The party that arrived from Trancia was surprisingly small.
Supposedly, on the day of the departure, the current king had fallen to sudden illness. For that reason, the king’s younger brother, the Royal Prince, had come in his stead.
This Royal Prince was a slender and fair-skinned man in his early twenties, and gave off a completely different impression from his older brother, the renowned dauntless and resolute warrior.
When the ceremony started, I recalled the things Leo-sama had spoken of last night and gradually became unable to concentrate.
My duty for today was to entertain Trancia’s Royal Prince during the dinner party after the ceremony, so please cut me a little slack.
First, Leo-sama gave his welcoming address. Next was the reception of the Royal Prince’s speech, and finally both parties confirmed that the other had no intention of once again waging war.
The ceremony then progressed without delay.
Afterward, while the dinner banquet was still being prepared, there was a bit of free time.
I changed into a pale red dress, and as I waited for the preparations to be complete, I passed time by drinking tea.
And it was then that Leo-sama, dressed in full uniform, made his entrance.
Although I’d finally calmed down after going through a lot of trouble, the memory of our promise for tonight sprang up in my head again.
“Haruto, you don’t have to be so nervous. You look like you’re about to leap away from my hands at any second.”
“I ask that you please not tease me so much. Also, I’m not nervous at all.”
Though I tried to resolutely refute his words, I couldn’t hide how my face turned red.
“Got it, sorry about that. Anyway, it’s almost time—shall we go?”
Though he said it in a somewhat laughing tone, I compliantly took the hand he held out to me.
At the dinner banquet, I was to serve as the person who conversed with the Royal Prince.
“I have heard that the Queen is actively involved with national affairs. The way you endeavor to pursue knowledge regardless of being a woman makes one such as myself feel respect and admiration.”
“No, not at all, it’s nothing so great as that. Rather, I believe that the Royal Prince visiting a neighboring country as a representative has taken a far greater responsibility.”
As the meal progressed, we conversed with small talk.
“As for that matter, it’s simply that what I am able to accomplish are only matters such as these. Unlike my brother, I am incapable of going out to the battlefield to fight.”
As he said that, a wry smile that didn’t match his age came upon the Royal Prince’s face.
“You shouldn’t say such things. There are matters which only Your Highness and Your Highness alone is capable of doing. On my end, I feel that the things I know how to do are too few.”
I didn’t think that such cheesy words would actually be able to touch his heart.
Even so, I couldn’t not say it.
The disaster came suddenly.
When the meal reached the end of its course, I stood up from my seat while thinking that it was about time I ask for dessert. With a sigh, I looked out the window. The view was somewhat familiar and nostalgic, but a light that I had never seen in this kind of place was approaching.
It was a light given off by an occurrence of attack magic, like what Alec had showed me in Orania.
The escort knights around me also realized its existence, though a bit late.
In an instant, they formed a defensive wall around me and Leo-sama.
However, I, who had noticed this attack magic’s existence a moment faster than the others, was the only one who saw…
That magic’s trajectory wasn’t heading toward Leo-sama, nor to me, but instead aimed straight toward the Royal Prince.
In that moment, I realized it.
Just how come Trancia’s King had developed a sudden illness just before the day of the departure?
Just how come such a wry smile had come over the Royal Prince’s face?
He had known that he had come to this place in order to die.
So that he could become the burning embers that sparked the resurgence of war, he stood there without any sort of defense at all.
I ran toward the Royal Prince’s location.
Crashing into him, I protected his body with my own.
A powerful impact coursed through me, starting from my back to the rest of my body.
That impact launched me into the air, and my body struck the floor.
I couldn’t breathe.
Everything felt heavy.
At the edge of my gradually narrowing vision, I caught sight of the Royal Prince looking over with a dumbfounded expression.
He seemed fine. What a relief.
From a distance, I heard a voice that sounded like Leo-sama’s calling my name.
These arms that embraced me now were surely Leo-sama’s arms.
Even without seeing his face, I was certain from feeling the warmth of his arms.
I couldn’t keep the promise we made for tonight.
My voice was hardly able to come out.
At the very least, I wanted to touch his face—I gave all my effort to lifting my right hand, but it fell to the floor, unable to reach.