Although some awkwardness between Alexis and Fransisca lay ahead, they planned to start another dungeon conquest the next day. But—
「Message from the home country! The 5th prince will visit the fortress tomorrow around noon. His Majesty has instructed that the fortress should not be opened during that time!」
Hearing this from the messenger who arrived early in the morning, Alexis was dumbfounded.
Alexis sat back down in his armored chair in the command center and clutched his chin.
If he hadn't received the message, he would have left for the dungeon, but now that he was told it was tomorrow—his plans were thrown off.
「*Sigh*... if it's tomorrow, we can't go to the dungeon... Besides, why the hell is he visiting the fort? Isn't it enough that I'm here? Wait...—」
Alexis lets out a sigh.
（...I've been neglecting 60% of my reports lately... Well, I thought I might get a call for it sooner or later...）
Anyway, the fifth prince. He didn't expect the fifth member of the Sparkle Brothers to come in person.
His name is Jerome Garland Krangal.
（...A warrior genius! His character is the same as mine! Damn...! Damn...!）
Alexis stomped his foot on the floor.
Then, looking up at the ceiling, he whispered, "Jerome...," in a low voice.
「...Is it Jerome-sama?」
Fransisca, standing nearby, responds to the name.
Alexis nodded gravely.
「Yes. My older brother by a year. You've met him before, right?」
Fransisca nods her head and her gaze drifts awkwardly for some reason.
Alexis feels uncomfortable with Fransisca's attitude, but he has no choice but to accept the invitation.
Although there are many things that bother him, Alexis eventually nods his head to the messenger, saying, "Okay."
* * *
After sending off the messenger, Alexis decided to break the plans to go to the dungeon and disperse the members, who had gathered.
But, he held Sara back as she was going to the infirmary.
「Hmm, what's the matter?」
Sara stops and gives him a puzzled look. Alexis squats down, brings his eyes to eye level with Sara's, and asks.
「You have met Jerome, haven't you? Did something happen between him and Fransisca?」
He should ask Fransisca directly, but he has a hard time talking to her because of the awkwardness that has been lingering in his mind ever since then.
Sara blinks her eyes and tilts her head, "Hmm,".
「I don't know... I was away from Sagrado when it happened. By the time I realized what was happening and returned to Sagrado, Her Highness was already in Krangal with Fatima-chan.」
「Is that so? Even you don't really know what's going on, huh...?」
Not seeming to pay any attention to Sara' point of view, Alexis continues to talk, "So, what happened after that?".
「When I came back, Her Highness had already kept her distance from the other princes, and Fatima-chan was kind of... you know... concerned about her. It was like that.」
According to Sara, at that time Fransisca had already agreed to attack Avalon by herself, and she was seen training in swordsmanship day after day.
「I've never seen Her Highness who was in such a deep depression as she was at that time... and I didn't want to ask her about the details of the situation... Oh, right, it was similar before Alex-kun came. So, I think it's good that Alex-kun came. Her Highness finally starting to look like she used to be...」
Sara said so, but Alexis wondered if it was really a good thing. After all, the events of last night are still lingering in his mind.
It was just a failed plan to attack the dungeon. He didn't mind a bit. Even thought he thinks so, he feels a bit stuck in a rut at some point.
（...Well, it was the first time for me to be favored by such a big shot and to be able to do whatever I wanted. I guess it's inevitable...）
That's what he decided for now.
「If Fatima-chan were healthy, we could have listened to what happened.」
Sara said with a deep impression.
「Yes, that's right...」
When Alexis sympathized with her, Sara's eyes were on him, as if she wanted to say something to him, and he became uncomfortable.
「Wh-What is it...?」
"Nothing?" Sara responded with a half smile on her face.
「It's just that Her Highness seems a bit depressed, you know? And Alex-kun seems to be acting strange as well. You must have done something about it.」
She said that as if she was scolding him, and Alexis couldn't help but ask, "What?".
「What are you talking about!? What's wrong with Fransisca? If only you hadn't answered the question I didn't understand...」
「Well... Who knows...」
Sara laughed bitterly and said, "—but Her Highness really loves Alex-kun, doesn't she?" with a smile.
Alexis wrinkled his brow in disbelief.
Indeed, he had thought so too. But the answer he got was rejection. Because of that, he had enough.
Still, there are so many people in his life who have rejected him, just because he did not rank among his brothers who are good at what they do.
In the end, that's all the information Alexis could get, and Sara walked away, leaving him with a hazy feeling.
（Damn. If this happens...）
Alexis thought, for a change of mood, he had to have a slave to play with.
Then, if it’s the case, Fransisca will be choosen... no. What is the point of letting the cause of the confusion play with him? On the other hand, Fatima is not in a situation to be a slave, and Sara is not a slave either.
Then is it Dorothea...? No way.
（...If I make any unsettling movements on her, my skull will be crushed to pieces by the hand of her grandfather...!）
Then—there is only one candidate left.
* * *
Valencia blinked in surprise at the nomination.
Valencia had just been in the middle of training in swordsmanship when she heard the news that Avalon had been canceled.
After changing into her light armor, she went to the training center at the fortress and joined the other Krangal soldiers in wielding a replica sword.
The Krangal soldiers were kind to Valencia, even though she was a Sagradoan, probably because they liked the fact that she had survived two years of hardship in Avalon, and because they liked Valencia's all-around honest and unpretentious character.
Alexis has a hard time finding Valencia's current location, though.
「Yeah. Can you play with me today? Maybe after you finish your sword training.」
Hearing Alexis' words, Valencia immediately looked around for a good time.
As expected, Valencia turns red because of the gazes of the Krangal soldiers who were listening to the conversation.
（A-Alexis-sama, please don't talk like that in public...!）
She feels dissatisfied with this inwardly.
However, it is a fact that she is not in a position to oppose him.
Valencia opens her mouth hesitantly.
「H-Her Highness... Is she okay with it?」
「Yes, she's the one who—」
Alexis is troubled, but chooses his words carefully before answering.
"Well..." It's just a one-sided relationship, after all. At this rate, she might not be interested in it for a while. So, he said, "What about you? You don't like it?".
「No, no! I mean...!」
Valencia shakes her head quickly and blushes again.
（Ugh... I'm in trouble...）
Valencia answered with a sigh.
「...I have no objection. I will do as you ask.」
Alexis nodded his head in agreement with Valencia's answer.
As Alexis leaves, Valencia lets out a sigh.
Then she notices that the soldiers around her are smiling at her, and she waves her hands.
「Oh, umm...! Don't you guys misunderstand me? I didn't mean to interfere in the relationship between Alexis-sama and Her Highness...!」
Then one of the soldiers tapped her on the shoulder.
「I didn't think that even Valencia would be included in the ranks of our prince's mistresses...」
「Captain has no sense of humor, or is it a disaster?」
「He's doing whatever he wants just because other princes aren't around.
Well, with other prince's face and height, Valencia will be in trouble too.」
The look directed at Valencia was more like pity.
「Hmmm. But Alexis-sama, he's not as bad a person as you might think...?」
Valencia nodded her head.
「That's because you haven't seen other prince.」
The soldiers laughed at each other.
Among them, Valencia could not help but be puzzled.
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