Chapter 2: Boys Talk, Visiting the Sick, and Contact I

The next day after the grandiose new year’s banquet ended, Herscherik finished his breakfast, sat on his favorite sofa by the window in his room, and looked outside with a troubled look.
Inside the room were Herscherik, Kuro preparing the after-meal tea, and Oranju maintaining his sword by his position beside the door. An awkward atmosphere surrounded the three.

The reason behind Herscherik’s mood and the awkward atmosphere of the room lay in the discussion of the prince’s engagement at yesterday’s banquet.

(That damn sly fox launched an unforeseen attack from behind.)

Hersherik clicked his tongue. This gesture conflicted with his delicate features and was unbecoming of a prince, but the ones present in the room were only him and his close aides, so no one was there to scold his behavior since everyone here felt the same.

Yesterday, Minister Barbasse proposed his daughter’s engagement to Herscherik.

It wasn’t rare for engagements for royalty and nobility to happen at an early age. Rather, marriage out of love was a rarity. In that sense, the union between Herscherik’s father and mother was an anomaly.
Presently, all Herscherik’s siblings were either engaged or had potential candidates. Marriage between royalty and important people from other countries was to have the country prosper, and such political marriages were a duty of the royal family.

Since Herscherik was royalty, he was likely to either marry an influential aristocrat or be married off to another country’s royal family, and he was also prepared for such. But, this problem was much more than a simple engagement. An engagement between the youngest prince with no powerful supporters, Herscherik, and Mister Barbasse’s daughter held a much larger political implication.

Speaking of supporters, you could say that House Ordis, the family of Herscherik’s personal butler, Oran, could be one of them. However, the current head of the family, Roland Ordis, had retired, and both the eldest and second sons were knights, albeit low-ranking. So, calling them a supporter was vague.

If his engagement to the minister’s daughter is finalized, his supporter would be House Barbasse. Among the aristocracy, House Barbasse stood at the top and essentially influenced the whole country. Upon marrying such a girl, Herscherik, the lowest among the princes, would have his rank ascend, whether he wanted to or not. Furthermore, with the minister supporting him, becoming the next king wouldn’t seem far-fetched anymore.
Despite the first prince, Marcus, already being next in line to the throne, the minister made this public announcement. Herscherik still couldn’t get a strong grasp on what the minister was planning even at this stage.

(What exactly is he thinking?)

Herscherik asked himself while recalling yesterday’s events.

“…That is too much of a heavy joke to say to open the new year, minister.”

Herscherik’s voice echoed in the silent room. While using all the muscles in his face to restore his pretend smile, Herscherik looked around. Not only did his father, Marcus, and the triplets gasp and silently watch the events unfold, but the second prince and the queen consorts as well. By the way, the sixth prince was currently studying abroad, and the fifth prince and other princesses were absent due to their various circumstances.

“Oh, no, my dear prince. This is no joke! I am always serious.”

Barbasse said and gave a hearty laugh. It reeked of dramatic performance, causing Herscherik to regain his composure.

“I am deeply impressed by Your Highness Herscherik’s erudition. I believe I can entrust my beloved daughter to a man of your character.”

(Hmph, erudition, sure… Do you honestly think I’ll fall for such blatant flattery?!)

Herscherik cursed the man in his thoughts as he thought of his next words. He couldn’t be rash with his answer. If he flatly refused, harm might befall his father and siblings. Conversely, if he agreed, he might have to stand in opposition to his brothers.

(Not eliminating but having me betrothed… Things would be easier if he was still attempting to assassinate me.)

The Venture Strategy was implemented for that day since it was more likely for Barbasse to assassinate him. Additionally, Herscherik went along with the plan since he thought Barbasse wouldn’t do something as risky as bringing Herscherik into his own family.

“Minister, surely it is still too soon for talks of marriage, no?”

The first prince, Marcus, took a step forward to protect Herscherik, who couldn’t give his answer. He showed a universally favorable smile to the minister, but there wasn’t a single hint of warmth in his eyes.

“I understand that you have high expectations of a bright future since Herscherik is wise, but he’s still a young child. Moreover, discussing a life-changing decision such as marriage in this public space will embarrass the boy.”

Marcus was being polite with his words, but in short, he was saying, “Mind the location and your position.” Seeing Marcus’ reaction, the minister gave another hearty laugh.

“Yes, that’s right. I, of all people, acted too rashly. Oh, that reminds me. Prince Marcus, would you like to discuss engagements?”
“…This is not the place to discuss my matters as well.”
“Oh, but Your Highness will be the one to shoulder our nation in the future. I am merely concerned as a retainer.”

At those words, Marcus momentarily had a disgusted look on his face before promptly returning to his princely smile.

“Then, I apologize for worrying you.”

It was confirmed later on that Marcus had several candidates but had yet to be engaged to any of them. Explaining this delay as him taking his engagement seriously because of his position as heir to the throne was just a pretense. In reality, it appeared that he already had someone in mind.

“You still haven’t given up, have you, Mark…?”

It appeared that Oran already knew this. He had shaken his head in amazement after they left the New Year Banquet. By the way, Oran’s and Mark’s relationship had continued to improve for half a year, and they two returned to calling each other by the nicknames they had used back when they were students.

Thus concludes the story of how Marquess Barbasse proposed that Herscherik marry his daughter during yesterday’s banquet.

“Hersche, what will you do?”

The first to open their mouth was Oran. Even without him pointing out the topic, both Herscherik and Kuro knew that he was referring to yesterday’s event.

“There’s nothing to debate here… I have no choice but to meet her.”

At this point in time, Herscherik had no right to decline, and he was fully aware of this. Even if he was royalty, his actual position within the castle was lower than the minister. He would have preferred a physical attack, but this was a normal, public engagement.

“Should I erase her?”

Kuro muttered this disturbing line as he placed the tea on the table. Herscherik looked up and saw a suspicious light burning in Kuro’s dark, red eyes.

“Kuro, you know you can’t do that.”
“…I’m joking.”

(Nuh-uh! That’s his true feelings. His eyes were serious!)

Herscherik squinted to make sure, so Kuro quickly jerked his head to the side.

“But, what will you really do? You really don’t believe that this is just a simple engagement, right?” Oran asked.

Herscherik nodded. The minister’s purpose was surely to have the risk factor that was Herscherik under his control and thus create a rift in the royal family.

(A very effective plan. I hope this isn’t the case, but is he sacrificing his own daughter?)

While Herscherik pondered if such a parent existed, he recalled that the minister was that kind of person.
In the past, the man had assassinated members of the royal family such as Herscherik’s grandfather, uncles, and even his father’s first child who was only a one-year-old girl. It was hard to believe that such a person would treat his own daughter as someone special.

“If I can’t be the one to decline, then I just have to get her to do so.”

“Or rather, that’s all I can do,” Herscherik added in his head.

“If I can get her to hate me, then we can pretend that none of this happened, and that would be the end of things.”

Nevertheless, even if forced, Herscherik believed he should refuse firmly in a way that would be considerate towards the girl.

“That might be the most peaceful way.”

Oran also nodded.

“…If she says that she’s unhappy with Hersche, should I erase her?”
“Mr. Kuro? Whose side are you on? Or rather, can you stop saying such disturbing things?”

Herscherik once again shot down Kuro’s mutterings. Kuro merely shrugged his shoulders at his master’s words.

(Still, marriage, huh…)

Herscherik suddenly pondered this. His body was that of a male, but his mind felt more like a female since he possessed the memories of his past life.

(I also didn’t care much about marriage or love in my past life either…)

However, this only referred to 3D people. He used to be a woman with many 2D lovers. But, could such a person love, let alone get married? Rather, it was very suspect if he could view someone who used to be the same gender as him as a spouse.

(The body of a man but the mind of a woman… But, it’s not like I have gender dysphoria.)

Herscherik had already accepted that his body was male. Things felt different from when he was a woman, but there weren’t any particular issues. Rather, he had far many more important matters to deal with than his body.

(Well, humans are creatures capable of adaptation.)

He had to look at his own body every day when he changed clothes, went to the toilet, and took a bath, whether he wanted to or not.
What would happen if he had always been a woman?

(Then, all of this wouldn’t have happened in the first place.)

He had the right to choose exactly because he was a prince. If he was a princess, then his father would have arranged for him to marry into another country without him ever knowing or being notified.

(Well, the things I have to do wouldn’t change even if I was a princess.)

Herscherik concluded. Then, he caught sight of his aides. If he was a princess, then his current circumstances had him surrounded by handsome men.

(If I was a girl, would my heart race when looking at these two?)

They were handsome, talented, and very popular among the current maids in the royal castle. If they were 2D characters, Herscherik’s heart would surely be racing. But, while this was a fantasy world, it was his current reality.

(There’s also an age gap since the two are close to their twenties.)

Ryouko was 34, so when adding that with his current age, he was close to 40 years old. At this point in time, it was difficult for him to be that interested in the opposite sex. He had always been indifferent when it came to love, or more precisely, he was beyond help since he had no interest in love in this world either.

“…That reminds me. Do you two have girlfriends?”

Herscherik’s two aides froze at this sudden question. He thought he was casually asking a question, but it appeared to have startled the two.

“Why are you asking all of a sudden?”
“Ah, I was just curious. You two are popular, after all.”

Herscherik gave an honest answer to Oran’s question. As a former woman, he found other people’s love lives more interesting than his own.

“I know that the maids, gentlewomen, and ladies in the town frequently confess to you.”

The confessions these two received looked like the ones straight out of a shoujo manga. But, Herscherik hadn’t seen any development afterward.

“I rejected all of them. I felt bad, but frankly speaking, I’m still not ready for it. Besides, I’m the third son. I don’t have to be concerned about family matters.”

Oran answered with a sigh. He had lost his beloved fiancée, and while three years had already passed since then, he still hadn’t moved on. He was earnest, after all. That was probably why the women never scorned him even after he rejected their confessions.

“Rather than me, what about you, black dog?”
“What about me?”
“I know all about how it’s like a battlefield with you!”

Oran had a smug look as if saying, “You must have done something,” but Kuro snorted in response.

“Y’know, I’m not dating any of them. They’re the ones caught up in their own fantasies.”
“As Hersche’s butler, I strive to maintain a peaceful working environment. And while I’m at it, the ladies are very helpful, giving me important info out of goodwill. But, they misunderstood, and so seeing them fight amongst themselves is heartbreaking.”

Kuro said and faced downward, but this gesture was probably an act.

(I see. Kuro’s information sources included a portion of the maids, huh.)

This was probably a habit he picked up as a former spy, as he tended to only view people based on how he could use them. The only exceptions were his master Herscherik and Oran.
Kuro probably didn’t care at all about anyone else. Herscherik reflected on this and decided to bring up this point.

“Kuro, pubescent girls are very easily hurt, you know? Make sure you clear any misunderstandings.”
“Got it.”

Kuro nodded. Afterward, he followed his master’s order and nonchalantly cleaned the air. This expectedly led the girls to view him as fantastic. Kuro’s popularity once again increased within the castle, but he didn’t seem to care at all.

“While we’re on this topic, what kind of person do you like, Hersche?”

The aides were the only ones being asked, so Oran shot the question back. Herscherik thought of his answer.

(Probably someone older? If voices matter, then Mr. Luke encompasses all my preferences.)

That calming air, the gentleness in his gestures and behavior, and his deep yet pleasant voice. Plus, his age was also roughly the same as Ryouko’s.

“Probably someone mature with a calm air around them.”

As expected, Herscherik couldn’t say he liked Luke.

“Oh, and both wise and kind. But someone who’s strong-willed is also good.”

(What’s on the inside is important.)

Herscherik bobbed his head.

“No preferences in appearance?” Kuro also asked. 

This might be the first time the three talked about this kind of topic. Thinking more about this, this might be Herscherik’s first-ever boys talk.

“Hmm…not really. As long as we love each other, looks don’t matter, right?”

In other words, Herscherick was the type who “loves the one who loves me.”

“Oh, but—”

Herscherik clapped his hands together.

“Blond hair and green eyes would be nice!”

Someone with a princely image, with blond hair and green eyes[1], was his absolute favorite back in his past life.

(Silver hair and black hair are also charming, and I also like Kuro’s red eyes and Oran’s blue eyes, but I have to go with the prince one!)

After Herscherik finalized the image in his head, he reached out for his tea, which had completely cooled down by now.

“Calm, mature, wise, kind, strong-willed…”
“Blond hair and green eyes…”

The aides looked at each other and then turned to their master drinking his tea. Who would have thought that the closest to their master’s ideal would be their master himself? But, the aides kept this to themselves.

[1] The confusion of Hersche’s eye color had been brought to my attention, so I’m here to finally clear the air. The color is described as being both jade(green) and blue, but that’s because the Japanese really don’t distinguish between the two colors. To rectify this, I’ll stick to translating them all to jade/green. However, please note that whenever the author says “stereotypical prince”, they mean “blond hair and blue eyes”, but they also describe Hersche as such, so it’ll be green in this translation.

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One response to “Chapter 2: Boys Talk, Visiting the Sick, and Contact I”

  1. Emma B. Avatar

    for a moment there i was just like
    very quietly “ace rep?”


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