Opposite of the noise inside the castle, the outside has become completely quiet.
On the castle balcony that we are resting on, only the sound of the cold wind is heard, and having been exposed to that wind for too long, my body trembles. And so, I glance at the balcony’s bench.
In that direction is a noble man and woman ―― 『Siblings』.
The girl with the blue hair and sakura colored eyes is Snow Walker. The youth with the copper hair and light brown eyes is Glen Walker. They look nothing alike, but they are definitely 『Siblings』.
Behind the seated Snow, Glen-san continually apologizes while rubbing her back. That scene is exactly what 『Siblings』 are to me.
Right now Glen-san and I are the same, we’re thinking about what we can do for Snow. Naturally, I can’t accept that marriage proposal from before. Getting married just because it’d be easy is part of it, but I also felt Palinchlon’s scheme underneath.
There’s no doubt about it, Palinchlon is trying to get Snow and me stuck together. Considering Snow’s sudden change, that has to be it.
But…… even if that’s true, I still don’t think it’d be a good idea to continue rejecting Snow.
―― I’ll never make the wrong decision again
That’s what I believed. I swore not to 『Fail』.
But even then, it’s not like I can easily find a way to help Snow. I can’t 『Lie』 in order to comfort her. The outcome that would have would leave no one happy.
I need a different method ―― as I desperately think, Snow suddenly gets up.
With a bit of a stagger she approaches me and speaks in an apologetic tone.
「…… I said something weird, sorry Kanami. …… I’ve calmed down, I’m fine now」
She apologized in her usual tone.
It was no longer the excited Snow nor the Snow that spoke to herself from before.
「No, don’t worry about it. Have you always been worrying over your marriage? If you were then it only makes sense that you’d lose control of yourself」
Now that she’s back to her usual self, I also answer in the same way as always.
「…… Th, that’s right. I was worrying…… and lost my patience. Get married, get married, they kept repeating it and it made my head feel like it was boiling. Ahaha」
As Snow fixes herself up, she repeats her apology with a dry smile.
「Hahaha…… Sorry. Forget what just happened. I, why did I get so desperate. Getting desperate, won’t solve anything……」
And so, she gives up in the same way as always. It was something just like Snow, but it still isn’t something I can overlook.
「Snow, you don’t have to belittle yourself so much. I said I’d cooperate with you. If you’re being forced to do something you don’t want, then just tell me. I’ll definitely do something. Definitely!」
「……Nn, thank you」
I showed that I’d be fully read to help her, but Snow’s reply was far too cold.
She clearly isn’t pleased at all. As if to say the words she wanted weren’t that, Snow moves closer to me. And then, gripping both of my hands, she looks up to me from below and makes a request with an unfitting smile.
「He, hey, Kanami. If you want……, I mean only if you want to? If you want, can you remember that 『That Path』 is also available? Just that, is enough for me……. Okay?」
『That Path』, Snow must be talking about 『The path of marriage between Snow and I』.
「A, aah…… If it’s only that then……」
I nod. Snow sees that and smiles in relief.
It’s then that Glen-san who was watching from afar approaches us. After seeing Snow and me talking without any problem, he comes to check on us.
「Did you make up……? It’s fine now right?」
「Eeh, it’s fine now. Glen-san」
Snow and I nod, and once he sees that he shows his relief.
「Haa, thank goodness. Really thank goodness. ……And, umm, I apologize, but I have to go back. Snow-san, are you really fine……?」
It looks like he can’t relax because he thinks it’s his fault that this happened. But now that he felt better about it, he can go back to his original job.
「I’m fine. I’m the one who’s sorry, Nii-san is busy」
「I’m the one who should apologize, Snow-san. …… Then, I’ll be going」
With those words as his last, Glen-san returns to the castle hall. Although I’m on the balcony I was still able to see how quickly he was surrounded by the crowd of people. Their number is many times more than the one that surrounded us. As the 『Hero』 called the 『Strongest』, there are probably a countless number of people that want to curry his favor in places like this.
「Uwaa. Glen-san, you really are busy」
「…… Although he’s like that he still is the 『Hero』 of the five countries. It’s like that no matter where he goes」
「No matter where he goes. I wouldn’t want that」
「……Unn, me too. I’d hate it」
Snow refused it in a strong tone.
「Hey, Snow. What should we do now? Should we go back?」
Taking her condition into consideration, I proposed something that wouldn’t exhaust her any more.
「….. I want to go back」
There was no need to even think about it, our views matched and we decided to leave the ball.
Snow’s health really is in a bad state. Although it can be seen badly, for now we’ll leave.
Pulling her hand along, we return to the hall. It’s a mean way to put it, but we’ll escape using Glen-san as a decoy. With the nobles occupied, I make sure that our eyes don’t meet by using 《Dimension Gladiate》 and head for the exit.
However, just as we were about to reach the exit, an unfamiliar girl calls out.
「―― Huh, Onii-san? Uwaー、it’s been a whileー」
It was a lively short haired girl. Using honorifics inappropriate for the location, she waves her hand at us.
It bewildered me. I want to ignore her, but it’s possible that she’s some really important high class daughter, With no other choice, I stop my feet and meet the girl’s eyes.
It’s then that another voice calls out. This time it’s an aged voice.
「Mu……. You are Siegfried Visitor……?」
Unlike that previous girl, this one is an abnormally tall woman. Her voice is oddly low like that of a man’s. On top of that, she’s taller than me, and it wouldn’t be strange to mistake her for a handsome young man because of her dignified expression. That woman’s long chestnut colored hair is tied back in a tail.
I was immediately able to tell that these people aren’t normal.
Their steps alone were enough. There were no wasteful movements in them, they’re the steps of someone who’s been in battles. The short haired girl in particular, she reminds me of Lowen.
Being met with such strong people, I immediately 『Observe』.
Name: Persiona Queiga HP430/434 MP105/105 Class: Knight
Strength10.99 Vitality9.73 Dexterity8.55 Agility10.09 Intelligence9.32 Magic6.56 Potential1.56
Innate Skills: None
Acquired Skills: Swordsmanship1.89 Holy Magic1.95
Name : Ragne Kaikuwora HP158/161 MP36/36 Class : Knight
Strength3.40 Vitality4.42 Dexterity12.05 Agility6.62 Intelligence7.52 Magic1.62 Potetial1.12
Innate Skills : Magic Operation2.12
Acquired Skills : Swordsmanship0.57 Holy Magic1.02
The short haired girl is Ragne Kaikuwora, and the tall woman is Persiona Queiga. I understood from their formal attire and the Knight class on the 『Display』.
The two of them are skilled. And that Ragne Kaikuwora has the skill 『Magic Operation』 that is similar to the one Lowen had to 「Devote his life in order to obtain」.
This is why I wanted to ignore them and go back.
However, I still don’t have the courage needed to ignore knights of such status.
「No, I think you have the wrong person……. I don’t go by that name……」
「He? There’s no way we’d mistake that Sieg Onii-san. To be so one sidedly done in like that, it was like something from a dreamssu. Really, at that time we were taken by suprisessu, but we won’t lose next timessuー？」
「No, like I said you have the wrong person――」
Ragne Kaikuwora moves her face close and I raise both my hands to form a wall and put some distance between us.
Persiona Queiga sees that and nods as if realizing something, she then pulls on Ragne Kaikuwora’s collar and drags her back.
「…… It seems like we’ve gotten the wrong person. ……Ragne, it’s as that gentleman said. The charges on that man have been settled through the trade between Whoseyards and Lauravia. Therefore, this gentleman and that scoundrel are different people」
「Eh, reallyssu? I didn’t hear a thingssu」
「Not only do you have a loose tongue, you also don’t have the status. Thus you were not told much」
The two left me out as they talked to each other.
It seems like that 『Sieg』or whatever is a criminal. I heard something bad at a bad time. And so, with wry faces the two introduce themselves.
「Lauravia’s brave warrior Aikawa-dono, I apologize for my subordinates rudeness. I am rank one of Whoseyards’ 『Celestial Knights』 Persiona Queiga. Pleased to make your acquaintance」
「Similarly I’m Ragne Kaikuworassu. One way or another I ended up becoming rank three」
There’s no helping it, they politely named themselves so I have no other choice but to give my own.
「…… I am Aikawa Kanami, the Guild Master of the guild directly under Lauravia『Epic Seeker』. This is the sub-master Snow Walker. We are currently in a hurry, so we’ll excuse ourselves from ――」
「I’ve returned! President!」
Just as I was about to make an excuse to leave, a new girl interrupts.
That girl has a high class atmosphere that sticks out even among the people in the ball. With conspicuous blonde twintails she wears a luxurious dress decorated in gold and silver embroidery.
「Perfect timing, I’ll introduce you. The newly joined 『Celestial Knights』, rank six Franruhle Hellvilleshine and rank seven Liner Hellvilleshine」
Not wasting a moment, Persiona Queiga introduces her coworkers ―― my eyes meet with that girl with the twintails.
「He, eh? Si, Sieg-sama……?」
The girl’s eyes became small and with a wide open mouth she muttered the word 『Sieg』.
Right behind her, the boy in butler clothes was in a state of surprise. However, that surprise was different from the girl’s. Right after his surprise, the boy displays a stabbing hostility. I make a light stance and 『Observe』 that boy.
Name : Liner Hellvilleshine HP142/172 MP 23/50 Class : Knight
Strength6.12 Vitality4.52 Dexterity5.01 Agility6.92 Intelligence6.53 Magic3.88 Potential1.89
Innate Skills: Wind magic1.12
Acquired Skills : Swordsmanship1.23 Holy magic1.02
He is fairly talented. However, he isn’t an opponent I have to be especially wary of ―― he shouldn’t be.
And so, just as I finish seeing his status, the boy’s hostility disappears like fog.
With a blank expression he stands behind the girl. I also undo the stance I made.
「Eh, eh? Why, why is Sieg-sama here? And together with Snow……」
Franruhle Hellvilleshine gets closer to me than Ragne did. However, Snow cuts in between and separates us.
「It’s been a while, Franruhle-sama. I’ve heard you were ordained as one of Whoseyards’ important knights. Congratulations」
「Snow! I heard you had left the academy to go to the guild but……! You, didn’t you say that you had no interest in Sieg-sama!」
「It ended up like this」
「En, ended up! Then it just so happens that being together with Sieg-sama will leave you with no difficulties!」
From what I heard, it seems like the two are acquaintances from the academy. They seem to be more carefree than when talking with other nobles, so I decide to stay quiet and leave it to them. But, what they’re arguing about isn’t appropriate for the ball, and it isn’t long before the most senior Persiona Queiga puts a stop to it.
「That’s enough, Fran. That gentleman, is not that 『Sieg』」
「Sieg-sama! I! I am Franruhle Hellvilleshine, I was once in your care during one of the academy’s exams! Do you not remember me!?」
「I said, that’s enough」
In response to Franruhle Hellvilleshine not stopping, Persiona Queiga grabs her by the neck to restrains her.
Together with a sound unbefitting a maiden, Franruhle Hellvilleshine is pulled back and thoroughly warned.
「Listen well? You are a 『Celestial Knight』 of Whoseyards, and he is Aikawa Kanami, a Guild Master of Lauravia. Remember that. ……You let your own feelings get in the way」
The awfully lively girl was rebuked and she withdrew in low spirits. Liner Hellvilleshine followed after her. Afterwards, clearing her throat, Persiona Queiga continues on as if nothing had happened.
「Aikawa Kanami-dono. Although Hein Hellvilleshine’s relatives have filled some empty seats of the 『Celestial Knights』…… there is still one seat left open. This is truly troubling. As the symbolic 『Celestial Knights』are currently six people, it is unshowable to the other countries. …… It is there that we have decided to follow the late Hein’s will and search for an excellent knight」
In a somewhat theatrical manner Persiona Queiga closes the distance.
My heart became noisy the moment I heard that name, and not of my own will, I make a tight fist.
「It is there that I, as President of the 『Celestial Knights』, believe that it would be fitting to recommend Aikawa Kanami-dono for that last seat. ……How about it?」
As I’m already under Lauravia’s protection, I don’t plan to joint that 『Celestial Knights』, but I do want to hear more about that Hein person. But before I could give my answer, the subordinates behind her became excited.
「Th, that’s a great idea! Nice job, President!」
「Eeh!? Those three seats, it’s Onii-san’s fault that they’re even openssu? Will the top agree to something like thatssuー!?」
The two raised their voices. Since the reactions were only cute it’s not really a problem. But if there were to be a problem, it’d be the boy hidden in the back ―― Liner Hellvilleshine.
Out of nowhere, Liner’s hostility swelled up. I repeat what was done in the training with Lowen and sharpen my senses.
If handled poorly it’s possible that that expressionless boy would attack right here.
Whether or not she noticed it, Persiona Queiga continues.
「Oi. You two, be quiet. ……And, Aikawa Kanami-dono, your answer?」
For now, believing that I should be more informed, I give my answer――
「You can’t. Kanami is my Master and partner. I won’t hand him over to Whoseyards」
But Snow refused in place of me. She steps in front of me and glares at Persiona Queiga.
Persiona Queiga looks on in interest at Snow’s sudden actions.
「Kanami is a member of Lauravia. No matter what happens, Kanami won’t be separated from 『Epic Seeker』. Right, Kanami……?」
I felt like Snow’s shoulders were shaking a little.
「…… That’s right」
It’d be best to end this quickly for Snow’s sake. I obediently agree with her.
In response to me rejecting the invitation in such a way, Persiona Queiga’s gaze sharpens.
「Fumu. In that case I’ll persuade you through the 『Fighting Tournament』. The 『Celestial Knights』 were granted Whoseyards’ recommendation. And as the one recommended by Lauravia the chance that we will meet is high」
And then, she uttered the term 『Fighting Tournament』.
Persiona Queiga responded to Snow without any intention of giving up.
「I’ll also appear in the 『Fighting Tournament』. Don’t think you’ll be able to fight Kanami so easily」
「I see……. To cross swords with the younger sister of that 『Strongest』, it is something we 『Celestial Knights』 ought to be cautious of. Walker House’s 『Dragon Incarnate』, Snow Walker-dono」
The two glare at each other. After some time passes, Persiona Queiga lets out a breath and laughs.
「Fuu, we’ve managed to introduce ourselves. …… Forgive me for stopping you, we’ll meet again. Aikawa Kanami-dono, Snow Walker-dono」
With those words as her last, Persiona Queiga shows her back and takes the noisy 『Celestial Knights』 away. And so, we are left alone at the entrance.
Feeling something off in Snow’s behavior, I call her name.
With a jump Snow’s shoulders shake, and while averting her eyes she begins speaking as if to keep up her appearance.
「It, it’s their fault. …… Because Kanami is my Kanami」
「―― N, no, I mean 『Epic Seeker’s』 Guild Master? Kanami is our Kanami. If you’re so easily handed over, everyone in the guild would be sad」
She added more words in a panic. I could easily tell that it was a facade from the way she was acting.
―― Snow, she hasn’t given up on the marriage at all.
Realizing that, and with some hesitation, I slowly nod.
「There’s no need to worry. No matter what they offer, I won’t go to Whoseyards. I finally managed to get along with all the guild members after all……」
「That’s right. Ehehe, thank goodness……」
Having heard my reply, Snow’s face lightens up.
I see that, and together with a sense of relief, I feel a discomfort rise up.
If Snow is smiling, then as her partner it’s a joyous thing. However, on the other side of that smile I know that she is panicked
「For now, let’s head back……. I’m also a bit tired……」
「Un, let’s go back together」
As if escaping we leave the hall.
Like that, my debut into high society came to an end.
On the way back ―― it felt like the distance between Snow and I was closer than usual. I also thought that Snow was girlier than usual. However, when I remember her wish 「to marry」 that lies on the other side of that, I instinctively take a step back.