Chapter Sixteen: The Inside Story, Glenn’s Heart of Hearts
“Glenn, I think I’m sick.”
His Highness slowly raised his face from the documents he was perusing and muttered so in a rugged tone. My eyes widened at this confession. This was the first time I had heard His Highness say such a thing. I have never seen him catch as much as a cold since the day I first met him.
“Is it a sudden illness? I will seek out a doctor immediately and be right back.”
I was about to dash out of the room, instantly dropping the complicated calculations I was working on along with the ream of paper sheets they were written on. Still, His Highness’s follow-up caused a pronounced wrinkle to form between my eyebrows.
“Just laying my eyes on her makes my chest hurt.”
I sat back down and rearranged the documents in proper order, sighing at the thought of having to revise the calculations from scratch.
“And what’s more, she has gotten so cute as of late. At first, she was like an indistinguishable face within a crowd of commoners, but now… Have my eyes gone bad?”
I decided to ignore his musings. How many pages does His Royal Highness think I have to work through before leaving for the day?
“She also smells really nice…”
I just kept my eyes on the numbers and figures while running my pen across the dozens of paper. I can’t do this work without focus.
“When I’m by her side, the urge to touch her is overpowering, and I can’t be like my usual myself. You know what I mean, Glenn?”
Okay, I get it. You need a shoulder to cry on, huh? I hurried to reach a point in my work where I can leave it be for now, and raised my face from the documents resignedly.
“His Highness, that’s an incurable disease.”
“You think so, too?”
His Highness smiled. No, he was grinning.
Don’t think you can toy with me. Once I decide to deal with someone, I do it without compunction. Yeah… Without compunction.
“Maybe it’s better to let things take shape in the course of the Princess Selection Process?”
“Huh. I’m not sure about that. That sounds like postponing the problem like a coward.”
His Highness placed his elbows on the desk and rested his head on folded hands. He smiled cheekily. I am afraid that the time he can afford to be this erratic is running short, I believe.
“I just don’t understand it myself. How could I get a crush on THAT?”
Well, he did show signs of being particularly affected by her from the very beginning. Even if it wasn’t what I would call love at first sight, it was something that can’t be called ordinary either. I took the trouble of trapping and keeping her within our reach because I perceived the unusual feelings felt by His Royal Highness far before the confession he was issuing presently.
Once I had a chance to learn about her and observe her more, I began to think that perhaps she was the best fit for our needs. I think we can both appreciate that even though she possessed such a functional and unique ability that would let her get a manipulative edge on anyone… She is also an honest-to-a-fault type who couldn’t trick her way out of a cardboard box even if her life depended on it. It may not sound like it, but I’m actually praising her here.
After all, she has casually been able to somehow get all the other ladies in the group to eat from the palm of her hand. These are the daughters of very influential aristocrat families with notable personalities to match. Even if she was intellectually incapable of consciously hatching a political plot, it was still an impressive Machiavellian feat.
Maybe I could just stay out of this and let His Highness try his best, but this time I do feel that he ran into that one woman in the entire Kingdom of Elvasti with whom his prospects were most dire for a reason. How should I go about this?
“For the time being, given that you can’t use your face on her and you can’t make her fall in love with you through her eyes, why not try her ears? His Highness is exceptionally adept at seducing ladies with a few words alone. If she is immune to that too, I believe she will prove to be a tough conquest, indeed.”
“I said on our date the other day, ‘Lina, be my wife.‘”
Okay… That’s an unexpected development.
“Hmmm, you really went the full distance, then. I would have never guessed it. And then?”
“I saw her reaction and my chances didn’t look too good, so I immediately pulled back, saying it was just a joke.”
What a wuss.
“But then, I saw a Morpho.”
“Incredible…Why would one of those scarce butterflies be flying around in such an unexpected place? At any rate, that’s an amazing omen, isn’t it?”
According to legends, couples and lovers blessed by the Morpho butterfly are promised eternal happiness. It’s even said that the mere sight of one brings good luck. That belief has always been strong in this region, to the degree that Morphos are featured in stained glass designs of churches everywhere.
However, that butterfly is native to very high mountains, and it’s nearly inconceivable that one would fly down into a mere town far below.
For a Morpho to show up right as their date progressed… Thinking of such improbable things happening at once, even I was taken aback.
“But I was the only one who saw it. She couldn’t tell what she was looking at because of her nearsightedness. The Morpho just blended back into the sky.”
Thinking about it, that was undoubtedly not Prince Gilbert’s day. He had to retract his sincere love confession by clumsily disguising it as a humorous jest, after the fact. Then, the legendary Morpho butterfly showed up only to vanish without Lina taking sight of it.
“How do you think I could make her fall for me?”
“That kind of thing is His Highness’s specialty.”
What’s the point of asking me about how to gain the hearts of ladies? I’ve never seen too much value in the toil of smiling at every woman I meet as His Highness does.
“Yeah, it used to be that way, but my lady-picking skills don’t work on her. It’s almost like I’m out of my element when it comes to her. How can I get her interest?”
“Well, first of all, she hasn’t been interested in you from the start. This was already particularly unusual, but since she can’t look at your face due to your aura, maybe she doesn’t even know what you look like, to begin with.”
Did he just freeze like I said something both terrible and right on the mark?
Ever since I proposed the contract for her extraordinary ability, she seemed to have lost any semblance of interest in the Prince she may or may not have had. So, I cannot discard that possibility.
“His Highness is an exceptionally charming Prince, but as a man… I mean… How should I put it… You’re slightly… Being iffy.”
“What do you mean by that last remark?”
“You enjoy teasing and mortifying the woman you love, don’t you?”
It’s about time.
I should give him the knockout punch.
I have plenty of work to finish, after all.
“So, here is a woman impervious to both your glittering smile and tender stare. Likewise, your romantic words didn’t do the trick. His Highness standing completely unarmed in front of the woman he has fallen for against his best judgment is honestly quite a spectacle to behold.”
“That woman has a deep-seated belief that she doesn’t belong here and that she is out of His Highness’s proper consideration. It will be difficult to make progress from there.”
It may have been me who made allusions to that effect in my early conversations with her, but it was His Highness who increased the misunderstanding with his actions. Treating her like a rare bird and a human alarm system.
“I managed to put her in a cage. We should keep her satisfied with appropriate fodder and gradually tame her. If you don’t train her well, she will want to escape back into the wilderness at the first chance she gets.”
“…Glenn, you always seemed to take care to stay within bounds when saying stuff to me, but you have zero qualms with disrespecting her, don’t you?”
Even when he gets a little moody, his beautiful princely features still don’t break. If there were a woman in this room, she would have been captivated.
Well, there were only a limited number of people capable of appearing to always have a dashing smile on their faces as Prince Gilbert does.
“Getting angry at someone speaking ill of a woman that is not yet in a relationship with you means your illness is terminal. If you want to protect her, though, be prepared truly.”
This time, his mouth was tied up.
“…I know. It’s strange, but it has come to this, I’m sure. I have found something I want, and I’ll do everything in my power to get it.”
That was a peculiar way of saying it, something I want. He was still not being completely honest with himself, is he?
“Is that so? Well, in that case, unless things get too dicey, I’m on your side.”
“Glenn, shouldn’t that unless things get too dicey be a no matter what?”
His Highness should know by now that such words rarely came out of my mouth.
“I can’t promise a certain result. It’s your prerogative to fall in love with her, but if you don’t keep your bearings, you could find yourself being taken advantage of. I’ll leave it to you to manage the dangers involved, but…”
I paused and smiled to myself. Again, it feels like someone was retreating backwards into a whirlpool.
“I will provide for you a sniper that could shoot once or twice in this hunt.”
Of course, His Highness couldn’t see auras, but he knew me well enough to feel a chill run down his back when he saw the smile I was making.
“Glenn, you… Don’t interfere in this, okay?“
“Oh, there’s no need to hesitate. Trust me.“
My list of fun jobs just increased. Was this for pleasure rather than work? No, not at all.
After all, I am a loyal chamberlain looking out for my Prince.
And I know just what to do.
I won’t let monotony and predictability rob them of their chance to bond.
Isn’t it said that people develop strong bonds only after braving the rough seas together?