I had lunch at a restaurant on Blitzen Street, and then we arrive at the lively town of Anfang. It is filled with tourist attractions such as the grand cathedral and botanical garden, attracting a large number of people. It truly reflects the grandeur of the Verdian Empire, something unimaginable in Akardi. As we pass by, people can’t help but do double takes, expressing their astonishment and making me feel extremely uncomfortable.
The story of the saint and hero who founded Acardi and defeated the Demon King to restore peace has been passed down throughout the continent in various forms such as picture books and plays, and it is no exaggeration to say that everyone knows it. Also, since the first queen of Acardi, Alessa Acardi, who was also the saint, was depicted wearing a face veil, it is safe to say that the position of Acardi’s princess is very well-known.
Sometimes children pointed at me and shouted, “It’s Saint-sama!” But that’s not true. Only Alessa Acardi was the saint, and I am just a descendant. I couldn’t deny it every time, nor could I crush the dreams of children, so I just smiled vaguely and waved my hand.
Because of this, it would be quite easy to fabricate eyewitness accounts of me. If people see me, they will certainly not say, “Did I see that person?” The more people see me, the more credibility it adds. That’s why there’s a high possibility that Grosel Bär is planned to make contact around this area. I need to convince Bella to join us as soon as possible.
It was at that moment when I was psyching myself up in my mind. The princess naturally pulled Theodore’s arm and laughed loudly.
“Hehehe! Come on, Theodore, let’s go ring the Ewig Bell!”
“Dorothea, you. . .”
The Ewig Bell. I feel like I’ve heard of it before, but I can’t remember what it is. I glance at Diark, who looks at the princess with a look of exasperation.
“It’s a small spot in the botanical garden. There’s a superstition that if lovers visit and ring the bell together, they’ll be together forever. . .or something like that.”
“Well, it’s probably a made-up story just to attract tourists. . .I can’t openly say it’s a lie as the crown prince.”
Lovers. Together forever. . .huh.
I feel like it’s probably something that the maids who like those kinds of superstitions and fortune-telling would be interested in. Even Theodore, who heard the story, frowned noticeably, but then sighed and turned to us.
“What will you two do?”
“What do you mean? Esterize.”
What do you mean. . .at the very least, we have to act separately from the princess, persuade Bella to join us, rescue Bella’s mother, and then discuss with Diark about what to do next. . .there’s no time to be bothered by such a trivial thing as a child’s charm. . .
Besides, is Theodore planning to ring the bell with the princess?
“As for me. . .”
I’ve been patient all this time. I accepted that Theodore would be the princess’s partner, so why am I bothered by this now?
I can’t cry in front of others. After all, I am the next queen. It’s not acceptable to cry over personal matters, especially when mourning someone’s death. My pride won’t allow it, especially since many people around me recognize me as the princess of Acardi.
But if I think about the fact that Diarc has been with me all this time, I can’t just teleport away and escape.
What should I do? Why can’t I come up with any good ideas? If I didn’t want to cry so badly, I should have told Theodore the truth from the beginning and not resorted to this. I’m really stupid and foolish, and I hate myself for it.
As tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt a gentle voice call my name, and suddenly I was lifted up in a warm embrace.
“Hold on tight.”
For a moment, I forgot how depressed I was that I was crying, and I quickly wrapped my arms around his neck. The princess approached us, protesting.
“Hey, hey, Theodore! What are you doing?”
“Ester, please take me somewhere we can be alone.”
However, Theodore didn’t seem to care about her protests and just smiled at me. He looked straight at me, as if he had no interest in the fact that the princess was shouting and that he was supposed to be guarding Diark.
“But, but, there’s so much to do right now.”
We can’t be alone. There are so many things we need to do, and we don’t have time for that. Esterize Alessa Acardi shouldn’t make such a choice. Ester’s wishes are of low priority.
Perhaps Theodore could see through my innermost thoughts.
“. . .Your Highness Esterize. Could you please grant a small wish of a citizen?”
“. . .”
His words were cunning.
When the tears that had welled up in my eyes fell onto his clothes, we were standing on a hill in the outskirts.
This hill, known for its beautiful night view, seemed to be empty except for us in the early afternoon.
I was filled with shame and embarrassment for finally crying in front of Theodore, and I buried my face in his chest without looking at his face.
“. . .I’m sorry for acting on my own.”
“No, I’m the one who. . .showed an unsightly appearance.”
“I don’t think it was unsightly at all. . .but I want to be the only one you show your tears to.”
Theodore slowly led me to a nearby bench and knelt in front of me, looking at me with pleading eyes.
“Ester, can’t you rely on me?”
I immediately shook my head. There was no one more reliable than Theodore. That’s why I had judged that he could protect the princess from Grose Baehr alone, even in a situation where the four-attribute magic that neutralizes the Hinderin stone couldn’t be used.
But now it was too late to hide it. . .I made up my mind and started talking.
“What does Theodore think of the Third Princess?”
“If I don’t want Ester to be accused of attempted murder, I have to listen to her…”
“Has anything else terrible been done or said to you?”