While Ryoma was working at his own pace in the city of Gimuru, the Duke, Reinhart, his Duchess, Elize, and his daughter, Elia, were there in the royal palace, the place said to be the center of the country and the symbol of the king’s majesty.
Under the lead of the royal palace’s guide, they passed through the complicated and well-decorated halls of the palace.
After passing through several doors, a thick door bigger and more massive than any so far came to view. On both sides of that massive door were four knights donned in a decorated armor. When the guide told them their business, two of the four knights confirmed that they’d been informed and inspected the body of the three guests.
The moment the knights gave permission to proceed, a mechanical sound resounded, and the untouched door opened on its own.
“This door is a magic tool, I see.” [Elia]
“Oh, but you should’ve seen it before already. Don’t you remember?” [Elize]
“Unfortunately, Mother. I’ve visited the palace many times before, but has there really always been a door like this here?” [Elia]
“This ancient door is known as the ‘Royal Gate’, and has been here for hundreds of years. It’s been here way before you’ve been born, Elia. The royal palace is full of important places, but within it is a place even more important the rest. This door exists to separate the ‘private area of the royal family’ with the rest. As you can see, the security here is strict, and they inspect one’s belongings too. Moreover, the door can only be opened when a knight gives the signal to another room, where the operator in charge of operating the magic tool that can open the door is. Without that magic tool, the door won’t open.” [Elize]
“So there was a magic tool like that. I had no idea.” [Elia]
“Well, it is meant for security. There’s no reason for them to go out of their way to explain it to the guests. And you were still really young when you came here before. It can’t be helped if you’ve forgotten. More importantly, as Elize said, the area from here on is private to the royal family. There’s no telling when and who’ll you’ll meet, so be sure to act your best. Don’t let your guard down.” [Reinhart]
“Yes, Father.” [Elia]
She looked nervous, but she fixed her posture, and put on a dignified appearance.
Reinhart nodded upon seeing that, and looked into the now fully opened door.
At their guide’s behest, they continued on their way.
“Please forgive our intrusion, Your Majesty, but the Jamil family seeks an audience.” [Guide]
The voice that responded to the guide spoke through a door, but it was brief and imposing.
Immediately, the guide moved to the side, and Reinhart stood before the door with Elize beside him. Behind them followed Elia, and as the door opened, the three of them entered together. In accordance with etiquette, Elia took three steps after entering the room, then knelt with her face cast down.
When Reinhart was about to speak…
“Hey, Dumbass. Get up and take a seat already.” [???]
Suddenly, a rash remark that completely broke the atmosphere resounded in the private room of the royal family.
Reinhart looked up and glared at the owner of that voice a little.
Written on his face was not anger but astonishment.
“Erias, you’re really…” [Reinhart]
“Hmph! I don’t need such formal greetings. They’re long-winded and annoying, and besides, we don’t need it, do we? I’m acting properly as a king elsewhere when there are other eyes, so at least let me be comfortable in my private room.” [Erias]
“But even then, you should still act a little like your position dictates. I brought my daughter today too—” [Reinhart]
“Exactly! Welcome, Elia. You’ve grown up, I see.” [Erias]
The moment Reinhart mentioned his daughter, the man called Erias happily spoke to her.
“Y-Yes, Your Majesty—” [Elia]
“So cold? Last I remember, you were still calling me uncle.” [Erias]
“Y-Your Majesty, I am already 12, so I can’t talk like I did before anymore.” [Elia]
“I don’t mind! There’s no one else here! So call me uncle, okay?” [Erias]
“But before anything else, you should take a seat in the sofa here. Come, don’t kneel, sit. If you want you can sit on my lap too like old times.” [Erias]
In the face of the over-doting uncle, Elia was at a loss how to respond. As his best friend and as Elia’s father, Reinhart was about to offer a helping hand, but the moment he turned his head, he realized something, and as his body trembled, he covered his ears.
In the next moment—
“!!!” [Erias and Elia]
When Elize saw the man behaving however he pleased with regards to Elia, she finally couldn’t stand it and erupted.
…10 seconds later.
The three members sat on the sofa with Elia at the center, while Erias feebly laid down opposite them. Rather than say that his excitement had finally calmed down, it was more apt to say that the man had become depressed.
The man had a full beard, a moderately toned body, and was dressed in luxurious loungewear made with the best materials. The man more than looked the part, and would have looked dignified if he just acted the part, but not a hint of that dignity could be seen now.
This man was none other than Reinhart’s best friend, Elize’s older brother, Elialia’s uncle and godparent, and the king of the Riforu Kingdom in which Riforu Kingdom and the duke lived. Erias De Riforu.
“How about you get up already? We are guests, you know?” [Elize]
“You’re family, not guests.” [Erias]
“Elias started attending school this year, so depending on the time and place, she might have to pay respects to you according to your status. We brought her here precisely to help her get some experience, and yet… The most important part, the king himself, is like this…” [elize]
“I’m relaxed when I’m relaxing! And when duty calls, well, duty calls! I just have the lines properly drawn between the two.” [Erias]
“You’ve always been good at sophistry.” [Elize]
“Don’t say that. It’s really hard working as the king, you know? Especially in recent years, all these problems popping up because of all these monsters that’s been getting active, causing my work to pile up. It’s been really exhausting. Reinhart, what do you think about taking over as the king?” [Erias]
“I’m not doing it, and also, don’t say that so casually.” [Reinhart]
“It really is exhausting… If possible, I don’t want to work anymore…” [Erias]
“Even then, where have you ever seen a person who greets his guest while lying down?” [Elize]
“You’re looking at one.” [Erias]
“…You really don’t intend on fixing your behavior today, do you?” [Elize]
“Nope, not one bit. Now, get to the point and let’s do away with whatever trouble you’ve brought me today.” [Erias]
Erias’ expression suddenly became serious when he asked that, but he still refused to get up.
The tension on his face and voice was truly unlike the tension released by his whole body. Reinhart closed his eyes.
“The package.” [Reinhart]
When Reinhart said that, the guide that has been standing next to the wall, took a small box and presented it.
“What do we have here… Oh?” [Erias]
The king supported his body with one elbow to open the box, and when he did, he laughed as though he’d seen an interesting toy.
“It’s a pearl necklace. Big, uniform color… Spectacular. Not something that can be found in our country, in fact, even the pearl-producing countries would struggle to produce this. Where did you get it? Why are you showing it to me?” [Erias]
“I promised not to say where I got it from, but I can promise you that it’s not through illegal channels. It’s a present for your queen. And we can prepare more if necessary too.’ [Reinhart]
“I see. My queen has been looking for an outfit to wear for an evening party. This will serve well. I’ll be sure to have her wear it in the next evening party. And I’ll also be sure to endorse the pearls of the Jamil family.” [Erias]
Upon hearing Reinhart’s words, the king’s smile deepened, and he said exactly what he would do.
When Elia saw how her uncle and her father understood each other just by passing that small box, she was surprised, and she couldn’t help but ask.
“Uncle, did you understand what my father want to say with just that?” [Elia]
“One reason is because we’ve known each other for a long time, but another is because of the current state of his duchy. I hear that some nobles have been harassing Reinhart lately. And Reinhart and Elize have also started showing their faces more recently, even though they’ve minimized their participation in the social events until now.
With the situation like that, by showing me this necklace, and on top of that, saying that he could prepare more later, I could easily surmise that he wishes to use the endorsement of the royal family and the pearl to strengthen his connection to the other families and his influence in high society. I could also surmise that he came here to ask me, the king, for a favor that would benefit his pearl trade.
Reinhart and Elize are both also well aware of my personality and what I can do with my authority, so any request from them should be within the scope that I am capable of. Even if they request something difficult, they will provide enough benefits that will make it palatable.” [Erias]
As he said that, he turned to her parents with a scheming face like that of a child’s. Her parents were wearing a similar expression. Elia eyed the two groups back and forth, and found respect and admiration for the strong trust between them.
“So, is there anything else I can help you with?” [Erias]
“No, that’s plenty. There’s no point if I borrow too much help from you.” [Reinhart]
“True. So, what other business do you have? If there’s none, then I’d like to ask a question of my own.” [Erias]
“Oh? What is it?” [Elize]
“Ryouma Takebayashi.” [Erias]