Chapter 90: Encounter
On the day of the evening party which served as Satsuki’s debut.
While having to accompany Liselotte tonight, Rio was finally heading towards Galwark Kingdom’s royal castle.
With the time steadily approaching evening, the full moon had already risen in the cloudless east sky.
Two extremely well made coaches stood by the garden of Duke Kretia’s mansion.
Rio and Liselotte were going to take one while Cedric and Julianne were going inside the other one.
「Well then, I’ll leave escorting our daughter to you then, Haruto-kun. Anyhow, it’s the first time for this child to attend an evening party with someone of the opposite sex」
Cedric told Rio about that with a bright smile on his face before taking his coach.
Though it doesn’t mean that she’s never gone with men, it’s more or less a tradition that when going to an evening party, the one who attends with someone of the opposite sex will become their partner for the night.
Though unmarried people can attend with their parents, a noble going with a partner near their age has happened with increasing frequency.
The pair is normally an unmarried man and woman who have the same level of status.
In short, they wore similar clothes and gems.
Especially in case of the male side, someone who attends without bringing a partner, even if they were an adult, will be treated as less than one.
A noble attending an evening party puts importance in dignity and honor; it’s easy to see that choosing a partner holds a very important meaning.
By the way, in a case of fiancée aside, the pairs who attend together are not obligated to remain together throughout the night, they can move separately depending on the situation and their judgement.
「Understood. While being an unworthy one, I’ll do my best to not bring shame as the one who sits next to ojou-sama」
Rio answered with a humble smile.
Liselotte is a duke’s daughter; she even has the title of CEO of Rikka firm which is famous in the neighboring countries.
Moreover, didn’t he just say that she has basically never attended an evening party together with someone unrelated by blood and of the opposite sex?
Honestly, it feels quite awkward for Rio to attend an evening party along with Liselotte.
If Rio who is nothing more than a nameless existence attends the evening party with her, a future of gathering attention from the nobles who attend the evening party is guaranteed.
（But it is necessary. It can’t be helped）
Rio lamented a bit inside as reasoned his situation.
It’s not anything bad in particular.
The main reason to have him tagging along with Liselotte is to make it easier for him to get in a contact with Satsuki, the hero, in the evening party.
「I’m glad that you say that. You-know-what, if it’s Haruto-kun, you won’t give an unfavorable impression when standing by Liselotte’s side. It might be a nice coincidence if they treated you as her fiancée」
Cedric told him that with a teasing smile.
Julianne who stood by his side also smiled with an amused face.
Rio’s reply was a wry smile.
「It’s okay, there’s no need to take to heart what dear father just said, Haruto-kun. Since he usually jokes around with it」
Liselotte said that while looking slightly shocked at Cedric’s direction.
「Hahaha, that’s harsh. I’m just really worried about my cute daughter」
Cedric slightly shrugged his shoulders while saying that with a slightly joking tone.
「Even if it is a joke, please keep it at a moderate level. Geez」
「It was the first male brought home by my daughter after all. So I just can’t hold back my curiosity」
「Geez, please don’t make me more embarrassed. My apologies for making you wait. Haruto-sama」
After sighing lightly, Liselotte turned around and apologized to Rio.
「No, it’s not a problem at all」
Rio shook his head in denial as he smiled gently at her.
「Thank you very much. Well, then. Please feel free to enter the coach. My companion」
Rio’s nodding in agreement.
While at it he also nodded to Cedric and Julianne, Rio got on the splendidly made coach which was standing in the garden along with Liselotte.
「Please enjoy today to the fullest with both of you. It’s a long awaited chance right」
So, Cedric gently said that to the two inside of the coach.
「Thank you very much」
「Yes. Dear father」
After getting on the coach, Rio and Liselotte replied with a smile on their face, each with with different meaning on them.
Rio’s smile was one full of goodwill, and Liselotte’s felt like a ‘it can’t be helped then’ smile.
Both of them were in the fancy coach.
In the meantime, Aria, the retainer who served as the guard and driver, was already getting on the coach.
The scenery of the round moon rising in the eastern sky was being projected from outside the windows.
「Well then, we’ll depart」
After the driver said that, the coach in which Rio and Liselotte were in started to move towards the royal castle.
There was no other coach heading towards the royal castle in their vicinity, the “garagara” sound of the wheels resounded inside the silent noble district.
It seems that the castle gate wasn’t jammed with the coaches of all the nobles since they already decided on time slots of attendance by their noble rank.
Everyone of Duke Kretia’s house, who had the highest family status in the kingdom, entered the venue slightly behind the schedule, moreover, everyone entered with a companion, even Rio who was attending as Liselotte’s guest.
「Haruto-sama matches very well with the tail coat don’t you. It completely brings out your charm you know. Is it brand new from the store？ 」
Liselotte asked that question while the coach advanced along the way.
「Yeah, I’m not that familiar with this sort of clothes. I got help from my acquaintance」
「Is that so. That person must have an awfully good fashion sense. Though many nobles prefer gaudy color, my preference is settled down to black」
「My apologize that there’s nothing but trifle language which comes to mind but, Liselotte-sama looks very beautiful today」
Rio also praised Liselotte while secretly showing a sign of embarrassment.
Currently, Liselotte was wearing a beautiful dress which accentuated her beauty.
Her long light blue hair which would extend till her back was styled with an upward style, a wild rose shaped hair brooch was used to tied her hair, a pale light blue dress which matched her hair color, a big ribbon which made one think that it’s a wild rose similarly fastened on the back.
Her skirt gently fluttered just reaching the ground, bringing about a fairy-like charm.
The eyes of the men will definitely be glued to her when she enters the party venue.
「Well…………………, Thank you very much」
Liselotte looked at Rio’s face with slight astonishment, she gently said her gratitude with a slightly shy face.
As far as she was concerned, it’s not an unusual thing to be praised for her appearance.
She was used to being called such things as「Pretty」, 「Beautiful」, 「Lovely」 or sometimes even some long winded praises from the male nobles that she has met up till then.
Though most of those were just a pick up line which was thrown along with a gaze filled with passion and lust, the current Rio was a true gentleman, she really couldn’t feel any kind of ulterior motive. [TL : He might be impotent right][Ed: a likely theory]
On the other hand, it didn’t seem like a compliment with simple flattery, Liselotte was strangely happy being praised purely for her own appearance.
At that time, their coach stopped moving.
「We have arrived at the castle gate. Now the driver will be going through the procedure to enter」
Aria’s voice resounding inside from her place at the drivers seat.
It seems that even the defense of the castle became even more strict this night, from the windows which they kept open, they could see the figure of soldiers patrolling around.
「You’re of Duke Kretia’s house, right? Certainly, I have confirmed it. Please follow the road」
The humble voice of a soldier slightly resounded from the outside.
The sound of the opening of the gate was immediately heard, the coach started to move again.
Just like that, Rio entered the center of Galwark Kingdom’s royal castle.
There was a small castle for social gatherings built next to the royal castle―― And now, this facility became the venue for Satsuki’s debut and the evening party, every part of the small castle was decorated with yellow ornaments on the base of the pale indigo walls.
They did not directly enter the venue upon arrival, Rio was guided towards the waiting room along with everyone of Duke Kretia’s house.
There was a strict protocol r even with the rotation of attendance, it was decided that they would wait till their sequential order comes.
Splendid furniture was lined up inside, and the walls were decorated with works of arts.
Rio started a conversation with Cedric and the others inside this kind of room.
「I heard that the evening party will be held throughout several days」
「Yeah, the political balance of the Bertram kingdom in the west is unstable, what kind of reckless things do they think when they are always glaring at the Proxia Empire in the north」
Cedric replied with a wry smile.
「I do think that everyone needs some good news for times such as this. Even your morale will go down if there are only gloomy news all the time right?」
Rio said with a friendly smile.
「That’s right. Basically the debut of Hero-dono is also to raise the morale of the citizens, though it won’t just end that simply for the nobles who attend the evening party. The various complex situations around are becoming even more complicated」
「Though it should have some meaning in line with the true goal of the party which will result in a wait and see kind of situation that causes the nobles to restrain each other, right？」
Thinking that it is not his place to talk about such a situation, Rio stated his own opinion while dodging the root question.
Cedric took a breath demonstrating interest in his opinion.
He could see the point in Rio’s remark just then.
Just like that, Cedric opened his mouth and looked at Rio.
「I wonder how much you know about our country, Haruto-kun？」
「Unfortunately it’s nothing but rumors on the street, some of which include the relationship with the neighboring country」
Rio shook his head softly with a wry smile.
Actually, Rio knew nothing but the superficial rumors regarding Galwark Kingdom.
「I see. As I thought, you seem like a wise person. But somehow, I now know the reason why Liselotte set her eyes on you」
After looking at Rio’s face with slightly squinted eyes, Cedric laughed.
「You are overestimating me. I’m stating nothing but things anyone else could see」
「You might say that, you see. But, I won’t say so. Not to mention a mere citizen, I think even most nobles of the kingdom wouldn’t understand your words. The ones that could are a minority.」
Cedric told his words with subtle hidden meaning.
Rio was slightly troubled, not understanding what was so good about his answer, the moment he wanted to ask the sound of someone knocking on the door resounded inside the room.
「Oops, it’s time. I thought that it was still early though」
Saying that, Cedric looked at the door with slight surprised.
「Excuse me. Your excellency Duke Kretia」
In there, the door was politely opened along with a voice slightly flustered voice
The soldier guarding the front of the room entered right away.
「The Hero-sama of Bertram kingdom mentioned that he must definitely give his greetings to Liselotte-sama……. He’s coming with the daughter of Duke Fontine, Roana and her highness Princess Flora……….」
And told them that with a troubled expression.
The ones waiting inside the room opened their eyes slightly in surprise.
「Ah, I see. Since they’re going to the extent of coming to greet us, we can’t just send them away. No problem. It’ll also do as a warmup」
Thereupon after bowing with a practiced movement, the soldier left the room to invite the three who were waiting outside.
The counter revolution army of Bertram kingdom―― Though it was now called the revolution army―― Under the banner of the summoned hero, Sakata Hiroaki, who merrily greeted Liselotte once he saw her after entering the room.
Since they were going to attend the evening party, he was wearing a splendid white tailcoat with golden ornaments.
Foreign country nobles were invited to the evening party, Hiroaki was also included.
Though, it was natural considering that Hiroaki and co had been staying as foreign guests in Galwark kingdom’s capital for around one month.
By the way, Duke Euguno has been visiting the territories of Marquis Rodan, their base in the Bertram kingdom.
Though it was a slightly over-familiar greeting, everyone of Duke Kretia house showed undisturbed smiles to Hiroaki.
「It’s been a while. Hiroaki-sama. I’m really grateful that you came here to greet me」
Liselotte who was called as the representative returned his greeting with a wide smile on her face.
「Yeah, I heard about it. It seems that Almond was in great danger. Though I heard that it was safe now, I was worried since we couldn’t go there since the incident」
「My deepest apologize. As the prefectural governor, I can’t leave Almond so easily due to the post processing of the event」
「What, so that’s the reason, well…………… Since I could see you safe and sound like this. I think it’s already good enough with that」
「Fufu, Hiroaki-sama’s as kind as usual aren’t you」
Liselotte gave her gratitude with a smile that will likely unintentionally charm those of the opposite sex.
Hiroaki became entranced and stared intently at her who wore a new dress for the first time.
Hiroaki unintentionally had his face flushing red in front of the beautiful appearance of Liselotte who had a dress that was much more fashionable than the previous time.
「Ehm, nevertheless, doesn’t that dress match you very well」
Hiroaki praised Liselotte with a slightly embarrassed voice after fixing his tone a bit.
Though he glanced at Liselotte from time to time, maybe because he was aware of his own behavior, he avoided meeting her eyes.
「Thank you very much. This is my favorite dress」
「O~h, I see. I think, it’s beautiful」
「Fufu, you’re skillful with your flattery aren’t you」
Though Hiroaki was immersed in his conversation while forgetting the people in their surroundings, after chuckling, Liselotte moved her line of sight to Flora and Roana.
「Your highness Princess Flora. It is my honor to meet you again」
Liselotte gave a respectful greeting by raising the cuff of her skirt with both hands.
「Yes. It’s been a while. My deepest apology for intruding during this pleasant time with your family」
Flora apologized with a humble smile.
She was wearing a violet dress, her long light purple hair was bundled in a half-upward style.
Her figure was cute to the point of not being inferior to Liselotte.
「It is not something for you to apologize. We’ll always give a warm welcome if Flora-sama visits」
「It is my happiness for you to give those words」
Flora’s smile showed her relief.
After that, Liselotte shifted her line of sight to Roana who was waiting behind Flora and Hiroaki.
「It’s been a while too, Roana-sama」
「Yeah, it’s been a while. I’m truly grateful for the invitation to your mansion the other day」
Roana bowed gracefully while raising the cuffs of her yellow dress.
「No, I’m glad that you spent a wonderful time」
Liselotte also bowed gracefully while raising the cuff of her dress.
「While I’m a bit late with it, I’ll introduce the people on my side who have accompanied me today. First, this is my father, Cedric, and the woman by his side is my mother, Julianne」
Liselotte introduced only her parents, Julianne and Cedric for the time being.
「It is my first time to meet you all. I am called Cedric Kretia, Liselotte’s father」
「Julianne, his wife. I am glad to meet you. It is my honor to be able to meet you」
Cedric and Julianne performed a brief introduction with gentle smiles on their faces.
「It is my first time to meet you. I’m Flora Bertram. It is a pleasure」
「I’m Roana Fontine. Please treat me well after this」
Flora and Roana greeted them back with lady-like manners.
「Yah, ehm, I’m Hiroaki Sakata. Pleased to meet you」
Looking at the two doing their greeting, Hiroaki bowed while trembling slightly from nervousness.
Maybe because he guessed the atmosphere of the place, he became meek which was somehow hard to imagine from his usual outspoken attitude.
He became as meek as a lamb.
「Hahaha, please no need to be so nervous. Hiroaki-dono」
So, Cedric addressed Hiroaki.
「Uhm, sorry for troubling you then. I’m really weak in using formal language. I………….. just recently received a warning regarding my speech from Flora and Roana」
Hiroaki bowed lightly with an awkward smile on his face.
Flora on his side showed a troubled smile while Roana sighed lightly.
「I’ve heard that Hero-sama came from a different world. You are still unfamiliar with this one’s costumes, right? Now is a good chance to adapt to the living style of this world」
「Aah, Yes. I am saved when you say that」
Hiroaki scratched his head while saying that.
The introduction hadn’t ended yet, Flora and co line of sight came upon Rio.
「He is Haruto-sama, my benefactor. I am inviting him in this occasion to repay his kindness」
And then, Liselotte introduced Rio.
Rio splendidly hid his surprise deep in his heart by showing an insincere smile on his face.
Despite not expecting that he would meet his old acquaintances in this way, he couldn’t play it poorly and blow his cover.
「I am glad to meet you. Following the previous introductions. My name is Haruto. It is my honor to be able to meet everyone」
Gently placing his right hand on his chest, Rio expressed himself in a correct manner.
Though Roana squinted her eyes at the fact that he didn’t give his family name, should time and circumstances permit it, it does not mean that a noble can’t hide their family name.
Though in this case she isn’t considering the situation of whether Rio is actually a noble, Roana guessed that he was a noble from his conduct and courteous speech.
「What kind of benefactor is he？」
Hiroaki threw a sharp question.
「Hiroaki-sama knows of Almond’s incident the other day right? I borrowed his power during that occasion」
Liselotte answered, as if slightly dodging the question.
Hiroaki’s looked at Rio as if measuring him one way or another.
Rio caught his gaze with a smile.
「Nice to meet you. I’m Hiroaki Sakata. Tentatively, I’m a hero. Your age might be slightly younger than me. As I’m 19 years old」
「It is a pleasure to meet you. Hiroaki-sama. I am 16 years old」
「Well, you’re at the same age as Roana then. Flora is one year younger」
Saying so, Hiroaki sent a fleeting glance at Flora and Roana.
「N? What’s the matter, Flora？ 」
For some reason, Flora was staring at Rio’s face.
Figuratively speaking, her expression as if something is missing.
「Ah, No. Sorry. Uhm, we have not met somewhere before right？ 」
Flora asked timidly.
「No, I have no recollection for that」
Rio gently shook his head in denial without changing his expression.
「That must be so, right. Sorry. I just said something strange」
Flora smiled as if slightly dejected.
（Could it be that she noticed my identity？）
Rio has cold sweat running along his back while maintaining his smile.
Though Roana didn’t care too much about Rio’s appearance, Flora kept stealing glances at Rio’s face.
Though soon after that, Flora looked as if charmed by Rio’s graceful features, somehow a strange atmosphere started to drift between them.
「Ara, is there something wrong？ Flora. Haruto will be troubled if you keep on staring at him like that」
Hiroaki interrupted the atmosphere between Rio and Flora with a slightly bored face.
Flora was taken aback and suddenly apologized.
Though it was decided that they would have a pleasant talk with Hiroaki, Roana, and Flora until it the time to enter the venue came, Flora sometimes stared at Rio as if she can’t help but do it.
「Your excellency Duke Kretia. It is the time. Please come in」
Soon, a soldier came in to inform that the time to enter the venue had come.
「Well then, it is regrettable, we will continue our conversation in the venue. We will make our ways to the party first」
After giving a signal to wait for a minute to the soldier with some light movements of his hand, Cedric told that to their guests.
「We are the ones who troubled you by staying longer. It seems we have lost the track of the time while enjoying the conversation with the Duke」
Flora spoke as their representative.
「It is my honor, to receive such words beyond me」
Cedric bowed deeply.
All at once they stood from the sofa where they sat.
「Well then, we will excuse ourselves first」
After saying those words they started towards the venue of the evening party.