「Is that all? If you’re done, get out immediately」
「Though I really want to do that ～…………Ah, Harold-sama, what will you do now?」
「What is it, all of a sudden. There’s no need to tell you」
「Well, I was thinking whether or not you will practice swordsmanship today」
Looking at Zen’s suspicious behavior, where his eyes was moving around restlessly, inwardly, Harold tilted his neck.
Certainly, while he was chatting with Zen, since the food in his stomach had also been digested, he had thought of going to the usual place to practice his technique, but that should have had no relation to Zen.
「What about it?」
「I’ve kept it a secret until now, but actually I’m interested in swordsmanship! That’s why, I was thinking of maybe going to see Harold-sama wielding the sword」
He unintentionally wanted to retort- Then, change your main job to a soldier. It was just that Harold’s physical abilities were high and he was just an amateur, it would be impertinent to call it self-taught style with his level of skill.
A while ago, since he was doubtful of his skill, Harold had requested the soldiers to spar with him, but maybe due to being afraid of injuring him, all of them stuck to only defending and none of them even tried to attack him properly.
It was obvious if he thought about their standing, but for Harold, not having a personal practicing partner was a problem.
He thought about maybe asking his parents, but it was those 2, who were partial towards Harold, that would arrange for an instructor. He was doubtful whether he could learn the swordsmanship used in real battles, which was what he wanted.
Thinking that he would think about that part little by little, he deemed that it was alright since he had found a practice partner for today.
「Then I’ll show it to you, from a special seat」
「Umm, Harold-sama? Why are you holding 2 swords? Though I’m interested, it doesn’t mean that I have experience, alright? Suddenly asking to become an opponent is a bit……….」
「Don’t talk back」
「P, please, give me a break!」
As he was dragged away by his nape, Zen’s shouts were fading away. Soon, when she couldn’t hear any voice or footsteps, Erika got out of Harold’s room when it became silent.
Luckily, she hadn’t been spotted by anybody, but even when she had returned back to the room given to her, she couldn’t sort out her emotions which were completely mixed up.
She was pondering over the words which Harold himself had spoken out.
The servant whom she had thought was killed, was still alive.
And while guiding them, to give the highest priority towards their safety, he had suffered dishonor.
He had also wanted to purposely get himself hated by his fiancee, Erika.
And yet, he wanted to do something to save Erika and the Sumeragi.
Naturally, she didn’t believe that all of this was the truth. She was also aware that Harold and Zen might have prepared that exchange beforehand.
But still, at the same time, there were parts which were convincing. Especially, his attitude which seemed to fan Erika’s hostility towards himself, and his behavior which showed hints that he had started working on the medicine from a few years back.
What was true and what was false, how to approach Harold- Erika could no longer find out the answers for these. Even her own feelings about what she wanted to do were obscure.
It felt as though she were wandering around inside a thick fog without any aim. The one who roused her consciousness was Juno, who had come back after completing her errands.
「Erika-sama, are you there ～?」
Following a light knock, her usually slow voice was heard from the other side of the door.
With that, Erika’s heart calmed down by a bit.
「……….Yes, it’s fine to come in」
「Excuse me ～」
She was wearing the same cooking outfit as always. That outfit which didn’t change no matter what the time, now felt as though it was very reassuring.
Juno easily sensed these subtle changes in Erika’s heart.
「Did something happen while I was away ～?」
Although it was in the form of a question, Juno was convinced that something had happened to Erika. And she intuitively discerned that it had something to do with Harold.
At Juno’s sharpness, Erika’s body stiffened up.
She hesitated whether or not to tell about everything she had heard to Juno without holding anything back.
If the contents of what Harold had talked about were true, so as to not make light of Harold’s consideration, she should keep silent. Since Harold had gone as far as to get dishonored to protect the servant and her daughter’s safety.
But as a person from the Sumeragi, there was a need to judge the authenticity regarding this no matter what. Even for the sake of making sure what kind of person Harold was.
「–Juno, please listen」
After worrying over it, Erika decided to tell Juno. Of course, not the whole story.
Only the minimum information about how Zen had pushed her inside Harold’s room, and then had talked about how the 2 people who were rumored to be dead were still alive.
Although she had omitted quite a lot of it, the subject were more than enough to make Juno raise her eyebrows.
「That’s why, I want it to be investigated whether Clara and Colette are really alive or not」
「Understood ～. I’ll immediately make the arrangements ～」
Although Juno had just returned from the town, she once again went back. Since Juno herself couldn’t move very far from the mansion, she had to request the scouts to go and investigate in the Brosch village.
And even as she was going to the town, Juno was continued to think. Listening to Erika, Juno had felt a big sense of discomfort.
(Would a thing like Harold-sama not noticing a third party hiding in the room even happen ～?)
Harold was powerful enough to easily sense the presence of Juno, whose livelihood was spying. Was it even possible that such a person would overlook Erika, who didn’t even have the ability to kill her presence.
The answer that Juno deduced was a no.
The possibility that Harold had intentionally leaked this information to Erika, that is, to the Sumeragi side, was quite high. Why he had leaked the information, which was concealed from the people around him, to the Sumeragi, even she was unable to grasp his real motives for doing this.
If that were the case, then right now, she was moving as Harold would want her to. When she thought like that, Juno was bitterly regretting it.
(At that age, he makes one feel bottomless dread ～. If he were to grow up, what kind of ingenious scheme would he come up with ～)
She didn’t know whether to anticipate or fear that future figure. If he became an ally, there wouldn’t be many people who would be as reliable as him.
Not only was he resourceful, at that age, he had even learnt the sword. Even the word prodigy would be thought of as too lukewarm.
But if in case they became enemies, undoubtedly, he would be a formidable one. To the extent that if he were to be killed while he was young, they could reduce their future losses remarkably.
He could become a big enough threat for them to think like that.
Regarding Harold’s behavior, it couldn’t be helped that Juno had given such a judgement.
It couldn’t be called unchildish. Putting adults to shame- even that wasn’t enough.
It it was only to that level, there was no way he could lightly toy around with Juno and move around without Tasuku seeing through his true motives .
Even if that wasn’t what Harold himself had aimed for, it could be said that it was inevitable that the other party would perceive it as such.
And Harold’s biggest mistake was manipulating the degree of affection and due to being too desperate to adhere to the original work, he had neglected his own assessment from the surroundings. Even though he himself understood that his behavior deviated from children within his age group, but to be mindful of it and acting prudently just because of that, he had no leeway with either time or mind or manpower.
In a way, it was a very probable situation.
But if here, he had become properly aware of how he was assessed and what it meant to be thought of like that, he could have avoided stepping into predicaments due to being unprepared. If he had thought of wanting to avoid this kind of development, he could have.
And also, it was fatal for him to not investigate Erika and Juno’s aim even though he felt that their very abrupt long-term stay was inexplicable.
If an explanation was needed, then this was due to the negligence Harold brought upon himself, exactly because he knew that in the original work, Erika hated injustice and going around the truth. He had never thought even in the least bit that she or her attendant would act like spies.
If he had paid close attention to Erika and Juno’s movements, if he were to become aware that the information about Clara and her daughter being alive had gotten out, at the very least, the possibility of the situation falling into this state would have been low.
As a result of magnificently ignoring all these various factors, Harold would foolishly choose the move of heading to the Sumeragi territory once again out of his own will.
The start of it was when close to 3 weeks had passed from when Erika had come to learn of Clara’s survival, that is, when about a month had passed since Erika had started staying in the Stokes mansion. It was a command given out by Harold’s father, Hayden.
「I should go to the Sumeragi house?」
Like the other day, after Hayden had asked Harold to come to his study, the subject he talked in a serious manner was about how he wanted Harold to escort Erika, who wasn’t feeling well, back to the Sumeragi, and how this time, he wanted Harold to stay over at their place to deepen their relations.
The former was just a front while he was aiming for the latter. Hayden thought her bad health was just to the level of her being homesick.
「That’s right. Because I can’t go this time. But it’s necessary for the sake of showing good faith」
(Good faith, is it? Most likely, he just wants to appeal to the surroundings that the relationship between me and Erika is favorable by making me accompany her……..)
It had already been officially announced in the Stokes territory that Erika was Harold’s fiancee. Due to that, sure enough, the emotions of the people towards Erika shifted to pity.
He couldn’t help but be amazed at how his popularity in his own house was non-existent. He had no confidence to change it to a positive assessment.
「Understood. Then it should be fine to make preparations for the departure as soon as possible」
「Hahaha, to think that you would be so worried. It seems as though unknowingly, you have become surprisingly intimate」
Obviously, that wasn’t the case. In the first place, since Erika had secluded herself inside the room for the whole time, he had no chance to get close to her, but it seemed as though Hayden interpreted it to something which was convenient for him.
Although he wanted to remark sarcastically about how naive his thinking was, since there was no way that this annoying mouth which feigned obedience in front of his parents would ever allow it, Harold, with Hayden laughing in a good mood in his peripheral vision, treated this visit to the Sumeragi house as a chance. Shall I wager on a match here- he was eager about it inwardly.
Although he was impatient inside, that was a very rash decision. It might also be that he became conceited because he had found a clue to solve the situation even when there was still a pile of problems.
That is to say, it was like stepping on the greatest landmine. He should have been more calmer before taking action.
Even such basics had been forgotten by Harold at this time. He still didn’t know that due to his actions he would invite a new death flag.