“No matter,” father said after seeing my smile. Arrogantly, he asked, “What do you want? Spit it out.”
Immediately, my face twitched.
Of course I wanted to say, Whose fault do you think it is, but I stopped myself. Now that it seemed like I didn’t have to say anything about my knowledge on scurvy, I didn’t want to go out of my way to seek trouble. The faster I ended this conversation, the faster I could run away.
I got straight to the point. “Preparations are complete, so I would like to leave the kingdom. I ask for your permission.”
“Where are you going?”
He wasn’t surprise. Not a single brow mtwitched. Even his frank question was probably a check of my answers. Where was I going? He must already know. If that was the case, I had to face him with equal candidness.
“You intend to chase the Eigel heir?”
In this less than one month’s time, several letters had come from Georg.
I couldn’t allow myself to sit back and let them take care of any more than this.
With renewed determination, I glared at him.
“All right.” He nodded easily, almost mockingly.
It was so unexpected, I was shocked.
“Why are you surprised? The one who made an agreement with me to move around freely was you, was it not.”
Yes, I was the one who approached him.
But I never expected him to agree so readily.
I wasn’t convinced and stared at him suspiciously.
Rather cynically, I was thinking that he must be scheming something.
“It seems like you’ve also arranged a ship by yourself. I have no reason to stop you.”
I said nothing.
“However.” He paused.
Here it came!
What unreasonable demand was he going to force on me?!
Staring straight at me as I put up my guard, he said, “Leave Leonhard.”
“What?” I said croaked. It sounded so faint I didn’t even recognize it as my own.
There’s been so many surprises, but this topped the cake.
What did he just say?
“I can turn a blind eye to a nearby stroll, but I cannot permit him to go with you to another kingdom. He is not your caretaker. He is the commander in control of the Order of the Royal Knights. If you want a means to defend yourself, take your own knight.”
Fair enough. His reasoning was sound, and I had no comeback for it.
If I thought about it normally, it was easy to understand. As the leader of the Royal Knights, it was unlikely that Sir Leonhard would ever be allowed to go with me to another kingdom at my convenience.
Yet that possibility never occurred to me.
What a dunce.
How many times has my father sighed as he gazed at me, frozen with my mouth gaping?
“Did you forget?”
“It didn’t fit your ‘request’ and that’s why you didn’t reckon it. I’ve spoiled you too much.”
Who have you spoiled too much?! I didn’t say it.
But even without voicing it, I knew I probably relied on Sir Leonhard too much.
Whenever he was next to me, I felt safe knowing I could talk to him anytime.
Even though I shouldn’t have forgotten that as a man in a position with much responsibility he was under a lot of pressure.
Seized with panic, I tried to pretend I didn’t notice this embarrassing fault.
I was terrible. The very worst.
Even though I understood now, I still couldn’t bow my head sincerely and admit my mistake. Really, what was to be done with me?
Father broke the stretched silence.
“You do understand he is an extremely talented and renowned man?” he asked abruptly.
I raised my head. Hesitantly, I nodded. “Um, I do.”
Even without his title as the Commander of the Royal Knights, Sir Leonhard was already a man of note. The name of the Black Lion was well-known through the neighboring lands, and there were many young knights in other kingdoms who aspired to be like him.
“Think how it looks to the people around you when you have a man like that serving you.”
“How it looks to the surrounding people,” I repeated.
“That’s right. The moment you achieve something, do you believe those spectators will praise you?”
I covered my mouth with my hand and said nothing.
I thought about it like he told me to.
If I asked Sir Leonhard to travel with me.
If everything went well, I obtained the medicine, and I succeeded in preventing the spread of the disease in the Kingdom of Wind, would the people around me praise me?
“I do not…”
The answer was no.
All would assume it was Sir Leonhard’s achievement.
In order to gain fame, the princess used him. There would also undoubtedly be those who assumed she stole the credit.
If the situation was the same as usual, I wouldn’t have even minded. It wasn’t like I particularly desired fame. Even if they suspected me of stealing credit, it was better than standing out for peculiar reasons. I was simply if happy I could live in peace. Marrying Sir Leonhard afterward would have been the icing on the cake.
But it was different now.
I wanted success. I had to prove it to everyone around me.
In order to stop my arranged marriage in another kingdom, I needed accomplishments.
“First, make a name for yourself. Polish yourself, not losing even to Leonhard when you stand next to him.”
Sir Leonhard was the strongest swordsman in the kingdom. A superior commanding officer. To top it off, his name as a great knight was known throughout the lands, and father wanted me to stand on the same level as him? What level was that supposed to be?
What nonsense was he saying to young girl in her early teens!
Even though I thought the words, my face disregarded my inner voice as the corners of my mouth lifted up.
No matter how hard this road may be, if it led to him—to Sir Leonhard—then I wanted to keep going.
I was aware I was being taken in, but there was no turning back.
“I will devote myself to it,” I smiled.
Wordlessly, he nodded at me.
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