Transmutation Master Aria Is Doing Her Best Today ~a Happy Second Life for a Transmutation Master Who Had Her Results Stolen by Her Sister~ – Chapter 5
Chapter 5: The same prince
I was driven out of the royal palace, and I have nothing left.
I am worthless now that I have nothing and no one needs me.
Will I end my life quietly and unnoticed like this?
To me, who was even thinking about that, my old friend Yuren-kun reached out with a helping hand.
He was the only one who watched my efforts.
He also evaluated them.
He said I was necessary.
His hand, which I held, was warm and strong, yet gentle, making me feel relieved.
We looked into each other’s eyes.
In a worn-out mansion where nobody else was around.
Without saying a word, just by staring at each other, my heart felt warm and comfortable.
“Well, let’s get going. It’s getting dark, and there’s no light here, so the forest is especially dangerous.”
“Huh? I’ll be fine. I’ve camped out a few times to gather materials.”
“That may be so. If it was just me, it would be okay, but I don’t want to leave a girl alone in a place like this. Aria tends to be reckless, you know. You should take better care of yourself.”
Yuren-kun is probably the only one who treats me like a girl.
I want someone to treat me like I’m important… but even my family has never said that to me.
“Yuren-kun is so kind.”
“Hm? Did you say something?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
I laugh it off.
Yuren-kun doesn’t seem to have heard me, and he tilts his head in confusion.
I could have repeated it louder, but it’s embarrassing to be conscious of it.
“Oh, right. Where are we going, Yuren-kun?”
“To my house, of course.”
“Yuren-kun’s house… huh? Is that, by any chance――”
The castle of the Salem Kingdom?
My homeland, the Mayquin Kingdom, and beyond the forest to the northeast and over a small mountain lies the neighboring country of Salem.
The land size of Salem is less than half of that of the Mayquin Kingdom, and their population is only about a third.
Although it is a small country, it is blessed with abundant nature and resources, and I hear that the standard of living for its citizens is high.
Especially, the national style is distinctive and “free.”
This does not mean that anything is allowed, of course, but rather that people are free to live as they wish within the bounds of not inconveniencing each other.
“My grandfather started the current national style. If it had been free from the beginning, there would be no need for a king or a castle.”
“Is that so? I don’t know anything about the neighboring country.”
“You should get to know more about it from now on.”
“Yeah. Um, aside from that…”
We arrived at a dark, damp room at the back of the mansion.
“Where are we headed?”
“A secret passage. If you walk on the surface, it’ll take you over four hours to get to the castle. You have to go through the forest and over a small mountain.”
“It’s quite tiring, isn’t it? But if you use this shortcut, you can get there in less than an hour.”
In the center of the room underground, there was a square door with a handle.
Yuren-kun pulled the handle and slid the door open with a creaking sound.
Then, there was a stone staircase leading down to the basement beyond the door.
“The master of this mansion was a Transmutation Master who served the palace at that time. This place was made so that he could easily go back and forth between the palace and here.”
He stepped on the first step of the staircase as he explained.
He looked back and gently reached out his hand to reassure me as I held his hand and slowly descended the dark staircase.
“Aren’t you scared?”
“Well, a little bit, but I’ll be okay.”
“I’m sorry, but please bear with it for a little longer. It’s safer to go straight down the stairs than to go outside.”
Even if he said so, the staircase was dark and hard to see.
I only had Yuren-kun’s dim light to rely on.
If he let go of my hand and ran away, I would be helpless in the darkness.
I knew Yuren-kun wouldn’t do such a thing, but I was still somewhat anxious.
“Have you always passed through here alone, Yuren-kun?”
“That’s amazing. You’re a prince, right? Aren’t you supposed to have bodyguards when going out alone?”
“I’m fine. My older brothers seem busy, but I’m the third so it’s not that bad. And when it comes to guarding, my sword skills are even better than the Knight Commander’s, you know?”
Yuren-kun bends his other arm, showing off his biceps in contrast to his hand holding mine.
I can’t help but laugh at his silly gesture.
“What, you think that’s funny?”
“Oh, sorry. It’s not that it was funny, it’s just that… you’re both princes, but we’re very different.”
“Hmm? Different from who?”
“… The second prince of the Mayquin Kingdom.”
Thinking about him makes me feel a little sick.
But I can’t help but remember him.
When I hear the term “prince,” I think of that liar and scary prince.
It happened a year ago.
It was just after I finally got my dream job as a court Transmutation Master.
I was so lost and confused that nobody in my family was willing to lend me a hand.
And in the midst of it all, the first person to talk to me was…
“Hey there. Looks like you’re in trouble. You’re a new Transmutation Master, right?”
He has bright golden hair and blue eyes.
He shows a gentle smile that looks like it came out of a painting.
Laurus Mayquin, the second prince of the Mayquin Kingdom.
He’s kind and friendly to everyone, sincere, and widely supported by those around him.
However, only I know that it’s all just a façade.