Chapter 21: Audience [2]

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Author: Kobayashi Homare Original Source: Syosetu Word Count: 3204 characters
Translator: Nomad English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1403 words
Editor(s): Deximus_Maximus

He had seen me wearing the dress many times already, but he seemed impressed all over again. Since a noble was telling me that, I could trust he was telling the truth and I really looked good in it, so that was reassuring. Once we had regrouped, the same servant from earlier guided us further inside the palace. We went past other knights or nobles as we walked, all of which turned curious stares at me, but they only nodded in greeting without saying a word.

“We’re here.”

At the end of a long hallway stood two large gates with exquisite ornaments, guarded by robust knights with sharp gazes. When they saw our group, they silently poured their strength into opening the gates. Given that those gates were the last barrier protecting the king in case of an invasion, they were heavy and sturdy. But they turned on their hinges without making a single sound, showing they were maintained well.

The servant urged Grom to go on, so he nodded at the servant and walked past the gates with an imposing gait. I hurried behind him to not get left behind, and when I caught up I saw there were many people waiting for us in the audience hall.

A magnificent red carpet covered the floor past the gates, and on either side, many nobles stood in line, presumably the leaders of the country. Most of them looked like nobles, their clothes even more impressive than those worn by the nobles I had seen on the hallways. Sprinkled between them were many fully armed knights. These knights looked different as well, the details on their equipment made me think they were knights of the higher ranks.

Past all of them, on a platform raised a few steps up and sitting on two thrones, were the king and the queen. To their sides, they had a chamberlain and multiple guards. Having so many people looking at me really made me feel more stressed. Grom on the other hand did not feel too bothered, or maybe he was already used to it, so he calmly kept walking and knelt in front of the monarchs. The guards and I hurried behind him to imitate that.

“I’m Grom, governor of Surfour. Here in response to your summons.”
“You have done well.”

The king, His Majesty Ludwin, nodded heartily. His queen sitting at his side smiled a bit, but said nothing.

“There’s but one reason why I have summoned you here. I want to hear from your lips what happened when the Lich attempted a monster invasion, as well as the incident with Leble’s heroes.”

The hunch I prayed was not correct ended up being fulfilled. As I cursed myself in my mind, Grom spoke calmly and at length about those incidents. Ludwin already had a rough idea about the incidents so he remained still, but the nobles and knights that never heard about them had strained smiles. Normally they would laugh such a story off, or get annoyed, but thanks to my appearance it did not reach that point.

“…and that’s all I know about the matter.”
“I see… And is she Lapis?”
“Indeed, Your Majesty.”

I raised my head as I replied, at the same time, the people around began muttering among themselves. The nobles’ turned curious looks towards me, while Ludwin raised his eyebrows.

“You’re as beautiful as the rumors say. Was it really you who defeated the Lich?”
“Yes, that is true.”

As soon as I said that, the muttering became louder.

“It’s impossible for a girl like that to defeat a Lich!”
“Did Grom turn senile at his age already?”
“But if it’s true, then this could be the birth of a new hero.”
“Look at her though, her beauty is wasted on a commoner.”

Even though they were in the presence of the king, they all spoke their minds unrestrained. Ludwin had anticipated that to some extent, so he did not attempt to curb the mutterings and let them speak freely. But there was one person who would.

“Father! Listening to a deluded girl like her is only a waste of your time!”

Someone sprang out yelling that, a man in his late teens. Given that he called the king his father, he probably was the prince. He had inherited the king’s silver hair, stood one head above the rest of the nobles present, and his raised eyes showed a strong will in them. His body was well built, and his movements were refined.

“I haven’t asked your opinion, Stied. Step back.”
“I won’t, Father! That Lapis girl is here trying to deceive you in an attempt to gain unjust rewards! I won’t let that happen!”

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That was a horrible thing to hear. I never looked for any kind of reward after the Lich or the hero incident. The rumors simply spread without me knowing.

“There were many soldiers and spies present when that happened. Are you telling me all of them are lying?”
“They probably imagined things in the heat of the battle, it’s not strange for people to hallucinate in high tension moments!”

A discussion broke out between father and son. None of the nobles and knights attempted to butt in, but their eyes shone indicating they found the scene entertaining. Grom also remained silent, while the queen continued smiling like earlier. Not only had I been summoned to be there against my will, but now I was being accused of being a fraud in front of a crowd. When I really felt like going home seeing the discussion went nowhere, my eyes randomly met Stied’s, in which moment he changed the target of his words to me.

“What’s with that look?! Are you thinking I’m some fool?!”
“Eh? No, not at all…”

What’s up with him? It’s true I think he’s a fool, but is it really good for the country’s future if the royal prince has such a short fuse? Stied walked in long strides towards me, while I’m still recovering from my earlier surprise. But before he got too close, Ludwin’s voice thundered through the entire hall.

“Stop already!”

Stied’s arm froze in mid-air. Apparently, even someone who got carried away so easily felt scared of angering the king.

“Trying to lay your hand on a young woman kneeling in front of me! And you dare call yourself royalty?! Know your place!”
“B-But Father-”
“I told you to curb it! And step back!”

Being yelled at like that, Stied gulped loudly and turned a hateful glare towards me before he returned to his place. The rest of the people muttering also went silent, afraid of getting on the king’s bad side. After a moment of stillness, Ludwin was the only one who spoke again.

“That being said, I presume many of you harbor similar doubts like Stied, even though I believe every word Grom said. So to deal with that, Lapis, would you mind showing us some of your strength?”
“E-eh? My strength?”
“What, it’s nothing complicated. We’ll elect a few representatives from those who feel distrust against you, then you can carry out a mock battle in the palace’s courtyard. If you’re as strong as the reports say, that should be easy for you, yes?”

Things took a turn for the worse. I was already standing out too much, but if I had to fight in the presence of so many people, I could tell nothing good would happen. Searching for a way to escape that fate, I turned a pleading face towards Grom. He seemed to understand as he nodded silently. Alright! I did it! He understood! That’s why he’s my governor!

“That won’t be needed, Your Majesty. Even if all the knights standing in this hall grouped up to attack her, it won’t be enough to defeat her.”
“Wha-?!”
“Are you trying to mock our knights?!”
“Now you’ve taken it too far! You’ll learn a lesson today!”

He didn’t understand! He got it completely wrong! I thought we had a mutual understanding, but everything had simply gone above his head. Instead of easing the situation, he was provoking them. Now all the knights around us looked raring to fight.

I felt pushed down by the air lingering in the audience hall. There was no path for me to escape this situation. Grom…I’ll get back at you for this.



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