「The recent reports have been really bad. Like, "The progress is good", "Avalon is declined", or "Progress is normal". I know it, it's concise... But isn't it too concise?」
That's what Jerome confronts with as he strolls around the room.
「You see. Do you know what home country wants? You know that, don't you? Even though we all know you're not incompetent enough to know that.」
「Uh... Is that so? No, I'm sorry, it's just annoying...」
Alexis scratches his hair, and Jerome says, "Hey, hey," and shakes his head and stops in front of Alexis across the table.
「Can I be frank with you? I don't want you to be fooling around. I know it's annoying job. But get the job done. And what did you find? No. What are you planning?」
Jerome still looks at Alexis with a smile that makes it hard to tell what he is thinking.
Alexis sighs unhappily.
「...You know what, Aniki?」
Alexis stared at Jerome.
「I've got something to hide. But, you say I can't fool around. I mean, how am I supposed to trust a guy who cover up a single little question earlier? Don't you think it's proper for you to tell me everything first?」
「Well, that's true...」
Jerome nodded and glanced at Fransisca.
Then he turned his attention back to Alexis and said something.
「The princess there has rejected me in the past. That's all.」
Alexis was so surprised that he couldn't help shouted. Jerome smiles and says, "Like I said".
「We were going to get engaged. That was two years ago, when Avalon was forming and we were protecting the princess. But the princess there, she didn't like it very much. She said she'd take care of it herself, and she agreed to our father's terms...」
「Wait a minute. I didn't know the whole story.」
Alexis turns to Fransisca. Fransisca looked embarrassed and smiled bitterly. This was the reason for her awkwardness when she heard Jérôme's story.
「I'm sorry. I didn't feel it necessary to talk to you. However, I didn't think that the king didn't tell you anything...」
"Well," Alexis sighs at Fransisca's hesitancy.
「I've always had the impression that my father was a pain in the ass. So, I tend to skip over them...」
"Oh, come on...," Jerome muttered to himself.
「I feel sorry for father. That man, he thinks a lot of you even though he uses you so much.」
「Use me? Isn't that the wrong word?」
「That's because he thinks you're... —No, no, it's nothing. I mean, if that's what you think, whatever...」
Jerome says with a grumble and a grumble.
But Alexis is not so interested in that, so he looks at Fransisca, "So," he says.
「You took my father's deal? What the hell did you promise him?」
「Hey Alexis, are you talking to the princess of a country like that...!?」
Jérôme is taken aback, but Alexis decides to let it slide. He is now more concerned about the terms that Fransisca made with his father.
」Ah. Uhh, it's in the past," Fransisca says with a troubled smile.
「At that time, when he offered me his protection, King Krangal first proposed to me that I should become his—Jerome-sama's queen, and that in exchange for Krangal's full support of Sagrado. When the Sagrado problem was solved, Krangal took full responsibility for it.
（Father. I was thinking that he was supporting Sagrado under warm conditions, but then I remembered that he also said so much. Still, I think he's looking down so much. Well, Fransisca was in a situation like that—）
Alexis thinks so, and Fransisca doesn't seem to agree.
"Perhaps King Krangal thought I was a burden. Although I appreciated the king's kindness, but..." she continues.
「As you can see, it's not going to work out that way. So when I said that I wanted to do something on my own, the king said this...」
『If you fight against our vice knight commander and win, then I will recognize your ability. If not, I think it would be wise for you to do as I say』
Alexis is tempted to sidestep her, but Fransisca continues, "I'm sure the king is,"
「He probably thought it was for my own good. In fact, in all my years as a princess-maiden, I've never had a single conflict.」
「Well, it seems so...」
Alexis was thinking that it was time to stop.
However, he wanted to hear the end of the conversation.
While he was thinking that, Fransisca continued her story.
She says that at first she refrained. But the king said.
『No, no, no, there's no need to hesitate. If you are strong enough to win the vice knight commander, I would be willing to join your will and promise you unconditional support—Besides, at this moment, the only available troops you can call upon now are the Sagrado soldiers who have withdrawn at Fort Rohka, which it's hosting in our country. Do you think they are somewhat insufficient to challenge Avalon on their own?』
When Fransisca heard this, she was unintentionally embarrassed. And, the king adds.
『How are you going to defeat that massive Avalon with the forces you have left? So, don't disrespect the favor of your allies from previous generations.』
Once he was told this, Fransisca could not refuse.
「So, I have decided to accept the king's favor. Of course, the duel I had with the Vice Knight Commander was a tough one, but I managed to win thanks to my training.」
Hearing Fransisca's smiling words, Alexis turns his eyes towards Jérôme with an indescribable look. Jérôme seemed to understand what Alexis meant and nodded his head with a wry smile on his face.
Alexis then looks back at Fransisca with a big sigh. He is at a loss to decide whether he should be appalled or impressed with her.
「...You know. I don't think my father intended to make such a casual statement about winning...?」
「Eh, Is that so? But, King, he gave me a place to train. He even gave me a chance to train with the knights of Krangal. Isn't he kind?」
「No. He thought you'd be upset if he gave you a knightly training...」
Alexis blurted out, but Fransisca didn't seem to hear it very well.
Then, Fransisca looked at him with a puzzled look. But Alexis shook his head "...No, nothing".
（I see. I guess no one would expect a spoiled princess who has only known singing and dancing to follow a knight's training and beat the vice-commander after all... Well, father can't help it if he doesn't agree to the conditions he set... Ah, it was a disaster, wasn't it...?）
Alexis's shoulders slumped.
He knew that his father wouldn't just give Fransisca an unbelievable offer for free.
After all, the reality was that it was the result of a lot more trouble than he had expected.
Unfortunately or fortunately for Krangal, Fransisca was not able to proceed with the attack on Avalon on her own after that. So, Alexis was sent, and the father succeeded in giving the rights to Alexis.
「I see... yes, yes, I understand now. That's the way it is...」
From now on, Alexis decided that he would listen to his father more or less carefully.
He made up his mind.
As he thought so, Jerome said to Alexis, "So...".
「I've told you everything I know, now it's your turn. We need you to stay in close contact with us.」
「Yeah. You're right, you're right. Well, I knew it was just a matter of time. But you know—」
Alexis folded his arms and sat back deeper in his chair, looking up at the ceiling.
After a few moments of silence, he turned his attention back to Jerome.
「I'm sorry. I don't want to tell you.」
Alexis assured him smilingly.
Jerome's expression turned to one of dismay.
Jerome coughs and glares at Alexis after a moment of blank stare.
「What are you thinking? No, I knew you were an oddball and uncooperative to begin with. But this is all a little crazy, don't you think? You came here because our father trusted you, right? Are you betraying his trust?」
「That's not what I'm saying. I have my own way of thinking, aniki.」
Alexis tapped his fingertips on the table in front of him and leaned forward to look into Jerome's eyes.
「So, will you please leave? Anyway—it's true that everything is going well, isn't it?」
Jerome shuddered for a moment and then let out an exaggerated sigh.
「I can't go home if it's like this!?」
"Oh, is that so?" Alexis laughs bitterly.
「Of course! How do you expect me to tell father?」
「Well—you'll just have to think of something.」
「Can I do that?!」
Jerome's answer was what Alexis had expected.
"...Sigh, I don't have a choice," Jerome growled.
「I'm going to stay here until you say so...! Or I'll find out what you're hiding from me myself!」
Jérôme pointed at him and declared, as if declaring a declaration of war.
Alexis smiled and replied, "Suit yourself".
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