The Truth About that Escape
Editor: Striker, Ulti
“When talking about adventurers, you can’t forget about nightly celebrations! The way it swishes around my mouth is quite a novel experience. I think I like it!”
Princess Leonor, still disguised as Lynn, let out a satisfied sigh after downing a glass of neroid.
We went back to the guild’s tavern after visiting Sir Vanir, and since then we’ve been drinking and celebrating.
“Hold back on the alcohol a little. It’d be bad if your true identity gets exposed. Well, Keith and Taylor aren’t here, so it’s fine now, but…”
“It’s fine, it’s fine, you know I’m a heavy drinker, right?”
I’m very well aware of how big a drinker she is despite being a princess.
I honestly couldn’t count the number of times she got drunk, started something, and had me dragged into it.
And every time that would happen, I’d be dragged in front of the king and the butler and forced to endure another one of their long-winded sermons.
Whenever alcohol and the princess are put together, the only things that result from it are bad memories…
“That’s precisely why I’m so worried.”
“By the way, how far have you gone with Lynn? Have you already done it?”
“Pfffft! What are you asking all of a sudden?”
“Ugh, how dirty.”
I couldn’t help but do a spit take after hearing such a strange question from Princess Leonor.
I think some of the booze went up my windpipe.
“Judging by your reaction, have you not gone that far yet?”
“Oh shut up, what does that have to do with anything?”
“Even though you look just like a thug, I suppose some parts of you are still pure.”
“Leave me alone.”
“You have at least kissed her, right? Or held hands? Why are you looking away? Eh, wait, don’t tell me, you aren’t lovers? It’s not a one sided crush, is it? According to my research, you’ve been passionately going after her.”
I wanted to ask her what kind of research that is, but I’m afraid she’ll say something like “I used the country’s spy agency to keep tabs on you” or something even more terrifying, so I think I’ll leave it be.
Really, I’m just bad at dealing with her. The more reluctantly I acted, the more she tried to pry about my relationship with Lynn.
She had a smile that felt like she was genuinely enjoying herself.
And stop elbowing me in the ribs.
“Still, I’m a little relieved. I thought you might end up a homeless wanderer after getting chased out of the country, but it seems like you’re living quite a fulfilling life.”
“Thanks to you.”
“That seems like a sarcastic comment, but it seems like you really mean it. I see, even without me, you can live a fun life. Ah.”
For some reason, she gave me a sullen glare.
Why is she getting angry now? I’ve never been able to follow her thoughts.
“While I was still locked up in the castle living in a strict environment, Rein was out there living a free and easy life. Sob, sob.”
“Stop making weird noises with your mouth. You’re not even crying.”
She put up an act in front of me, but I’ve seen enough of her not to to be taken in.
After her act was seen through in an instant, she gave me a frown.
“You aren’t cute at all. And to think, back then you were so uptight and so easy to tease, but now you wouldn’t even give a good reaction.”
“I had a lot of practice thanks to a certain someone.”
“I’m glad to be of help to you, ohohoho.”
She brought her hand to her cheek and purposely let out an upper class laugh.
The reason why I was expelled from that country was because I took her on the run.
The princess and the dragon knight that ran away with her. That formed the basis of the story that Yunyun and Iris were so obsessed over.
However, the truth isn’t something that would capture the imaginations of young maidens.
If anything, it’d be best described as the comedy of the stupidly serious dragon knight who was pitifully toyed with and put under the sway of the tomboy princess.
Hearing the commander’s voice, I lowered my stance. Around me were several knights collapsed on their knees and backs.
“Dammit, I couldn’t lay a hand on you this time either.”
“Senpai, you are way too strong!”
A fellow dragon knight and a cadet glared at me as they gasped for breath.
One of them was a look of begrudgement, while the other was one of admiration.
“Look at that, he just won a mock battle against multiple opponents. I suppose the title of prodigy isn’t just for show.”
“He doesn’t even seem worn out. It’s almost unbelievable.”
The praise of the knights watching this match seemed to be tainted with just a hint of fear.
“Everyone should learn from Rein and improve themselves! That’s all for today’s training!”
So that’s it for today.
As my companions headed back to the dormitories, I alone turned towards another direction.
“Princess Leonor, Princess Leonor, please wake up.”
The princess, who was said to be drop dead gorgeous when she kept quiet, was curled up against the white dragon, using its tail as her pillow.
Normally, a member of royalty shouldn’t even be near the dragon stables, never mind sleeping there, but by now I’ve gotten used to it.
Even the way she scratched her belly and spread her thighs are sights I’ve become used to by now, so rather than being surprised or disillusioned, I simply thought it was a very Leonor like way to sleep.
“Uggh, five more years… Now that I’m asleep, I won’t be able to resist even if you attack me, mumble mumble...”
“Don’t say such scary things in such a clear voice. I have no intentions of doing that, so hurry up and wake up. Aren’t you supposed to be taking lessons right now? Are you aware of your position as a princess? As a member of the royal family, you should be more… Ah, hey! Don’t crawl under Faitfore! If your clothes get stained again, the one who will be scolded will be me!”
I grabbed the princess by the leg before she could crawl away.
“No~, Rein is going to stain me~.”
“You are the one staining yourself! …Oh, very well, Faitfore, you can nibble on her. Don’t do it on the face or anywhere that’s visible, though.”
“Ah, wait you can’t! If my beautiful skin were to be scarred, it’d be a loss to the entire country. No, wait, cut it out, Fore-chan! Stoooop!”
As the princess poked her head out in a panic, I grabbed her and pulled the still resisting princess out from under Faitfore.
“How could you insult a princess like this? I won’t forgive you!”
She tried to pull on her authority as a princess, but seeing as she’s still covered in dirt, it doesn’t quite have the same sense of majesty.
“Yes, yes, in that case, please relieve me from the duty of your servant.”
“That’s impossible. There’s no one else as fun to tease as you. Plus, there’s no other knight who is close in age to me.”
I let out a heavy sigh.
After being recognized as the young prodigious dragon knight, I thought my future would be bright and full of promise, but I never expected to be assigned as the personal bodyguard of the capricious… Pardon me, the rumoured princess.
If she kept her mouth shut, she would seem like the ideal princess, but the moment she opened her mouth, she’d say nothing but dissatisfactions about life in the castle. Outside of formal settings, she’s selfish, willful, and does whatever she wants.
I was completely taken in by her appearance when I saw her during the dragon knight inauguration ceremony. I really wanted to go back to when I was over the moon after being chosen to be her personal bodyguard and punch myself in the face.
“Why are you clenching your fist and shaking it for? Oh, I see, you’re regretting not making a move on me when you saw me sleeping, aren’t you? Sigh, being too beautiful is such a sin.”
I ignored the princess who said such things while covered in dirt and instead went to wipe down Faitfore.
She closed her eyes contentedly and nuzzled her face against my cheek.
Unlike a certain someone, you are a good girl.
“Hey, aren’t you doting on the wrong person!?”
“Princess, are you done with your nonsense?”
I turned back towards the princess as she started stomping on the ground.
“I’m really mad at you, you know?! If you want me to forgive you, then stop calling me princess and call me Leonor instead.”
“Please don’t ask for the impossible.”
“Our positions might be different, but I consider you to be an equal. That’s why I keep asking you to address me by name when we are alone together.”
I wish she’d stop asking for the impossible. No matter what, there’s no way I would be able to call the princess of the country by name.
Plus, if someone heard me address her in such a way, it’d definitely become a major incident.
I walked up to the princess who does nothing but trouble me with her willfulness and wordlessly raised my hand.
“W-What, are you raising a hand towards your master!? Err, umm, please say something. Umm, you look really scary right now. Okay, I get it, I’m sorry, please say something.”
The princess tightly closed her eyes, and I started patting her on the shoulder.
“There’s no telling what they’ll say if I let you go back while covered in dirt like this.”
I’ve gotten rid of most of the more noticeable stains, but there is still quite a bit of dirt left.
She always flings me around at her whims, so I think a little payback is in order.
Knowing that she was tricked, the princess opened her eyes and puffed up her cheeks in anger.
However, almost immediately, her face shifted to one of thought, and she let out a sly smile.
She’s definitely up to no good.
“You got rid of the dirt for me? Thank you. But, I think this part is still a little dirty. Do you mind cleaning me up there too?”
She leaned forwards and cupped her chest between her hands, emphasizing the dirt still remaining on her chest.
If it was me from before I met her, I would probably be a blushing mess right now.
“Well, it is a little dirty. Very well.”
I patted the upper part of her chest without hesitation.
Despite being the one who tempted me in the first place, it seemed like she never expected me to actually go through with it, and she stiffened up in surprise.
“I think it looks much better now.”
“Hey, hey! What’s with that tepid reaction after touching a lady’s chest!?”
“Those things are just fat filled sacks, aren’t they?”
“… As a woman, I can’t let that slide. I’ve thought this for a while now, but you are too indifferent around women. Sit down, I’m going to lecture you.”
Afterwards, she lectured me on how important the chest is to a woman until the sun set.
As a result, for not sending the princess back until late in the night, I was severely punished.
Though the princess ended up being lectured alongside me, it seems like the others knew that I was only swept up by her, and so they released me early… Though by then it was already late in the night.
Even as the king and the knight captain lectured me, they occasionally shot me apologetic looks.
It seems like the King assigned me to be the princess’s bodyguard in the hopes that my serious personality would rub off some of her excesses.
Looking up from the courtyard, I could see lights still flickering in the audience room. It seems like Princess Leonor was still being held there. After angering the king that much, I’m sure she’ll learn her lesson…
… That’s probably wishful thinking, but still…
The next night, the Princess once again appeared before me.
She seemed pretty well behaved throughout the day, but when I came to check on the dragons in the stables, she was standing there besides Faitfore.
She was lectured for far longer than me, so I have no idea how she could so casually pop into the stables.
“Didn’t the King tell you not to take a single step outside your room tomorrow?”
“It’s fine, yesterday’s lecture went past midnight, so it’s still the same day.”
“What kind of chop logic… If you want to get lectured, then please do it by yourself.”
“Don’t you think together as one is a great phrase?”
“No I do not.”
“As a comrade, I don’t mind you calling me by my first name.”
“I do mind, so I won’t do that.”
It doesn’t seem like she’s reflecting at all.
She’s always been free spirited and willful, but she’s escaped a lot more often as of late.
In the past, having her show up at the dragon stables twice a week was considered an unusual occurrence, but now she’s showing up here almost every day.
Though, I have an inkling about why she shows up here with such frequency. It must be about that thing she always asks while here.
“Hey, isn’t it about time you give me a ride on the dragonー”
I immediately answered before she could fully complete her question.
She asked the same question that I anticipated, so I gave her a prepared answer.
“Why not!? Here I thought you’ve become less blockheaded as of late.”
What the princess said isn’t entirely false.
In the past, my companions and the captain constantly say that I’m too serious and blockheaded.
But recently, my captain told me that I’ve become a little more flexible in my thinking. For better or worse, that’s all thanks to Princess Leonor’s influence.
After being appointed as her personal bodyguard and being toyed with by her unpredictable whims, I had to become more flexible whether I wanted to or not.
I’ve become more personable and easier to talk to, so my reputation amongst the other dragon knights has gone up. I’m thankful for that, at least.
“I take pride in being a Dragon Knight. That’s why I can’t let you ride one for fun.”
“This is an order from your princess, so listen to me!”
“That’s impossible. It’s quite dangerous in the first place, and outside of an emergency, I can’t let you ride one without permission.”
“Can’t you make an exception? I’ll give you my freshly removed panties.”
She slipped her hands under her skirt right then.
“I don’t need it. It’s dirty, so please put it away.”
I immediately answered before she could finish.
It’s probably a joke, but it could end up being a serious matter if I don’t nip it off.
Even so, I feel that Princess Leonor was much more sensible and restrained than when she was when I first met her… She wouldn’t have stopped with just that back then.
I suppose we both ended up having an influence on each other.
“Have you lost your sex drive at such a young age? Oh, you poor thing…”
“Please don’t pity me. As a knight, I should always be an example for the citizens, so I keep my desires restrained, with honourー”
“Oh, give it a rest with all that honour stuff already. Serious knights aren’t in fashion nowadays, you know?”
“Leave me be.”
There are a few people who criticize my way of life, saying “Why don’t you learn to have a little fun?” and stuff like that. I really don’t see what’s bad about being serious.
Particularly so with the embodiment of everything wrong with living free and easy standing in front of me.
“Hey, are you thinking of something suspicious?”
“Hahaha, of course not.”
I continued taking care of Faitfore while averting my gaze.
Honestly, having Princess Leonor circle me while staring intently at me is rather distracting.
Still, she’s a lot more straightforward today. Also, I feel a strange tension in the air compared to how it usually was.
She was staring intently at me, but the moment I looked in her direction, she immediately averted her gaze…. Just what is she planning?
She continued wandering around the stables for a while more, before suddenly coming to a stop.
“Rein, you know I don’t have much time left, right?”
Unlike earlier, she spoke in a subdued voice.
“The day after tomorrow, I’ll be married off to the partner my parents have picked out.”
That’s only to be expected for women who are born into the royal family.
The price for being born into such wealth is duty and freedom.
Princess Leonor is rebelling against that by acting as she does… Though I feel that more than half of it is because of her personality.
“But I can’t bear to spend the rest of my life with a man that I’ve only met a couple of times. I want to know what true freedom feels like, not this pretend play. Rein Shaker, please, take me and run!”
Gripping my hand tightly, the princess’s met my eyes with a sincere look.
Though she said it as a command, her hands and voice were both trembling.
I can’t just brush her off this time. If she’s being this serious, I should reply in kind.
If I let my feelings get the best of me and took the princess away, it’d end up being a huge problem. At the very least, I’ll be stripped of my position as a dragon knight, and at worst I’d lose my life.
I should refuse. I know that.
“Princess Leonor, Iー”
“Rein, you know who I really want to be together with… Right? Just one day would be enough. I want you to show me a world that I’ve never seen before.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the princess’s tearful gaze.
After hearing her say that much, even a blockhead like me can understand what she’s trying to say. Actually, no, in truth, I’ve always had an inkling of it.
Both the princess’s feelings, and my own.
If I reject her, this would end with us having a simple master-servant relationship. There’s nothing to agonise over.
She’s a princess and I’m but the heir to a poor and declining noble family. I’ve long known that I’m not a worthy fit for her.
That’s why, as a vassal of this kingdom, and knight of the princess, I should do my duty.
Wordlessly, I attached the saddle to Fairfore and got on.
Then, I extended a hand to the princess.
“… It’s just one day, alright?”
I reluctantly forced those words out. If it’s just for one day, we should be able to barely make it in time for the wedding ceremony.
“Thank you, Rein!”
She said excitedly, at the same time grabbing my hand and jumping into the saddle.
Then, she wrapped her arms around my waist and tightly gripped me.
Turning back, Princess Leonor was giving me a wide smile.
Realizing how easily persuaded I was, I couldn’t help but sigh.
Even though she’s always messing with me and giving me impossible tasks, I’ve been charmed by her carefree smile and kindness.
By doing this, not only will I lose my position as a dragon knight, I might even be executed.
Even so, if I can make the Princess’s dream come true, I have no regrets.
“Ah, wait a minute. We need to take this with us.”
She let go of me and jumped off Faitfore to retrieve a backpack she had hidden away in the corner of the stables.
“Princess, what is that?”
“You need some supplies if you want to run away, right? I took these from the treasury.”
She opened the bag, and inside was filled with gold and gems.
It seems like she’s made preparations to run away today, no matter what. She flashed me a hopeful smile, her previous meekness nowhere to be found.
“They say the early bird gets the worm! Now, let’s take to the skies, Faitfore!”
She placed a hand on her waist, her other hand splayed out towards the sky.
… I might have been a little too hasty.
“Perhaps we really should cancelー”
“A knight never renegades on a promise he makes, right? What happened to your honour?”
“If you go back on your promise, I might be so heartbroken that I’d shout in a loud voice that Rein broke something important of mine!”
“Please stop saying things that can be easily misunderstood!”
No, nevermind, I can’t really back out now.
“Rein, don’t worry. You’re worried about being blamed for running away with me, right? Don’t worry, I properly left a letter behind.”
After seeing Princess Leonor’s gentle smile, I relaxed… As if I could do that. After knowing her for so long, I can tell that she definitely did something troublesome.
“May I ask, what exactly did you write?”
“Ahem. ‘In order to find my true love, I’m going on a journey with Rein. Please don’t search for me. I definitely did not write this under threat from Rein. So, please don’t chase after me or search for me. I don’t want to be killed.'”
“… There’s no way that will work! No matter how you look at it, that letter definitely casts suspicions on me! Go back and retrieve the letter right now!”
The people who are close to the princess would probably understand that I was only swept up into this matter, but for the people who don’t know what her personality really is will definitely think I kidnapped her.
“Sorry, Rein, it’s too late.”
“What do you mean…”
“I can’t believe I found a letter from the princess here! You’re kidding me! She’s eloping with Rein-sama? And…
I heard the scream of one of the maids that were close to the princess.
Despite her surprise, she continued reading the letter in a loud and clear voice. Almost as if she wants the people around her to hear it.
“… Princess, how much money did you give to her for her to say that?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Teehee~.”
She tapped herself on the head and stuck out her tongue, but I didn’t have the time to appreciate it.
What should I do? Can I still explain things if I turn back now?
“Dammit, I can’t believe that bastard got that far! He always pissed me off!”
That angry voice was the voice of my self proclaimed rival, a troublesome fellow dragon knight.
“Oh, my, judging from that voice, I doubt anything you say will get through to him. He might even treat you as a criminal and attack on sight.”
She leaned in closer with a wide smile plastered on her face. Was this part of her plans too?
“… But, if you really don’t want to, we can stop here. I’ve had plenty of fun already. I’ll tell father it’s all an elaborate joke. At the end of the day, he does dote on me, so he’ll probably let you go.”
The princess shrugged and smiled.
If you show me such a forlorn smile…
“What are you doing? We are leaving.”
I once again grabbed Princess Leonor’s hand and pulled her onto Faitfore.
“Is it really okay?”
“You sure are long winded today. That isn’t like you. Anyway, let’s go.”
As tears welled up in the princess’s eyes and she tightened her grip on my hand, I felt that her face has never shined more brightly.
I gently patted Faitfore’s neck before gripping the reins.
She reared up and went out through the exit of the stables
As she did so, I could see several soldiers and fellow dragon knights running over in my direction.
Fairfore spread her wings wide, kicking up a large cloud of dirt as she took to the skies.
“Rein, it’s not yet too late! Don’t do anything stupid!”
“Return the princess to us! You’re just swept up in her whims again, right!?”
There are some people who seek to stop me, and others who seem to understand what is going on.
But there’s no way I can call it off now.
After all, sitting behind me was the princess frolicking around like an excited child.
A white dragon parting the night skies.
And on top of that dragon rode a young knight and princess.
It looked like a scene straight out of a fairytale.
“Uwaaah~! This is amazing! Look, look, the people below look just like ants! Ah, that naggy prime minister is over there, so why don’t you use your breath to scare him a little? Just a little bit?! Come on, just a singe!? Hey, are you listening to me?”
As she repeatedly patted me on the back and chattered non-stop…
“Did I mess up?”
Farewell, my bright future. Hello, the road of hardships in front of me.
Reality is a harsh mistress.
After we’ve been flying for some time, the princess finally quieted down.
We were worried that the other dragon knights might give chase, so we cut all the reins and saddle belts in the stables that we could find. Fortunately, none of them seemed to be coming after us.
Incidentally, the one who cut them wasn’t me, but the princess.
“Is there any place you’d like to go?”
I was focused on getting as far away from the castle as possible, so I didn’t consider where exactly we should be headed.
Well, she is a girl, so she’ll probably want to go to some place with a great view or something.
“Hmm, well… For now, let’s get out of this country. It’s dark out, so it’s still okay for now, but a white dragon really stands out. Above all, it’s easy to get caught in this country. Let’s get out of this place and head to a village by a large forest or something. Fore-chan would be able to hide out there… Ah, wait, I really want to sell some of the gems I took, so it should be a village of a significant size.”
Well, that sounds nothing like what a girl her age would come up with.
“Princess, did you have other escape plans prepared if I had refused back then?”
“Of course. I had five other plans drawn up.”
… I really don’t want to count how many times I’ve regretted my choice. Even if I hadn’t helped her, she would probably be able to find a way to escape on her own.
“But, you know, getting you on board with the plan had the highest success rate… and would be the most fun. Plus, I had faith that you will help me.”
I had some complaints, but they died in my throat after hearing those words.
Even I thought I was being a little naive, but that still made me happy.
“I know of a place where Faitfore can hide herself. There’s a town nearby too, so let’s head there. I visited that place while I was on a mission before.”
“Then, I’ll leave it to you.”
Alright, no more regrets. It’s not like they’ll forgive me if I turned back now.
“By the way, can’t you fly faster than this? It’s fine to go faster, you know? I’m getting bored of cruising around at this speed. Even a dragon carriage can go faster than this. Guess white dragons and prodigious dragon knights aren’t that big of a deal after all.”
I only kept this speed for her sake, but she’s saying such things while wobbling around behind me.
If you want to go fast so badly, then let’s give you a taste.
“Faitfore, show me what you can do. Princess, please hold on to my waist. Otherwise, you’ll get shaken off.”
“You are exaggerating. It’ll be fiiiiiiiiiiー!”
Faitfore flapped her wings once before falling into a steep dive, and at the same time, the princess let out a shrill scream. Seems like she’s enjoying herself.
“Wait, wait, waaaaait! You can, you can go a little slooooower!”
“Eh? Sorry, I can’t hear you very well. Do you want to go faster? Understood, I’ll give it my all.”
Princess Leonor seemed to be saying something, but I ignored her and sped up.
It’s definitely not me pretending not to hear her because of her previous words and actions.
As an added service, Faitfore did a mid air loop and barrel roll as well, and the princess finally fell silent.
With this, we can finally enjoy the rest of the flight in silence.
Soon after, we reached a hut built next to a steep mountain, and carefully let a groggy eyed Princess Leonor down from Faitfore.
“I think I love the ground.”
She crouched down and seemed to be muttering something to herself.
I planned to call out to the residents, but before I could, the door to the hut flew open.
“What’s the matter? It’s so late in the night… Gyaaaaaah!”
“Old man, why are you screaming in the middle of the night? Have you finally gone senile? I’m not going to take care of… Gyaaaah!”
The elderly couple that came to the door let out a terrified scream after laying eyes on Faitfore.
“It’s a dragon ghost!”
“Please calm down. It’s me, Rein, the dragon knight that came here to hunt monsters not too long ago.”
I put my arms out in a placating gesture in order to calm the elderly couple down.
The startled pair glanced between Faitfore and me before looking at each other.
“Oh, you are Rein-sama!”
“Ah, the heroic knight that saved me when I was about to be attacked by a monster!”
“It seems like you remember me.”
Not too long ago, I saved the two of them from a monster while I was passing through the area during a mission.
“I’m escorting this young lady as part of a top secret mission. I’m sorry to trouble you, but is it possible for you to find a place for my dragon for a while?”
“We do have a spare spot in the barn right now, so I don’t mind.”
“If it’s a request from Rein-sama, I’ll be happy to comply.”
“That’ll be a great help. I’m terribly sorry to ask for more, but, even if it is just a corner of a room, could you provide us a place to rest until sunrise?”
Personally, I don’t mind making my way to town right now, but Princess Leonor is probably getting close to the limits of her endurance.
Under normal circumstances, she would’ve taken the initiative to negotiate with them, but the fact that she has remained silent the entire time is a sure sign that she doesn’t have much energy left.
The elderly couple provided us with a room, I gratefully helped Princess Leonor to the bed before sitting on the floor.
It seems like I was more exhausted than I realized, for the moment I let myself relax, my consciousness went out like a light.
“It sure is refreshing to be able to walk around freely in another country’s town.”
“Please avoid doing anything that stands out.”
I gently warned as I walked besides Princess Leonor.
She had changed into a plain dress rather than the royal dress that she usually wears. It seems like one of the maids prepared it for her for use during her escape.
Faitfore, along with the large bag of necessities that the princess brought along with her, are currently under the care of that old couple living in the mountains while we paid a visit to the town about an hours walk away.
It’s just a small countryside town, but the princess was gawking about like a country villager paying a visit to the big city for the first time.
“By the way, the way you dyed your hair is as amazing as ever.”
“Fufu, as long as I have this disguise magic item, Color Changer Number Five, it’s but a simple task.”
She produced a metal rod from her pocket. That magic item could instantly change the color of anything it touches, not just her hair, and she frequently uses it for graffiti and other pranks.
Incidentally, she thought up that name on her own.
“Rein, do you want me to dye your hair too?”
“My hair has always been dull, so it’s fine.”
Having bright blonde hair might cause people to suspect you are a noble or royalty, but my hair isn’t that bright, so it’s fine.
“Princess, after we’ve seen the sights, we should head back.”
“No way, after coming out all this way and dressing as a regular citizen, I want to do something more fun. And don’t call me princess. If I’m exposed, this entire show will be over.”
“Real names are no good either. Though, if you insist, I wouldn’t mind you calling me by just my first name.”
“Then, let’s come up with some fake names.”
When I said that, she puffed up her cheeks and sulked. Why does she care so much about me using her first name?
“Fine then, let me take two hundred steps back and think of a fake name. Umm, what about Francoise?”
“Where did that name come from? It sounds much more aristocrat-like than your actual name. What about… Rene or something instead?”
“It’s kinda meh, but I’ll take it. From today onwards, I’m Rene, got it?”
Seems like I managed to convince her.
Now, then, where should we go in order to satisfy this willful princess?
Last time I was here, I came with the knights on official business, so I don’t really know any famous local sights or anything. I don’t even have any knowledge about any places of entertainment in town.
“Oh, yeah, now that we have the chance, why don’t we try becoming adventurers?”
“Don’t joke around, I can’t let Prin… Rene-sama be exposed to such danger.”
She glared at me when I almost said her title, and quickly corrected myself.
“Ugggh, fine, I’ll leave becoming an adventurer to next time.”
What do you mean by next time? We are supposed to go back to the Kingdom of Brydle after spending one day outside.
And tomorrow, she will be married off to another country. Normally, after such an incident, the marriage would be canceled, but I’m pretty sure they’ll do everything they can to suppress news of what happened from spreading.
“Then, let’s go someplace where we can exchange these gems for money.”
“That means either some jewelry store or a general goods store.”
I had no reason to object, so we went to the most jewelry store, which also happened to be the most elaborate building on the street, and sold a necklace with the smallest gem on it that we brought.
Even though it was the cheapest item we brought, it was still far superior to the items they had on display in the store, and we got a fair bit of money for it.
“With this, we don’t need to worry about travel expenses.”
“I don’t really have an eye for jewelry, but is that really something that was safe to sell?”
“Well, they did say something about it being considered just shy of a national treasure, but I’m sure it’s fine.”
It’s definitely not fine… But I’ll pretend I didn’t hear it.
After we secured the funds, our next step was to wander the streets along to the Princess’s whims. She spent the entire day in town, and seemed quite content.
“Rene-sama, it’s about time we should start heading back to the castle.”
“Hmm, I want to say a little while longer, but it’s probably not good to be more willful than this. Okay, let’s head back..”
Oh, she’s surprisingly agreed without a fight.
Seems like she really just wanted to experience a day of freedom. I felt a little ashamed to have suspected her to have some ulterior motive.
“I do want to have dinner with you one last time. Is that okay?”
When a girl like her looks up at a man with upturned eyes like that, I doubt there’s a single man in the world who can refuse.
I let out a small sigh.
“Of course that will be fine. Let’s find a place to eat, then.”
A last meal together with the princess.
Let’s just leave all those unnecessary thoughts behind and enjoy our last time together.
When I opened my eyes, the wood paneled ceiling greeted me.
“Did I fall asleep?”
My memory is fuzzy. Why am I sleeping?
If I recall, I had dinner with the princess and accepted a glass of wine from her because it’d be rude to do otherwise… And I don’t remember anything else.
“What time is it!?”
I hastily sat up and pushed open the curtains around the window.
The sun was shining right overhead.
“It’s already noon!?”
It’s long past the time we needed to set off in order to make it in time for the wedding!
“If we set off at full speed from here… No, wait, it’d take some time to even get to where Faitfore is… W-What should we do!?”
I cradled my head and desperately thought, but no good solutions came to mind.
Even if we can’t make it in time, we have no choice but to return. Ah, where is Princess Leonor?
A look around the room revealed a pile of underwear lying in the corner… And they are all women’s garments.
I quickly flipped under the blankets to check my body. I was bare from the chest up, but I was still wearing my underwear.
“No way, no way… That couldn’t have happened.”
I have faith in myself. Even if I became black out drunk and can’t remember anything, I’m not the kind of man who could cross the line so easily like that… Right?
There’s no way something that cliched happened, right?
“Come on, stop raising a fuss so early in the morning. We were up late last night, so let me get some more sleep.”
A voice came from my side.
I could confirm who it was by just turning my neck slightly, but my body is too stiff to move even that much… No, I don’t want to move.
“Yesterday was intense, you know?”
Something extremely soft made bare contact with my arm.
My neck made a creaking noise like rusty metal hinges as I forced myself to look to my side…
And laying there was Princess Leonor, barely covering herself with her blanket and dressed in absolutely nothing else.
I would like to believe the reason she’s blushing is because of the alcohol that has yet to work its way out.
“Princess, umm, well, could you put on some clothes?”
“Oh, isn’t it too late to be embarrassed now? And don’t you think calling me princess is a little strange after what happened last night? Come on, call me Leonor like you did last night.”
She whispered in a sultry voice, sending shivers down my spine.
“J-Just in case, I’d like to ask, nothing happened last night, right?”
I put my last hopes into that question, but the princess hid her face behind the blanket and tightly gripped it.
“You are horrible. I won’t let you say you don’t remember after we spent such a passionate night together. You better take responsibility, darling.”
The moment I heard that, my spirit could no longer bear the gravity of this situation and immediately let go of my consciousness.
When I next opened my eyes, it’s gotten a little darker outside.
I can’t believe the shock caused me to pass out until evening.
I fearfully checked next to me, but there wasn’t anyone there. The underwear strewn at the corner of the room is gone too.
I couldn’t remember it, but if I really did such things last night, I have no choice but to take responsibility.
“As a knight… No, as a man, it’s only natural… Ah!”
Wait, now is no time to be concerned about myself. I need to make things clear to the princess and reassure her.
I couldn’t stay in bed forever, so I stood up and got dressed.
As I did so, I noticed a piece of paper lying on the table by the bed.
A small bottle with a green label is placed on it in order to keep it from flying away.
“This handwriting is the princess’s. Seems like she’s written a letter for me…”
“Good morning, Rein. Now, even if we make it back to the capital, we won’t make it in time for the wedding ceremony.
Oh, yes, you slept soundly last night all the way till morning thanks to the sleeping pills I put in your drink. So, nothing happened, so you can relax.
This bought me a lot of time, but just in case, I’ll be in hiding until noon tomorrow. So don’t look for me until the ceremony is confirmed to be canceled.
From your beloved Princess Leonor.”
I crumpled the letter in my hand.
I’ve been had! I fell for her tricks completely.
I ran out to talk to the receptionist, who told me that the princess left in the early afternoon.
I’m going to find her and drag her back to Brydle even if I have to put a rope around her neck!
I’ve treated her with kids gloves because she was a princess, but no more! I’ll never forgive her!
I ran around town until it got dark out searching for information, but I couldn’t get any clues on her whereabouts.
She probably used that magic item to change the colour of her hair while she was on the run. If princess Leonor really put her mind to escaping, it wouldn’t be easy to track her down.
She frequently snuck away from the castle, and even after mobilizing tens of soldiers and servants to look for her, it’s not unusual for her to remain at large for the entire day.
Most of the time, she only got caught when she returned to the castle after getting bored.
I can’t imagine being able to track someone like that down by myself.
There’s no way we’d be able to make it in time for the wedding ceremony, but I can’t just let her go after messing around with me like that.
If I don’t get my hands on her and get her to apologize, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep well at night.
“She wasn’t at the bar or the casino. It’s unlikely that I’d be able to find her using normal methods. Then, if I use abnormal methods…”
As the plan coalesced in my mind, I ran full pelt towards my destination.
“We are right in the middle of town! W-What are you thinking!?”
Princess Leonor screamed as she ran all over the place trying to get away.
As expected, she’s changed her hair colour to black.
No matter where she runs, there’s no way she can escape from my sights. Even if she jumps into an alleyway, I’ll easily be able to reacquire her from my vantage point.
“Stop your useless struggles and give up. If you surrender now, I’ll let you off with just a short hogtied trip through the skies.”
“No way! What kind of treatment is that!? What happened to you!? What happened to the earnest and kind Rein!?”
I’m a little impressed that she can talk that much while running.
“The earnest Dragon Knight died yesterday! There’s no future waiting for me even if I go back to the kingdom now, so my life of being led around by you ends yesterday. Now it’s my turn to tie you up and lead you around.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to do that literally!”
I rode on top of Faitfore in order to pursue the princess from above.
If I can’t find her walking on the ground, then I just need to do so from the air. With Faitfore’s heightened sense of smell, it isn’t impossible to sniff out the princess even if she were in the middle of a crowd.
The only downside to this method is that the surrounding townsfolk were thrown into panic upon seeing a white dragon fly by.
Having a dragon knight from another country do something like this would most likely result in an international incident, but I couldn’t care less about it right now.
“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, so please let me gooooo!”
Seemingly reaching her limit, Princess Leonor’s came to a stop, and I had Faitfore pull up next to her.
“If you are willing to go that far, then very well. It looks like you’ve reflected on your actions, so let’s go back to the castle. It’s only a slight chance, but if you get down on your knees and apologize, I might consider forgiving you. And make sure you properly tell them that I was dragged into this.”
I handed the princess a bottle of water as she panted heavily.
With this, she should reflect on her actions and perhaps improve her behaviour in the future. This marriage will probably be annulled, but it would at least be better for her future.
“Yes, yes, sorry.”
She meekly apologized. Yes, it wasn’t a mistake for me to harden my heart and go after her like this.
“I’m really sorry!”
Before I knew it, Princess Leonor produced a bag from somewhere and threw a fist full of powder at me.
“Such childish distractions won’t… Achoo!”
I thought she was trying to blind me with sand, but it was actually ground pepper.
I only got away with a bit of itching in my nose, but Faitfore, who got a face full of it, covered her nose and started sneezing non stop.
“I’ll buy you tons of high grade meat next time!”
Leaving those words, the princess quickly disappeared down a side alley.
I picked up the bottle of water that I dropped and washed the pepper off my face.
“Well, then, I suppose it isn’t necessary to forgive her anymore.”
I muttered under my breath, and Faitfore, her eyes bloodshot, nodded along with me.
If she’s willing to go this far, she must have done her preparations. Alright, then, let the real game of tag begin.
“I didn’t expect her to continue running for half a day after that. I must apologize for underestimating her.”
In response to my words, Faitfore gave her long neck a shake.
“It’s quite a feat to escape the clutches of a Dragon Knight for so long, right, Faitfore?”
Faitfore shook her neck even more vigorously than before in agreement.
“Eeeeeep! Please stoooop!”
I think I heard something, but it’s probably just my imagination.
“What should we do next? Even if we go back…”
It’s been three days since I left the Kingdom of Brydle. The wedding is long over by now.
After spending the last three days being tossed around at the whims of this princess, I feel that something has changed inside me.
My doubts regarding my previous way of life have just been swelling.
A knight should be self disciplined in order to be a model for the citizens.
ーIsn’t this kind of life only going to result in a loss for me without any form of benefit?
Even if others see you as a problem-causing and willful person, the most important thing is if the person in question is enjoying it, right?
As I looked at Princess Leonor, my convictions in my previous worldview became more and more frayed.
“Faitfore, between the serious me and the me who lives freely, which one do you prefer?”
She tilted her head and stared at me.
“Is it wrong to desire freedom?”
In response, Faitfore aggressively shook her head in denial.
“… Why are you suddenly shaaaaaking!?”
I looked down at the rope that connected the dangling princess to Faitfore’s neck.
I had some reservations about tying a princess up and carrying her away like this, but she has since tried to escape twice, so I had no choice but to pursue the strongest of measures.
“Princess, if you reflect on your actions, I can pull you up.”
“Hmph, I won’t be broken by just this level of torture.”
I suppose I should respect her for having the fortitude to say such things in this situation.
“Faitfore, why don’t you give your neck some exercise?”
As instructed, the white dragon started waving her neck around in circles.
“Stop! Stop! I’ll get nauseous! If this keeps up, I’ll start spewing food from my mouth! Don’t you think it’s wrong to show everyone the scene of a princess vomiting!? I’m sorry, I was in the wrong, so please stooooop!”
The princess shouted in terror at first, but after a while, it seems like she got used to it and started enjoying the scenery as she spun around in lazy circles.
“Look over there! There’s a large frog jumping around down there!”
She really did get used to this quite quickly.
“Sigh… I feel like a fool for thinking seriously about this. Princess, is there any place you want to go?”
“Eh? Can I? You are not playing with my expectations, are you? Like giving me hope only to bring me back to the castle in order to get back at me?”
“Well, I wasn’t planning on doing that, but now that you mention it.”
“I’m begging you, please don’t do that! Father is definitely blowing his top over this incident. There’s no telling what he will do if you bring me back to the castle.”
The princess seems genuinely concerned, but she’ll probably be fine. The king really dotes on her.
The princess might be the mastermind, but I’ll probably end up being forced to take all the blame for this incident.
“… You have my word as a knight, I won’t betray you.”
“Well, even if we do get caught, don’t worry. I’ll make sure to cover for you and take all the blame.”
“Then, I’ll be counting on you.”
I say that, but the world isn’t such a kind place.
The princess is smart and cunning, but she’s quite lacking in worldly knowledge. Though I suppose it’s only natural for a princess.
She doesn’t understand how serious this matter is.
“Considering how short the road ahead is, it’d be a waste not to enjoy myself to the fullest.”
“Hmm? Did you say something? The wind is too strong, so I couldn’t quite catch that!”
I didn’t intend to say it out loud, but I guess it forced its way out anyway.
“No, it’s nothing. I was just wondering if it became known that the marriage was called off because of this incident, no one would want to marry you and you’d be doomed to a life of a spinster, that’s all.”
“You said the one thing you shouldn’t say! I’m a little uneasy about that too! If you are not careful, I’ll arrest you for disrespect!”
The princess wriggled her body like she was planning to crawl up onto Faitfore’s back.
Does she not understand how precarious a situation she’s in, hanging from a single rope like that?
Normally, I would’ve given in right here and apologized, but I decided that I would never give in from this day onwards.
I’ll abandon my honour as a knight right here. My status will probably be revoked when I go back anyways.
I should take a leaf from the princess’s book and live a little more freely. For starters, how about a little counter attack?
“Hmm, I feel like I want to practice with my spear all of a sudden. Hah! Hah!”
I took out my spear and started swinging it around.
“Hey, wait, stop! It’s dangerous! What are you going to do if you hit the rope!? If you don’t get your act together, I’m going to curse you with being treated like garbage by women and having men fall for you!”
“Why is your curse so filled with malice!?”
We traded such silly barbs with each other as we continued our journey through the skies.
On the fourth day after we ran away.
For some reason, we found ourselves at a glittering building, a casino.
“Really, why did we come to a casino?”
“If you want to let it all go and enjoy yourself to your fullest, then you have to go to a casino. You did say you want to enjoy yourself to the fullest, right?”
“… So you heard me.”
The princess said that the wind was too loud, but she heard me clearly back then.
“You’re a man, so you must have gambled at least once, haven’t you?”
“Well, if it’s stuff like buying everyone dinner if we lose in practice matches, I’ve done it once or twice.”
“No, no, that doesn’t count. Blowing it all in gambling, indulging in drinks, and chasing after beautiful women is what a real man should do!”
She said passionately, but that’s just a no good grifter.
It’s so far from who I am that I am having trouble imagining it. It’s a way of life that has nothing to do with me.
“First off, we need to change the way you speak. Such a differential tone doesn’t fit with a dirty out of the way casino like this. You need to dress a little more sloppily, drink cheap beer, and speak in a rougher tone.”
The other customers and the dealer glared at us after hearing what the princess said.
“P-Princess, you’re too loud! Sorry, she’s had a little too much to drink.”
I repeatedly apologized to the people around me.
I hailed a clerk, shoved a pouch of gold into his hand and told him to buy a round for everyone present.
“You’re surprisingly good at handling such situations for someone new to this.”
“I don’t want to hear that from you. When you hang around a certain someone long enough, you eventually learn how to safely defuse such situations.”
“Well, isn’t that great? Learning how to deal with others is a valuable skill.”
Does she get the sarcasm, or not? I can’t tell from the smile she had.
“Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand.”
“We don’t really have to…”
“I picked out clothes for you, so we’re fine on that front.”
The.. Unique, thug-like outfit that I’m currently wearing was picked out for me by the princess.
It was a bright red jacket worn with the sleeves rolled up. The princess said,
“Having long sleeves rolled up like that makes you look more unsavory.”
As a knight, it’s hard for me to understand such matters, but I do agree that it looks pretty good on me.
The princess was also wearing something more plain instead of her royal outfit.
It’s a simple green one piece dress without any frills or decorations, but with her body, she looks good no matter what she wears.
Dressed like this, the two of us look like a village girl and her slightly thuggish boyfriend.
“If you don’t match your tone to your outfit, it’d be very jarring. Right, now start practicing speaking more like a yankee.”
Yet another ridiculous request.
So I just need to speak more roughly, huh? Come to think of it, I used to have a senior that bragged about being evil in the past.
He had a strange way of speaking whenever he started talking about his old stories, so maybe I can imitate that.
“Okay, yo. I’ll try my best, yo.”
“Hmm, It’s not even close to passing, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it after a while. Anyway, let’s go play some games!”
Princess Leonor pulled me over and pushed me into a seat.
This seems to be a card game played around a semi circular table.
“I haven’t seen you around before. Do you know the rules?”
“I do have some familiarity with card games… Oww. Err, I’ve played card games before, so I can handle it.”
The princess elbowed me in the side, and I changed my way of speaking.
If I don’t pay attention, I quickly slip back into my old habits.
“What about that pretty girl over there? Is she not playing?”
“Oh, my, you sure have a good eye. I’ll refrain from charging you a viewing fee, then. I’m just here to be a witness of sorts, so don’t mind me.”
You mean making sure I don’t mess up, right?
Acting was never my strong suit, but I’ll try my best not to disappoint her.
“Anyway, let’s start the match.”
I’ve never seriously gambled for money before, but I suppose I can try and enjoy it. But just enough so I don’t get hooked.
“Why can’t I win!?”
Ever since then, I’ve been on a losing streak.
After losing 20 straight games of cards, I changed to a game of roulettes instead, but I still lost twenty straight rounds in a row.
“Yay! I won again!”
Beside me, Princess Leonor was in a great mood… Even though she said she wouldn’t play.
I always thought that things always end up working in her favour, but now I’m thinking that she just has high luck.
The reason why I haven’t run out of money even after losing so much is because she won it all back.
Normally, I should be thanking her, but seeing her constantly win while I couldn’t even win a single hand kinda pisses me off a little.
“Come on, one more match!”
“You know, I don’t think you are cut out for gambling. Why don’t you take your girl and go home for the day?”
“Shut up, just start the next match!”
Dammit, even the dealer is taking pity on me.
“It doesn’t matter how much you lose. I will earn it all back for you.”
“Ah, a gigolo…”
I thought I heard the player next to me say something really rude, but I couldn’t care less about him right now.
I can’t rest easy until I show Princess Leonor, who’s looking at me with a cocky smile on her face, my good side!
This time, this time I’ll definitely win!
“Come on, come on, red 6, red 6, red 6!”
I muttered under my breath as I watched the wheel spin. If the ball landed in the spot I placed my bet on, I’ll be able to recoup all my losses in one fell swoop.
I prayed and put all my hopes in that little ball… And it landed in the spot next to mine.
“Oh, I won again. Teehee (๑ゝڡ◕๑).”
“Graaaah! Why!? Why can’t I win!? You aren’t cheating, are you!?”
I approached the dealer, and he vigorously shook his head as the blood drained from his face.
“No, no, that’s impossible. If we were doing such a trick, we would’ve let you win a few times to prevent you from getting suspicious. I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, but you are the first person I’ve seen who has such a long and unbroken losing streak. If I could control where the ball fell, I wouldn’t let it land where your girl has placed her bet. Actually, can you please take your girlfriend home for the day? Please?”
“Ohohoho. This is the luck, beauty and temperament I was born with. God has blessed me! Commoners should prostrate themselves before me! Nyahahahaha!”
The Princess let out a high pitched laughter. I think the alcohol is really starting to get to her.
Because of my constant losing, it doesn’t seem like the owner is hurting much financially, but I can see how the princess’s haughty attitude and constant streak of victories is getting on his nerves.
But now is not the time to care about that.
“I’m not leaving until I win! Hurry up and start the next game!”
“Sigh, it’s just not my lucky day…”
The dealer seemed to be saying something, but I couldn’t care less.
I’m not going home until I win.
On the fifth day.
“Customer, I’ll give you back half of what you spent, so please stop…”
We came back to the casino.
I couldn’t win a single game yesterday, so I need to make up for my losses today.
“Shut up! Hurry up and set up the next game already!”
“You’ve gotten really good at speaking roughly. You might actually have a talent for acting.”
Unlike me, Princess Leonor has won every game she played. She was banned from the casino, but forced her way in with the excuse that she’s only here to observe.
“I can’t concentrate with you around, so go somewhere else. Honestly, you are getting in my way.”
“Urk… Aren’t you getting a little too into character?”
The princess puffed up her cheeks and glared at me, but I shooed her away and she sulily left the building.
Good, now I can focus on the game.
Even though I had no interest in such games before, it’s turned out to be mightily interesting. It’ll definitely be more fun if I were to sneak a victory.
“And the match is over.”
“… Guess you picked the wrong hand.”
Not even a single thing went my way! Why are they all turning out like this?
“Why!? You aren’t cheating, are you!?”
“We aren’t! Didn’t we have this conversation yesterday!? Hey, someone go fetch his guardian here!”
“Eh? Isn’t she quite troublesome too!?”
“Even so, it’s still better than dealing with him!”
They sure are rude to their customers.
I’m just acting as a bad guy, I don’t actually enjoy gambling that much.
I don’t, but I’ll definitely make back what I lost yesterday.
The sixth day.
“Please stop gambling! All the money I’ve earned is almost gone by now!”
“Shut up. I’m going to give you an easy life once I win big, so shut up and hand it over already!”
I snatched away the pouch that Princess Leonor tearfully offered, and opened it to check the contents.
It’s stuffed to the brim with gold coins.
“Hey, there should be a lot more than this. Don’t you dare hold out on me.”
“If you take any more money, what should we live on tomorrow!? We don’t even have money to buy bread anymore. What is she supposed to eat!?”
“Just have her hunt a giant frog or something. She’ll happily eat one raw.”
Fairfore can take out a monster of that level in a single blow.
The princess tearfully clung onto my waist, and remained clinging on despite my best efforts to shake her off.
“Man, what a scumbag. Don’t neglect your child like that.”
“I feel sorry for his wife… ”
The customers are just shooting their mouths off.
Upon hearing that, the princess grinned.
Ah, she’s enjoying it.
“If you keep doing this, the owner is going to say ‘You know what to do if you can’t pay, right? Come to my room after taking a shower.’ and do all kinds of nasty things to me!”
She screamed like the heroine of a tragedy and cried in an exaggerated fashion.
“Eh? The owner is such a person?”
“So the pervy gazes I occasionally sensed wasn’t my imagination.”
Thanks to the princess, the reputation of the owner of this establishment suddenly took a dive.
“Knock it off already! I’m going to sue you for obstruction of business! Why do you have to pick my shop of all places to put on this kind of act!?”
And the person in question suddenly appeared next to me and started angrily telling me off.
“Seriously, what kind of grudge do you have against my shop? The girl won so much money she made the dealer cry, and the guy does nothing but lose money and lodge complaints! Thanks to the two of you, my dealer has holed himself into his room! And now you’re pulling this kind of act in front of my store! Weren’t you banned yesterday!?”
This whole act was an idea thought up by the princess to get back at them after banning her from the premises yesterday. Though I did get a little too into it.
“Hey, throw them out of here!”
A bunch of guys dressed in black surrounded us.
“Oh, bouncers, huh? Fine, let’s get out of here.”
“What are you saying? This is where it gets interesting. Here, you can make do with this, right?”
As she said that, she tossed a large mop to me.
It’s quite a bit shorter than the spear I usually use, but it should serve well enough in a fight like this.
“Still, I don’t think picking a fight with ordinary citizens is a commendable course of actions.”
“Hey, you are using your old voice again. You need to show off your thug side. Right, let’s start over again from that last scene.”
“Ahem… How dare you weaklings bare your fangs against meー”
“Don’t start over! Go home!”
The men in black lunged at me all at once. I tried to intercept them, but I just couldn’t bring myself to seriously attack common citizens, so instead I scooped up the princess and ran away.
After finally shaking them, I set the princess down at a nearby park. My whole body is covered in aches after I had to shield her from blows.
Though, thanks to my daily training, there doesn’t seem to be any major injuries.
The princess crouched down and shivered. Was she injured!?
“Are you alright, Princess?”
“Haaah, that was amazing! Causing a riot at a casino is just like that scene in the novel I read a while ago! Yeah, this is how it should be.”
There wasn’t any need for me to worry.
She seemed to be having the time of her life despite our situation. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to imitate her, but I’m just a little envious.
“Rein, you’re having fun too, right? I mean, you are still smiling.”
The princess produced a hand mirror and held it up to my face.
My reflection seemed a little troubled, but the smile at the corners of my mouth is unmistakable.
“I’ve thought this for a while, but I think you restrain yourself too much, Rein. You only have one life, so it’d be a shame not to live it to your fullest, right? Take a page out of my book and smile! That is an order from your princess!”
She placed a finger on the corners of my mouth and forcibly pushed a smile on my face.
I feel like nothing good will come out of me taking a page from her book, but if it’s an order from the princess, I suppose I have no choice.
“Understo… Gotcha. I’m going to act like a delinquent with all my might.”
“Hehehe, I’ll look forward to it.”
“So, what are we doing next?”
“I’ve said it before, but I want to become an adventurer! Adventurers are the epitome of freedom. Now is the only chance for me to become the protagonist of a thrilling adventure novel!”
She crossed her arms and passionately declared.
I refused back then because I was concerned for the princess’s safety, but if I put my mind to it, I think I’ll be able to keep her safe for an adventure or two.
And, honestly, I want to try being an adventurer too.
I’ve worked with adventurers several times while on a mission to exterminate monsters, and most of them seemed to be the embodiment of freedom itself, like the princess said.
There are some knights that are critical of what they call lack of discipline, but personally, I don’t mind. If anything, I’m actually a little jealous.
“Alright, let’s head to the adventurer’s guild, then.”
“Eh, really?! Yes! I love you, Rein.”
The princess said in a sultry voice and gave me a wink.
“Yes, yes, thank you. Even though it’s a joke, I’m still happy to hear it.”
“Oh, you are happy… It’s not a joke, though…”
“Did you say something?”
“Nope. Come on, let’s get to the adventurer’s guild!”
Her cheeks were puffed up in anger and she seemed to be in a bad mood.
And she was over the moon just a short while ago. I really can’t get a handle on how quickly her mood changes.
She grabbed me by the arm and started pulling me with her. I had no reason to resist, so I simply followed her lead.
“Oh, so they really have a tavern in the adventurer’s guild.”
The moment we entered the guild, the princess gawked all around, not even attempting to hide her curiosity.
Well, I’m the same way, so I can’t judge.
There were several waitresses and clerks hard at work, along with several adventurers who were busy getting drunk despite the sun being still out.
I can kinda understand why the princess looks up to that kind of freedom.
“So this is what it looks like inside… Hmm? Wait, Princess, didn’t you visit the guild at the capital during the times you snuck out of the castle?”
“I tried to visit several times, but father has a really close relationship with the guild staff there, so there’s always a quest to bring me in posted up there. So, if I went there to play, I’ll definitely be caught.”
Ah, that’s why every so often she’d be brought back to the castle by adventurers.
Thinking about it, apprehending the princess is a quest with little risk and a huge payday, so it’d be very attractive to any adventurer.
“But wait, if we become adventurers, won’t they need to investigate our identities?”
“You don’t need to worry about that. An adventurer’s card can serve as an identity card. And you can use a fake name for it too. Oh, and your old tone is back?”
“Ah, right, sorry.”
I need to pay attention to that in the future.
I walked up to the counter and hailed the female clerk that was manning the desk.
“Pardon… Hey, I want to be an adventurer. What should we do?”
“Ah, if you would like to register, there’s a fee involved.”
“Oh, right, sure. There’s enough for both her and me.”
I handed over a few coins.
“Yes, that’s just enough. Now then, I’ll briefly explain what being an adventurer is about.”
I already knew about what an adventurer does, so I didn’t really pay close attention, but the princess seemed almost fascinated by her brief explanation.
“– That’s the short of it. Now, can you please fill up this form? Height, weight, age, and your other physical characteristics.”
She handed a form over to the both of us.
I just had my weight and height measured by the order, so I can just use those figures.
My physical features are a little trickier. It’d be blonde hair and blue eyes, but those are common traits shared by the nobility. There are former nobles that end up as adventurers, but those traits are still pretty rare.
If it’s just blonde hair, it’d be fine, but with blue eyes as well, it’d draw unwanted attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guild is on the lookout for a runaway princess and her knight bodyguard.
ーI’ll write blonde hair and red eyes.
“See, you were right to listen to me.”
The princess had a triumphant smile.
Right now, I’m wearing a set of red contact lenses. It’s one of the disguise tools that I borrowed from the princess. Apparently, it’s also a kind of magic item.
The main issue is the name. I don’t think it’s likely that my name will be known by the guild, but since the princess is going by the fake name of Rene, I should go by a fake name too.
“… Are you thinking of a name? Then, let me think up a name for you this time. Err, how about… Dust? You are always going on about pride, so that’d be a good fit.”
“… I feel like you’ve got the meaning mixed up in there… Your naming sense is as bad as ever, but it’s only a temporary name, so I’ll go with that.”
I wrote down Dust as my name.
“Right, there’s no issue with the paperwork. Rene-san and Dust-san, right? Now, can you please touch this card?”
She presented a card to me.
Apparently, once this card is linked to you, it’ll automatically record any monsters that you defeated. It’s a type of magic item too, though I wonder how it’s made.
“I can go first, right? I’ve always wanted to do this!”
After rolling up her sleeves, the princess touched the card.
“Thank you very much. Rene-san, yes? Your strength, constitution, and dexterity are all well above average! Oh, and your magic and intelligence stats are also very high… Wow, your luck is extremely high too. You are quite exceptional.”
The princess swelled with pride after having a large heaping of praise showered on her.
And she also kept glancing at me. It’s somewhat infuriating.
The royal family often consume stat increasing potions and experience packed ingredients, which is why royalty and rich nobles have exceptional combat abilities even though they never once stepped on the battlefield.
On top of that, the blood of royalty is heavily intertwined with the blood of heroes, so they have high stats from the moment they are born. Bright blonde hair and blue eyes are said to be proof of such.
“You can take any class, but you’re most suited for using magic. With stats like yours, you can even take on the advanced Archmage class!”
The clerk said with sparkling eyes. It seems like the princess really is a rare specimen.
“I think I’ll go with Archmage. Aww, I’m really troubled. To think I would have such talents together with being beautiful.”
She boasted specifically so the people around us could hear her too.
And it’s having the desired effect. The guild staff and adventurers started gathering around and talking amongst themselves.
“Her personality aside, her stats are really high.”
“Do you want to invite her? We have been hurting for a spellcaster.”
Seems like several adventuring parties have already set their eyes on her.
“I really want to avoid doing anything conspicuous… But, well.”
“Are you jealous? Hey, are you jealous? Sorry, with my talents and my beauty, I can’t help but draw attention everywhere I go!”
As Princess Leonor spun circles around me,
“Yeah, on second thought, it’s not a good idea to make decisions based on looks and ability. I think I’ll pass.”
“I’m with you on that.”
Several of the adventuring parties changed their minds.
“Now then, Dust-san, please.”
I touched the card that was placed in front of me.
Upon seeing it, the receptionist’s face changed to one of shock and disbelief.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a stat spread this high before! Your luck is the lowest I’ve seen, but apart from that, it’s all top class material!”
I’m glad to hear such praises, but as expected, my luck is really low. The fact that I ended up in this place after getting dragged around by the princess is proof enough of that.
“With stats like that, you’re perfect for a frontline class… Hmm? Wait, you already have a class? A-A Dragon Knight!?”
Everyone’s gazes focused squarely on me.
Shit! Now that I think about it, I recall touching something similar back when I first joined the knights and became ordained as a Dragon Knight!
Actually, there was someone who was dressed very similarly to the clerk standing in front of me right now. So they got my information then?
“Aren’t Dragon Knights a super rare class? Is he for real? This is the first time I’ve seen one in person.”
“The neighbouring country has quite a few of them under their service, right?”
“He’s hot and a Dragon Knight too? Maybe I should take this chance to recruit him.”
The crowd around us suddenly burst into uproar.
This isn’t good. Princess Leonor is already causing quite a stir by herself, but if a Dragon Knight is here too, news of this might end up reaching Brydle.
“Princess, we should retreat for now.”
“How could you stand out more than me!? I won’t forgive you!”
“Now is not the time to be concerned over such matters!”
I grabbed the princess’s hand and intended to forcibly drag her from the guild if I have to.
“Hey, wasn’t there a quest to apprehend a pair consisting of a Dragon Knight and a girl posted on the noticeboard?”
One of the adventurers made the worst possible connection at the worst possible time.
The looks of admiration they gave me earlier were suddenly replaced by ones of suspicion.
“They are offering quite a substantial reward for it. To be specific, they are looking for a Dragon Knight with pale blonde hair and a woman with a rough manner of speaking but great looks.”
The clerk said something that she had absolutely no reason to say.
Ah, the adventurers are looking at me the same way a carnivore eyes a potential prey.
“Well, we’ll handle the paperwork tomorrow, let’s go home for today, honey.”
“Of course, darling. I want to take a bath when I get home.”
We put on a show of affection, intertwined our arms, and tried to leave.
“Don’t let them escape!”
“I have nothing against you personally, but I need to clear my tab!”
“In this situation, no one will find out even if I grab his ass, right?”
All the adventurers came pouring in at once.
I immediately lowered my stance and swept my covered spear in a wide arc around my feet.
“Stop getting in the way! I almost fell thanks to you!”
A few of them had their legs knocked out from underneath them immediately, while others started tripping over the bodies of their comrades.
This opened a hole in the wall of people surrounding me, so I grabbed the princess’s hand and burst out.
“They are getting away! Stop dragging your feet and chase them down!”
I managed to get out of the guild somehow, but now I’m currently being chased by several adventurers with hungry looks in their eyes.
“This is all your fault, Rein! You shouldn’t outshine me!”
“That’s now how it went down! Anyway, please keep quiet, or you’ll bite your tongue!”
Carrying her would allow me to move faster than running normally, so I lifted her over my shoulder and started running.
“Why are you carrying me like this!? Can’t you at least carry me in a princess carry!? I am a princess, you know!?”
“Can you please stop getting mad at me for inexplicable reasons!?”
Despite our current situation, the princess had a wide smile on her face like she’s having the time of her life.
This kind of slapstick escape is probably quite enjoyable for her.
“Seems like we won’t be able to go back to that town for a while. Sigh.”
Princess Leonor let out a huge sigh as she sat on top of the white dragon’s back.
I managed to shake the adventurers somehow and met up with Faitfore who was hiding in the forests not too far from the town, after which we quickly got out of there.
“If they’ve gotten their hands this deep into the adventurer’s guild, it seems like we’ll have to wait for quite some time before doing any adventuring.”
“Aah, I wanted to be an adventurer for once.”
“When things have calmed down a bit, let’s go try and be adventurers again.”
“You promise!? It’s a promise, okay!?”
She must have really wanted to become an adventurer, I thought, as she rested her chin on my shoulder and prodded me in the back.
“Yes, I promise.”
“Good, then I’ll forgive you. Oh, and your tone.”
“Er, yeah, it’s a promise.”
I wonder if I’ll ever get used to speaking like a punk.
“And, hey, you promised to call me Leonor, didn’t you?”
“Oh, yeah, Le… Did I ever make that promise?”
“Tsk, you should’ve just gone along with it.”
As we chatted, the sun slowly set behind the mountains.
There are no obstacles in the sky, so there won’t be any problems flying through the night, but after the events of today, I was exhausted both physically and mentally.
Princess Leonor seems to be in a similar situation, she rested her head on my shoulder and fought, unsuccessfully, to keep from nodding off.
I spotted several lights in the mountains, so I decided to rest there for the night.
The seventh day.
We were staying at a small village that only had a single inn, and I just woke up.
This room only had two beds, and Princess Leonor was sound asleep in the other one.
She really was a beauty when she was quietly sleeping. What a waste.
“Hehehe, what kind of pranks am I going to pull today?”
She mumbled in her sleep as her face twisted into an evil grin.
… Let me revise that, she’s no good even while she’s sleeping.
“We managed to get away, but it might be dangerous if we don’t get away from here.”
The guild would have sent word back to Brydle by now. If they used teleportation magic, they could easily arrange for a search party to be sent here in an instant.
They would know how much distance Faitfore can cover in one day, so it wouldn’t be surprising for this village to be included in the search radius.
“Princess Leonor, please wake up.”
“Hmm? … I almost got that naggy chancellor to fall into the pit of mud I made.”
“You can do that as often as you want when you get back to the castle. I don’t get along with him much either.”
“Hehe, that sounded really natural just now. Are you getting used to it?”
Now that she mentions it, I did naturally fall into that speech pattern without intending to put on an act.
It seems like it won’t be long now before I get used to speaking this way.
“Please prepare to leave. If we don’t get out of here soon, they might catch up to us.”
“Ah, right, they found us out yesterday. I’ll get ready to leave immediately.”
If she gets the situation, then I don’t need to elaborate.
I quickly changed into traveling clothes, and once I was done, so was the princess.
After paying the innkeeper, we headed out of the village.
The forest that Faitfore was hiding in is only a twenty minute walk away from here.
“Let’s go to a city even further away.”
“What about Elroad!? It’s famous for its casinos! I heard the prince over there is a no good playboy, but the prime minister there is really competent.”
“The country of Casinos, Elorad, huh… That sounds great! Right, it’s decided then.”
We whiled time away talking about what we were going to do when we got there, and before I knew it, we arrived at the spot where Faitfore was hiding.
“Sorry to keep you waiting! I bought you a chunk of meat from the town!”
We emerged into a clearing.
And in that clearing was Faitfore, growling at the dragon knights that surrounded her.
“We finally found you, Princess Leonor. And, Rein.”
He was about a head larger than me, with a full beard, a grim expression, and a heavily muscled body.
He was the one who recognized my skills despite being a minor noble and recommended me to the order of Dragon Knights.
If I fought with all my might here, I might be able to defeat him. But there’s no way I could raise a hand to someone I owe so much to.
Plus, even if I defeated him, there are still the other Dragon Knights and soldiers.
With Faitfore captured, there’s no way for us to escape.
“I did say it’d be nice if you learnt to become a little more flexible in the past, but I never expected you to go this far. I always thought you were a more rational man than this.”
The captain placed a hand on his forehead and shook his head wearily.
“I didn’t know I was such a bold man either.”
Even I was surprised I would end up like this.
“Wait a minute, I dragged Rein out here with me on my own will. It has nothing to do with him!”
The princess stepped up and desperately tried to cover for me.
“Princess, it’s not that simple a matter. A princess runs away with one of her knights just before she is arranged to be married off. There’s no way we can tell that story to the other kingdoms. The only way news of this can get out is as a tale of the young Dragon Knight who kidnapped the princess out of love.”
That’s to be expected.
“That can’t be! I really did drag him out because I wanted to! Rein is a victim too! Right, Rein?!”
The princess grabbed me by the shoulders and yelled.
“Captain, this incident was all my idea. I’ll accept any punishment.”
“What are you saying!? Stop messing around! This is myー”
“Place this man under arrest. Princess, please come this way.”
The captain interrupted the princess with a loud command.
This is fine. The life of one man doesn’t even compare to the stability of the kingdom.
Plus, I was already prepared for this outcome.
I bowed deeply to the princess who was slowly vanishing into the distance while still screaming for my innocence.
“It’s been a really fun week. Thank you.”
It’s been a short life, but I have no regrets… Actually, I do have a couple.
If I die, the princess will be sad, and I won’t be able to fulfill the promise I made to Faitfore to stay with her forever. Those are my only regrets.
It’s been several days since I was captured and thrown in jail.
“Rein Shaker. The king wishes to see you.”
I haven’t heard my name called for a long time. I looked up and, glaring at me from the other side of the iron bars, were a few soldiers.
They probably fully believe I was a villain who kidnapped the princess.
It seems like the time of judgement has come.
I’ve long since prepared for this, so I got to my feet and stepped out of the cell.
“Wait, I cannot allow you to appear before the king in such a state.”
The soldier first led me to a bathroom. For the first time in several days, I was able to bathe and properly groom myself.
After I’ve been made presentable, the soldier led me to the throne room.
In the room, beyond the rows of notables of this country, sat the king with his magnificent beard on the throne.
Next to him stood princess Leonor.
The king looked stern, but I couldn’t sense any intensity in his gaze.
He understands that I wasn’t the main mastermind and was merely caught up in this.
The princess too had a dignified look on her face, unlike her usual expression. However, I couldn’t help but notice that her hands were trembling.
I got down on one knee and lowered my head.
“Rein Shaker. I had such hopes for your future. It’s a pity.”
The king let out a huge sigh. It seemed like he really meant it.
“Normally, the death penalty would be most appropriate in this situation, but on account of Princess Leonor’s petitions, we will not go that far. The Shaker house will be dissolved from this day onwards, and you are sentenced to exile. Never step foot in this kingdom again.”
Taken aback by this sentence, I raised my head in shock.
I walked into this room prepared to die, so I never expected my life to be spared in such a manner.
The king shot me an apologetic look before closing his eyes.
The princess resolutely stared straight ahead without moving a muscle.
Looking around, it seems that most of the people knew the truth behind the whole incident, and none of them raised any objections.
In fact, several of them shot me sympathetic gazes.
“From this day forward, I will not allow you to call yourself Rein Shaker. Become a different person and go wherever you may please.”
Even my name was taken from me. Though, in this situation, being able to breathe for another day is already a great boon, so I’ll gratefully accept it.
In the early morning, while almost everyone else is still sleeping, I made preparations for travel.
“That’s pretty much it.”
I packed my stuff into my backpack and left the room that was assigned to me as a knight.
I was wearing the clothes that I wore when I ran away with the princess. I was no longer a knight, so such clothing suited me better.
I gave a salute to the soldiers standing guard over the back gates, and they returned it in kind.
After walking some distance away, I turned back towards the castle and fell into a deep bow.
“Right, now, where should I go and what should I do?”
Being free is a good thing, I suppose, but I don’t have a goal in mind.
“Whoever’s hiding there, come on out. Are you pursuers?”
I felt a presence behind the large tree a short distance ahead.
It wouldn’t be strange for some bigwig to seek to have me silenced in order to prevent my secret with the princess from leaking to the other countries.
“It’s me, Rein.”
The person who stepped out from behind the tree was Princess Leonor, wearing a hooded cloak.
Somehow, I expected that she would try to meet up with me before I left, so I wasn’t too surprised by this.
“Did you come here to see me off?”
“I wanted to apologize. I’m really sorry…”
The princess trailed off, a rare occurrence from her.
I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen her so depressed.
“What are you saying? I knew perfectly well that it was going to end up like this and went along with it. There’s no need to apologize. If anything, it’s really refreshing to be free like this.”
This was partially true, but also partially me putting on a strong front.
“Rein… A new marriage partner was decided for me. I plan to go along with that.”
Her confession… Didn’t come as a great shock.
After all, I already knew about it.
Last night, after the king laid down his sentence, the princess’s personal butler paid me a visit.
After apologizing for the trouble that the princess has caused, he also said something like this.
“Ever since that day, the princess has become much more dignified and mature, almost as if she’s a different person. I’ve heard that a neighbouring prince fell in love after hearing rumours of her recent demeanour and sent us a new marriage request.”
“Is that so?”
“The princess accepted the proposal on the condition that your sentence would be lightened. She also declared that she will behave in a manner befitting that of a princess. Though I wonder how long she would keep that up.”
So that’s why she behaved that way in front of the king.
If he wanted to cover this up, it would’ve been much easier to just have me executed.
The reason why the king couldn’t do that was because of his sympathy for me and the deal the princess offered. As a king, he could probably take a breather from this.
“Rein… What are you going to do now?”
The princess’s concerned voice brought me back to the present.
“I’m still thinking about it, but I think I’ll go on a journey… Being an adventurer doesn’t sound too bad either.”
“I see. An adventurer, huh? Yeah, that sounds nice. I’m sure you will earn plenty of accolades for yourself, Rein.”
“Princess… I’m no longer Rein.”
“Oh yeah. Then, what about calling yourself Dust from now on?”
That was the fake name I used back in the adventurer’s guild.
Honestly, I think it’s a pretty crappy name, but it’s fitting for my current self.
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
“In the end, we never got to adventure together. I do regret that a little.”
“Well, there was no way we could’ve gone adventuring in that situation.”
We met gazed and let out a bitter smile.
A lot of things happened, but I had a lot of fun. That week really was the most fun I’ve ever had.
“Now, then, I should make a move.”
I want to talk with her a lot longer than this. I really want to, but if I spend any more time together with her, it’ll just make parting ways harder and harder.
In the end, I wordlessly extended my hand to her, which she simply stared at.
If she were to take this hand and say “Take me with you.”, I would’ve sworn right there that I would protect her with my life.
That I would never let go of her again.
It’s selfish, but there is a certain part of me that thought that, perhaps this is what the princess wanted too.
However, she didn’t take my hand… And merely gave me a troubled smile.
Seeing that, I understood everything.
She has decided on the path she wanted to take.
As I lowered my hand, for a brief instant, I thought I could see the princess on the verge of breaking into tears.
She lifted her head towards the sky to hide that, gazing out towards the stars that have yet to be blotted out by the sun.
After some time, she dabbed at the corners of her eyes and once again turned to face me.
“As a princess, I’ve decided to live for my country from now on… Rein, no, I mean, Dust, this is a parting gift from me.”
Saying that, she held out a sword to me.
“It’s a magic sword. They were saying something about national treasure or what not, but just take it with you.”
If it was me in the past, I would’ve turned it down immediately, but there’s no way I could refuse right now with her pressing it against my chest while looking at me with teary eyes.
“Thank you very much.”
As I gave my thanks, the princess suddenly moved her face towards me and pressed her lips against mine.
“You are my knight, so from now on, don’t use your spear unless it’s to protect me or someone you really want to protect. Do your best with that sword instead.”
Princess Leonor, her face blushing a bright red, glared at me through her embarrassment.
At the very end, she once again did something reckless.
Wordlessly, I walked past the princess and raised my sword.
“Yeah, I got it, Leonor.”
“Tomorrow, we’ll go on an adventure~.”
Even as she laid her blushing face on the table, she still said such stuff.
“It’s… A promise… zzz.”
“Finally went to sleep.”
After raising a fuss for an entire day, she’s finally out drunk.
The last time we were together, we weren’t able to do any adventurer like stuff. Perhaps that was still weighing on her mind.
I was kind of afraid that people would notice something odd about Lynn after she got black out drunk like this, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is paying us much heed.
It was a good idea to challenge Keith and Taylor to a drinking contest. Thanks to that, the both of them retired to their rooms long before Leonor had any chance of exposing herself.
“This time.. Definitely…”
“Yes, let’s go on an adventure.”
Just this once, I replied with my old way of speaking.