Shinji and the others who stayed in the guest house enjoyed the cultural differences between the different worlds.
In the tatami room, which is the same as the one in the castle, they learned how comfortable it is to lie directly on the floor, and they enjoyed eating grilled river fish, which they had never seen before, as well.
「It's possible to do this because we don't usually enter the room with our shoes on. The grass floor (草の床) smells good, too and it's interesting because I've always had an image of hard floors. Although it's not a great view, Lila and the others finally got to see a new scene, didn't they?」
「Yes~♪ I like this tatami floor very much. I want this floor to be used in our original world too」
Shinji is lying on the tatami mats with his back on the floor, and Lila is lying down right next to him. Her twin sisters (Lili and Lilu) also seemed to like the tatami, and were lying on the floor talking to each other.
「 I really enjoyed the rice! Although rice is available over there, I especially liked the river fish which I could eat even the guts of the fish. The bitter taste goes well with sake~♡」
「That's true. I wonder if these fish only exist in this world. I've never seen fish like that in the market.」
「No, I think I've seen a similar fish back home...?」
From the other side of Lila's body, Emily leans against Shinji's chest. Shinji strokes her blonde hair with his right hand as if he is playing with it, and Emily closes her eyes and nuzzles into his hand comfortably. He also strokes Lila's hair in the same way, pulling her blonde head closer to him.
On the other side of the room, Iris is asleep, leaning against the wall. She is sleeping and sharing her visual information from her dream with Freri's magic. Now, she is talking about something similar to the black oval hole she saw in the daytime, which is similar to the <World Gate>.
Iris also feels that the technique to temporarily lend magic by using the charms, which is similar to but different from acquiring magic by using magic books, is quite similar to the relationship between the Adventurer's Cards and the special magic stones that are kept secret by the Adventurer's Guild. She is very excited in her dream world to be able to openly investigate what she could not investigate in the original world. In addition, Freri also invites the masked white-haired girl to the dream world and prevents her from committing suicide.
While each of them is having their own way, Shinji and the others sense the presence of someone approaching.
「Sorry! Excuse me! I know it's late at night, but Shinji-dono, may I have a word with you?」
The voice belongs to Kuroumaru, whom they recognize. Shinji, who has been separated from Emily and Lila due to their attention, leaves the room and goes to him.
「Good evening, Kuroumaru-san. It's been a few days.」
「Yes, it has been a few days. I just came back a few minutes ago, but I heard from the princess. I'm sorry for not being here when you came all the way to see me.」
In response to Shinji's greeting, he bowed his head lightly and bowed again. He must have come in a great hurry. His hakama was still stained with dirt that he had probably gotten while working outside.
「No, we came on such short notice without an appointment. And we used your name without your permission.」
「No need to apologize. That's why I gave you my name. And I was right. So, thank you. I appreciate you protecting my lord and princess.」
「And for that, too, it was an accident. I only returned the blow when the attacker came out in front of me.」
Kuroumaru bowed deeply, and Shinji's attitude of not showing off his accomplishments seemed to be one of humble gratitude. If Garoumaru and his men had defeated the masked soldiers, they would have been proud of their achievement and would have claimed that Garoumaru was the father of the next king.
「But, nevertheless, the princess told me that you want to look for someone in a populated town. She said that if there was a landmark, you could use magic to get there in an instant. So, I've come to visit you to have my men bring the landmark.」
The offer to bring the landmark to the town was made in exchange for the information Shinji had obtained from the white-haired girl. Kuroumaru was asked to carry the landmark as soon as Princess Tsubaki finished her story. The conversation then passed quickly from Princess Tsubakihime to Iwao, who had been assigned to the role.
「Yeah, I was told about the role of a carrier only tomorrow. And Kuroumaru will be the one who will carry it. Then I can rest assured.」
「Normally it would be tomorrow, but I really wanted to thank you! Besides, Shinji-san is my guest. I can't entrust this to anyone else. I'm sorry to say it's for my own convenience, but...」
The castle of Soukai Country was divided among the Kuroumaru faction, the Garoumaru faction, and the neutral faction. The neutral faction did not participate in the struggle for succession and focused on running the country without being beholden to either faction. So, deciding that he could not leave the position to the soldiers of the Garoumaru faction, let alone to the neutrals, he decided to take the position.
「Oh, I heard the reason. It seems that you are fighting with Garoumaru-san. And I think we were seen by Kuroumaru's faction and they were staring at us.」
「I'm sorry. I would be lying if I said I did not expect this at all, but I did not think it would be this big a deal. I thought that my connection with Shinji would be for the good of the country.」
Kuroumaru speaks straight and looks straight. Unintentionally, Shinji smiles at his personality, which is somewhat similar to Alvin's. The only difference is his desire for success, and his desire to marry Princess Tsubaki and become the father of the king.
「That's all right. I think we had a good exchange of information as a result. Please use it to add to your accomplishments.」
「I'm sorry. Honestly, I appreciate it. I come from a rural village, and I have to make my way steadily.」
Kuroumaru said. He was born in a rural village and rose through the ranks of war. Because of this, he is popular among those of lower status and is expected to be the leader of the rising generation. The Kuroumaru faction is a group of such people.
Garoumaru, on the other hand, was born in a castle town, and his father served in the castle. His mother's family is one of the most prominent merchant families in the castle town. Therefore, he is well-known in the castle town and is well-received by the high-class people in the castle.
（If things go in order, Garoumaru will be the one to marry. If this is the case, I can understand his attitude toward Princess Tsubaki, though I can't agree with it）
Seeing Shinji's face when he hears the story, Kuroumaru also smiles bitterly. Shinji also sees the look on Kuroumaru's face, and he can tell that Kuroumaru understands the disadvantage of what he is doing, and he is still making an effort.
「What I am doing may be a foolish act. But if I have a chance, I'll do what I can do. Isn't that what a man is supposed to do?」
Kuroumaru, who has been rewarded with a position at the castle, has fallen in love with Princess Tsubaki for the first time. It was a love that could never be fulfilled due to the difference in status. Therefore, he hid it in the back of his mind and served his country with sincerity. Even if the war is lost, he has no choice but to abandon his country. Still, to the end, he has fought to serve his country and Princess Tsubaki.
But then, the death of Iwao's heir gave him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Perhaps he will be able to fulfill his wish that should have been unfulfilled. And this was more than enough to inspire Kuroumaru. So, he somehow manages to keep gaining success and is nominated, but the last man standing is Garoumaru, the man who is whispered in the castle to be the most likely candidate for a future husband of Princess Tsubaki.
He is a man who cares for those of rank and money but is cold toward the rural areas and the poor. It is easy to see how a man who even now looks at Princess Tsubaki with disrespect would treat her if he had her.
Although Princess Tsubaki is modest, Kuroumaru feels that her love for her country is genuine. Believing that he can make his country and the woman he loves happy by winning over Princess Tsubaki, Kuroumaru will not give up and will resist until the very end.
「Yes. I'll be cheering for you behind your back」
「Well... I'm sorry it's so late. I'll see you in the morning. Goodbye」
While Kuroumaru's decision is noble, Shinji will not involve himself too deeply in the affairs of the country. Kuroumaru must have felt the same. He bowed with a smile and left the guest house.
After that, when Shinji returned to his room, he saw Emily and the others resumed drinking. Shinji joined them and enjoyed the sake and snacks of Soukai Country again.
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