The end of the second semester was approaching.
The medal awarding ceremony for handling the war with the princ.i.p.ality, or rather the one incident, would be on the first day of winter break. The students who would receive such medals were delightfully waiting for that day.
Receiving a medal was no easy feat, and more importantly, it would let them gain prestige and give them something to boast about.
The students who wouldn't receive them were disgruntled, but there was no helping it.
We were enjoying ourselves while drinking tea inside a warm room.
I bought a new tea set to reward myself and savored the precious tea leaves I got from my mentor.
Since I had rushed to a famous store to buy expensive sweets first thing in the morning, I was able to enjoy those in accompaniment as well.
“Ah~, this is bliss~.”
The wintry sky outside fogged the window with a cloudy white color.
Livia was eating the sweets, but only doing so little by little while seeming apologetic──and her face loosened up from how sugary they were.
As expected of a famous store's sweets. Or perhaps she was surprised by how delicious they were. She was giving them a good taste.
“These are tasty.”
On the other hand, Anjie was eating them while maintaining good manners, but perhaps not acquiring a taste for them, she didn't seem to have much of a reaction.
“Do you like chocolate? If so, I can order some from my favorite store.”
Milady! I'd love to know that shop!
Livia made a bitter smile.
“It would be troubling if I got too used to eating expensive things.”
“I, is that so?”
I slightly raised my hand.
“Anjie, please tell me. Since the waiting list for high-ranking, popular stores would take several months, I'd also like a duke household's letter of introduction.”
Since this was the world of that otome game, sweets were widespread and popular.
In this overly bitter world, I at least wanted the confections to be sweet and kind. That was my earnest wish.
“Since you're a tea fanatic, I'm going to say no. They'll hold a grudge against me when you start dwindling their stock.”
There were a considerable amount of boys who liked tea ceremonies. Many of them ordered sweets from popular stores so that they could accompany the tea they were so prideful of. Among them, there were also boys who bought up stocks of popular sweets and invited girls to a tea ceremony.
──Guys like me!
“Eh~, I won't buy up their entire stock. I was only going to eat the popular confections in front of the girls. Either that, or hand them out to the girls who were going on a diet!”
I wanted to gain a sense of superiority by showing off famous confections, ones that people wouldn't have many chances to eat, to dieting girls who were refraining from sweet foods.
The girls would abandon their diet and reach their hand out to accept the sweets with a smile.
Looking at Livia, who was currently shocked, I thought back upon our recent peaceful moments.
After coming back, Luxon took away Partner, Arroganz, and Schwert in order to do maintenance work on them.
Since I no longer had any means to go out, I invited Daniel and Raymond to head into the dungeon. Now that I had defeated the strongest enemy, I didn't think that there would be any formidable foes in there, but it never hurt to be prepared.
There was a chance that the princ.i.p.ality wouldn't stop their fighting, but we were now in possession of their trump card.
Though things should've been okay, I still had an ominous premonition. I couldn't shake it off.
Anjie brought up the subject.
“Anyways Leon, it seems Chris was given the credit for defeating the Black Knight.”
When I averted my gaze, Livia looked at me.
“Why is that? You were the one who defeated the Black Knight, Leon.”
Since Anjie's cup was getting low, I poured her another helping of tea, trying to b.u.t.ter her up.
“Milady, such a thing revolved heavily around politically-involved judgements──”
That was a lie. Political judgements had nothing to do with it. It was just convenient for me.
However, Anjie was convinced and nodded her head.
“It was certainly not a bad move.”
It wasn't really something I put much thought into, but I was happy to be praised for it.
“U, um, how so?”
Livia didn't seem to understand.
Anjie gladly explained. I also made sure to listen carefully.
“It's simple. The Arkwright family was hostile towards Leon. With this matter, Chris' household could no longer say anything. After all, he took down the undefeatable Black Knight and then gave their son the prestige for it. Forcing the Black Knight to retreat is a big achievement. Chris' disinheritance will probably be canceled before long.”
Livia smiled at me.
“Leon, you really are kind!”
“O, of course.”
I stuttered a bit. Well, I a.s.sumed that they didn't like me, but I didn't even think that the household with a master swordsman would be hostile towards me. If the master swordsman went after me, there would be nothing I could do, even if I had multiple lives.
Wait a minute. Milaine──I felt that Milaine had said something about it before.
Luxon, who had been listening to the conversation inside the room, looked at me.
Since it showed itself before, there was no longer any need to hide.
[What a relief, Master.]
What Luxon meant was that I unknowingly dodged a bullet by pushing the achievement onto someone else, which itself only happened because I didn't want to get promoted.
I had gradually become aware of how Luxon worked.
“What do you think? Are you happy that your owner can make such sophisticated calculations?”
[It seems you really do have a talent for getting carried away. Normally, people would be more modest. Those with a guilty conscience would be more humble.]
“You don't know anything. I'm just an ordinary boy br.i.m.m.i.n.g with kindness and honesty.”
[Shall I look up what kindness and honesty mean in a dictionary? It seems you need some more studying in the subject of language.]
Anjie and Livia touched the floating Luxon with their hands.
They poked at it with their fingers.
“It talks a lot for a thing with one eye.”
“You can't say that Anjie. Luc has a name, it's Luxon.”
Luxon looked at Livia.
[Luc? Is that some kind of abbreviation to refer to me?]
I looked at Luxon while grinning.
“How nice it must be, Luc. Doesn't it sound cute?”
Since Luxon was silent, Livia seemed worried that she offended it. I told her that it was fine and then began to continue our conversation.
“So, about those guys. They aren't necessarily bad people. Err, probably.”
Well──they were pretty stupid people, but they weren't bad.
Anjie made a face that seemed as if she was not amused.
“Right. The wicked one is the girl deceiving those five, Marie.”
Since the mood had worsened, Livia started talking about school gossip.
“A, anyways, I heard something about those five! It seems that they're currently doing something in a storehouse.”
When I seemed interested in the topic, Livia gladly continued speaking.
“Right. It seems that the five are making something.”
What in the world would the five of them need to gather together for?
Marie arrived at a storehouse within the academy.
“Hey everyone, what did you call me here for~?”
When the five said that there was something they wanted to show her, she was excited, thinking that it was a present.
(What could it be? Maybe a jewel? No, a dress? Recently, they've all been working hard, so it's definitely some kind of present for me. What a wonderful surprise!)
There was something big, covered by a sheet, in front of Marie.
Marie tilted her head.
Kyle, who was standing beside her, also tilted his head.
“What is this?”
Greg rubbed the area under his nose with his finger.
“Something we're proud to show off.”
Brad lifted his bangs with his hand and brushed them back.
“It's something we've kept you waiting for, Marie.”
What the two said had raised Marie's expectations.
“Thanks, you two!”
Chris, perhaps being bashful, removed his gla.s.ses and looked at Marie's smiling face.
“I, I've also been working hard on it.”
“Yep, thank you, Chris.”
Thereupon, Jilk forcibly cleared his throat.
“Marie, don't forget about his Highness and me. C'mon, your Highness.”
Julian stood in front of Marie.
“Marie──this represents our feelings.”
Once the five removed the sheet, there stood a unit of armor on its knees.
──Marie's smile stiffened.
Julian and the others looked at the armor in satisfaction.
“We're going to challenge Baltfault with this. We will win against the one who disrupted the relationship between you and me──and move forward!”
Greg gave a thumbs up.
“You said it, your Highness! No, Julian!”
Brad put his hands on his hips and puffed up with pride.
“Right. We can't move forward without beating him. This armor we've prepared is the embodiment of our determination.”
Marie froze in place. She couldn't understand what the five were saying.
(Determination? Just how much do they think it costs to prepare armor?! Furthermore, it seems like it was put together using parts of different colors. D, don't tell me that they connected parts of their broken armor from that duel! Are they going to challenge him with that kind of armor?)
Chris' eyes were tearing up. He seemed deeply moved by the armor in front of him.
“It's a bit misshapen, but it looks better than any armor I've been on so far.”
Jilk smiled while nodding.
“It's just a bunch of usable parts put together, but it's jam-packed with our feelings. Rather, it looks quite wonderful now. This is some good armor.”
Marie stiffly turned her head towards Julian.
“Julian, h, how much did this cost? The repair charges and other such things, I mean.”
Julian made a slightly lonesome expression.
“Marie, this is not a matter of money, it's a matter of our feelings.”
“T, that's not it! I'm just worried that everyone had to spend an unreasonable amount of money!”
Julian was relieved upon hearing that.
“Oh, so that's what it was? Actually, we used the remunerations for this.”
Brad and Greg had received remuneration due to the suppression of the sky pirates.
Chris also received remuneration for the incident with the princ.i.p.ality.
“S, so you used that money for repairs.”
Marie wondered why they would use their hard-earned remuneration for such a pointless thing, but she rea.s.sured herself that things were still okay.
However, Jilk's words caused Marie's hopes to plummet to rock bottom.
“We were a bit nervous, so we used up some communal a.s.sets as well. We found a person who claimed to be a famous armor producer and offered repairs for cheap.”
Marie's legs trembled when hearing that the communal a.s.sets had been used.
However, it didn't end there.
“We were able to manage somehow by using the remunerations and five hundred thousand from our communal a.s.sets. With remarkable ability, they pushed the performance of the armor to its limits. What a wonderful person. With this power, we can win against Baltfault and his Arroganz.”
Marie felt dizzy. She didn't collapse since Kyle supported her, but she felt like crying deep down. She knew that young men from n.o.ble families were baffling when it came to using money, but it seemed especially severe for these five.
(Five hundred thousand dia! Converted in j.a.panese yen, that's fifty million yen they spent. And they took it from the communal a.s.sets?! For something like this?!)
Even though they were communal a.s.sets, almost all of it was for living expenses and was managed by Marie.
They made a killing from the school festival and frantically earned money via the dungeon, and now almost of the living expenses they earned had gone towards one misshapen unit of armor.
Though, five hundred thousand was a bit much for five people.
Marie wept inside her mind.
(Five hundred thousand for this mishmashed, rubbish armor! There must be something wrong with their heads! Why did they use it all up?! Or rather, they should have consulted me before doing so! How are we supposed to sustain our livelihood now?!)
While trembling, Marie spoke towards the five, who had rushed towards her in concern.
“W, why didn't you consult me in advance?”
Julian made a smile.
“We wanted to surprise you. Sorry. We didn't expect you'd be this shocked. Just wait, Marie. We'll defeat Baltfault, removing the obstacle that has torn the relationship between you and me.”
Marie earnestly begged that he would remove her unease for the future instead.
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