Why did I hide? I’m an idiot…
It was a reflexive action that caused me to hide under the office desk. Even though I understood that the possibility was infinitesimally unlikely, the possibility that the Viscount who had been chasing me might have come in forced me to move my body.
His Highness’ voice was familiar to my ears. I thought about leaving my hiding place, but the fading, thin voice answering His Highness made me decide against it.
It would be bad if someone other than His Highness found me in this place, wouldn’t it?
It would be even worse if the person who came with found out that I was hiding.
The Lilia in my head was saying, “It’s also bad if His Highness the Crown Prince finds out!’ I’m lifting my eyes, but I’m going through with it.
Mostly, His Highness was the one who made me dress like this, and I think it’s a good thing that I escaped to His Highness’ office after being chased.
I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but the quietness of the room made me listen unintentionally.
…This is force majeure, because I was the one hiding first! Nigel-sama and the others came in after me!
I think I’m getting used to making excuses in my mind.
With a thud, I heard something fall outside the window. A mewling sound told me that it was a cat.
The sound was unexpectedly loud.
And yet, neither of them seemed to open their mouths.
Strange…A somewhat tense silence dominated the room.
Who could the other person be?
I want to peek at them, but as I hide under the office desk, my view is in the opposite direction from where they are. The foot of the office desk is boarded up and I can’t see them at all. That’s why it is hiding me, but it’s very frustrating right now.
“…Brother, aren’t you busy today…?”
The fact that he called him ‘brother,’ means that it is His Highness Nigel’s brother. But it’s not His Highness Shion or His Highness Al, so there’s only one person left.
…His Highness Errol?
His Highness the Fourth Prince, whom I have met but can’t recall face clearly.
“I am busy, to be sure. But I’ll have to put that aside to talk to you.”
The air trembled. Probably because His Highness Errol shook himself.
“I…what in the world can I help you with…?”
It was His Highness Nigel who opened his mouth first.
“…I called you here to talk about the cleanup of your conspiracy.”
It was a voice that made me wonder from the bottom of my heart.
Conspiracy?…In other words, you mean like the last time I was targeted or something?
Why is His Highness Errol here? I wondered. Because it didn’t seem like His Highness Errol was involved enough to hold any kind of grudge against the Duchess of Grachie.
The sound of regular, crunching footsteps approached and stopped in front of the office desk.
His Highness seemed to pick up a few papers from the desk and handed them to His Highness Errol.
“This is a dictation of the matter of your entourage inviting a suspicious person into the royal palace.”
“I have compiled a list of statements and eyewitness accounts…Your aide, Viscount Farsad, aimed at the life of Duchess Grachie.”
“Please wait. Rove is not like that…”
“He did it, Errol.”
He wanted to say that he wouldn’t, or that there was no way he would…But before he could finish, his words were interrupted by His Highness Nigel.
His Highness was not at all agitated, but cold as usual, and his words had an irrefutable strength to them.
“I have the testimony of an eyewitness. And your entourage says that he did it at your command.”
“The Viscount used your name when he let the Duchess’ attacker into the palace.”
“I didn’t know about this. Brother, I really didn’t know.”
“…Whether you knew it or not doesn’t matter.”
What? It doesn’t matter?
I felt like I could see His Highness Errol’s stunned state by what was said unexpectedly.
“As long as your entourage has brought you your name, it is considered to be the same as what you did.”
There was a loud clatter. Perhaps it was His Highness Errol kneeling on the floor.
“Errol, you say you knew nothing of this, but it is clear from multiple testimonies that what you wanted was the throne…that you and your people were ultimately trying to invade my position.”
Suddenly someone, probably His Highness Errol, gasped.
What? His Highness Errol was intending to be the crown prince?
Wait a minute, if he was just taking advantage of him, he could handle it, but if he had a voluntary intent, that would be a felony, right?
To aim to the position of the Crown Prince is a crime of state disturbance, or even the overthrowing of the state…It could be considered high treason if it is done poorly.
“I have heard that you always said you were more fit to be the Crown Prince than I was.”
His Highness Errol clammers.
Huh? Did he really say that? Is His Highness Errol an idiot?
I only know him as Nadi’s twin brother, but if he really thought he was better than His Highness Nigel, then no doubt he is dimwitted, and even if he wasn’t, he was very shallow in his behavior to say such a thing.
There’s no one more qualified to be the crown prince of this country than Nigel-sama…I don’t think that’s just my wife’s favoritism.
“…Whether it was your desire to replace me, or Viscount Farsad’s ambition to do so first, I do not know. But it seems that Viscount Farsad, who was inspired by you, has moved quite a few people.”
Quite a few people?
“Did you infuse the recent attack on the Duchess of Grachie, and the turmoil of Rhodelia and Alhane at the evening party?”
It took the form of a question, but His Highness must have been sure of it.
“I received a messenger from Leon of Alhane with a message of caution, and the Duke himself came all the way from Feldie in the west with a letter of evidence to explain.
There is a clatter and the sound of His Highness Errol’s garment rubbing with a small shiver.
“Above all, your greatest crime is that you targeted my princess…Arthirea.”
“Were Arthirea’s guards looking for an opportunity to thin the system? Oh, the raid you planned has ended in an attempt. We haven’t captured the viscount yet, but it’s only a matter of time.”
…That’s the kind of ‘cleaning up’ that Lilia did, wasn’t it?…Yeah, I knew it. It’s Lilia, right?
That’s why I was even forced to dress as a man to make sure I was isolated.
Not many people know what I look like…So even a simple disguise like this would go unnoticed.
“I didn’t attack Princess Arthirea. It’s just that Rove took pity on my love for the princess and took her out… I didn’t want to be rough with her.”
“So it was an abduction…”
His Highness’s attitude was very frosty.
“I have no intention of abducting anyone or doing anything like that…”
“Without her consent, what you were trying to do was probably an abduction, or kidnapping…either way, it must be a crime.”
Nigel-sama is relentless in his verbal daggers.
…This master key…I wonder if he was going to use it to escape.
I gently held the master key that I had tucked into the hidden pocket of my long coat from above.
“Brother…I just missed…I didn’t think of it as a big attack.”
Sounds of pleading are mixed in.
…With all his heart? What? (***The phrase used here is こいしく or “koishiku” which has many meanings. I wasn’t too sure of the exact translation. It probably means something along the lines of pleading with all his heart)
I didn’t understand the meaning, maybe I missed the point.
“But it seems that those who attacked the rear palace definitely aimed for her life…Everyone’s blades were coated with poison…Arthirea’s body is weak. Even the slightest touch would have been life-threatening.”
I mutter in my mouth, ‘No, that can’t be true.’
“In other words, things have already gone out of your control and are out of your reach.”
From the back of his throat, Nigel-sama laughed mockingly. It almost sounded like he was in a good mood.
I can almost hear him calling him ‘incompetent’…
A voice, pleasant to the ears, called out His Highness Errol’s name.
“Although your other sins may be reduced, I will never forgive you for targeting Arthirea. Be prepared for that.”
His Highness Errol nodded in a muffled voice.
“I will speak to you shortly. You should refrain from leaving the palace.”
There was the sound of a small robe rustling, hinting that His Highness Errol had stood up.
“I have no particular desire to keep an eye on you, but I urge you to restrain yourself. If you continue to commit more crimes on top of this, you will not be able to reduce your crimes to first class.”
To reduce the crimes to first class means to reduce the sentence for a death penalty.
…Royalty can’t be tried under normal law. But perhaps the attempt at the position of Crown Prince would be the opposite?
But by the way His Highness talked about it, it seemed like aiming at me was more of a problem to him than anything.
It’s because I’m the only Elzevert.
My sense is that it’s like I’m a rare creature on the verge of extinction.
“…Yes. I’ll keep that in mind.”
The door closed with a small slam.
…He’s gone, right…?
Listening closely, I crawled quietly out of my hiding place, reassuring myself that everyone but Nigel-sama was gone.
Turning around, His Highness Nigel shook his shoulders widely and froze when he saw me. His brilliant face seemed to have lost all expression.
I guess he couldn’t understand why I was here.
Even so, I should say that it was indeed like Nigel-sama to quickly regain his mind.
“I was chased by someone named Viscount Farsad…”
Before that, I was separated from Phil-Lynn and a lot of other things happened, but I skipped that part. Because if I told him in detail, he would have been angry with me and also Phil-Lynn.
“…So, with the help of a lady-in-waiting named Elinia Nerke, I escaped here.”
I thought the explanation was a little too short, but I wasn’t wrong.
His Highness Nigel’s expression turned slightly thoughtful.
“Yes, and I was entrusted with this master key…”
I hold out the key.
“So, what about Elinia?”
“I don’t know. I got chased out and started running away…”
I shook my head weakly.
His Highness reached out his hand and I wondered if he wanted the key, but but he picked me up again.
“I told you that I’d walk on my own from now on.”
“I know that, but this is an emergency, so forgive me.”
Is this an emergency?
Sadly, my senses were becoming numb. I’ve come to think that it’s something that happens whenever I’ve been chased after a while.
“…You’re always in danger whenever I take my eyes off of you, aren’t you?”
The door was opened haphazardly, and His Highness’ feet went off somewhere without hesitation. After turning the corner twice, I had no idea where we were.
“To say it’s dangerous is an understatement, but…”
I don’t think it’s worth mentioning to that extent.
His Highness looked at me with a sigh and then shook his head.
“Um…where are you going?”
“To your palace…It’s okay if you go back now.”
I want to change clothes, if possible. It’s easy to move around dressed as a boy, but I’m a little uncomfortable because my senses are becoming more and more familiar these.
“…If Nigel-sama had taught me about the ‘clean up’ from the beginning, I wouldn’t have childishly sulked like that.”
“You being sulky wasn’t so bad.”
His Highness smiles.
“That’s not how it works…”
I almost fell in love with the meaningful look in his eyes. I wonder if this is what a man’s sex appeal is all about?
“…Nigel-sama, this is a special delivery for you. It’s lunchtime, isn’t it?”
I pressed the basket in my hand to his chest.
It’s dangerous. I almost forgot my original purpose.
“Oh, thank you.”
His facial expression became visibly tender.
“A galette of chopped cheese and salted pork, sprinkled with sautéed greens and stir-fried walnuts. It’s also served with a bucket sandwich with fresh cheese, ham and greens, and a cookie with nuts. The drink is chai. It has a nice ginger flavor.”
Maybe it was because it was all the things His Highness liked, but his mouth dropped open.
I’m happy he was pleased.
“Speaking of which, how did you like the braised salted pork I served at the dinner the night before?”
I provided several recipes during this Founding Festival event week. Even though I didn’t make them with my own hands, I was still concerned about their reputation.
With such trivial talk, it didn’t take long for us to arrive at the palace.
In front of the door, His Highness let out a single coughing bout.
“By the way…”
“…Where did Phil-Lynn, your supposed bodyguard, go?
How should I answer that?
“Oh, yes. That…I got a little bit separated…”
His Highness’ temples twitched.
I’m sorry, Phil. I didn’t do a good job of hiding it…
T/N: RIP Phil (￣～￣;)
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