Home Post 1010-chapter-68


‘What is that b*stard doing here?’

Iris was brought to the palace garden to avoid Ian, wasn’t she?

However, the place she came to to avoid the tiger turned out to be the tiger’s den. What business did he have here when he should have been doing his own thing or wandering through the forest? Was there something she had missed in the original?

Still, no matter how much she thought back, she had never read anything in the original about the Crown Prince visiting the palace garden.

Iris tilted her head as she looked back and forth between Carinne and Ian.

“Do you know him?”

“I saw him once before.”

Ian, who Iris saw for the first time, was walking slowly toward them.

In just a few seconds, Iris and Ian would meet. When she realized this, her head began to spin like a helicopter propeller. It would have been best to keep the two from meeting, though that was out of the question now that Ian had spotted her and Iris.

There was only one thing she could do in this situation: somehow separate Ian and Iris.

Iris and Ian had a lot in common without realizing it, so there was a risk that they would become friends. She had to prevent that at all costs.

Then, Iris gasped when she recognized Ian’s face and exclaimed,

“Carinne! It’s that guy! The one with the cream-colored hair, golden eyes, tall stature and a voice so smooth!”

Iris marveled at the incredible coincidence. She had made up that story to make Iris hate Ian, but instead of making her hate him, it had made their first meeting special. Things could not have gone more wrong.

Carinne suppressed her anger by pressing her temples.

“Hello! My name is Iris.”

Iris ran out on her own and greeted him before anyone could tell her to. She was so outgoing that it was embarrassing.

Ian’s gaze suddenly fell on Iris, who had popped out of nowhere.

His golden eyes, which seemed incredibly gentle but hid sharp thorns within, sparkled with interest. It was not the interest of one human being in another but a curiosity based on a sense of superiority, like that of a human looking at an ant. She knew that if that gaze flickered, it would turn into madness and obsession, so her insides burned black.

Carinne followed Iris and then slid to a stop. As if she couldn’t help it, she stopped right between Iris and Ian.

“It’s nice to meet you! I didn’t know I’d meet you here!”

When Carinne greeted him vigorously, the curious gaze immediately disappeared. Ian smiled at Carinne.

“Yes, I was originally going to go to the forest, but this person strongly recommended that I come here. In retrospect, it was a good choice.”

He came here because the man next to him recommended it, which was why the original story was different. She didn’t know who the man next to him was, but one thing was for sure: he was not helpful.

“The forest?”

Meanwhile, Iris perked up at the mention of the forest. Iris peeked her head out from behind Carinne and then came to stand next to her.

Ian continued, maintaining his gentle smile.

“I like to indulge in fantasies alone in the forest. I mostly think about useless things, like what it would be like to talk to animals or how beautiful it would be if the leaves were all different colors. I guess you could say I’m a dreamer with simple dreams.”

‘A simple dreamer, my foot.’

Ian didn’t mean to, but he said exactly the things that Iris would like. Just as Iris was about to open her mouth in excitement at the thought of talking to animals, Carinne beat her to it.

“Who is this person?”

She asked the man next to her.

She didn’t like him enough to have brought Ian here, but she had no choice if she wanted to change the subject. Carinne looked him up and down. He seemed to be about the same age as her or Iris, yet his behavior was…well, what could she say?

“You don’t know me?”

…He was quite arrogant. It was incredibly unfortunate that he held his neck stiffly and acted as if he were something special. He was another hopeless human being but in a different way from Duke Lucas.

“Let me introduce myself properly. My name is Giles Houghton. I am the only younger brother of His Grace the Baron and the next candidate for the throne of Esmeril. You may call me Sir Houghton.”

“Oh, yes.”

‘I thought he was someone important.’

The next candidate for the throne of Esmeril.

The king was alive and well, and it was uncertain when he would remarry, so the position of successor was merely a grand title, a hollow shell. Besides, Carinne had never seen the name Giles in the original story. He must have been an insignificant character.

“Are you the princess of the Second Duchy?”

The arrogant man asked in a teasing voice.


Carinne replied instinctively, then realized something was amiss.

“How did you know?”

This was the first time she had heard the name Giles. How did this man know her?

“Hmm, it’s nothing. I just heard a rumor.”

A rumor? Was she really that famous? Carinne recalled the original Carinne’s notoriety as described in the original story. Well, she had once been known as a wastrel. While it wasn’t entirely implausible, it left a slightly bitter aftertaste.

“So you’re a princess of the Second Duchy. I didn’t know that.”

Oh dear. This was not the time to be concerned about a bitter aftertaste. Ian feigned surprise and apologized, and Carinne pretended to be equally surprised and waved her hand dismissively.

“No, it’s fine. Just do as you please.”

“Very well. Carinne is a kind person.”

His acting was worthy of an award for best actor. As befitting of a dark and duplicitous character, he must have been thinking, ‘A princess of a small country, indeed.’

Just then, Iris, who had been watching Ian with sparkling eyes, asked.

“And what is your name, sir?”

Ian let out a short exclamation as if remembering something important.

“Oh, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Ian. I run a small mercenary guild in Irita. I came to Esmeril to open a new branch and travel around.”

Carinne nodded as she listened to Ian.

It was just as she had expected. A modest and polite young shopkeeper. That was the concept he would use on this trip. His storytelling ability was excellent, which was not befitting of his cruel nature. He should have been writing scripts for plays instead of meddling in Esmeril.

“You’re too modest. How can that be a small guild?”

The arrogant and unfortunate man—let’s just call him Giles because his name was hard to pronounce—clicked his tongue at Ian’s self-effacing words.

“If that’s a small guild, there are no big guilds in the world.”

Haha, but it’s still a guild from a small country. It’s nothing compared to the shops in the Empire.”

Irita had a similar landmass to Esmeril, so referring to Irita as a small country was the same as referring to Esmeril as a small country. It was a strange way to insult Esmeril, but Giles didn’t seem to notice.

He’s an idiot. Carinne hoped that the current king of Esmeril would live a long life.

“Let’s go. We still have a long way to go if we want to see the palace.”

Giles urged Ian to leave Carinne alone. It was fortunate for Carinne. Ian reluctantly bid farewell to Carinne and Iris, unable to withstand Giles’s urging.

Iris seemed very reluctant to part with Ian. Even though she clearly wanted to talk to him, she didn’t have the confidence to speak first, so she just gestured at Ian without saying anything. This was also fortunate for Carinne.

Contrary to Carinne’s plan, Iris and Ian had become aware of each other’s existence. However, they had only exchanged names, which was hardly enough to call them acquaintances. Iris might have taken a liking to Ian because of his words, but Carinne could easily wipe that away.

Carinne took Iris’s hand and headed towards the inner part of the garden.

As she passed by, Giles’s words reached her ears.

“Where was I? Oh, yes. You said you were interested in old stories. In that case, you’ve come to the right place in Esmeril. Esmeril is a country with a long history and deep traditions, so there are many interesting old stories.”

“Indeed. Giles, you seem to know everything. As expected of the heir to a kingdom.”

Ian heaped praise on Giles.

‘What a narcissist.’

Carinne closed her mouth, which had been about to speak to Iris, and listened intently. Giles’s shoulders tensed up at the praise. His already stiff neck became even stiffer.

Ahem, well, this is basic knowledge. Anyway, among the old stories, the story of the Saintess is particularly interesting. According to the records, the Saintess founded ancient Esmeril and left behind a special item so that Esmeril could continue to exist after she was gone.”

Carinne doubted her own ears.

Oh, come on. No matter how much of a proud fool a person might be, there were lines that shouldn’t be crossed. He couldn’t just carelessly spill state secrets to a foreigner…

“What that means is that the Saintess imbued Esmeril with her power in case we were in danger.”

…Not just saying it, but actually spilling it!

Carinne couldn’t close her gaping mouth in her shock. Now that she thought about it, this guy wasn’t just a fool. He was a super-fool. The kind of guy who would sell his country out for a compliment. How could he just blurt out state secrets like that to a foreigner? And in front of the crown prince of an enemy country, no less?

What Giles was about to say was deeply connected to the original story’s disastrous ending. She couldn’t just stand there and watch, so Carinne quickly ran over and stepped in front of Ian and Giles.

“Excuse me, just a moment!”

Giles, who had been cut off mid-sentence, glared at Carinne with annoyance. Ian, on the other hand, asked gently, a gentle smile on his face.

“What is it?”

Hearing that soothing voice, she missed someone terribly.

‘Oh, I miss Archen.’

She longed for his warm embrace. She wanted to nuzzle her head against the hem of his blue coat and complain about everything that had happened today. She wanted to be held in his arms, listening to his truly kind, not-at-all-fake voice, a sweet tenor that reminded her of a quiet night sky.

Just a little longer, just a little longer, and she would be able to see him.

Carinne forced herself to remain calm and put on a poker face.

“If you’re planning to look around the palace…”

Her face was full of a bright smile, but inside, she was cursing up a storm.

“…Would it be all right if Iris and I went with you?”

Carinne asked in a cheerful voice that couldn’t have been brighter.