Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 22: The Innkeeper’s Daughter and The Fourth Son of A Noble
“I can’t bear to watch it.”
I had observed the second prince, my destined person—nay, my sworn enemy—for a while, but could not get a proper grasp on the situation. The current second prince, being on his first ever incognito town visit as a young master from upper class society, should surely have served as easy pickings for the downtown thugs (I, too, had been properly “initiated” during my first incognito town visit), but to the discerning eye, there was no unguarded opening in the second prince’s stance, and the thugs continued watching covertly from the shadows.
If I recalled correctly… I’d heard that the prince’s swordsmanship was in the same class as that of the Imperial Knights. Second Prince Edward Rowlands was hailed as a genius and rare prime vessel for a king. If he was that amazing, you would think that they didn’t need someone like me, but that wasn’t how things worked. As was written in Mother Elizabeth’s diary, the country’s political power was split between the royalist faction, the religious faction, and the minority neutral faction, and it was said that the power struggle between the two major factions was intensifying. Although the royalist faction currently held the advantage, there was no guarantee as to how long that would last… for example, it could hold up until the next coronation ceremony. The second prince, as the queen consort’s child, was regarded as the next-in-line to the throne, but nobody knew for sure what would occur.
“That’s right, an assassination for instance…”
As the current queen consorts had been princesses from an another country for two consecutive generations, it had been ruled that the next queen consort be chosen from among the country’s nobility. Such was the rule that had been enacted shortly after the country’s founding, in order to safeguard against the political intervention of other countries within the Rowlands Kingdom. Well, for that reason—in addition to the fact that my family background and lineage set me at the top of the list of queen consort candidates—I, who was four years apart from the second prince in terms of age, frequently had assassins sent after me by families who wished to make their own daughters the queen consort. In my opinion, though, it was unthinkable that my father, who was a loyal vassal of the king, would push for his failure of a daughter, whom he himself did not acknowledge, to become queen consort. Failure of a daughter that I may be, my pedigree was highly appealing. More than useful enough to be played as a political card, to be sure. For example, by marrying me off to another country’s royalty, or a powerful noble, and so on.
I looked towards the prince, only to find him still standing calmly in the middle of the street. It didn’t seem as if he had any hidden bodyguards either. Did he have awareness of his own standing as royalty, by any chance? To think he didn’t even have accompanying guards… not that I was in the position to be speaking of others. Here I was after storming out of the house without bringing along a single bodyguard, wearing commoners’ clothes to boot, after all.
“The castle should be in an uproar right about now, huh.”
The second prince had disappeared; there was no way it wouldn’t stir up a commotion. To be frank, this prince was the person I least wanted to encounter right now. However, neglecting my own country’s royalty knowing there was danger afoot left a bad taste in my mouth.
Although it’s not like I really have any noble pride or patriotic spirit to speak of~.
What little I did have was scattered into the winds on this very day. But at the end of the day, he was still a member of my own country’s royalty. If he were to die due to my neglect, I’d be crushed by my guilty conscience. I told myself that this was for my own sake.
Now then, if I was going to approach the prince, I would have to think about the setting. I absolutely did not want to approach him as the daughter of Marquess Lewis. Speaking of which, wasn’t the next district over the commoners’ housing district… Alright, it was decided. I’d be an innkeeper’s daughter, whose name would be… Lia sounds fine. I may have derived it from Julianna, but it wasn’t as if it was a nickname of mine.
Ever since Vinnie had enrolled in the military boarding school, sneaking out of the house like this had become a far more frequent occurrence. On those occasions, I would put on an act… perhaps because I would often tell my brother stories, but it was rather fun. If I became Lia, my current jumbled-up feelings might subside, at least a little. Furthermore, even though I didn’t wish to be his wife, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to know my potential future husband from a third-person perspective. I fixed my gaze upon the prince.
“I’ll act as your escort, and while I’m at it, I’ll get to the bottom of you. Brace yourself, Second Prince.”
I thus began my assault on the second prince.
“Hey, hey, mis~ter~♪ Come here for a bit!”
“Who might you be? Ah—hold on—”
I forcibly dragged the prince into an alley. The prince, having been manhandled into an alley, was looking bewildered. Served him right… Hold that thought. I had to get him changed out of his lousy disguise quickly. I jabbed at him with my index finger.
“You, yes you. You’re a noble, eh!”
“Your face tells me you’re wondering how I saw through you. I can tell this kind of thing~ fufu. I’m an innkeeper’s daughter, you see. Nobles going incognito will sometimes stay at our place.”
“…Hm, is that so? I’m a noble… so I say, but as fourth son, it’s not like I wield much power. Hey, how did you figure out I was a noble?”
The fourth son of a noble, huh. With a child as his conversational partner, there was no way he would reveal the truth, after all. Although the fact that he was nonchalantly attempting to fish for information from my side got on my nerves.
“Your clothes may be commoners’ brand, but your shoes look expensive. These eyes of mine can see through it in an instant! Plus your features look princely, and the color of your eyes is prettier than any I’ve ever seen!”
So I said to the prince with a grin on my face. I tried to unbalance him by throwing out the term “princely”, but his refreshing smile remained unchanged.
“Thank you. By the way, what’s your name?”
“Eleven years old. Fufu, I’m already an adult, see!”
It’d be troublesome if he kept his guard up against me, so I replied to his questions ‘honestly’…though everything was a lie.
“Is that so? You’re an adult, then, Lia.”
“Ehehe. Hey, what’s your name, mister?”
“Me? I’m… Silas. I’ve always wanted a younger sister, you know, so it’d make me really happy if you could treat me as your older brother.”
Silas—if my memory served, the second prince’s aide candidate, who was also the heir to House Inglot, happened to be of the same name. Boo, it was painfully obvious that he’d come up with it on the spot.
“Got it, big bro. I’ll turn you into a full-fledged incognito noble yet!”
“I’ll be in your care, Lia.”
Perhaps because he’d determined that Lia was a harmless child, the prince obediently followed after me. We walked together for a while, then entered a downtown cobbler’s shop.
A bear-like, hulking and formidable older man was standing within the shop. He truly gave one the impression of a craftsman.
“Hey, big bro. Are the shoes you’re wearing now precious to you?”
“That so? Misteeeer! Could you pick out a pair of comfy shoes for this one? If possible for the payment, please accept this pair of shoes in exchange!”
“Hey, hey, young lady. A pair of shoes that has been worn by someone isn’t going to serve as a substitute for cas—”
Ah, as expected, a cobbler would know his stuff. The shoes worn by the second prince were the newest release in this country. They were not something a downtown cobbler’s shop could just offhandedly acquire. If this shop were able to acquire these shoes, it would equate to obtaining information on the newest model of shoes. Doing so would, in turn, enable the creation of even better shoes than the ones currently available, which, in a place like downtown, would probably propel them right to the pinnacle of cobbler shops in one go. It should be a decent trade. Although the reason I wanted to make the deal was… because it was a hassle to be toting a pair of shoes around while walking.
“Ah, that so? It can’t be helped then. Shall we go to another shop, big bro?”
“Please wait! By all means, please allow me to accept the exchange.”
“Young lad, I’ll need to take your measurements, so could you please sit over here?”
As the prince was having his shoe size measured, I browsed the shoes on sale. The shoes displayed on the shelves were all of masculine design, the majority being boots and work shoes. The designs were a little iffy, but they looked incredibly sturdy. Workmen would probably be happy with these.
“I’ve kept you waiting, Lia.”
“How do the shoes feel?”
“They feel different, but it’s not a bad sensation.”
“Is that so? Good for you! Mister, thanks~.”
“Please come again!”
After leaving the cobbler’s, I latched onto the prince. He seemed to have difficulty walking with me hanging off him, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. His gait was far too graceful for his own good.
“What will you do now~? If there’s a place big bro wants to go, I can guide you there.”
For the time being, until the prince’s search party arrived, I had to stay with him. This person was a first-timer at going incognito. Who knew what mistakes he’d make… more so because he was royalty.
“Let me see. As thanks for bringing me to the cobbler’s, let me treat you to something.”
“Eh, is that okay? Even though all I did was bring you to the cobbler’s…”
“It’s because you’ve helped me plenty. Just think of it as my way of saying thank you. Would you lead me to a place you wish to eat at, Lia?”
“Got it! This way, big bro.”
I headed towards a tavern I’d been wanting to visit for a while. As much as it had been daytime, it was usually just me alone so I hadn’t ever gone in, for it was dangerous, after all. It had a reputation downtown for serving dishes that were more delicious than the alcohol, so I was really looking forward to it.