The next morning, Shinji sends Tsubaki back to her room. After finishing breakfast, Shinji and the others get dressed and meet Iwao at the castle in Soukai Country. This would have been a goodbye meeting, but the group's plans change and they decide to stay for a while longer. Before meeting Shinji and the others, Iwao also received a report from Tsubaki.
「I see, Shinji-dono and the others will stay in their current residence. And Kuro's men will be in charge of carrying the marker. If everything goes smoothly, they should reach the town in two days」
「Thank you. I will place a barrier around the castle to keep the captured masked soldiers from escaping. We will also study the black hole used by Tenshou Country, so please let us know if you need anything」
「Yes, that would be very helpful. We have no idea how long it will take with our own hands. So, Shinji-dono's help will be greatly appreciated」
「I hope you understand that the princess asked for the help. We will work hard for our reward」
Since he is treated as a guest invited by Tsubaki, Shinji does not forget to show respect to Tsubaki's father, Iwao. Still, Iwao has the final say.
「I know... But is it all right? I don't think the foodstuffs such as river fish and rice are worth the work」
「No, no, that river fish is a food we don't have in our country. They may be common items here, but they will be valuable foods back home. The same goes for rice, which is a different kind of rice. In my opinion, the rice tastes better here」
Although he does not say it in words, his greatest reward is to be able to analyze the unknown magic used in Tenshou Country and make it his own. Besides, since the agreement he made with Tsubaki is a secret, he chose food as his reward in order to convince Iwao. He also thought that if he had the chance, he could really sell the rice to his original world, but he was not sure if he could sell it.
「Oh, I see. You can tell me if you need it. I'll give you a fair price」
「I'd be happy to. Now, if you'll excuse me. I will continue my research at the guest house」
Shinji bowed and left the room with Iwao. He then joins Emily, who has been waiting for him in the hallway, and walks down the hall, remembering the castle lord's face, which seemed to be in a good mood the whole time.
『Shinji, how was it?』
『Everything's going fine. I see the princess explained it well. In fact, it's in everyone's best interest that we study magic. Even Iwao-dono will think that Princess Tsubaki is doing us a great favor.』
Shinji returns Emily's thought with a gentle smile. Since Shinji clearly states that the princess asked him to do this, Iwao now knows that the credit belongs to Tsubaki. In order for Tsubaki to appoint her husband, it is important for her to get the word out to the people around her, but ultimately she needs the permission of Iwao, who has the final say.
『Then, all I have to do is to take the credit! Though I can't be of much help until we get in...』
『Then you'll have to leave that to us. The magic analysis is our job and Emily should focus on fighting.』
『I intend to! But first, we're being ambushed. This guy Garoumaru's waiting for us behind those streets.』
『Well, he's very quick to respond...』
Heeding Emily's advice, Shinji continues down the corridor. Most likely, Garoumaru is here to warn the man who is going to be under Tsubaki's care. In fact, Garoumaru knew that he was going to be the father of the next lord of the castle, and that Tsubaki was his wife.
「Hey, foreigner... what do you want with the princess?」
「Well, I'm a hired hand. But I have no intention of making a move on you」
Shinji emerges from the shadows and answers Garoumaru's glaring eyes and strong tone with a nonchalant manner. Garoumaru is not pleased with this attitude. After all, most of the people are used to being judged by him, not the other way around.
「Don't be disrespectful. I will not forgive you if you do. Even if you're the princess’s guest」
「I'll keep that in mind. See you」
The position of the princess's guest is one that even Garoumaru's power cannot interfere with. So, Shinji should not be intimidated by the threat of a dark-haired samurai with a sword at his waist. Still, Garoumaru gives Shinji a deadly glare, but his instincts tell him that he must not touch Shinji as long as Emily is there to protect him, so he does nothing more.
Shinji and the others leave, completely out of sight, and Garoumaru slams his fist against the wall. He does no longer have the words "for the sake of Soukai Country" in his thoughts, but simply does not like the fact that the foreigner Shinji is with Tsubaki.
It is clear that Tsubaki has trust in Shinji when they met in the barracks the day before. What if there is a mistake? As her future husband, he cannot tolerate that. He didn't want a princess who had gotten marked by someone else's hands.
（Can't I get rid of him somehow...）
Garoumaru's self-centered thoughts are endless.
Shinji, on the other hand, had enough time to consider whether he should provoke an angry Garoumaru more. Though Shinji basically tries not to make enemies, Garoumaru's presence was a hindrance in this case. He was hoping that he could make Kuroumaru gain some credit, and at the same time, he was hoping that he could weaken Garoumaru's authority.
（Sooner or later he will destroy himself, right? He has been pampered so much, doesn't he?）
Through the corridor, Shinji and Emily left the castle and headed for the guest house. Entering the grounds and passing through the courtyard, they see Tsubaki and her lady-in-waiting. And Kuroumaru was talking with them. Of the three, it was Kuroumaru, a samurai, who noticed Shinji first.
「Have you finished talking? Princess?」
「Yes. What happened on there, Shinji?」
「There's nothing much to report. I'm glad to hear that Kuroumaru has been cooperating」
For Shinji, the exchange with Garoumaru was a trivial matter, and he did not bother to mention it. He turns his attention to Tsubaki's lady-in-waiting, who bows her head in a gesture of respect. Shinji understands that the lady-in-waiting is also one of Tsubaki's collaborators. Now, Kuroumaru approaches him and takes Shinji's hand with both of his.
「I heard what you said. I wonder if I'm the right person...」
「If you are talking about the husband, Kuroumaru-san is the right man for the job. If you've heard the princess's story, you know what she's talking about, don't you?」
「I understand. But is this something I should be the one to do? After all, a man like me, who bothers the princess, is not the right man for her husband, do you think?」
After receiving Tsubaki's explanation, Kuroumaru felt both the joy of being asked to do something and the disappointment of being inadequate at the same time. It would be the greatest pleasure for him to be of service to the woman he had fallen in love with. But as a warrior, he felt ashamed that he had made her believe that she herself had to act to save the country from a national crisis.
「That is for Kuroumaru-san to decide. But then, there is only one thing I can say. The one who can put aside his pride to fulfill the princess's wish is the best suited to be her husband」
In this respect, Garoumaru is not the best choice, he adds. Having been told this, Kuroumaru has no choice but to make up his mind. Tsubaki's passion for the country has already planted a spark in Kuroumaru's heart. If so, all that is left is for him to muster up the courage to do so.
And Kuroumaru is ready to give up everything for the woman he loves. If it will lead to saving the country, then he should not shy away from the task.
「For my country, for the princess, I will be her husband」
Shinji nodded his head at the determined look in his eyes. In this way, Tsubaki succeeded in winning Kuroumaru and her lady-in-waiting over to her side. But only Shinji and Tsubaki know that being embraced by Shinji is the key to the success.
Kuroumaru has no way of knowing this, and he sees hope for a brighter future.
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