Several hours had passed since we were forcibly compelled to come along with the princess.
The carriage rattled as it proceeded through the dark forest.
“We will be there soon.
Princess Rosé said so with a stern face while she was checking her hair.
The carriage stopped after several minutes, just as she announced.
“Yuuki-san, Arina-san…, please take care of me.”
A person from the residence welcomed us as he opened the coach door.
First the guardian knights, then the princess, then the two of us followed them out of the coach.
I looked up at the Isky estate. It was a huge, dark and evil-looking mansion.
The grounds were fenced by tall trees so even though the weather was nice, almost no sunlight made it through.
The mansion itself looked like it had a shadow cast over it.
*caw*, *caw*, some crows cawed, making the mysterious air even stronger.
“I, it looks like a haunted house…”
Arina said so while trembling behind me.
I was thinking the exact same thing.
I hope the silhouette standing at the window looking at us is not ‘something we’re not supposed to see’.
The order of events is a little backwards, but let’s go a few hours back.
I was asking about our purpose and plans about going to face Marquis Isky.
I repeated the words and the knights nodded.
“As you know, there had been long-standing tensions between our country and Cidre.”
“There were rumors that Marquis Isky, whose territory borders Cidre, had been introducing spies.”
Well this is troubling.
Even if you tell me about this world’s situation, it’s all gibberish to me.
“In short, our country and the neighboring country are on bad terms. Then, we suspect that Marquis Isky is letting spies into the country.”
Princess Rosé broke it down for me and explained.
“Hmm…. So Princess is going to inspect him then.”
“I can’t do that, which is why I’m using a disguise. If they knew I was coming they’d hide the evidence, right.”
“Well, yeah, but couldn’t you ask someone else?”
“That’s obvious, good grief.”
*Haah*, the knights let out a sigh.
“The reason why Princess Rosé has to do a direct inspection, and hide her own status at that.”
“If only it wasn’t Marquis Isky…. This is most troubling.”
It looks like there are some complicated circumstances, I have no idea what they’re saying.
Then the princess said something shocking.
“That’s because Marquis Isky’s son, Lord Glenn is my fiancé. I have a clear relationship with Lord Glen.”
Then she nonchalantly added.
“In a rather political way.”
Looks like she dislikes him quite a bit.
“Princess Rosé, please tone it down…..”
“Your attitude is showing.”
“Oh my, I’m not princess Rosé. I’m a relative who looks just like her, Demy Champagne Blanc de Blancs Merry. I have no relation to Lord Glenn.”
I see, so that’s the story they’re going with.
“Well, grudges aside, why does Princess Rosé or Lady Demy have to inspect that fiancé?”
“Who do you think hates Lord Glenn the most in this country?”
Lady Demy, formerly Princess Rosé, said this with a composed expression.
I already got the gist of it.
“That’s right, it’s me. If I couldn’t find an evidence of his rebellion, then there’s no choice but to declare them innocent. That’s the rough of it.”
Looks like ya got some grudge there.
Really frightening, this princess.
“If Princess Rosé says so then… I’m afraid to say, but she was emphatically ordered by her esteemed Father, His Majesty the King. She was half-forced into it.”
“If His Majesty sent someone from the Bureau of Investigation to Marquis Isky’s house, he will lose the trust of the border Lords.”
“If he couldn’t trust his own relatives, then of course he will lose unifying power. That said, now that the neighboring countries could start a war at any moment, he needs to quickly verify any rumors. Those are the circumstances.”
The knights supplemented the princess’ emotional reasoning with some internal affairs.
“Well, I don’t quite get the difficult parts, but I understand somehow. Anyway, you need to find evidence whether this Marquis Isky is a traitor or not, right.”
As I finished with that princess Rosé slowly nodded in affirmation.
“Do you have any concrete plans?”
“I want you two to get in touch with the people at the Isky House using your statuses as attendant and maid. … I don’t care how trifling, I want you to collect rumors and testimonies. Servants should be more loose-lipped than the Marquis’ own family.
In other words we have to get friendly with the employees and gather rumors.
“As I said before, my name is Demy, the third daughter of a relative of the Ivan Royal Family, Archduke Merry, making her debut in high society by going around to each and every noble’s house. I ask that you treat me as such.”
“Well you can dodge anything difficult by saying ‘I’m only an underling, I don’t understand’.”
“Don’t say anything strange that will get us found out, okay?”
The knight reminded me, and I hesitantly nodded.
Hero-sama who’s been silently listening without saying anything timidly raised her hand all of a sudden.
“I, I, I can’t do something like p, pretending to be a m, maid!”
… and started saying something like that.
“We’ll just say that Lady Demy employed a country girl she found on the way. That way you won’t be out of place even if your manners are bad.”
“It’s not a rare thing to employ a servant along the way, after all. Well, train yourself as a newbie maid as much as possible.”
A~h, she’s going to cry.
Looking at her makes me worried.
“Welcome, Demy-sama! You must be tired after your long journey.”
A man who looked like a butler, who opened the door, held lady Demy’s hand in greeting.
A bald patch on the top of his head and a long nose featured prominently on him.
“I believe this is the first time we’ve met. My name is Tris, I’ve had the honor to be working here in the Isky house. Should you need anything during your stay here please don’t hesitate to call on me.”
“My regards, Tris.” answered lady Demy.
“Come, Yuuki, Arina. Bring my luggage, will you.”
I believe the term ‘Ojousama’ applies to all kinds of characters, but it looks like Lady Demy is one of the high-handed ones.
They probably made her a spoiled child for being the youngest.
“Well, uh, I’ve heard people say that you looked like Princess Rosé, but, well, how should I say, you’re even more—”
“I’m way more cute… right?”
He probably wanted to say “You’re even more alike”.
Pushing it even further, Lady Demy said,
“I said, I’m way more cute than Princess Rosé, right?”
Because she said so butler-san became stiff.
Being called ‘beautiful, just like the princess’ is compliment enough already, but to say that you’re cuter than her on top of that, just how cheeky are you, young lady.
—was probably what he thought.
“N, no—ha ha ha. Yes, truly, compared to Princess Rosé who is said to be as lovely as a bouquet of flowers, you, young lady, are as beautiful as if another flower were added onto that. I, Tris, had my eye captivated for a moment.”
Ooh—, as expected from a butler. He nicely dodged it.
“Then stop comparing me with that girl each and every time … it’s really getting on my nerves.”
Lady Demy went onwards, looking irritated.
Behind us who were following behind her, Tris bellowed an apology: “P, pardon my insolence!”
“What’s this, does Lady Demy hate Princess Rosé?”
As I was carrying the luggage I stealthily asked Lady Demy.
“I wanted to show them I’m not on Rosé’s side, and also, if you’re always being compared everywhere you go you’d get sick of it, right.”
You sure thought this through.
“But what you did just now was a little…”
“Probably only Princess Rosé herself in this whole country could say that.”
The knight added to our secret talk, pointing out her overdoing things.
Then Lady Demy puffed her cheeks a little.
“In times like this showing you’re an ally a bit unnaturally is just the right thing to do!”
She said that and sulked.
“B, but, now that she said that at the start, we can expect comparisons between Princess Rosé and Lady Demy becoming forbidden, so it’s a good protection from getting found out, right. I think it’s a good strategy.”
Hearing Arina say that all of a sudden really caught me by surprise.
“……. You know, you do say something clever every once in a while. What’s going on inside your head?”
“Eh, rrr, really? S, ss, sorry, Arina, said something smart even though I’m dumb, huh?”
Ah—, good, she’s normal.
It’s actually a relief that she said something ambiguous.
Tris, who was drenched in cold sweat, caught up with us, so the secret talk had to be suspended.
With the butler’s guidance, we went through the residence gardens and finally arrived at the front door.
There were ten-odd maids on the stairs in front of the residence lined up to the left and right to greet us.
The three people standing in front of the door must be Marquis Isky’s family.
“Welcome to the Isky residence, Lady Demy!!”
Once we were at a reasonable distance the maids greeted us in unison.
In response, Lady Demy raised the hems of her skirts slightly and bowed elegantly like she would when inviting one for a dance.
“I am Demy Champagne Blanc de Blancs Merry, the third daughter of the Merry house. For three days from today I shall be in your care.”, she greeted them.
“Well well, the journey must have been rough on you.”
As he greeted her with a smile, the man in the middle came down the stairs.
He had an angular face, a beard, and was wearing a military uniform with medals pinned on it.
He was perhaps in his 40s.
He gave off an intimidating feeling despite his smile.
“I believe this is the first time we’ve met. My name is Malto Macallan Isky. I’ve had the honor of being granted the title of ‘Marquis’ by His Highness The King. I am greatly indebted to the young lady’s esteemed father.”
Lord Malto offered his hand and Lady Demy took it in a handshake.
Then the other two followed down the stairs.
“I will now introduce you. This is my wife, Welsh.”
Lady Welsh gave a bow in greeting.
She was wearing a strapless dress and large earrings.
She hid it under lipstick and face powder, but she was a lady with considerable age.
……. How should I say this, she’s the very image of a ‘Wicked Stepmother’ out of a Grimm Fairy Tale, an old lady who gives off a bad feeling.
“I take it you know of my son Glenn?”
As the Princess’ fiancé, there’s probably no noble who don’t know of him.
The introduction had a nuance like that.
“Yes. I have heard of him.”
“We were fortunate to have his marriage with Her Highness the Princess decided.”
*twitch*… Lady Demy’s eyebrows reacted.
I know how you feel, but please don’t reveal it so openly…….
“Good day, I’m Glen Irish Isky.”
He had a physique like his father and neat blonde hair.
He was wearing a brand new military uniform with few decorations.
“Well, I wouldn’t have imagined I would meet such a beautiful young lady. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
His intonation was overflowing with self-confidence, as if he would announce ‘I’m handsome!’ at any moment.
With that unpleasant airhead for a fiancé, I understand how the princess would hate him.
“Please accept our hospitality to the fullest and rest your travel fatigue.”
Finally, Lord Malto closed the conversation with that and ended their introductions.
Well, let’s intrude on the residence.
As the mood became like that Lord Malto suddenly raised his hand.
Immediately the butlers nodded and stood in the way of the knights.
“Well then Sir Knights, you’ve done well. Please allow our Isky house to take responsibility for your dear Lady and look after her.”
“Wha……” “What did you say!?”
The knights were shaken.
“Are you saying you’re turning us away at the gates!?”
“That cannot be, oh no no you must’ve misheard. Our Isky house is a military family. Saying that we would go so far as not appreciate the guards’ efforts is…”
“Even us humble knights have heard of Marquis Isky’s’ exploits. We do not doubt in his power even in the slightest.”
“But this and that are different matters! We were ordered by the Archduke to not let any harm come to our Lady. We couldn’t possibly return so casually!”
“Ha ha ha. I wonder what kind of thing do you mean by ‘harm’ in this Isky residence?”
“Nuu. B, but! We can’t face the Archduke…”
At the end of the quarrel, Tris said the words that became the finishing blow.
“Surely you do not doubt us, the Isky house, who have marriage ties with the princess?”
He said the name!
Both Malto and Glenn just indifferently let him say that. This means what the butler said was as good as having come from the master.
Even I who is unfamiliar with this world understand that much.
At the mention of their master’s true name, the knights’ faces turned red.
People really have blood vessels stand out when they’re angry, huh. The two were trembling throughout their bodies, and they were just about to draw their swords.
“You two. Watch your mouths.”
Lady Demy interjected.
“You’re in the presence of Marquis Isky. Stop being so obstinate.”
“I’m telling you to stand down. You want me to lose face even before my début?”
The knights gritted their teeth, making an audible noise, then took a deep breath.
They turned towards Tris and bowed deeply.
“We’re sorry to have been so rude.”
“We humbly apologize.”
The two understood.
The one who is angry, who had the right to be angry was Princess Rosé.
But she endured it for the sake of her goal.
The knights couldn’t possibly ruin all that.
“…… Yuuki, Arina. We’d like to say a few things, please.”
“It’s okay afterwards, just come.”
“Well then, we’ll be leaving our Lady to you.”
“Please excuse us with this.”
With heavy voices, the two mechanically gave their farewell greetings and turned towards the coach.
“No no, such vigorous gentlemen, you have been very reliable.”
Tris, turning towards their retreating figures, launched sarcastic remarks.
“….. Well then. That missy over there, is she a maid?” said Tris, turning around to face us who were left behind.
Arina froze up in surprise.
“Yes, that’s right. I’ve taken a liking to her and picked her up on the way.”
Lady Demy introduced Arina just as planned.
“She’s cute, right?”
“Hahaa, but she seems to still be lacking in regards to real work.”
“That’s true. So, I want to have her trained here.”
“I see. Please leave it to us. ….hm, by the way, how about that lad over there? We thought he was an apprentice knight when we saw him, but that doesn’t look to be the case?”
“He’s my attendant.”
The moment Lady Demy said so, the people around her stirred up a commotion.
“He’ll be looking after my personal ‘needs’ so don’t mind him.”
Lady Demy added, not minding the others’ reactions.
“Ha, a, an attendant, is he? Well, a young lady having a male attendant…”
“Oh my, is it strange? Nobody ever told me there was anything wrong with it, though?”
“W, well, that’s true.”
Lady Demy turned a deep smile towards Tris, who was drenched in cold sweat.
“I also picked him up along the way. He’s cute, right?”
It looks like I’m really going to be her
Immediately, Lord Malto laughed so loud his chest heaved.
“You’re a really unusual young lady. I’ve taken a liking to you.”
Then he clapped his hands.
“Now, what are you all doing! Show Lady Demy some hospitality!”
With that the servants started moving again.
“…….Looks like we couldn’t keep up the act in front of you, huh. We’ve been outclassed, to say the least. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Malto, seemingly pleased by Lady Demy, brought her inside the residence while laughing uproariously.
They went inside, and Arina and I, and also Tris were left outside the house.
I thought that I should at least see the knights off.
As I was thinking that Tris said, “… you, umm, how should I say. Is there any chance, you and the Archduke’s daughter…”
—just what’s he trying to say.
Well, I understood some way or another.
Anyhow, I should play along with Lady Demy’s ruse.
“You know, Lady Demy. She’s got a mole under her breast.”
He went ‘gaah’ from the shock.
Look at you.
“Curse you, curse you Isky…!”
“How dare you take the princess’ name in vain!”
Back at the coach, the knights unleashed their anger, taking out their swords and swinging it at the sky.
“They definitely seem used to doing it. They must be doing other things besides!”
“Damn them! They’re humiliating the princess even before she’s married!”
“Not satisfied! No matter how many times I curse them I’m not satisfied!!”
“……Y, you seem to be really angry, knight-san…”
Arina hid behind me in fear.
“Well of course we’re angry.”
“…… *gasp*! Y, y y, you two…”
After a little while the knights noticed our presence.
“Sorry. We showed you a disgraceful sight.”
“We couldn’t control our temper. We still lack training…”
“Nah…., it’s obvious you’d get angry.”
I said so, and the knights shook their heads.
“But Princess Rosé could put up with it.”
“Compared to us she did it splendidly.”
I do think she certainly put up with it really well.
You usually wouldn’t endure your hated fiancé using your name willy-nilly like that.
She could’ve blown her cover and flew into a rage right then and there.
“But I think she could hold her ground because she got mad at you two.”
That was what I said.
She calmed down precisely because she got angry at someone else. I think that played a part in it.
“So, probably, her anger at you wasn’t for nothing.”
The two pondered with faces full of melancholy.
“Now that you’ve said so, we feel relieved.”
The knight took his sword out, scabbard and all, and pushed it onto me.
“Use this. You can hide it in your luggage.”
“If somebody found out you can get out of it saying we made you carry it.”
Well, I do have the E:ID phone so there’s no need to be worried.
I gratefully took the sword.
“――Be careful. I heard the Isky residence keeps monsters in their basement.”
The knight gave me a warning.
“K, keeping monsters?”
“Well, this is no more than rumor, but…. seeing how they behaved I’m sure they must be hiding something.”
“They must be aiming for something by driving us away, just thinking of it terrifies me. I’m worried for the Princess.”
“Yeah. We’ll protect Rosé.”
The knights held out their hands.
“The princess picking two unknown persons like you up was probably out of a royalty’s capability of judgement. Most of all, it is great that you two were the ones accompanying her.”
“We cannot protect the princess. I’ve never dreamed that I’d say those words someday…”
“”――We’re leaving the rest to you.””
I slowly nodded.”
“…….Yuu-kun, are you angry?”
Arina asked me as we watched the back of the leaving coach.
I don’t know.
I only just met the Princess a while ago, I don’t know the least bit about her.
In this short time I probably felt familiarity with the person called Rosé.
The knights also loved the princess as well.
Not just as their master, but because of her personal character.
So I became angry like this.
I’m angry at the name of ‘The Princess’ being used as a figurehead.
They’re disregarding Princess Rosé’s character.
Her figure, heading straight for her duty despite being not so different to me in age.
Even her figure when she forgot her duties as a Princess and showed her girly side.
I’m sure even her figure that I haven’t seen.
Everything. Everything is disregarded and used in the name of ‘fiancée’.
Ah. That’s why I feel disgusted.
“….――I’m, angry as well.”
Then Arina said this.
“I see. Then Arina is angry too.” «TN: *shiver*»
“Let’s uncover their evil deeds and get the marriage cancelled.”
“Yeah! Let’s do our best!”
Rosé who is going to succeed the kingdom, or the Isky house who sit in their seats watching, waiting for the opportunity to overturn the kingdom, neither of them matter in the least.
Let live the side who will be useful to Yuu-kun, and destroy the other.
That was the plan.
――But, they’ve made a big mistake.
By their foolish acts the Isky house provoked his anger.
Despite being trash, they dared injure the sublime Yuu-kun’s heart.
Arina looked up at the gloomy residence and grinned.
That’s right, she’s decided which side will be destroyed.