“From what I’ve been hearing, you returned with a magnificent medal.”
Lloyd walked toward Riley as he clapped. He opened his arms wide, gave Riley a tight hug and took a step back.
“How about showing it to your big brother too? I’m talking about that medal.”
With his hands on his waist, in a pose full of confidence, Lloyd looked at Riley.
It appeared he could not care less about Nainiae who was following behind Riley.
“Um? Why are you acting like that?”
As Riley stood there with a blank stare while suppressing his expression that wanted to say what a bother this was, Lloyd started to look at Riley as if he was concerned for him.
“By chance… It’s not like the news about the medal was a lie or anything, right? My little brother would never do that! Isn’t that right?”
Lloyd asked the servants who were standing to the side in a line.
Because the servants were here from the beginning to welcome Riley, they already saw Riley’s medal. However, despite that, the servants were sparing themselves of speaking any words and only looked over shoulders.
It was because they became aware of the public secret that the two were competing to be the heir of the Iphelleta House.
“Now, hurry up!”
Lloyd immediately put forth one of his hands.
His gesture was saying to hurry up and bring out the medal.
Riley sighed quietly.
Nainiae glanced back and forth between Riley and Lloyd. Soon, as if she realized that the older young man with blond hair was not a good person to Riley, she narrowed her eyes.
<Don’t do it.>
Nainaie was going to give Lloyd a shot of her magic, the kind that won’t require her to recite a spell and all she had to do would have been just concentrating mana. She was going to prepare it in secret and shoot it, but she could hear Riley’s voice in her head.
Nainiae moved her eye and looked at Riley from the side.
She couldn’t figure out exactly what he was thinking, but there was a little bit of the expression on his face that showed he was finding all this to be a nuisance. That much was certain.
So, to make sure she doesn’t end up getting in Riley’s way, she put away the mana that she focused and decided to just quietly watch the situation.
“Yes. Well… I’ll show it to you.”
Riley put his hand in the pocket again and brought out the medal.
It was a golden medal with Solia’s insignia engraved on it.
It was certainly the medal that Daniel, the prince of Solia, bestowed to Riley.
“…Oh, oh oh?”
Now that he was looking at the medal in person, Lloyd’s eyes widened.
It looked like he never thought Riley would really bring a medal.
“This is the medal that you received from that old man?”
As Lloyd stared at the medal, which was shaped just like the one hanging in Stein’s office, he narrowed his eyes as if he grew suspicious and asked,
“How should I say this… I find this… quite surprising.”
“Ah ah. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s just that I can’t imagine how you would have done it. I find it hard to believe that you received it.”
Lloyd said as he waved his hand around and smiled.
Watching Lloyd, Nainiae’s patience reached its limit. She crumpled her face.
It was difficult for her to stand still when Lloyd was making a mockery of Riley about his accomplishments.
The servants watching the second-born and the youngest of the House were also drenched in cold sweat.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Lloyd made mockery of Riley for him being lazy, but they were worried because the situation now was a little different.
‘Is it okay to do that?’
They were thinking that.
No matter how things led to Riley receiving the medal, it was a medal of honor that was bestowed on him by the royalty.
Lloyd doubting the medal that Riley held could also imply that he was doubting the judgment of Solia Castle's royalty. This was the reason for the servants’ concerns.
“By chance, can you please explain it to me? How did you get the medal?”
“Hm. I wonder why you can’t just answer? It’s frustrating. Riley, by chance, you…”
Listening to Lloyd’s provocation, to how he was blurring the end of his sentence as he narrowed his eyes, Riley opened his mouth,
Riley was holding the medal in his palm and had stretched his hand toward Lloyd to show it to him. Now, Riley slowly grabbed hold of the medal.
Riley held the tip of the medal’s tail with his thumb and index finger and swung it left and right in front of Lloyd’s face as if he was performing hypnosis.
“If you like this so much, shall I give it to you?”
In leisurely tone, with a smile, Riley made the proposition.
At this, not just Lloyd, but the servants, who were watching them also, closed their mouths without even being able to make gasping sounds.
“It’s just that you seem like you really want to have it.”
Riley brought back the medal, which he was lightly swinging around, close to his face. He carefully observed Solia’s insignia on it, and as if he got bored of it, he held it toward Lloyd and said,
“For me, it’s a bother to have it anyway.”
The expression on Riley’s face was tinged with annoyance.
Hearing Riley’s tone of voice, which sounded like he was saying Lloyd should take the medal if he really wanted to,
Lloyd seemed like he was doubting Riley’s words. He moved his hand toward the medal that was swinging in Riley’s hand.
It felt like slight convulsion of his hand was expressing how he was feeling inside.
It was when his hand was about one hand’s width away from reaching the medal.
“Well, if you don’t want it, then it cannot be helped.”
Riley took back the medal and promptly put it away.
With a leisurely expression on his face that stated he had moments and nerves to spare, Riley was tilting up the corner of his mouth.
Watching this, Lloyd finally realized that Riley was swinging the medal around to mock him.
“You…you runt… How dare…”
The fact that he was ridiculed by Riley, not someone else, seemed to be unbearable to Lloyd.
Lloyd was about to extend his arm and grab Riley’s neck. At that moment,
Stein, who was having a conversation with Iris until now, walked toward the two brothers and stopped him.
“Yes, I understand.”
Hearing his father’s order, Lloyd ground his teeth inwardly, took care of the expression on his face and slowly lowered his head.
Shoving down the rage inside, Lloyd raised his head he just had lowered and noticed Iris who was sticking right next to his father. Lloyd lightly twitched his eyebrow as he lowered his head again.
“Lady Iris, have you had a pleasant visit to Solia?”
“Thank you for your consideration, Young Master Lloyd. Thanks to you, we had a good trip.”
Iris responded to Lloyd’s greeting by lightly fiddling her chin with her hand. She immediately turned her head toward Riley and delivered ‘why don’t you take your leave now’ with her gaze.
‘I’ll get going now.’
Heeding to his mother’s good will, Riley, who just put the medal away into his pocket, stepped into the mansion.
“Young Master Lloyd, have you been well?”
To turn his gaze away from Riley, Iris asked how Lloyd had been.
“The thing is, my swordsmanship is improving daily. Lady Iris, it would be hard for you to believe it because you have Riley, but now, besides Father and Big Brother, there isn’t anyone in the House that could beat me…”
With his chin all the way up, as if he was boasting about himself, he was going off about himself as he walked, but suddenly, when he stepped on to the polished surface of the mansion’s entrance, he started to slide.
‘Did someone oil the floor or something?’
At least, how he was moving looked like it was not by his intent.
“…Uh? Uu uh?”
After realizing the surface was excessively slippery, Lloyd started to wave his hands in the air chaotically.
‘What the hell? Why is the floor like this?’
Since childhood, he had exceptionally good sense of balance, so no matter how slippery the floor was, if it was like any other day, he would have been able to balance himself immediately. However, for some reason, his seriously compromised balance was not coming back to its stable state so easily.
In the end, until the moment he tipped over completely, he was still not able to regain his balance, and,
He plummeted with his ass to the floor in an embarrassing way.
“Are you all right?”
Having watched Lloyd falling in a grand way, the servants who were on standby on the side quickly rushed to him and checked.
From a pretty far distance, Sera watched it all, how Lloyd was going on and on boasting about himself and fell all of sudden after a brief dance of struggle. She was not able to hold it anymore. She broke into laughter.
It was because she had a pretty good idea who it was that made it happen.
She turned her head away and hid her mouth with her hands so others won’t see her laughing.
Looking at Sera making suppressed laughter, Ian, who was standing next to her, made a light hem and poked her with his elbow.
His elbow lightly tapped Sera’s arm. Ian was trying to scold Sera to make her stop laughing.
“I-I’m sorry. Kuhuhu…”
Sera was barely containing her laughter. With dew hanging around her eyes from laughter, Sera turned her head to the front again.
Sera forced herself to think about depressing matters. She took a quick glance at Ian.
It turned out, Ian too was trying to hold himself from laughing. Still, his facial muscles were occasionally twitching toward laughter. The look on his face was quite a sight to behold.
Sera broke into laughter once again.
“How clumsy and embarrassing.”
“Big Brother, that’s not how it happened. The floor was a little odd. There was really something…”
“I got it. Got it.”
Lloyd was trying to explain himself as he rubbed the part with which he hit the floor. Looking at Ryan, who smiled at him gently as if he was trying to say he is giving in, Lloyd cringed.
“So, how is Riley?”
As if he was checking on things, Ryan asked as he turned his head.
Lloyd shrugged his shoulder and responded,
“Same as always. There wasn’t much that changed about him.”
“Same as always, huh…”
“Unfocused eyes, lassy-like smooth palm, the way of walking that lacks any strength, and right down to how he runs his mouth since he has no physical skills… Everything was as they were. It looks like there won’t be a need to worry so much. Ah, by the way…”
As Lloyd explained, he brought up the part he forgot that he found amusing,
“He brought some weird lass with him.”
“Yes. Her presence was weak, and her face was grotesque, so I didn’t look carefully. Anyway, one thing for certain is that she is an odd looking one. It bothers me inside.”
Lloyd remembered as he scratched the back of his head.
As he said, to him, she looked really odd. It was not sitting right in his mind.
Not just her appearance, but her atmosphere as well.
“Although I can’t know what would come of this, I think that girl being here is only going to help us in the heir competition. It didn’t look like she was going to be a hindrance. If she is a daughter of a nobility, then perhaps… But it was hard to find any trace of nobility in the way she acts or walks.”
As Ryan listened to his explanation, Ryan fiddled with his chin and nodded as if he understood. Ryan said,
“It seems like it would be best if we continued to find out more.”
“About what exactly?”
“I’m talking about that lass. Something is fishy about it all.”
“But Big Brother, that lass is…”
As if it was not sitting right with him, Lloyd was going to object, but his gaze met with Ryan’s, which looked extremely serious. Lloyd promptly shut his mouth.
“Riley, that rascal is not the horny scoundrel type. You know that well too.”
Money? Not interested.
Power? Not interested.
Women? Not interested.
Other than reading books or resting against the trunk in a tree’s shade, his youngest brother had no other particular interests.
‘He brought a girl that nobody knows into the Iphelleta House? Also, not any girl, but a girl who has quite a horrid appearance?’
It was certain he had something he was scheming inside.
“He has something up his sleeve. This isn’t a matter you should just ignore because she had an unsightly face.”
“Um… I understand.”
After hearing Ryan’s explanation, as if he was thinking it was plausible too, Lloyd nodded his head and responded.
“I’ll find out about it on my own. Okay then. Why don’t you go back for now?”
Lloyd bowed and left the room.
Ryan, who was alone in his room now, started to fiddle with his chin again.
“A medal from the castle…”
He didn’t know how Riley received the medal when he went to Solia Castle just to watch the swordsmanship tournament.
However, one thing for certain was that this was a sign. Ryan was concerned. Ryan’s plan was about to be forced to take a wrong turn.