“Um. From the look on your face, it seems I poked you where it hurts, Young Master. I would appreciate it if you didn’t get too mad at me.”
Reutrina hid her mouth with the back of her hand and smiled seductively. To calm Riley, she added,
“It is what you get for angering a princess first… You can think of it that way, can’t you?”
Reutrina lowered her hand and moved it toward the tea on the table. She then gracefully tasted what was on the cup.
“Ah, this tea has a pretty good aroma?”
Reutrina was leisurely continuing on about tea. Having noticed the reaction, Riley, who was shocked earlier, asked again as he opened and closed the left hand that he had hidden under the table.
“How did you do it?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What you did just now.”
Reutrina tilted her head and acted like she knew nothing of it. Riley wiggled his eyebrows and said in a lower voice,
“Oh my… Are you trying to threaten me now? Still… I think you are quite cool in a way!”
“Lazy-ass, never held a sword, takes nap through whole day… Because of all of those rumors, there are other ones questioning if you are a vegetable. The rumors about you being a lazy sword is… I think they are just smoke screens just like how mine are.”
This time, instead of the hand, she used the cup to hide her mouth. She smiled with her eyes and asked,
“Am I right?”
Riley didn’t answer. He clicked the tongue and opened the book that he closed earlier.
“If you are that curious… Should I tell you how I was able to read your thoughts, Young Master?”
Unlike his usual self, Riley was being dragged by someone else. Because the conversation felt like that, Riley decided to ignore her question and look at the book. However, perhaps because of the nightmares that she just mentioned, which refused to leave his mind alone, Riley was simply not able to keep his eyes on the words.
“However, I have a condition.”
“Yes, a condition.”
Riley thought Reutrina must be trying to ask something, so he kept silent as if he was saying she should go ahead and ask. Reutrina laid down the cup on the table. She then tapped the table with her finger.
It seemed that must be how she called her guard. Her guard, who was on standby at a corner of the garden, nodded and came to where Riley and Reutrina were sitting.
“If you could step on my guard’s pride, then I might tell you.”
Reutrina said jokingly. Confused, Riley stared at Reutrina.
“I don’t think that was hard to understand. Young Master, with a sword… give my guard a beating. If you do, I could tell you.”
Having heard what she just said, Ian, who was vacantly staring at the guard coming this way, stepped in, wondering what this was about.
“P… Princess? Just what are you…”
“… Why should I?”
Ian’s words were interrupted by Riley.
“Ahah… The thing is, the guard that I brought had never once lost to anyone in our Duke’s House, so he is pretty full of it.”
“So, I would like you to straight him out so he will learn a little that it is a big world. A human being needs to know the bitter taste of defeat in order to grow stronger, right?”
Reutrina slurped at the tea. She then stopped drinking and winked at Riley.
“What do you think?”
Step on her guard’s pride…
There were two things Reutrina could gain from this.
For her guard, there was something to be learned from the duel regardless of the outcome.
The other thing was getting a feel for the skill level of Riley, the one who held the title of Lazy-sword.
The request was the kind that had more for Reutrina to gain than simply asking Riley by saying ‘please show us your skills.’
“Please don’t think too much about it. I’m not trying to do something to you. This guard had been stepping in too often without knowing his place, so I am concerned it may lead to troubles later.”
As if she read Riley’s thoughts again, Reutrina seductively narrowed her eyes. She looked at the guard standing next to her and said,
“Remember yesterday? This guy tried to take out a sword against you at the corridor without knowing his place. There had been many instances like that lately.”
“If it was not inside mansion but a market instead, he probably would have swung the sword right away.”
Having heard what she said, Riley steadily looked at the guard and asked in a low voice,
“Are you sure he is not just insane?”
Reutrina’s guard flinched in anger. He was moving his hand toward the sword handle. Ian, who was also standing, quickly moved his hand toward his own sword’s handle.
“… That’s enough. Do not move further.”
With murderous aura in his eyes, Ian glared at Reutrina’s guard. The guard did the same toward Ian.
“You are the princess’s guard. However, this is the inside of Iphalleta Mansion. Violent behavior cannot be allowed. Please know that.”
Reutrina watched Ian glaring at her guard. She snickered and said,
“Unlike what he is saying… It seems your butler is also looking forward to seeing you show off your skills?”
She somehow read Ian’s mind. Having heard her piercing exactly at the heart of what Ian was actually thinking, he flinched his shoulders big time.
“No! Young Master, I really am not!”
“What do you mean you are not.”
Riley, who knew Ian better than anyone, double face palmed, sighed big and looked at Reutrina’s face through the gaps between his fingers.
“If you won’t, I’ll tell your father.”
Reutrina smiled and said,
“To Count Stein.”
As if he can’t even take it as a joke, Riley closed the gaps between fingers and completely covered his face.
“I thought this is supposed to be a prospective marriage meeting. Is it actually an engagement meeting?”
“I am interested in you, Young Master. As for an engagement, I can always break it, so it does not matter either.”
“I can’t take you seriously. Tell my father? What are you going to tell him?”
Riley asked as he lowered the hands he had to cover his face. Reutrina, who was smiling, blushed for some reason.
“I’ll tell him that you had been having trouble sleeping lately, so… I think… you will need… someone to be beside you in bed.”
As if she was embarrassed, she was twisting her body. It was a threat that didn’t sound like a threat. Having heard her words, Ian panicked and looked at Riley. Meanwhile, Riley wiggled his cheek muscles and glared at her.
“… Just you try.”
“Ah, right! It seemed Lady Iris was also hoping to see a grandchild soon.”
The mention of Iris lead to Riley’s shoulders flinching and shivering.
“I… I had never experienced it, so I am afraid, but still, if it is with you, Young Master Riley…”
Against Riley’s threat, she responded with threat. She was blushing, and she held her head with her hands. She was acting like she didn’t know what to do. Unable to stand it anymore, Riley suddenly extended his hand and took out the sword that was hanging on Ian’s waist.
‘I’ll make you spill out everything, whatever you have or not have.’
Ian panicked. Ian knew Riley doesn’t usually show his serious self. Now that it came to this, Ian was concerned about what he should do now. He started to look around.
“Set him straight… Princess, that’s what you said earlier.”
Having borrowed the sword from Ian, Riley spun it once to relax his wrist and got up.
“Will it be all right if I kill him?”
Having heard the question, Reutrina broke cold sweat and looked at her guard standing next to her.
“Ah, killing him would be a little…”
“How about an arm?”
“That would be also a little…”
“Go easy on him. That’s what you are saying?”
“Pardon? Ah, yes.”
Princess Reutrina’s guard seemed he was not liking Riley who was asking questions after questions. He was glaring at Riley with deadly eyes. The guard also started to ask the same questions.
“Princess. You are saying it won’t matter if I killed him, right?”
“It would be unfortunate for the Count Stein, but would an arm be all right?”
“… I’ll go easy on him.”
Along with that, the princess’s guard also drew the sword from his waist and started to calm his breathing.
“Ian, you be the judge.”
“I said, be the judge.”
“Young Master… but…”
Ian got to face Riley’s murderous eyes. Ian gulped and walked toward the middle between the guard and Riley.
‘This is not like Young Master. He is being pretty sensitive.’
Ian was worried. However, he decided to be the judge. Standing in the middle, Ian raised his hand, and Riley and the princess’s guard each took stances.
‘I had gotten a lot of stress built up lately anyway…’
As he glared at his opponent, Riley tightly held the sword handle as if he was going to crush the handle.
Riley furrowed his brows and looked at the guard standing in front of him.
‘Why am I…’
Riley got a hold of himself just before Ian’s arm fell. He reflected on why he got so angry. He lightly shook his head and threw the sword to the ground.
“I am sorry. I changed my mind.”
Riley did that in middle of a tight atmosphere. Both Reutrina and her guard opened their eyes and mouths big.
“… What do you mean?”
Riley looked at the sword that he dropped to the ground just now. Still reflecting on his behavior, he slightly crumpled his face. He crumpled only slightly to the point that others could not have noticed.
“I won’t do this.”
Riley could not understand why he was so worked up earlier. He shook his head and refused the duel. Reutrina’s guard ground his teeth.
Riley faced the guard’s eyes with a cold gaze. Riley then turned to look at Reutrina and said,
“It’s because I am not confident.”
The guard, unable to stand the sudden turn of the event, was about to charge in and grab Riley just below the neck by the clothes. However…
He suddenly shook his body once, and then became as stiff as trees on the garden.
‘What? My body is?’
His body was not moving as he wanted.
He couldn’t even move his fingers and toes. Panicking, the guard moved his eyes to look at the princess.
He looked like he was trying to say something, but he was unable to. Instead, he was just standing there, petrified. Having realized something was up, Reutrina got up from the chair and said toward Riley who was turning around.
Riley turned around with uninterested look on his face. Having heard Reutrina calling him, Riley just turned his head and looked at her.
“I need to use the toilet, so…”
“Before you go.”
“How did you do that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just now, my guard…”
Riley was smiling. Looking at Riley, Reutrina could not finish her sentence.
It was because they just had a conversation that felt similar to this only a few minutes ago.
‘How did you do it?’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘What you did just now.’
A question asking how something was done, and the responses feigning ignorance…
The conversation now felt similar to the one earlier, but the table was turned in this instance.
“If it is not something urgent, then excuse me for a moment.”
Riley did a hand gesture to tell Ian to stay here. Riley leisurely walked away, and the guard who was petrified completely bent forward and breathed hard.
“… Ughuk?! Huuuk! Huuuk!”
Collapsed to the floor, the guard was struggling to catch his breath. Reutrina observed her guard and then turned her gaze to vacantly stare at the back of Riley who was walking away.