I have Elder Brother.”
That’s why it’s not a problem, His Highness Edgar said.
“What a coincidence. I also have one.”
If the fact that there is somebody else to inherit the family means that there are no problems then I also have an older brother. When I said this, His Highness Edgar became quiet.
In that moment, one of the knight interrupted out conversation.
“U-um~ I would like to question you just in case, so would it be possible to ask you to follow me to the station?～”
A knight with a strangely slow tone was trying to take a peek at my face. I’m wearing hood low on my eyes so I might be suspected at something.
I haven’t done anything shady, but going to the station of the knight order is a bit problematic.
Father is there. Even if he is absent at the moment, as soon as they see my appearance, my identity will be instantly uncovered and it will definitely be reported to Father.
In hopes of somehow settling this matter at this place, I opened my mouth.
“A lady was harassed by a hoodlum so I helped her. This is all what happened.”
As I said so and tried to leave, the knight stopped me by grabbing my arm.
“Is there still anything more?”
I replied without looking back so my face wouldn’t be seen.
“Is there any reason why you can’t come to the station?~”
There is! Father will discover that I snuck out from the mansion without a permission!
“I have an urgent matter so please unhand me”
“In that case, could you please show me your face?~”
Without waiting for my answer, the knight reached towards my hood.
His Highness Edgar called a halt to the situation just in time. When I looked at him, he was glaring at the knight with his usual displeased face.
“I guarantee her identity. Do you have any complaints to that?”
The knight was probably aware of His Highness Edgar’s true identity. He hurriedly unhanded me and left in haste.
Only after seeing him off, I expressed my gratitude towards His Highness Edgar.
“Thank you very much. You have saved me.”
His Highness turned towards me with his unchanging sullen face and said.
“I don’t know the details, but you don’t want it to be discovered that you were here, right? I will escort you to your mansion, so go back for today.”
“Yes, I will do so. However, I will go back with the help of magic so there is no need to escort me.”
Hearing those words, His Highness Edgar opened his eyes wide.
“You can use shadow transportation?”
“It is Gerald’s…Dark Spirit King’s magic.”
“I see….then it’s fine. Go straight back.”
As I thanked His Highness Edgar once again, I asked Gerald to use shadow transportation. Then my sight was wrapped in darkness just like the time when we came here and the next moment I was already standing in the middle of my room.
“Welcome back, ojou-sama.”
Suddenly, I heard a voice from behind.
When I turned around after being surprised, I saw Jordan with a peaceful smile there. But his eyes weren’t smiling and I could see the illusion of Hannya behind him.
“I have awaited your return, ojou-sama”
Looking at the quietly angry Jordan, Gerald said exasperatedly.
『That’s why I told you that it would be better to say something to the butler.』
Be quiet, Gerald.
After this, I was heavily reprimanded by Jordan for leaving the mansion without a permission.
A Few days later, after my usual studies with Jordan were over, he handed me two envelopes.
“Letters? for me?”
Out of the two letters I received, one was from Lady Lushan who I helped in the downtown the other day and the second one was from His Highness Edgar.
In the Lady Lushan’s letter it was written that she wanted to thank me for what I did. I wonder how she found out that it was me even though I had my face hidden? Maybe His Highness Edgar told her?
His Highness Edgar in his letter for some reason wrote that he wanted to visit us together with His Highness Levy.
In the novel, there hadn’t been anything implying that Claudia had any common interactions with them. Perhaps my actions the other day have triggered the change of the scenario?
Though that probably doesn’t mean that the risk of my exile has disappeared. The heroine hasn’t even appeared yet so I can’t let my guard down.
In that case, it would be better to use this opportunity and get closer to Lady Lushan and His Highness Edgar. They are important figures who have connections with the heroine, after all. Not limited to only them, this is also my chance to become intimate with His Highness Levy.
The problem is that even if I do invite the two Princes to my house, I might not be able to keep the conversation well by myself. If I took the same cold attitude like at the tea party, there is a danger that I will get hated.
If there is somebody else other than the Princes with us, won’t the place at least not be boring?
Thinking so, I also invited Lady Lushan to join us and decided to hold a small tea party.
As soon as I consulted Jordan, my brother Liam appeared out of nowhere and declared that he would also be participating.
He gets along along His Highness Levy and might make the place more exciting.
With such ulterior motives, I accepted my brother’s participation.
Inviting something over was something that I had never done in any of my lives. Imaging a busy day overflowing with smiles, I was excited with expectations.
And then came the day of the tea party.
I was nervous for the first time.
I hope that I can use this chance to make friends. Avoiding the BAD END is important too but I purely just want friends. It couldn’t be helped before because I wasn’t allowed to leave the mansion, but I don’t want to always be a 『loner』even after I can leave the mansion.
The three came just past the afternoon. After welcoming them together with Jordan, I guided them towards the tea room.
His Highness Edgar was wearing white clothes, decorated with gold thread embroidery. He had his usual sullen face on but he didn’t gave out an aggressive atmosphere.
The orange dress that Lady Lushan was wearing suited her red hair very well.
His Highness Levy’s clothes were black, without any decorations. It looked simple, but you could tell at a first glance that it was a fine quality.
Surrounding the round table, we sat down in the order of my brother to my right, His Highness Levy next to him, then His Highness Edgar and Lady Lushan.
Making sure that everybody had gotten to their seats, I gave a greeting first of all.
“My gratitude for coming here today. Those are the cookies I made. I sincerely hope that they will suit your taste…”
Baking sweets was my hobby in my past life. Since they were going to come all the way here, I thought that I should have shown hospitality and decided to bake cookies, my specialty.
I was thinking that if I brought out my handmade cookies, I would make a good impression, but thinking more about it, would it be considered favorable for a noble lady to cook herself, I wonder?
I gradually became uneasy.
Then His Highness Levy smiled and opened his mouth.
“Thank you, Lady Letsya. If it is something that you have made, I am positive it must be delicious.”
He spouts out compliments as easily as breathing. I wonder if being a gentleman is something like this? in that case, His Highness Edgar who always looks displeased might be more unusual.
Thinking so and looking at His Highness Edgar, he corrected his posture and started talking.
“Lady Letsya, I thank you for inviting me here. Today I have come to apologize for the rudeness at tea party that was hosted by my mother…forgive me. No matter the reason, it is never justified to look down on people like that. I truly feel regretful.”
That unsociable His Highness Edgar was meek and seemed like an entirely different person. I was surprised and slightly opened my eyes wide.
“Please let me apologize too. During the previous tea party, Edgar was persistently followed by young ladies. It is a common thing of people with high status like us, but Edgar only started to attend tea parties recently and has not gotten used to it yet…”
How troublesome, His Highness Levy smiled.
“Because of that, Edgar has totally started to dislike women. That day too, he was grumbling till the end that he did not want to go to the party. It was because I and the Mother forced him to attend that…”
While saying so, His Highness Levy looked towards his younger brother. Then His Highness Edgar dropped his shoulders and once again opened his mouth.
“I vented my anger on Lady Letsya for something that wasn’t related to her. Moreover, to say such a thing in front of everybody….I am truly sorry.”
He lowered his head towards me.
“Have you come all the way here just to say that? Even though it would have been enough if you only said a single word when we meet the other day…”
“I could not do that. This is a sign of my apology. I would be grateful if you could accept this.”
Saying so, His Highness Edgar took the beautifully packaged square object out from his pocket and put it on the table.
“Thank you very much. Would it be okay if I opened it?”
When I opened the wrapping, there was a small box inside, which contained a diamond pendant.
The size of the diamond was as small as a pebble and it seemed to be a bit too meager to give a noble lady. However, being a commoner in my past life, I was dumbfounded to receive such thing as an apology.
“I cannot accept such valuable thing.”
“Please don’t say so and accept it. It might not suit the taste of Lady Letsya, but…”
“That is not the case. It’s very lovely! Have you chosen this yourself, Your Highness?”
Necklace was simple and it was a nice design for me who didn’t like flashy things.
“No, I got advice from Elder Brother. I didn’t know what a woman would like so I couldn’t choose it alone.”
His Highness Edgar smiled bitterly in embarrassment.
“Perhaps…the other day you were at the downtown because of…”
“Yeah, that’s right. At first, I was trying to choose myself without asking for advice from Elder Brother, but I hesitated and in the end, ended up getting help.”
His Highness Edgar looked at His Highness Levy. It would probably be a rare thing for the two royalties to shop secretly in the downtown. Perhaps remembering that time, His Highness Edgar laughed joyfully.
Looking at such His Highness Edgar, His Highness Levy put the tea cup to his mouth while smiling bitterly.
“You’re so stupid, Edgar. It would be okay as long you stayed silent.”
His Highness Levy said as if poking fun at him. My brother looked at him exasperatedly and gave a deep sigh on purpose.
“I think that you should also learn from his straightforwardness though, Levy.”
His Highness Levy unexpectedly glared at Brother.
“Are you implying that I am a liar?”
From that exchange I understood that the two were amiable friends.
While my brother and His Highness Levy where talking, I asked His Highness Edgar.
“Would it really be okay if I accepted this?”
“Yeah, please take it without any hesitations.”
Being told so by His Highness Edgar, I gratefully accepted the necklace.
Then I turned my eyes towards Lady Lushan on the left.
“Lady Lushan too, thank you very much for coming all the way here today. “
“No, please don’t mention it. It is I who should say thank you for saving me from a dangerous situation the other day.”
Lady Lushan deeply lowered her head.
“Please raise your head, Lady Lushan. I only did something that was expected of me as a human being.”
“Nevertheless, there is no difference that you have saved me. Um, if you would like, please take this.”
What was handed to me was a lapis lazuli colored handkerchief.
“Oh my, what a beautiful color. Is it really okay if I receive it?”
“Yes, this is an expression of gratitude for saving me.”
“Thank you very much.”
His Highness Edgar and Lady Lushan. The gifts from the two made me very happy. I could never imagine that I would ever receive presents from other people.
To think that being given kindness from people would make me feel so happy….
I might just be overly happy because I was always a『loner』
Even though I wanted to convey those feelings to them, my face muscles did not move quite well. As a result, I ended up receiving both of their gifts expressionlessly and dispassionately gave words of thanks.
And in order to gloss over that, I changed the topic.
“――At that time I was hiding my face with the hood, right? yet, how were you able to find out that it was me?”
While inquiring Lady Lushan, I looked at His Highness Edgar with suspicion, asking with my eyes『Did you reveal it?』. Then he shook his head.
Looking at him, His Highness Levy quickly raised his head.
“I was the one who told her.”
Why does His Highness Levy come up there? He shouldn’t have been at that place.
His Highness Levy smiled at me, with doubts fully revealed on my face, and revealed his secret.
“To tell the truth, I was also nearby. Indeed, I couldn’t see Lady Letsya’s face, but magic that restrained the man was undeniable that of a darkness attribute. A trained eye would easily recognize that it was the power of the Dark Spirit King.”
To think that he was at that place too. Do the royalties of this kingdom drop by the downtown so recklessly?
“After that, I accompanied Edgar to the station of the knight order. In the middle of that, I met Lady Lushan who had just finished her questioning and was heading home. I only told her because she wanted to know the identity of her savior, but…was that bad of me?”
His Highness Levy asked with a refreshing smile.
“No, it is not a problem.”
When I answered that much, the table fell completely silent.
At such a time, I, the hostess, should propose the next topic, but I don’t have enough social skills to think of sensible speech on the spurt of the moment.
While I was troubled, His Highness Levy lent me his timely help.
“Lady Letsya, the butler which welcomed us together with you was Jordan, right?”
“Huh? yes…that’s right. Why do you know his name?”
I was slightly taken aback by the sudden question. Although he does serve the Ducal family, why would the Prince know the name of a mere butler?
“Jordan is a former knight. If he hadn’t retired, he would be working as the right hand of the head knight, your father. I’ve heard that during his active years, his strength was said to be on par with the leader of the order.”
I was rendered speechless.
“Were you not aware of this?”
Lady Lushan said wonderingly. This must have been a famous story among the titled nobility.
“Yes…Jordan does not talk much about himself and I do not listen either. Besides, I have never left the mansion until the Queen’s tea party the other day, so I have never had the chance to hear it from other people.”
When I said so, Lady Lushan reservedly opened his mouth.
“Um, Lady Letsya. Erm, if it is okay….would you like to visit the tea party organized by me?”
Looks like I have made her pity me.
“Thank you very much for your concern. However ――”
Lady Lushan pressed on while I was trying to reject her proposition.
“I’m not taking pity on you! Um…I want to become friends with you, Lady Letsya!”
Eh? Has the lack of friends become so painful for me that I have started to hear hallucinations?
“Excuse me, could you repeat what you just said?”
“Yes! I want to become friends with Lady Letsya!”
Huh? It wasn’t a hallucination.
“I have the protection of the Dark Spirit King…”
“I am aware.”
She tilted her head, as if to say 『So what of that?』
“Becoming friends with me means that you will also become the subject of discrimination.”
“I will never be hurt from anything a person who discriminates against other people says to me.”
Lady Lushan declared resolutely. As expected from the character which loudly encouraged the heroine. I’m very thankful for those words, but…
“It is natural to fear the person who possesses the protection of the Dark Spirit King. He is a being that once destroyed a whole kingdom, after all.”
It is natural for living beings to fear everything that has the possibility of harming them. In addition, the color of my skin, hair and eyes is unusual in Laycia and is considered eerie all the more. That’s why, this is something that cannot be helped.
While I was thinking so, Lady Lushan tilted her head once again.
“Oh, when have you hurt other people with that power, Lady Letsya? I was not aware.”
“But, in the founding legend of the kingdom, it is written that a person with the protection of the Dark Spirit King almost destroyed the world…”
“Do you intend to destroy the world, Lady Letsya?”
That’s impossible. No matter how much I’m destined to be hated by everybody else, I would never wish to curse the world.
“The one who made people suffer with the power of the Dark Spirit King was the『hero』from the founding legend and not you. Besides, you saved me with that power. That’s why I want to become closer to you, Lady Letsya.”
Lady Lushan’s reasoning was fair.
“Is it not good?”
“No, I am extremely happy.”
It’s not a lie, I should really be happy, but for some reason I can’t rejoice with my whole heart.
Is it because Lady Lushan will become the heroine’s best friend in the future or because my heart has become too twisted?
She directed a radiant smile towards me who had fallen in a complicated state of mind.
“Thank you very much! Please call me Emily.”
“Then, please call me Claudia too.”
She is my first friend. Thinking so, my chest started to gradually feel warmer.