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In a certain mansion located within the capital of Rodania, a lecture took place .
Celia was in a separate room in that mansion teaching some children in the first half of their teens . She had been chosen as a lecturer for the sake of giving them the same level of education as the Royal Academy .
Rodania, along with the nobles that followed it, had become estranged from the Kingdom of Bertram, their own country .
Until a while ago, the education provided for the young nobles had been a makeshift school, established to compensate for those who couldn’t attend the Royal Academy anymore .
「Okay, that’s it for today’s lecture . Thank you, everyone, for your attention during the class… Ahahaha!」
Celia ended the lecture and unexpectedly received a standing ovation from them . She did not expect this kind of response from her students .
Every time one of her lectures ended, Celia would receive the students’ applause . It made her quite embarrassed . And because the room, with a capacity for a hundred people, became filled to the brim every day, the scene of that applause was magnified .
Although Celia’s explosive popularity was attributed to being the youngest lecturer in the Bertram Kingdom’s Royal Academy, it was not the sole reason . The content of her lecture itself was incredibly easy to understand and, most of all, her extremely cute appearance was of great help .
There was no need for more evidence other than the way the applauding students were looking at the blushing Celia . Especially among the male students, some of them even sent passionate gazes toward her .
Among those male students was a Japanese youth who had recently moved to Rodania .
Unlike his other classmates, he gazed at Celia with pure adoration in his eyes .
「Huh… I didn’t expect her to be so popular . She’s amazing…」
「That’s only natural . That’s Celia-sama of the Earl Claire house . She’s the most prominent genius magician of the Bertram Kingdom . 」
Rei’s musings were heard by the one sitting beside him, Rosa .
She was the noble daughter of the Dandi house .
「To think I travelled along with such a famous person . 」
「Fufufu… Now I’m curious about your opinion about Celia-sama . 」
Listening to how calm he sounded, Rosa unintentionally smiled at Rei .
「Um… How should I say this? Don’t you think she looks like an extremely cute girl who’s even younger than us? But surprisingly, she’s, in fact, older than me . 」
「Oh, my… Talking about a woman’s age is rude, you know . 」
「Ahaha… This is harsh . 」
Rei cracked a joke with his partner .
Originally, he left the royal castle of Bertram Kingdom along with Kouta . Now, their paths had branched out . Rei was now moving along with Rosa .
(I’ve adapted to living in Rodania… I’m currently dating Rosa-san with the intent to marry, even going as far as learning how to be a magician . )
Suddenly, a melancholic feeling hit him as he reminisced about how he got where he was .
He didn’t regret his decision back then . If he hadn’t had that dispute with Kouta when they were about to leave Rodania, maybe he wouldn’t be where he was now .
He was quite satisfied with his current lifestyle .
(If I’m going to live the rest of my life in this world, I need to find some employment . )
If he didn’t stay in Rodania, the most he could do was become an adventurer, like Kouta chose to do . Even if he could find some sort of job, this unknown world was an unforgiving place .
(I don’t have any connections to the organization, but I need a source of income . I should tell Kouta about it next time I meet him . Our paths are so different now . )
To Rei, cracking jokes like that was natural . He was a very easy going person . He easily adapted to the situations presented to him . Like when he left Bertram Kingdom’s royal castle behind with Kouta and when he decided to date Rosa .
(There’s no way a girl as cute and devoted as Rosa would date me back in Japan or if I became an adventurer . )
As he stared at Rosa, Rei nodded in satisfaction .
The current situation was the best for him .
Rosa, still sitting beside him, turned to look at his face, curious .
「What’s wrong, Rei-sama?」
「Nothing . I just feel… I’m an extremely lucky person . I’m now dating a lovely girl with the intent to marry her . 」
As usual, Rei spoke his true feelings .
Yes, he truly felt that Rosa was the cutest girl in the world . If he had to be specific, Christina and Celia were a cut above her, but Rosa was exactly the type of girl that interested Rei .
She had huge breasts, bigger than Christina and Celia’s chests . Moreover, she was far more approachable than the other two . Their attitudes were off-putting to him, who wasn’t interested in women who didn’t even glance at him .
「The one who’s lucky is me because I can date a wonderful gentleman like you . 」
「Regardless whether I’m an unknown person with unknown origin . 」
Rosa snuggled closer to him as she complimented him . But Rei merely shrugged his shoulders and smiled in a self-deprecating way .
His girlfriend continued to sing his praises .
「Oh, my… Not only do you have a wonderful talent in magic, but you’re also quite wise as well . 」
「Hahaha . It’s just that I have more magical power than most people, but it’s useless if I don’t know how to use it . That’s why I do my best to learn . 」
Truthfully, Rei was much more powerful than even Celia, the genius magician .
However, whether on a practical or technical level, he was way inferior to her .
「I believe in you . I’m sure Rei-sama will become the greatest archmage in this country . 」
「Well… If you think so… I suppose I must live up to your expectations, then . 」
The couple stared at each other’s faces, lost in their own little world .
So lost, they didn’t even realize when everyone left and they were the only ones still in the classroom . Reis was the first to realize that they had been left behind .
「Uh… Maybe we should leave too . 」
「Yes . Let me accompany you . 」
◇ ◇ ◇
Around the same time, Celia was visiting Christina .
After her lecture, she had been on her way back to her room when she was suddenly called by Christina’s chamberlain .
「Excuse me . 」
She followed the chamberlain back to Christina’s room .
Upon entering, she bowed to the princess, who sat on the head seat while sipping tea . A girl sat in front of her but, from where she stood, Celia couldn’t see her face .
Christina stood up slowly and greeted her . Almost at the same time Roana, the princess’ tea companion, also stood up to greet Celia .
「My deepest apologies for calling you so urgently . I did this because Roana wanted to meet you, Sensei . 」
「Oh, Roana-san . It’s been a while . 」
「… It’s been a while, Celia-sensei . It’s nice to see you again . 」
Celia greeted Roana with a slightly surprised look on her face .
Roana bowed very deeply, overcome by emotion .
「I can’t brew tea very well, but please have a seat with us . 」
「Thank you very much . You honor me with your invitation . 」
While accepting Roana’s invitation, Celia checked Christina’s expression .
At least on the surface, she seemed calm . It was the first meeting between master and disciple since Flora’s disappearance .
(She must be deeply tormented by Flora-sama’s disappearance… And yet she can keep up appearances as befitting her position of representative of Restoration . She’s such a strong woman . )
Just by guessing how Christina must have been feeling made Celia feel troubled, but she didn’t let it show on her face . Only during her private moments could Christina have a healing moment .
Celia did not understand why the princess would waste her precious private time to invite her to a tea party .
Celia decided that if acting normal could ease at least a few of Christina’s worries, then that was how she would act .
As soon as the tea and snacks were prepared, Christina started the party .
Roana smiled delightfully .
「Come to think of it, it’s the first time I and Celia-sensei gather for a tea party since our journey . Somehow, it feels mysterious . 」
「I… I feel the same way, but we had so many tea parties along our journey, right? The teas brewed by Lord Amakawa were truly wonderful . 」
Christina’s tone seemed slightly emotional, making Celia smile wryly .
「That’s very true . Haruto is versatile in many fields . 」
「… Lord Amakawa? Um, when you say “Lord Amakawa”, are you referring to Galwark Kingdom’s honorary knight?」
Curious, Roana tilted her head to the side as she interrupted the conversation .
「Yes, that’s right . Oh, we haven’t explained it to you yet… You see, the one who escorted me and Celia-sensei to Rodania was none other than Lord Amakawa . Have you heard that he defeated Alfred? It turned out that he was the one chasing us . 」
「Alfred-sama? Do you mean… The Sword of the King, Alfred-sama?」
A shadow loomed on Christina’s face .
Roana was shocked . It was already surprising enough that Alfred was the one chasing them but hearing that he had been beaten by Lord Amawaka was enough to make her speechless .
The princess smiled wryly when she noticed Roana’s expression .
「Yes, the very same Alfred . If I hadn’t seen their fight with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it either . 」
「Nevertheless, I’m surprised that you know about Haruto . 」
Celia fished for information in an extremely interested tone .
「I suppose it’s natural . Lord Amakawa has been bestowed with the title of honorary knight despite being a commoner . Not only that, he’s been attracting the attention of many nobles due to his connection with Liselotte-sama of the Cretia ducal house . Also, he has an intimate relationship with the Hero of the Kingdom of Galwark, Satsuki-sama… But… If you don’t mind me asking, why did Lord Amakawa escort the two of you to Rodania?」
As she explained just how famous Haruto Amakawa was, a question suddenly popped up in her head .
Christina told Roana the script she had carefully rehearsed with Celia .
「… Since the beginning, Lord Amakawa had a personal connection to Claire House through Celia-sensei . After the Earl helped us leave the royal castle, we relied on Lord Amakawa to safely escort us toward Rodania . 」
Roana completely believed the story . It never occurred to her that her princess might be lying . She had no reason to doubt Christina’s statements, a person to whom she swore her loyalty .
「Lord Amakawa is still the center of attention even in Rodania . We owe him a huge debt . We gave him a mansion to compensate for it but, if we include the matter of the evening party, it’s not enough to repay him . There was even the suggestion of building a closer relationship with him through marriage to repay that favor . 」
Christina did not hide her disdain for the matter .
Returning the favor to him through marriage sounded respectable, but it was obvious that it was not the only reason . They wanted to use that connection to include Haruto as a war potential of Restoration . Such things were commonplace in noble society .
Since Haruto was the one who defeated Alfred, the Sword of the King, it was as if they were trying to say his combat ability was a valuable military asset .
Celia was easily able to read the intentions of the nobles of Restoration .
She laughed dryly, knowing that Rio would never accept marrying a noble daughter from Restoration .
「True, we can forge a connection with Lord Amakawa through marriage, but… Isn’t there another way? Like granting him a peerage?」
Roana asked, a pensive look on her face .
However, Christina was already a step ahead .
「That won’t work . He has already refused a Knight rank offered by the Galwark Kingdom . That is why they made him an honorary knight instead…」
「Then, with your royal authority, you could bestow an honorary knight title to Lord Amakawa, right?」
Roana offered another choice to the discussion .
Since with peerage came responsibility, it couldn’t be granted without the consent of both parties involved . However, it was possible to forcefully bestow peerage without responsibility like an honorary knight title .
「… It’s not that I can’t, but I think the person himself doesn’t want something like a peerage . Right?」
「Yes, it’s as you say . 」
Christina expressed her opinion as she confirmed with Celia .
Celia agreed with a slightly awkward face .
「I don’t want to push such a responsibility on him . Giving something troublesome to repay a debt is like putting the cart before the horses . 」
Christina stared at Roana as she gave a very sound argument .
「… Yes . We should try to offer him a marriage agreement . 」
If neither money nor status could sway him, their last option was a woman .
It was a type of negotiation typical of nobles . Not even Christina could restrict them from doing so .
While Roana agreed with her, she couldn’t help but stare at the princess’s face with a slightly surprised expression .
It would have been completely normal for Christina to bestow a title to Haruto . With her authority as the First Princess, it wouldn’t have been difficult to force the title of Honorary Knight unto him .
However, contrary to Roana’s expectations, Christina backed off . She reconsidered her plan when against someone who she wanted to be on good terms with .
「That might be the best option . To be honest, the competition amongst the nobles to nominate their daughters is nothing to scoff at . And the majority of those daughters are in complete agreement with it . 」
「Well… Lord Amakawa is an extremely handsome and very skilled man . Back during the evening party, many noble daughters surrounded him like bees around honey . 」
A deep sigh left Roana’s lips after revealing such a fact to Christina .
(Ahaha! I’d never imagined they thought so highly of him…)
Still sitting there and relaxedly drinking her tea, Celia felt a bit awkward when listening to their conversation . After all, she knew Rio’s true identity .
Not a frown showed on her face, though . She was all smiles as she looked at the two women talking .
「Be honest, sensei: what do you think of Lord Amakawa? Just for argument’s sake, if we were to choose from the noble daughters of Restoration, Celia-sensei would be the best option . 」
Christina suddenly mentioned her, making Celia confused by the sudden change of topic .
Her cheeks flushed red as her thoughts ran wild and she imagined herself in a silver bridal dress, with Rio .
(Me and Rio… Together? Getting married?)
「Hohoho, look at you! You’re so red! Now I’m convinced that you see Lord Amakawa in a good light . 」
Christina had a smile on her face at this point .
「Well, there’s nothing wrong with that . 」
Roana enthusiastically entered the conversation .
Usually, she behaved like a proper nobleman’s daughter but, when it was this kind of conversation, she’d turn into a normal girl . Not to mention, she was very interested in her teacher’s love life .[TL: Girl talk, don’t ask me what that means, it’s too profound for me . ]
「U-Uh… Such a relationship with Haruto…」
Celia furiously shook her head, embarrassed .
「Sensei might not be willing to be tied by marriage for now . But if you change your mind, feel free to tell me . I’ll tell the other nobles to make you the top priority . 」
「Since Christina-sama is saying so, isn’t it a great opportunity for you, sensei?」
By saying so, Christina’s words implied that Celia was the top candidate to marry Lord Amakawa . Roana took the chance to rile their teacher even further .
Celia tried to explain her situation, but her voice lacked confidence .
「M-My relationship with Haruto isn’t like that… In the first place, he’s always moving around!」
「Isn’t it natural for him to move around? After all, he’s not a nobleman . Moreover, you two are quite close, aren’t you? Even calling each other by your first names…」
「That… Well… We get along quite well . 」
Celia’s reply made the princess give her a worried look .
「Your relationship with him is exactly the problem here . Since Sensei is staying at Lord Amakawa’s mansion, the other nobles of Restoration are making wild guesses about the relationship between you two . 」
「Well, well… Lord Amakawa’s mansion, huh? Oh my . 」
Roana’s voice sounded curious, with some suggestive undertones . She elegantly placed her hand on her lower lip, assuming an expression that simply rendered Celia speechless .
The princess was smiling lightly at her teacher’s expense, but she maintained the troubled look on her face .
「For now, they’re holding back from making any rash decisions . But if the truth of your relationship with him comes to light, those nobles who are already tired of waiting won’t stay still . That’s why… Please be aware of the situation . 」
「… Yes . 」
What could Celia do but agree with her?
Haruto Amakawa remained as their main topic for quite a while, and time passed quickly .
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, then the chamberlain entered to announce the visitor .
「Your Highness, Hero-sama is coming . I asked him to wait for a while since Roana-sama was having tea with Your Highness . 」
The chamberlain calmly reported to the princess .
She would not be surprised if she was told to turn the Hero away . Barging into a noble lady’s tea party uninvited was the height of unpolished conduct .
「… I see . Let him enter . 」
Christina gave the chamberlain some quick and precise instructions .
Reading the mood of the room, Celia prepared to leave .
「Eh, I guess I should excuse myself . If I stay, I’ll probably just be a hindrance . 」
「That would be for the best . Thank you for the wonderful tea time, Sensei . 」
「You’re welcome . It was wonderful for me, too . Thank you Christina-sama, Roana-san . 」
Celia gave both women a polite but sincere bow .
Roana smiled at her .
「I truly enjoyed having tea with you . If you can, please come again, Celia-sensei . 」
「Yes, with pleasure . Well then adieu . 」
「See you again soon . 」
The maid guided Celia to the exit, passing by Hiroaki and giving him a quick bow as they came out of the room .
He looked at the unfamiliar woman’s back with a dumbfounded face . Once he entered the room, he headed straight toward Christina and Roana .
The first words out of his mouth were about Celia .
「Um, who was that girl just now?」
「That was Celia Claire-sama, the daughter of Earl Claire . Her family is renowned for their talent in magic and she’s the genius mage of Bertram Kingdom . She’s also mine and Christina-sama’s teacher . 」
Roana explained Celia’s identity with a slightly troubled face .
All that information made Hiroaki wide-eyed .
「Teacher? Of you two? How old is she?」
「21 years old . She’s two years older than you, Hiroaki-sama . 」
「Ha ha ha, so she’s a legal loli! And a genius mage, too . Great . Call her back, we should have some tea together . 」
It seemed like Celia had won Hiroaki’s favor .
Christina quickly rejected him while explaining her teacher’s situation in the same breath .
「My deepest apologies . Sensei is an extremely busy person, so it’s difficult to meet her . After this, she’s heading to Lord Amakawa’s mansion to continue her research . 」
「Lord Amakawa’s mansion?」
「It’s Haruto-sama . You must have met him before, back at the Galwark Kingdom, right?」
Hiroaki tilted his head in confusion, and it prompted Roana to remind him of who they were talking about . He seemed to understand her explanation but still wasn’t satisfied .
「Aaah… That guy, huh . Why does he have a mansion in Rodania, and why is Celia going there?」
「Truth is, Haruto-sama offered his assistance and escorted both me and Celia-sensei to Rodania . He received that mansion as a gift from us . And since Celia-sensei is a close acquaintance of his, she’s now staying at his mansion . 」
In just a few brief sentences, Christina told him the whole story .
Once he learned the facts, Hiroaki immediately lost all interest in Celia .
「Ahh, I see now . Alright . In short, that woman is in love with that guy . I see . Well, it makes sense . 」
(Haaah… Even though I found one after so long, she already had someone else in her heart . Just the thought of her having another man in her life is enough to turn me off . What a disappointment . )
Hiroaki pouted as he mused about his love life . His face had an extremely disappointed expression .
Christina looked at him and an enchanting smile appeared on her lips .
「Oh, my . Could it be that you don’t like spending time with us?」
「Eh? No, no, there’s no way I’d hate to spend time with you two . You’re jumping to conclusions . 」
Hiroaki shrugged, trying to convey that he wasn’t displeased at all . The reason was Christina .
His feelings had changed because of this woman, the finest gem whose beauty rivaled Celia’s .
◇ ◇ ◇
Meanwhile, Celia was on her way back to Rio’s mansion . As she walked down the corridors, she suddenly heard Aisia’s voice directly inside her mind . It caused her to tremble a little .
– (Celia . Do you want to marry Haruto?)
Currently, Aisia was in spirit form, protecting Celia from the inside .
Celia had somehow adapted to the voice that sometimes resounded directly into her mind, but she had been caught off-guard against that question .
Her reply was a bit panicked .
(W-What are you talking about!?)
– (I ask because of the atmosphere during the tea party . )
(T-That’s not true!)
Celia quickly denied Aisia’s claims inside her head . She nervously looked around, checking if there was anyone around to witness her acting strangely .
Aisia’s doubtful voice sounded again .
– (Is that so?)
(It is! That’s why, please don’t say anything to Ri— I mean, to Haruto!)
– (Understood . )
At this point, Celia’s face resembled a tomato with how hard she was blushing .
She was momentarily surprised by how quickly Aisia accepted her explanations . Maybe it was the anti-climatic reply, or maybe it was because Celia was a little eccentric .
Either way, she was relieved .