Chapter 32.
Dangerous men.

The fear of meeting a future traitor and the curiosity of meeting the main character in the novel rose altogether.
Orca, the third Prince of the Empire.
In the novel, he was portrayed as a character who used illness as an excuse to travel all over the country to build up strength in silence.
Thanks to his early departure from the capital, he was able to safely grow his strength while the first and second princes competed for the throne and endured blood loss.
Later, with that power, he rebelled.

The Prince Orca I imagined has a sickly image.

However, the Orca Nadia actually faced was completely different from what she had imagined.
From an objective point of view, he was a handsome man with a kind impression, boasting a tall and sturdy physique.
No one would have thought of him as a sickly man had it not been for his pale skin, as if he had grown up without sunlight.
Orca, who was talking to a servant after getting off the carriage, caught her curious gaze.
As soon as her shoulders flinched in surprise, Orca’s eyes crinkled and he smiled sweetly.
The moment when her mouth fell slightly agape in surprise at the unexpected warm smile…

“Your Royal Highness!”

A middle-aged man hurriedly ran from the distance and bowed his head to Orca.

“You must have had a hard time coming a long way.
I’m Count Gillan, the host of this gathering.
There’s a seat available inside, I’ll guide you there.
We also have refreshments.”

That person is the host.

The poor host was breaking out in a cold sweat because a great figure had appeared at the meeting of small local nobility.
Since the imperial family mostly stayed in the capital, and local nobles could not easily show themselves in the capital’s social circles, the imperial family was like a holy being above the clouds to them.
But to think that the prince would personally come to a meeting of local aristocrats like this, it was definitely a big deal.

“Thank you for welcoming me.
But I think there are people who arrived before me.”

Count Gillan, who hurriedly turned his head at Prince Orca’s pointing out, saw us and flinched.

That is Baron Aylesford.”

“Baron Aylesford?”

For a moment, Prince Orca’s eyes, which had been showing friendliness with a kind smile thus far, turned sharp as he looked at Altair and Nadia.
The change was very fleeting.
Prince Orca, who quickly returned to a warm smile, walked past Count Gillan and approached them.
Count Gillan, not knowing what to do at the prince’s sudden action, followed in a hurry.

“I heard that the baron caught a dragon yourself.”

Prince Orca reached out to Altair and spoke to him in a friendly manner.

“Nice to meet you.
I have wanted to meet you since the moment I came to this place.
Because I am in this kind of state, I tend to like strong people.
They say that people are naturally attracted to their opposites, no?”

The nobles who had been paying attention to the prince from the moment he appeared held their breath in astonishment at his unauthoritative behavior.
Originally, it was customary for people of lower status to greet first, so it was not according to etiquette for the imperial family to ask for greetings first.
However, Prince Orca didn’t seem to care about such manners at all.
Moreover, he even mentioned his ill condition first, which could be called his weakness.
That made him look rather strong.

As expected, this is Orca’s power.

Considering that at the time Orca rebelled, local aristocrats reliably supported him, these moments must have been the foundation of support.

“…I am Altair Aylesford, Your Highness.”

When Altair held his hand and greeted him, Orca smiled broadly.

“The Aylesford Manor is said to be undergoing a lot of changes recently.
It is also said to be a place with beautiful nature.”

It was an aristocratic style of speech that naturally slid one’s intention into the subject.
‘Invite me to your estate’, that’s what he wanted to say.
Altair also noticed that, and his eyebrows twitched slightly.



Orca smiling and Altair remaining silent with a cold face.
Stuck in the subtle confrontation between the two of them, Nadia was the only one breaking out into cold sweats.

Thinking that the confrontation would never end if all of them continued like this, Nadia shut her eyes and parted her lips.

“P-please drop by whenever you feel like it.”

She felt the eyes of Orca and Altair, who were confronting each other, now drew to her.
Her shoulders shrank at the fierce gazes, but she remembered in time that if she wanted to appear as the Madame of Aylesford as confidently as possible, she had to correct her posture.

“Aylesford doesn’t treat its guests badly.
It would be a great honour, especially if His Highness were to visit.”

Baroness Aylesford.”

Orca’s sharp eyes briefly swept past her.

“You are the niece of Marquis Vine.
I heard that you were the talk of the town at the debutante ball.”

“Is that so? I wasn’t aware at all.”

“Since you are a person who stands out, it is only natural that you will be in the spotlight.”


What does he mean by ‘a person who stands out’? 

It was a sentence with many meanings.

Oh no.
O-o-of course I must have stood out at the debutante party…

She was flustered because she wasn’t used to people’s gazes, so she must have looked unsightly in many ways. 

Nadia was barely holding on, she was already unnerved enough from all the attention but now she didn’t think she could even get a hang of her breath and her vision also felt like it was beginning to flicker.
Just in time, Altair moved slightly and stood between her and Orca to block the Prince’s gaze.

“I look forward to the day you visit Aylesford.”

“I’ll remember your goodwill.
Count Gillan has prepared refreshments.
Would you like to join me?”

“There are people I haven’t spoken to yet.”

Then see you in a little while.”

After the conversation, Orca moved on following Count Gillan’s guidance, thanks to that the tension subsided, and a sigh of relief came out.
As Nadia was roughly wiping the sweat from her hands onto her pants, she heard Altair’s voice from above her head.

“I didn’t know you were acquainted with Prince Orca.”

“It’s hard to say that we are acquainted with each other.”

Because the number of aristocratic families settled in the capital and participating in central politics was small, they knew each other’s faces and names.
At a certain point in life, it was a natural rite of passage for the aristocrats in the capital to read the latest edition of the aristocratic yearbook with their portraits and memorise others’ positions and names.

Besides, if I am rumoured to be an unsightly lady…

No matter how much Prince Orca traveled around the country, there was no way he could know her.

“Rather, His Highness seemed to know Altair well.”

He seemed to know the story of Altair’s defeating the dragon and the changes that had taken place in the Aylesford estate.

But Altair catching a dragon is something that never happened in the original story.
If this is the reason Prince Orca started paying attention to Altair, then the flow of the novel is a bit twisted.

If the story went according to the flow of the original, Altair would become a scary villain.
Therefore, twisting the story wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was hard to judge whether it was a positive or negative thing for now, since that twist accelerated the point at which Orca took notice of Altair.
While Nadia was looking at Altair’s face with complicated thought, he just shrugged his shoulders indifferently, completely unaware of how she felt.

“If you are a prince, you should always keep updated on the news of the nobles anyway.”

“That’s right, but…”

When Nadia was about to say that she hoped he would not get too close with prince Orca…

“Yahh, I can finally see your face now!”

The man who exchanged subtle glances with Altair before Prince Orca appeared approached them, pretending to be friendly.

“You’re only showing the bride now! Aren’t you a bit too much toward your relative, Altair?”

Nadia could feel everyone’s eyes being fixed on them at the loud voice.

Everyone is looking at me again…!

There were a lot of people attending, so Nadia thought she could be buried amongst the crowd.
Yet, contrary to her expectations, she had been attracting attention from many people since the moment she appeared, and her head was spinning.
This person, who pretended to be friendly and boasted that he was a ‘relative’ of Altair was especially uncomfortable.

“My apology for I couldn’t make it to the wedding, Madame.
I am Balhail, a close relative of Altair.
But since this guy got married without notifying his relatives, I am only now able to congratulate you.”

The man who introduced himself as Balhail stretched out his arm to Nadia with a grin.
At Balhail’s attempt to hold her hand, she slid her body backward as of reflex, and the smiling man twitched his eyebrows.

“Are you not even accepting my greetings?”

“Oh, no.
It was a bit sudden so I was just surprised.”

Though awkward, it was an ordinary greeting for a gentleman to kiss the back of a lady’s hand.
Hesitantly, Nadia held out her hand, and Balhail grinned again as he grabbed her hand.
For some reason, she felt goosebumps arise all over her body.

“Who would have known that Altair would welcome such a beautiful wife.
No one could have expected this.
So did I.”

“…you praise me too much.”

Balhail didn’t even kiss the back of her hand, he just kept babbling and fiddling with her hand.
Nadia just wanted to take her hand out right away, but that would show a huge disrespect.
She didn’t know what to do, so she just shifted her eyes here and there in discomfort, and the smile on the man facing her grew even wider.
But that smile didn’t last long. 



Balhail’s hand fell off with a loud noise.
Altair slapped Balhail on the back of his hand and pushed him away.

“Put those smelly hands of yours away immediately.”

Altair treated Balhail as if he was admonishing a child for bad habits, and laughter erupted among the nobles at the sight.
Balhail, who had been holding his hand in a daze, unable to grasp what had just happened, belatedly figured out the situation and turned red.

“Wh-wh-what is the meaning of this…!”

Balhail shouted and protested, but Altair ignored him as if he was invisible and led Nadia along.

“Altair! What the hell is this kind of disrespect?!”

Balhail, who was treated as a joke in front of everyone, shouted loudly, but Altair just walked away calmly.
People didn’t know what to do with the sudden uproar, so they alternated between the baron couple and Balhail.
They seemed to be contemplating whose side to take.
Altair stood in front of the confused crowd and lightly bowed his head as if nothing had happened.

“It’s been a long time since I last attended a meeting when I was younger.
I am Altair, Baron Aylesford.”

The nobles, who exchanged glances with each other during his short and concise greeting, approached the duo with wide smiles.
After weighing Balhail and Altair, it seemed that the weight had slanted in the couple’s direction.

“Right, right.
I remember the Baron’s younger self.
Nice to see you again like this.”

“Now that you’re married and settled down, it would be nice to come out to meetings often and form connections.”

Balhail, who had been calling Altair from afar, kept his mouth shut at the outpouring of favour.
Turning her head slightly, Nadia saw a man whose face was flushed red with anger.
She suddenly wondered if Balhail might charge at Altair, who was turning his back against him, thus, she secretly protected his back.
At that, Altair looked down at her with a slight frown as if something was wrong.

“Why are you standing behind me?”


“Your place is next to me.
Not behind.”

Altair lightly wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
Then, naturally, her position shifted to his side.

“But your relative…”

She turned her head to let him know that Balhail might be aiming at his back, but before she knew it, he had left.
As Nadia stared at the empty spot and blinked blankly, Altair lightly stroked her arm as if to say not to worry.

“Don’t worry about that guy, I’ll take care of it myself.
You don’t have to memorise his name.
It’s a waste to have a name of the like of him appear in your head.”

“It-, it’s that bad…?”

“It’s that bad.
So don’t worry about anything and just focus on enjoying the gathering.
You should also interact with people.”

Enjoy the gathering? Interact with people? At Altair’s words, Nadia suddenly felt the eyes of the people who they had forgotten for a moment.

That’s right.
This isn’t the time for me to care about stuff like that!

She stiffly turned her head and saw a number of nobles waiting to greet her.


Nadia felt like she was going to lose her mind at any moment now.

“Nice to meet you, Baroness.
I heard you’re from the capital.
They also enjoy hunting there too, right?”

“We are all natives here, so we are quite curious about the capital.
Can you tell us about it?”

“Please come this way! I put an awning on this side to keep my face from burning.”

Before Nadia could say anything, her head seemed to go round and round at the information that was pouring in nonstop.

It’s-, it’s okay! Let’s show the results of our practice, Nadia!

It was finally the beginning of the main event.

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