She was the daughter of Duke Philisneon House, the one who had many dismaying rumors in Solia.
Some said she had incurable illness.
Some said she was incredibly ugly looking.
With various excuses, she had never once showed herself in places of official business.
Of all rumors, the rumor about her being hideous was most prominent. Because of this rumor, despite being a daughter of a Duke, she was famous for never had been discussed about marriage.
“… No. It’s not like that.”
The woman sat in front of Iris and Stein. Reutlina shook her head and continued as if it was an unnecessary commotion,
“Actually… there had been several marriage proposals. However, I just didn’t like the ones who were recommended to me.”
Although it could be taken lightly as what’s expected for a young girl, combining all the rumors surrounding her family and what she just said definitely meant it should not be taken lightly.
Becoming of the title of Duke…
What she just said meant that they had done nothing about rumors on incurable illness or being incredibly ugly. Instead, her family only had been pressuring to make sure no rumors about her marriage discussions spread.
“In that case, why did you come all the way here? You are a daughter of a Duke.”
“The situation just overlapped with many things. A messenger came from the Iphalleta House, so I was pondering about if I should respond or not. At that moment, I also heard about the announcement for the successor. Moreover… I was actually curious at the moment. I was wondering who it was that received the medal of honor from the Solia Castle.”
“I was quite surprised when you said Young Master Lloyd also received a medal. It is terrible that you lost your arm, Count Stein, but… congratulations.”
“Well, it is nothing. It is not like you should be congratulating me.”
Stein gave proper responses to Reutlina. He slowly turned his head and looked at Riley who was sitting next to her with a dumbfounded face. Stein gave a sharp glare at Riley.
‘Say something, will you?’
‘Why should I?’
‘This is an important meeting.’
Riley ground his teeth from noticing his father’s gaze. As if he was seeking help, Riley looked at Iris who was sitting next to Stein.
‘Son, keep up the good spirit.’
Riley felt betrayed. He opened his mouth wide. Still with the dumb face, Riley turned his head and looked at Reutlina. He then asked the question he was most curious about.
“By any chance, can you please explain about the messenger from Iphalleta that you mentioned just now?”
“Ah, that was about this prospective marriage meeting.”
Riley had his right fist tightened. His right fist carefully slammed the table.
“By any chance… You don’t… like me?”
Riley was showing agitated response. Having noticed this, Reutlina put up an awkward smile and asked carefully.
She was definitely different from the rumors.
She was overflowing with vitality and health, contradicting the rumors about being deathly ill.
Also, she had magnificent appearance. It made one want to go criticize the people who spread rumors about her being the ugliest woman in the world.
Her facial features…
Her body line…
Not just her looks, but she also had the title of Duke. Also, she looked sharp and intelligent. Any men would have been begging her to go on a date. There was no other way to describe her. She was the most eligible bride to be.
“It’s not that I hate you in particular.”
Having heard the explanation about the Iphalleta messenger that went to Philisneon’s house, Riley looked at his father once and his mother once and mumbled.
It seemed Iris didn’t know what to do, which was reflected on the expression on her face. She kept on glancing to the side. Meanwhile, Stein sat there proudly as if he did nothing wrong and there was no need to explain anything.
‘This is the work of my father.’
Riley realized this prospective marriage meeting was the work of his father alone.
Riley added one more sentence to his mumbling earlier.
“It’s just that I am not used to a meeting like this.”
Still, Riley was educated by Iris to have the bare minimum manner. Struggling inside, Riley calmed Reutlina’s worry to some extent.
“I am relieved. I was worried again… about my intrusion earlier. I was concerned that may have spoiled your mood.”
It couldn’t really be considered rude or intruding, but last night… She ran into Riley at the mansion’s corridor. It seemed she was still concerned about that.
“First impression is half of everything in deciding a person. As for me, I would appreciate it if you could give me a second chance.”
Blushing, Reutlina timidly smiled. She suddenly turned toward Riley and lowered her head.
“It’s a pleasure meeting you, Young Master Riley. I am Reutlina Philisneon, Princess of Duke. If my name is too long… It would be all right if you called me Reuna.”
[TL: The actual word for title translates to daughter of Duke House, but that would be too long to be used every time. More appropriate adaptation is Princess of Duke, and just Princess from that point for simplicity.]
Riley looked uncomfortable. He stared at the top of her head. Knowing the situation could not be helped, Riley responded to her greeting.
“I am Riley Fin Iphalleta. It’s a pleasure meeting you, Princess Reutlina.”
* * *
It was at the mansion’s entrance.
There were nobilities who were headed back to their manors and mansions. Just like them, Nara and the Lightning Boulder mercenaries had completed their preparation to leave the mansion.
“So you are leaving now.”
“We can’t be in debt indefinitely. We are mercenaries, and we live in a world that’s different from Young Master Riley’s.”
Nara put all of the luggage on the carriage. It seemed he was really ready to head out. He looked back at the mansion with a refreshed expression on his face. Nainiae, who was there to see them off, asked Nara,
“Where are you headed? If I know where you are going, you never know if we may ran into each other later again.”
Having heard her question, Nara looked up the sky and paused for a moment. He responded,
“Um… I think we will end up going to the west. We are thinking about finding the Horai Merchant Group. If he already found replacement mercenaries, then that could not be helped, but… We are few and good people, so I’m sure he will take in four of us.”
There were four.
The group used to have just three members, but with Priesia hiding herself under the rag, there were four.
“Will you be all right, Ms. Priesia? Instead of straining yourself, it would be all right if you stayed at the mansion a little longer…”
It seemed Nainiae was worried about Priesia starting the life of mercenary with Nara’s group. Nainiae looked at Priesia who was wearing a mask and asked. Priesia responded awkwardly,
“No. It’s all right. It looks like Young Master Riley is not pleased with me for staying here. I don’t want to intrude further. I think it will be better for me to move.”
Just like Nara, Priesia looked at the mansion and walked inside the carriage.
“Well then, we will get going now.”
“I am sorry. Young Master was supposed to come and see you all off… I wish Mr. Ian could have come at least…”
“It’s all right, all right! We know they are busy!”
Having heard Nainiae’s apology, Nara smiled exhilaratingly and said it was all right. Rorona, the mercenary group’s archer, pouted and entered the conversation.
“What about you, Nainiae? Will you be all right?”
Nainiae tilted her head. Noticing Nainaie’s response, Rorona corrected her question while grabbing tightly on to her chest out of frustration.
“I’m talking about Young Master. Young Master!”
Nainiae blinked as if she didn’t know what Rorona was getting at. Rorona sighed deeply.
“Hey. Why is Rorona acting like that all of sudden?”
“I am not sure? You are the captain. If you don’t know, how would I know?”
Nara and Isen were not on the carriage yet. It seemed they were not sure why Rorona was acting this way. They had question marks on their faces and clicked their tongues.
“Ugh. I am talking about prospective marriage meeting! Young Master is having that meeting with a Princess of Duke right now? Are you all right with that?”
Unable to handle her frustration, Rorona asked directly. However, Nainiae’s response was the same.
As if she was trying to ask why that was a problem, Nainiae blinked her eyes naively. She only acted like she was not comprehending the question.
“Ahah. Seriously! This is so frustrating! Young Master is going to get snatched away from you, don’t you get it?”
“Snatched… away? By who?”
Having heard the words, Nainiae flinched her shoulder and put up deadly look on her face. Now, instead of tightly grabbing on to her chest, Rorona started to pound at her chest.
“I’m going to die from the frustration.”
“… Young Master is…”
Rorona pounded at her chest and turned around. Toward Rorona’s back, Nainiae mumbled quietly,
“Young Master is not an object, so…”
Her voice was small, but the voice was full of confidence.
It carried trust and care.
“There isn’t anything to be snatched away to begin with.”
Nainiae finished her words with a light smile. Rorona was about to get on the carriage, but she stopped and turned to look at Nainiae. As if she was giving in to Nainiae, Rorona relaxed her face.
“No. It is nothing.”
Rorona looked like she was going to say something like an advice, but she held back. Rorona saw Nainiae’s smile, shook her head and got on the carriage’s driver seat.
“Well then, we will really get going now. Please tell Young Master Riley that we are thankful.”
“We will be going now, Nainiae.”
“Please take good care of your health.”
The carriage with three of Lightning Boulder mercenaries and Priesia left the mansion. Nainiae bowed toward them to see them off.
Nainiae lifted her head and looked at the carriage that was moving further. It seemed she felt her hands were cold. She raised her hands and blew breaths at them to warm them. She had a gloomy look on her face.
‘Nainaie, will you be all right?’
It was not just because the question that Rorona asked earlier zapped through her head.
It was because of her right hand which was missing two fingers.
Anyone who saw her hand for the first time would have cringed their faces. Her own right hand was that horrid looking.
‘It’s all right. As long as I could be by his side, that is enough.’
She punished herself by tightly holding her right hand. She turned around and walked toward the inside of the mansion.
* * *
“… Young Master…”
They moved to the garden area. Now, there were just Riley and Reutlina. Reutlina brought up a question first.
“Is it really true that you never once swung a sword?”
In front of Riley was a woman that would make any men’s eyes pop out. However, Riley had uninterested look on his face. He just read a book instead. He lightly nodded and answered,
“Um? I heard that there isn’t anyone born in Iphalleta House who never held a sword before?”
“In that case, I guess I am the first one in the history.”
“Young Master, then what about that medal of honor? How did you receive that from the Solia Castle? Can you please tell me how?”
With one hand supporting his chin, Riley just read the book. Looking at Riley, Reutlina asked more questions, but… It was not certain if Riley was listening or not. He didn’t take his eyes off from the book and responded as if he was mumbling.
“I am sorry, Princess Reutlina… I am at an important part.”
“Ah, ah haha…”
It seemed Reutlina was feeling awkward about continuing to talk like this. She started to put up a bashful smile. Ian, who was watching them from the side, face palmed as if he could not bear to watch it anymore.
This was a prospective marriage meeting with a Duke’s daughter.
It was not a meeting that could be arranged easily.
‘Young Master, please read the atmosphere…’
It was not certain if Riley understood the situation or not. As soon as Stein and Iris left, Riley went straight to the library and picked up a book. He have not said a word with a gorgeous woman named Reutlina sitting in front of him.
‘Even a decorative statue inside the mansion would not be like this!’
It looked like Ian didn’t know what to do. He looked at Reutlina.
Although Ian was well aware of all of Riley’s strong suits, Reutlina only knew him as indolent Lazy-Sword. Ian was certain of this.
‘Even if you are not interested in woman, to think he is this disinterested…’
Ian thought about how Riley didn’t even bat an eye when he saw Priesia at the Holy Temple last time. It seemed Ian knew this was going to happen during this meeting as well. Ian made empty laughter.
“Huh… huh huh…”
Reutlina casually turned her head and looked at Ian’s defeated look. It seemed Reutlina was intrigued. She held her chin on her hands and started to glare at Riley’s face.
Silence continued for a moment.
“Young Master Riley.”
Reutlina held her chin with both of her hands and stared at Riley’s face. She suddenly smiled refreshingly and called his name.
Riley didn’t answer this time either. He merely nodded his head and flipped the page.
“Can I try to guess what you are thinking right now?”
Reutrina asked as she tilted her head slightly to the side. Having heard her voice, Riley’s hand which was flipping the page, stopped momentarily and moved again.
“… This meeting, it is such a bother, so I wish it could end soon. That’s what you are thinking right now, isn’t that right?”
Having heard her question, Riley didn’t nod his head this time. He moved his eyes and looked at her face.
“Instead of reading, you rather take a nap?”
Reutlina asked with seductive expression on her face. Riley’s eyebrow wiggled once.
“Um… It seems you have not been able to get much sleep lately. Is there something like a nightmare you do not want to have?”
“… You, what are you?”
“Am I right? Haha. I guess I was right?”
Reutrina smiled with her eyes. Looking at her face, Riley furrowed his eyebrows, closed the book he was reading, and started to glare at her.