"Madam, we have received many congratulatory gifts..."
At his parents' house, the Vandale Viscounts' house in the Royal Capital, Lucas's mother Bridget shrugged her shoulders in dismay at the head maid's report.
"I should say that this is indeed the prestige of the Duke of Savignac..."
The gifts from the nobles, with whom she had never had much contact before, were extravagant and lavish.
The aristocracy is a well-connected society, but this is so blunt that she can't help but be appalled.
"It seems that the Duke himself has been spreading the news."
"Ah, I see, that's exactly what he said."
The Duke said he'll let everyone know about her daughter's marriage as soon as possible.
After all, Valerie has many admirers among the children of noble families.
And they have been asking for her hand in marriage for some time now.
But none of them satisfied the Duke's criteria.
In other words, the publicity is probably intended as a warning not to court her any more.
"But there seems to be... a little problem."
"Yes, the messenger who brought the gifts said that there are some bad rumors about the marriage. The rumors are that the Duke was so weakened that he was forced to give up his daughter to the Viscount's idiot son."
"If that's the case... it's likely to be possible."
Because their status is so different from that of the Duke and the poor Viscount who have only a few fiefdoms in the frontier.
At about the same time Bridget let out a big sigh, she heard the sound of a carriage stopping in the yard.
"I wonder if another congratulatory gift has arrived..."
"At this time of night? I'll check it out anyway."
However, the head maid who had gone out to see the guests came back a little later looking a little flustered.
"Ah, madam, His Highness the Crown Prince is here to see you."
"His Highness? Is he alone again?"
"Yes, he brought the carriage himself."
"Sheesh... that child..."
Bridget shrugged her shoulders in exasperation, and then she replied, "Please bring me through," and straightened up her posture.
The Crown Prince, the next king of the kingdom, had arrived. It is unusual for a royal family to visit a poor viscount's house like this, and if such a thing were to happen, the whole family would have to kneel down to welcome him.
However, Bridget does not seem to be in a hurry.
After a while, the crown prince Bastian appeared, led by the head maid.
"Your Highness, you are in danger if you don't bring one of your guards with you."
When Bridget rebuked him at the beginning of the meeting, he smiled at her.
"It's no problem. As usual, you worry too much. It is the law of our country that anyone who harms a royal family must be punished by the death penalty for nine generations. So, not many people are prepared to be executed. And the fewer people who know of my visit, the better."
"That's true, but..."
"By the way, Luu-boy's wedding seems to be causing quite a commotion. I'm sorry. I should have congratulated him first."
"What a waste of words."
The crown prince is in his late twenties with silky blond hair and charming features. He is a handsome man with a gentle manner.
He is dressed modestly now, as he is a private visitor, but even so, he exudes an elegance that cannot be hidden.
"When my father received the marriage proposal, he rolled his eyes. He had no idea that it would be with that war maiden..."
Perhaps remembering the king's reaction at that time, he relaxed his mouth, then turned his face back to a straight face.
"For the record, the Duke is a loyal man. But you can't let him know who you really are, can you?"
"Yes, we'll be very careful about that."
"Well, if you say so, then there's really no problem."
There is a reason why the crown prince is so friendly with her.
When he was a teenager, he used to live in this house under a secret identity.
There is no safer place than by the side of an assassin. So, he had stayed at the house for two years pretending to be Bridget's nephew, which was a measure taken to ensure his safety in the midst of the deadly struggle for the succession.
Perhaps that's why he had a tendency to consider the Vandale family as if they were his family.
"By the way, have you found out anything about the 'Headhunt'?"
When the crown prince asked her this, Bridget looked down her eyes and shook her head slightly.
"Please forgive me. For now, not yet..."
In fact, when Bridget received the order to assassinate Sir Amber the other day, she had received another order from him.
That is, to eliminate the murderer 'Headhunt'.
Normally, the royal family would never get involved in the affairs of the city, but this "Headhunt" is a different story. This murderer is an existence that the royal family cannot ignore.
Although it has not been made public, the Headhunt has another important feature besides taking away the head.
That is, they froze their victims to death. Even though it was mid-summer, the headless bodies found were frozen to a crisp.
The examination of the bodies revealed that the heads were cut off after death, and that the direct cause of death of all the victims was death by freezing.
Death by freezing in the city in the middle of summer is, to say the least, an anomaly.
However, there is only one thing that makes such an absurd thing possible.
It is one of the three treasures, the 'Glacier Crystal', which the previous king obtained when he defeated the barbarians on the frontier.
It is a jewel of unknown origin that possesses the supernatural power to manipulate ice at will, just like a fairy tale.
It was supposed to be a treasure of the royal family, and was kept under strict guardianship, but it was lost from the treasury a few months ago.
And the murderer 'Head Hunt' is believed to be the one who took the royal treasure, the 'Glacier Crystal'.
"But... it's not like you. To think you'd be so difficult."
"Please forgive me. Although taking a part of a corpse is a typical behavior of a person who has a strong attachment to his/her partner, it doesn't seem to be the case with the way he/she handled the remaining body. In fact, there is no one suspicious in the victim's relationships, and there is little possibility of love-hate entanglements or grudges. In any case, there are too few clues. I've ordered my men to patrol the dangerous streets, but it seems that the Headhunt is a woman, so I'm not sure..."
"Only women can use the power of the jewel. ......but it would be helpful if you could retrieve the treasure as soon as possible. There is only one of the three treasures left in the treasury."
One of the three treasures was lost years ago. But that is not a problem. This is a different story.
Although the identity of the Headhunt is unknown, there is no telling what kind of trouble the neighboring countries would bring if they knew about the existence of the treasure with supernatural power. It is even possible that all the countries will attack at once over the treasure.
"Yes, sir, I'm aware of that."
Bridget was about to sit up to leave when the crown prince spoke again.
"Wait a minute. Actually... that's not why I'm here today."
"Then, what do you want?"
"It's about my aunt."
"Aunt? Is it about Princess Verneuil?"
Bridget couldn't help but raise her eyebrows at the name, which she hadn't heard in a while.
Princess Verneuil is the sister of the current king and the second in line to the throne. She is a very unusual person, an unmarried princess at the age of 40. Nevertheless, the term "virgin princess," which is used to refer to an unmarried princess, seems to be a form of harassment for a person over 40 years of age.
"My aunt... is going to the battlefield to comfort the soldiers, and she won't listen to me."
"I don't know. She's a capricious person. I'm sure she'll wait until the situation has settled down a bit, but I'm not sure if she'll be escorted by her pet knights. Well...it's not me who's worried, but His Majesty. So I'd like you to escort her there without her knowing."
"...Your Highness, we're assassins. We're the killers."
"I understand. But I'm counting on you to do something about that. I beg you."
Bridget can't say no to a royal bowing down to her.
"Please don't do this, Your Highness. I understand. But I'll expect a reward."
Bridget smiled mischievously and turned to the head maid standing in front of the door.
"Elene, you heard about this. Who do you think I should send in this situation?"
When Bridget asked her, she thought for a moment, then pushed up her silver-rimmed glasses and answered.
"If we are talking about the battlefield, well... the twins would be the best choice."
"The twins... but aren't they a bit noisy?"
"That's why we'll be quiet."
"I see. That's wonderful. Prepare the girls for their journey."
Bridget nodded her head in satisfaction and turned to the crown prince.
"So, Your Highness. Please assign these two maids to serve as the princess's attendants."
"Maids? I'm asking for an escort..."
"Your Highness, they're maids in the service of an assassin nobleman. Don't worry, they're first-class assassins too."
* * *
Valerie stepped out onto the balcony and looked up at the sky.
The stars were bright in the night sky and a damp summer breeze ruffled her red hair.
"...I must say, he really don't disappoint me..."
She exhales with a bitter smile as she holds her hair, which is about to be disheveled.
The boy who has become her husband is now tossed into the visitor's bedroom, moaning and groaning.
He was, after all, overtired from a long bath.
In fact, considering his bad luck, she had expected this to happen when he was accompanied by her father, who loves taking a bath.
"It's a pity that he is my husband. Still, what did my father like about him?"
She said so, but if the question is what kind of man would satisfy her, then that's not so easy to answer.
So far, she has been devoted to the sword and she have never been so excited about love stories like a normal girl.
(Will I ever really be able to love him?)
But a knight is not allowed to say two words. It is not a question of whether you can love, but whether you must love.
Come to think of it, she doesn't really know what kind of person the boy is except that he is unlucky.
When she tries to remember him, all she can see is him falling, tripping, or crouching with his little toe on the corner of the desk.
(First of all, I should look for his good points...)
Almost at the same time she thinks this, she saw a shooting star in the northern sky.
Her eyes follow the direction in which it disappears, and she opens her mouth quietly.
"...I want become a shooting star. I want to fly across the long night and descend with my loved one."
What came out of her mouth was a line from an old poem whose author is unknown. She does not remember where she heard it, but it is the only love poem she remembers.
(As one would expect, such an ardent love is not something to be wished for, but it is not a bad idea to make a little effort, right?)
She raised the corners of her mouth slightly.