Chapter Ten: The Inside Story (Gilbert’s Diary)
One day in March
So, it has come to this. Dear old dad, I mean, His Majesty the King just flat out spelled it out. That I am to get married. No more excuses. I knew there was a limit to how long I could skirt around the issue, but the decision day is knocking at the door. I can’t postpone it any longer. All that’s left for me is to try to make the best of it.
End of April
I didn’t like the evening party. The ladies come one after another, all saying the same polite and ingratiating phrases, and I must put on my gentleman mask and deal with each and every one of them.
Of course, I understand how it’s in their best interest to butter me up. For the Viscounts and Barons, the rise in rank and wealth their Houses would gain by marrying one of their daughters with a royal prince is beyond anything they could achieve independently. And for the higher ranking Houses, I am still the most suitable candidate by far.
Away from the crowd, I noticed a girl standing alone by the wall. She was staring at me with the most contorted face I’ve ever seen. And to add to the strangeness, she left in a hurry right after I noticed her. I wonder who that could be. Creeped me out.
First Day of May
I had Glenn investigate the identity of the mystery girl, the one with the death glare. She turned out to be Countess Randall. I know it’s crazy, but I couldn’t resist, and I just went ahead and put her on the final candidate’s list. I can’t think of any grudges or ulterior motives she could have in coming here, so I wonder what’s that attitude towards me.
Let’s see, the other candidates I picked are the Duchess of Ordis and the Marquise of Eusera, both of whom were bound to be among the finalists. Then I chose the Countess of Bashre and the Baroness of Richmond to make it a balanced set of choices.
I was curious to meet them immediately, and then…just like before, the daughter of House Randall gave me the death glare. And for the rest of our meeting, she wouldn’t raise her face at all. I should add that her dress was almost as awkward as her words.
The other members are…the word that comes to mind is ‘carnivorous.’ I don’t want to be hunted. I want to be the one doing the hunting.
From now on, I’ll spend several days exclusively with each candidate. This whole charade is pointless, but I have to put on appearances that I’m taking this very seriously and making good progress on my decision.
Today is Lady Randall’s day.
How can I put it? She wouldn’t budge one bit even though I used every trick in the ‘kind and attentive gentleman’s’ book. Wasn’t a woman supposed to be a creature that just takes one smile to become all giggles and blushes at you?
Instead of smiling, she didn’t even look at me as much as to give me the death glare again…it’s like a terribly contorted scowl.
I wonder if she hates my face so much that she can’t bear the sight of it. If so, it’s pretty shocking. I was pretty confident in my face.
Anyway, today ended with me being even more confused than before.
Meeting with the ladies in turn while doing day-to-day work. When I think that I have to choose one of them to be my wife…anyway, I want to put it off as much as possible.
Today is my second day with Lady Randall. We went to the city. Was she this cute before? I thought she would come dressed in that potato sack masquerading as a beige dress, but instead, she showed up in a ravishing blue dress of very feminine and elegant design. And I have a feeling that her hair and skin weren’t this smooth and glowing the other day.
At first, there were few words spoken in the carriage, and she acted as if we were going to a funeral. Still, she gradually thawed, and soon she dropped the facade of icy disinterest altogether and just started enjoying herself naturally. So you’re a warm-blooded woman after all? I thought for a moment, but then our eyes met, and she instantly blasted me with the death scowl again…Why?
After that small incident, she returned to her sullen ways, so I tried to loosen the mood by stopping the carriage and taking her on foot into the city.
The happy face she made while eating her crêpe was very natural. Her reaction at having to call each other by our first names among the crowd was cute and funny. I got a bit bold and held her hand while walking. Her face reddened like a ripe apple.
However, this is where the fun part of this entry ends. I regret going out of the carriage. All I accomplished was putting her in danger. We were attacked, and Lady Randall was seriously injured.
One day in May
Lady Randall, not waking up, is starting to bug me immensely. To be honest, that kind of poison wouldn’t have been a big deal to me thanks to my imbued poison resistance, and the strike would have failed to make me even miss dinner.
To put it bluntly, Lady Randall’s self-sacrificing actions are a “Thanks, but no thanks” in my book. However, it is also true that I am genuinely impressed. I never would have expected a noble lady to put herself in harm’s way.
As soon as I heard she had awakened, I rushed to her place. My feelings were nothing beyond feeling embarrassed and kind of guilty at this having happened to her on my watch…maybe I felt something else for a moment?
At any rate, seeing her recovered without any problems, the anxiousness and guilt that filled me before turned into suspicion. Of course, it’s not that I think she could be the mastermind behind this or even an accomplice (such possibilities were discarded early in the investigation.) Still, there’s something undeniably unnatural in her behavior during the incident.
After consulting with Glenn, we came up with a ‘good cop bad cop’ routine to use on Lady Randall. I want to find out what she is hiding once and for all.
Today we cross-examined Lady Randall.
I’m the good cop, so I showed up with a bright smile and spoke sweetened words from the get-go. From our date in the city, I have the impression that calling her by first names throws her off balance to an extent. So, I continued on that approach of closeness and made my tone especially sweet and intimate.
Glenn’s bad cop act, it’s like he was born to do this. The role fits him like a glove. For a moment, I felt pangs of conscience when I realized I was grilling Lina, who had been so cheerful and cute on our last date. Maybe I’m just being too sensitive, though.
It didn’t take long till she spilled the beans, and some crazy beans they were indeed. I’m fairly certain we proved her claims beyond a reasonable doubt, but it still feels pretty unreal.
So as it turns out, my face is too dazzling to her eyes!? And no, not as in some schoolgirl’s terrible teen-angst poem. Literally. So that’s why she scowled and contorted her face and just couldn’t open her eyes face to face.
Glenn’s grin during the questioning was pretty unsettling. He was enjoying himself so much that he didn’t notice my bewilderment. I had the feeling he was scheming something up as per usual, but his words were pretty extreme this time, even for him. And the arrangement he came up with was quite out of left field. Of course, I wouldn’t have minded if Lina had stood her ground and refused such a crazy job offer in the end.
But never mind that! There’s something that bothers me immensely, even as I write this!
The more Glenn pushed her, the more she showed what an absolute lack of interest she has in my person. It’s hard to believe I’m THAT outside her consideration. That took me off balance and, losing a bit of control due to the shock, I leaned on her and demanded she explain herself, but that only drove her further away. Moreover, she seems utterly unaware as to how much she is bothering me.
What has she been thinking of me all this time?
Glenn took over and while doing his best to contain his laughter, though he actually slipped a chuckle here and there, finished negotiating our new arrangement with Lina.
Meanwhile, all I could think was that if she doesn’t take a hint, I’ll have to make her understand. By force if necessary.
So I sent Glenn away, and in a short amount of time, I was able to study this creature called Lina.
First, I get a better reaction out of her when I’m a little aggressive and firm. (Drop the gentleman act in front of her.)
Second, rather than putting on the dreamy prince act and trying to sweet-talk her, it’s more effective to get physically close and develop some skinship with her, even if I have to force myself on her to a degree. (Also, because, on account of the circumstances, she is completely immune to my best asset: my face.)
Third, she is weak to first-name-calling. (By which I mean having her call me Gil, not my calling her Lina.)
Fourth, she is not an ordinary female. (Offering dresses and jewels had no effect. Note: maybe try farming-related items…no. Actually, food might do the trick.)
Anyway, I did the ‘fingertip kiss’ move on her, and Lina’s reaction was truly a sight to behold. In just a few seconds, her face went through all manner of facial expressions. I never knew the human face could twitch like that. Holding back my laughter, I studied the reactions on her face. Her not being able to open her eyes in front of me at least gave me an edge here.
And to wrap things up with a nice bow, I took her in my arms, carried her to bed, and took the liberty of planting a kiss on her forehead. I bet she won’t be able to stop thinking about me for a while. Serves her right for sending me away on that transparent lie about ‘Oh Gil, I think I’m still convalescent, I really should go back to resting.’
After I got out of Lina’s room and closed the door, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I went down the hallway, turned the corner, and my shoulders started shaking. I just couldn’t hold it any longer. I snorted and laughed my heart out.
Of course, I’m thinking about what she is doing right now there where I left her. What kind of reaction could she be having? Is she angry? Is she throwing things around in a fit? Or could she be petrified still?
It’s rare; a person like her who can show such a wild variety of facial expressions while the rest of her body comports itself prim and proper.
This goes beyond the princess selection question. I was sick and tired of this problem, standing in front of me that I couldn’t crack for so many days. But now, it’s actually sort of fun.
Glenn bought into the potential of Lina’s special ability, but to me, that’s just a bonus.
Even if Lina didn’t have her ability, could it be said that it’s precisely living with that ability that makes Lina, Lina? Either way, I’m okay with her being her usual strange self around me now. Won’t that be a lot of fun to observe up close?
So, as well then, I wonder what kind of face she will be making next time we meet? I’m looking forward to it.
Translator: Robert F.