In a villa too big to be called a villa, one only used to escape from the heat of summer, was a room intended for the royalty of a great power. Here, there were no ornate decorations or artwork of any kind.
The room was rectangular, and the walls were almost entirely made up of shelves filled with books, except for the windows and the doors.
The books were mostly about the history of different countries, books on etiquette, and literature on magic.
At the back of the room could be seen a majestic desk big enough for an adult to comfortably lie down on, and in front of it was a table and a sofa for visitors.
The second princess of Earthgant sat there alone, running her pen on a sheet of paper, while various documents, books, and maps could be seen spread out on her desk.
From time to time, her pen would stop as he jotted down her thoughts, then after awhile she stopped, and she put down her pen and exhaled with a stretch.
“Fuu, that should about do it.”
“What was that?”
However, as if to take advantage of that opportunity, the bundle of papers before her suddenly disappeared.
She was too stunned to respond right away, and when she saw who the offender was, she froze even more.
In the manor, everyone other than the princess and the hero excelled at hiding their presence but there was only one person who would dare lay a hand on her belongings.
And that was none other than this common dark-haired boy with whom she ended up traveling after many turns and twists.
“‘Sup… So, what is this?”
“Ah, no! Give it back!”
After an overly casual greeting, Shinichi looked through the documents as though nothing could be more natural.
The princess panicked and tried to get them back, but she couldn’t reach him across the table.
So she went around the table, but by then, it was already too late.
But of course, this was that boy, so she might have not been able to get the documents back anyway.
“And here I was wondering what you were up to since you weren’t preparing for the party tonight…”
As he read through the documents, the expression on him gradually became more and more amused.
And when he finished reading through everything, a warm smile surfaced on him.
That was a smile akin to that of a parent seeing his own child do their best.
That’s why Lilisha couldn’t stand it. Or to be more precise, she found it embarrassing.
But of course, she was smart enough to know that he was doing that on purpose to tease her.
“Uuu, I was just jotting down some notes so I don’t forget!
Why did you have to be the one to see it!”
Written in the document were the possible consequences of what their mess would bring to all the towns and cities until the capital of Earthgant, as well as how to solve those consequences.
She did not want to cause too much damage, that’s why they were retracing their steps as quickly as they could.
Yet they’ve already happened into several unexpected consequences, causing her mind and heart to ache.
Realizing that she couldn’t just solve everything by relying on Shinichi’s knowledge and support, she started wracking her brains for a solution after stopping by this villa.
“S-Since you’ve already seen it, it can’t be helped… So, erm, what I mean to say is… What do you think?”
It was just something she jotted down to help her remember things, not something that she would ever want to show the person who pointed out her mistakes.
But since he’s already seen it, then she might as well hear his thoughts.
Though that might actually just be her becoming defiant or desperate.
“I don’t know.”
But the only response she got was that uninterested reply.
Stunned, he continued sharply.
“Without seeing the actual situation for myself, there’s nothing I can actually say, right?”
When Lilisha realized that she overlooked something so critical, she dropped her shoulders in disappointment.
She had gathered all the relevant documents and even studied the history of the whole region.
Though this villa was a place used only during summer to escape from the heat, it was still a land that royalty resided in, so there were plenty of documents in the manor.
She had used those as reference, but in the end, they were information before they left for their trip, while her predictions regarding the influence of her mistake was also nothing more than mere speculation.
The speculations of a princess that knew nothing about the world.
What was the point of such a thing?
What they needed now was information pertaining to the present.
And there was no way to know that until they got to the actual site.
Yet if Shinichi hadn’t pointed that out, she would have thought to herself that she’d succeeded.
That’s why Lilisha cast her eyes down.
“I’ve been conceited again… Ha ha.”
Then she laughed at herself in ridicule.
But then a roll of paper hit her on the head.
She lifted up her face and saw a completely unexpected expression on the boy.
“That’s why I’m giving you credit for trying to be as prepared as you can be.”
Not a tinge of teasing or anger could be see on the boy’s face, only a contented look that seemed to say that she was doing a good job.
The boy had recognized the fact that she thought for herself and tried to take action without waiting for others to tell her what to do.
Though curt, he was praising her.
It was a small but obvious praise given to such a small act, but it proved potent because it took her by surprise.
Before Lilisha knew it, she was gasping for breath. Her chest was throbbing, her cheeks filled with heat, and she was moving around her hands nonsensically just so she could hide her embarrassment.
As the woman said to be the world’s greatest magician, there has been no end to the praise she has received for her accomplishments and plans, but for the first time in her life, someone actually praised her not for her feats but her attitude and feelings.
At that, warmth filled her chest, and she became ill at ease.
It was all the more so since this was that very boy that exposed her mistake.
But of course…
“What’s problematic here is that you were embarrassed, so you tried to think of a way on your own, only to underestimate the situation and end up with a half-assed method.”
The words the boy uttered next shattered all of that.
And in the next moment, the princess quickly took the memo back and glared at Shinichi resentfully, as though to say that she would redo it.
However, from the tinge of red left on her peevish cheeks, it seemed that the princess wasn’t actually that offended.
“Y-You’re always like this. There’s never any telling if you’re strict, sweet, or sly!”
At times, he was strict enough to make her cry, and at times, he was sweet enough to make her want to throw herself at him.
It has been half a month since their terrible meeting, and Lilisha has been asking him to teach her about all sorts of fields.
Her impression of him was that he was sly because he could always use either side of him to his advantage, though it was curious if that was natural or calculated on his part.
Regardless, he was just too good at it, and once she’s fallen prey to his tricks, she found it hard to extricate herself.
Alas, her face was just too honest, and it didn’t need one of her maids, who have been serving her since her childhood, to realize that hers was the face of a woman in love.
“…Really? But knowing how to use the carrot and the stick is one of the basics of discipline… Ah.”
He ended up saying those words out of habit.
He knew he messed up as soon as he said that, but it was too late.
“D-Discipline!? Ahaaa! What an immoral yet beautiful word! To think I didn’t even realize! Thank you so much for disciplining me!!”
In an instant, her face changed from that of a woman in love, and a redness of a different meaning tinged her cheeks.
Her breathing grew ragged, and she looked at the boy with moist eyes, tacitly telling him what she desired.
“…Sorry. Can you go back to how you were before?”