On the day we both confessed our love for each other, Theodore’s feelings became even sweeter. However, I still couldn’t fully believe it, so I realized that I could consult my mother, who also has the ability to see kols.
However, I hesitated to take up my busy mother’s time for such a matter, so I was looking for an opportunity. Suddenly, a chance came.
“Excuse me. Esterize has arrived.”
“Welcome, Esterize. Please have a seat.”
I received a summons from my mother one afternoon. The fact that she had cleared the area indicated that it was a conversation where I shouldn’t ask questions.
For some reason, I couldn’t see the kols of people who had the same ability as me. This was true for my mother, grandmother, and even my late great-grandmother. So I had no idea what my mother was thinking. It was both frustrating and calming for me, as seeing kol had become the norm.
“I called you because you’re going to attend Princess Dorothea’s birthday party in Verde.”
“That’s fine, but… wasn’t Raymondo supposed to go?”
Raymondo, the Crown Prince and my younger brother by two years, was incredibly intelligent and socially adept. He had a promising future. While it made sense for either my mother or me to attend such a grand event as the Emperor’s birthday celebration, I had heard that Raymondo would go as the representative of the third princess to gain experience.
“Well, that was the plan, but they specifically requested you. Moreover, during your stay, the princess herself will personally show you around the town… to be precise, she has her eyes set on Theodore.”
“I see… I understand.”
Princess Dorothea likes Theodore and is someone who, until recently, wanted to break off my engagement with Theodore more than I did.
The daughters of Acardi’s nobility have often given up on Theodore’s doting on me, whether it’s acting or not, but other women from foreign countries, including Princess Dorothea, who have not had the opportunity to interact with him, are still trying to get their hands on him.
“So be careful. It’s not easy to take away the fiancé of the next queen, but it’s not good to make enemies either.”
“I will keep that in mind.”
Although Verde and Acardi have a friendly relationship, there is, of course, a difference in national power, and the emperor of Verde is of higher status than the queen of Acardi. As for me, the crown princess, and Princess Dorothea, we are probably equal, or maybe I am slightly higher.
I have to be careful not to be rude… but.
“Well, that princess is a spoiled brat, and the imperial prince, who is dying to do something about Acardi, is a raccoon dog who is good at nitpicking and often gets on people’s nerves.”
My mother, who is dignified but also friendly, speaks her mind quite bluntly when it comes to me. “Spoiled brat” and “raccoon dog” are harsh words, but they are true, so I can’t help but agree.
“Be careful, okay? Those kinds of women can curse you with something terrible.”
“Yes. Normally, it wouldn’t happen, but the unrequited love of those clingy women turns into resentment and curses. Even those who inherit the power of us saints find it difficult to break them.”
It was news to me that curses existed in this world, but my mother’s tone suggested that she had confirmed it. I felt depressed just thinking about having to go with Theodore to such a complicated opponent. If possible, I didn’t want to take him with me.
“. . .If I was invited officially, can’t I bring another partner? Like Raymondo?”
“I thought about that too. But there are several places in Verde’s castle where magic doesn’t work. Raymondo is excellent with magic, but he lacks sword skills as your bodyguard.”
There are several places in this world where magic doesn’t work for some reason. One of them is the cave, and Verde’s castle has rooms where magic doesn’t work, such as the audience room and the hall, by using rocks from the cave as floors and walls. It’s not hard to imagine that it’s to prevent assassinations. However, our saint abilities work without any problems even in such places, which is a mystery.
“Then… how about someone from the royal guard who has a good lineage as well?
“If you bring someone other than Theodore, people might start rumors about you two not getting along.”
“Then… how about sending Theodore on a long-term mission or something…?”
As I pondered if there was anything I could do, my mother suddenly chuckled.
“You don’t want to lose Theodore that badly, do you?”
“Well, that’s. . .that’s. . .um, Mother.”
Despite having been cold towards Theodore for many years, her tone made it seem like she was convinced that I liked him. Even my mother shouldn’t be able to see my heart, but maybe now is the time to ask.
“Mother… Theodore dislikes me, doesn’t he?”
It was painful to even say it, and my words became smaller. I squeezed my hand and waited for my mother’s response.
Will it be affirmative or negative? The tension was so high that I could hear my own heartbeat, and time felt very long.
“All I can say to you now is. . .believe in what you have seen for yourself.”
The response I received was so vague. What have I seen? Is it about his Kol or about him?
“Which one is it. . .even if I ask, you won’t answer, will you?”
“You know that well, don’t you?”
Why does she seem a little amused? I couldn’t help but express my dissatisfaction, and my mother laughed and waved her hand.
“Anyway, talk to Theodore and decide whether to take him with you or not. We’ll give our answer to Verde tomorrow, so please decide by then. If you don’t take him, think about a substitute. . .Well, as for me, I recommend taking Theodore with you.”
“. . .I understand.”
After leaving my mother’s office, I headed straight to the training ground where Theodore was likely to be. The most important role of a royal consort is to protect the queen, who possesses rare powers, even when it’s not possible to have a guard close by—such as during dances or when sleeping. While Theodore, who is busy with his duties and education as the future royal consort, doesn’t hold a position in the Knights Order, he trains there during his free time to enhance his ability to protect me.
In that sense, if our engagement were to be broken off in the end, it might be a good idea to choose a candidate for the next royal consort just in case… as a precaution.
Thanks to the maid who had informed them beforehand, I was able to enter without any explanation. As I headed towards the direction where the sound of swords clashing and spirited voices could be heard, I found the person I was looking for.
Theodore was currently instructing the members while fighting against 15 opponents… Well, considering that he had finished the subjugation mission of the evil dragon earlier than expected by more than a month, this should be within the range of his warm-up.
However, I didn’t want to disturb him, so I waited for a good timing against the wall.
“. . .Your Highness? Shall I call Theodore if you need him?”
Roland Oberti, who seemed to have returned from a break, called out to me. He is the eldest son of the Duke Oberti family, with striking fiery red hair, the same age as Theodore. He had a difficult personality in his childhood, but now he is serious and highly skilled, even serving as the vice-captain of the first squad, which was full of strong individuals.
“I don’t mind waiting until he finishes. But… he seems to be working very hard.”
“I’m sorry, I’m still inexperienced, but I will do my best to improve.”
If it’s Roland, his swordsmanship and social status as a partner are impeccable, making him a perfect substitute for Theodore… although he had a difficult personality in his childhood.
“Haha, I never thought that mean Roland would become the youngest vice-captain.”
“Your Highness… Please spare me from discussing that. It’s a stain on my life…”
“I got scolded a lot too, so it’s okay. That bratty leader becoming a knight who protects the weak… people really can change.”
In the past, Roland had used his power as a member of the Duke family to unjustly abuse those of lower social status. One day, I happened to witness him in the act and said, “Then you can’t complain about anything I do to you as a princess, can you?” and beat him up. Since then, he had a change of heart.
“I’ll tell you, I didn’t just go around hitting anyone. At that time, I thought I was going to be the king’s consort…”
“Who said you were going to be the king’s consort?”
I was teasing Roland, so I didn’t notice Theodore approaching. He was sweating a little, but his clothes were mostly clean, so it seemed that those 15 people had a hard time making him kneel.
“I’m sorry, did I interrupt something?”
“No, it’s not a problem, but… what were you talking about?”
“N-No, it’s nothing. That was just an old story.”
“Yes, the main topic is different… I was thinking of asking Roland to be my partner when we go to Verde next month.”
For some reason, Roland was more wary of Theodore than necessary, raising his hands and stepping back as if to say he had no ill will.
‘’Your Highness, what are you saying!? If that happens, Theodore will end up killing me!’’
I wanted to retort to Roland’s trembling thoughts that he wouldn’t do such a thing, but Theodore was smiling with a sound effect-like grin. However, upon closer inspection, it seemed like his eyes weren’t smiling at all.
“Ester. . .? What do you mean?”
“It means exactly what it sounds like. . .”
“Your Highness, please explain in detail from the beginning. . .!”
“Um. . .”
Mother had suggested discussing whether to take Theodore with us and had even said to take him if possible, but personally, I didn’t want to take him. I knew I should follow what Mother said obediently, but. . . even if he were to break off our engagement and marry someone else, I didn’t want it to be Princess Dorothea.
As I was thinking about that, I remembered that I hadn’t mentioned the fact that the princess was calling for Theodore.
“That’s right, the third princess’s birthday celebration is where I want Roland to participate as my partner.”
“The third princess. . .?”
Something seemed to have struck Theodore, and he made a face as if he had just bitten into a bitter bug.
The princess was an eccentric woman who would always come between me and Theodore whenever we met, clinging to his arm as if she were his lover. But Theodore’s kol had said that the princess was much better than me, so I didn’t think he disliked her that much… However, if his collar was abnormal, maybe he was put off by her
“Originally, Raymondo was supposed to go, but he specifically requested me. Of course, it’s because of Theodore, right?”
“…So, Your Highness, you want me?”
“Well, during that time, I was thinking of sending Theodore on a long-term mission or something.”
Upon hearing this, Theodore held his head in his palm with a troubled expression. It was unusual for him, who always took the stance of allowing me to be by his side, to appear indecisive.
“. . .However, we can’t do that every time we go to Verde, so I think it should be me after all.”
“That’s true, but this time, it seems like something is being planned. The princess herself will guide us through the castle town during our stay. And since it’s the birthday celebration, it’s hard to refuse requests to dance or be a partner.”
“. . .”
Finally, Theodore held his head in his hands. Roland looked back and forth between me and Theodore with a pale face.
“So, Your Highness is doing this for Theodore, right?!”
“Huh? That’s. . .of course.”
While surprised by Roland’s sudden statement, I quickly affirmed it without leaving too much space. I had already stopped pushing Theodore away recklessly. But I had to convey that this was inevitable.
“Because I like Theodore…I don’t want to see him being touched by the princess. So please refrain from doing so this time.”
When Theodore finally lifted his head after keeping it down, he blushed slightly.
“I’m really happy…about that.”
Roland’s collar seemed to say, ‘Can I leave now…?’ as he wanted to leave this situation, but I wanted him to wait a little longer since he would be Theodore’s substitute.
“Can I have your consent then?”
“…No, I will go after all.”
Did he hear the conversation? Theodore answered with a smile as I was left stunned.
“Let’s make it clear that there is no room for anyone to come between us.”