He said that with such confidence it was as though it was something that had already been decided.
The princess screamed, “w-what a terrible accusation to make! I was just curious! I might be ignorant of the ways of the world, but I’m not so ignorant as to lay my hand on the taboo!”
She rushed to defend herself against the completely unexpected statement, but since her
“It’s not very convincing hearing that from the girl who kidnapped
“I told you I didn’t kidnap Kite-sama! The magic formation I used had all sorts of conditions that needed to be fulfilled! For example, there being a threat to his life, him accepting, and him not having a lot of bonds with his original world!”
‘I explained that to you, right?’
‘I showed you the magic formation too, right?’
‘You said there were no problems too, right?’
‘You also agreed after asking the person in question, right?’
The princess was so flustered, and the sight of that brough a smile to Shinichi.
Surely, there was no way that he said that just so he could get a reaction from her… Right?
“Umu, that’s true.”
“Yes, exactly! Just why did you suddenly…”
In a sense, Shinichi was finding fault with her just like she wanted him to, but for some reason, his sharp words did not tug at her heart.
It was curious if her not reacting positively to every little thing he did was something to be happy about or not, and it was just as curious if Shinichi was actually testing the boundaries that set her off.
“Ah, sheesh! A person like you is really…”
But Lilisha was intelligent by nature, and she was starting to get a grasp of Shinichi’s personality.
Indeed, she would have long puffed up her cheeks if he was merely doing this to get a reaction out of her, but she could tell that he was also being considerate of her since she had more problems now, and that brought a smile to her face.
At the same time, she thought he was really cunning, and a kind of warmth spread within her chest.
But then Lilisha asked him a question.
“…Shin. What do you think of homunculi?”
That question came out way tenser than she’d intended.
And for a moment, Shinichi made a blank face before answering with a curious expression.
“Nothing in particular.”
“Lilisha-sama, excuse me.”
The Head Maid entered the study at almost the exact time as she knocked, leading Shinichi and Lilisha to look at her in shock.
Though the head maid stood there with her usual getup and expression, it was unthinkable for her, who ever maintained perfect etiquette, to enter a room on her own without asking for permission despite there being no emergency.
Lilisha called out to her with suspicion, but she just ignored that and casually said.
“I apologize for intruding while you’re in the middle of a conversation, but if we don’t get started on your preparations soon, we won’t be able to make it for the welcoming party tonight.”
“Huh? Oh, no. It’s that time already?”
Lilisha finally realized why she came when she checked the time, but she still didn’t bother to hide her displeasure.
“But it’s still fine, right?”
“There’s no point even if you make a face like that, Princess. Let us quickly go to your room. Even now, we’ll only barely be able to make it.”
“But you maids could always get me ready in an instant.”
“I am confident that we won’t have to keep you waiting for a long time once we have decided on what look you will go with, but we can’t prepare for anything unless you decide on the direction of your outfit yourself.”
Perhaps, Stella had already predicted that the princess would throw a tantrum like this, as she quickly and fluently shut down her argument.
Maids, or to be more precise, a lady’s attendants, could advice their master on what to wear, but they were not allowed to make the decision on their own.
“A princess of a great nation shouldn’t hate dressing up so much. I mean it’s basically your duty, isn’t it?” Shinichi said.
“I can’t do anything while they’re dressing me up, though. I could get an inspiration for a new magic formula and be unable to jot it down. I could dictate it, but that could only go so far…”
“…A very Earthgant-like princess, huh. But you know…”
Shinichi made a smile full of dismay and admiration, then with frightening familiarity, caressed her face.
By the time Lilisha had noticed that, she had already been made to turn to him.
It was curious if he hadn’t noticed her surprise or was merely ignoring it, but regardless, those dark brown eyes of his peered into her own green and reflected her face.
He looked at her for only a moment – though for her it must have felt like some dozen minutes – then with a curious voice said.
“You were born with such a beautiful face. Don’t you think it would be such a waste not to dress up? When all dolled up, I’m sure you’d be so charming that no one would even be able to remember your reputation.”
Shinichi genuinely lamented how her ‘beauty’ would remain unpolished.
Not a hint of his usual teasing, or a man’s vulgar desire, or even any flirtatious intent could be felt from those words, only the desire to see her beauty polished as his words dictated.
That’s why she felt as though he was sincerely praising her beauty and wished for nothing more than to see her beauty polished.
But the lack of any extraneous emotions made such a desire so earnest that this princess, who has long grown tired of flowery words, actually froze.
That was less because she was embarrassed and more because it took her awhile to understand.
There was no falsehood in the boy’s expression or face or words, leaving the princess’ mind struggling as she pondered about how hot her cheeks felt.
Though used to flattery, the princess had little to no contact with men, rendering her that much more vulnerable.
“───B-But then if I dress up just because you told me to, I’ll look like an easy woman!”
Nonetheless, her mental faculties, that were either innate or cultivated to grant her the degree of control she had over magic, went into overdrive for no good reason all so she could weave such a
It was such that even the princess herself blame herself for not coming up with a better excuse, but Shinichi just smiled provocatively at her and said.
“What are you going to do then?”
She knew she had to dress up, but she really didn’t want to prepare for the evening party.
She wanted to do it even less after he told her that since it would sound like she was doing it because of him.
In that case, she might as well try to come up with an
Or at least, the smile on him seemed to be saying that.
“…Let’s make a deal,” the princess said.
“What kind of deal?” Shinichi said.
“It won’t be possible now, but if an opportunity like this ever comes again, you have to dress me up, so that I might be able to meet your expectations… No. Dress me up well enough to take your breath away. And at that time, you’ll have to accompany me for a dance.”
“That’s… A pretty big request.”
The unexpected request took him by surprise and made his face twitch.
The princess smiled in satisfaction upon seeing that and responded in a cheerful tone.
Considering what she was asking him to do, it was actually an inexpensive request, perhaps one that could even be thought of as a reward.
Yet Shinichi was hesitating.
After spending half a month together, the princess knew full well the reason behind that.
Shinichi hated standing out in public unless he really had to.
He was just a commoner as far as everyone else was concerned, so there was no reason for him to attend a party with the princess of a great power and even dance with her.
Just the very thought was enough to make veins bulge on his forehead, but in the end, he nodded.
“…Fine. I’ll look forward to it then.”
It was curious what sort of thought process went inside him before spitting that out, but whatever it was, all hints of dissatisfaction vanished from his voice and expression, leaving behind only a provocative laugh that seemed to say, ‘just try it if you can.’
“I will be looking forward to it as well… Now then, I will have to go and dress up, so please excuse me.”
Perhaps that was a good enough excuse, for Lilisha happily bid him goodbye in a lady-like manner, and Stella followed after.
However, before Stella could leave, Shinichi approached her in a way that the princess wouldn’t notice.
He approached so quickly and so silently that it shocked her, and then he tiptoed to get up to her level and whispered by her ear—
“At that time, please teach me how to dance.”
—In a tone that was more timid and more sincere than ever.
Stella blinked for a moment before turning to him and asking, ‘you made such a provocative face yet you actually can’t dance?’ And Shinichi immediately nodded.
He was smiling as he looked up at her, but his eyes were clearly shaking from anxiety.
So much so that Stella felt like she could hear him screaming, ‘what am I going to do!?’
The boy before her was just that pathetic.
Perhaps that’s the reason why…
She had an inexplicable urge to prepare and serve the best tea along with her favorite pastries, but she suppressed that urge before it could break free and just quietly responded before following after the princess.
She hadn’t been delayed by that much, so Lilisha didn’t even notice that such an exchange happened between the two of them.
Regardless, for some reason, both master and servant alike seemed so happy from behind, leaving Shinichi to tilt his head.
As he saw them off, he let out a sigh of relief and closed the door.
Suddenly, like a fire that had been extinguished, all of those emotions that one would expect from a boy his age vanished from his face.
With a grim expression, he looked at the book he and the princess sealed.
“To think that your name would appear here, King Johan… That ominous feeling is getting worse. It’s when people lower down the priority mess up that things become problematic, you see… What a pain,” Shinichi muttered as he sat on the sofa.
As he sank into the soft cushion, he moved his eyes away from the forbidden book and glared at the supposedly empty air space.
“Was it you? Did you lead me here?────Isis.”
He could see the illusion of a beautiful blonde nun sitting by the desk.
The way she looked down at him with an indignant face was so like her that it actually felt fake. It didn’t feel at all as though he’d reunited with her.
But then again, this was nothing but an illusion anyway.
“Not funny. Even if it’s you, I’m the one who will decide what I do.”
The illusion smiled at that then vanished.
It was as if the illusion was satisfied by his answer. Or perhaps that was just him hoping that that was the case.
Either way, he let out a breath in exhaustion.
This illusion would appear before him from time to time, and it was never a good sign.
“…I hadn’t seen it in awhile too… Tonight’s going to be a long night.”
He looked out the window and gazed into the sky of this quiet summer villa.
It was a clear and quiet sky with nary a cloud, but that was only the calm before the storm.
At the very least, that’s how he felt.
But since he knew it was coming, he could just rest until then.
That’s why he erected 26 layers of barriers around him – half the usual amount – and closed his eyes.
He would sleep until Lilisha was done getting ready, but…
──Seeing that thing never ends well for me, does it?
As he said that feebly, he fell into a shallow slumber.