Three days have passed since then, but I have not talked to the princess. Since I was only allowed to talk to princess when Hamira-san was the servant on duty, I cannot do so until she is on shift again.
There were things for me to take care of even when I can’t talk to the princess. Cleaning the castle was something that goes without saying, but there was also “that” incident- the incident of the princess being attacked by a demon. It smelled funny to me still.
During work and after work, I had listened to various stories going around from fellow workers in the castle. I was able to get on friendly terms with them in a few days thanks to my skill.
From all that I had heard, there was just one important piece of information.
“Speaking of which, the servant who made the engagement announcement two years ago suddenly resigned in a hurry. I remember her because she was someone with a fairly distinct characteristic.” said my kind-looking fellow female worker who was a mother of two. She was well… a typical gossip-loving auntie.
“How would you describe that person?”
“Her name was Karo-san. She had a scar on her left eye. Hmm, I wonder what she’s doing now.”
“I see. Thank you for the information!”
“No no, not a problem. It’s because you’re a good kid, Roush-chan.”
“Chan[i]” she said… I wonder if she addressed me like that because she has a son around my age.
Now then, shall I look into this Karo-san person?
I decided to consult Hamira-san about this. Hamira-san seems to have spare time on the days she’s not escorting the princess around.
“Karo? There definitely was a person with that name. She quit two years ago, though. I wonder why she quit… Oh, yeah. She said that she no longer needed to work or something.”
“Needed to work…?”
That’s a somewhat suggestive way of wording it.
“That’s right, but I don’t know the full details. I’ve heard that she’s living out west right now though”
“I see. Umm, Hamira-san, I have something I want to ask you, but…”
“Oh my, what is it?”
“Do you know anything else about the incident two years ago with princess Ritona that we were talking about last time?”
“Ah, that? I can’t tell you too much about it though… Well, why don’t you try asking the princess about it directly, Roush-kun?”
Although she said that, Hamira-san continued,
“I think that Princess Ritona was also saying that there were a lot of mysteries regarding that incident. First off, why did such a strong demon show up at that place? After the incident, the investigative team searched in all kinds of ways but it remained a mystery after all, since they found no traces of that demon passing through the barrier. The only thing they could consider was a rumor that was going around saying that the demon was a “pet” kept by a noble somewhere and it had escaped”
A noble’s pet, huh? I see. Certainly, this theory is not impossible. Although it was never said in public, there are some strange characters among the nobles, and there are definitely some of them who would buy demons through illegal routes and keep them as pets. They seem to control those demons with different kinds of enslaving magic, but I don’t know the full details about it.
“But in the end, they could not obtain any evidence, right?”
“Yeah. Although they investigated the nobles through that line of thinking just in case, nothing came of it. Well, the nobles are responsible for large amounts of donations to the kingdom so I think it was not possible to conduct investigations that were too aggressive”
“I see. This is the first time I’ve heard about this.”
It seems like the nobles have strong ties to the kingdom.
“Well… there was one more thing- the hero, Yuto. Why was he there at that time? The thing about the princess going out was a secret, and it’s impossible for anyone to know the route she was taking. Well, the people who heard of this incident at the time were highly touting it as the hero’s miracle”
“I know even if you don’t tell me. You suspect that the hero was performing a part in his own play, right?”
“Y-you knew, huh?”
I was surprised. It seemed like Hamira-san knew exactly what I was thinking.
“Well yeah, at the time, I too believed that it was the hero’s miracle…but after hearing such a story from you, my trust in the hero has become shaky.”
That story she was referring to would be the story of how the hero stole Mina from me. But still, I’m glad that I was able to sit down and have that chat with Hamira-san.
“That’s right. I have a grudge against him because of that. That’s why I’m suspecting him of being behind that incident. I would like to get to the bottom of this”
“What do you intend to do if the hero was the culprit?”
“That, I do not know. But I won’t forgive him for deceiving such a kind princess like Ritona… even if this is just my ego speaking.”
I think I shouldn’t tell her that I want revenge on the hero. It would give off a bad impression to Hamira-san.
Besides, I wasn’t lying. I did not care at all before, but after speaking with princess Ritona, I understood that she’s a really nice girl. I won’t be able to stomach the thought of such a bastard deceiving her!
I want to protect her.
“…I see. I get it now. You were asking about Karo earlier because you thought she had something to do with this incident.”
“Yeah…but it was only just my speculation. Don’t worry about it”
“It’s fine, I will investigate a little into it”
“Yes. We’ve already come this far, so we might as well see it to the end. This could also be fate. Besides, I can’t just leave you to this alone since it’ll be dangerous”
Hamira-san said as she patted my head with a smile.
I teared up involuntarily. What a kind person she is.
And so, I entrusted the investigation to Hamira-san. I continued talking to the princess two times a week as I worked.
After two months had passed since I came to the castle, she said something like this to me when I was talking to her as usual,
“I-I want to see the town near the castle”
“You’ve never been there before?”
“I’ve been there once, but I just passed through without a chance to properly take a look around and see the shops…”
It seems that she was not allowed the freedom to do so from a security stand point.
Yeah, it’s a pity that she couldn’t go around shopping even though she’s a girl.
“Then, shall we go take a look around together?”
“Eeehh, really? Is that alright? But…”
Princess Ritona said as she casted a glance at Hamira-san.
Hamira-san let out a deep sigh.
“Can you absolutely keep this a secret? And don’t expose your face too much.”
I held Hamira-san’s hand and said my thanks and then we headed to the town near the castle. Nevertheless, Hamira-san came along and was following us from a little bit behind.
Princess Ritona hid her face by covering it a bit more with her hat.
“Ah, Roush-san. I want to take a look at that clothing store.”
With that said, we went to take a look at the clothing store. Princess Ritona looked like a girl who acted her age from the way that she looked at the clothes with sparkling eyes.
“Roush-san, what is that over there? It looks delicious.”
“It’s cotton candy. Princess Ritona, you’ve never eaten it before?”
“Yes, it’s my first time seeing this. And, Roush-san, don’t call me the princess here. It would be trouble if we were found out. Please call me Ritona. I’ll also call you Roush”
“It would be rude if I did that.”
“This is an order, okay? You are forbidden to address me formally”
She said to me as she pointed her index finger at me with an eye closed. She was so cute it made me want to hug her.
“Ehehe, good. Roush.”
We went around the town after that as we ate and visited all kinds of different shops. Two hours had passed when I realized it.
“It’s about time we have to go”
Hamira-san said as she appeared.
With a look of disappointment on her face, Princess Ritona nodded and agreed.
“Then, let’s talk again next time, Roush.”
“U-um Ritona. This…”
“Eh? Wow! this is…”
I offered a hair ornament to Princess Ritona. I’ve caught her looking at this like she wanted it when we were at a variety shop earlier and I did not let the chance pass me by.
It was a painful expense for my pockets but whatever. I also had fun today. Of course, there was an ulterior motive to this, but I also felt like giving her a present.
“A little while ago, you looked like you wanted this, Ritona.”
“Thanks. Is it okay if I try to put this on right away?”
“By all means.”
With that said, Princess Ritona took off her hat and attached the hair ornament I gave her. The aqua-colored jewel looked very good with her blonde hair.
She spun around on the spot.
“How do I look?”
“It suits you very well”
Crap, I was watching her in fascination without thinking.
“Ehehe, Thank you. I’ll treasure it. Well then, see you again”
After she said that, I simply stared at her as she left.
[i] if you are reading jp stories you prob know the jp honorifics already… but just in case you don’t, -chan is a very intimate term, often attached to a child’s name when their parents call them by their given names.