“……So you’ve become a student. It’s good that you were able to leave the monastery.”
“Yes, that’s so. I concur.”
I used words that would probably be safe to say, and he nodded. However, a tinge of darkness remained in his voice. He must still have a complicated family situation. Considering that he was forced into a monastery when he was only a child before, there must be some difficult unavoidable things in his life even after several years have passed.
“……I didn’t enjoy my life in the monastery.”
He suddenly added on that comment, and I nodded ambiguously.
Well, of course it’s only natural. I don’t really know the details of life at a monastery, but much like my previous world, it’s an ascetic, austere lifestyle of giving up one’s desires and serving others. If he was forced to join the monastery, instead of going of his own free will, of course he wouldn’t like it.
“Your servant, will his injuries be alright? It seemed like his opponents were also commoners.”
“His head has stopped bleeding, and I think he’ll be okay. No bones are broken either.”
Then I thanked him for helping my servant, and he smiled. While his smile was elegant, it also seemed lifeless and fatigued, he’s giving me the same impression as our first meeting. I couldn’t help but think about why he would feel that way, but unfortunately as I didn’t know anything about him, I couldn’t do anything about the bad taste I was feeling.
It feels like his gloominess has increased since the time I met him at the monastery, and it reminded me of the heavy atmosphere when my citizens were all glaring at me when I first became their domain lord and met them.
……However, he’s not one of my citizens. I cut away my growing sympathy towards him. I’m the lord of Kaldia. I can’t afford to care about others equally if they aren’t my citizens.
I think the last time I met him was approximately four years ago. I’m a little relieved that I still think the same way, that my citizens are the most important to me.
Well, the conversation’s died down. However, I want to have Reka resting for a while longer. I can’t leave here, I’m going to have to stay here until this boy in front of me leaves. I’m feeling an uncomfortable silence between us now since I cut away my sympathy for his situation, and I don’t know what to talk about as we barely have any connection to each other at all.
“……Did you enter noble school this spring? Or was it one year ago?”
In the end, he was the one who spoke up first again.
“It was this spring.”
“I see. Then, that’s quite a big deal. This year’s freshman students include an incredible number of influential students.”
“……Ahh, that’s right.”
Well, I’m here right now in this forest precisely because of their influence, my voice came out softly as I was thinking that. Maybe he detected something from my tone of voice, he moved his line of sight from Reka directly to me.
“What type of person…… is the crown prince? Is he just like a royal priceless treasure that’s been protected in the castle for all his life?”
He immediately looked aside again. It seems like he really wants to keep this conversation going. Maybe he has no intention of getting involved with the factions that have been forming recently, or perhaps it’s not well known in the upper-level section, he started out by asking a question about the crown prince who’s been absent on business for such a long time.
Well then, how to answer him. I don’t know what his opinion of the crown prince is, so I’ll have to choose my words carefully.
“……He seems to be suited for the position of crown prince. No matter where he goes, he’s the center of attention. I think that’s a difficult quality to find.”
“I’ve heard myself that he’s by far the most handsome prince in the history of the royal family. But, I’ve never seen him at all, even once. ……It’s difficult for me to imagine just what his appearance must be like. For example, I think that you as well also have an excellent face that would break the hearts of countless girls.”
Break the hearts of countless girls, just what does that mean? I didn’t think I had such an appearance that would cause such a commotion……
I don’t really get if he’s praising me or insulting me, it’s an odd feeling. While my appearance that’s inherited from my father may indeed be considered beautiful by normal standards, I feel like it’s far from the feminine beauty of women, and besides, I hate this face from the bottom of my heart, so I can’t think of it as an excellent appearance.
“I’m nothing in comparison to the crown prince. The crown prince is skilled in every area, he’s an excellent person.”
Well, just like everyone else, my face with my father’s features is nothing compared to the crown prince’s handsome appearance. Looks, noble ranking, academic ability, the crown prince is top level in every aspect, he’s got a much better reputation than a certain infamous upstart domain lord.
“……I see, is that the case.”
However, he only tilted his head slightly, while the shadow in his purple eyes seemed to get darker.
“Apart from the crown prince, there’s one other first-year student that everyone has their attention on. An excellent lady who even has the attention of the prime minister and king.”
I tilted my head. I’ve never heard of such a girl.
“……You’ve never heard of her?”
“I’ve never heard anything like that at noble school. Is she someone from the royal family?”
The boy shook his head saying no. Then, it must be the daughter of some duke’s family. If even the king and prime minister are paying attention to her, it must be a noble from the royal capital.
“Maybe due to the crown prince, she doesn’t stand out as much in comparison. I heard that she was rewarded for her achievements on the battlefield, though……”
Achievements on the battlefield, so maybe it’s someone related to the Rolentsors. The war with Rindarl has been dragging on for quite some time, so there’s many people that have received accolades in battle, so I can’t narrow it down just with this.
For women, there are some that will be in charge of combat strategy, even if they don’t personally fight on the battlefield. Both boys and girls in the Rolentsor family for example receive an education in military strategy and martial arts, so it wouldn’t be strange if this girl was from an excellent military family……
“Is the crown prince really more outstanding than this lady? The girl’s the same age as the crown prince, but will he stand for it if he loses to her in combat strategy? What do you think?”
“……Indeed. The crown prince was raised up to the position of heir over the first prince in an uncertain situation. Isn’t it natural to expect so?”
I couldn’t help but avoid his eyes. I felt a chill running down my spine, and regretted saying what I did.
Almost imperceptibly deep in his eyes, when he opened his eyes slightly, I noticed an incredibly dark emotion bursting out from within.
End of Act 3, Part 1