Even though it is the time for owls to hoot, the gatekeepers are standing firmly in front of the gate. They must be the night watchmen.
With a thank-you, Alexis and Maria enters the castle.
He is met with curious stares from the court knights.
Of course. Alexis, who everyone knows is not popular in the castle, has a woman on his arm.
Although he had three women with him on his way to the castle. But since Alexis is a prince, it is no surprise that he is walking around with his vassal.
But what about now? A vassal and a prince—that's no excuse at all.
「Maria. It's time for you to move on. I don't want any funny rumors to start」
Alexis calls out to her as they walk down the castle corridor.
Maria's mouth relaxes.
「Funny rumors. Will there be? Me, with the prince? That's... strange.」
She continues to look like a drunken person.
The cold night breeze was good for sobering up. Was Maria different?
Alexis asked a passing vassal and decided to take Maria to her room. Her room was immediately recognizable. It was one of the dozens of guest rooms.
When Alexis went to take her there.
「Wait! Before we go, I would like to see Prince-sama's room」
Maria smiles and Alexis says, "...you..."
「Do you know what you're talking about?」
Alexis raises his eyebrows in wonder.
「Yes. I know what I'm saying. I just wonder. A big room of a prince in a big country. Don't all the common people want to see it at least once?」
At Maria's blunt remark, Alexis sighs a little.
「...Let me tell you, it's not as interesting as you think. I'm not a big fan of luxury and opulence」
Maria smiled loosely and nodded, "No problem."
「It doesn't have to be interesting... Still, from a commoner's—or even a poor person's point of view, you're using furnishings that I've never seen before」
Her smile fades for a moment, and then Alexis catch a glimpse of her expressionless face.
He felt as if he could see her own swirling feelings of inferiority, envy, and condescension.
「...Okay, well... Let's go, Maria」
Alexis changed course and led Maria to the back of the court.
The corridor of the back room. Alexis's room is also present, connected to the other brothers' rooms.
In front of the door of Alexis' room is a small knight in full armor.
Upon seeing Alexis, Eden takes a step forward and says in a whisper, "Master."
「Yeah, I'm back. What, you've been waiting for me all this time?」
Eden nodded silently.
Perhaps she was wondering about Maria, or perhaps she was... But her face, covered by a steel helmet, gave no indication.
「Thank you, I'm sorry. As you can see, I'm safe.」
And then, "...thank God."
「It's late. Go back and get some rest. We'll head back to the fort tomorrow」
Eden nodded, thanked Alexis, and left.
"Well then," Alexis said, putting his hand on the door of his private room.
A thick wooden door with a gold knob. It was surely a magnificent room.
He opened the door with a click and entered the room.
The room was three times the size of a typical room for one person.
The bed, though simple, is large enough for three people to sleep together. The big chest of drawers is covering one of the four walls.
There is a table with a crystal chessboard. And two sturdy chairs with thick cushions and a two-seater sofa. The sofa is covered with a fur cover.
In the center of the room, there is a long carpet. And the room has a toilet, a washroom, and a bathroom. The bathtub always has warm water. Several freshly washed towels are provided, and a maid is ready at the call.
Maria used to be the assistant manager of the library and a mage of the court.
She must know the scenery of the castle. She must have been in the dormitories of the castle. But there are differences even within the castle.
No wonder Maria envies.
（What will she say?）
While Alexis was thinking about this, Maria undid her arm which was wrapped around Alexis' arm.
Then she walked straight into the room and plopped down on the sofa for two.
"Mmm," she says, checking the texture of the fur cover with her cheek.
「...it's amazing. It's so fluffy」
Maria blurts out, and Alexis opens his mouth in a hurry.
「I have to tell you, that's not my taste. It's just something the guys at the castle do on their own. First of all, I hardly ever come back here. But they take care of it every day. And they prepare the bathtub... Although I think it's a waste of time」
「Isn't it obvious?」
Maria answered, which surprised Alexis.
「It's the precious prince's room. It should always be prepared for your return so as not to make you feel uncomfortable」
「Still, I'm the sixth prince, remember?」
「What are you talking about? It doesn't matter what number you are. A prince is a prince」
Hearing Maria's answer, Alexis was puzzled.
He thinks she's wrong. The other princes and him are different. They're in a different position, different everything.
But... —Come to think of it, she's right. He's been that way from the beginning.
『You're just like all the other princes』
Whether she meant it in a good way or not, she's been treating Alexis like any other brother from the beginning.
As if she could see through his agitation, Maria stares into his eyes.
「No matter what number. A prince is a prince. At least, from a commoner's point of view. Every prince is a prince above the clouds」
It was a moment when he wondered if that's what it was like to be a commoner. At the same time, it was the moment when he realized that he was not a commoner.
While he was silent, he noticed that Maria was breathing in her sleep. She must have been drunk.
Alexis let out a sigh. He doesn't think it's a good idea to sleep in a man's room. She could have complained even if she had been attacked. Even if it was Maria.
No, it's precisely because she's Maria that she wouldn't do something like this, isn't it?
「...I don't get it」
Alexis thought about carrying Maria to the guest room.
But the more he looked at her comfortable sleeping face, the less he felt like it.
To Alexis, the size of the room, the furnishings, the comfort of the sofa, and everything else is nothing but envy to her.
It's something that she can't get even though she has worked hard to sell her body, sell her womanhood, and even study hard to get the position that she has finally achieved.
（...Since we're here... I'll let her enjoy it...）
Alexis carried Maria to his bed, took off her glasses, put it on the desk, and covered her with a futon.
When he himself sat down on the sofa, he was tired and drunk, and he was falling fast asleep.
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