With this, the first arc has ended! Next arc consists of 34 chapters and each one is long. So I wouldn’t be able to update everyday. Oh, and can I implore you guys to rate and review this series in novelupdates? :3
ED: clover, eristol, xtostos
Klaus Hafan’s letter.
Dear Erica Aurelia,
A month has passed since we returned to Hafan’s Silver Branch Castle.
Even now I still remember the case at the Spring Palace as if it was yesterday.
Things have finally settled down, so I decided to send a letter to you.
To tell the truth, I didn’t think much about the visit to Aurelia at that time.
I think I remember that my father and Duke Aurelia’s conversation face to face was about mine development and forest resources.
However, you may not have noticed, but it seems that they were also consulting about an engagement between you and me secretly behind the scenes.
When we were gathered together, our parents’ arrangement about the political marriage had already taken place.
I had never thought that I would get into a political marriage with you like this.
‘The Aurelia’s daughter would be a spoiled and an intolerable girl anyway.’
‘Why should I be a couple with someone who is a showy, ill-natured girl?’
I was thinking about such prejudiced things.
But the truth is different.
You are much stronger than I am.
No, your merit cannot be measured by a strong-weak criterion.
You are more……
I wonder what.
I cannot express it well.
The only thing that I can say is that it was the first time I saw a woman like you.
Well, let’s get back to the story.
I……at the bottom of that place, I couldn’t do anything.
Even when I was stuck with being blocked by the traps of the labyrinth.
Even when my younger sister was likely to be killed by a strange monster.
It was you who saved us all the time.
You thanked me for it, but it is not so. It is the opposite.
I am the one who is thankful.
Thank you for protecting my sister, Ann.
If I couldn’t make it in time, I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself for the rest of my life.
I want to be a person who can balance you.
I am weak now.
So, someday I want to apply for an engagement with you if I gain enough strength to match you.
Of course, if you don’t like it, you may decide not to follow through with this engagement.
You do not need to be mine, but know that I am yours.
If something happens to you, I will rush to you faster than anyone else.
And even if I have to throw my life away, I will protect you.
From your eternal shield, Klaus Hafan.
“Ann!!! Why are you reading other people’s letter without permission!? Give it back!!”
“This is no good, Klaus-oniisama! Absolutely no good!”
Before Klaus noticed it, Ann was drawing near and snatched away the letter he had just completed and he became terribly flustered.
Ann completely disregarded her older brother who was becoming agitated.
Klaus was not good at dealing with his sister who was three years younger than him.
“Onii-sama. Why are you writing a sultry letter?
As soon as I took my eyes off, you immediately wrote incomprehensible things which was just an exercise in futility.”
“Who said it’s sultry!?”
“It’s definitely a declaration that you will become a yandere stalker anyway!
If she receives this, Erica-oneesama will definitely become annoyed!!”
“What! What did you say!”
“Your feelings are too heavy!!”
“Before that, about the ‘yandere stalker’, I don’t understand the meaning!!”
He didn’t understand the meaning, but Klaus also knew that there were serious mistakes in his letter.
First of all, he had to listen properly to the argument of his foolish sister who was exasperated.
No matter what, because Ann was one of his few sources of information about the Duke of Aurelia’s daughter.
“When I had a girl talk with Erica-oneesama……”
Klaus didn’t really understand the meaning of ‘girl talk.’
Ann was starting to use odd words due to the influence of Erica Aurelia.
At present, it was only Ann who could grasp the meaning of those words.
When such a story came out, Klaus was obliged to follow his sister.
“I heard the type of Onee-sama’s favorite gentleman.
That is, she has no favorite type, but there are types she dislikes.”
“……Then we can guess her preferences by elimination method.”
“This is important information, please continue.”
“A man who shoves his feelings without permission.
Also, a man who at first glance seems favorable, but has no interest in communicating.”
“Certainly, that’s a man with a bad quality.”
“Worst of all, she doesn’t even want to breathe the same air as them, you know?”
“Kuh, doesn’t even want to breathe the same air……!?”
“This is serious, you know?”
“This is serious……”
Klaus secretly recorded Ann’s information as an important item in the memo pad of his heart.
These should be the profound reasons behind Erica’s state.
If he conducted those acts unintentionally, there was a possibility that he would receive Erica’s absolute refusal.
Klaus thought so, not knowing anything.
“After that, a man who might suddenly hit her from behind, and she also refused any type of stabbing……”
“That……isn’t that a matter of course?”
Klaus was ashamed.
What kind of experience did his fiancée candidate have even though she was still an 8-years-old?
Was it an assassination?
Was it because of an experience that someone she knew was likely to be assassinated?
Was that why she sometimes had such gloomy eyes?
Klaus strongly set his will to ‘I must protect them as well.’
“There are many things that I don’t understand in this world…”
“Erica-oneesama is friendly to everyone at a first glance, but in reality she hates a forceful man……
No, there is even the likelihood of disliking humans altogether.”
“Oh, Onii-sama, you are insensitive so you didn’t realize it.
Erica-oneesama has a smiling poker face, right?”
Klaus felt further ashamed.
He recalled Erica’s figure when he was staying in the Spring Palace.
Even without going so far as to say that she liked him, he didn’t think of the possibility of being hated.
Because Erica smiled thinly all the time.
“It must be a smile that will accept everyone gently, or rather, it is a smile that shows special favor to me—
No way, you did not really think that, did you?”
“That it is a smile that absolutely doesn’t allow people to shrink their distance beyond a certain point?”
“Even when she was surrounded by a lot of people, did you notice that she sometimes turned her lonely sight towards somewhere far away?”
“……Ah, I noticed that.”
“Good! Just barely above the safe line, Klaus-oniisama!”
Rather than lonely eyes, those were absentminded eyes.
It seemed like that to Klaus, but he refused to go against her.
No matter what he said to his sister, when she was like this, he couldn’t win with words.
While he was thinking such a thing, Ann stared at Klaus with serious eyes.
The older brother drew his body back a little. Those were really serious eyes.
“As far as I am concerned as your younger sister, it would be nice for Erica-oneesama to become my sister-in-law.”
“Klaus-oniisama, you can work harder, right? You haven’t gotten serious yet, have you?”
“I will forgive such a weak attitude for now.”
Why, do I have to be forgiven by you, Klaus trembled at the unreasonableness of the world.
“Yes, you’re still fine now. Klaus-oniisama still has the advantage of time.”
“What are we fighting against, exactly?”
“What are you talking about! Seriously, Klaus-oniisama, normally you ought to have already taken the initiative in this fight!”
For a moment, Klaus felt afraid of Ann’s threatening attitude.
As expected women are difficult to deal with, he thought.
“In other words, what do you mean?”
“It’s because Erica-oneesama is beautiful.”
“Nn……well, that’s right……that girl, is somewhat beautiful, I guess……”
“Haa!? Look into my eyes, and say that once again, please?”
“Aa, I thought that she was very beautiful for a child……stop it, I can see it in your eyes……”
Klaus lost his nerve and turned his eyes away.
Hidden behind her brother, Ann had a strange expression on her face.
“In a few years Erica-oneesama will surely become as gorgeous and bewitching as a large-flowered rose, she will become a peerless beautiful woman.
With that indecisive attitude, it will be too late by then, you know?
Do you understand, Klaus-oniisama?”
“What do you mean by ‘too late’?”
“Onii-sama. Erica-oneesama will inherit the vast territory of her deceased mother when she reaches adulthood.
Aurelia’s abundant silver ore……what do you think will happen if a rare beauty has it?”
“What’s wrong with that?”
Even if she were a commoner girl and completely broke, he would still have every intention of making her his wife.
It was Klaus who retorted back with such a thing, but Ann’s reaction to that was unexpected.
“It would be a property that goes beyond excellent quality! It would be very popular! Full of rivals all over the continent!”
“For example, guys like Harlan Lucanrant, the Margrave of Urs, will almost certainly aim for her.”
“W-what……!? He’s 26 years older than Erica, right!?”
The 34-years-old Harlan Lucanrant, Margrave of Urs had many rumors that were reeking of blood.
Moreover, they said that he had abducted all the women in the territory who had husbands and massacred them.
He deliberately murdered his subordinates and put every young girl of the fief into captivity.
A live-in maid, who was found pregnant not even two months after joining, regretted her circumstances and threw away her life.
In vague places where the boundary between law and humanity was ambiguous, plundering of women in barbarous degree by nobility was a normal business.
But, even so, Harlan was killing too many people.
“The infamous First Prince of Ignitia, His Highness Auguste-sama.
He is 10-years-old, the same age as Onii-sama. He might be the biggest competitor.”
“What! That Auguste! That’s unforgivable!”
Auguste, First Prince of Ignitia, was also a person who only had bad rumors surrounding him.
Born from the queen’s unfaithfulness, he grew up without affection.
Because the blood of the royal family didn’t flow within him, he wasn’t blessed by the dragons who were the guardians of Ignitia and was unable to ride on their backs.
He was doing improper conducts self-indulgently, just like a foolish ruler.
The bishops unanimously predicted that the Age of Darkness would come if he succeeded the throne.
However, concerning Prince Auguste, Ann didn’t hear that there was a clear victim.
Ann was of the opinion that it wasn’t good to believe such unreliable rumors.
Erica, who was notorious as a future wicked lady around here, was also the real example that rumors and the real thing are completely different.
However, if she considered it as a material to provoke her older brother, it was another story.
Let’s take advantage of the unreliable rumors, Ann thought so.
There were many more aristocrats she didn’t want Erica to get married to, but these examples were about the limit of what she could bring up, considering the level of malicious rumors even her brother should be aware of.
“If His Highness Auguste-sama becomes her partner, she will never be happy even if she becomes a queen consort. Especially if she becomes a concubine.”
“Concubine!? That Erica!?”
“But, His Highness Auguste-sama is the one who will be the King of the Federal Kingdom.
In the unlikely event that you try to save Erica-oneesama after the marriage is already decided, do you know what would happen?”
Klaus furrowed his eyebrows.
If that happened, there would be a crisis of civil war.
It had to be avoided.
After all, for what reason would this former royal family endure the humiliation of lowering themselves to mere vassals?
“But why are you familiar with the circumstances of the aristocrats outside of Hafan?”
“Because it’s not an unrelated matter.”
“If the political circumstances of Hafan becomes worse, I might also be married off to the aforementioned Margrave or the First Prince.”
“I will not allow that to happen.”
“That’s not something your will can do anything about, Onii-sama.”
“Whatever happens, I will never allow that. In the first place, didn’t you always talk about having an ideal man—”
“Geez! Enough about me!”
Incidentally, even though she was tough on her older brother Klaus, her ideal type was her older brother.
She didn’t want to marry a man who wasn’t at least as strong as her older brother.
In fact, it was Ann who had the greatest animosity towards his engagement talk.
However, the one who had been seduced first by Erica Aurelia had also been Ann herself.
It was when she was first guided along the rose garden of the Spring Palace.
At that time, Ann already determined the character of Erica and thought that maybe she could leave her older brother Klaus in the hands of this woman.
It shouldn’t be necessary to explain that during their case in the deepest part of the Ruins of Visitor, that conjecture turned into certainty.
“As long as the relationship between Hafan and Aurelia is strengthened, my marriage will also be fine.”
“Yes. Certainly, as far as you are concerned, this is not somebody else’s problem.”
“That’s why, communicate properly with Erica-oneesama! In moderation! Please convey your favor to her!”
Klaus turned his eyes away from Ann’s sharp gaze.
Originally oblivious to his own feelings and unsociable, such was Klaus.
He didn’t know how to process and arrange his true thoughts into what moderate sentences would be like.
“……You’re making an embarrassed and unwilling look on your face.”
“……Now your face looks like you find it difficult and troublesome.”
“No. There is no such thing. Don’t worry.”
“Then, a little bit milder and lighter, yet it must be rewritten to ensure that Onii-sama’s love is transmitted!”
“Is that not it?”
“N-no, absolutely, absolutely, that’s not it!!!”
“Aah geez! You’re so stubborn……!”
Ann’s scolding and Klaus’ scream echoed inside the beautiful Hafan’s Silver Branch Castle.
It was around a month and a half since the case in the ruins.
A letter arrived at the place of the western duke’s daughter Erica Aurelia.
Written on a fine vellum paper, it was a letter from the eastern young noble Klaus Hafan.
『A letter from that black haired, good-looking dwarf?』
The source of that voice was the Zaratan – now the black dragon Tirnanog – who had completely adapted himself to Erica.
In the end, even if Tirnanog was to break free from the constraint of his armor, there was no particular problem.
At present, he was just in the middle of bathing leisurely in the hot water set in a basin.
“Yes, that’s right. A gift from Ann-sama has also arrived.”
『Hou, is it an offering? As expected of the girl who had given me sufferings in a fight. That girl shows promise.』
“Offering……? I wonder if it is an offering, hmm. Well, perhaps.”
『Am I allowed to open it?』
“Yes, go ahead.”
When he received permission from Erica, Tirnanog finished up his bath.
And then, he started unpacking with a cheerful air.
『Ooh! Pig’s thigh!』
“Wah~~ a very top quality dry-cured ham. How nice~~”
The ankle of the ham was wrapped with a label with an emblem of the Hafan Ducal House.
It was a gem that was aged carefully.
Rather, she thought that it was very large and heavy.
The specialties of the East were the abundant acorns from the forest, the fattened pigs and calves that were brought up with tender white clovers.
Such information were coming up to Erica’s mind.
『Can I eat it?』
“Yes. Ah, save a portion for me.”
『Umu. I will. I never starve my friend.』
As a girl, is it okay for me to feel pleased with meat?
At first she hesitated, but Erica decided to banish her doubt immediately.
Anyway, people who produced meat were not bad people.
In the meantime, Tirnanog was sinking his teeth into the ham heartily.
“Well, let’s take a look at the letter.”
Erica opened the letter’s seal.
At first, Erica was looking at the paper with a faint smile, but gradually her expression became clouded.
After reading, she stared into the air with a mysterious expression.
Tirnanog noticed it and raised his face from the ham.
『What’s the matter?』
After holding her silence for a while with an expression that seemed to be suffering from a headache, Erica showed her letter to Tirnanog.
『‘You are strong. I will become a man who will not lose to you.’ Wait a minute, this is……』
“……What do you think?”
『A letter of challenge.』
“Oh, so it’s not just my imagination……”
『He is strong, but you can definitely win. I can tell.』
“No, it’s not that……”
Erica understood that she might have come to be regarded as a rival by the genius mage from the East.
She didn’t understand at all what went wrong.
This, perhaps, might be a new death flag.
She thought that she had made friends.
In fact, she thought that she might have made a decent friend of the opposite sex, for the first time in her life, including her previous one.
Erica Aurelia chewed her bottom lip slightly.
Her level of human distrust seemed to have risen again by a level.
End of Arc 1