22. The Third Prince is Too Dazzling! I Can’t Look at Him Directly!
Chapter Twenty-Two: My Dear Wall Was So Close Yet So Far
“Gilbert, you seemed to be enjoying yourself just now.”
The moment our dance finishes, a voice calls us out… it’s the Queen, Lady Trianna herself!
Gilbert puts his hand to his chest and salutes her with impeccable manners.
Ah! Me too!? I hurriedly pick my dress at the hems and bow in a curtsy, after Gilbert’s example in my own way.
But in doing so, I miss the timing of removing my glasses inconspicuously, so I can’t check her aura. But in return, I am able to take a clear look at the Queen’s face.
An amazing beauty. Crimson hair and amber eyes. Surely, the Queen is fifty years old, from what I was told? I double guess myself because she doesn’t look that age at all.
Her dress is a lustrous dark blue. She looks astonishing in it. It suits her too much. True royalty’s presence is too powerful.
“May I have a dance with you too?”
“I… would be honored.”
Wo-wo-woah, is that alright? I feel it won’t be a dance as much as a close-quarters battle!
Paying no heed to my misgivings, Gilbert steps forward without the slightest sign of trepidation and gallantly takes Queen Trianna to the hall’s center.
Almost imperceptibly, he turns to me. It looks like he is signaling something to me with his eyes…
But don’t try to talk to me with your eyes! I’m not like Lord Glenn, who knows your every gesture’s meaning and nuances! I don’t understand!
Just as I found myself completely at a loss, Queen Trianna also turns towards me. For a moment, our eyes meet, and my heart skips a beat.
“Lady over there, once our dance is finished, let’s have a talk.”
W-what could the Queen have to do with lowly little me? A-anyway, for the time being, let’s check on dad…
Oh, and speaking of which, where are you, Melia, Alisa, Laila, and Maribel! Even though they were all like, “Let’s enjoy ourselves at the party together!” so merrily just a few days ago!?
My glasses are lifesavers at these times. Clear vision free of “color overload.”
Naturally, I am making my way across the wall, where I feel most at ease. But then, I land in an unexpected situation.
There they are, three men standing in front of me. With immaculate manners, they introduce themselves one after the other, and not a single word they say enters my brain. On top of that…
“Milady, may I also have the privilege of a dance with you?”
“Beauty beyond reckoning, please allow me the honor of escorting you tonight.”
“Dearest lady, please grant me your hand and let me guide you through the events of this night.”
W-what are you guys saying, all of a sudden!? W-w-what do I do?
You guys are talking to me, right? I look back, but no one is there. How can I excuse myself from such a sticky situation!?
Huh? A dance with me? No, no, no, that is out of the question!
“Oh, uh, I…”
The three gentlemen eagerly wait for something intelligible to come out of my mouth.
“I-I’m terribly tired, so please come ask me again next time.”
I really want to get their reply immediately so I can be excused, so my voice’s volume fades by the end of my reply as if to invite a response.
It’s funny, though. “Someone” usually shows up out of nowhere to help me out of such sticky situations…
At any rate, let’s switch to aura vision to find them. Even without seeing faces, if I just go for “most color-vertigo inducing auras,” I think I’ll bump into them in no time.
Speaking of which, Gilbert instructed me to go back to my living quarters with Glenn, but if I do that right now, it’ll be like I rejected Queen Trianna’s request to chat after the dance…
Lost in that thought, I absent-mindedly take off my glasses.
I’m such a slow learner of a woman! In my defense, I had been thrown off by such a series of unfamiliar situations.
Who am I kidding? I just completely forgot. This place is saturated to the hilt with aura radiance. You have to wear glasses to find people here.
Even so, Gilbert and Trianna’s dance is elegant. I’m being shown not what a difference in rank means but rather the difference between the worlds they and I come from.
“Lady Randall, how wonderful to finally meet you.”
I was so entranced by Gilbert and Trianna’s dance that I forgot I was supposed to find my friends. Before I can reach the wall’s safety, I’ve run into a precarious encounter.
I look up to face this gentleman who knows me by name for some reason.
“Your Highness, the Crown Prince…”
“Oh, you know who I am? I didn’t want to be like the rude people who approached you earlier, but it seems there are even more people here itching to talk to you, so I took the liberty of getting ahead of them and talking to you first.”
The Crown Prince has fiery red-gold hair and amber eyes. He resembles Gilbert, but I also see a definite resemblance to Lady Trianna.
He projects a magnificent calm atmosphere proper of an adult prince, perhaps because he is five years older than Gilbert, and his expertly chosen deep blue suit brings out that impression all the more.
I can’t see his aura because I’m wearing glasses now, but I’m guessing it’s a bluish-green.
“Just now, you seemed to be enjoying yourself dancing with Gil, right?”
Ah, Gilbert certainly went a bit crazy at the end there, yes.
I’m sorry, but… I gotta admit. I really enjoyed myself too, especially feeling as if I was floating in the air for a moment held by him.
But in this situation, how should I answer?
It’d be wrong to let the silence linger too much, so for the moment, I just respond with proper but meaningless etiquette. But I wonder if I made a misstep somewhere.
The Crown Prince smiles warmly at me, but that only makes me think I must have said or done something dumb, and he’s just smiling at me as you smile at a confused child.
I really want to go find someone I know, even just Glenn, but if someone says, “Is it OK if we have a quick chat?” There are very few people in this world who would refuse. And I’m not one of them.
“Gil seems to have opened up to you a lot, but is he also being kind enough to you?”
So asks the Crown Prince as he extends his hand toward the drinks area. And as he does, with just that simple gesture, the crowd on the way splits left and right.
Sorry to all present for imposing on you, but a Crown Prince is escorting me.
“Y-yes, I think so. He is very kind. Yes.”
Lord Gilbert is certainly a bully of sorts, but he’s also kind. Come to think of it, I don’t know when it started, but just like a few minutes ago during the dance, even when his mood is at his foulest, the kindness deep in his heart is still in command.
“Well then, has Gil been mean to you?”
Hmm, what’s with these drinks? I prefer juice…
But I am handed a glass of wine. It will be rude of me if I don’t raise it to my lips and imbibe, I guess. Oh but, I have a low alcohol tolerance.
Ah, I froze up again, absorbed in my own thoughts. I better say something.
“Hm… yeah, he has. Ah, no, I mean no, he hasn’t.”
Huh? Wait, what? I wasn’t really listening, so I just blurted out some bland agreement by reflex, but I wasn’t supposed to confirm the Crown Prince’s suspicions.
I throw a fleeting glimpse at the prince to check his reaction. He is still smiling gently, so I guess I didn’t do too badly. I gotta stop getting lost in my own thoughts mid-conversation, though.
But if I can be honest, I will tell him: yeah, he’s basically mean. Puzzling as it may be, he seems to enjoy putting me in situations that trouble me. On purpose. And nowadays, my physical distance with him has only increased to the point it is the closest it’s ever been.
“What kind of man is Gil, from your point of view?”
Mr. Crown Prince, why are you so curious about Gilbert?
I put on my best face as I force myself to drink a sip of wine.
Whoa, my throat! It burns… all the way down to my collarbone.
“Oh, I don’t know how to say it all of a sudden… I guess you could say he’s a bit of a bull— I mean, he is an honest person and so true to himself!”
Whoa, that was close.
I’m not good at all at saying things in a roundabout way to avoid trouble. That just now is about as sly as I can get.
Did he buy it? Nope… His Highness, the Crown Prince, has burst into laughter.
“Lady Randall, please call me just Jerik from now on. I will also address you as Lina, as proof of our becoming acquainted.”
Are all the Elvasti royal family members of such a friendly disposition?
If His Royal Highness says so, there’s no way to refuse to call each other by the first name, even though otherwise it would be outrageous.
Even so, what is your true aim here, Lord Jerik?
Or are you just one of those guys who likes to break out laughing just because? Ah, or could you have been having drinks before meeting me? Maybe you’re just a merry drinker?
Speak of the devil. The arrival of Mister Look-at-me, Grade-school-bully, and Living-hazardous-light-object. You sure have added to your nicknames since I first set foot on this castle.
I see my chance and sneakily return my glass of wine to the table when Jerik’s line of sight turns from me to Gilbert. I knew it. It’s still early for a little girl like me to partake in the big girl drinks.
Afterward, I also turn to Gilbert.
Oh, wait, what?
No way… Gilbert, are you back in a foul mood again?