For the time being, I’ve been able to give my lady’s letter to Libert, the leader of the commoner faction that opposed the elitists. I don’t think we’ll be able to win his trust with just this, but at least he shouldn’t consider us enemies now.
Well, we should have all the time we need to build a mutually beneficial relationship from here on.
That’s why things should’ve been looking up now, but–
“Cyril, can we eat lunch together today?”
Ever since the party, Alicia has started visiting my classroom every now and then.
I was only her partner for that one time, but that single event seems to have led to a change in her feelings.
There was still room to make excuses when the second prince came, but Alicia’s intentions were too explicit.
The current situation was as if I were the heroine’s capture target. I didn’t hate it, but this was troublesome in various ways. In a different sense, I seem to have turned Libert into my enemy.
“I’m sorry Lady Alicia, but I have to start on the preparations for my lady’s tea party soon, so I don’t have much time to eat.”
“Then, can we at least eat together for that small amount of time?”
It looks like rushing my lunch for my lady’s sake wouldn’t work as an excuse.
But even putting that aside, sharing a meal with a noble daughter in a servant course classroom was wrong on so many levels that I didn’t even know where to start.
I made eye contact with Melissa- who was currently standing behind Alicia, and mentally pleaded for her to do something about this.
However, she didn’t seem to have any intentions of stopping her mistress despite the bothered face she was making. What a useless maid.
Troublesome indeed. Forget the elitists and the factions, at this rate my lady was going to fall into darkness first. This situation couldn’t be allowed to continue, so after pondering it for a bit, I concluded it would be best to recruit Alicia as one of Lady Sophia’s allies.
“Okay. I understand, Lady Alicia.”
“Really?! Then let’s have lunch right away!”
“No, please wait. Today really isn’t good for me. I’ll make sure to get in touch with you at a later date, so please relent for now.”
“Is it really… no good?”
“My lady, anymore than this and you’ll be troubling Cyril.”
“…okay. It’s just that… I went through a lot of trouble to prepare a lunch box for him.”
Alicia finally gave up with Melissa’s comment, but she was very reluctant. Despite having the drive to take action herself, she seemed to be lacking the prudence to make arrangements with the other party before these kinds of visits.
But once you considered that Alicia was the heroine of the game, it was no wonder she was like that.
‘Who do you want to visit today?’ –because her actions were spontaneously decided depending on which option the player chose, it was only natural that the common sense to make plans with the other party in advance would be missing.
And with her real-life iteration, that aspect seems to have manifested as a part of her personality.
However, there were many problems with Alicia visiting me. Of course, there was her dignity as a noble to consider, but her actions could even ruin the power balance among the factions.
Therefore, I needed a way to control this situation.
After school that day, I approached Lady Sophia and suggested that Alicia should be invited to be a member of her tea parties.
I proposed that some other members of the commoner faction should be added as well. Now that we knew that the second prince wasn’t part of the elitists, there was no need for us to quiver in their shadow any longer.
This was a good opportunity.
If my lady moved quickly, she’d be able to gain the support of a large number of people while cutting down on the elitist faction’s power, moving us out of our current state of affairs.
When I explained that, an unexpectedly chilly gaze was returned to me.
Lady Sophia went, “so you want to be together with Alicia that badly?” but that definitely wasn’t the case. I only made this plan while thinking what was best for her sake.
As I went on to persuade her that way, I was eventually able to convince her to do so.
In this way, Alicia started participating in Lady Sophia’s tea parties.
She was still regarded as a member of the commoner faction though. Moreover, a variety of speculations could be made from her comrades attendance, so eventually, it’ll be necessary to prepare countermeasures assuming that the elitists will move.
That’s why, on one of the holidays–
I got permission to go out from my lady, and once again returned to the dark guild.
“Now if it isn’t Cyril, what are you here for this time?”
Rather than Unnamed’s body double– I was greeted by the gentle looking man with one-eye who pretended to be a servant.
“…so you’re the one that’s going to attend to me today?”
“Of course, aren’t you already aware of my true identity anyways?”
“I wonder… now what would that be?”
Of course, we weren’t talking about how he was Unnamed. On the contrary, he was asking if I knew about his past as an aristocrat that was exiled over false charges.
But I didn’t know anything. I made my intentions clear.
“You really are a clever bastard. Well, it’s fine. What are you here for? Don’t tell me, did those brats suddenly start saying they wanted to see their parents again?”
“That’s a matter for the far-off future. Rather than that, I have a request to make of you.”
Unnamed started glaring at me with his eye.
It was because he thought he was going to make a profit up until now– not. The game version of myself misunderstood him to be a man of darkness who would do anything for money, but he actually wasn’t.
His foundations were built on justice and getting revenge on those who abused the power of their status. If someone asked him to do a dirty job in exchange for a large reward, he’d betray them and drive them into ruin.
With that said, I was going to ask him for the exact opposite kind of request.
“Do you know of the second and third sons of the Ahle Count house, Jircliffe and his younger brother, Surge?”
“They’re the second prince’s entourage, and members of the elitist faction that are currently making a fuss about demolishing the slums altogether. What about them?”
“I want you to investigate them and the rest of their household’s affairs.”
“…what are you saying? Did you find something?”
“Nothing for now. Well… call it a hunch.”
It was just my intuition– not. Excluding the second prince, they were such prominent figures that they could be said to be the current representatives of the elitists, but they never appeared in the game.
I considered the possibility that they were eliminated after committing some sort of blunder… but the other day when I implied that they were moving on their own agendas, Nicola made a very understanding expression.
In addition to that, he said that he would arbitrarily lend his support depending on the situation. However, his cooperation was limited to verbal aide.
For example– providing information.
Illegal data that could be used to kick those two down.
What could be deduced from this was the identity of the aristocrat who took the life of Libert’s sister.
Since this matter was resolved before the original work began, I didn’t know the culprit responsible. By overlapping the image of Alicia onto the deceased girl, there was only a depiction of Libert overcoming his past as he moved to protect her from the villainous daughter.
But if this issue wasn’t solved yet at this point of time…
Libert’s hostility towards the elitist faction. The fact that three years from now the elitists don’t have a leader. Considering these points, it’s highly likely that those two were involved with that incident and were consequently dealt with.
That’s why I expected that their family might be involved with something illegal.
“…I see. Well… okay. If you want us to investigate them for illegal activities, we’ll do so. As for the reward–”
“How’s this for an advance payment? I’ll pay you the same amount upon the completion of this task.”
I dropped a leather bag filled with gold coins onto the table.
“Oh? This is the market price… but isn’t this too low for a commission from a Marquis house?”
“My lady doesn’t enjoy buying her allies off with money. Of course, if monetary gain is the only thing you’re interested in, I’ll reconsider but…”
The new reward that would be given instead– I didn’t say.
What I wanted was proof of true injustice. I’d be troubled if they just fabricated evidence in favour of a greater profit. I needed to make sure I didn’t pay too much nor too little so they did their job properly.
I would reward them just the right amount according to the results they provided.
“You truly are a strange kid. Aren’t you lying about your age?”
“No, I’m exactly as old as I look.”
–this is my second life though.
Without saying the words that resounded in my heart, I made a deal with Unnamed.
A week later, a small tea party was once again held by my lady’s faction.
Incidentally, several noble daughters have joined the faction recently. One of them being the girl that collapsed at the exam site. She seems to have remembered me, and ended up thanking me multiple times.
Alicia was attending this time as well.
In the game, she and Lady Sophia respectively represented light and darkness. Two people who should’ve been completely incompatible were actually sitting next to one another at a tea party.
It was quite the emotional scene–
“Eh?! This tea was brewed by Cyril?!”
“Yes. Cyril– my exclusive butler, brewed it.”
“That must be nice. I’m so jealous of you, Lady Sophia.”
–that is, if that emotion was fear.
I held that impression as I silently watched over my lady’s tea party from a distance.
Friends are nice. If I had to describe their relationship, I’d say they’re on amicable terms.
In fact, since Alicia didn’t have hidden sides to her, it was easy to see that that she held Lady Sophia in high regard, and my lady wasn’t so stubborn to act cruelly to such a person either.
Since Alicia was still somewhat immature for an aristocrat, Lady Sophia patiently taught her everything she needed to know.
But sometimes– just like before, you could see the dangerous scene of evil demons lurking beneath the surface of an innocent picnic.
Some of the young ladies didn’t seem to notice it, but the facial expressions of the people who did were twitching.
One of such individuals was Melissa– Alicia’s exclusive maid. Her face said she wanted to say something as she watched her mistress not even try to hide her favour for me.
I approached her.
“Looking at things now, was inviting Lady Alicia to the tea parties only a nuisance in the end?”
I was the one who extended the faction invitation to Alicia, but she wasn’t aware of that. In fact, it wasn’t even her, but her house– and more specifically Melissa, who pushed for its acceptance.
“No, both my lady’s parents and I are grateful for Lady Sophia’s friendship with her.”
It seems Alicia’s family wanted her to keep her distance from the conflict with the elitists as well.
“But… I don’t need to tell you Lady Alicia’s true motivation for participating in the tea parties, do I? Just thinking about it… ugh, hurts my stomach.”
The reason why she decided to get along with Lady Sophia was because she had feelings for her exclusive butler.
As a daughter of nobility, this was a serious problem. On top of that, it was obvious to see that Lady Sophia had similar feelings for me as well. Just imagining what was in store for the future frightened me.
“We both have it hard, huh?”
“Don’t act like you’re not the main cause of all of this.”
I thought we were building a sort of friendship, but I was completely rejected.
About a month has passed since then.
In the meantime, Lady Sophia has continued to regularly hold tea parties. Although my lady’s faction was rumoured to be close to the elitists at first, recently it’s been said that she’s grown closer with the commoner faction instead.
However, the elitists still haven’t shown any signs of movement.
One day, an invitation letter came from the second prince to Sophia.
He seems to have made his resolve to show her the castle’s rose garden.
Roses blossom at different times a year depending on the variety, but all of them flower at this time. The rose garden should be at full bloom at the moment.
Rather than the fact that the second prince had invited her out, my lady was more excited by the fact she could see the unique flowers that were only grown at the royal castle.
–that is, until she actually arrived there.
Beside the prince who had come to personally welcome my lady to the castle– were his two followers.
I’d like to confront them as to why they’re interfering with this tryst.
Of course, I understood that the prince couldn’t actually be left alone. Lady Sophia had me to accompany her, but the prince already had his bodyguards and servants lurking nearby.
However, servants and guards couldn’t disrupt the conversations of their master.
In contrast, the two followers weren’t in that position, so it was suspicious whether they knew they were being a nuisance or not.
If possible, I’d like to ask them if they were willing to leave for Lady Sophia’s sake.
“…thank you for inviting me out today. I was really looking forward to seeing the rare rose varieties that only bloomed in the royal castle.”
“I see! I’m also glad that you came, Sophia!”
Casual past tense.
My lady’s evaluation of the second prince has definitely dropped at this moment, but the individual himself was completely unaware of honeyed words said only for politeness’ sake and was in high spirits.
The prince and his followers moved with my lady as a group towards the rose garden.
My lady had dropped her shoulders a little, but that wasn’t unreasonable. With those two fluttering around her, forget advising the prince of the truth of his actions, she won’t even be able to enjoy the roses she was looking forward to.
This should’ve been a time for her to relax and admire the flowers she loved, but now its a situation where she had to probe out the other party’s intentions.
However– my lady still exclaimed, “how lovely” with an excited voice when she arrived at the garden. There were roses in full bloom as far as the eye could see.
“Do you like it?”
“This rose garden was originally only accessible by the royal family.”
“That’s why you should thank his highness for allowing you such an honour, Lady Sophia.”
“…yes, of course. The garden is very beautiful.”
The words that came from the followers after the second prince spoke were annoying.
My lady was smiling, but her irritation was starting to leak out of her words. Although this wasn’t appropriate of her as a daughter of a Marquis, I thought she was doing very well considering the situation.
Once we returned to the mansion, I’ll prepare her favourite tea and cakes as a reward.
“I’m happy to know that you like them, Sophia.”
“Your highness, why don’t you show Lady Sophia those roses?”
“Because there are a multitude of different breeds, let’s go see them as well.”
“…yes, by all means.”
My lady was walking beside the second prince. That itself was reasonable, but the followers were crowding in on her open sides. It was as if she was about to be kidnapped.
Those two truly were schemers.
If the prince really didn’t have any elitist thoughts, it could be said that they were manipulating him. I wanted to separate them from the group so my lady and the prince could have some time to themselves.
If Lady Sophia said that she wanted to be alone with the second prince, he would definitely push for her demands, but such an inadvertent remark wasn’t appropriate for a daughter of nobility.
The rose varieties that only bloom in this rose garden were something that even the second prince couldn’t show off carelessly, but to expect him to realise this and resolve this situation himself… would just be cruel at this point.
As I pondered how to somehow remove the followers, time had passed until they finally arrived at the heart of the rose garden.
My lady murmured as if she were in a dream.
At the end of her line of sight were the blue roses grown in a greenhouse.
Blue roses originally didn’t exist anywhere in this world. However, the former king of Ephenia once asked his magicians to produce this variety of flower.
As a result, a miracle that only exists in the rose garden of the royal castle was created.
Therefore, the blue rose was the symbol of the royal family that makes the impossible possible.
Incidentally, the Rosenberg house had the crimson rose as its symbol, which was granted to them alongside their Marquis status due to their great contributions to this country’s founding.
Probably because she had grown up listening to such a historical background, my lady’s game iteration had a strong longing to receive a blue rose from the prince.
She proceeded to approach the blue roses, drawn to them.
“How are they? Aren’t they a beautiful colour?”
“Yes, they are. Thank you for showing me something so precious. I’m very happy because I heard that these were something I could only see in the royal castle.”
My lady then smiled from the bottom of her heart. It wasn’t the smile of a Marquis’ daughter, but the angelic smile of an innocent girl of her age. It was an expression that would attract all who saw it.
“Oh, if you like them that much, should I give you one, Sophia?”
The second prince spoke such words. It was just the innocent question of a boy who was captivated by an adorable girl. There was no deep meaning to it.
However– both I and the prince’s servants gasped.
The blue rose was the symbol of the royal family.
So only the royal family was allowed to take them out of the castle. The same was true even for cut flowers. Since it was relatively easy to graft and raise them, they were thoroughly managed.
In other words, only members of the royal family can have blue roses. It didn’t matter if this wasn’t the second prince’s intention. His previous words were a proposal.
What my lady did next was important. It was unacceptable for her to refuse the proposal in front of this large number of witnesses and humiliate him.
Therefore, the only thing she could do was stay silent, but said silence couldn’t last for long. If a third party didn’t intervene in this situation, it might develop into something irreversible.
The second prince was ignorant of all of this.
I didn’t know if the followers were aware of it, but I don’t think they’d do anything about it if they did.
The servants definitely understood the situation, but they couldn’t disrupt their master’s conversation due to their position.
“What’s wrong, Sophia? Didn’t you want a blue rose?”
“–I’m afraid that’s not possible, your highness.”
I broke in between them and squeezed out my voice. The pressure of the gazes gathering on my person felt like they would crush me. I could feel the noose of the execution end wrapping around my neck.
But I was my lady’s exclusive butler. I had vowed to protect her.
“I heard that the blue roses couldn’t leave the premises. So your highness, wouldn’t this be impossible unless you asked his majesty for permission?”
“Eh? I-is that so…?”
“It is, so it would be for the best to talk to his majesty about this matter first.”
I felt my spirits lift as the second prince accepted my answer.
Lady Sophia, myself, and all of the servants let out our breaths at once.
“…how dare a mere butler interrupt a conversation between the nobility.”
“Know your place, knave.”
That peace was shattered by the entrance of one of the entourage’s dissatisfied voices, which was immediately followed up by the other in sync. The surroundings were once again filled with tension.
“I apologise for overstepping my position.”
“Oh? Not bad for a commoner… kneel here, and show us your sincerity.”
“If that’s what it will take for you to forgive me.”
Genuflecting myself was a cheap price to pay to resolve this situation. Bending the knee meant nothing to me.
But just before I did so–
–the voice of a ruler reverberated throughout the rose garden.
Turning towards my lady, entering my sight was the imposing figure of a noble. Inside of a greenhouse with no wind, her platinum blonde hair was fluttering as if to reflect her feelings.
I could feel in my skin that she was more angry than I had ever seen her before in my life.
Her eyes– now dyed crimson, took in the view of the followers before she began speaking in a quiet tone bridling with rage.
“There is no need to bow to such fools.”
Written by Scarlet Rain (緋色の雨)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com