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Completed ― I Was on the Verge of Dying From Overwork, so I Ended Up Getting Married to a Prince From a Neighboring Country

Chapter 1: The Engagement Is Abruptly Ended

There are piles of papers on the table.

Materials are in boxes, disorganized like junk.

Looking back, weapons and armor are neatly arranged in rows.

I’ve been here so long that I’m used to the smell of steel and dust.

Gigigi

With a squeaking sound, the old door opens.

The person who arrived was the secretary in charge of the court’s staff.

She raises her glasses and says it with her usual authority.

“Phyllis-san, have you completed the work I assigned to you?”

“I apologize. It will take a little longer.”

I’ll give her an honest assessment of the current situation.

There is no delay because the delivery is scheduled for tomorrow.

But the secretary always sighs deeply.

“You need to pull yourself together. That is something I always tell you. The delivery date is rapidly approaching. Finishing by that deadline is insufficient.

” …”

I’m not sure why you say that…

In my head, I’m blurting that out.

But if you say it out loud in reality, you will face immediate backlash.

So I apologize with a sorry expression on my face.

“I apologize. I’ll finish this right away.”

“You’ve asked for it. If it’s too late, I’ll notify His Majesty; there are plenty of people who could fill your position.”

” …Yes.”

The secretary slams shut the door and walks away.

And I find myself alone once more.

“Sigh…”

I sighed deeply, as if letting it all out.

I lean back and relax.

I rest my face on the table, my face reflected in the armor, unmotivated.

“The delivery date is approaching—I can’t do it alone…”

Everything in this warehouse was under my responsibility.

I work as a grantmaker at the court.

Three years have passed.

I was the center of attention when I entered the court at the age of 15.

because I was the first grantmaker to hold a position at the Court.

Apothecary, mage, blacksmith…

Those who worked at the court held a variety of positions.

Grantmakers, on the other hand, were not among them.

And why is that?

simply because they were unnecessary.

The power to bestow abilities is referred to as the grantmaking technique.

It is a type of magic that can be cast on a variety of objects, ranging from humans to inorganic objects.

While there is some variation, the effects are mostly transient, and the strength and weakness of the effects can vary between practitioners.

It is only seen as a basic power, and mages who make tools with special effects from the start are looked up to more than grantmakers.

The main issue is that the effects aren’t long-lasting.

So I worked hard to lengthen the effect’s duration and strengthen the effect itself.

The grantmaking technique would be a very useful power if the duration problem could be solved.

I’m sure the royal court would recognize it.

And I proved useful as a grantmaker, becoming the country’s first court grantmaker.

“… Everything was fine and well at first…”

A spectacular start.

A position in a court that would make anyone jealous.

And now we’re here.

Clearly, this is not a quantity that can be handled by a single person.

One woman is in charge of all the knights’ armor and swords, and she must deliver them on time and with a certain subsidy.

The Order has 50,000 knights in total, and I am responsible for 15,000 of them in the capital.

It would appear absurd to anyone.

However, this is occurring.

Fortunately, I manage to streamline my work and deliver on time every time.

Thanks to this, there is no time for rest.

I work most of the day, and it is normal for me to work on holidays.

I get about two hours of sleep a day.

I am aware that I am not leading a humane life.

“Sigh… I want to quit. But…”

I can’t stop for a variety of reasons.

I’m desperately in need of money.

Because I… 

Knock-knock-knock

A knock is heard on the door.

It’s not the secretary. Because that woman would walk in without knocking and without a care in the world.

” Phyllis, are you there? It’s me.” 

“――! Please come in.”

He would make sure I was there before opening the door. 

I dust my dusty clothes off with my hands and greet him as calmly as I can.

“Welcome. Salerio-sama.”

“Good day, Phyllis.”

Salerio Ratratos gives me a bright smile.

Salerio Ratratos, the Ratratos family’s next head and my fiancée.

He’s the only one who understands me.

Salerio-sama circles the warehouse from right to left.

“The place is still as dark and dusty as ever; do you feel comfortable working here?”

“Uh, yeah. I’m used to it now.” 

“Is that so? You appear to have dark circles under your eyes again.”

“T-That’s…”

I’m completely embarrassed.

I want to be treated as a woman in front of Salerio-sama.

I didn’t want him to despise me.

Aside from that, I owe him and his house a great debt of gratitude.

“I apologize for arriving on such short notice. You were busy, weren’t you? “

“No, I was just taking a break.”

I lied.

I didn’t have time to take a break, but I wanted to talk to Salerio-sama as much as possible.

“Okay. How’s work going?”

“Of course…I’m doing everything I can to repay Salerio-sama and the Ratratos family for everything they’ve done for me.”

I’m deeply in debt.

My house used to be one of the capital’s most prominent nobles, but when my parents died in an accident, all of our business ventures were ruined.

I didn’t have time to mourn.

When I was held accountable and demanded a large sum of money, the Ratratos family handled everything for me.

It was probably because we had been close friends for a long time and had been engaged to Salerio-sama from the start.

They saved my life when I was about to be sold.

That is why I want to pay them back.

I became a court grantmaker in order to work and repay the money I was given.

“Well… I know you’re busy, but could you spare some time for me? “

“Yes!”

I’ll be available for hours if it’s for Salerio-sama.

I’d also like to speak with him.

Because of all the work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had a chance to have a real conversation with anyone in a long time.

Spending time with him will take my mind off the stresses of everyday life and the secretary’s harsh treatment.

“I have something important to tell you.” 

“Yes…”

What’s important?

I’m not sure I understand.

Salerio-sama, who is usually cheerful, has a gloomy expression on his face.

Is there something bothering him?

Then I’d like to help figure it out.

I lean forward and listen to what he says, hoping to be of help to him.

Following that,

“Phyllis… I’ve decided to call off our engagement.

“… Eh?”

The words he spoke left me speechless.

Chapter 2: Loneliness

The words I hear are running through my head.

I hope I got it wrong.

With a twitch in my face, I ask Salerio-sama.

“S-Salerio-sama? What you just say?

“I want to break off our engagement.”

The second time was worded more clearly.

I don’t need to listen to it again because it’s so clear.

Even if it’s difficult to believe, the truth is right in front of me.

“Why did you…?”

“… Yes. There are several reasons for this, but first, let me state the facts.”

“Facts?”

Facts?

“Your engagement to me was made when your parents were still alive. It was a political arrangement. The connection with your parents was the only reason our family, the Frelios, stayed the same even when things got tough.”

That is something I understand.

I also understand that our engagement was meant to strengthen the bonds between our noble families.

Despite this, I adored Salerio-sama.

“I became engaged to you at my family’s behest, not of my own accord. To put it bluntly, I do not love you.”

“…!”

I realized.

No, I guess I didn’t realize it.

I was mistaken.

My parents are no longer alive, and my position as a noble is uncertain, but he has always treated me the same way up until now.

Even though our engagement was arranged, I thought he was genuinely interested in me.

I’ve always believed this.

But I was obviously mistaken.

I’m so shocked. I feel like I’m going to lose every ounce of strength in my body.

But the story is far from over.

Salerio-sama continues, as if to put me out of my misery,

“But now I’ve found someone. Yes, someone in whom I have complete faith! Genuine love!”

“T- That’s…”

“Allow me to introduce you. My new fiancée.”

Salerio-sama calls out to the door.

Someone enters.

Please don’t do that.

A new fiancée… I’ll never get over seeing someone like that.

The fact that it’s right in front of your eyes makes it even more real.

“Hello, Phyllis-san.”

“… Raynasia-san?”

She gives me a friendly smile.

” Oh, so you do know each other.”

“Yes, we work at the same court, and despite having different jobs, we can see each other.”

Raynasia Highbell.

It’s impossible not to know her.

She arrived at the courthouse at the same time as I did.

She’s a mage.

She was a year younger than me, a brilliant mage who had entered the court at the age of 14.

It was unfortunate timing.

I was the center of attention because I was the first court grantmaker at the time, and she was never in the spotlight.

She was supposed to be valued and respected more.

Inevitably, she hated me.

Besides, she didn’t like the fact that I was the daughter of a former prestigious aristocrat who was about to fall.

She’s been bothering me ever since I started working.

“Well, that’s a lot easier when you know her. She’s my new fiancée. When I met her, I discovered what it means to truly love someone.”

“I love you too, Salerio-sama~”

deliberately, as if to show off.

She makes a sexy noise while snuggling up to Salerio-sama.

This can’t be happening, I thought.

But that triumphant expression… I’m certain of it.

She took Salerio-sama from me on purpose.

“Wait a second, Salerio-sama! My engagement was promised to Duke Ratratos, and even if Salerio-sama found someone else, it wouldn’t be easy to―”

“Of course, Father already agreed.”

“What…”

“We have several reasons for breaking off our engagement. I just told you that.”

He has a glum expression on his face.

As if we were complete strangers…

“I’ve heard much about your reputation at court. Unlike when I first met you, I don’t hear much good about you these days.”

“T- That’s…”

“You’re always working to a deadline and spending the entire day in the warehouse. You’re not actively spending time with me, your fiancée. To be honest, it’s a problem for my father as well.”

“N-No I…”

Because it’s too much for one person to handle…

I almost blurted out an excuse and covered my mouth as quickly as I could.

They’ll just argue with you more if you make excuses right now.

“She’s brilliant in comparison. I’ve never heard anything negative about her. Her secretary described her as the ideal court mage.”

“Oh, no. I was simply doing my job.”

“Haha, that’s what I like about you.”

“Thank you very much.”

She gives me a look.

She doesn’t say anything.

But it’s conveyed.

I’m in a good mood.

That’s what her eyes are telling me.

“There’s another reason, but… I think that’s enough. Or do you want to hear it?”

“…No.”

“Without a doubt. So, this is probably the last time we’ll see each other. Yeah, you’ll continue to pay your debts. We are no longer related because you and I are no longer engaged.”

“Salerio-sama is a wonderful person. Phyllis-san thanks you as well. Right?”

You don’t have to tell me how grateful I am.

My feelings for him have subsided.

I was reminded that I was, after all, alone.

“…that’s the end of the story, isn’t it? Then… I’ll be back to work.”

“Right. Thank you for everything, Phyllis. I hope you are as content as I am.”

“…Yes.”

“Have a nice day, Phyllis-san.”

Bam

They leave.

with a bang against the closed door.

I’m now alone.

In a very real sense, I was alone.

only me.

“Hick?”

Suddenly, I burst into tears.

When my parents left, I resolved not to cry any longer.

I had to be tough.

I assumed there was no time for crying.

But it’s impossible.

I feel so robbed that even my resolve is shaken.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I muddledly continued to work.

Chapter 3: The Neighboring Country’s Prince

The following morning.

I couldn’t finish it in a single day, so I worked all night in the warehouse.

I haven’t gotten a wink of sleep since.

because I was busy, but also because I was in a state of shock.

I see that scene on the back of my eyelids when I close my eyes to sleep.

“I’m breaking off our engagement.”

Someone I trusted betrayed me.

He’s the only one who believes in me.

I expected him to be there for me at all times, now and in the future.

“So you didn’t have a choice…”

There was no love in the room.

only my one-sidedness, my trust.

Yes, I’m sure he’s not a bad guy. 

despite the fact that he was having an affair with another woman while I was engaged to him.

It’s entirely my fault.

I know.

I get it… But it’s just… This is infuriating.

Above all, I’m angry that it was her.

Is she fantastic?

You only hear good things about her, unlike me?

No, of course not. 

because her workload is less than one-tenth of mine.

She does the perfect amount of work for just one person.

Everyone else does as well.

I work ten times harder, and people complain that I work too slowly or slack off.

That is illogical.

I become irritable as a result of my lack of sleep throughout the day.

In the early morning, I walked through the empty court.

Let’s go back to our room and rest. 

It’s quiet at this time of day because no one has yet arrived at work.

There isn’t anyone… Nobody.

“I wish I could leave the court… all the work they make me do, the nagging, the lack of sleep…”

I expressed my true feelings, hoping no one was listening.

For the rest of my life, I will only use it to pay off my debts.

This sort of thing…

‘I don’t want to…” 

“――Then,why don’t you just quit if you want to?”

“Don’t make this too simple for me. I have debts at home that I must repay…Eh? “

“I see. So the debt is the issue.”

Someone is here. 

I come to a halt and turn to face the voice.

There stood a man I didn’t recognize.

I thought I recognized him because he spoke to me so casually, but I don’t.

“I’ve heard good things.”

“U-Um…”

Did he hear what I just said? 

What should I do?

I’ve spoken ill to the court.

If he’s here, does he work at the courthouse too? 

The Secretary… No, if His Majesty hears this, I’ll be fired for sure. 

“N-No, that wasn’t it…”

“No?”

“…”

I don’t mind if I’m fired.

I was only working here to pay off my debt to the Ratratos as soon as possible.

Marrying a debt-ridden woman would be a disgrace to Salerio-sama.

I wanted to pay it off, at least until the wedding was finalized.

But that is no longer necessary.

You can pay it at your leisure if there is no longer a need to rush.

You are not required to work in a hazardous environment…

“If you want to tell, tell, I… I’m done anyway.”

“Tell? Tell who? “

“To whomever, to the secretary…”

“Why would I do something like that?”

He returns the question.

I cock my head.

Then, with a proud expression on his face, he lets out a small sigh and says.

“I believe you are mistaken; I am not from this country.”

” …Eh?”

“Don’t you see it? This coat of arms.”

He displays his embroidered coat of arms.

It certainly doesn’t belong to this country.

That’s our neighbor’s country, I believe is…

“Istonia’s…coat of arms?”

“Yes.”

“Why would a neighboring kingdom want to come into our court?”

“Of course, I have permission. Or, more accurately, I’ve been invited to visit this country as a guest.”

Guests?

He must be a well-known figure if he enters the courthouse.

Perhaps a well-known noble from another country?

But why would such a person appear in court so early in the morning?

It was, after all, unnatural. 

At this hour, when even the staff had not yet arrived.

He’s definitely not your average guy.

Perhaps he is suspicious.

I was startled and stared at him as I backed away.

“What are you trying to run away from?” 

“Uh… um… I’m not sure who you are, so just in case…”

“I see. Then I’ll tell you about myself. My name is Rayne Istonia.” 

“Istonia, eh?”

Even though I tend to lock myself up in a warehouse, the name rings a bell.

because the name also happens to be the name of a neighboring country.

The name of the country is also the name of the house… This means he’s――

“Y-You’re royalty…?”

“That’s correct.”

“――I’m truly sorry!

I bowed as quickly as I could.

How could I be so disrespectful to a member of the royal family, especially one from another country?

I was determined that I would no longer be able to avoid punishment.

“Don’t be concerned. I’m just walking around by myself. After all, isn’t this your country? Don’t be afraid; instead, be confident.”

“N-No… That’s not the case…”

“Especially you. You could be more dignified, couldn’t you? Phyllis Rielkern.”

I unintentionally raise my head.

I haven’t yet told him my name.

And he even knows the name of my house. 

How does a prince from another land know who I am? 

When our gazes meet, he smiles.

“I recall the names of all the land’s noble daughters. Not because of my will, but because of your father’s.”

He sighs deeply.

“I came here to find a woman to marry.”

“Well…”

“Are you surprised? I suppose so. Why would royalty from another country come all the way here? The answer is simple: I have no intention of marrying right now.”

“Why…”

“If you want to ask a question, look it up first.”

“Y-Yes!”

I immediately straightened up and faced forward.

His Highness mumbles something and then begins to speak.

Chapter 4: Marriages of Convenience

“I have no intention of marrying. But it’s not that I dislike marriage in general. What disgusts me is the attitude of those courting me.”

“Your attitude, sir?”

“Yeah. They’re all over the place, trying to get to me. No one is looking at me. They’re looking at my name, my position, my power…my future. That is not to say there is anything wrong with it… But I’m not interested in marrying someone like that.”

That speaks to me a little.

He appears to have avoided marriage altogether, instead being approached by someone who only sees him as a prince.

He doesn’t dislike it; he just can’t find the right woman for it.

“But my father and everyone around me are urging me to find someone as soon as possible. So I figured I’d just leave the country and find someone else. That’s how I came across you.”

“… Eh?”

I’ve been surprised before, but this was the biggest one yet.

“Phyllis, I’m going to marry you.”

“…”

“Did you not hear me? I said, “Be my wife.”

I did hear you.

Clearly.

I’m just too surprised to say anything.

“W-What exactly do you mean? I’m with His Highness?”

“Yes—I believe you are the best woman for the job.”

“N-No way, I’m not the right woman for this job! Why me?”

“Because the conditions are favorable and our interests appear to be aligned.”

“I-Interests?”

I’m not sure what he’s saying, so His Highness continues to explain.

“You mentioned earlier that you wanted to quit your job.”

“Uh… yes…”

“But there’s a reason you can’t quit so easily. I understand you’re in debt.”

” Y-Yes…”

“I’ll handle the debt for you.”

This is yet another unexpected statement.

I’m afraid I’ve lost sight of what’s unexpected.

“There will be no one to bind you then. Come to my country and become my wife. Things will be very different from how they are now. All I need is for you to play the role of my wife. Isn’t that a good deal?”

“N-no, but I’m just a grantmaker.”

“Not just. You were born into a prominent family and are the first grantmaker in history to be appointed to the court, correct? That’s a good position to be in. It also has political value in terms of cultivating friendships with other countries.”

“I-Is that so?”

Is it acceptable?

I feel like I’m being acknowledged, but I can’t honestly say I agree.

because I have no idea what I’m worth.

“I’m not going to make you do it if you don’t want to. This is referred to as a contract marriage. Either we collaborate for mutual benefit, or we don’t. Choose.”

This is the ultimate choice.

Continue to work at the court.

Alternatively, you could marry a foreign prince.

Your life will never be the same again.

“I――.”

What would bring me joy?

That’s obvious.

***

“――Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”

“…”

My final words were directed at the secretary, who is always so bossy.

I’m going to a neighboring country.

I’m going to marry His Highness and join the royal family.

She had a look on her face that indicated she didn’t like it.

“I completed all of the tasks you assigned to me. Please delegate my work to someone else from now on. Goodbye…”

“W-Wait. Phyllis Reelkan: How did you…”

“I’m under no obligation to respond. And the marriage has already been consummated. I am already Phyllis Istonia. Make no mistake about it.”

“Wait a minute…”

I could see her frustration on her face.

Maybe I have a bad personality.

because seeing that face gave me a little thrill.

“Farewell, my home.”

As a result, I left for a neighboring country.

with a hunch that I will never come back here again.

Chapter 5: I Don’t Know How To Rest

I’ve been in the neighboring country for a week.

” … I’m tired.”

I collapsed into my room’s bed.

I haven’t had any free time in a few days.

I knew it was coming, but every day was jam-packed with formalities, greetings, and wedding festivities.

My days have been just as hectic, if not more so, than when I worked at the courthouse.

I had no idea it was so difficult to act like a royal wife, not just a job.

“You think so?”

“Y-Your Highness!”

I got up in a hurry.

I’ve been seen in a vulnerable position.

“Don’t worry about it; this is your room, and you can do whatever you want.”

“Y-Yes…”

Then don’t come in here without my permission, but…

We’ve only known each other for a short time, but I’m beginning to get to know His Highness.

He’s a free-spirited individual, which you wouldn’t expect from royalty.

He’s a great man, but he acts like he’s not.

That is why so many people adore him.

not just from the nobility but also from the commons.

Now I’m the wife of a wonderful man…

“Your busy schedule ends today; tomorrow you have no plans; you may linger as long as you like.”

“Y-Yes…”

“Yes, that’s right. Just so you know, the Minister has questioned me about your grantmaking technique, and he’d like you to do some work for him if you can.”

“Can I decide that?”

“Of course, you’re my wife now, and the decision is yours to make.”

I can choose whether or not to accept the job.

How could such a fantasy be realized?

“What do you think?”

“I accept. I’m sorry for not doing anything.”

“I knew you’d say that; you’re a serious woman; just don’t overdo it.”

“Yes.”

He then exited the room, handing me a piece of paper with the request written on it.

His Highness, on the other hand, will remain busy.

There will apparently be another meeting.

“Well… the request is quite a lot.”

But it’s all doable in a single day, so there’s still time.

It’s not too bad when compared to the amount of work required by the court.

Beginning tomorrow…

“Well, I’ll begin today.”

I don’t have anything planned after this anyway.

His Highness is working hard, but I feel bad that I am the only one who is taking a break.

The next day,

I paid His Highness a visit in his office around noon.

to provide him with a report.

“May I enter, Your Highness?”

“All right, what’s the problem?”

“I just wanted to let you know that I finished the work you assigned to me yesterday.”

“…It’s already finished?”

His Highness was taken aback.

I was afraid he’d think I was lying, so I quickly said,

“Everything is finished. It’s currently in storage. Would you like to see it? “

“No, it’s fine. I don’t think you’re lying, but… Isn’t it a little early? The minister told me that it would be completed before the expedition in ten days.”

“I see. But it’s a lot less than when I was in court.”

“I see… I thank you for your hard work.”

“Thank you very much. So, what should I do now?”

It was a spontaneous remark.

Now that I’ve completed one task, I’m going to jump right into the next.

Apparently, I haven’t forgotten the work ethic that was instilled in me in court.

His Highness is taken aback.

“You’ve done ten days’ work; please take the next nine days off.”

“Well, I’m sorry to take such a rest.”

“Sorry to whom? You silly. I’m telling you it’s OK. You must be numb from overwork.”

When he said that, he got up and walked over to me.

“You were working in a challenging environment. More than I thought…”

“I’m sorry… I’ve never taken a true day off before, so I’m at a loss for what to do…”

“I don’t mind a hard worker. Work hard and get plenty of rest. And take care of yourself, okay?”

“…Yes.”

He softly whispers and places his hand on my cheek.

I’ve never had someone to care for me before, and I don’t know how to react.

It just made me feel warm on the inside…

My heart is pounding loudly.

It’s a political marriage, and the only thing binding us together are our mutual interests.

But,

I made the right choice.

I’m pretty sure it was.

***

That night, Prince Rayne notified the minister that his request had been fulfilled.

“How did she do so much in one day?!”

“Yes, I heard she did a lot more work over there all by herself.”

“I still can’t believe it. I honestly expected her to refuse that amount for ten days. According to my understanding, it would take a dozen good grantmakers to complete…”

“Is that so? She appeared to be up to the task.”

He told the minister that she immediately asked for the next job.

The minister is even more taken aback.

“Wow, that’s a lot of speed… But, is she all right? The grantmaking technique has the disadvantage of having short-term effects. We set a ten-day deadline, assuming that the work would be concentrated in the back.”

“Hmm? She said it’ll last two months and that she’s also given another grant, so you can look into it later.”

“…Y-Yeah, that’s difficult to believe… If that’s the case, Your Highness, you’ve chosen an extraordinary woman.”

Rayne calmly analyzed, seeing the minister’s surprise.

Phyllis may have deviated from the public’s perception of a grantmaker.

The fact that she could endure the harsh conditions of the court only meant that she was able to do so.

She honed her skills as a grantmaker precisely because of the adversity.”

“Fu, fufu…”

“Your Highness?”

“No, I’m sorry, I’m just imagining it and it makes me laugh.”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“…Now in that country, losing her would have been a huge loss.”

“Certainly.. They’re probably in mourning right now.”

Geniuses do exist.

all over the world, in every field.

However, it is not always the case that they are known to be geniuses.

Like her, there are talents that have been buried as a result of their environment.

It’s like digging for gold.

Rayne has found something of great power and value.

The Genius Grantmaker is Phyllis.

Nobody knows what great things she’s about to accomplish.

Chapter 6: The Disappearance of the Genius

The grantmaker has left the court.

The kingdom’s first court grantmaker has abruptly left for a neighboring kingdom.

The news quickly spreads throughout the court and the royal palace.

It is simply the departure or resignation of a court officer.

Normally, it would have been a rumor rather than a major story.

…It ought to have been.

In Phyllis’ case, it was the most unusual of the unusual.

It’s an unexpected event that deserves all of the attention it receives.

“Did you hear? A neighboring country has pulled Phyllis-san, the grantmaker.”

“This isn’t just a job recruitment. She married a neighboring kingdom’s prince.”

“Isn’t that incredible? Isn’t the Kingdom of Istonia a large country? I’d like to advance from court official to princess of a country too.”

“I’m not sure how she did it.”

This was a hotly debated topic, particularly in the court.

For better or worse, her name was famous.

She was the only grantmaker capable of doing the job well.

In reality, she was just being power-harassed, but those who didn’t know what was going on assumed this was the case.

A productive monster with a sense of responsibility to finish any request on time and give results that go above and beyond what was expected, and a single person who can do more work than other professionals.

She is without a doubt the world’s greatest genius of her generation.

…and.

It is true.

Those who had accidentally trapped her helped her grow by giving her the nourishment she needed.

They would not have created such a monster if she had been allowed to work freely.

As a result of this――

“Isn’t it incredible? If the prince sees her, does that mean her fame has spread throughout the world?”

“I guess so. I kind of admire her.”

“Hey, I wish I’d spoken to her properly.”

“I should have paid her a visit sometime. She would greet me warmly then.”

Everyone on the court was now praising her achievements.

Nobody had ever done anything like this before.

A court official has been elevated to the status of royalty.

That is why they admire and respect her.

But

“…Tsk.”

A loud click of tongues echoes through the corridor.

Slenia, the secretary, walks by while everyone is happily talking about Phyllis.

She could only think of one word.

How could this have happened?

Everything was surprising.

She, the tormentor, had no idea she would marry a neighboring prince.

There were no warning signs, and it could not have been predicted.

Most importantly, it was the neighboring prince who proposed.

There was no reason to turn down an offer from a neighboring country, even if it meant deepening the two countries’ friendship.

It’s all about the court’s position and the future of the country.

She accepted the offer without hesitation and became the princess of a foreign country.

“It makes no sense…”

She had intended to do her a disservice today, as usual.

She herself is in charge of the court’s staff.

It’s stressful because you’re busy and things don’t always go as planned.

Phyllis was the ideal stress reliever.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Phyllis kept Secretary Slenia’s spirit alive.

She’s been a sort of tranquilizer for her, and now that she’s gone, Slenia’s frustration has nowhere to go.

Furthermore, the work for which Phyllis was responsible must be taken over by someone else.

It is currently difficult to find a grantmaker who is a good fit for the job.

She had no choice but to ask other professions to take her place, but the only ones who could were mages.

“It’s unavoidable,”

She was on her way to see the other genius.

She who remains hidden in the shadow of the great genius.

Court Mage Raynasia Highbell.

“…what?”

“Please take this job.”

“Wait, wait a second. What are you talking about? I’m a mage. This is what…”

“Yes, as you can see, it’s part of Phyllis-san’s work.”

On the table is a request form.

According to all accounts, the mountain of request forms was not a task that should have been assigned to a single person.

Raynasia is dumbfounded.

“Why do I have to do that?”

“Because you are the best candidate for the job.”

“What exactly do you mean by ‘best candidate’…There are other mages, aren’t there?”

“Of course, I would ask others to do the same. As I previously stated, this is only a portion of the work that Phyllis-san was in charge of.”

“This is… only a portion?”

Raynasia had no idea how much work Phyllis had completed and how much she had completed herself.

How she had borne more burdens than her genius title alone could bear.

Raynasia never looked behind her as she went about her daily tasks.

Raynasia was, after all, staring at herself in the mirror.

“The delivery date is as written. I’m counting on you.”

“Wait――”

With a bang, the door slammed shut.

She cringes at the loud sound she has never heard before, and her heart trembles at the subsequent silence.

“What in the world… is this…?””

She gritted her teeth as she looked over this mountain of requests.

‘This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,’ Raynasia thinks, and so does the secretary.

There is no longer any need to forecast the future.

It was clear that it was going to be a struggle from this point on.

The court, which had been supported by a single genius, is gradually disintegrating.

Chapter 7: How to Spend a Meaningful Holiday

“… I’m bored.”

I sit idly in my chair, alone in a room in the royal castle, and stare out.

Clouds drift lazily across the blue sky outside the window.

I idly went about my day with nothing in particular to do as time passed.

“I was hoping for a relaxing break, but it’s surprisingly dull.”

I’m not going to tell anyone about it, though.

I mutter to myself and sigh deeply.

A grantmaker’s unusual career path?

I’ve become the wife of a neighboring prince and now a princess of a country.

I still can’t believe it, but living on the castle town’s highest point, I know it’s real.

The first few days in the Kingdom of Istonia have been tumultuous.

Finally, after all of the greetings and the wedding ceremony, I’ve settled down, finished the work I’d been assigned, and gotten the break I’d been looking forward to…

“If you don’t work, you won’t feel comfortable… I think I’m ill.”

That’s not how I’m supposed to be.

I understand that working too much is unhealthy.

Working every day, from early morning until late at night.

It’s natural for me to feel restless in such a beautiful and tranquil setting.

I’m the one who asked for a break, and now I’m turning around to see if there’s any suitable job.

“I wonder if His Highness would be shocked to hear it.”

I recall what His Highness said to me.

I don’t mind a hard worker.

Work hard in moderation and get plenty of rest.

I recall his hand resting on my cheek.

That was a man’s hand.

Big, slightly hard, strong hands hold me up.

This is merely a political marriage.

It’s set up this way for our mutual benefit.

And yet… I’m a little optimistic.

“…Alright!”

I get out of my chair.

I leave my room and walk down the corridor.

I don’t have a specific destination in mind.

I just wanted to go for a walk.

I was afraid that if I stayed in my room, I would spend the rest of the day just thinking unanswerable thoughts.

I think a change of scenery is one of those breaks.

However, I’m not sure if that’s the proper way to take a break because I’ve never had the time for it.

“It’s better than sitting still.”

I think to myself as I walk down the corridor.

Soon I pass a servant, an old man in a butler’s uniform, who bows politely.

“Where are you going, Phyllis-sama?”

“Um, I’m just going for a stroll.”

“I see. Please let us know if you need to leave the castle. We’ll have someone accompany you.”

“Y-Yes, of course. Thank you.”

I ran away as if to escape.

It was just a casual conversation.

He is courteous and respectful.

But I cringed and was at a loss for words, and I don’t blame him.

It can’t be helped, can it?

Because not long ago, I was only a court official.

My nobility was merely a garnish…

一一You must live with the awareness of your actions as a princess of a country.

That is not the same as work pressures.

I am under the impression that I am in a position to be seen.

Everyone in the castle looks at me and becomes humble when I enter.

There were chamberlains, maids, knights, and even nobles.

Royalty is the highest rank in the land.

This is not surprising given that they are the ones in charge of running and governing the country.

I was an outsider just a few days ago, but now I am a member of the royal family.

My past is irrelevant to them.

Because I am currently the wife of Istonia’s first prince.

“Sigh… I’m tired.”

I had rushed out of the castle and was now in the castle grounds’ gardens.

I hide in the shade of a tree and sit down.

There are more eyes on me than I expected.

I am referred to as Phyllis-sama or Madam wherever I go.

I even felt a little depressed, even if they were just trying to be nice to me because I had just arrived and didn’t know what to expect.

I originally planned to go for a leisurely walk.

“I can’t relax like this…”

In a tearful voice, I look up at the sky.

Today is a beautiful day.

The sun is shining, and the trees provide welcome shade.

This mild weather makes me feel sleepier than a soft bed.

My awareness is fading.

“――lis. Phyllis! “

“Y-Yes! It’s almost done!”

When I hear my name, I immediately wake up.

The line that came to mind was one that I used to say at the last minute before the deadline.

“This is not the court, remember?”

“T-That…”

That’s right. I was strolling through the gardens.

I recall falling asleep.

His Highness Rayne, the man who became my husband, was the one who woke me up.

“Your Highness?”

“It’s starting to get late. Were you dozing off? “

“I’m sorry, I fell asleep and then realized…”

“You’re being careless even in the castle. You’re the princess of this kingdom now, my wife, and you should have a sense of danger.”

“Y-Yes…”

The warning jolted me out of my drowsy state.

I can’t even talk back because I’m being told what I deserve.

To begin with, I lack the courage to fight back.

“Why is His Highness here?”

“I went to check on you in your room, but you weren’t there; I was looking for you to see where you’d gone when I found you.”

“You were looking for me?”

“I knew you wouldn’t sit still, and I was right.”

His Highness also considered the possibility of my being outside the royal castle.

The bottom line, he was worried.

He was worried that I wouldn’t know my way around the castle and wouldn’t have anywhere to go to relieve stress.

“I apologize for taking up so much of your time, Your Highness. I’m going back to my room now.”

“No.”

He walks up beside me and sits down slowly.

“Your Highness?”

“I’d like to get some rest as well, so come sit next to me.”

“Y-Yes.”

We sit side by side in the garden at dusk.

Chapter 8: That’s It for Now

The sun is gradually setting.

The angle of the shadows cast by the castle walls gradually changes.

His Highness and I are alone as night falls.

We sit shoulder to shoulder in the garden, under the shade of a tree.

His Highness can be heard breathing beside me.

I can also hear his heart pounding slowly and steadily.

I, on the other hand, am nervous, and my breathing becomes more rapid.

It couldn’t be helped.

I don’t get many chances to get this close to men.

I believe that being nervous is normal.

” Y-Your Highness.”

“Yes?”

“So, um… Your Highness, what did you do today?”

“As usual—Paperwork, meetings with nobility, receiving reports on the current state of the city from knights on patrol, and reviewing the advice of residents who visit the royal castle.”

The works are described one by one in a flowing stream.

Just listening to them made me feel like my head was going to explode.

“That must be a lot of work.”

“Today was one of the simpler days. I didn’t even have time to go outside.”

“I see.”

That was new to me.

Every day, the prince is extremely busy.

And here I am with my selfish image of him as a man going about his business…

What a jerk I was.

I reflect on it now.

“How did it go on your end?”

“Uh…Well… I was…”

It’s difficult to respond after hearing how busy His Highness is.

What have I done all day?

“Nothing in particular…”

I spent the morning in my room and went for a walk in the afternoon, but fell asleep in the garden and realized it was evening.

What a self-indulgent life I lead.

I’m embarrassed to say that I got nothing out of the day.

“You don’t look so happy. Did you not have a productive day?”

“…I think so.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Because I just sat around doing nothing.”

It was anything but fulfilling for me.

Then, with a kind face, His Highness chuckled and said to me,

“I knew it. You’ve been working too hard, you’re not thinking like a normal person.”

“Ugh… That is something I am aware of.”

“Phyllis, do you know? Doing nothing is not always a bad thing.”

“I-Is that so?”

I tilted my head.

Isn’t it a waste of time to spend all of your time doing nothing?

Because I believe so.

His Highness, however, gently denies it.

“It neither creates nor advances anything. If we only look at the outcome, we can conclude that it is a life of laziness and self-indulgence. However, humans are not creatures that can work all the time. Do you know what happens if you work day after day without taking a break?”

“Of course, that means you’ll tire and collapse.”

His Highness nods.

He states the obvious.

“Humans are not all-powerful. Your body and mind will always have limits, no matter how talented you are, how hard you work, or how much blood you spit. When the limits are reached, you come to a halt. We need time to rest in order to avoid this. Rest in moderation so that you can give it your all the next time you work.”

“Moderation…”

I’m not sure how to make it work.

I closed my mouth and cast my gaze downward.

“Do you not know how to relax?”

“Yes…”

“You’re not required to do anything, okay? This is one way to unwind.”

As he speaks, His Highness counts down his fingers.

“You can do nothing all day, play for fun, or pick up a new hobby. Some people rest due to physical exhaustion, while others rest due to mental exhaustion. It is determined by what and where you are tired.”

This comes to mind as I listen to His Highness.

In my case, where am I exhausted?

I’ve only vaguely considered being tired, so it doesn’t come to mind when I think about it.

“In your case, it’s everything.”

“Eh, everything?”

“Yes, you must have been exhausted, both physically and mentally. That’s the type of environment you’ve been in.”

“Exhausted…”

That’s exactly what I was.

My body and mind were exhausted.

Every joint in my body ached, and my mind was foggy.

I spent my days in an environment where I wasn’t even permitted to rest.

“Fatigue builds up. You should rest for more than one day if you want to get rid of fatigue in one day. Years of fatigue have accumulated in your case. It’s become second nature. You won’t be able to get rid of it overnight.”

“Is… is that so?”

“Yeah, you’ve never heard anything like that before, have you? You’re the only one who’s ever said anything about not knowing how to ‘rest’.

“Ha,haha…”

I’ll just laugh about it.

I’m at a loss for words when he points out my abnormality.

“This is your opportunity. Take your time to recover. Until you feel like yourself again.”

“Can I recover…? I’m not sure I can.”

“That is entirely up to you. You don’t have to change if you like yourself the way you are now. What are your thoughts?”

“I’m…”

I was released from my working days.

I’m going on a break.

But I’m not sure how to take a break.

If I don’t have a job, I feel restless unless I’m doing something.

I feel sorry for myself.

I’m not sure if I like myself that way.

I don’t have to consider it.

“I’d like to change it.”

“Yes—Then that’s good for now. It’s good to feel that way.”

“…Yes.”

I’m going to change.

In this country, I’ll be normal again.

Chapter 9: The Twins

You must change.

The day after I made up my mind to do so, I was already feeling broken.

“…I’m bored.”

There was nothing to do today.

As usual, I was sitting in a chair in my room by myself, doing nothing.

I’m so bored that I want to leave the room right now and apply for a job.

“No, no! This is exactly the same as before!”

His Highness said so, too.

There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing as a way to take a break.

My body and mind are exhausted, and I need to rest.

Let’s spend the day here.

Would it be too much to ask you to lie down on the bed again? Is that too much to ask?

Where do you draw the line between adequate rest and self-indulgence?

“Hmm…”

When the room is this quiet, I can’t help but think of trivial matters.

Perhaps I should just go to bed?

I felt better after taking a nap yesterday, and I slept well last night.

I used to believe that napping was a sign of laziness, but it may be necessary to relieve fatigue.

“Then, in the garden again… wait, I was warned it’s not safe to sleep there.”

Then I guess I’ll just stay here――hmm?

I think I just had the feeling I was being watched.

It’s right outside the door.

I quickly turned around.

Then I heard a soft sound, like a door closing.

“Is there anyone there?”

At the door, there was silence.

It didn’t sound like anyone was there.

Was the door slightly ajar, and did the wind close it?

Then I don’t have to worry about it…

” …”

I turn away from the door.

I pretend to think while staring out the window.

The door is faintly reflected in the window glass.

Oh, it’s open now.

When I turn to the window, the door slightly opens.

They don’t make any noise, and someone appears to be peering in without my knowledge.

Isn’t that suspicious?

I had the same thought, but we’re in the royal castle building.

A knight guards every corridor, preventing anyone suspicious from entering.

And the gaze doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable.

I slowly turn around.

The door then slammed shut quickly before I could see who.

Someone is undoubtedly peering in.

“…all right.”

I’m curious who is watching me, so let’s find out.

I folded some paper into the shape of a person.

Then I ‘grant’ it.

Then I dress it up and grant the same.

The preparations are now finished.

Before I make my move, I check the door to make sure it’s closed.

When I turn around, the door slightly opens.

One eye… two eyes?

Four lovely, round eyes peer into the room through the door.

I’m hearing a whisper.

“Did she catch on?”

“She hasn’t yet noticed.”

“Are you certain? She’s been looking this way for a while, hasn’t she?”

“Don’t worry about it. She’s engrossed in a book.”

Sitting in a chair, reading a book quietly.

Both the boy and the girl are relieved to see her.

But, they are stunned the next moment.

.””She’s gone?!””

Suddenly, the character who is reading the book vanishes.

They didn’t take their gaze away from her.

They kept an eye on her so they wouldn’t miss anything.

Nonetheless, she vanished.

No one is there a moment later.

They charged into the room.

One is a boy with short hair, and the other is a girl with long, beautiful golden hair, both of whom are looking around the room.

“She’s vanished!”

“Where has she gone? I’ve been watching the whole time!”

Immediately after, the door slams shut.

They were startled by the sound, and when they turned around, I was standing directly in front of them.

“Huh?!”

“Oh, no!”

I give the two children a soft smile.

“Hello. Do you require anything from me?”

They’re far too adorable to be suspicious.

They’re ten years old or possibly a little older.

They’re about the same age, still children.

I’m relieved that they don’t seem dangerous.

At the same time, I have my reservations.

Why is there a child in the castle?

And they appeared to be vaguely familiar.

“H-How? You were sitting there just a second ago!”

“Could it really be magic?”

“Not exactly. I’m a grantmaker, not a mage.”

“”A grantmaker?””

They have a cute reaction together.

That’s probably not a word that young children are familiar with.

Then, I’ll take the opportunity to teach them a few things.

“Take a look at this chair. Did you see that paper doll?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah.”

“It’s made of folded paper.”

“I gave the doll the ability to resemble me for a short period of time. What you saw wasn’t me, but the phony I made. And then there was me…”

I extend my hand to myself.

My palm emits a pallid light.

“[Transparent].”

“I can’t see anymore!”

“She’s vanished yet again!”

“This is how I hide from you.”

They can hear me even though I’m invisible.

After a few seconds, I interrupt the effect and reappear in front of them.

They both had their mouths open in surprise and admiration.

“This is the grantmaking technique. It can have various effects on objects and creatures. But time is limited.”

“Amazing… This is my brother’s…”

“No, Leo! Don’t admit it so easily!”

“――Oh! That was a close one. Thank you, Lena-chan!”

Lena-chan and Leo-kun?

Is that what their names are?

Those are names I’ve heard before…

“So, you two…”

“Y-you must be Phyllis, my brother’s wife!”

“Brother?”

“We haven’t yet recognized you!”

I remembered suddenly.

Their appearance is similar to that of that person.

These two, I see…

“His Highness Leoness and Princess Lenari?”

The first prince’s younger brother and sister. The twins.

Chapter 10: Is it balanced?

Istonia’s first prince, Rayne Istonia, has a younger brother and sister.

They are 12 years old.

The twins, Leoness and Lenari,

I saw them with His Highness at our wedding.

I didn’t have time to speak with them because of the rush, but I’m pretty sure these two are the ones.

The second prince and the third princess, though still very young, are royalties.

When I discovered who they were, I quickly changed my attitude to one of awe.

But then, I suddenly remembered something His Highness had said to me.

You are now a member of the royal family, my wife.

You have to be confident.

Yes, I’m now a member of the royal family.

I will treat these two with firmness and dignity as Prince Rayne’s wife.

There is nothing to be concerned about.

“Pleased to meet you, Princess Lenari, Prince Leoness.”

In particular, since they are children.

I’m supposed to be treated like an older sister.

with a minimum of courtesy, of course.

“This is the first time we’ve ever spoken in this way.”

“It certainly is!”

“Have you come to see me?”

“Yes! We came to see if you’d make a good wife for Onisama!”

The “ahem” sound effect is almost audible.

Both of them place their hands on their hips and puff out their chests.

I can’t help but smile and relax as I watch their movements.

I’ve always had a soft spot for younger siblings as an only child.

By marrying him, I became a member of His Highness Prince Rayne’s family.

Inevitably, they become my family as well. That means they are also my younger brother and sister.

“I’m glad we got married.”

“W-What are you smiling about?”

Oh, no.

I’m smiling so much that my mouth is open.

“We don’t approve! We don’t approve of you being our brother’s wife!”

“Yeah! Oniisama is ours!”

“Wife… I’m afraid.”

They’re all bravado, but every word they say is adorable.

They don’t seem to approve of me, but that doesn’t bother me. I had a feeling I’d get along well with these kids.

I’ll start by getting to know them a little better.

“Are you both fond of His Highness Rayne?”

“O-Of course!”

“He’s our Oniisama afterall!”

“Yes. Isn’t that why you’re confused? Suddenly, the brother you adore is marrying.”

Someone you care about has been taken from you.

Perhaps that’s how they feel.

I can sense how much they both adore His Highness Rayne.

“How can I obtain your approval?”

“Y-Yes, that’s right! Prove to me that you’re worthy of being with my brother!”

“Worthy, huh… I think so.”

“Onisama is an incredible person! And his wife has to be incredible as well!”

Do His Highness and I have to strike a balance?

As husband and wife, they want me to prove it to them.

The reasons are as cute as ever, even if they don’t make much sense.

“Incredible, is it?”

There’s only one thing I’m proud of.

“Anything?”

“Y-Yes!”

“Well, I’m a grantmaker.”

I couldn’t come up with anything else other than this.

I’m not like the rest of the people.

What I can do is apply different effects to them.

So let’s teach them both about the grantmaking technique.

***

“What? Are Leo and Lena in her room?”

“Yes—They’ve been spying in her room since early morning. I asked them to come in, but they told me to go away. According to the other knights on patrol, they went in together.”

“I see. Thank you for the information. You can leave now.”

“Yes! Please excuse me.”

His Highness Rayne, who was working in his office, sighed.

The papers on the table are not yet completed.

He sat up abruptly after hearing the knight’s report.

“They’re a pain in the butt.”

The twins are messing with Phyllis.

His Highness Rayne understands their personalities better than anyone else, so he can tell you exactly what they’re thinking.

“They’ve mostly gone to see if she’s a good match as my wife.”

That is exactly correct.

The two young children are mischievous and self-conscious.

This is why they may have a negative perception of a sudden marriage.

Furthermore, Phyllis was a reserved individual who always did as she was told.

“I hope they didn’t say anything unnecessary…”

His Highness Rayne hurries on.

As he arrives outside Phyllis’ room, he hears several voices inside.

He can’t hear what they’re saying because the door is closed.

An argument could have caused the noise.

Rayne opens the door without knocking.

“Leo! Lena! What are you――.”

“Wow! I’m floating!”

“Me too, me too! Round and round~.”

” …doing?”

His Highness Rayne was taken aback and rendered speechless.

Leoness and Lenari are floating around Phyllis.

They are apparently playing nicely together.

“Oh! Brother!”

“Oniisama!”

They notice Rayne and quickly move away from Phyllis.

“Look, brother! Look! I’m flying!”

“I’m flying higher than you!”

“I’ll fly higher!”

“Don’t fight all of a sudden—You guys are…”

“Your Highness is here too.”

Phyllis walks towards Rayne.

‘”Y-Yeah. I came to check on them because I heard they were in your room. They’ve adjusted well.”

“Yes—As a result, we’ve become good friends.”

“My brother’s wife is amazing! She can do anything!”

“Exactly as expected of Oniisama’s wife!”

They both now approve of Phyllis.

Rayne is taken aback by the unexpected sight, but he is also relieved.

Chapter 11: Childhood Memories

“Yay! You can’t catch me!”

“That’s not fair, Leo-kun!” 

They have a good time.

His Highness Rayne and I are watching them together.

It’s a very nice scene.

Its mere presence calms me.

“—How did you do it?”

“Yes?”

“I wasn’t expecting you to get along so well with those two. I was expecting them to push you around.”

I imagine being confronted by two children.

It isn’t very cool.

But it is a normal future that could have occurred, and it makes me unhappy.

“Hahaha… I think it’s because they were such good kids.”

“You’re a little naive, but not too dishonest. Didn’t they come here primarily to put you to the test?”

“That’s right.” 

Indeed, the twins.

His Highness appeared to understand what they were thinking.

That’s why he was in such a rush; he had to be worried about me.

This man is truly…

“I’ve spoiled them since they were little. That’s why they’re still so fond of me.”

“I’m afraid so. I asked them about it, and they said they adore you.”

“Right.”

His Highness is both happy and embarrassed.

I was a little surprised that he could make such a face. 

When I first met him, I thought he was an energetic and bold individual, but the more I spent with him, the more my opinion changed.

“They were both surprised when I told them I was going to get married—Well, of course they were. I’ve always declined marriage proposals, and they’d be surprised if I bought a foreign woman with me.”

And I think I’m the most surprised.

It’s still hard for me to believe.

I still can’t believe I’ve been chosen as His Highness’ wife and that we’re sitting here talking.

“What did you do in the end?”

“I demonstrated the grantmaking technique to them.”

“Was it just now?”

“Yes—It’s the only thing I’m proud of.”

They didn’t know much about the grantmaking technique. 

Perhaps that was the source of their keen interest.

Even if you can’t use magic, you can use your special powers.

It is simpler than using magic tools, and the effects can be changed at your leisure.

It’s a power that you can see and experience right here.

“It’s an intriguing way of utilizing grantmaking techniques.”

“This is my first time using it for something like this, but…”

It wasn’t too bad.

The grantmaking method, which I had only used at work before, has led to a result that both kids were happy with.

It is not an easy job.

It’s all about showing them things that will surprise them.

It’s been surprisingly fun to think about how I can surprise them.

“It reminds me of something from a long time ago.”

“How long ago? The court days?”

“No, it happened a long time ago. When I was a young girl.”

I first used the grantmaking technique when I was five years old.

I was unaware of my power until that point, and I used it by accident.

I was surprised at the time.

I wanted to celebrate my parents’ wedding anniversary, so I thought about what I could do in my childish way, and then I discovered that I was a grantmaker.

I recall their surprise when I surprised them with it.

And they were overjoyed.

“Come to think of it, I didn’t hear much. Why did you work at the court? That you were in debt.”

“Yes, it was…”

“I’m not going to make you tell me. We all have things in our past we’d rather forget.”

“…no, it’s no longer a thing.”

I have nothing to hide and I’m not afraid to tell him. 

We are now a couple.

It’s a political marriage, but we’ve become an undeniable family.

Then I want him to be aware of who I am.

in every way for my new family.

I have told His Highness what has happened up to the present day.

How I grew up in a noble family and then lost everything.

I was about to sell myself when the Ratratos and Salerio-sama saved me.

When I was alone again, I happened to meet His Highness on my way home from court, thinking about how to pay my debts.

And now I’m here.

“You’ve had an interesting life.”

“…”

“You are a true gem. I’m surprised you’ve remained unbroken.”

“Your Highness…” 

His Highness’ profile appeared to be smiling.

Very tenderly, very softly.

I’m not sure what that expression means.

“It was just a coincidence that I ran into you there.”

His Highness speaks.

“That was not my intention. To be honest, I could have chosen anyone. I was simply fed up with being asked to get engaged and married. You, too, chose to get out of that environment.”

“…Yes.”

“It’s just, you know, I’m glad you were the person I met there.”

“Your Highness…” 

That surprised me.

Our relationship is unique. 

We didn’t fall in love, we don’t have memories, and we took each other’s hands out of mutual interest.

It will last as long as we both require each other.

I thought the same at the time.

I’d give anything to get out of that hellhole.

But now… No, I’m like him.

“I feel the same way.” 

Whether by accident or miracle

I must have been fortunate to have met and spoken with him.

I think so too.

“We’re a couple now, regardless of how it happened. It might be difficult to spend time together as a couple, but here we are. Let us get along.”

“Yes.”

“Take care of them too. They’re far too mischievous—Keep an eye on them so they don’t get hurt when I’m not looking.”

“Yes, of course. I’m also their big sister now.” 

I am sure this is a happy place for me. 

I just had a little bit of a fuzzy feeling.

I’m still not sure why.

Chapter 12: She Is a Genius?

“Sister! I’d like to fly again!”

“That’s not fair, Leo-kun; I want to fly too! Please, Oneesama!” 

“Okay. But only inside because it’s dangerous outside. His Majesty advised me not to do it outside. Is that all right?”

“”Yes!””

Their cheerful voices rang out throughout the room.

Since then, we have become good friends, and they visit me in my room every day. 

Apparently, I don’t mind a bit of noise.

There is never a dull moment thanks to the two of them.

It also allows me to put my grantmaking skills to the test.

Knock, knock, knock――

A knock on the door is followed by His Highness’s voice.

“It’s me. May I enter?”

“Yes.”

The door swings open.

As soon as they see His Highness, they run toward him. 

Or, to be more precise, suspended in midair.

“Brother!”

“Oniisama!”

“I knew you guys were together. Haven’t you been coming here every day recently?”

His Majesty shakes his head.

He gives me a look.

“I’m sorry, Phyllis.”

“No, I’m having fun, too.”

“I’m glad to hear that—You’re helping me get my work done by keeping them both company.” 

that kind of thing.

His Highness would have kept them company if I hadn’t been there.

Having so much work must have been exhausting.

I have learned in the last few days that His Highness is kind to everyone, but especially to his own family.

“Did you complete your work for today?”

“No, there is more work to be done.”

“I see. So you just want to see how they are doing?”

“That’s one thing, but I came here to see Phyllis.”

“To me?”

His highness utters a single word, “Yes,” and walks over to me, lightly avoiding his twin siblings, who are flying innocently around him.

“Do you recall the previous task I assigned to you?”

“Yes—The granting of equipment for the expedition.”

Come to think of it, more than ten days have passed since then. 

Is it safe to assume that the equipment I gave them has already been used?

I’m confident that the grant was a complete success because I’ve been doing it for years, but I’m curious if they were pleased.

“The expedition just got back. They spoke highly of you. Your grant.”

“Really?”

“Yes. They claim they’ve never had such an easy return from an expedition, and they’d like to request another… What are your thoughts?”

“Yes, of course. I’d be happy to help.” 

I am relieved that they are happy. 

Now that I’ve heard those encouraging words, I’m going to put my all into my next job.

I am well rested and light. 

I believe I can now do my job more quickly and accurately than I ever could in court.

“When will the next one be?”

“It’s early. Not for a while yet. But first, the minister who assigned you to this position wishes to meet with you. We’ll discuss business there.

“That’s fine.”

“Okay. I’ll discuss the specifics with you later.”

His Highness then exits the room.

And the rest of the day was spent with the twins.

***

The next day’s afternoon.

His Highness makes arrangements for me to meet with the minister.

The designated place is the Order’s barracks.

His Highness and I sat across the long desk from each other, with the minister and another strong-looking man opposite us.

“I’m delighted to meet you. I am Minister Morgen, the country’s defense minister. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.” 

“It’s also a pleasure to meet you.”

I take a look at the person beside him.

I assumed the minister was standing next to him.

When he notices my gaze, he opens his mouth.

“Please allow me to introduce myself. I am the Supreme Commander of the Royal Order of Knights. My name is Knight Albert.”

He is the leader of this country’s Knights.

I thought he looked strong by the looks of him, but apparently he’s the Knight Commander.

“My name is Phyllis Ree——Istonia.”

Out of habit, I almost said the name of my old house.

We’ve only been married a short time.

So it takes some getting used to.

“I know for a fact that the knights who took part in the expedition returned safely thanks to Phyllis-sama’s assistance. I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you on behalf of the Order.”

He made a deep bow.

A man who is at least twice my age.

I’m truly sorry; I’m at a loss for words.

“N-No, I was simply doing my job.”

“Phyllis, all you have to do is keep your head up. Don’t I say that all the time?”

“I-I’m sorry.” 

“Hahaha, Phyllis-sama seems like a humble person.” 

Morgen-san lets out a gentle laugh.

He appears to be a good man.

I’ve always found ministers to be pompous, and I’ve never had a good impression of them.

I’m curious if different countries have different personalities in various positions.

“Today, I asked His Highness for permission to speak with Phyllis-sama before asking her for her next job. If you don’t mind, I have a few questions for you.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Thank you kindly. Now, then――.”

Minister Morgen’s question was just a casual conversation.

When did you first learn about grantmaking?

What kind of education did you receive?

What specific responsibilities did you have in court?

I had nothing to hide anymore, so I answered honestly and without hesitation.

“It’s incredible! I mean, you learned all of these skills on your own, without the help of a teacher.”

“Phyllis-sama’s talent must have enabled her to overcome the harsh environment.”

“She is, indeed, a genius. Isn’t this kind of talent uncommon in our country? Your Highness.”

“I suppose so.”

Genius…

I don’t recall ever being referred to as one.

I’d never given it much thought.

I never considered whether or not I had talent.

Chapter 13: Granting Technique Observation

“We’re going to the volcano on our next expedition. There are a few more of us this time than last.”

“Volcanoes. Then heat tolerance is a must. And you’ll need to be able to withstand the dryness and dehydration.”

“You’re very knowledgeable.”

“I have done the same work at the court.”

I’m honestly happy to be praised.

The Knight Commander is older than me, about the same age as my father.

Their appearances and builds are completely different, but they share a similar atmosphere.

I feel at ease speaking with him.

“The needed grants are listed here. The most important ones are listed first, so please give as many as you can.”

“Let me have a look.”

A piece of paper is handed to me by the Knight Commander.

This time, the goal appears to be to defeat the Salamandras. They are fire-breathing monitor lizard demons who live in volcanic areas.

It is a dangerous demon that lives in hot places, including volcanoes, and has an extremely aggressive personality.

They rarely leave their environment and are considered safe as long as they are not approached.

According to the paper, the salamandra population has recently increased and they are coming down the volcano more frequently in search of food.

“Because there is a city beneath the volcano, it would be dangerous to leave it alone. Thankfully, no damage has yet been confirmed, but it is only a matter of time.

Minister Morgen added a few words to the statement.

Defeat Salamandras before its population explodes.

The departure is in a week.

The delivery date will inevitably be pushed back a week.

“I apologize for the short time since last time…”

I scan the list of required grant effects.

The essential items are highlighted, and the remaining items are listed in ascending order.

There are a total of nine effects needed.

Two grants are required for the weapons and one for the “complete armor.”

“Don’t worry. This will only take two days.”

“Two days? Are you sure?”

“Yes—The only problem is that with this many grants, we’ll require more than just armor and weapons. Can you get me some bracelets or other non-obtrusive decorations?”

“Certainly. I’ll ask you again: are you certain? There are more of these grants this time than last…”

Minister Morgen is concerned as he looks at me.

I give him a friendly smile.

“It’s not a problem, it’s just some simple grants.”

“Oh, how comforting—How did you manage to seduce her, Your Highness?”

“Hahaha, that’s a trade secret.”

We married for our mutual benefit.

You can’t possibly be telling the truth, can you?

I simply smiled at His Highness as he smiled back.

“May I ask you a question, Phyllis-sama?”

“Yes—What is it?”

It was the Knight Commander who asked me the question.

“You said it wasn’t a problem earlier, but don’t tell me you’ll be able to grant all of the grants in a short period of time?”

“Of course, that’s what I’ll do… Is something wrong?”

“No, I just find it difficult to believe…”

The Knight Commander was taken aback as well.

For me, I used to grant about nine effects at the same time during my time at the court.

“Phyllis.”

“What is it? Your Highness.”

“You’re not going to overwork yourself, are you?”

“Yes—This is something I can handle. And you’re going to give me another break, right?”

“Yes, of course. I’d like you to play with the twins as well.”

“Yes.”

I don’t mind being busy as long as I get enough rest.

Working is a way of life for me.

You must be able to do it as if it were natural.

I’ve been in that environment.

“If you don’t mind, Phyllis-sama, could you show us a little of your granting technique?”

“Right now?”

“Yes, I’d like to see how good Phyllis-sama is.”

“If it’s possible, I’d like to see it too.”

They both begged.

I cast a glance at His Highness.

The way he looked at me, it was as if he was saying, “It’s your call.”

“All right.”

That doesn’t change anything.

It’s normal for the customer to want to see the work.

I quickly agreed, and we relocated to a new location.

We went to the warehouse where the order’s armor is kept.

There are swords and armor stored there.

I’m just going to do a demonstration this time. So, only one suit of armor is required.

“I’m going to give this armor three effects now.”

“Many thanks for your kind cooperation.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen the granting technique.”

His Highness is with us.

It is not an option to fail.

But, in my time on the court, I have never failed.

“I’ll start.”

My right hand was placed on the armor.

The table then forms a magical circle.

The magical circle rotates from bottom to top.

It moves to take the shape of the armor and then vanishes.

“It’s over.”

“Huh, in a split second?”

“Yes. Each of the three effects has been granted. Would you like to look?”

Half convinced, they checked the effects with a special tool.

The three effects are clearly visible.

They looked at me, surprised once more.

“What an accomplishment… I can’t believe you finished three grants in one sitting and in an instant.”

“This is simple enough. I can grant up to eight effects at once, and depending on the size of the target, I can grant up to twenty.”

“””…”””

Minister Morgen and the Knight Commander are deafeningly quiet.

“Hahaha.”

Only His Highness laughed.

“Well…”

“It’s like it’s so awesome that they don’t even know what to say.”

“I-Is that so?”

Both of them nodded.

To me, this is a standard technique, nothing out of the ordinary… That is exactly how it should be.

Chapter 14: Tea Party for Two

in the afternoon.

The sun shines brightly in the blue sky, and there are no clouds to be seen.

It’s a little hot outside if you do not stay in the shade.

In the gardens of the castle there was a white terrace.

I’m by myself at a table with tea and pastries.

And then he comes.

“I apologize for being late.”

“No, I just got here myself.”

“You’re an awful liar. I saw you from inside the castle. I’ve been keeping you waiting for a long time.”

With these words, His Highness took a seat opposite me.

We look at each other, take a deep breath, and then His Highness takes the floor.

“Shall we then begin?”

“Yes—Today’s tea ceremony.”

Every three days, His Highness and I have a private tea party.

The place is this terrace.

We only talk for about an hour, but it’s a pleasant and relaxing conversation.

“Are you busy with work?”

“Yes, indeed. Today I have a lot of work to do.”

“Is it… Are you okay with this? Having a tea party?

“I can handle it. It always does.”

He is drinking tea the entire time he is speaking.

When you are pressed for time and have little time to spare, you become impatient.

His Highness seemed to be in a hurry even while drinking his tea.

He seems to be very busy these days, and he doesn’t come to my room as often as he used to.

Instead, Prince Leoness and Princess Lenari visit me every day to keep me company.

“There’s no need for a tea party if you’re too busy.”

“That’s not the case. It’s like the customs of this country.”

Spending time together as husband and wife and family has always been a tradition in the Kingdom of Istonia.

It is a way of thinking passed down from generation to generation that wishes for the prosperity of future generations.

Perhaps this is why the Kingdom of Istonia’s population is growing year after year.

“We, the royal family, must lead by example and demonstrate that this is a way of thinking that we want to preserve in the future.”

“That’s why we have tea parties on a regular basis.”

“Oh.”

Make time for each other, no matter how busy you are or how little time you have.

That was the purpose of these tea parties.

I think it’s a lovely tradition and admire it.

But it didn’t appear to be much of a blessing to His Highness, who has been extremely busy.

“To be honest, between you and me, I don’t think this custom is necessary.”

“It’s a little tight for busy people, isn’t it?”

“That’s one reason, but it’s not the main one. Customs… Isn’t it more about peer pressure? We don’t have to take it on faith, do we? If you want to spend time together as a couple, you should think about it. There are all kinds of people in this world.”

What His Highness is attempting to say is clear to me.

to be shown around, to decide that you should do it, and to make time for your marriage.

In other words, we must coerce each other into doing something we do not want to do.

What exactly is a couple? What exactly is a family…?

Is it a relationship that can only last if each person forces the other to act a certain way?

Then that’s the extent of our relationship.

“Other people have their own ways of doing things and spending their time. I don’t believe we should be forced to conform.”

“That is true. I, too, do not want to be forced to fit in.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy myself.

I understand how his highness feels.

When you have your hands full with what’s in front of you and you’re told to do this and that from the sidelines.

When you get an urgent call, you wonder why now?

I’m sure it’s for the same reason.

It’s a shame to be frustrated and not enjoy the opportunity.

“However, if the general public heard what we’re saying right now, there would undoubtedly be a storm of condemnation.”

“Is that so? I think some people would agree.”

“I’m sure there aren’t many. The mindset I just described is the norm in this country, at least. Overcoming common sense requires a lot of evidence and a lot of time. It’s all we can do right now to talk about it in our little world.”

“It’s not a bad tradition, is it?”

“Yes—It’s a lovely way of thinking, in my opinion.”

Spending quality time as a couple and as a family.

I am aware that this is something beautiful to strive for.

That is why changing anything is so difficult.

“Yes—On a completely different note, may I invite my mother and father to tea?”

“Eh…?”

That’s a very abrupt change of subject, and the content bothers me.

“It’s getting late, but have you had a chance to speak properly? My father and the others have been too busy to do anything about it, but I believe it is past time for us to talk.”

“W-Well, you’re right…”

The father of His Highness, the greatest man in the land, and his wife.

We met on our wedding day and exchanged a few kind words.

On the contrary, we have never had the opportunity to talk to each other.

It is said that they are not seen in the royal palace because they are on a business trip outside of the royal capital.

His Highness says they’ll be back in three days.

His Highness suggests a face-to-face meeting, even though it is far too late.

“You don’t mind, do you?”

“Y-Yes! I will give it my all.”

“You don’t have to give your all; just speak normally.”

“W-Well, if you say so…”

The other party is the king in this country, and you can’t help but be nervous.

His Highness is planning in a lighthearted manner.

But will I be able to communicate effectively?

I’m getting nervous now.

Chapter 15: The King and Queen

“Wow!”

“Wait a minute, Leo-kun!”

In my room, the twins are happily playing.

It’s a familiar sight now, and I’ve learned to relax and enjoy myself.

The mind is at ease as well.

“His Majesty and the Queen—I wonder what they are like…”

You get used to it, and it loosens you up.

I let my mind wander to the words, not realizing two kids heard them.

“Father?”

“Okaa-sama?”

The two small children who were playing have stopped and are staring at me.

I realized this and smiled deceptively.

“Has Phyllis-onesama met Otoo-sama and Okaa-sama?”

“Despite the fact that you’re my older brother’s wife?”

“Well, I’ve said hello to them. But I haven’t had a chance to properly speak with them. I’m supposed to have a tea party with them at noon today.”

“”Tea party!””

These two are as in sync as they have ever been.

Didn’t His Highness inform them about the tea party?

They both respond well.

Yes, His Highness’ tea party will take place today at noon.

I was nervous for a few days, and the day came and went in an instant.

His Highness has been extremely busy since then, and we haven’t had much time to talk.

That’s why I’m still nervous.

The tea party hasn’t even begun.

I guess that’s one of the reasons it leaked into my voice.

“The tea party my brother was talking about was today!”

“Can we also take part?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know; could you please inquire of His Highness Rayne?”

“I understand!”

“I’m sure my brother will say yes!”

If these two energetic kids could come to the tea party, it would help to calm my nerves.

Over the last few days, I’ve felt like I’ve gotten to know them even better.

I now address them both by their nicknames, and I believe our hearts have grown closer.”

“What do you think of His Majesty and the Queen, Leo-kun and Lena-chan?”

“Father, you have a beard!”

“B-Beard?!”

Leo-kun’s response exceeded my expectations.

I recall His Majesty’s having a magnificent beard on the chin and under the nose, but…

The first answer to a question about his father was a beard.

I was hoping to hear something more typical.

“Okaa-sama is a wonderful person!”

Lena-chan informed me.

Yes, that’s what I was hoping to hear.

“But she’s terrifying when she’s angry…”

That’s not what I was hoping to hear…

She must be terrifying.

Not only Lena-chan, but also Leo-kun, appeared terrified.

I’ll have to do everything I can to keep the queen happy.

“How does His Majesty appear?”

“A beard!”

“… a beard, isn’t it?”

The two kids treated him like a beard. I feel a little sorry for the King.

Is that how much they adore their children?

On the plus side, His Majesty may have a good sense of humor and be a nice person.

I’d be grateful if that were the case.

His Majesty Rayne is sweet and friendly, and Leo-kun and Lena-chan are good kids.

Their parents must be good people.

That is what I tell myself as I wait for time to pass.

Then comes the afternoon.

Lunch is finished, and my stomach’s feeling of fullness has subsided.

Today, there are five of us on the terrace where His Highness and I usually meet.

His Highness and I are seated next to each other, with Leo-kun and Lena-chan on either side of us.

His Majesty Bergen Istonia, His Highness Rayne’s father, is seated across from me.

And the lady with the blond yellow hair sitting next to him is Queen Celsia Istonia.

His Majesty’s wife and mother of His Highness Rayne.

They appear to be very dignified together.

In particular, His Majesty… with his valiant beard and piercing blue eyes.

“I appreciate your coming, even if you are tired—Father and mother.”

“Oh, no worries.”

“Rayne, you look great.”

“There has been no change.”

His Highness and the two of them continue their conversation indifferently.

Is the air a little suffocating?

Leo-kun and Lena-chan, who are always full of energy and vitality, are seated quietly.

“Now that we’re on time, shall we begin?”

“Wait a minute, Rayne—Allow me to tell you something.”

His Majesty’s mouth opens.

He appeared to be about to deliver a sermon.

I gulp.

“――It’s difficult.”

… Huh?

“It’s too difficult, Rayne. There’s a tea party going on. Can’t we talk more comfortably?”

“…Then do something about your solemn expression and beard, dear.”

“I can’t pull off the beard. I can’t help myself.”

“Can’t you at least try to smile a little more? Look. Phyllis-san is nervous now that you’ve arrived.”

In a gentle, calm tone, the Queen advises His Majesty.

His Majesty bows his head and apologizes.

“I apologize. I became nervous as well. This is the first time I’ve spoken with my son’s wife. I was trying to show some dignity as a father… Is it possible that it had the opposite effect?”

“Father, your face is terrifying!””

“Otoo-sama’s beard is growing again!”

“Darn it… Because the beard grows back the moment you shave it.”

Leo-kun and Lena-chan, who had been silent until now, begin to speak as well.

The terrace, which had previously been filled with tension and silence, now transforms into a bright and pleasant space.

I’m still the only one who is unable to keep up with the pace of change.

The change from the formal atmosphere at the start perplexes me.

Then His Highness says to me,

“Everything is fine as usual. They both welcome you.”

These words are encouraging to me.

Chapter 16: Family’s Coziness

“Once again, I am the king of this land, Bergen Istonia.”

“I’m his wife, Celsia. I apologize if my husband’s face and beard frighten you—he may appear frightening on the outside, but he is extremely timid on the inside, so don’t be afraid.”

“I am not a coward! I am the bravest man on the land!”

“Which part? You cry to me when you’re away from home and can’t sleep alone. “

“S-Stop bringing it up! — You make me look bad in front of the kids!”

His Majesty abruptly interrupted the Queen, but it was too late; I had already heard almost everything.

Not only did I hear it, but so did Leo-kun and Lena-chan.

“Father, can’t you sleep alone?”

“We can’t sleep alone too!”

“You act like a child!”

“You act like a child!”

The twins’ innocent mouths were let loose.

These are very effective words for an adult majesty.

Especially if it came from his own child.

“Darn… I’ve lost my fatherly dignity…”

“Give it up, father.”

“Rayne… You think it’s someone else’s problem, don’t you? You must be prepared for this to happen at some point.”

“No, I will not. I have an excellent role model in front of me.”

“You’re so cheeky… You’re my son.”

“It’s because I’m the son of my father.”

While watching their conversation, I think of His Majesty and His Highness Rayne.

I understand what the Queen meant.

His Majesty may appear frightening and majestic, but when I hear him speak like this, he appears to be a normal person… a bit like a timid father.

And the Queen.

“Dear. When you get angry like that, people call you childish. Be a little more mature and stand up for yourself. I’m also embarrassed.”

“I-I’m sorry…”

“Please do not apologize and strive to improve, okay? How often have you done this?”

“I’m terribly sorry.”

The hierarchical relationship between husband and wife is obviously clear.

His Majesty is the head of state, but the queen is in charge of the relationship.

He’s both a husband to his wife and a father close to his children.

I feel myself relaxing as I listen to their conversation.

Suddenly, I come face to-face with the queen’s gaze.

“I see you’ve calmed down.”

“Y-Yes. Thank you very much.”

“You don’t need to thank me. We’re just doing what we normally do.”

“Right? You are free to be yourself. That’s the type of person we’d like to see.”

“…Yes.”

Thank God, I think to myself.

I imagine kings to be more formal, almost oppressive, when you talk to them.

And he is the head of state.

That’s how much of a character he is.

That’s why I was prepared.

But their gentle smiles tell me that I didn’t have to be ready.

The fact that His Highness does not act like royalty is most likely due to their influence.

The tension is completely gone.

“Have you gotten used to life in the castle yet, Phyllis-san?”

“Yes.”

“How are things going with Rayne? He’s a self-centered jerk. I’m worried you’re being pushed around.”

“N-No, he’s been very nice to me.”

My answers are truthful.

Life in the castle has been perplexing for me, but His Highness, Leo-kun, and Lena-chan have made me feel at ease.

I believe I get along well with His Highness Rayne.

Even though I am his wife through a political marriage, he is always attentive to me.

I felt the selfish side of him when he made me his wife, but that’s okay because I know he’s not a bad person despite that.

“Still, I can’t believe it. Rayne has always been hesitant to marry, and now he’s bringing his own wife.”

“I know. What made you change your mind?”

Their gazes turn to His Highness, Raine.

His Highness responds firmly while gracefully sipping his tea.

“Of course, because I felt it was destiny for me to meet her.” “.

“Destiny? That’s not typical of you. Is there something more to it?”

“There isn’t a backstory or a frontstory.”

“I hope so, Phyllis-san.”

Her Majesty calls my name and speaks to me.

in a soothing tone.

“You say that, but what about you? How do you feel about the marriage to Rayne?”

“How… I mean.”

They’re casting doubt on our relationship.

That’s true.

Out of the blue, he takes a woman they have never met before and makes her his wife.

It should strike you as unnatural.

But if you ask me how I feel about it, I can tell you honestly.

“I am happy to be here in this country.”

My marriage to His Highness Rayne is meaningful.

However, there is no love there.

Regardless, I met him and was led to a country where I obtained what I desired.

I got a break: the freedom to choose my own job, good times, and a lively younger brother and sister.

If I examine myself objectively now and respond to this question.

I am very happy.

“…I see. I suppose it’s an unnecessary worry.”

“It’s not unnecessary. That’s the duty of parents.”

“Well, Phyllis-san, once again, welcome to our country. And we welcome you wholeheartedly to our family.”

“If you need any help, you can talk to me, okay? I’m always available.”

My heart trembles when I hear the word “family.”

I tried to cope with the loneliness of losing my family by myself.

As I can see now, it was one of the reasons why I devoted all of my time to work.

That is why I think from the depths of my soul.

“Yes.”

I sense the comfort of family.

Once again, I am happy to be in this country.

Chapter 17: What You Don’t Realize Until You Lose It

Things that were previously taken for granted.

The more someone is always nearby, the more you miss them when they’re gone.

They have become a part of you, a part of the room.

Then, you look at the hole that has been left behind and feel emptiness.

“…What the hell?”

Secretary Slenia is irritated.

The reason is obvious.

Her footsteps approached her.

“Raynasia-san! The requested item has not been delivered! It’s already three days after the deadline!”

She walks into the room without knocking.

Raynasia is startled and looks at her with fear in her eyes.

“Yes, I’m sorry. It’s going to take some time…”

“Didn’t you say the same thing yesterday? It must be completed on time. Please carry out your responsibilities as a court employee.”

“Huh…”

(Then you should consider the workload more carefully.)

Raynasia was tempted to complain, but she restrained herself.

They’ll simply argue with you.

because there was a person with a track record of getting things done without a hitch.

Phyllis Reelkan

She had single-handedly done many times the work Raynasia was doing.

Is there a distinction between a grantmaker and a mage, two very different occupations?

No, there was a significant and profound difference in their abilities.

This is clearly felt.

The same genius, but of a different caliber.

“You can’t even do this, and you’re working at the court. Aren’t you ashamed?”

“…”

She’s unable to respond.

Then, the sound of the door opening is heard, as if to protect her.

“Aren’t you ashamed of it, too?”

“――What?”

“Salerio-sama!”

Salerio Ratratos.

He is the next head of House Ratratos and is currently engaged to Raynasia.

He held a high position among the nobility and was one of the few who had unrestricted access to the court.

“What do you mean?”

“It literally means what it says. I’m saying you’re the one who has difficulty getting things done.”

“With due respect, sir, I believe I have it under control. I make certain that the workload is distributed properly and without delay――.”

“On what basis is that? Obviously, dividing the work of another job among people who already have jobs increases the workload. You should not rush into anything, but rather suggest a reasonable timetable.”

Salerio keeps going.

Using plausible deniability as a weapon.

Her primary responsibility as secretary is to manage the schedules of all court employees.

Other responsibilities include ordering materials and merchandise as well as taking requests.

She evaluates the situation in the field, determines whether a request can be granted, and then issues an order to the field staff.

In other words, if her judgment is incorrect, the site will fail.

If anything, Slenia should have known.

only because they used to have a grantmaker here, and she knows how much work awaits her.

Slenia assigned her the tasks that would have been difficult for a single person, but she got them done with no delays.

With the disappearance of the woman who had supported the court, it was impossible to conduct business as usual.

Salerio points out the negligence of the secretary, Slenia.

“I-I am solely responsible for this site. I don’t need you, an outsider, to tell me what to do.”

“I’m not an outsider. The Ratratos family has been funding court staff for generations. Do you know what that means?”

“T-That’s…”

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear what you just said. You should pay attention to the voices on the field once more.”

Slenia doesn’t respond and walks out of the room in silence.

Salerio sighs in the quiet room.

“Thank you very much, Salerio-sama.”

“Raynasia.”

“As Salerio-sama mentioned, it’s a problem for her as well.”

“You too, Raynasia.”

“What…”

The air is heavy again.

A cold look and a cold voice emanate from Salerio.

“I covered you in my position, but it’s also true that you’re slow, isn’t it?”

“W-Well, that’s… The workload is just too much.”

“I heard Phyllis did this all by herself. She never missed a deadline. And by “never missed” I mean… Now I’m sure she was very good at it.”

“S-Salerio-sama…”

Raynasia disliked Phyllis.

She disliked the attention she was receiving.

That’s why she interfered.

Taking Salerio away from her was just another way for her to be undermined.

She didn’t love Salerio.

But she had the mistaken belief that Salerio had abandoned Phyllis because he was in love with her.

But he didn’t.

“No, it’s no different than Phyllis. I think I made the wrong choice.”

Raynasia wasn’t the only one doing calculations.

Salerio didn’t love her from the beginning either.

Which is better?

Raynasia was only chosen because he had a choice between the two.

There is no love there.

What he truly desires is not the beloved.

a limb that serves him well.

A competent subordinate, one who has the power to set herself apart.

To put it another way…

A useful servant.

“…Let’s move on.”

He’s staring off into the distance.

A former fiancée who was married in a foreign country comes to mind.

Chapter 18: Do You Want to Go Back?

“Phyllis, we have another job for you.”

“Thank you very much. I accept.”

“I still haven’t told you what it’s about.”

“Isn’t this a job for Minister Morgen? If so, I can accept it because he’s taken my health into account.

His Highness and I spend time together at our regular tea party, relaxing and talking about work.

Since then, Minister Morgen’s requests have been coming in on a regular basis.

I believe he trusts me more now that we’ve had the chance to talk and observe my grantmaking technique up close.

I am happy to say that I have a good reputation among the Knights.

And neither the minister nor the commander ever asked me to do work that would endanger my health.

I don’t even have to ask what they want from me if they ask me to do it again.

“I’ve recently begun to enjoy my work a little more.”

“Was it ever different before?”

“Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it.”

Even though I chose the job, I never thought it was enjoyable.

I couldn’t afford it.

partly due to the workload, but also to the fact that I was in debt.

The only reason I can still keep going on is because I owe money.

I need to pay off my debt as soon as possible.

This sense of urgency was always present in my mind.

There’s no need to worry about it right now.

Nobody would blame me if I declined the job.

“If you’re having fun, you don’t have to stop. So do me a favor.”

“Yes, with pleasure.”

“I appreciate that. I’m gonna go now.”

“Already?”

His Highness rises from his seat.

The tea party has a set start time but no set end time.

It is always at least an hour long.

However, time has been getting shorter and shorter.

It’s especially early today.

“I’m sorry. I still have a lot to do, and if I don’t return soon, I won’t be able to complete it.”

“I understand… I wish I could help.”

“It’s the prince’s job. It’s not something he should leave to others, and it shouldn’t be.”

“――!”

My heart aches.

Why?

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Yes, don’t push yourself too hard.”

“Yes.”

As I watched him walk away, I placed my hand on my chest.

Why was my heart ache?

I thought about it, and the answer came quickly.

“Like a stranger… I think…”

That remark saddened me.

Despite the fact that we were married, I was still a stranger to him.

I thought we were getting to know each other.

I had the impression that we were getting closer.

However, in the end, our relationship was…

“…I suppose it’s just a formality.”

When I think about it, I get sad for no apparent reason.

Didn’t you realize it?

That day, we joined hands for our mutual benefit.

A union of interests.

A union founded on logic rather than emotion.

You become husband and wife because you love each other.

That is the definition of a normal relationship, and we are far from it.

And we’ll be doing this for the rest of our lives…

“I’m not sure if it’s a luxury.”

I consider the future.

because I’m happy now.

It appears that I am more of a luxury seeker than I previously thought.

because I expect a happier time than now.

***

“Thank you for your hard work. The knights were very pleased.”

“I’m glad I could be of service.”

I happened to run into Minister Morgen as I was walking down the corridor.

We struck up a brief conversation, during which the minister complimented me on my work.

It’s a little embarrassing to be standing in the middle of the corridor, but it’s nice to be complimented.

“Please let me know if you need me again.”

“Yes, it’s great to have Phyllis-sama here in the country; there aren’t many people with her talent.”

“I’m just doing my best.”

“Please don’t be modest. I’ve seen many talented people in my line of work, and Phyllis-sama is one of them. She’s also a hard worker who excels at developing her talents.”

I’ve never received a compliment like this before, and I’m too embarrassed to respond.

As for me, I have only done my job, which is natural.

In court, I was always reprimanded and never praised.

So I’m even puzzled at being praised for doing something that I should be able to do.

What exactly is normal?

The only thing that is certain is that…

The more praise you receive, the more enthusiastic you will be about the next task.

“Our neighboring country must be in trouble with all this talent gone.”

“…What do you think of that?”

“Oh, you didn’t feel very comfortable there, did you?”

How I’ve been treated at court.

His Highness Prince Rayne is the only person in the country who is aware of the full scope of the situation.

The minister knows nothing.

As a result, this question is not asked maliciously.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“…I was just wondering if you wanted to go back?”

The question catches me off guard, and my body reacts accordingly.

“Go back to…?”

“Yes—I can’t discuss this kind of topic in front of His Highness, but Phyllis-sama recently worked in a neighboring country. Her life has drastically changed since then. You must have had acquaintances in your home country. You have attachments to your birthplace. It’s not surprising that you want to return.”

“I’ve never…”

I never wanted to return.

That country has left an impression on me.

There are more painful memories than pleasant ones.

The majority of them are court memories.

On the contrary, with the exception of my time in court, it may not have been so bad.

There were definitely times when I was happy with my parents.

I sometimes wish I could go back in time.

But my real family is no longer with me.

and can only reminisce about our time together fondly.

Chapter 19: Reunion

“I apologize; I didn’t mean to hold you up.”

“No, it was also nice to talk to you.”

“I’m glad to hear it! Yes, please don’t tell His Highness what I said earlier; he’d be furious if he found out, wouldn’t he? ‘Don’t say anything unnecessary to my wife.’”

“Fufufu, I understand.”

Minister Morgen bows once and walks away.

I look at his back.

“… I doubt he’d say that.”

I murmur from afar in a voice that the minister cannot hear.

There is no overarching love between us.

There isn’t any love.

What binds us together is… It’s not about feelings.

“Want to go back? I don’t know…”

I didn’t need to think about it because I definitely didn’t want to go back.

I recall painful memories.

To escape from such a place, I took His Highness’ hand.

But what if the viciousness of the environment improved?

What do I think?

“…That is not going to happen.”

That’s exactly what I didn’t need to consider.

The court is not going to change now.

I’m confident it won’t.

***

The day came quickly.

As usual, we had a peaceful time.

“You have a visitor, sister!”

“Me?”

“That’s what he said! A nobleman from another country. His name is――.”

Lena-chan told me the name of the guest.

“Well…”

I had a suspicion.

I would not like to meet a guest from a neighboring country, my home country.

Nonetheless, it exceeded my expectations.

No, why?

I’m bothered by doubts.

“Oneesama?”

“――Thank you, but where is he?”

“He’s waiting for you in the waiting room!”

“The butler will summon him soon.”

Knock-knock.

A knock comes at the door.

As Lena-chan mentioned, I received word from a servant that I had a guest.

He apparently entered the country through the proper channels.

If he’s come this far, His Highness must have heard about it.

His Highness would…

You are not required to meet with him if you do not wish to.

I believe he would say that.

But I couldn’t help but be intrigued.

What is someone I thought I’d never see again, someone who nearly traumatized me, doing here?

That’s what I was curious about.

So I made the decision to meet him.

***

I reach the waiting room.

Take a deep breath.

I enter the room after knocking on the door.

“Good day, it’s been a while.”

“…Yes.”

Our gazes lock.

I still feel a refreshingly bright atmosphere.

It used to appeal to me.

I treasured it.

But I was betrayed…

“It’s been a while, Salerio-sama.”

“Haha, I’m not sure how I feel about you addressing me (as ‘sama’) now.”

“If you say so, then so does Salerio-sama.”

“Yes, it was not the right attitude to have toward a woman who is now a princess of a country, and I sincerely apologize.”

I received an empty apology.

In my eyes, he’s not really sorry.

There have always been times when I don’t know what this person is thinking.

He appears friendly, but I’m not sure what he’s thinking behind his eyes.

That explains why I didn’t recognize it.

And the fact that he abandoned me in favor of Raynasia-son’s hand.

“Why don’t you take a seat?”

“Yes.”

We were facing each other.

Ex-fiancées, across the border.

I never imagined this opportunity would come my way.

“What brings you here? You came to me… It’s not like that, is it?”

“Oh, I’m here for another reason; I’m here on His Majesty’s behalf, so I’m treated well; it’s good that you’re here so I can talk to you.”

“… What are you doing?”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“My relationship with Salerio-sama has come to an end.”

The moment he betrayed me that day.

We had become strangers.

But… Why are you staring at me like that right now?

like when we were engaged.

The warm, kind eyes you had when I trusted you?

“Phyllis, I have something important to tell you.”

He starts.

He used the same words when we said our goodbyes that day.

“Will you come back to me? To the court.

“――!”

My heart and body are in turmoil.

“What kind of joke is that?”

“I’m not joking. I’m serious.”

If that’s the case, I’m baffled.

I’m sure he knows it as well.

I…

“Do you think I… want to go back?”

“Yes, I understand. I understand you don’t want to return to your old environment, so we’re going to improve the working environment.”

“improve?”

“My family donates a lot of money to the court. That’s why I have influence. If I act, your treatment will improve.”

He says it with pride.

I was aware of the Ratratos family’s generosity to the court.

That’s why he could come and go as he pleased.

His proposal has merit.

That is not to say it is impossible.

But that’s why, I think.

“Why would I want to? Why are you telling me this now? “

If you could do that, why haven’t you done anything so far?

You’ve seen more of what I’ve been through than anyone else.

“I sincerely apologize. This is something I should have done sooner.”

“What…”

It’s far too late.

“I know it’s late, but you’ve been a tremendous help to us; I wish you’d return; you didn’t really want to come here, did you?”

“What are you…”

“Don’t play dumb. There’s a reason for this… Did he hold onto your weakness? If not, it doesn’t make sense. You, marrying the prince of this country.”

He gives me a cold stare.

Threateningly.

Was he listening to our conversation?

I don’t think so…

It was just me and His Highness.

But he has his doubts.

About our relationship

“I hate to say it this way. But you are now a traitor who has fled the country.”

“T-Traitor?”

And that’s how it’s told.

After I left the court.

Chapter 20: Even if It’s a Lie

“What would you expect the court to look like without you?”

“…”

“Do you not understand? I believe it is quite simple.”

I remain silent.

It’s expected.

The task I was working on has been delegated to someone else.

Raynasia-san, a mage, is one possible candidate.

Only a mage is closest to the grantmaker’s role and can achieve comparable results.

Plus, she was called a genius.

There is no one better suited to fill the unexpected vacancy.

So, assuming that’s the case,

She is not getting around to it, is she?

“Is it for the sake of Raynasia-san?”

“It’s not for her; it’s for you. It must be difficult to live in a strange country; wouldn’t you rather live comfortably in a place you’re familiar with?”

“I can’t fathom that.”

“Don’t be concerned. I’ll see that it happens. We needed you. We want you to return. His Majesty wants you. And I want you to come back.”

I frown. Why is His Majesty’s name mentioned in this context?

It makes my heart freeze.

“His Majesty has heard the tales from the court and he’s a little angry.”

“…Why would His Majesty?”

“Of course he is, because you abruptly left the job, which His Majesty did not anticipate. The court cannot function with only one person missing.”

So things aren’t going so well after all.

But are you saying it’s my fault?

Isn’t it too farfetched?

“It’s not too late. Let’s go back to the country. You don’t really want to be the wife of someone you don’t like, do you?”

“…”

The story of Salerio-sama was half a threat.

If His Majesty’s wrath is not appeased, I will never be able to return to that land.

Not only that, but

My husband is a prince of this country.

If things continue to deteriorate, this could become an international issue.

I can imagine a dangerous future.

The size of the country alone is probably twice the size of Istonia.

If there is a conflict, this country will…

“This is for your own good.”

I’m frustrated.

What’s good for me?

And what do you know?

All of this is a lie.

And now you’re attempting to deceive me once more.

After being deceived, I can’t believe it now.

He just needs to talk me out of it and let him have his way again.

But I can see through his deception.

In retrospect, he’s the most obvious person I’ve ever met.

I couldn’t read his mind because I trusted him before.

I was in love with him.

But I have no feelings for him now.

So I’ve learned my lesson.

everything this thin-skinned man thinks about.

“…I――”

Just before I open my mouth, the door opens.

There was no knock, just a quick run.

It generates a lot of noise.

“Sorry I’m late.”

He’s coming.

The prince of this land, my husband.

“Your Highness!”

“Prince Rayne…”

His Highness enters the room.

He’s breathing a little laboriously, possibly because he’s running.

Salerio-sama and His Highness exchange glances.

“I didn’t mean to call on you…?”

“Should I not come unless called? This is my country, this castle is my home, and――.”

His Majesty takes a step closer.

Rush to me.

His hand rests on my shoulder.

“This is my wife.”

“――!”

“…”

Those words… I’m not sure how much of them are true.

I’m not sure, but my heart is racing.

“My wife is seeing a man on her own. That was something I couldn’t let happen.”

“I have her approval.”

“No, you do not have approval to speak to her alone; as I previously stated, this is my castle.”

“I’m a guest, aren’t I?”

“Yes, I know. But, haven’t we already discussed this? I thought I heard you say you were returning to your home country soon.”

His Highness looks at Salerio-sama.

It appears that he had previously spoken to His Highness for the original purpose.

He did not know that he would meet me afterwards.

He appears to be upset, in my opinion.

Is it because he was lied to?

Or…

“This is my royal castle. It is not a place where outsiders can move freely, even as guests. Or is that the norm in your country?”

“… I’m sorry about this. I had a personal relationship with her.”

“I understand. Then you must be more careful from now on. She is my wife now, Phyllis Istonia. Don’t think of taking her without my permission.”

His Highness smiles.

“… Were you listening?”

“No, but I can guess: you were probably hitting on her to get her back, but you got dumped.”

“I haven’t heard back yet.”

“I see. Then let’s hear it now.”

His Highness makes direct eye contact with me.

more serious than ever before.

“What do you want to do with Phyllis? Do you want to go back?”

“I…”

“You can be honest; don’t think about your country or about me; think about yourself.”

as if he was aware of my problems.

When you say it like that, there is only one answer.

I――

“I don’t want to return.”

“Alright.”

His Majesty smiles.

For the first time, he smiles innocently.

“So. I’m going to ask you to leave.”

“…Do you understand? Our king is upset that she ran away.”

“No, your king has agreed to my marriage to Phyllis in the papers, and even if it was a mistake, how can you say that after the fact?”

“Is that… Is that a statement as a country’s prince?”

“Of course. I am Rayne Istonia, the first prince of the Kingdom of Istonia, and what I say is the will of the royal family of this country.”

He expresses himself clearly and unequivocally.

He says the Kingdom of Istonia will not give me up.

He states it.

I almost feel my chest tighten when I realize what it means.

“I understand, and I will inform His Majesty of what you just said.”

“Get it done.”

Salerio-sama leaves.

The next time… No, if we meet again, I’ll stand tall as well.

As a member of the royal family.

I will not be ashamed to be the wife of His Highness Rayne.

“Did I impose too much of my will?”

“No, thank you…”

It’s invigorating.

He said everything I wanted to say.

I was too afraid to say it, but he put it into words for me.

I was also surprised at myself.

I can’t believe I’m okay with him speaking on my behalf.

“Your Highness…”

“Hmm? What is it?”

“…No, it’s nothing.”

I’d like to know what he really thinks of me.

I’m curious, but I’ve decided to refrain for now.

Part of me is hesitant to ask.

However, it could have gone either way.

It makes no difference whether this is a fake relationship or a fake couple.

Because I love this place right now.

Chapter 21: New hobby

“It’s another beautiful day.” 

I take a seat on the garden terrace with a cup of tea, enjoying the cool breeze.

A brief respite

I’m in complete peace and am not being disturbed by anyone.

A life free of hard work and malicious harassment.

What a blessing.

“Sorry, I’m late.”

“No, I just got here myself.”

“How many times have you lied to me?” 

“How many times? I’ve lost count.”

Afternoon tea with His Highness

We meet for tea at a set time every three days.

It is a rule based on national traditions, the importance of the family, and the couple.

His Highness has refused to be coerced into it, but I don’t think it’s wrong to value family time.

Even if it’s a fictitious couple, this type of time is crucial.

“Have you been working hard today?”

“More than usual. But on my way out, I ran into Loe and Lena. They begged me to join them in their game.”

“Fufufu, is that so?”

His words gave me an idea of what was going on.

Princess Lenari and Prince Leoness.

The twins adore their older brother, His Highness Rayne.

His Highness has a soft spot for his family as well.

He was probably unable to refuse their invitation to play with him.

Naturally, the reason he’s smiling makes me happy.

“And how about you?”

“Same as usual.”

“Are you as bored as you usually are?”

“Not to the point where I can’t stand it.”

I am more accustomed to life in this country than I was when I first arrived.

At first, I was a stranger, and the people in the castle seemed wary of me.

I believe they were at a loss for how to treat me.

It’s polite but awkward, almost probing.

Over the months, I think they’ve gotten used to me being in the castle, and they’ve been talking to me more and more naturally lately.

I can see that the castle is strange in a variety of ways now.

Of course, in a good way.

It’s most likely due to His Highness and the twins’ friendly personalities and attitudes.

The people at the castle are also very relaxed about their work. 

Castles and courts have always struck me as stuffy places.

But I don’t sense any stuffiness here.

Maybe that’s why I’m not sure who I am.

Status and power are naturally valued by nobility and royalty.

It’s perfectly normal, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

They appear pompous and fearsome to the general public.

If I had been one of those common-thinking aristocrats, I would not have fit in here.

“I’m getting used to a more relaxed way of life.”

“That’s encouraging. People must learn to relax in general, or they will crash somewhere. You’ve been working hard for quite some time, and it takes some getting used to.”

“That may be true, but now that I’m used to it, I’m thinking about how to spend my free time.”

“That’s good; work isn’t everything in life.”

Your Highness says so, too.

In short, I was looking for something else to focus on.

I also get to work as a grantmaker in this country and receive regular jobs from Minister Morgen.

It kept my skills sharp and allowed me to relieve boredom to some extent.

But I’m not simply looking for work.

I don’t want to be buried in work any longer.

I’d like to do something else I enjoy.

That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

“How about a hobby? It’s fine, right?”

“Thank you, Your Highness, but I can’t seem to find it; I was just thinking about it earlier. What are your hobbies, Your Highness?”

“Me? My hobby… I wonder what it is…”

His Highness is thinking about it.

Looking up, down, and thinking.

“I’m not sure, now that you mention it.”

“Your Highness as well?”

“Yes, you know, I’ve been working a lot, and until recently, I was also looking for a wife, so I guess I’m a wanderer in terms of hobbies.”

“Wandering…?”

I’m not sure that qualifies as a hobby.

If you want to find a wife, that’s part of your job.

“So, Your Highness, what do you like to do?”

“Everything in this country is my treasure: the landscapes, the people, the animals.”

“You sound like a prince.”

“That’s what I’m prepared to say if you ask me, but I’m sure you don’t want to hear something difficult like that; you want to hear my personal preference. Let’s see…”

He appears to have given a serious response after comprehending it.

His Highness has a sense of humour at times.

He can be serious about his work, mean and take advantage of other people’s secrets, and, of course, he can be joking.

The more I become involved, the more I see a new side of His Highness that piques my interest.

“Hobby… I like sports. I’m a pretty good swordsman, as good as the Order’s guys, you know?”

“I see.”

“I’ll demonstrate next time. Aside from that, we’ll see. I prefer something sweet to something spicy. Yes, I like the ones here, particularly the crumpets.”

“So you like sweets.”

That is somewhat surprising.

I assumed His Highness preferred spicy foods.

Picturing His Highness likes sweet things.

When you think about it, it’s kind of cute.

“Sweet… Snacks…”

“Phyllis?”

“I’ve had an idea. That’s something I’d like to do.”

“Oh, what is it?”

“It’s a secret. Please look forward to the next tea party, okay?” 

I grin.

Chapter 22: Baking

The day following the tea party

I went to the royal castle’s library.

“Let’s see.”

There are stacks of books on the table.

The books I pulled from the shelves are all about baking.

I take a seat at the table with the books.

I take one book at a time from the top and begin flipping through it.

I did not inform His Highness of my intentions.

It’s baking snacks.

I think I came up with the idea because I knew His Highness likes sweets and it was a tea party.

We can share the snacks I made at a tea party for two.

It seemed like a nice place to spend time as a family or as a couple.

Fortunately, I have some prior cooking experience.

My parents were killed in an accident, and I couldn’t support my servants, so they had all left the house.

The Ratratos family’s assistance has only helped me to pay off our debts.

I’ll have to take care of myself eventually.

There was no one to assist me as a child.

I learned the skills I needed to survive on my own while practicing grantmaking techniques.

Cleaning, laundry, and cooking On my own, I have mastered everything that can be called housework.

Cooking was especially difficult because the Ratratos’ funds were limited, so I made every effort not to waste any of the ingredients.

“However, cooking and baking are not the same.”

The book covers the fundamentals of baking.

It’s the same thing as cooking.

However, there are significant differences in mindset and tasks.

But I know how to use a knife and how to work with common ingredients and tools, so I’m not going into baking blind.

I believe it was beneficial.

The next tea party will be held in three days.

I’m hoping to have accomplished something by then.

“I will give it my all.”

I haven’t devoted myself to anything like this in a long time.

I recall when I was studying to become a grantmaker.

I was desperate back then.

Surviving requires courage.

First and foremost, I gathered the knowledge I lacked in order to comprehend the grantmaking technique.

I put it to the test on myself to see if there was a discrepancy between my knowledge and reality.

I practiced the same grant over and over again to reduce the likelihood of failure.

To be honest, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I couldn’t afford to have a good time.

That would be very different from what we have now.

I was engrossed in my reading until late at night.

***

The following day.

I decided to create something using the knowledge I had gained from my studies.

I requested permission from the chef to use the royal castle’s kitchen.

He was taken aback, but the chef agreed to allow me to use his kitchen.

He told me that I could use the kitchen tools and ingredients as I pleased.

I was thinking about how to arrange the ingredients and am relieved that they are already there.

“Now let’s see what we can do.”

It’s my first time, and trying to make something too difficult will not work.

You should do what works for you right now without overburdening yourself.

I’m recalling the baking books I saw the other day.

The one that appears to be the simplest is…

“Cookies?”

“Are you making cookies, sister?”

“We’ll assist you as well!”

“Thank you, but I have to do this——oh my gosh!”

I quickly looked down.

Leo-kun and Lena-chan clung to my left and right, respectively.

Their bright eyes shine up at me.

They were in the kitchen before I knew it.

I hadn’t noticed them and was taken aback when I heard their voices.

My heart is racing.

“When did you two arrive?”

“Just now!”

“I was looking for my sister when they said you were in the kitchen!”

“I see.”

I looked at the time.

Isn’t it true that these two come over to see me all the time now?

I believe they came all the way to look for me because I wasn’t in the room.

Did they want to play with me that much?

If so, I’m happy.

“Will Onesama make cookies?!? We’ll do it as well! “

“Thank you, Leo-kun, but since I’m new to baking, I’d like to do it myself first. Could you please be my tasters instead?”

“Of course!”

“That’s great because I love cookies!”

They are both happy.

Obviously, they both love sweets too, because they are siblings of Prince Rayne.

Perhaps His Majesty and the Queen enjoy sweets as well.

Then I’ll give it my all.

One day, I hope to serve the sweets I made to everyone, including Your Majesties.

Chapter 23: Cookie

On the table, prepare the ingredients.

There are various types of cookies, each with its own set of ingredients and preparation methods.

Let’s keep things simple this time.

Stick to the recipe first and avoid being creative.

When you get good at it, you can arrange and devise your own ideas.

It is the same as the grantmaking technique.

“The ingredients are here.”

“Just three?”

“Is that how you make cookies?”

“I believe so.”

I had three ingredients ready.

Soft wheat flour.

Sugar.

And a dark yellow vegetable oil-based ingredient.

All of the ingredients are common in everyday dishes and are not particularly unusual.

I’ve previously used these ingredients.

“Oneesama! How do you make cookies?”

“I want to know that too!”

“Then we’ll make it while we’re talking. Let’s go over it again because I only learned it yesterday.”

First, place the wheat flour in an appropriate-sized bag.

It doesn’t have to be a bag, but I’ve read that this is the most convenient method.

Then comes the sugar.

His Highness prefers it a little sweeter, so a little more.

Other ingredients can be added to taste.

Combine the two ingredients, seal the bag, and shake.

“You shake it!”

“Yes—The flour will be fluffier as a result.”

“It looks like fun!”

It’s definitely a bit of fun.

But your arms get tired.

Check the contents from time to time, and add the third ingredient when there is a good amount of air in the flour.

“What’s that, sister?”

“Well, it’s called margarine, and it’s made from vegetable oil.”

“Margarine! The kind that goes on bread! “

“That’s how it’s usually used.”

It was a common ingredient among aristocrats and royalty.

I’m not sure how it’s made, but it’s delicious and popular.

It’s time to rub in the margarine after it’s been added.

All of the ingredients combine and become elastic.

Rub it in firmly until no powdery residue remains.

This requires a lot of strength as well.

Given my lack of strength, it could be a good exercise to strengthen my grip.

Continue rubbing while you think about it.

Examine the contents to see if the powder is still present.

“Okay. I think this is enough.”

The cookie dough is now complete.

A faint sweetish odor is detectable at this point.

The added sugar in the cookie dough is probably what makes it smell so sweet.

It goes well with the margarine flavor.

I remove the dough from the bag.

The dough I pulled out resembled a round rice cake.

The next step.

I use a thick wooden stick to stretch it out.

It will not bake properly if it is too thin or too thick.

Roll the wooden stick until it is as thick as the cookies you often see.

“If we bake them like this, we’ll have a big cookie!”

“Great! Let’s bake a big cookie, sister!”

“Fufufu, that sounds fun, but you won’t be able to eat it with your mouth if it’s too big, will you?”

“That’s not true! If you open your mouth a lot…”

Leo-kun opened his mouth wide.

He stares at the large piece of dough while silently opening his mouth.

Leo-kun closes his mouth.

“I can’t get in at all…”

“Of course!”

Leo-kun was depressed when he found out the reality.

Poor Leo-kun, but he’s adorable.

This contradiction is one of the things that makes me smile.

“We won’t be able to eat them all at once, but we’ll share; next time, we’ll make bigger cookies.”

“Really? Yay! “

“Onesama is a wonderful person. After all, she is Oniisama’s wife.”

That compliment makes me feel a little embarrassed…

Since you are being praised, let’s be honest and happy.

Leo-kun’s innocent smile was also lovely, so I’d like to try to make it someday.

Meanwhile, I was able to perfectly roll out the cookie dough.

It’s now time to shape them.

We’ll take the safe route and bake round cookies.

There are punching tools in the kitchen.

Since I’ve been given permission to use it, I’m grateful that I can borrow it.

The frame is placed in the dough.

just like stamping.

Leave a certain amount of space.

Finally, remove the frame.

“Yeah, I think this is how it’s supposed to look.”

“It’s perfectly round!”

“I think I can eat you now!”

“All that remains is to bake it.”

The cookie dough is shaped and placed on a special plate.

There are many tools and appliances in the kitchen that you don’t find in normal households.

One of them is this.

A magical device that uses heated air to heat food and can also be found in restaurants.

The evolution of these magical tools has enriched our country and people’s lives.

In the magic tool, a plate lined with dough is placed.

Avoid getting burned because the temperature is high.

The baking time is approximately 20 minutes.

We’ll have to wait a while for that.

“Will it cook properly? I can’t wait to eat it!”

“It’s okay because Oneesama is making it.”

They are also looking forward to the cookies being baked.

It’s not often that royalty gets to go into the kitchen and cook for themselves, let alone watch them cook.

We’re going to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And after 20 minutes.

“I think it’s done.”

Anxious.

I take it out slowly so that I don’t burn myself.

The baking was—not too shabby.

The cookies were vibrantly colored.

“It’s finished!”

“They smell good.”

“We should wait for them to cool before tasting them.”

In the kitchen, there is also a magical tool for cooling it down.

According to what I’ve read, it’s moist right after baking but crisps up as it cools.

So we waited a while longer to ensure they had cooled.

After a while, each of us takes a piece and places it in our mouths.

Crunch一

“””Cookies!”””

All the first voices overlap.

Rather than saying it was delicious, I was surprised that it was made into cookies.

Because this is my first time, I’m relieved that I got it right.

The flavor is, well, average.

It has the flavor of a safe cookie.

“They’re delicious and sweet!”

“As one would expect from Oneesama!”

“Thank you very much. In the future, I’ll experiment with different flavors.”

merely a cookie.

That makes them happy.

Then I’ll make something even better for them.

Then they’ll be happier.

Chapter 24: Finding the sweetness in every day

I devoted myself to baking cookies until the next tea party.

I was curious about other sweets and wanted to try them, but I didn’t want to go overboard at first.

You begin with what you know and work your way up.

I’m making something for someone else to eat.

I don’t want them to eat something that didn’t work.

I’ll do my best to accomplish what I can in the time I have.

This feels like I’m back in those days.

But…

“It’s fun.”

It’s unique and entertaining.

It’s not like when I was struggling to survive.

The excitement, the significance of what I do, and the future I envision

Back then, I could only see what was right in front of me, but now I can see a little further ahead.

It is needless to think about which is happier.

And so time passes.

The next tea party was approaching.

I awoke earlier than usual and finished my breakfast.

I have not yet informed His Highness.

I wanted to surprise him, so I secretly borrowed the kitchen.

also for Leo-kun and Lena-chan.

“Please don’t tell His Highness.”

“Okay! I’m going to keep it to myself!”

“Shh…”

In a secret pose, they both put their index fingers to their lips.

They appear to have kept their word.

This allows me to focus on baking without being concerned.

Last night, I prepared the ingredients.

The kitchen will be occupied with lunch preparations before the tea party.

Between breakfast and lunch.

Make and prepare it in a fraction of the time.

“All of the ingredients are prepared.”

Let’s get started.

I imagine His Highness’s face as I bake.

The innocent smile His Highness once showed me…

I wish I could see it again.

***

The garden is bathed in warm sunlight after lunch.

I’m the one who arrived earlier and is currently waiting on the terrace.

His Royal Highness usually comes a little late.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, Phyllis.

“Your Highness, isn’t it early today?”

“It’s early, but not too early.”

And with that, he settles into his seat.

As is customary.

“Should we get started?”

“Yes.”

His Highness takes a sip of his tea.

Has he noticed yet?

Or has he noticed and is pretending not to know?

I’m nervous.

I’m feeling a little frustrated.

The tension is palpable, and the number of words naturally decreases.

Then his highness’s gaze settles on the center of the table.

“――! I see.”

His Highness laughs.

with a line that appears to be noticing something.

He gives me a brief glance.

Then he reaches out quickly.

To the cookies on the plate in the center of the table,

He took a bite and popped it into his mouth.

A crunching sound is heard.

A faint gulping sound was heard.

His Highness closes his eyes bitingly.

In the midst of the tension, His Highness opens his eyes and smiles at me.

“It was delicious, Phyllis.”

I’ve been waiting for those words.

The words themselves send shockwaves through my body, shaking my mind and being.

I’ve never felt this way before.

“Phyllis made this, didn’t she?”

“Yes—You understand it very well.”

“I know. It appears to be different.”

That’s true.

A wider range of baked goods is always available.

When compared to those made by professionals, they are easily distinguished.

That’s something I’m aware of.

“I’m taken aback. Phyllis could make pastries?”

“Not at all, this is my first time.”

“First time?”

“Yes. I had cooked before due to family circumstances, but I didn’t have time to make pastries.”

His Highness takes another cookie.

He tried several different flavors this time.

One is plain, one has cocoa bean powder, and one has cheese.

It was surprisingly simple to make, and I was able to shape it.

“It’s very well done. This is fantastic for a first time.”

“It’s not that hard.”

“No, at the very least, I’ve never cooked before. I’ve never considered making it myself. So, first and foremost, congratulations on your willingness to try.”

I thought that was one way to think.

I admire the reason for the praise, and I admire His Highness as he eats the food with relish.

I thought I did well.

Still, it pales in comparison to what they sell at the top of the line.

To be honest, I was worried until he tried it.

“This black one is more intense and sweeter. That is the flavor I prefer.”

His Highness says so.

Just looking at his happy face makes my heart happy.

Whatever it is, I’m sure.

It is both important and satisfying to know that one’s efforts have been acknowledged.

“I’m glad I tried.”

I murmur quietly.

I began baking on a whim, but I intend to continue doing so in the future.

“Does Your Highness have a favorite snack?”

“I enjoy most things. Anything sweet.”

“Is there anything specific?”

“Nothing specific. Well, to put it bluntly. “

The more I learn about his highness’ preferences, the better I understand him.

Next time, I’ll do something better.

I want to give him more enticing sweets.

My motivation for baking was to please His Highness.

So, what should I bake up next?

Now I’m anticipating the next tea party.

Having a new hobby like this appears to make a significant difference in your enjoyment of life.

Chapter 25: I just didn’t want to leave

“Accompanying the expedition?”

“Yes. We have a small problem this time, and we need Phyllis-sama’s assistance.”

Minister Morgen and the Knight Commander came to see me one day.

It appears to be about a job, but this time it is different.

His Highness is present at the meeting.

I return my gaze to his highness.

“Just west of the capital is a large city called Suerre. It’s as populous as the capital. This time, we’re going there.”

“Do you want me to accompany you?”

“That’s what we were discussing.”

His Highness motions for Minister Morgen to continue.

The minister nods and continues to explain.

“Every year around this time, a large migration of demons gathers around Suerre.”

“Great Migration of Demons?”

”Yes.”

With a solemn expression on his face, the minister nodded and responded.

Suerre is surrounded by a vast natural environment comprised of forests and rivers.

It is unavoidably home to many animals and demons, and Suerre has erected a massive wall to protect the city.

The walls keep most of the city safe, but during the Great Migration, different kinds of demons come from everywhere.

Some of them are demons who fly.

Demons with the ability to melt stone are unconcerned about stone walls.

Around this time of year, the kingdom dispatches a group of knights from the capital to deal with them.

“The kingdom intends to send a similarly large force of knights this year. However, there is a certain amount of damage every year. There are many demons…”

“The biggest issue is the sheer number of demons.”

The Knight Commander took the floor.

“If you are well prepared, you can defeat one or two types of demons without causing any damage. However, this is not possible when fighting multiple types of demons at the same time. It is impossible to be completely prepared for everything.”

“We will need to be adaptable. That’s where you come in, Phyllis.”

His Highness concludes with a summary.

After hearing this, I am fully aware of their intentions.

My grantmaking technique can be adapted to the battle situation.

According to what I’ve heard, the demons who migrate aren’t the same every year.

That was one of the factors that made it difficult to plan countermeasures.

“We would like to ask Phyllis-sama to support the knights. The knights are the ones who actually fight on the battlefield, so there is less danger to Phyllis-sama.”

“Phyllis-sama’s safety is guaranteed by us, the knights. It will be a tough battle, but they have never breached our defenses, so you will be safe within our walls.”

“I can attest to their fortitude. They’ve done well for their country and are dependable. That’s all I have to say, but Phyllis has the final say.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Yes, you get to choose what you want.”

I’m at a loss for words.

I recognize that they require my assistance.

But I wonder why.

In the back of my mind, a vague unease is simmering.

Something that prevents me from saying ‘yes, I understand,’ as I usually do…

“Suerre, by the way, is my jurisdiction. As a result, I’ll be there as well.”

“Are you going, your highness?”

“Yeah, every year. It’s also a tour of the city to see what’s going on.”

“I see.”

Right.

His Highness is also going to Suerre.

“All right. I’ll go with you to Suerre.”

“Really?!”

“Yes—I’ll gladly assist you in any way I can.”

“Thank you very much! Really.”

Minister Morgen cheerfully bows his head.

The Knight Commander next to him bowed deeper in silence.

I feel ashamed of my hesitation.

Above all, I was reminded of how selfish I am.

The uncertainty in the back of my mind vanished when I learned that His Highness would accompany me.

That means the true nature of my anxiety…

“So we’ll both be going to Suerre this year.”

“Yes—I look forward to working with you.”

“Same to you. Maybe they’d rather you go there than me.”

“…That’s not true.

At least, not for me.

What would I have done if His Highness had said no?

Would I refuse?

I’m sure I’ll go, but I’m sure I’ll be anxious on the way to the battlefield.

Because of His Highness’ presence, I would have listened to his wishes without hesitation.

After all, I didn’t want to leave His Highness’ side.

***

“Are you going to leave, Onesama?!”

“You’re not being fair! We want to go too!”

When I told them about the expedition, they reacted as one would expect.

Leo-kun has His Highness’ right sleeve in his grip, and Lena-chan is pulling my back.

“I said no, didn’t I? Geez, every year, these guys are like this.”

“I want to go!”

“I want to go!”

“Hahaha…”

They’re both full of energy today.

“We’re leaving for a business trip. We’re not going to play.”

“Sister as well?”

“That’s right. So sit back and wait.”

“Ugh…”

They’re selfish, but in the end, they listen.

They’re both bright children.

But it’s clear they’re not convinced.

I really wish we could spend time together.

I’m also disappointed that I won’t be able to spend time with the two of them.

“We’ll make pastries together when I get back.”

“Really?!”

“It’s a promise! Oneesama.”

“Yes, I promise.”

I’ll leave them with something to look forward to when I get home.

Chapter 26: Suerre

The expedition’s departure date approaches quickly.

I’m in the same carriage as His Highness.

The view moves out the window as the wheels spin and sway.

We’re leaving the capital.

My first experience begins.

“Are you nervous?”

“No. I’m more excited than nervous. I don’t know this country yet.”

“I see. Then let us finish our work quickly and take a look around this country outside of the royal capital.”

“Yes.”

I’ve been here for more than a month.

I’ve gotten used to living in the castle, I’ve discovered new hobbies, and I’m having a good time.

But I’m only familiar with the area around the castle.

Even in the capital, I can’t get anywhere unless I ask someone.

I’m still a stranger.

This expedition is the best way for me to become acquainted with the land beyond the castle.

A carriage transporting us leaves the royal palace grounds.

It’s a simple carriage with no decorations. Nobody expects to see royalty in it.

“Don’t show too much of your face. There’ll be a bit of a frenzy if they find out we’re on board.”

“I don’t think the general public remembers me yet.”

“You’d be surprised at how much they stare at you. Even if it is only once, the royalty is noticeable.”

I’ve appeared in public on several occasions.

It was time for the wedding soon after I arrived in this country.

A royal marriage has significant implications for the country’s future.

People were curious about the type of woman the prince had chosen as his wife.

I wasn’t used to having so many people staring at me, and I would have had a nervous, tense smile the entire time.

I’m curious if I’d look better now.

That’s when I realized how difficult it is to be a member of the royal family.

The carriage makes its way through the capital’s streets.

You see a wide range of people.

People are working, resting, and doing things I don’t understand.

There are shops and people of all backgrounds.”

“Isn’t the royal capital quite large?”

“Wasn’t the country you were in also large?”

“I spent most of my time on the court…”

“It’s not much different now, is it?”

That is undeniably correct.

I’m still holed up in the royal castle.

But the fact that I feel so differently is probably proof that every day I spend in this country is worthwhile.

“Shall I show you around the royal city when we return?”

“Your Highness will?”

“Is there anyone else here?” I’m used to sneaking out to see how other people live. I’ll let you come with me if you’re willing.”

“That would be fantastic.”

His Highness occasionally travels around the capital while concealing his true identity.

There’s a sense of fun about it.

I have one more thing to look forward to after work.

***

A half-day ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

We depart from the royal city, making stops along the way until we arrive at our destination, Suerre.

A massive structure surrounded by nature but not completely integrated with it.

The city is located where the rock walls surround it.

The closer you get to the city’s massive walls, the more overwhelming it becomes.

“So this is the city of Suerre…”

“Yes. It is the country’s second largest city and is known as the “second royal capital.”

As the name suggests, within its walls was a bustling, vibrant city.

The view from the carriage windows is similar to the view from the royal capital.

The difference is that it is likely to be smaller in size than the royal capital.

The population is large, and although we arrived when the sun was already setting, we could see waves of people walking through the streets.

“Isn’t it a lively place?”

“It’s almost dinnertime. Many people drink and have fun after work. This busy area is densely packed with bars.”

“It’s true.”

Men gathered to share a drink with one another.

Perhaps they are adventurers.

They celebrate the safety and success of others after completing a dangerous mission… right?

There were adventurers in my hometown, but I never had the opportunity to interact with them.

I’d only heard whispers about them.

At court, I heard horrible things about them.

I’d heard they were barbarians, a step up from bandits, primitives who could only fight.

“I wonder what adventurers are like…”

“If you want to know, just ask directly. You’re going to get involved with them regardless.”

“Eht?”

“This is a large task involving the entire city. We will require the assistance of all the city’s adventurers. Of course, with a reward.”

“I see.”

Then you can get a good look at them.

What kind of people are these adventurers?

Are the rumors true, or are they just rumors?

I’m actually looking forward to it.

The carriage makes its way through the city until it arrives at a mansion.

“Are we going to stay here?”

“Yes, it’s a mansion owned by the royal family. The royal capital’s knights will also be staying here. We can’t accommodate everyone, so the rest will have to rent a place in the city.

The number of knights from the capital is close to 5,000, and there are already more than 2,000 knights stationed in Suerre.

We will defend Suerre with a large force alongside the adventurers.

If the city had not been as large as the royal capital, it would have overflowed and forced us to camp out in the open.

However, because it is such a large city, there are more people to protect.

Inevitably, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

I, too, must put my heart into it.

Now I’m really excited to…

“This is our room.”

“Yes… Eh?”

Suddenly, I was confronted with the most difficult challenge of my life.

Chapter 27: First night?

“Well… “our room”… Is that right?”

“That’s exactly what I said.”

“By “our,” you mean… Your Highness and I, right?”

“Is there anyone else here?”

I know…

“We’ve brought a large group. All of the rooms in the mansion are insufficient. We can’t afford to use the rooms with grace.”

“I-I understand.”

“Did you like being alone so much? Or would you rather not be with me?”

“N-No, that’s not true!!”

I deny it out loud.

I’m taken aback by how loud my voice is.

It sounds like it’s coming from deep within my soul.

His Highness is wide-eyed with surprise.

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“Y-Yes…”

“Well, it’s true that having a man and a woman in the same room isn’t ideal, but… Isn’t that fine? On the surface, we appear to be a couple. Nobody would think it was strange. In fact, having us in separate rooms would be unnatural.”

“Take care of your family, right?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. This isn’t the capital, nor is it the castle. Keep in mind that you are in an area where many people are watching you. And keep in mind——”

With a solemn expression, His Highness murmurs.

“Whose wife have you become?”

“Yes.”

I nodded.

Yes, I no longer serve as a court grantmaker.

I am now the wife of Rayne Istonia, the Kingdom of Istonia’s first prince.

I must behave and act in accordance with my title and position.

Here, outside the castle, there are no walls to protect me from the eyes of others…no wall.

“Phew…”

It’s not just as a grantmaker that you have to be enthusiastic about.

As a royal wife, I must also maintain a proper demeanor.

I swallow, and then I pull myself together.

“Well, I don’t want to get you worked up, but you have to start tomorrow. We have no plans for today.”

“Uh, yeah.”

I was simply attempting to motivate myself.

Did he purposefully agitate the situation?

The shoulders are relaxed all at once.

“It’s dinner first. Shall we go?”

“Yes.”

I’ll be having dinner with His Highness.

A private dinner for two

We dined separately from the knights.

A quiet moment flows.

We’ve had more opportunities to eat together as a family since meeting His Majesty, Leo-kun, and the others.

So it’s been quite some time.

This kind of dinner with His Highness…

It’s got a different vibe than a tea party.

Following that――

Bedtime.

His Highness and I were sharing a bed for the first time.

Of course, we just lay there.

But sleeping with someone of the opposite sex was a very stimulating experience for me.

I’m so nervous that I can’t sleep.

I can hear voices from next door, as if they are there to comfort me.

“In preparation for the demon migration, we have a site visit and a strategy meeting tomorrow. Is it okay with you if I ask you to attend both, Phyllis?”

“Y-Yes. Of course.”

“It’s too soon to be tense. Well, I understand how you feel.”

“Do you feel tense, Your Highness?”

The answer was silence.

I turn to face His Highness.

His Highness then turned to face me.

“Yes,” he replied simply.

I was taken aback.

His Highness is always so commanding that I didn’t think he was nervous.

“So His Highness may be nervous as well.”

“What do you think I am?”

“I’m sorry. You’re always so dignified and commanding… I assumed you’d be used to it.”

“It’s nothing new to me. But we royals are constantly scrutinized. Various looks, sometimes even hostility.”

Hostility…

Is there a hostile atmosphere in this country?

People who are hostile to royalty and nobility.

It is not always easy for those in positions of power.

There is frequent hostility and resentment.

particularly royalties.

“Every decision I make has an impact on the future of this country. So I’m constantly thinking. What is right and what is wrong? What am I, the ideal prince whom everyone desires to see?”

There is no answer, no matter how hard you think about it.

The answer will be known only after it has been demonstrated and the results have been obtained.

With a sigh, His Highness said this.

This is quite surprising.

His highness’s words were a sign of weakness.

His Majesty is also concerned and anxious.

“…I see. Your Highness, as well.”

“Hahaha, why are you relieved?”

“Eh? Did I appear like that?”

“Did you? Maybe you were thinking something like, “I’m glad I’m like him.”

He’s right.

His Highness sometimes guesses my thoughts so accurately that I believe he can hear my heartbeat.

Or maybe I’m just plain simple.

My heart beats loudly, perhaps out of embarrassment.

“Everyone has concerns and fears. My parents, Leo and Lena, and me. But we must not show our distress to the public. If they see that we are worried, they will be worried. We, the royal family, who support this country, must not show weakness.”

It’s similar to determination.

His Highness maintains a firm gaze on me and speaks to me.

I should be as well.

strongly, indicating.

” …Yes.”

“If you must show yourself vulnerable, speak only to people you can trust—family, for example.”

“Family…”

Then I will――

“Is it okay to be vulnerable in front of His Highness?”

“That’s how things are going to be. We’re… We’re a couple.”

“…Yes.”

I wonder if that is also why His Highness spoke to me so vulnerablely.

He believes I am trustworthy because we are a couple.

If that’s the case, I’m very proud of myself.

I’ve discovered a new side to His Highness, and I’m relieved.

The night goes on.

Chapter 28: Do not raise your expectations

Morning.

I slowly open my eyes, listening to the birds chirp.

This isn’t the ceiling I’m used to seeing.

Blankly staring at the nostalgic scenery.

I slowly shifted my gaze to the side…

“He isn’t here.”

His Highness was gone.

Last night, I slept in the same bed as him.

Nothing noteworthy occurred. We were talking about each other, and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep.

My body was probably tired from the unaccustomed carriage ride.

I became drowsy as soon as the tension subsided, and I think it was a moment when I closed my eyes.

I got to my feet.

“You’ve woken up.”

“Your Highness.”

I hear a voice at the window, and I look at His Highness.

He was already dressed formally, not in his nightgown.

“Good morning.”

“Oh, good morning. I see you slept well.”

“Yes—Your Highness is an early riser, doesn’t he?”

“It simply happens. I awoke early this morning. I occasionally get up late.”

His Highness says so, but perhaps his late hours are ordinary people’s early hours.

I used to be an early riser myself.

I had to get up at a certain time to go to work because I would have less time to sleep otherwise.

I no longer have to rush after I moved to this country, and I can sleep more comfortably.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been sleeping better lately.

“I’ll go out first and give the soldiers orders. You are free to dress and come down to breakfast.”

“Yes.”

With those words, His Highness exited the room.

I get out of bed and gather the clothes I prepared the night before.

Perhaps His Highness prepared himself first so as not to disrupt the women’s preparations.

I’m beginning to see him as a man of such consideration.

I leave the room after dressing following his Highness.

Even though this is my first visit, the structure of the mansion is simple and easy to understand in comparison to the royal castle.

The bedrooms are located on the second floor, while the dining room is located in the first floor hallway.

At the dinner table, it’s just me and His Highness, and the knights are eating at different times.

“Phyllis, as I mentioned yesterday, the real work begins today.”

“Yes, we’ll begin with the inspection.”

“That’s the plan. There’s someone in charge of the city, and he’ll show us around and let us know what’s going on.”

Every town and city has at least one administrator.

They are chosen from among the nobles who serve the royal family and are effectively kings of their respective cities.

The royal family rules the land, but it is difficult for them to directly rule each town and village.

What a person can see and accomplish has a limit.

As a result, a trusted individual is appointed to lead the territories on their behalf.

Every country follows the same procedure.

“As soon as we finish eating, we’ll leave.”

“Yes.”

His Highness and I will leave the house after breakfast.

We met the Knight Commander on the way, and the three of us set off.

The City Hall is a structure in the center of the city.

It is a government agency tasked with a variety of duties, including tax collection and problem resolution.

They say there’s a nobleman here who rules over Suerre.

It is similar to a court in a royal city.

“We have been expecting you, Your Highness Rayne.”

“Good to see you, Duke Verrière; how are things going?””

“Yes, as you can see, everything is fine.”

“I see; have you gained any more weight than before?”

“Hahaha… I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m out of shape. My knees have recently deteriorated.”

They begin to make small talk.

The Duke of Verrière was an elderly man, over fifty this year.

He resembles His Majesty with his beard and gray hair.

He appears fearsome from the outside, but when you talk to him, he appears friendly and kind.

“Sir Knight Commander, you as well! You’re still in excellent shape.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Hahaha.”

Suddenly, the Duke’s gaze is drawn to me.

“And who is this? I’ve never seen you before.”

“She’s my wife.”

“My God! So this is the woman who has won His Highness over, as I’ve heard! My name is Verrière Boritian, and please make your acquaintance.”

He bows graciously and politely.

My face and name have become familiar in the capital, but many people outside the city do not recognize me.

You can’t tell what the face is unless you see it.

I respond firmly, as a royal wife should.

“I’m Phyllis, His Highness’s wife. Pleased to meet you.”

“Phyllis-sama is also here. I have heard that she is a very good grantmaker.”

“She’s really good.”

“I can assure you that the Phyllis-sama has been of great assistance to our Order.”

They both compliment me.

When he hears this, the Duke nods and smiles at me.

“There is no doubt about it if you both say so. What a comforting assistance.I have high hopes for this defensive operation.”

“She might not meet your expectations, but in a good way.”

“Oh my goodness! I wasn’t expecting so much.”

“Y-Your Highness…”

He’s really lifting me up.

While I’m flattered, please don’t set unrealistic expectations.

I’m not particularly that good…

“So let’s start with a report on the current situation and what we can do about it. This way, please.”

“Yes.”

We follow the Duke all the way to the back of the compound.

I whisper to his highness’s ear on the way there.

“D-Don’t set unrealistic expectations for everyone.”

“Don’t worry about it; if you do your job as usual, they’ll be surprised.”

“E-Even if you say so…”

He’s a little mean.

Chapter 29: Proof of Ignorance

We are led into the reception room and seated across from each other.

The mood was lighthearted, but the duke’s expression was solemn.

That should also be the case.

“I’ll start with a status report: as you may already know, the ‘Great Demon Migration’ is rapidly approaching.”

The greatest threat to this city is approaching.

Because it occurs every year, they are more aware of the horror than anyone else.

If we do not prepare, the city will be in danger.

As city managers, we must devise solutions.

“The Knights’ investigation shows that this year’s migration will go in at least three different directions.”

“Which direction?”

“One is north to south, two is east to north-east. These three should be taken as absolutes.”

“Do you know what kind of demons they are?”

The Duke places several sheets of paper on the table in response to the Knight Commander’s question.

They were the conclusions of the team that had looked into where the demons went before.

It also describes the demons who were discovered.

“That’s all we have right now.”

The Knight Commander examines it first.

“I see; it doesn’t appear to be much different than last year.”

“Yes—However, they will, as usual, exceed our expectations. It’s not just the demons mentioned here, I’m sure.”

“Yeah.”

His Highness briefed me on last year’s and previous years’ defensive operations.

The flow is nearly identical.

The advance team scans the area for demons and anticipates their movements.

Countermeasures are developed and deployed in response to the detected demons.

However, there are always demons that were missed during the reconnaissance, as well as other herds that frequently coalesce and move in large groups.

Because it is impossible to predict, it is up to the field to make the correct decision.

“The idea is that the numbers grow larger each year, and last year we were on the verge. I’m sure it’s going to be even more intense this year.”

“Your Highness is right. We must take every precaution possible.”

“That is why we have Phyllis.”

Every eye is on me.

I react and respond with trepidation.

“I-I’ll do my best.”

“How does Phyllis see it? From this document.”

The Knight Commander hands me the report.

I leaf through it, inspecting the contents.

It describes what happened the previous year.

Last year, there were six major advances from various directions that caused significant damage to the Order.

As a result, the number of personnel has increased this year.

Last year, the demons discovered were…

“May I ask you one question?”

“Certainly. Anything.”

Duke responds.

“You say that the demons that pass through the city change every year, but do you have data from the last five years?”

“Of course there is, but I don’t think we can rely on data that is several years old.”

“I’d like to know what other demons have been identified; even if every year is different, the environment doesn’t change much. Then there must be a limit to the types of demons that come here.”

“Sure, we can narrow it down, but there are quite a few…”

“It doesn’t matter. Phyllis wants it. Can you bring it?”

His Highness gives a nudge.

If His Highness said so, the Duke had no choice but to nod and leave the room.

We wait for a moment before he brings me some historical documents.

I examine the documents.

Meanwhile, all three of them have been patiently waiting for me.

“Thank you for your patience.”

“Did you find out anything?”

“Yes—I’ve identified the demons that will appear. Knight Commander. How many weapons, armor, and ornaments do you have on hand?

“We have three times the number of troops and five times the number of ornaments.”

“I assumed it would be required, so I ordered it.”

His Highness is as good as I expected.

He works quickly and efficiently.

That should be enough.

“Thank you, and it will be done this way…”

I told the three of them what I was thinking.

His Highness and the Knight Commander are both listening.

The Duke rolls his eyes as he listens in awe.

“――What do you think?

“I see. We can easily defend ourselves with that much preparation.”

“Phyllis, can you handle that many?”

“Yes—But It will take some time. We don’t know when the battle will begin, so we must establish the most important priorities.”

“As one would expect from Phyllis-sama.”

His Highness and the Knight Commander concur.

The rest is up to the Duke’s reaction…

“A-Are you serious?”

“Of course I am; this is all I can do.”

“… I can’t believe it; I’m not knowledgeable about it, but is it enough for one person?”

“Compared to my work at the court, it’s nothing.”

The deadlines were much shorter and the quantities much larger when I worked at the court.

Almost every day.

I’ll be busier, but nothing in comparison to those days.

Because I know the end is in sight.

“The Duke of Verrière’s sentiments are understandable. You will believe it when you see it.”

“I see. If Your Highness insists, then please.”

“That’s right.”

“Leave it to me.”

They have all given their approval.

All that remains is for us to put it into action.

Let us do everything we can to make them believe us.

After two days,

I finished half the work I had planned.

Chapter 30: Because you’ll forget

“…I really can’t believe it. This many in two days…”

“As I previously stated, it would have been faster when you see it.”

The warehouse has weapons and armor on display.

Half of them are already granted.

The Duke of Verrière, who had come along with His Highness to inspect the work, was speechless.

“I’m only halfway done. If at all possible, I’ll have to finish everything before the great demon migration.”

“Wow, that’s a lot of speed. It’s difficult to believe it was only one person.”

“I was surprised as well when I first saw it. I had no idea such a person existed… I don’t mean it differently, but she’s another one-of-a-kind hero.”

“I’m not a hero.”

It’s nice to be complimented, but I’m not all that great.

It’s not me who’s fighting, but the Knights.

All I can do is help to lighten their load.

There are creatures that can kill you before your eyes.

The fear of having to fight for your life while you feel death.

I can describe it in words, but I’ve never experienced it.

It must be horrifying and agonizing… Everyone is fighting a fear that I would have fled from.

The knights are far more heroes than I am.

“I’m just a backstage worker; I don’t deserve the title “hero” when I’m in a secure location.”

“You’re more obstinate than humble. You’re now in a position to openly boast about it.”

“Fufufu. I doubt I’ll ever be able to do it.”

Then I burst out laughing.

It’s not in my nature to brag.

I may be confident in my work, but I am not confident in myself.

“My wife is extremely modest.”

“A little shy…”

“Is that so?”

“I’m constantly surprised; I was surprised that His Highness, who had been so hesitant to marry, had suddenly found a partner, but with such great talent, it’s understandable.”

“I didn’t choose her because of her talent. If I had to say… I guess we were on the same wavelength.”

“I see. wavelength That’s certainly something that’s necessary.”

Wavelength…

Could that be true?

The most important factors are collaboration and a convergence of interests.

But there are also commonalities, common sensibilities.

In my opinion, the phrase “on the same wavelength” is not entirely incorrect.

At least, that’s how I feel right now.

“It appears that we can now leave the rest of the work to you without issue.”

“Yes, I’ll finish it properly, so please be patient.”

“Well, that’s reassuring. I wish you were always in this city.”

“This is not good; my little siblings will fly here.”

“Lenari-sama and Leoness-sama? It makes me happy because I’ve known them since they were babies.”

With the Duke of Verrière’s expectations in mind, I turn my attention to the rest of the work.

Armor, weapons, and ornaments

Give a grant to each of them.

I drew several magical circles in the center of the warehouse.

I grant each of them a unique effect.

By physically drawing the magic circle ahead of time, you can increase the efficiency of your work while consuming less magic and physical strength.

When casting a large number of spells, keep in mind that the failure rate increases with the number of spells cast, and a significant amount of magic and physical power is expended.

I have more magical power than the majority of people.

This is usually the case with people from noble families, and I was no exception.

As a result, I can withstand multiple grants.

My only issue is a lack of physical strength.

“Phew…”

As expected, I am tired after two consecutive days of work.

I’m not as tired as I was in court, but my entire body is screaming that I’m tired.

I guess that’s what happens when you spend too much time in this country.

I have the impression that I am working slower than usual.

I need to concentrate more.

I need to get in shape for the battle, which could start at any time.

“…”

His Highness looked at me with concern.

That very night.

I remained in the warehouse.

I bring weapons and armor to the magical circle and grant them.

Repeat indefinitely.

It’s a workflow, but if you don’t pay attention, it could fail.

You can’t even take a breather.

I’ve never seen an actual battlefield, but this is the battlefield for me.

“Prepare for the next one――.”

“That’s it.”

a firm grip on my shoulder.

When I turn around, there stands His Highness.

“Your Highness?”

“What time do you think it is? It’s almost dinner time.”

“Oh, uh, I didn’t know that.”

I don’t know what time it is because there is no clock in the warehouse.

It is already dark when you look outside.

At the very least, I can tell it’s night.

But when I focus on my work, I can’t see anything else.

“I just want to do a few more grants…”

“No.”

“B-But…”

“No buts. You’ve put in enough effort. So get some rest.”

He says it in a firmer, more commanding tone than usual.

He seemed to be in a bad mood.

Did I do something wrong?

“I-I’m sorry…”

“Sigh…”

I hear a deep sigh.

After all, did I make a mistake and offend His Highness?

“I thought you were getting used to life in the castle and improving…”

“Your Highness?”

“Phyllis is so focused on her work that she is unable to see anything else. No, she is unable to see herself. She’s tired, but she’s working hard. That’s exactly what’s going on right now.”

“Uh…”

It’s different.

He’s not angry.

His Highness is… He’s worried about me.

“Nobody stopped you at court, did they? That’s why you’re like this. You don’t even know you’re suffering. It’s too dangerous.”

“…I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. However, there is no reason to be reckless.”

“Yes.”

His Highness places a gentle hand on my shoulder.

“You’re doing fantastic; you’ve done more than anyone could have asked for, so you should take better care of yourself. You’re not alone anymore; don’t forget you’re my wife now.”

“…Yes.”

I didn’t know how to rest before.

I learned gradually, but if I work too hard, I will forget.

I’m going back in time.

Back to the days when everything was hard and painful.

The hands of his highness are strong… and yet gentle, pulling me back from those days.

I don’t have to try so hard any longer.

Chapter 31: First Line of Defense

Five days after my stay in Suerre

The moment has finally arrived.

“Commander! A demon horde is on its way from the north!”

“They’ve arrived—How many and what types?”

“As one would expect.”

“Good! Prepare the first course and get the men ready!”

The knight commander’s deep, solemn voice can be heard.

The knights stand up, don their armor, and take up their swords.

I observe the tense situation from the top of the city’s wall.

His Highness stood beside me.

“You know, you could have stayed in the mansion? The top of the wall is already dangerous—some demons can attack from afar, while others can fly.”

“I understand, but I want to stay and see it through.”

I want to see if the grants I gave them are adequate protection for them.

If it is insufficient, I will make an additional grant on the spot.

I didn’t even have time to look at the actual battle outside when I was in court, but now it’s different.

I will see my work through to completion.

“Are you sure, Your Highness?”

“Do you believe I can wait for good news from a safe location?”

“I can’t even imagine.”

“You understand exactly what I mean.”

On the ground, the Knight Commander is in charge.

His Highness will ensure that they do, and if they make a mistake in their judgment, he will step in.

Royalties are rare on the battlefield by nature.

They are the state’s symbols, the leaders.

If something were to happen to these people, the country’s future would be jeopardized.

On the other hand, by demonstrating that the head of state is also in a position where his life is in danger, he can persuade the knights that they are not the only ones in danger.

His Highness looks out at the oncoming swarm of demons.

“It’s about to begin.”

“Yes.”

The oncoming horde of demons.

What are they doing, and where are they going?

Knights with weapons will meet them to protect the people’s peace.

The two great forces are now colliding.

“All hands!”

The knights move forward.

They cut the demon hordes to pieces with their swords.

It’s all out war.

It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

This is what…

“Battlefield.”

“Yes. Knights constantly battle demons like this. at the expense of their lives.”

I gulp.

Every corner of my vision is filled with a swarm of demons.

Only the knights who stand in their way.

They may be trained, but they are still human beings.

In terms of physical prowess, they are far inferior to the demons.

They make up for their physical limitations by honing their skills and gaining experience.

“Do not be daunted! Our armor is powerful!”

“Oh!” (Knights)

Morale among the knights soars.

A small smile appears next to me.

“Your Highness?”

“No, I think I’ll be able to see it with less anxiety than last year.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah—they’re moving very differently.”

last year’s city defense, which also resulted in significant damage to our forces.

His Highness witnessed fierce, lethal battles that I had never witnessed.

There is no doubt about it if His Highness says so.

The difference between last year and this year is significant.

“Your grant has the knights’ backs.”

“My…”

“We’re trading lives. The terror will never completely vanish. But…”

His Majesty continues.

With strong, solemn eyes, he looks down at the knights.

“They can just wipe it away—not completely, but you can give them some comfort. Your power is what keeps them going.”

His words strike a chord with me.

My presence and my power boosted their morale.

I have the ability to save their lives.

I’ve previously taken orders from the Order.

Thousands and tens of thousands of arms have been granted by me, including during the court period.

I don’t really think about it because it’s my job.

But now that I’ve seen it, I’m considering it.

What I did was to save someone’s life.

“…Your Highness—I’m feeling a little more assured.”

“You’re too late to notice.”

“Perhaps so.”

I wish I had come to this place sooner.

That way, I could… I would have been more responsible and rewarded for my work.

or even in the too-busy days of the court.

“Do not pursue fleeing demons! Concentrate solely on the demons that are approaching you!”

“Commander! Some flying demons have been discovered!”

“All right, archers, line up! Let none of them get past Suerre!”

Their bows are self-tracking, and each arrow has increased penetrating power.

Most demons can be defeated with a single blow with this.

Flying demons are difficult to hunt.

Automatic tracking is required.

“Archers! Release.”

A hail of arrows rains down on the approaching demons.

The view is absolutely breathtaking.

“If we can stop them now, we’ll be able to…”

“Overpower the remnants! Victory is near!”

Morale continues to rise.

The majority of the demon hordes have been defeated.

Demons passing through on either side are ignored because the original intention was to focus only on demons coming straight into the city.

The demons did not come to attack the city from the beginning.

They were only passing through.

“What makes demons march this time of year?”

“There are numerous theories—food is the most likely candidate. Winter is coming. The demons will perish if the food runs out. Demons are more active than animals and require significantly more energy. They probably want to move before they run out of food.”

“That’s… a little depressing.”

“You feel sorry for demons—you’re naive.”

because that means they are also fighting for their lives.

I feel a pang of sympathy for them.

The first battle has ended with mixed feelings.

With our victory.

Chapter 32: Heroic Conditions

The first defense is successful.

The second defense battle erupted the following day.

But this is also.

“First line of defense! Don’t let any of them get close to the city!”

The knights, energized by the previous day’s battle, easily defeated the demons.

A victory without a hitch

Two days later, the third defensive battle began.

A new demon horde is discovered, in addition to the planned progress.

The clash was between two different types of demons coming from opposite directions.

“Don’t increase the number of pointless battles! Keep the hordes apart! Archers, open fire!”

When different herds collide, they are more likely to start fighting with each other.

This is advantageous if the area is unprotected. Close combat, on the other hand, is best avoided by defenders.

For the defenders, the most important thing to avoid is melee.

The chain of command will be broken, and many people will die.

As a result, the first order of business is to separate the herds and respond with individual attacks.

His Highness’ presence is critical at times like these.

“Remain in formation! If you’re injured, take turns immediately and move to logistical support.”

“Those who have been injured, this way!”

On the one hand, when His Highness assumes command, the Knight Commander is relieved of his burden.

It also reduces decision-making delays.

I will also assist the injured.

The fighting was more intense than in the first and second battles.

However, due to the excellent command and efforts of the knights, we were able to break through.

***

“――There were seven minor injuries, no serious injuries, and no fatalities… It’s an excellent battle report. as one would expect from the kingdom’s knights.”

“We didn’t do it alone, because we received a lot of encouragement.”

We go over the current situation with the Duke and the Knight Commander present.

The Knight Commander takes a look at me.

“Phyllis-sama, I’d like to thank you once more for your assistance in getting us this far without any casualties, and I’d like to thank you on behalf of the Knights.”

“No, it’s because of your efforts—I was simply assisting you.”

“Your assistance was exactly what we required. If you’d been here last year, maybe we wouldn’t…”

The Knight Commander smiled bitterly.

He appears to be relieved that his men are safe this time.

I am honored to have had the opportunity to protect and serve them.

My grantmaking technique has proven to be effective in the field.

Having this confirmed has given me confidence as a grantmaker.

“Thank you so much, Your Majesty—It was a very specific instruction.”

“I did the same work I did last year; Phyllis is the reason for the significant difference in results.”

“You’re right—For us, Phyllis-sama is a goddess of victory.”

“She is a goddess.”

That’s a bit much of a compliment…

But that makes me happy.

Then one of the knights appears.

“Commander! Demons have been reported to be approaching from the southeast! “

“How many will there be, what kind will they be, and when will they arrive?”

“Ha! The number is estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000, the type is similar to the second battle, and the estimated arrival time is noon tomorrow.”

“I see; this will most likely be the final battle.”

The Knight Commander clenches his fist.

He extends his hand and issues the command.

“Inform the men! Prepare for battle tomorrow.”

“Ha!”

He’s pumped.

The damage has been kept to a minimum, and our forces’ morale is still high.

Still, fatigue builds up.

We’ve just finished a series of battles with hordes of demons, the most intense of which was just now.

The next horde will arrive at noon tomorrow.

“… It’s a little early.”

“Yes. But this could be the end of the battle. This is our final stand. We will demonstrate what the Knights are made of.

“That’s promising.”

“… Is this really the final one?”

Every eye is on me.

I had an idea while listening to their conversation.

The knight commander elaborated.

“Yes. No new herds have been reported by our reconnaissance teams at the various sites. The following one will almost certainly be the last.”

“I see…”

Then there are things that I can do in my own unique way.

It’s dangerous, but I’ve devised a strategy to protect as many people as possible.

“Your Highness, I have a request.”

This will be the most difficult task I’ve ever faced as a grantmaker.

***

The following day at noon

As expected, the horde is approaching.

The knights are already positioned and ready to fight.

I was standing directly behind them.

“Are you certain about this?

“Yes.”

not against the wall, but right next to the knights.

a literal battleground.

I’m standing in a place that’s full of danger.

“I was taken aback by your proposal; I honestly didn’t think you had the guts to go through with it.”

“Neither did I… I’m surprised; in the past, I would never have been able to do or think of something like this…”

taking chances in order to protect someone else.

It was a step I would never have taken in the past because I was only concerned with myself.

But I saw it.

I’ve seen many people put their lives in danger.

people who believe in my abilities and will fight for me.

That’s why I’m standing here.

Despite the danger, I’m with them.

“Your Highness, you could have stayed on the wall.”

“Don’t underestimate me—I would never put my wife in danger… Everyone is paying attention.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

However, I wish you had told me you were concerned about me.

“They’re coming.”

“I’ll be ready.”

A horde of demons is approaching.

They are as numerous as they have always been.

The knights are also ready, but their expressions show signs of fatigue.

Physical limitations due to fatigue can come at any time.

What if you trip and fall during a battle?

I’m not going to let that happen.

“Begin granting.”

because I am here.

My power can shield them.

Many grants have been made.

This is without a doubt the largest and greatest of all grants.

A massive magical circle is formed to encircle all of the Knights and inflict the grantmaking technique on them all at once.

“My entire body feels light…”

“Is this Phyllis-sama’s power?”

Grantmaking on living organisms cannot be sustained over long periods of time.

In exchange, they use less magical power.

The effect on them is twofold.

Physical performance is improved, and the sense of pain is dulled.

The effect lasts about ten minutes, during which time they can perform as well as they did in the first battle.

“Let’s go! This is the final battle!”

The battle will start soon.

All that is left to do now is wait and see.

“Haa… Haa…”

“Are you all right?”

“Yes—It’s just that my magic is completely empty.”

“You’ve done enough—this battle ends with our victory.”

His Highness was convinced.

And the battle will be over soon.

The final battle was the quickest, and everyone was pumped.

“Phyllis once said she wasn’t a hero.”

His Highness begins to speak.

He holds me in his arms while I’m feeling dizzy.

“Wouldn’t it be okay to be called a hero now?”

“…I suppose so.”

If there are prerequisites for being a hero.

I am now a――

“It is our complete victory!”

“””” Oh!!”””” (Knights)

Chapter 33: The Other Side of Glory

“Welcome home! Brother! Sister!”

“We have been waiting for you! 

“I’m home.”

“Sorry I’m late.”

We returned to the capital after finishing our work in Suerre.

Leo-kun and Lena-chan were the first to greet us when we returned to the royal palace.

They were quite adorable as they ran up to us, and you could tell they were looking forward to our return.

“Brother! How was Suerre?”

“Yeah, I guess—Phyllis was extremely helpful.”

“Onesama? How? What did she do?”

“You’ll have to inquire with her.”

The twins’ attention is drawn to me.

They look expectant. 

“Y-Your Highness…”

“Go ahead, tell them.”

I’m embarrassed to tell them about what happened in Suerre.

The knights thanked me profusely after the battle.

They referred to me as a hero and a goddess of victory.

They lavished me with praise, and I returned home exhausted in more ways than one.

“His Highness knows how I feel…”

He’s so cruel.

“Hey, sister, what did you do?” 

“Please tell me!”

“Y-Yeah…”

When you are approached so innocently, it is difficult to say no.

His Highness is a cunning man, but so are these two. 

***

“Thank you for your time, Rayne and Phyllis.”

“Thank you, Father.”

His Majesty was informed of the battle in Suerre.

His Highness and I bow to him.

“Yes—especially Phyllis, the Knight Commander told me about your exploits; you protected the Knights with the power of grantmaking techniques and even stepped up to support them yourself in the end.”

“Y-Yes!”

“You are extremely brave—you were greatly appreciated by the knights and the people—you did an excellent job.”

“Thank you very much.”

This may be the first and last opportunity to be praised by His Majesty.

I was so happy.

“But…”

His Majesty continues in solemn tones.

“I’m telling you, Rayne, it’s not good for royalty to take risks on their own.”

“I understand, but because we are royalty, we cannot simply be protected by them.”

“That’s true, but it’s just in case.”

“That’s enough, dear.” 

He was interrupted by the queen.

“I’m sorry. He’s concerned. He’s worried that something bad will happen to you two.”

“Yes, if something happens to you, I won’t be able to see my grandchildren!”

“Eh…”

Is that the case?

What grandchildren?

“This is the throne room, Father.”

“Don’t worry—there are only old people here. As king, I heard the report earlier; I’m now speaking as a father.”

“That’s enough. Don’t overheat. Weren’t you reckless when you were younger, too? I warned you several times, and you still did not change, but you scolded the kids? “

“Ugh… Stop bringing up the past.”

It appears that His Majesty still has a soft spot for the Queen.

Furthermore, was his Majesty reckless when he was younger?

Is that inherited?

His Highness has no qualms about visiting dangerous areas, and he is also very active, traveling alone to a neighboring country to find a wife.

“Thank you for protecting the people, Phyllis-san, but please don’t do anything rash again.”

“Yes.”

Is this kind of generosity inherited?

***

The line of defense at Suerre is often talked about among the people.

It represents the knights’ strength in defending the land as well as their sense of security that they will protect the land and the people from any threat.

The fact that members of the royal family were present also contributes to the population’s support for the royal family.

This year’s results, in particular, differed from those of previous years.

“I heard His Royal Highness Prince Rayne’s wife was on the battlefield in Suerre?”

“Is that true?” 

“My son is a knight, and he was in Suerre; I heard it firsthand, so I’m certain.”

“She’s a wonderful woman, a match for His Highness Rayne.”

Suerre was defended by His Highness Rayne’s consort, Phyllis Istonia.

Rumors spread quickly among the knights returning from Suerre and then throughout the city.

“Phyllis-sama is said to have a special power known as the grantmaking technique.”

“I’ve heard she’s also worked in a neighboring kingdom’s court.”

“It’s not just about rank; she has the power to run a country and the courage to fight even on the battlefield, which is a perfect combination for His Highness Rayne.”

“Yes, this country’s future is secure.”

Rayne and the royal family were initially very popular.

They are close to the people despite being royalty.

Their unadulterated behavior, combined with their warm personalities, has won them widespread support.

Another case in Suerre

This gives Phyllis the people’s support.

The people have faith in the person who rules the country.

This is a wonderful thing, but there are some who are not pleased.

A country is a massive structure.

Contradictions and conflicts must exist.

“It appears that His Highness Prince Rayne’s wife has the people’s support.”

“Isn’t this a bad thing?”

“No, look at it from the other side—If we can get her on our side, the royal family’s support may dwindle.”

“Indeed. Isn’t she from a neighboring country? Then there’s someone who knows who she is. “

A faction of the nobility is attempting to seize power.

They desire absolute monarchy.

A cramped future in which status and power are everything.

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming party.”

They only want one thing.

The royal family’s downfall.

Chapter 34: Party

“Oneesama’s fame is spreading!”

“Ugh… I suppose so.”

“Aren’t you happy? Sister is being congratulated!”

“I’m happy, but…”

It’s something I hear a lot these days.

The goddess of victory, the hero who saved lives, and the brilliant grantmaker.

There has been a lot of praise flying around.

My name appears to be spreading throughout the royal city, even two weeks after the Battle of Suerre.

Everyone around me thinks it’s a good thing, but it’s embarrassing for me.

“They say I was on the battlefield, but I was only on the battlefield once, and I was just a spectator on the wall the rest of the time, you know?”

“The knights who fought at the time say that thanks to your grant, they were able to fight to the best of their abilities.”

“Brother!”

“Oniisama!”

His Highness entered my room.

The twins leapt to their feet and circled His Highness.

“Have you come to play with us?”

“Come on, Oniiisama, let’s play!”

“I’m sorry, I just wanted to speak with Phyllis.”

“”Ee~e~””

They both sound disappointed.

His Highness pats them on the back and promises to play along next time.

He approaches me with light steps.

“What’s the matter?”

“I wanted to tell you about the upcoming party.”

While he was saying that, he sat down next to me.

“A party?”

“In four days, there will be a nobles’ party in the halls of the royal castle—we will be present as royalty—however, Leo and Lena will not attend.”

“I hate that party.”

“It’s not fun at all.”

They have unexpected reactions.

Normally, they would beg to attend the party.

“What kind of party is it?”

“There’s nothing special about it—It’s simply a gathering place for nobles from across the country to discuss current events and get to know one another… That’s exactly what it should be.”

That’s a meaningful phrase.

So I asked.

“Is it actually different?”

“No, it isn’t any different—In other words, it is exploratory—there are factions among the nobility, just as there are in any country.”

“Factions…”

“There are roughly two types of people: those who support our royal family and those who do not.”

His Highness Rayne once told me

Even though this country has aristocracy, there is no big difference between the nobility and the rest of the people.

Nobles have responsibilities and roles that are appropriate for their nobility.

They have status and the right to speak, but they should not disregard public opinion.

It’s because everyone understands that a country is only as good as its people.

His Highness Rayne’s father, who is the current king, thinks it is natural for people who have done well to be favored and for lazy people to be treated coldly, no matter what their position.

The people have complete faith in the King, who treats them all equally, regardless of whether they are nobles or commoners.

Some people, however, do not agree.

Status and honor come first.

Those who believe that a society in which birthright, money, and power determine who is superior and who is inferior is the right way of thinking.

“Some of the aristocracy believes that—nothing is wrong with that. The concept of valuing rank and title is widespread in other countries as well. That is undeniable, but this country has its own way of doing things. We don’t have to conform just because everyone else does.”

“You don’t like that?”

“Yes.”

“Is there a lot? For those of ‘them’.”

His Highness pauses for a few seconds, takes a deep breath, and responds.

“There aren’t many—as far as I am aware, very few. The majority of them support us and are not unhappy with the current system. First and foremost, Father does not disregard the nobles’ opinions. If he believes it is correct, he accepts it.

“In that case, there is no reason to argue, in my opinion.”

“It’s not that easy. Because the nobility has been chosen, they must be given preferential treatment. Who chants them should also determine what is right and wrong.”

“That’s…”

“Yes, that is selfish—but nobles are supposed to be like that—isn’t this a strange country?”

That’s true.

I come from an aristocratic family and have worked with a diverse range of people.

Everyone placed a high value on rank, title, and honor.

There were even people who were not afraid to admit that they were different from the rest of the population.

Even if they don’t say it, they look down on you.

There were people who were close to me… There were those who decided that they were correct and that anyone who did not agree with them was evil…

Unfortunately, such an idea appears to be aristocratic.

“I… I like how this country is.”

“I’m glad you said that. I am content with my current country as well. I want to preserve a world in which people, including us all, can live happily. That’s it.”

“Your Highness…”

“There will be a large number of people at this party. As a newcomer, you will be the center of attention. There will undoubtedly be those who attempt to take you in.”

Gulp.

I’m the new addition to the royal family.

Furthermore, because I married from another country, I am a noble foreigner.

That’s why they will try to figure out who I am.

Some of them are hostile to royalty and may pose dangerous questions.

“Take care now—at a party, there are no barriers between us. I can’t always be there for you.”

“Y-Yes…”

I’m a little worried.

Participation in that gathering is…

What if I were approached by someone who wanted to bring His Highness or His Majesties down?

Would I be able to play as a princess without anything going wrong?

Chapter 35: Pay less attention

There are a total of 72 noble families in the Kingdom of Istonia.

This is an extremely small number.

My former kingdom had three times the number of noble families as this one.

On the other hand, the country could get by with only that many.

Because there are so many nobles, the fact that they sometimes forget their real job and live for pleasure has little impact on the future of the country.

His Highness Prince Rayne thinks so, too. I thought it was great.

But if I asked someone from the nobility, they would probably roll their eyes and become angry.

However, I did not believe it was wrong.

A country and an organization can function if we all do our jobs properly.

As is the case with this country, so should it be with countries all over the world.

“But doesn’t that also imply that this country’s nobility are serious, good people?”

His Highness laughed happily when I asked him that.

That is what I believe.

His Highness has faith in the nobles.

They are all deserving of ruling and leading the country together.

However, he laments the fact that some do not.

Those who prioritize their own interests and believe that power is everything… This country must be very uncomfortable for those with an aristocratic mindset.

Today will be my first time experiencing it.

For the first time, I’ll be able to see the other side of the country that has been so generous to me.

***

“Onesama is very beautiful!”

“Thank you very much, Lena-chan.”

While I’m putting on my party dress, Lena-chan says something nice to me.

I usually dress in one-piece dresses that aren’t too flashy and allow me to move freely.

Of course, I never had the opportunity to wear glamorous dresses while working at court.

It was back when my mother and father were still alive that I wore one.

It’s been a long time.

to put on such a lovely and glamorous gown.

“…”

“Onesama?”

“Nothing—thank you for your assistance.”

I stroked Lena-chan’s head gently.

To be honest, I’m a little nervous.

After what His Highness told me, I’m not sure if I can do it.

After that…

Knock, knock, knock.

A knock is heard at the door.

It’s most likely His Highness.

“Please come in.”

“Are you ready, Phyllis?”

It’s His Highness, as I predicted.

His Highness has finished putting on his party attire.

The royal family’s atmosphere, which is usually thin when they are in contact with each other, stands out simply by changing their clothes in this manner.

Leo-kun is standing next to His Highness.

“Sister is so pretty! Right Brother?!”

“……Eh? Yeah, it looks great on you.”

“――T-Thank you.”

Good.

One worry has been alleviated.

He thinks I look good in it.

“From the looks of things, you’re all set.”

“Yes—i’m all set.”

“All right—let’s go—to the party.”

I have the impression that I am on my way to the battlefield.

It’s not entirely incorrect.

As a princess, as the wife of a prince

I’m on my way to the battlefield.

***

The royal palace’s halls are large.

It is commonly used for events such as receptions and conferences.

Today is the big day.

Several tables have already been set up, and the food has been prepared.

The servants appear to be in good spirits.

Nobles from all over the country gather here, not just those from the royal capital.

You must not show shameful behavior.

People are pouring into the room.

Each and every one of them is full of elegance, a party of nobility.

“Ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for making time despite your hectic schedules to attend.”

His Majesty addresses the guests directly once a certain number of people have gathered.

a brief discussion of the season and an update on current events.

“——Well, have fun to your heart’s content.”

A round of applause greeted the final words.

More people had gathered by the end of His Majesty’s speech, and a wave of people formed in the hall.

“We’re going as well.”

“Y-Yes.”

The party has begun.

We took advantage of the opportunity and went to the venue.

The nobles’ eyes are all on us at the same time.

“Your Highness, it’s been a long time.”

“Yes, it has been quite some time since the last party.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come to pay my respects because I live so far away from the capital.”

“Don’t be concerned—i’ve heard good things about you in the territories.”

The nobles flocked to His Highness right away.

His Highness is popular among the people, but is he also loved?

They are conversing in such a casual manner that it is difficult to believe they are royalty and aristocrats.

Then one of them adds…

“Pleased to meet you, Princess Phyllis.”

“Yes. Me too.”

People gather to see me as well.

Of course, I don’t know any of them.

They tell me their names and the locations of their territories one by one, but I don’t think I remember any of them.

If it has anything to do with grantmaking, I can pick it up quickly.

To be honest, I wish they would stop talking to me so much.

“Phyllis-sama.”

“Good morning, Minister.”

Finally, I came across a familiar face.

It was so.

He is also a member of the kingdom’s nobility, which is why he is attending this party.

His position as minister also allows the people gathered around me to move.

“Was this your first time at this party, Phyllis-sama? You must be extremely nervous.”

“A little bit.”

“I know you have a lot on your plate, Your Highness. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.”

“Yes—thank you very much.”

It’s good to hear a reassuring voice.

His Highness is still surrounded by nobles and appears to be struggling.

We had unknowingly distanced ourselves from one another.

I tried to approach His Highness after the minister had left.

But then I hear a voice…

“You must be Her Highness Princess Phyllis.”

red eyes and auburn hair.

The family crest embroidered on his chest matches the one His Highness told me about.

“Yes.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you—my name is Schwigel.”

Schwigel Aizen.

a member of the nobility who disagrees with the royal family

Chapter 36: I know more than you

There are 72 noble families in the Kingdom of Istonia.

The majority of them support the royal family’s policies and are well-governed.

Only the five noble families are unique.

They clearly took a different stance from the royal family and other nobles.

The current head of the Aizen family

He rose to become the family’s head at a young age and was a genius with many accomplishments to his name.

He is regarded as a rising leader among those who oppose the royal family.

I knew it was coming, but he just appeared out of nowhere.

I’m on high alert.

However, I must not appear surprised, agitated, or angry.

because I am His Highness’s wife.

“Pleased to meet you, Duke Aizen.”

“You may refer to me as a Schwigel. It is a privilege to meet His Highness Prince Rayne’s wife—i’ve always wanted to talk to you.”

He greets me with a friendly, kind expression and a smile.

He appears to be a very nice man.

No, perhaps he is a good person.

It is not always bad to go against the wishes of the royal family.

At least he is not showing any hostility toward me right now.

We’re meeting for the first time today, so it could just be a friendly greeting.

I had only been thinking about it when I realized

I was surrounded.

by strange men.

There is nowhere to walk through because they stand at regular intervals.

“Ah, yes. They’re my friends. They were also excited to meet Her Highness Princess Phyllis.”

“I see.”

These are the people who share Duke Schwigel’s opinion.

to keep me from fleeing?

to prevent me from speaking with other nobles?

I’ll be on my guard. You can never be too careful.

I brace myself.

“You appear nervous.”

“――! Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not used to being in such situations.”

“That’s completely understandable—Her Highness comes from a neighboring country. I had also heard she worked at the court there.”

“Yes.”

Everyone is aware of my origins.

The nobility must know that I used to work at the court.

“It must have been a very brave decision to marry a prince from another country.”

“It wasn’t, His Highness Rayne is a wonderful man.”

“You’re a good woman. You also consider helping your husband—besides, I’ve heard you’re a gifted grantmaker with uncommon talent.”

Schwigel’s eyes are filled with a smile.

Something is going to happen.

I had a hunch.

“You personally stood on the battlefield in Suerre and inspired the soldiers—It is not a simple task.”

“Thank you.”

“Her Highness seems to have a great talent. That is why His Highness chose her to be his wife—she possesses abilities that will benefit the country…”

“…”

I think I understand what he’s saying.

In a roundabout way, he’s attempting to say that all His Highness sees is my power.

Guide the topic in an understandable manner.

“In fact, we all had reservations about his highness’ marriage. Why did His Highness suddenly take a wife after avoiding marriage for so long? It would make sense if the reason was her ability.

“…”

“His Highness is a reasonable man—he will always prioritize profit over feelings. Sometimes he takes bold measures. I’m sure Her Highness is going through a lot.”

“… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Duke Schwigel looks around suspiciously, then whispers softly in my ear.

“I’m afraid His Highness made you his wife so he could take advantage of you—Isn’t there something behind this?”

“――?!”

That’s how you get there.

There’s no denying it.

His intention is to bring me into his camp.

“There’s nothing going on behind the scenes—I adore His Highness.”

“Right now, we’re the only ones around—there is no reason to conceal our true feelings. It wouldn’t be surprising if His Highness holds your weakness and is threatening you.”

“…”

Duke Schwigel smiles.

in a refreshing way, but with a tinge of black flame in his eyes.

but that’s fine.

He has no idea.

He is unaware of the origins of our relationship.

He’s just causing a stir.

to identify and exploit my weaknesses.

“No, I don’t think so—His Highness is a kind man.”

“..You are a strong woman. But I’m sure you’re aware. His Highness is willing to go to any length for himself and his country. He has a cunning side. And you know what happens when he no longer needs Her Highness.”

“…”

He’s been making assumptions all along.

What information does this person have about His Highness?

“Does Duke Schwigel know His Highness?”

“No, I am just an ordinary nobleman—I am not close to His Highness… That’s the equivalent of a commoner befriending a nobleman.”

“Is that so? Then you have nothing to be concerned about—I know His Highness better than you do.”

Schwigel furrows his brow.

with the expression of a wry smile.

“Well, you say the most amusing things. You’ve only been here for a little over a month.”

“I’m not joking.”

Somehow I got irritated.

Is it because he disparaged His Highness?

There is no clear explanation.

But I felt compelled to tell him.

“I am His Highness Prince Rayne’s wife.”

“――You are, indeed—I was impolite. Please accept my apologies.”

He smiles and bows his head.

Then he said goodbye to me and left.

The nobles around me vanish along with him.

“…”

“Did they ask you any questions?”

“Your Highness.”

He was standing next to me before I knew it.

“Did you happen to hear what he said?”

“No, I could see him talking, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.—that’s why I’m asking you.”

“There wasn’t much of a story there.”

“Really? But, in the end, you seemed determined.”

He could see the look on my face even though he couldn’t hear me.

I laughed.

“I told him exactly that: “I am His Highness’s wife.”

“――I see.”

I raise my head.

His Highness’s profile looks like he’s smiling.

Chapter 37: Those on the Move

a single candle in a dark room

At a round table, men face each other.

It all began with a sigh.

“It appears there’s more to it than we thought.”

“That’s not good, is it? She is also gaining the trust of the people.”

“If nothing is done, the public’s trust in the royal family will grow stronger—something needs to be done.”

There is only one calm smile among the impatient men.

He who brings them together and leads them.

The Duke Schwigel Aizen.

“Don’t be so pessimistic—if she refuses to join us, we will take appropriate action.”

“Do you have any suggestions?”

“Of course I do. Everyone should think carefully. She certainly wields considerable power. But, after all, she is not a native of this country. She’s a complete stranger from the outside.”

“That is true; however, she is now a member of the royal family—her past isn’t that significant…”

“Not at all. Her superior power is what makes her valuable to exploit. What matters is how people perceive her, not the facts. Isn’t that what it all boils down to?”

Another figure appears from the shadows.

It is a person who should not be in this country.

His uninvited presence would cause an international problem.

“Duke Salerio.”

“You are absolutely correct.”

The two men exchanged glances.

There was mutual interest between the two.

***

“…”

There’s a rumor I’ve been hearing recently.

“You’ve heard about it? Rumors about His Highness…”

“Yes, it appears to be spreading throughout the Royal Capital.”

“Is it true?”

“I’m not sure. But His Highness has avoided engagement for a long time, and now… I can’t help but think it’s not impossible.”

“However, that does not imply that His Highness is…”

“I know. I don’t believe it either—that’s why rumors spread.”

There were rumors in the castle that His Highness Rayne had kidnapped me from another kingdom to use as a personal tool.

“That’s impossible!”

“Yes! My brother would never do something like that!”

The rumors naturally reached Leo-kun and Lena-chan’s ears.

They were understandably upset.

They were making disparaging remarks about their favorite brother.

They had every right to be upset.

As for me…

“Your Highness…”

I was concerned about His Highness.

He’s been extremely busy recently, and I don’t see him much outside of tea parties.

Three days have passed since the last tea party.

Now there will be a tea party with His Highness, as usual.

“Hey sister, brother didn’t do that, did he?”

“Yes.”

“Will Oniisama be alright?”

“I am confident he will be fine—His Highness is a powerful man.”

I answer their questions.

That’s what I tell myself as well.

***

“――Don’t worry about rumors.”

When it was time for the tea party, I had a talk with His Highness.

I was concerned and asked him about it, and these were his first words.

He said it in a surprisingly straightforward and dignified manner.

“It is, after all, just a rumor.” Most likely spread by people who dislike me.”

“Duke Schwigel… I wonder…”

“Who knows. It strikes me as a little childish. But… the man is cunning—Maybe he’s planning something bigger.”

He is drinking tea as he says this.

But he hasn’t eaten any of the treats I made.

He claims not to care, but his heart may be fluttering.

“We must be cautious now—If left unchecked, rumors will die out, but if this is their work, I don’t think it will end there.”

“…What are they thinking?”

“I’m not sure. Typically, it has been opposition to our policies, a lack of funding, or indirect opposition—But this time appears to be different.”

His Highness was concerned after all.

There could be another reason for the spread of rumors.

It is too hard for me to even think about it.

There was only one thing that came to mind.

“Can’t we somehow make the rumors go away as soon as possible?”

“Are you really that concerned?”

“… I’m still His Highness’s wife.”

“Huh, but…it’s not entirely a rumor.”

“――!”

Yes. He’s right.

That was something I had forgotten.

Our relationship is only…

“We’re not your typical couple—speaking of “using”… they’re right.”

“…”

Perhaps this is why His Highness isn’t angry.

because he feels a little guilty for having made me his wife.

Nonetheless, I…

“I have no regrets about marrying you, Your Highness.”

“Phyllis?”

“Whatever the reason or circumstances, I have this peaceful time because that day I met His Highness and he reached out to me—I became a wife of my own volition.”

I’ve never thought of that decision as a mistake.

because I am now happy.

In this country, I’m spending time with my new family.

It may differ from a typical married couple.

But I’m content enough with that.

“…Hahaha, I understand.”

His Highness laughs.

as if he’s relieved.

“All right, then, let me tell you something quick. To celebrate the national holiday, there is a festival. There will be a royal parade through the streets—we’ll be there together.”

“Is it a festival? That sounds good.”

“It’s the biggest festival in the country—actually, I was hoping to get some help from Phyllis.”

“Me?”

“Yes. I want you to make the festival even better.”

Chapter 38: National Holiday

Every year, National Day is celebrated.

It is the country’s largest event of its kind, involving the entire royal capital.

People from all walks of life come together to celebrate and be thankful for being born in this country.

This is my first time participating.

“I was unexpectedly assigned a major mission…”

I mumble to myself.

His Highness has suggested that I use my grantmaking technique to enliven the festival.

He specifically requests that I provide the festival decorations.

In the past, I’ve used my grants to attract Leo-kun and Lena-chan rather than for practical purposes.

His Highness appears to recall that time.

“Can’t you surprise and impress people with your grantmaking technique?”

That is what His Highness said to me.

It means he’s counting on me.

I’m elated by the words of expectation.

“All right, let’s get started.”

I tell myself this and go to work.

I rented a warehouse used by the Knights as a work space.

National Day is in less than three weeks.

There is no need to rush because there is plenty of time.

Nevertheless, I started right away, simply because I was excited.

It is not a job, but rather a fun way to attract people.

“What grant should I use?”

It’s a festival, so something lively and cheerful is appropriate.

How am I going to entertain everyone?

The mere thought of it revitalizes me.

A few days pass.

I’m still working on the festival grants today.

The knights’ storeroom, which is usually filled with weapons, armor, and other gruesome items, has been decorated for the festival.

Then comes His Highness.

“You look busy.”

“Your Highness.”

“I just wanted to check in on you—how are things going? — Is everything all right?”

“Yes. Now I’m figuring out which grants to mix and match.”

The emphasis this time is on flamboyance rather than practicality.

The effect will last until the national day.

There are no constraints, so there is plenty of room for experimentation and fun.

“That sounds like fun.”

“It’s entertaining. It’s not about fighting, and no one is going to get hurt—It’s something we can do for entertainment.”

“Yes.”

His Highness smiles at me.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

“Yes. I will do my best to meet your expectations.”

“Yes, but take it slowly. You have a tendency to focus too much and become lost in it. If necessary, take a break.”

“Yes. I will.”

His Highness departs, stating that he will return later.

I will do my best for His Highness, who has high expectations of me.

Of course, that’s so as not to worry him.

I thought I had followed His Highness’ advice at the time.

But I wasn’t aware of it.

I was already invested.

I got carried away because I was having so much fun.

I had forgotten about it.

The rumors spreading in the capital and the country behind the rumors.

***

The national day is only a week away.

A warehouse is neatly arranged with festival decorations.

“All right, this is the last one.”

My work is now completed.

I completed the last grant.

His Highness arrives just in time.

“Phyllis.”

“Your Highness, you’re here.”

“Ah, yes—are you finished?”

“Yes.”

I was on my way to inform His Highness.

His Majesty moves closer to the ornaments.

“From the looks of it, you can’t tell.”

“Because it uses magic power to grant the effect. It will be used in conjunction with the magic tool on the day of the event.”

“Magic power—can we still use it if I play it?”

“Yes. Just in case…”

His Highness nods and brushes his hand against the ornaments.

“All right, let’s give it a shot.”

“Can Your Highness use magic?”

“Well. I can perform simple magic—however, only for self-defense.”

“I see.”

That was new to me.

I had no idea his highness could use magic.

Mages are uncommon, and the ability to cast magic is already a great thing.

His Highness still has hidden talents that I am unaware of…

I was blown away.

…But then there’s a strange feeling.

I who granted the grant.

I can’t possibly confuse the effect for something I granted, and it leaves traces of the person who administered it.

In particular, the magic of the concessionaire grantor remains.

Huh?

But I don’t sense my grantmaking magic in the ornaments His Highness touches.

It’s lighting?

But I don’t remember granting an ornament like that.

“Your Highness, the ornament――.”

“What――?”

A feeling of unease develops into a crisis.

I had a feeling.

that the ornament has a different grant that isn’t mine.

“Be careful!”

I immediately reach out and pull His Highness down.

The ornament immediately exploded.

a minor explosion.

The ornament-lined shelves have burned and collapsed.

However, if a human were to be hit at close range by live fire, the consequences would be severe.

“Ugh…”

“Your Highness… Your Highness!”

His Highness, who is on the floor with me, makes a distressed sound.

His brow is bleeding, and his hands are scorched.

“What is going on here?!”

“Knight Commander! His Highness!”

“What the… We need to get a doctor right away!”

“P-Please…”

I’m at a loss for what to do.

I didn’t notice until it was too late, and His Highness is now…

His Highness lost consciousness as anxiety and regret filled my heart.

Chapter 39: No one’s going to hurt you

“He had a head injury and burns on his left hand… Fortunately, it’s not life-threatening, but he will need to rest for a while.”

“…I understand. Thank you.” 

His Highness is in bed, and the doctor in the castle has seen him.

What happened has already spread.

His Highness has been hurt.

The rumors quickly spread.

an accident that happened during my work.

Isn’t this on purpose?

Rumors are circulating in the royal city.

[She has finally revealed her true nature, which she had been hiding.]

There has been much speculation.

The Knight Commander and Minister Morgen summoned me to the Order’s reception room.

“Can you tell us what happened, Phyllis-sama?”

“Yes.”

I inform them of the situation.

It was quiet. 

Nobody else spoke except for me… They didn’t even crack a smile.

No, of course they didn’t. 

It’s not a pleasant situation.

The other knights and doctors present also seem heavy-hearted.

“I see. I understand your predicament. However, there are many unanswered questions—what do you think, Minister Morgen?”

“Well… Normally, I would inquire about His Majesty’s wishes, but… Phyllis-sama, could you please stay in your room for a while?”

I’m being investigated.

They suspect that my will is involved in this incident. 

I’m terrified of how they look at me.

They’re staring at me in ways I’ve never seen before… I’ve never seen them stare at me so intently.

I look down and respond.

“…Yes.”

***

“No! Lena-chan-sama, Leoness-sama!”

“How come I can’t go in there?!”

“Onesama did nothing wrong!”

“Not until his Highness regains consciousness, at least.”

Outside, there is a commotion.

It’s Leo-kun and Lena-chan’s voices. 

They’re concerned about me.

They are lovely kids.

Neither of them appears to believe it is my fault.

That’s a relief. 

Yes, it isn’t me.

Clearly, whatever His Highness touched at the time had been prepared by someone other than me.

Has someone placed an explosive ornament without my knowledge?

It had already been mixed in before I realized it.

Was it aimed at His Highness from the start? 

Or was it originally intended for me…?

If that’s the case, His Highness has suffered on my behalf.

“… I…”

Oh, my God.

This would not have happened if I had checked first.

If anyone had been harmed, it should have been me.

In agony, regret grows.

After a while, it gets dark outside.

I’m still in my room at dinnertime.

I informed them that I did not wish to eat.

I’m not in the right condition to let it pass through my throat.

I hurt someone with something that was meant to be fun.

I hurt His Highness.

“――!”

“? No, I don’t!”

“Huh?”

Outside, I hear a commotion.

Is someone arguing? 

Is it Leo-kun and Lena-chan again?

However, that voice…

“Just leave—this is the bedroom of my wife.”

“――Your Highness?”

I jumped out of bed and dashed to the front door.

The door bangs open at that precise moment.

“Isn’t it completely dark?”

“Y-Your Highness!”

“Phyllis, at least turn on the light.” 

“H-How did you… Aren’t you hurt?!”

As I panic, His Highness sighs.

He took his time and lit the room.

His left hand and head are wrapped in bandages.

“It’s nothing—didn’t the doctor say it’s not life-threatening?”

“B-But you should rest.”

“I will. Right here.”

“Eh…”

His Highness lies down on my bed. 

With a puzzled expression on my face, I look at him.

I make eye contact with His Highness.

“Sit next to me—let’s talk about it.”

“Y-Yes.”

I do as instructed and sit down beside His Highness.

He brings his face close to mine and begins to speak in a voice that only the two of us can hear.

“Don’t worry about it.” 

“Y-Your Highness…?” 

“It’s about the explosion—you were not to blame. I don’t believe you could have made that error. Someone set you up and blamed you for it.”

His Highness analyzed the situation calmly.

He had just woken up from an injury.

“So? What do you think? Was that really your grant?”

“N-No. I didn’t do it. It must have slipped into it somehow…” 

“I knew it. It’s almost certainly the Schwigel faction. The rumors are the appetizer, and this is the main course. Perhaps they’re attempting to pit you and I against each other.

“…I’m sorry.” 

I apologize in a hushed voice. 

I can’t even look His Highness in the eyes.

“If only I had double-checked…”

“…Then you would have been hurt back then—do you think it would have been better that way?”

“It’s better than his highness being hurt…”

“Face me!”

“Huh?”

When I looked down, I was forced to look forward with my cheeks clamped together.

His Highness’ face is almost touching mine.

Even our breathing is audible to each other.

Suddenly, I get a rush.

“I don’t doubt you—I’m not even mad at you.”

“Your Highness …”

“The only problem is that I’m a prince—you are more of a victim in this situation. You are not required to feel responsible.”

“B-But…”

“The others are the same. They don’t doubt you, Minister Morgen, the Knight Commander; they have their positions, and “they” are keeping an eye on them. So they had to react accordingly, but they’re really worried about you. I met and spoke with them when I awoke earlier.”

In a gentle tone, His Highness informed me.

that they didn’t hold it against me.

that they believe me. 

My heart shook when I realized this.

“I…”

Tears flowed.

“Don’t cry. It’s not over yet—Isn’t the festival just around the corner?”

“B-But Your Highness is…” 

“Don’t worry about my injury. In a week, I’ll be fine. I’ll do my best to recover in time—will you help me?”

“…Yes.”

I wipe away my tears and make up my mind. 

From now on, I will not fail.

For His Highness and those who have faith in me.

Chapter 40: Unacknowledged Thoughts

Time has passed, and it is the day before the national holiday.

Today is the final day of preparations for the celebration; the decorations are being paraded through the streets of the Royal City.

Residents of the Royal City were expected to cooperate.

We’re right on track.

An unknown man walks into the warehouse.

He has a bag strapped to his back and a rattle in his hand.

“…Good.”

“What’s “good”?”

“What the――.”

“Now! Seize him!”

Three knights jumped out after hearing the knight commander’s voice.

The terrified intruder tripped over nothing.

The knights held the man as if they were leaning over him.

“D-Darn! How did you know…?”

“Are you a moron? after everything you’ve done. The day of the anniversary is your next best chance—that is obvious to anyone who thinks about it.”

“L-Let go off me! I’m just a hired gun!”

“Oh, yeah. Then who hired you? Tell us everything you know, or else…”

His Highness Rayne casts a glance at the Knight Commander.

The Knight Commander nods and places his sword against his hip.

The man trembles at the slightest indication of intent.

“All right, all right! I’ll tell you!”

“Good and honest; now you tell me.”

***

“… Is it true?”

“Yes, it’s a name that does not appear by chance—not only that, but it’s the name of a nearby nobleman you know well.”

the night before the national holiday.

I received a report from His Highness.

According to the information provided by the captured man, the order was given by Schwigel and the others.

That was understandable.

But I learned something unexpected.

One of their associates was someone I was familiar with.

“Salerio-sama…”

“The explosives and the mage were provided by a nobleman named Salerio—It is not an arbitrary name—he is involved in some way, shape, or form.”

“Oh, no…”

“I’m not sure if this is a personal act or if the neighboring kingdom is involved, but it’s clear what they want: to cause trouble in this country.

Salerio-sama did that?

In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to war.

I shudder.

The fact that someone I know is attempting to instigate a major conflict.

“What should we do?”

“…We can’t do anything now because, even if it’s true, there’s no solid evidence.”

“But, if the person who was apprehended testified…”

“They’ll just say they don’t know anything about it; we can’t do anything until we have proof; I spoke with my father earlier, and we came to this conclusion.”

There is nothing we can do at this point.

If we make a mistake, the entire country will be in chaos.

This peaceful and tranquil land could be turned into a battleground.

To avoid such a situation, extreme caution was required.

“For the time being, there is only one thing we can do—we need to keep the anniversary on track.”

“Isn’t that risky? The parade will be held in front of a large crowd, and they might target His Highness and His Majesty.”

“They will not—for example, the explosion was small; if they really wanted to kill us, they could have made a bigger mess and switched heads, but the people would not have followed.”

As a result, they will do nothing that day.

That was His Highness’s prediction.

Nonetheless, I am concerned.

It may also endanger His Highness.

“Don’t worry. On that day, we will take every precaution—we are still here to complete our tasks—we’ll demonstrate to them that we are a loving couple.”

“…”

“——I don’t regret it either.”

“Eh?

Suddenly, he starts talking.

He has a solemn expression on his face.

“You told me before, didn’t you? That you don’t regret marrying me?”

“…Yes.”

“Me, too—I’ve never regretted marrying you.”

He firmly shook my hand.

“It was certainly in my interest—I chose you because it was convenient.”

“…”

“But as we spent time together in the castle, I realized that I had taken your presence in my scenery for granted.”

His grip on my hand tightens slightly.

I noticed a slight tremor.

“I’ve never dealt with love, romance, or anything like that, so I can’t give you a definitive answer—I just think. I can’t imagine anyone else in my scene but you. I can’t bear thinking about it any longer.”

“Your… Highness…”

“Now, I’m really glad you’re my wife.”

These words brought joy to my heart.

It was excruciating.

I was depressed.

The pain was all I could think about.

His single thought saved my life.

“Me too… Your Highness…”

My eyes welled up with tears.

It’s something I’ve always wanted.

I’ve been alone since I lost my family.

All I wanted was someone in whom I could put my trust.

It is now in front of me.

“Hey, Phyllis, tomorrow at the parade――.”

***

The day of the parade.

The streets are festooned with bright decorations.

not just decorations.

A special grant allows the light to change into seven different colors and fly freely in the sky.

There is a lively hustle and bustle everywhere.

A royal carriage rides through the streets of the royal city.

As we ride by in our large, ceilingless carriages, we wave to them.

“Your Majesty!”

“The Queen is stunning today!”

“Princess Lena-chan! She’s gotten so tall!”

People adored them.

and he is as well.

“Your Highness!”

“You’re very well-liked, aren’t you?”

“Hahaha—you can’t call yourself royalty if no one likes you; it’s difficult for all of us.”

“That’s true.”

His Highness and I are sitting next to each other, holding hands.

However, this is insufficient to convey the message.

“It’s Her Highness Princess Phyllis—those rumors…”

“Shh! They can hear you.”

Some have called our relationship into question.

That is why we will demonstrate them.

“Phyllis.”

“Yes.”

What we’re going to do is not very commendable in public.

No other country’s royalty would ever do such a thing.

We face each other.

His Highness’ hand is resting on my cheek.

“Phyllis, whose wife are you?”

“You are, and always will be, His Highness Rayne’s.”

“Yeah, keep it that way.”

Our lips meet.

They make far less contact than an embrace.

Nonetheless, they are in sync with one another.

It’s an odd and wonderful connection.

We are a fake couple.

We hold hands to benefit each other.

But, unbeknownst to each other, to us…

Maybe we were attracted to each other.

The tale of the unsuspecting prince and his wife continues.

~The End~

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