The prince of Limia, huh.
No, the princess?
If I’m not mistaken, her name is Joshua-sama.
Honestly, I’m surprised she’s still in Rotsgard.
That’s exactly how I felt when she called for a meeting with me.
Her business is probably to do with her gender, but I know what I need to do first.
There’s no simpler solution.
And if it looks like the conversation will turn towards the country or the company, it’ll be fine if I just tell her that I can’t reply quickly and we should discuss it another day.
I’m still learning these convenient phrases that I can use in my work.
As I consider that, I knock on the door to the conference room.
A quick reply.
It is indeed Joshua-sama’s voice.
Well, a person like the prince of a large country wouldn’t do something like use the another country’s facilities to set up a trap.
Maybe I’m worrying too much.
「It has been a while, Joshua-sama. I’m honored to have been called here today.」(Makoto)
I’ll try conducting myself like I’m a lower-class person.
Incidentally, the prince’s appearance is as it always has been until now; she is dressed in men’s formal clothes.
I’m not taken by surprise by her wearing a dress or anything like that.
「I heard that you are now able to speak; it seems that you have become completely fluent in conversation. I, too, am thankful that you accepted my request to meet, Raidou-dono.」(Joshua)
The prince is speaking in her usual polite tone.
I’m a little of tired of having my speech mentioned every time I meet someone.
「So, what did you need of me?」(Makoto)
As according to my plan, I’ll give her an apology and have her forgive me for my rudeness the other day.
I'm not entirely sure how to address royalty in a polite manner, so I’ve accepted that I’ll be impertinent many times today as I listen to what she has to say.
... I’m also busy these days, so I kind of want to finish this quickly.
「... Well. Let us get straight to the issue at hand.」(Joshua)
「Firstly, the thing you found out about me the other day, that...」(Joshua)
Joshua looks like she’s having a hard time saying it.
She’s talking about that, isn’t she.
「The fact that you’re a woman?」(Makoto)
「... Yes. I’m sure you would know this by seeing my appearance, but this fact is known only to a few in Limia Kingdom. It has not been leaked at all to other countries, or at least, that should be the case.」(Joshua)
That should be the case, huh.
Regarding the demons and the empire, does she feel there’s a possibility that it has been leaked?
Ah, I wonder if there’s a chance that the room is bugged.
Seeing that Joshua-sama is talking about quite a serious matter here, it’s probably fine.
We’re not discussing anything that would be bad for me, so there’s no need for me to worry anyway.
「Of course, I understand that it was just an accident while you were trying to save me. However, regarding this subject... I would like to request that you do not mention this to anyone.」(Joshua)
Zara-san said it sarcastically, but considering our positions, this request is more like an order.
At the very least, it feels that way.
Well, this person might be from the kingdom of Limia, but she did seem to support the Kuzunoha company.
Even I know whether or not it’s wise to disclose the prince’s real gender.
「Eh, err. I understand. I will not tell anyone.」(Makoto)
「Umm. But you know my secret.」(Joshua)
She looks like she wants to ask me if I’m not going to make a demand in exchange.
Her expression has been slowly stiffening since we began our meeting, but now in a single instant, it’s relaxed completely.
「I will not tell anyone.」(Makoto)
I’ll say it to her clearly.
More like, listen properly.
What else would I do when knowing the secret of a large country’s prince?
Threaten her, for example?
That would definitely be troublesome.
Have her be on good terms with me?
Even though our social position isn’t equal and I’m the only one who knows the other’s secret?
I can’t picture her being my friend.
Also... Limia is the country where Hibiki-senpai lives.
I don’t want to have a dispute with the prince of such a place.
「... I’m sorry, but I cannot trust you.」(Joshua)
「Even if you say that –」(Makoto)
「Is there nothing that you wish for? If it is within my power, I will make an effort to grant it.」(Joshua)
She’s thinking that nothing is as costly as a free gift, huh.
「Currently, there’s nothing in particular. Though I think it might be best for you to return to your country with haste and devote your power to its restoration.」(Makoto)
「... I am speechless. Indeed, that is one thing that I should do.」(Joshua)
In the first place, it’s odd that the prince is still in Rotsgard even though the king has already returned.
「Well then, please do so.」(Mokoto)
In fact, I can see her face occasionally looking like she wants to go back.
「At the same time, investigating you and negotiating with you are also things that I should be doing.」(Joshua)
Joshua-sama puts on a troubled smile.
Perhaps it’s because it’s to do with the first topic that we discussed in the meeting.
However, I don’t have any intention of making a deal or submitting to any demands. Since Rotsgard is in this state and Asora is in commotion as well.
「I would be relieved if you would report that there are no problems at this moment in time. I’m currently busy with the restoration of Rotsgard. You would know this if you did some investigating, but we don’t have any thoughts to offer our cooperation to any single country in particular.」(Makoto)
「... It does seem that way. Other countries seem to be thinking of ways to bring you over to their side, although they are not showing any results.」(Joshua)
「Yes. And I would think that they should not expect any results from now on, either.」(Makoto)
Most likely, because we won’t become attached to any particular country.
In fact, it’s unlikely that we’re going to be allied with only the hyumans.
... Though I can’t say that.
「... When I tell you to report to me, exactly as you said, this is what happens. Hmm...」(Joshua)
「I have no intention of threatening you. Definitely not with me wanting something as the reason. I just made the suggestion because I thought that in your position, you should be returning to your country as soon as possible rather than concerning yourself with me, your highness.」(Makoto)
If I’m the only concern, then she could probably just return.
「I see, then I shall accept your suggestion. It seems that I gave you a meaningless warning in our discussion.」(Joshua)
「Between the academy, the merchants’ guild, Falz-dono of the adventurers’ guild and the visitors from the temple, we don’t have the time to pursue additional endeavours.」(Makoto)
「... I have some influence within the temple. It is not much, but I will tell them to restrain themselves.」(Joshua)
「That would be of great help.」(Makoto)
It really would be.
The fact that no actual work gets done just by talking causes a lot of stress for me.
「I am sorry for taking your time when you are so busy. I do not have any more... No, Raidou-dono. Could I ask you one more thing?」(Joshua)
「What do you think of me?」(Joshua)
Oi, isn’t that quite an ambiguous question?
What I do I think of her?
About the fact that she’s pretending to be a man?
Or is she asking about my impression of her as a woman?
The fact that she’s stayed here to discuss these things with me instead of returning to her country?
It’s hard to decide which of these possibilities I should answer.
「What do I think? I am not sure if this will be an answer to your question, but I think that you are having a hard time.」(Makoto)
「A hard time?」(Joshua)
「Yes. The fact that you are putting on that appearance, the fact that you are royalty, the fact that you’re having to have these conversations with a strange youngster like myself. I feel that you are standing in a difficult position.」(Makoto)
「... Fufu, excuse me. Position, you say? It seems that you have quite a strange way of thinking.」(Joshua)
I wonder if I gave an unexpected answer.
Those are my honest feelings, though.
「Well then, I will excuse myself, your highness.」(Makoto)
Just in case, I address her as “your highness” so as not to continue treading on the fact that she is a woman.
I lower my head to Joshua-sama and bid her farewell.
「Oh my, if it isn’t Raidou-dono. It has been a while since we’ve met like this, hasn’t it?」
「... Falz-dono. I have been busy.」(Makoto)
I finished my discussion with Joshua-sama and met with several lecturers afterwards.
As I was walking through the corridors to leave the academy, I ran into Root.
As Root said, it’s rare to see him in the academy.
I haven’t seen him in a while, either.
... Now that I think about it, I let him borrow something, didn’t I?
Though I intend to have him return it when the adventurers’ guild acknowledges the existence of Kaleneon.
「Can I have just a little of your time?」(Root)
「If it is only a little.」(Makoto)
「That’s good. Well then, over there is a steeple that nobody visits at this time of day, so let’s head there.」(Root)
Following Root’s lead, I arrive at the empty steeple on the upper floors.
There’s quite a good view.
I can get an uninterrupted view of the half-destroyed city from here.
「I’m sorry about this incident. I didn’t think that the adventurer Sofia would stand in your way there. Even though I could not anticipate the goddess’s interference, I feel guilty towards you and the others, Makoto-kun.」(Root)
「You watched me through Sofia’s eyes and you feel guilty?」(Makoto)
It’s amazing that he can say that.
Part of the reason I followed him to this deserted place without thinking is because he feels indebted to me.
Another part of me is also thinking that if he treats this and that as separate matters, I could throw him out.
Virtues are important.
「Ahahaha... Actually, I made it so that I can use high-level adventurers as something of a safety net –」(Root)
「It’s unusual that you’re lying so obviously today, Root. The reason Sofia could do something like that is because she was a hyuman who had a close connection with dragons – no, with you, isn’t that right?」(Makoto)
I noticed it there, which is why I can notice it in his eyes now.
It’s a weak lie considering it’s coming from Root.
「... It’s unusual that you’re so sharp today, Makoto-kun. You noticed Sofia’s secret?」(Root)
「I don’t know exactly what it was. But I know it was related to you. I just thought it was impossible for a hyuman to mutate spontaneously and gain the power of a dragon.」(Makoto)
「And her obsession with you was no joke... Both of them. That’s why I said I just lent it to you. It seemed pretty rough on our Shiki, too.」(Makoto)
「He was a joke of a superior dragon, but it’s strange to think that he was defeated by a Lich, even one that has made a contract with you. I did teach Shiki-kun various things, but I didn’t think that he would be able to destroy Lancer.」(Root)
Shiki himself mentioned that he barely made it through that.
For his sake, let’s not tell Root that.
「I’ll pass that on to Shiki.」(Makoto)
「Please do. In any case, I’m grateful that you took care of both of them.」(Root)
Hey hey, are you planning to keep playing dumb after all that, Root?
「... Look here. You’re not finished, are you?」(Makoto)
「What I’m saying is, I “handed over” management to you, but I only meant that I would lend it to you.」(Makoto)
「Tomorrow, no, maybe as early as tonight, right? Jeez, there’s something wrong with you today, you know? You’ve been having all your tricks seen through easily by someone like me.」(Makoto)
「Makoto...kun. You are...」(Root)
「Once we’re done cleaning up, I’m going over there to ask for my reward for all of this. Get a hold of yourself, chief-dono of the adventurers’ guild.」(Makoto)
With no trace of his usual joking attitude, he simply returns my gaze.
How do I put this. Is this guy underestimating me that much?
I’m extremely surprised.
Sofia, and I guess in this case, Lancer and the other superior dragons as well.
I entrusted all of their ends to Root.
That is what I let him borrow.
Tomoe was a little concerned, but I don’t intend to ask for all the details.
After tomorrow, I’ll just go to Root to have him take care of Kaleneon.
I’m fine with that.
「People mature in the blink of an eye... That has really been the case for you, hasn’t it...」(Root)
「Thanks for the compliment. Well then, I’m going back to work. I need to show my face in the office as well; I’ve got more work than I can handle right now.」(Makoto)
Leaving the astonished Root behind, I leave the steeple.