The Crown Regalia used by men features a wide breadth for the loop around their necks, with a heroic roaring lion attached. That same lion was glaring at me, lording over my presence.
The thick, skillfully-done navy-blue and gold embroidery shined on the white tunic with a sense of composure and dignity.
The navy-blue thread, which matched His Highness’s eye color, depicted the pattern of the royal family: feathers, drawn with gold thread, fluttering down to the earth.
It goes without saying that the feather motif is Leonoz’s wings. Nobody except temple officials or royalty are allowed to adopt the uniform of the golden divine messenger. From the tip of his garments and reaching all the way until the points of his polished leather shoes, I felt tiny from the ample intimidating air of a royal.
“Would you mind it if I were to be impolite and sit next to you?”
There doesn’t exist a gentleman who sits across a lady without prior notice, but… having the distinct impression that His Highness asked only for form’s sake, he lowered his back down onto the bench Peko left empty without waiting for my permission.
―― Switch out. Give me back my helmet girl.
With the ill-mannered glances piercing into my sides from right next to me, it’s difficult to keep sitting still. For a low-class aristocratic daughter to be this close to His Worshipped Highness, there’s no chance, right? One-to-one, even.
… I made a mistake with the starting tension, huh.
I had abstained from acting like I would swoon in delight. In this calm atmosphere, imagine the degree of screaming “Kyaaa! Kyaaa!” that would result from inviting people over. It’d be a racket.
I wouldn’t want to start any disgraceful rumors if they become intoxicated with the likes of you guys, my dear herbs.
“…… I’ve already been rude. Please, Your Highness, go ahead; take your time and rest.”
“You needn’t be in such a hurry, though?”
Oy! Doing something like pinning down my skirt, that’s some real unsuitable behavior for a prince character!
Shall I report to Miss Cecille about this walking reed?
With the combination of roots, leaves, and a shark’s tail fin: ‘Your Highness, your ears turned into cat ears!” If something like that happened, it’d be an interesting development.
“Would you please do me a favor and kindly avert your hand?”
“My apologies for being rude. It was because there was rubbish clinging onto your dress.”
………… sorry for doubting you, Your Highness. Because the dead grass, mud, and dirt are all my precious and beloved friends, I didn’t notice them.
While idly pinching a leaf in my fingers and looking over my bearings for the day after tomorrow –
“You don’t wear hats?” I was asked.
You curious about the kerchief? Feeling suspicious about the lack of showing my face? Yeah, it’s the latter, huh.
“Yes, well… my head is big, so there are seldom any hats that match my size.”
I guess the real reason I didn’t tell him the truth is that at heart, I’m worried about his reply; that in this way, I would be seen as a woman even for a moment. But after making a complacent smile, His Highness’s hand glided along so that he was cradling the side of my face.
“Is that so? And yet it’s so tiny compared to my hand – look.”
Only an “eek!” sounded out from my throat. Won’t anybody praise me for not letting out a scream?
In the first place, a situation like this where a low-ranking noble comes into physical contact with royalty doesn’t happen. Only greetings do, at the very most.
Feeling the sensation of him lightly caressing over the towel I used to cover my head, I had stiffened up when it fell behind my head and onto my neck with a soft thud.
Immediately drawing back the hand that exposed my bare face, the crafty boy was smiling in innocence. But, it’s a counterfeit compared with Peko’s smile.
~~~ This guy, oi, he’s absolutely aiming for me?!
“Miss Theresa, from which house are you a part of?”
Inquired about my family name, I, who am dangling from the edge of nobility, belatedly gave an answer.
“―― Pardon my rudeness. I am called Theresa Ruff Dalton, Your Highness Ikuta.”
Clapping the palm of my hands onto the center of my chest once more, I bowed my head. The use of both hands displays respect and affection, along with denoting proof that you mean no signs of treachery to your companion.
”Dalton… the Baron Dalton residence?”
”Yes. I received an invitation to participate as one of Your Highness’s candidates. It is an undeserved honor.”
”Then we’ve already met once before, correct?”
“I met with you three days ago.”
I didn’t raise my face.
The Second Prince seems intent on digging up his own recollection of the event. Or more precisely, he’s fixedly staring at me.
…… That is, if I stick out my tongue, bump my forehead with my fist and go “Teehee☆” I might get him to remember, but that tea party went all the way beyond a dark past into a pitch-black one. So I beg of you, keep burying that incident in the annals of time.
“Is my esteemed sister-in-law an acquaintance of yours from before?”
“No, we met for the first time today.”
“… nevertheless, you two seemed to have been speaking quite intimately, though.”
Look! It came.
The former hero Peko and I, there isn’t any common ground tying us together. It might be suspected from our frank conversations, but it can’t be helped. However, I’m reluctant to look at our relationship in that way. Questioning whether I could correctly remember my social station in my response, I nodded in response to the silent question in his gaze.
“I had just finished making a request to the gardener to allow me to assist in the care of this herb garden, when the venerable hero bestowed her presence onto me. The hero is a very nice person, isn’t she? She obliged to candidly talk to the likes of myself as well.”
“Yes. My sister-in-law is a kind person.”
Where did the intimidating air of royalty go off to? The boy, whose mouth uncontrollably slackened into a proud smile, showed a younger brother’s face who truly adored his sister-in-law. So that’s the reason why he was so worried as to probe and check.
A “Hero” is special. To a nation, to a country, to the world, he or she is an irreplaceable existence.
The heavens spread its rule across both the lands without seas and the lands without mountains. The sky god, Mia, universally watches over men far and wide.
The Hero, with the sacred beast worthy of being the supreme god’s messenger guiding her, defeated the demon king in accordance with legend. Once he was brought down, peace returned to the world. And also after the demon king was defeated, the Hero did not return to the next world.
What was the outcome? All the countries sought out the Hero for their own wants and devices, trying to snatch her away.
The current status is that Rionia has a monopoly now for sure, but according to the stories I’ve heard… When our country beckoned her, the four coastal countries decided to open their ports. Delegations from many nations flooded the Royal Palace, and ships piled up with gifts descended onto the harbors. They say that the surface of the sea couldn’t be seen.
Again, they also say that the envoys’ beautiful gifts and dazzling presents went beyond being a sight for sore eyes; oh man, they were temptations that shouldn’t be viewed.
… Thinking back upon that time, the gardener in me had narrowed her eyes.
Ranging from young pretty boys to middle-aged men with auras of refined masculinity (and after a long, involved process of coercing, both beautiful girls and women), the best-looking beauties were chosen to be dispatched as envoys in the aims of hitting the unmindful hero’s favorite strike zones.
It was thought that the Crown Prince, who had first and foremost thoroughly enclosed the Hero in his arms, would do something like reject the envoys. However, contrary to popular expectations, it is said that he had sat down in an audience with them with a smiling face…… as befitting of someone with a large amount of haughtiness.
Only the current ruler’s direct descendants can yield the Crown Regalia’s “Gem of Sunlight”. People appear to think that Peko was awarded it due to her achievements as the Hero, but I think it’s different.
―― Peko is already a “daughter-in-law”. The matching set look with the Crown Prince’s ring suggests that she will probably become the future Queen.
The delegates who had an audience with her noticed with a single glance. The person herself might be the only one who hasn’t noticed the selfish conduct of the previous countries, actually?
It was an unpleasant way of doing things.
However, Peko had spoken happily of the Crown Prince, so… that the Crown Regalia isn’t a chain tying her down to this country, and that the ring exists to protect her from evil intentions – it’s something I hope for.
I don’t know the Crown Prince’s personality, but he’s described as a cool, collected, and handsome man. The only thing I’m certain about is that, differing from the rumors, he’s a devious man who has great confidence in himself.
Now then, what to do about his younger brother in front of me?
His Highness had been looking at my hands, secretly peeking at me with sidelong glances.
Ah, so mud had been thoroughly packed into the spaces beneath my fingernails. I see.
“… so I heard that you had helped tend to the garden, but do you happen to have an interest in medicinal herbs?”
I was aware that my features had crumbled at the speed of light.
You heard that? What’s that, you want to ask me something? Oh, you want to hear from me about medicinal herbs, I gotcha – then open yer ears and listen up!
“Yes, right, um – err, seriously?! Gardening is my hobby, wait, no! It’s my reason for living, my raison d’etre! As one would expect of the Royal Palace, the herb garden here is splendid, isn’t it?! Binzsade, Gondorut, Gushuteb… I’ll have you know that all of them are precious breeds difficult to raise!”
“In addition, you have to change the soil. When there’s plenty of nutrients to go around – ‘Oh no, I gained weight~ I’m so embarrassed! Hehehe☆’ the seeds say as they luxuriously grow into thick leaves. Then, after nutrients are scarce – ‘So only I can die for nothing, huh, you bastard!’ they say, because only the seeds bearing high-quality fruits live on. That’s why the garden plots all the way back there and over that way, yes, closer to you, are separated into blocks. Watering is essential as well. If you go too overboard with the water though, then it’s not good; there are also types that easily attract insects.
“It goes without saying, and this is common sense, but in the category of ‘insects’ there are the useful bugs and the pests. For this reason, you shouldn’t simply exterminate them!
“To raise a variety of species in the same place shows how distinguished the craft is. The technique and the know-how: I have it all!”
“Ahhh, I wonder which kind of fertilizer they use – a variety? Or a combination? Until I go back home, without fail, I’ll definitely ask the—!“
Clap! Matching the impact of both of his hands striking each other, the sound suspended the listing of fertilizers within my brain.
His Highness, who clapped once to draw my attention, is looking this way with a face similar to amazement.
… I have a hunch I attracted a significance separate from the tea party, but I guess that was a groundless fear.
“I’ve sufficiently understood the interest you possess towards medicinal plants.”
“Excuse me, my apologies – I was excited and got carried away just now…”
Sufficiently? I haven’t done enough talking at all, y’know.
Although I wasn’t able to completely express a thousandth of my love for these children, I gracefully lowered my head and left it there.
“And then? Some time ago, you had said you would ask someone about fertilizer. Is the other person Bruno?”
“Yes. If I look over the herb garden with a glance, I’ll reach an understanding of it. But along with having a very extensive knowledge of plants, Bruno also has a deep affection for them. I’m hoping that I can request lessons from him in the remaining time I have left, if I can.”
”What do you mean by ‘remaining time’?”
“Naturally, I don’t have the intention of interfering with his work. Arranging to observe in my free time, it’s that kind of meaning.”
“That’s not what I’m saying…”
Cutting off his words, for some reason His Highness was intensely staring at me. He then went and brought his face closer to mine.
Oh? What’s this, what’s this? His Highness is nearsighted?
My eyesight is extremely good! Staring at the tip of His Royal Countenance’s nose, wooow, yep, his eyelashes sure are long – or wait, do I have mud on my face by any chance? I’m considering something like that.
“―― here’s the scene where you close your eyes, right?”
“… is there mud sticking on my eyelids?”
As I briskly rubbed my eyelids with the relatively clean back of my hand –
Pffft! His Highness burst out into a spurt of laughter, his body crumpled in half as he was banging the surface of the bench.
If I don’t look in a mirror, I won’t find out, but… Perhaps it’s the fault of scrubbing my face, but I think the mud spread out. I guess I’m becoming a panda face.
… However, if you keep roaring in laughter like this, as a woman it’s impossible that I could find this amusing.
You’re not gonna do something like hand over your handkerchief like a gentleman, or pretend not to see?
When I stared at His Coldhearted Highness, the boy murmured the scraps of an apology in the midst of his laughing fit. He then lifted his upper body.
His dark-blue eyes were twinkling… he laughed so hard that tears came out, this damned guy!
“You – you’re an unusual person, huh.”
“That was the second time today somebody said that.”
“Haha, the first time was my sister-in-law? But really, you’ve changed. You’re a bride candidate, and yet you have returning home in mind? Did you come and say to your parents, ‘I want to go to the Royal Palace!’? Or do you dislike me?”
It sure is difficult to choose between the two options. Let’s exercise my right to remain silent and patiently wait for his answer.
”… it’s the former.”
“Such honesty. However, there’s one more thing I didn’t speak of. You have no interest in me, is that right?”
If I answer “I don’t have a personal preference for young boys” here, I’d be a genuine idiot.
I also remained silent in prudence. In response to my actions, His Highness chuckled once again.
“Your eloquent silence answered all the same, Miss Theresa.”
―― I’m a genuine idiot.
Aren’t His Highness’s eyes like a cabbageworm’s who discovered fresh new leaves…!
Dark clouds were seen enshrouding my rose-colored Garden Life, which I had merrily gazed at with delight.
So this “Create an Elegant Air Without Standing Out or Making a Racket Plan”, made to deal with the subject of the million-to-one chance of catching His Highness’s attention?
Un plan d’action parfait, my ass! Who even came up with this?
The plan I had an eye on, which involved aiming for an utter lack of individuality so that he wouldn’t recognize either my name or face, brittlely collapsed.
For now, it’s a temporary evacuation.
I imagine that requesting his permission before departing is just like saying a tongue twister. So, following the example of His Highness, without waiting for authorization I withdrew from the bench battlefront.
“Miss Theresa, you forgot this!”
When I looked over my shoulder, His Highness’s hand was lightly waving around a piece of cloth. It’s the ribbon I used to tie up my dress hem to my ankles; I placed it on the bench when I took a bow. As it was, I had forgotten all about it.
By not standing up, it looks like His Highness wants to make me return to the bench a second time. But I won’t do as he pleases.
There isn’t a human who’d nonchalantly go plunge themselves into an antlion’s sandpit.
”I don’t need it.”
“―― Then, are you saying that you’re entrusting this to me? Is the meaning of it ‘come visit me later’?”
~~ As if it’d have that kind of meaning!
His imp-like smile is hateful.
Grinding my teeth together in anger, I regained the regretfully-vanished composure of an adult with a deep breath; I then barely succeeded in lifting the corners of my lips.
“Please ignore it. It’s unnecessary for Your Highness, right?”
This time for sure, I hastily ran away all helter-skelter from the devil’s existence in the herb garden.
…… What kinds of consequences this thing I forgot would later invite, I probably didn’t know at the time.
Anessa, please. It was a pretty interesting time translating her big speech, since I did that entire section all in one shot haha.
Some references in the chapter:
“Shall I report to Miss Cecille about this walking reed?” is a play on “Man is a thinking reed,” which is a quote from the French philosopher Blaise Pascal detailing the physical and moral frailty of man.
The full quote: “Man is a reed, the weakest of nature, but he is a thinking reed. It is not necessary that the entire universe arm itself to crush: a vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than what kills him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage that the universe has over him, the universe does knows nothing”
Probably also a play on Anessa’s plant knowledge too. Reeds are an invasive species that often harm the plants around it, leeching sunlight and causing thick carpets of vegetation that prevent growth.
Basically she’s calling him a miserable man and a pest lol.
Cecille is a suitor particularly crazy about Ikuta. I don’t remember if she was mentioned in the first chapter, but keep an eye out for her later!
“Un plan d’action parfait” is French for “a perfect plan of action.” Anessa uses English (technically katakana) in the original.
Note: If you want to support this translation, but can’t donate, please click on the ad. Because this website running only cost per click ad.