After hearing Liz’s yell, I quickly turned to look in her direction. Sophia and Liz had started walking a little ahead of Alice and I and a knight-like man was blocking their entrance to the dorm.
I quickly ran up to them to get in between them.
“Liz, what’s wrong? What happened?”
Liz backed down and wouldn’t look me in the eyes. It’s almost like she’s frightened….is she afraid of saying something?
Well…should I just listen to what the knight has to say?
“I’m sorry, but who are you? Are you a knight?”
“And who are you to be asking that?”
“I’m sorry for being rude. I’m Leo, her friend.”
“I see. I…was ordered by Liz-sama’s parents to retrieve her.”
There was something strange about what he said or maybe it was how he said it, but Liz didn’t try to argue with him on that point.
I thought he was trying to use Liz’s family as a way of deceiving me but I guess I was wrong.
So he really is here to pick her up. Liz is here because she didn’t want to be forced to marry anyone so her parents probably sent this man here to bring their daughter back home.
I want to help Liz out, but…at the same time, I don’t want to stop someone that’s essentially her guardian from bringing her home.
As I thought this, Liz moved behind me.
“I said I wasn’t going back. Tell onii-sama that I won’t return.”
“Regardless of what you have said, you’re engagement is still happening. I’ll be in trouble if you don’t return.”
“That’s why I –”
I could tell that this wasn’t going to get anywhere so I stopped Liz from responding. Then I spoke up.
“Isn’t it obvious that she hates the idea of being forced into marriage?”
“…this is a family matter. An outsider like you should just remain quiet.”
“Is it common for this family to not care about what their own daughter wants?”
“So, you just expect me to leave?”
His tone was polite but I could tell he had no intention of leaving.
“ — Liz is clearly frightened. Isn’t this enough for today?”
While I said this, I also motioned him to look towards the dorm with my eyes.
It looks like he was able to understand what I wanted. He turned towards the dorm and could see a group of students as well as a Grances knight standing there.
If things get worse, I can turn to that knight for help.
Of course, that’s just what I want him to think.
Liz’s family is clearly of a higher rank than our own. Liz has already publicly stated that she doesn’t want to get married.
Even if we were to officially protest against them forcing her into marriage, it would end poorly.
But it also seems that this man sent to retrieve Liz also wants to keep her identity hidden. So, he probably wants to avoid any kind of public confrontation.
And so —
“…I understand. Then, I’ll return soon.”
The man said this with a sigh. Apparently, my bluff actually worked.
At least this man was rational. If he was like Patrick this probably would’ve ended much worse.
“ — Liz-sama, I will be excusing myself for today.”
He bowed to Liz and the knight-like man walked away.
I confirmed that he was out of sight and turned to speak with Liz.
“Thank you, Leo-kun. That was….”
Liz was still lost for words. I don’t need her to explain everything to me. I already know that she wants to keep her identity secret.
“Liz, I made him leave. Did I cause you trouble?”
“It really is more troublesome for you now, isn’t it?”
“No, it really isn’t any trouble at all. You really saved me.”
“Okay. That’s good to hear.”
I kind of forced him to leave without considering what her family might do later.
“Eh, umm, Leo-kun?”
“Hmm? Was there something else?”
“No…it’s nothing like that. Just, thank you.”
And we returned to the school dormitory. Of course, I didn’t plan on leaving things like this, but I also knew it would be pointless to ask Liz.
Besides, I have a more reliable source.
In other words, I was leaving my room in the dorm — it was mostly for show considering I spent most of my time in the mansion — and was now heading to the office in the mansion.
Shortly after, I arrived in front of the office.
I heard a reply after I knocked and quietly opened the door.
“Please, teach me, Claire!”
“Of course I can help my beloved brother. Even though you can be insensitive at times, you’re always hardworking and willing to help everyone else.”
“Wait, what are you saying!?”
“Because my otouto-kun suddenly comes in here and asks me to teach him about something but doesn’t explain what that is.”
“So what did you come here to learn? Did you want to find out my bra size?”
“Of course not.”
Does she know that I learned the bra size of everyone else?
…I shouldn’t think about it too much.
“Actually, something happened at the dorm.”
“Someone was there to retrieve her, right?”
How does she already know…? I guess there were people around when he was at the dorm. There were also Grances knights there that would almost certainly report what happened to Claire.
Anyway, that makes things easier now that she knows the basics of what happened.
“I managed to get him to leave for today, but I’m sure he’ll be back again. I wonder if we’ll actually be able to stand against him.”
“If you mean using the name of the Grances family to try to stand against them, that’s impossible. It may sound cold to say that, but there’s really nothing we can do against that family.”
I can’t even argue with her because she knows more about Liz’s family situation.
It doesn’t really matter whether or not the power our family name holds would be enough to influence their decision on her marriage. If we were to help her that much it would just prove to her family that she’s not capable of doing anything on her own — or at least that’s how I feel.
“Of course, I’m going to do whatever I can to help her, but it’s really up to you.”
“So you mean if I’m able to produce results with her, it may change how her family feels?”
If not, there’s no point in trying to help her in school. That’s what I thought she meant, but a troubled expression floated across Claire’s face.
“That’s right…or at least, I’d like to believe that. I really don’t know what their intentions are. I don’t know much about Liz’s family, but it’s rumoured that they really dote on their daughter.”
“And yet they’re forcing her into a marriage she doesn’t want?”
“I don’t know much about their family so I can’t say why they’re doing that.”
…then, the likelihood that they’re using her marriage as a political tool seems pretty low.
“Maybe it’s similar to what happened with Patrick? Either whoever she’s marrying or his family are putting pressure on Liz’s family to push the marriage onto her.”
“I don’t think that’s the case either.”
“Is that so? What kind of person is Liz’s potential fiancé?”
“Well…he’s about as popular with women as you seem to be.”
“…I don’t even know how to respond to that.”
If I deny it, I’ll be saying that her partner is nothing to worry about and if I agree with her, I’d basically be saying that I’m a womanizer.
She’s clearly just trying to make fun of me.
“How old is he and what kind of person is he?”
“He’s a young, ambitious, and tactical man. His ambition is a driving force behind his actions. It even leads to him looking at women as potential tools for his own political advancement. In fact, I’m sure you could stand to learn some things from him.”
“What exactly could I learn? To be more ambitious?”
“I feel like you’ll be there in the near future. To be exact…well, we’ll find out.”
Claire’s final words trailed off.
“I’ll get a little worried if you say something like that.”
“You’ll understand sooner or later.”
I just now noticed that Claire had been working the entire time we had been talking.
“Sorry, were you in the middle of something?”
“I’ll be leaving for a little while due to my job as acting Earl so I wanted to finish up as much of my work here as I could.”
“You’re leaving somewhere? I haven’t heard anything about that.”
“You have now. Don’t worry, I won’t be gone for long.”
“I understand, but….”
Sometimes Claire has had to leave our territory before. She’d leave to improve relationships with surrounding lords or to discuss matters concerning our own internal affairs.
I shouldn’t have any reason to complain, but….
“Fufun, are you sad seeing your onee-chan leave?”
“Well, recently I’ve been spending so much time at school and I really felt lonely not being able to see you, Claire.”
“R-Really? Otouto-kun is lonely if I’m not around.”
…why does that seem to have affected her so much?
…well, it seems I’ve found a surprising weak point of Claire’s. Actually, rather than a weak point, isn’t it more of a cute point?
“A-And that’s why I’m leaving Liz’s matter to you while I’m gone. Was there something else you wanted to talk about besides that?”
“Alright then…ah, right. What family is Liz from?”
What was with that reaction?
“Umm…you never told me and Liz still hasn’t told me either so I don’t know.”
“Right, I know that, but I thought you had already figured it out a long time ago.”
…eh? She thought I had figured it out?
So that means she must be from a family I know? The only houses I know are the Marquis of Gramp, the Earl of Sfir, the Viscount of Rodwell, and — it must be that!
“She’s a secret child from the Grances family!”
“If you’re just trying to find a way to make Liz a potential marriage candidate leave me out of it.”
“…it was just a joke.”
I should really be more serious. She might mean that Liz is from a family that I’m only somewhat acquainted with. Maybe a graduate of the school or maybe she’s a member of Wells’ family.
That can’t be the case. Claire was always speaking with her like she was from a higher-ranking family.
“It’s unusual for you to not understand something, otouto-kun. Isn’t Liz’s name a dead giveaway?”
“What do you mean?”
And she just sighed. I really can’t understand.
“Well, I’m sure the person herself will tell you soon enough. Just be patient and wait until that time.”
“Muu, I understand….”
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.