Chapter 158.1 : The Aftermath of Her Highness 2nd Princess
Even after Rio had left the room to prepare her breakfast, Flora kept gazing at the spot from where his back had disappeared, as if in a trance―― And then she noticed that she kept worrying about the black haired youth she thought she saw in the forest.
Is he, Rio-sama? But, his hair color is…
Although Haruto had said it himself, that he was the one who saved Flora just now…and the only source she could ask for the events that happened after she lost her consciousness was also him, she couldn’t bring herself to think that she had mistakenly seen his ashen grey hair color as black. Even though that was the most probable explanation.
Then again, there was some resemblance between Haruto and Rio. Resemblance that she couldn’t help but notice. And that day, the figure that appeared was overlapping with Rio’s younger figure in Flora’s memories.
Because Rio disappeared right before he entered his growth period, she didn’t know how he looked like right now. He might have changed drastically and turned into an extremely masculine gentlemen in height, voice, and appearance during this period, she guessed, but perhaps the one with the closest resemblance to the one in her memories was most probably Haruto’s figure.
… I don’t know. Let’s ask the details of the aftermath later.
Flora thought, deciding to focus on the aftermath of recent events. She had yet to ask about what happened after she lost her consciousness. Were they still in Paladia right now? What about those villagers? What had become of the man who sent her to the Paladia kingdom? And why did he appear in this kind of place? There were mountains of question she wanted to ask. Moreover――,
Could it be that lord Amakawa is actually…Rio-sama? But… It might also just be my misunderstanding.
That was what she felt. After all, after that field training, the Bertram Kingdom had formed a search party to investigate the bottom of the cliff all those years ago, but they couldn’t find any of Rio’s remains in that place. Therefore, the possibility of Rio being alive was extremely high.
And yet, maybe because he was aware of his treatment after that field training, Rio never went back to the royal academy of the Bertram kingdom. I mean he even ended up on the wanted list.
Furthermore, he shouldn’t be able to even show himself in front of the authorities of the Bertram kingdom. Rather, if Rio was alive, he most likely――,
… He wouldn’t even bother himself to be involved with someone as ungrateful as me, right? Should I ask him about this matter?
It then dawned on Flora. Isn’t it actually an extremely simple matter to ascertain whether Haruto is Rio-sama or not? Just in case, what will I do if that youth who appeared before I lost my consciousness was Rio-sama and Haruto just happened to come with him? Those questions with no answers flashed through her mind. Nevertheless――,
If he really is Rio-sama…
At that thought, Flora couldn’t hold back her excitement, and became embarrassed by her own discomposure. However, she couldn’t put the reason into words. Just that, for some reason, she just couldn’t hold back her excitement, and inquisitiveness to ascertain Haruto’s true identity.
Thus, Flora’s emotions and reason clashed with one another in an earth shattering battle within her. But, the sound of the door being knocked on startle her.
「!!!!! ? 」
That knocking sound resounded in her room, and jolted her from her own world where her speculation ran rife.
◇ ◇ ◇
「The meals are ready.」
Saying so, Rio placed the food tray on top of the desk beside Flora’s bed, unaware of her plans.
「T-Thank you very much」
Expressing her gratitude, Flora peeked at Rio face.
「Since your physical condition isn’t in top shape yet, I made the flavor on the lighter side to be easier for you to digest .」
Rio said, picking up the pot lit. The aroma that was trapped inside the pot rushed out, gently stimulating Flora’s sense of smell and appetite. Therefore, although there were so many things for her to worry about, the current her threw them aside as she couldn’t hold back on her hunger anymore. The temptation of the delicious food before her was too much for her to endure, thus――,
「…………. Such a nice aroma. What is this? 」
Flora’s eyes opened wide as her gaze locked onto the pot.
「It’s congee. This is not the kind of dish that is normally eaten by royalty though.」
Rio explained to the curious Flora.
「Congee…huh, no, actually I’ve eaten the same dish just recently. Hero-sama personally made one for me before using similar ingredients to the ones from Hero-sama’s world.」
「That’s great. Then my explanation seems to be unnecessary. I’ll just pour it into your bowl now.」
「… P-Pardon. Please do」
Gulping her saliva, Flora gave her consent. Naturally her gaze was locked on the pot.
「….. If you are unsure whether there’s any poison or not, we could do some poison tasting first. If you want that, then allow me to-」
Rio was making sure she was aware that he wouldn’t be offended if she wanted to do some poison tasting first, but he was interrupted by the person in question.
「N-No, it’s okay! 」
Flora rejected his offer on the spot.
「Certainly. Well then, since it’s still piping hot, please be careful when you eat it.」
Rio served the congee in a bowl, making sure to remind her it was still hot. The congee was made with various ingredients, from spring onions, finely minced chicken meat, tofu, and grain. There was also a clear transparent salt-based soup that was sprinkled with a little bit of sesame seeds over it as a side dish.
Flora, whose eyes were already sparkling from seeing the beautifully lined up ingredients that were used to make the congee, was nodding her head obediently at his words. She stretched her hands out to hold the bowl.
However, her arms that were stretched out were trembling weakly, and she seemed to be unable to raise them more than what she’d done. Fortunately, there were no other symptoms aside from her weakened physical state.
「… Could it be that you have not regain your physical strength yet?」
Rio looked at Flora’s hands with squinted eyes.
Flora replied in an anxious tone.
「It might be the after-effect of the poison.」
When Rio uttered those words, Flora had this huge question mark on her face, confused.
「Didn’t you know that you were infected by the poison of a spider that lives in the forest? 」
「………….P-Pardon. I thought it was just a fever, but come to think of it, could it be from the spider back then? While I was in the forest and had just woken up, I found that there was a spider biting my neck…」
She explained with a dumbfounded expression that quickly changed when she recalled the spider she found on her neck that morning, and the panic she felt at that time.
「… That’s most probably the cause. I heard that aggressive snakes and spiders are usually endowed with deadly poison.」
Rio agreed with her. For a moment he felt that the scene of Flora sleeping alone in the forest was just pitiful. Just why did she have to experience all of that?
「I see, so that’s why my condition kept deteriorating as time passed…..」
Realizing how close she came to death, Flora’s face turned pale.
「Well, since the poison was the sort that didn’t immediately show its effect, not noticing it immediately is normal. And it’s also normal that you thought that you were merely ill, after all the symptom from this poison is hard to detect. Only after some time had passed, would the more telling symptoms of this poison shows, and by that time, it’s usually too late if you don’t already know about it. Nevertheless, please don’t worry since I have detoxified the poison with the my potion.」
Rio said, soothing Flora with his words.
「………. T-Thank you very much.」
Flora heaved a relieved sigh and was silent for a brief moment before she bowed to Rio. [Ed: wamen, you’re hurt! STAHP!]
「No. Please don’t worry about it and just focus on your recovery for the time being. You seem to be strong enough to hold a bowl right now, nevertheless, I’ll check on your condition for a few days to see whether you’ve fully healed or not.」
Rio smiled wryly, shaking his head to deflect Flora’s thanks..
Looking intently at Rio’s face, she nodded to him with a slightly flushed face.
「Well then, may I borrow your bowl for a while? 」
Rio sat on the chair beside the bed and stretched his arms to Flora as he said so.
「… Pardon, eh? 」
Tilting her head, Flora gave back her bowl to him, thinking that Rio’s request was slightly strange.
「With all due respect, do allow me to serve this dish for you. Cooling it a bit might be the best way to eat it. Please do tell me if it’s too hot for you.」
Rio explained, scooping the contents of the bowl with a wooden spoon, and bringing it to Flora’s mouth.
「E!? ? 」
Flora’s confusion heightened before she realized what he meant. When she did, her face flushed furiously.
「You just barely managed to move your arms right? 」
Flora agreed when Rio asked that question, but――, for a lady to be fed…as expected, it’s embarrassing.
「Uhm, I…………… Will be in your care then.」
Steeling herself, she shut her eyes tightly as she opened her lips. Her face was just like a ripe tomato.
「Well, are you ready? I’ll feed it to you.」
Rio fed her without forcing the spoon into her mouth, and when he saw that she had gulped down the food into her mouth, he slowly retracted the spoon back. While he thought that if she realized the way she behaved, she would be embarrassed to no end, he didn’t point it out.
Closing her mouth, Flora chewed slowly like a small animal. When she swallowed it down, she couldn’t help her reaction.[ED1: If you know what i mean ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)][TL : (╭☞´ิ∀´ิ)╭☞][ED2 : …pervs]
Her eyes flew wide open as she carefully savoured the taste of the congee left on her tongue.
「Thanks goodness. Please eat as much as possible.」
Chuckling lightly, Rio took another spoonful of congee and brought it to Flora’s mouth.
Flora nodded timidly. Her cheeks were flushed red due to embarrassment, but she no longer shut her eyes. Though her eyes were wandering around as she felt troubled where to look at, in the end she looked at Rio’s face with upturned eyes as Rio feed the next spoon to her.
「Is it hot? 」
Rio asked, waiting for her to finish swallowing the spoonful of congee in her mouth.
「Ye-Yeah. The taste is just right. In fact it’s really delicious, you should be the one who made it right, lord Amakawa? 」
「Yeah, since I’ve been traveling around to various places, cooking is one of my forte.」
「Is that so. Various places……….」
Flora eyes opened wide, showing her curiosity.
「Yeah, and thanks to that I met Flora-sama when you were in predicament.」
Rio told her so.
「………. Uhm, does that mean that lord Amakawa was the one who saved me? 」
Flora asked with a timid voice, trying to ascertain that fact for sure.
「Yes, you’re correct………..」
He tilted his head a little, carefully pondering before he replied to her question in the affirmative. Hearing his answer, Flora looked like she wanted to ask something, but she was unsure whether he’d answer or not. In the end she decided to go for it.
「According to my memories, aside from those villagers, there should be another group of people, the one who wanted to kidnap me, what happened to them? I’m worried about them…」
Flora added more details to her question. Well it was just like her to ask that question.
「Well then, with all of my humble respect, will you allow me to retell that event while serving the food to you? 」
「Yes, please do so.」
Rio decided to tell the event of that time while feeding her at the same time.
Flora replied, agreeing with a slightly stiff voice.
「Certainly. Let me start from the conclusion, I let go of the people who wanted to kidnap you.」
Rio omitted the process and told her from the conclusion of the event first.
「How… Did you do that? 」
Tilting her head, Flora asked. She didn’t think that they would back off so easily in that kind of situation.
「Naturally by fighting them.」
Rio told her with a calm voice, not stopping his motion of feeding her.
「Y-You did such reckless things for me…………」
Though she vaguely expected that answer, her expression changed hearing that Rio fought with her kidnappers.
「No, I had entirely different goals from the very beginning, you could say that the man I was looking for just happened to be in that place. Even if you were not in that place, the battle was still bound to happen..」
Rio told her the truth, wearing an awkward smile, shaking his head.
「Then, It was……………. really just a coincidence.」
「Yes. The one who tried to capture Flora-sama were the knights led by the first prince of the Paladia kingdom, but the man who I was looking for was the mercenary working with them. I have been looking for that man for a long time. And it was only just recently that I found out that he was in Paladia.」
「Why were you………. Looking for that man? 」
Peeking at his face, Flora asked with a timid voice.
「… To avenge my parents.」
Rio replied with a slightly stiff voice.
「M-My apologies. I just asked about such a private matter……………」
Flora apologized in panic.
「Don’t worry, it’s already over. Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to explain the situation unless I told you my back story, right? 」
Rio looked at Flora with a bright smile on his face. Even if Rio tried to hide such information, a half-baked lie was bound to bring even more trouble for him. Thus he decided not to hide the reason he was searching for Lucius.
Flora looked embarrassed, unsure if to ask another question. Perhaps it was due to such heavy story being told to her, but she looked more reluctant to ask him more.
「In the end, I killed that man and reach an agreement with the prince who was leading his knights. Well the prince’s knights also suffered from some damage due to the process of the battle, so I think being pursued by them is the last thing we need to worry about…… Here you go」
He decided to explain more details of the event after looking at Flora’s expression. The reason for his decision could be because he was aware of her worries, thus he tried his best to ease that. After he was done explaining, he brought another spoon to Flora’s mouth.
Nodding, Flora held the spoon in her mouth.
「And don’t worry, since everything is more or less solved peacefully with those villagers. But then, the one called Will and Donner seemed to be worrying about you, Flora-sama.」
Rio told her about the villagers, especially about Will and Donner.
Flora made a complicated expression hearing that.
「Are you worried about something? 」
「… No, It’s just that I’ve brought them a lot of trouble. While I left behind my possessions as a form of apology along with a letter, I still didn’t get to say a proper farewell to them.」
「So you left a gift for them……..」
Rio’s eyes opened wide. After all he had given them quite a sum of money as a reward as well. But then, looking at Will’s state at that time, he didn’t seem like he realized Flora had left behind gifts for them. In short――,
That village chief was there too. Shall I keep quiet about this matter?
Rio was amazed by the unexpected situation. Well, it wasn’t a situation that was suitable as a topic for conversation right then, since it would only bring a lot of trouble, so he was grateful that she accepted his story in silence.