First 4 chapters are translated by ichigoichiebanza. We are translating from Chapter 5. We will update the chapter soon.
The decisive battle had begun at the second tea party.
“Kyaaaaa! Did you see that?! Well, I saw it! His Highness is looking at me, isn’t he!”
“Geez, Theresa! Make a more delighted-looking face! This is our chance, you know! Chance!”
“~~ it sure is, isn’t it! Truly, His Highness is, without a shadow of a doubt, looking at you! Spot-on!”
Miss Yuliana, it’s you. You probably wouldn’t mind if I use you as a shield and hide behind you, right? His Highness is looking right at you, after all.
After slipping into the lavishly-arranged sea of pink frills, I took the chance to sneakily peek at His Highness… seems like he’s already having a lot of fun, judging from the way he’s looking over here.
Oh, you like the view up there from your lofty perch? Well, you won’t be enjoying it when my fist wipes off that smug smirk off of your mouth.
While I frantically tried to erase my presence in the ever-growing flock of girls, His Highness was gazing at my figure with an air of composure. He might have a vague inkling of my true nature at this point.
The prince is going as far as having a second cup of tea today, even though he promptly dismissed the first party on opening day. Probably – no, definitely — putting on a pleasant show for his fans.
Hey. Miss Yuliana. Your smile is twitching to the point that it’s cramping up. It looks as if it’s evolving from an Imp☆Smile into a Devil★Smile.
… Don’t get too cocky now, youngster.
At this point, the only one laughing at this shameful behavior ought to be me.
I softly whispered in Miss Yuliana’s ear. Yes, just like the Little☆Devil riding on her shoulders.
“… Hey, His Highness wants to get closer to you, but isn’t he hesitating too much? If it’s like that, then I think it’s fine for you to take the initiative and waltz on over to his side. We’re only restricted to four opportunities to meet him, after all.”
“Really? To be honest, I was thinking that too. But don’t you think that behavior would be immodest of me?”
“Surely not! Is there actually a person out there who would take offense at receiving the favor of some beautiful women? We’re his bride candidates, aren’t we?”
“… You’re right! Thank you, Theresa, I’ll try going up there!”
One lovely little human bullet fired. Captain, we’ve made impact.
On account of the vanguard advancing, the other girls started shuffling towards His Highness and eventually swarmed him. Just like butterflies gathering around a flower. Dark blue eyes were directed towards me in an instant, their gaze full of blame. But hey! There’s nothing to dislike about this, right? Miss Yuliana is a bright and charming young lady. Her age goes well together with yours, too.
Even if you discount the fact that all of these girls come from well-established families, it wouldn’t be odd at all if anyone in this group became His Highness’s bride. Most, if not all of them, fell in love with His Highness at first sight during their encounters at the initial tea party. They would make far more appropriate brides than I would.
―― “Something like status doesn’t matter! As long as you have love, you’ll be able to conquer any obstacles in your way again and again!” Or so the aunts in the local neighborhood matchmaking meetings would say… whoops, I meant “or so the wise proverb of the madames goes.” As I was recalling that saying and basking in a sense of self-satisfaction, His Highness stood up while gently withdrawing himself from the slender arms clinging onto him.
“Are you already going back?” The flock of girls lost themselves in grief. Alright, this should be about the end of my participation in this pathetic scene…
It was a serious blunder when I peeled my back off the wall.
“I’m truly regretful that we must part, but I have some official business I cannot leave undone. ―― Isn’t that right, Miss Theresa?”
The butterflies’ gazes pierced into me all at once. If you’re going to give a name to those pointed stares, it might as well be the stingers of a honeybee.
When His Highness came along with an innocent smile and the ribbon in question he fetched from his pocket, his face drew near mine in the guise of friendliness. Just as the rising shrieks and kyaaa!’s filled the air, the concurring whispers and murmurs at point-blank range could not be overwritten.
“I’ll be returning the item you forgot as a favor from last time.”
“…………… ah, thank you very much, Your Highness…”
He got me.
After shamefully bidding farewell to His Highness’s gallantly retreating figure, cries of “What kind of a relationship do you have with His Highness?!” soon arose. In response to the storm of questions that the outraged horde of girls raised, my excuses followed.
What’s up with that ribbon?
I happened to lose it somewhere, and His Highness managed to pass by and pick it up by chance. He was holding onto it in order to give it back to me. It’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Why does he know my name?
He probably has a register of all the participants’ names. It’s nothing mysterious.
And the close-up view of his face?
He’s probably a person with a small sense of personal space. It’s nothing like a sweet romantic affair at all.
That’s why I’m begging of you fine and upstanding young ladies, could I ask you to stop those glares saying “Shame on you, we won’t allow you to get a head start on us!” please…?
As a number of individuals expressed their complaints that this matter was extremely regrettable and unsatisfactory, my group membership was deemed worthy to be cut off.
Your Highness, I’ll never forgive you for this. Seriously.
The evening after the totally exhausting tea party. For the sake of curing the fraying edges around my irritable heart, I was visiting the herb garden.
Why is it that, with only glancing at these blossoming flowers, my heart feels so at ease? Come to think of it, I might have actually been grass in my previous life.
As I was calming down by sniffing the mellow grassy fragrance – “Theresa!” Peko’s voice echoed off in the distance.
“What a relief! I was thinking that I would meet you if I came here.”
Peko had the proper form of an aristocratic woman today, stopping by without donning her helmet.
Instead, she was wearing one of those sun-shading hats that were currently in vogue: a white bonnet with a wide brim and a yellow rose corsage attached to it. With white as the primary fabric color of her dress, light blue acted as the highlights via the trim of the skirt and arm cuffs. Her appearance gave off the overall impression of an indistinct, hazy summer sky. I don’t know who selected her wardrobe, but whoever did so chose designs in order to express the crisp and refreshing charms of a young woman.
After Peko had found me, she waltzed up to the bench I was sitting on with her hands held behind her back. “Here you go!” she went, presenting to me what she was carrying with a smile beaming on her face.
It was a pale cream-colored hat. The material was of simple make, with no extra frills like ribbons or corsages attached. However, a delicate lace was sewn on across the circumference of the brim. The brim itself was colored white on its surface while its underside was decorated stylishly with pale green lace. Even a person like me, who was terrible with showy outfits and disliked them, would feel an attraction to this.
“Here, Theresa, this is for you. You weren’t wearing a hat the last time we met, right? If you could accept this, I’d be happy.”
Isn’t this a bother…? When I replied in a weakened tone, Peko hastily shook her head.
Examining the hat that was gently placed into my stretched out hands, I noticed that the feel was better than any other hat I’ve had. The cloth was brand new, with not a single stain in sight. In addition, Peko kindly informed me that this was something specifically prepared for my sake.
“… you sure this is okay?”
“Of course. We’re already friends, right? So I wanted to give you a present. Is there something wrong with that?”
“N-no, there isn’t, thank you… t-this makes me super happy.”
As my voice cracked while thanking her, Peko’s eyes twinkled as she smiled without saying anything.
I was truly astonished. Differing from my more sociable younger sister, I was half a shut-in locked away in my own garden. There weren’t any chances for me to participate in any gift exchanges since I didn’t mingle with our society’s current generation of women at all. Thus, I was obviously accepting this type of present for the first time.
I’m a little embarrassed, but I’m happy. Having someone worry about me like this is causing my chest to feel warm and ticklish. My cheeks naturally loosened up.
“Try wearing it!” After enough urging from Peko, in order to fulfill her request I took the hat I was holding in my hands and neatly placed it upon my head.
“Man, you sure know your hat sizes well.”
“Eh?! That’s, um, ah! It’s because we’re fellow women! … yeah. I wonder why that is?”
“That’s pretty awesome of you, Peko. As for me? I can’t tell what your hat size is at all or anything else like that.”
As expected of the crown prince’s bride-to-be. One of the requirements of becoming his fiancée must be to instill a discerning eye for detail during training. Well, to Peko it may not be a hat worth deliberately boasting about. But for someone like me who’s disinterested in that area of fashion, I can’t help but admire that insight.
Don’t I have anything to repay her back with? While I was fumbling around my bosom in the hopes of discovering something, I remembered the existence of my sachet. I then retrieved it from the hidden pocket concealed in my dress (as a woman has this and that to carry, y’know).
“I don’t know if this is enough to repay you for the hat, but this is a sachet made out of Lirott. If you’d like, won’t you please accept it?”
Lirott is a 12-petaled variation of the spiderwort plant. Considered a weed-like flower that can bloom anywhere, the scent of the Lirott flower is admired for its fragrant and refreshing smell. The sachets make use of the dried flower buds, although I have my own special twist to the recipe. My version uses only a slight blend of herbs due to my preferences. I don’t think it’s peculiar to go that far in making sachets, but another person would have no self-confidence in mixing it to their liking.
Peko approached close to the tiny sachet and took a huge sniff with her nose – “What a nice smell. Thank you, Theresa!” After she said that, I gave a sigh of relief as I watched her tuck it away into her pocket.
“… hey. Did His Highness Ikuta say anything after last time?” Uneasily frowning, Peko asked me in a halting way about His Highness.
“Did he say something…? Oh yeah, weird things.”
When I relayed what I remembered of His Highness’s words, Peko impatiently waved her hands and spoke with a strong vigor.
“Just so you know, that guy doesn’t have any ill will towards you! He likes to play pranks once in a while, but Ikuta’s really a good kid deep down. From the time I arrived in this world, he was already really affectionate towards me, and that hasn’t differed up until now! Even though I’ve stopped being the hero, Ikuta’s never changed in how he’s interacted with me… um, how do you say this… it might be presumptuous of me, but I think of him like a younger brother.”
Nobody else would know the struggle better than the one abruptly forced to take up the role of “Hero.” Inside of the tempest of despair sweeping over the land, just who would be able to scoop up this girl’s loneliness and sorrow? For many, it was already difficult enough to survive day after day, frightened of the demons’ shadows. And for everybody, there was already an especially frantic scramble to protect their own selves from danger. Times back then were so desperate that it was trivially simple to remember what went on. It wasn’t ancient history, after all.
Then out of the darkened skies arose a shining morning star. After seeing the hero emerge accompanied by the light of dawn, I, as well as many others, had more than enough consideration to spare for any of her actions.
As for Peko, His Highness Ikuta was probably an important existence. Similar to the boy she called a younger brother, I’m sure that she adored him just like an older sister. His insistence on calling her his “Esteemed Sister-in-Law” was, unexpectedly, not that hard to understand.
“Ever since I decided to remain in Rionia, I’ve had strange people approaching me from left and right. It seems that he’s been worried about me because of that. If Ikuta’s said anything weird to you Theresa, I’m sorry. Please don’t think too badly of him!”
“It’s fine, Peko. You don’t have to worry, he hasn’t said anything worth getting mad about.”
When I nodded in reply, a cheerful expression could be clearly seen on the former hero’s face. The only one who doesn’t realize how great her achievements were is the person herself. That proof lies in how much her ideas run counter to what exists in this world.
“In the first place I’m not the hero anymore, so isn’t it odd that people keep approaching me? If they wanted to wear that cursed – or wait, that wasn’t it – ‘legendary armor’, I’d gladly lend it to them. Ah! If we set up a cardboard cutout board like the ones where I come from, people could take commemoration photos of themselves wearing the armor whenever they visit the castle! But this world doesn’t have cameras, so if we had someone painting portraits they could make some serious money. Or maybe we could take Leonoz’s wings off of the helmet, make impressions of them, and auction them off as rare goods…?”
“You’re going to incur divine punishment if you keep that up.”
Honestly speaking, I agree with her. I think we could totally do that and it’d succeed. However! This is a place where I should formally scold her.
“Fiiiiinee!” Shrugging her shoulders, our enterprising merchant from the next world stuck out her tongue in a childish gesture.
“Theresa, it might be because of your age and all, but you’re more like an older sister than a friend.”
“I’m Anes–… an elder sister figure at home, yeah. … and I’m also being presumptuous here, but I was really thinking the same thing.”
“I’m happy to be told that! Thank you!”
Unable to hide our mutual embarrassment, we exchanged glances while smiling.
I’m worried. Peko shares a trait in common with my little sister, Theresa: the feeling of wanting to protect them. Only a few days have passed since our first encounter, but it’s easy to tell that she’s a mysterious person who won’t leave you alone.
Yeah, I’ve completely fallen in love with her at this point. It sure was worth coming to the Royal Palace, if only for the sake of starting this secret getaway tryst with Peko.
A strong gust of wind suddenly blew through the garden. As I hadn’t tied together the ribbon underneath my chin yet, I seized onto my hat so that it wouldn’t fly away. Peko was gazing over here while fidgeting, looking like she was itching to say something.
“… um, the truth is, that hat is actually—“
A low, beautiful voice. Involuntarily charmed by the depth of its tone, instead of being taken aback I instantly got down onto my knees.
The amount of people who can address the former hero without attaching a title of honor is probably a limited number. Looks like the punishment is gonna be bad, Peko grumbled. The name of this individual was usually on the tip of her tongue, comprising the majority of her idle complaints.
“So you’re the daughter from the Dalton barony? Raise your face.”
“… Theresa Ruff Dalton is my full form of address, Your Royal Highness.”
The crown prince, His Royal Highness Atoren, was a sturdily-built young man. Apart from his aptitude for politics, he also excelled at fencing. Bards have sung about how throughout the journey to subjugate the demon forces, the prince thrice crossed swords with their king as his opponent – without the presence of his comrades. If you happen to show any impudent behavior, shiiiiing! He’ll slice you in half with the sword attached to his waist.
Because of his rarely changing facial expressions, some have whispered the nickname “Ice Prince” behind his back. And as befitting of that title, his face was currently arranged in a stiffness to the extent of being frightening. Well, the rumors appear to be true at least – he certainly isn’t smiling.
This is my first time being in such close proximity to the next successor to the throne. I unwittingly froze up in response to the majestic authority he emitted.
Despite this, Peko heaved a sigh and waved a hand in front of His Royal Highness’s face, lightly interrupting his chilly gaze.
“Your Highness, Theresa is my friend, so glaring at her is banned. Theresa, this is His Highness Atoren.”
“…… my fiancé, Atoren.”
In order to conceal her reddening cheeks, the girl lowered her head, her hands grasping at the edges of her hat and yanking them downward. For an instant, those ice blue eyes thawed out as he was staring at her. But as soon as the prince redirected his gaze towards me, they froze over for the second time. As expected. Looks like an opponent more troublesome than his younger brother showed up.
But it’s a mystery.
Before I knew it, I’ve already (and unfortunately) made acquaintances with a cast of distinguished characters: the ex-hero and two princes.
M-my plan to not stand out and depart like the wind… Where on earth did it go wrong?
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