༺ Unwanted Gathering of Stars (3) ༻
I took the bomb that no member of the Academy’s staff wanted and defused it.
“I’m Carl Krasius, the advisor of this club. It seems like I’ve met everyone before. I hope we get along well.”
I looked at the club’s members, whom I became able to monitor with the excuse of being their advisor. Louise was smiling brightly, Erich’s eyes were shaking, and Ainter was grinning as usual. Thinking that three more people would join soon disheartened me.
“Since we’ll see each other often, I’d like to speak more casually. Is there anyone who isn’t comfortable with that?”
I was planning to talk to them without honorifics. It was something I had said for Ainter, but he just shook his head. It seems like it was okay. I was satisfied with the result.
“Although I’m the club advisor, you don’t need to be wary of me. If something happens, feel free to come talk to me. Treat me comfortably.”
I didn’t have anything special to say, so I finished my presentation. I’d never been part of a club, so I wasn’t sure what an advisor’s job was. Based on what the Principal said, there seemed to be little to do. Just check in from time to time and make sure everything’s okay.
That was just what I wanted. The other Academy staff might feel intimidated by the prince’s presence, but I was the opposite. I was about to go crazy because I couldn’t find an excuse to get close. I felt bad for the person that was in this position in the original novel.
However, I didn’t need to feel bad about something that didn’t happen. After all, I was now the one in that position. Louise, who had created this mess, looked happily at the ingredients and baking equipment. Her eyes were shining so much that if the staff that had brought the supplies heard about it, they’d be happy for sure.
Erich was looking at Louise with a warm gaze. After his eyes met mine, he turned his face around. Now that I think about it, I had been planning to meet with Erich more often since I came to the Academy. Thankfully I’d become the advisor, and he the club member. I’m sure I’ll be able to improve my relationship with Erich from now on. I’m sure he’s also going to be happy.
* * *
As Erich’s eyes met Carl’s, he turned his face around. He knew he didn’t need to do that, but his body couldn’t help but react. He’d struggled his whole life because of the gaze of the lord. It was understandable that his body would instinctively avoid someone whose eyes bore such a resemblance to the lord’s.
‘I shouldn’t be like this.’
They weren’t close even when they were children, but it wasn’t like they didn’t have a relationship at all. Erich didn’t have any other brothers, so he couldn’t distance himself from his only brother.
He’d finally become able to enjoy the club life along with Louise.
‘This is the perfect opportunity to be with Louise even during the hours when we have clubs.’
There was also a chance they might be able to meet outside of class, using the club as an excuse.
Although there was a third wheel called Imperial Prince, he couldn’t give up on this opportunity. When he heard that Carl would become the advisor of the club, Erich felt like everything was about to crumble, but this was actually a good opportunity for him. If he couldn’t overcome his fear of Carl, he wouldn’t be able to enjoy life alongside Louise!
That’s how a man blinded by love gathered the courage to face the trauma that had been hounding him for years.
* * *
While Erich was moving out of the darkness and into the light, Ainter was feeling uncomfortable. The cause of his discomfort was Carl, who was looking at Louise as if he were impressed by her. She had assembled all the ingredients necessary to bake a cookie on the table.
‘I heard that he was going to come…’
But he never imagined he’d meet him like that. Ainter’s eyes sank a bit.
Ainter putting his name down for Louise’s club was an unreasonable move. Although members of the Imperial Family had joined the Academy before, none had joined a club. The reason was that they wanted to avoid putting an unnecessary burden on the staff member who would become the advisor.
Among the princes, there was a battle for succession to the throne. If a prince joined a club and came in contact with other nobles, there was a chance those nobles would already be considered to be part of his faction. Even if he weren’t, there was a chance that the other princes would consider that noble a part of that prince’s faction, and they would be forcibly made part of his faction.
That’s why, to avoid these kinds of incidents, the Imperial Family members avoided joining any club to avoid putting nobles in such an uncomfortable position. However, two years ago, after a long competition, the first prince was chosen as the successor to the throne.
But if the third prince, who’d been living relatively quietly, suddenly violated the rule and joined a club? The first prince probably wanted to hang Ainter from a rope right now.
Just like the second prince, Ainter was also the son of the second wife of the Emperor, and he was the final remaining competitor.
After the first prince was made the heir, the second wife of the Emperor and the second prince were cast aside. The blades of the Prosecutors, which had previously been pointed at the second prince, turned towards him, and, because they had the backing of the first prince, he couldn’t do anything against them.
“Your Highness, the prince is very satisfied with Your Highness’s decision.”
At that time, the one who led the Prosecutors entering the third prince’s palace was Carl Krasius. He was someone who had turned the Empire upside down after being the youngest person to become an Executive Manager.
“Your Highness, didn’t join the second prince and remained quiet until the end. That was a wise choice.”
Ainter smiled bitterly after seeing Carl smile. His mother had shouted at him asking whose son he was and his brother from the same mother had glared angrily at him, but still, Ainter remained silent. The second prince ended up dying a mysterious death, and the second wife of the Emperor was cast aside. Despite that, Ainter had survived.
“The prince doesn’t want any more incidents in the Imperial Family.”
“Although we aren’t brothers from the same mother, we have the same father, so I’m sure that we wish for the same thing.”
“You’re certainly wise.”
Carl had just warned him. If you don’t want to die, shut up. After that brief conversation, Carl stood up while wearing a fake smile like a mask.
“I’m sorry for causing an incident in Your Highness’s palace. We weren’t able to find anything. It seems like it had been a plot by people against Your Highness. I’m going to punish them. I hope you forgive me.”
“It’s something that can happen. I understand.”
After that, the third prince heeded Carl’s warning and lived a low-profile life. With the backing of the Emperor and the first prince, the Prosecutor’s office made the supporters of the second prince fall from grace. Not only that, but he maintained his silence when part of his mother’s family, the Marquis of Asilon, was swept away. That was the reason why Ainter was still alive, and he had planned to continue living like that in the future too.
But Ainter’s life changed after he met a girl. Ainter used to walk around the campus with followers that were, in reality, people put in place to monitor him. A girl with pink hair entered his eyes. Like the first prince wanted, he planned to live a quiet life in the Academy. Him talking to that girl was on a whim.
“I, I’m Louise Naird!”
Although he had no real authority, Ainter was still a prince, so the girl trembled while replying to him. Ainter encountered Louise many times afterward, and Louise became more comfortable around him thanks to their increasing familiarity. Ainter began feeling a warmth from her that he’d never felt from anyone else before.
It had started because of a whim. Their acquaintance was short, but the feelings were real. Ainter was sure of that. That’s why he wrote his name down without hesitation when he heard that Louise was looking for members. There was a chance that the prince would want to deal with him because of this incident. There was a chance that Carl would become his blade and eliminate Ainter.
But still, Ainter decided to push forward. He wasn’t going to be silent this time, Ainter reassured himself while looking at Louise, whose face was covered in flour, and Carl, who was next to her.
* * *
‘Is she doing well…?’
I began wondering that after seeing Louise working really hard. I’d never baked anything so I had no way of knowing, but she was proceeding confidently, so I guess she was doing a good job. There was also a large variety of equipment and ingredients, so she probably wouldn’t lack anything.
I looked at the small oven. Since the original story was set in a fantasy, most of the items worked thanks to magic. I was astounded after seeing the telephone tapping device, location tracker, and trail camera, among many other such devices. In such a situation, I would’ve been disappointed if there wasn’t an oven.
I was looking at the oven when my eyes met with Ainter. He was still smiling, so I had no idea what he was thinking. I last saw him in his palace two years ago.
‘I was too harsh with him.’
In this world, one becomes an adult at 17 years of age, but when I spoke to Ainter for the first time, he was only 15 years old. Even if it was because of the first prince’s order, I couldn’t help but think I’d gone too far with a 15-year-old kid.
Two years ago, the incident in the North had come to an end, and the first prince had won the fight for the throne. At that moment, there was such a lack of personnel that if you’d survived and had maintained your job in the public sector, you would’ve gotten promoted. That’s how much the Empire was struggling with the lack of personnel.
The people who survived and proved their ability ascended. The Minister and I were among the victims. I feel like the Minister had become angrier ever since that moment.
No… Even before becoming a Minister, that person got angry for nothing. I almost gilded his memory.
Anyway, I had gone through many things in the North, and not only that, I ended up becoming an Executive Manager of the Prosecutor’s Office so my psychological state wasn’t normal. I was often stressed out because of the job, and I ended up pressuring Ainter more than necessary, although the prince seemed satisfied. What a weirdo.
I wondered why there were only people I felt apologetic to were in the club. Because of my guilty feelings, I ended up looking at Louise. Did she notice my gaze upon her? Louise tilted her head and looked at me as if she were asking what was wrong.
I’m glad I haven’t done anything to you to feel guilty about. No, it’s the opposite. You’re the one who should be feeling guilty.
After all, if you weren’t a capybara… I wouldn’t have needed to come here…
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