Chapter Eighteen: The True Power of the Glitter Effect
“Hey Sarita, what happened to your glasses?”
I knew it. Glasses, or lack thereof, are too conspicuous to go unnoticed.
“Well, all the new details in my vision is giving me a headache. It’s really nice while I’m outside. I can look at things in the distance, but when I’m doing office work like this, my eyes start to itch a little, so… Uhm… Oh, that’s right! What I want to say is that I left them in my room.”
“You’re quite talkative today, huh?”
Sir Glenn was acid-tongued, as expected. Perhaps it’s because I revealed his true nature during aura reading and, in so doing, rendered the effectiveness of his duplicitous smiles null and void. Still, his blue-and-green aura’s green outline has been getting thinner and thinner as of late. Sir Glenn, please don’t just charge forward through life as a pure dark blue! I don’t care if you have to fake it. Sprinkle a bit of kindness here and there.
Besides, Sir Glenn may have a good idea of why I don’t want to wear glasses.
That’s right. I don’t want to gaze upon Lord Gilbert’s princely face. Candela Man’s secret identity turned out to be… Candela Man. Though in a whole different meaning of the word dazzling.
As long as you don’t know someone’s face, it’s almost like they are just people living in your imagination. But now, Gilbert is all too real, and the suddenness of this realization is turning my world upside-down.
So, things that happened before… Something that I was okay with or even paid no attention to at the time was now regurgitating inside my brain with the added detail of the vivid picture of Gilbert’s devilishly handsome face.
Oh, hey. Lina. This is your brain here.
Hey, remember when this happened?
Oh, and also when he did that thing.
Oh! And when his hand and your waist…
Stop. Delete! Brain, obey your master!!!
That explains some things, though. A lot makes sense now. For starters, if you acted like a gentleman and said sweet lines with THAT face, it’s no wonder that Gilbert leaves young ladies sighing longingly in his wake. His treatment of me was pretty uncouth and annoying. Yet, I can see how Candela Man’s light-pollution powers in his proper form take an equal toll, but on the heart… Instead of the eyes.
“Well, that’s just fine. It would be a problem if Lina and Sarita were seen wearing the same glasses every day, so I prepared another set.”
Lord Gilbert… Is he the crazy-prepared type? Or maybe I should just say the crazy-rich type.
“Oh? Two pairs?”
Two velvet-covered cases were placed on the desk. When I opened them, they both seemed identical.
“One has no correction in the lenses, so it’s just for show. Your wig isn’t much of a disguise, so make sure to always wear glasses. The other pair has the proper correction lenses. This way, you can switch between your aura skill and having protection against Gilbert. Pretty convenient, huh?”
The glasses for Sarita have a simple silver design. Being men’s glasses, of course, they have a relatively lean and close-fitting style. The ones with correction have a slight feather embossing on the sides. In contrast, those without modification have a small horseshoe to tell them apart without putting them on.
The ones I received the other day during dance practice are the ones for Lina. They were a true work of art, with their discreet but gorgeous gold frame, flower decorations on the temples, and even tiny jewels inlaid at critical points.
That day, I was so enthralled by the joy of picking up my very own glasses for the first time that there was no room in my mind to think about anything but enjoy them. Once my head cooled down, and I got down to thinking about it carefully, it dawned upon me that I have no right to own such a luxurious item. There was only one answer I felt was appropriate after the fact.
“Well then, I am thankful, and I’ll use these glasses gladly, but I want to make it clear that they will all be returned once the contract expires!”
There were three custom pairs of glasses made of precious metals. All of which were exquisite works of art expertly inlaid with fine jewellery. I am not humble, but royal luxuries are not my thing.
“What are you saying? These were a present from me, so you don’t have to return them.”
“It’s not right for me to wear such expensive items. Especially when I know they were paid out of farmers’ hard-earned taxes!”
That’s right! That was the point I wanted to make!
No matter how important they may think I was for being one of the Third Prince’s fiancée candidates, or how useful I am in my role of rare creature slash human alarm system, it’s just not right to spend this much money on me.
It’s like I have become a cartoon villainess that demanded toil and tribute from my fellow farmers. Even if this had been bought with the wages of my human alarm job… That money should go instead to support my parents and the restoration of House Randall.
“Lady Lina, you’re certainly an honest-to-a-fault person. But I advise you to accept whatever items or services are conferred to you. Doesn’t the contract say it guarantees your safety and livelihood, as well as all other necessities and expenses deemed necessary to carry out the contract, to the utmost degree of perfection possible? Well, these were necessary expenses. And don’t worry about extracting a toll on the Kingdom’s taxpayers. This came out of Prince Gilbert’s wallet.”
His personal wallet?
“Yeah, I own a business under a pseudonym, so I have funds to move freely without any treasury entanglements. Of course, it’s a legitimate business that pays its taxes in time and everything, so just don’t worry about it.”
The Prince is doing business under a pseudonym. Was he actually making enough money to buy these glasses just like that? Was it really possible to run a business even though I have only ever seen him prancing around in the Royal Palace? I don’t buy his story entirely.
“I’m relieved to hear that I’m not a burden to the Kingdom’s tax funds, but… I am still uncomfortable to have that much money spent on my personal needs.”
Sir Glenn just sighed loudly without making the slightest attempt to conceal his frustration. I feel like he was about to have a full go at me again.
“Huh… Okay, I won’t ask you to understand or accept the generosity of His Royal Highness, but… If you were to get married, you’ll find yourself in a life in which such luxuries are the norm. Isn’t this a good occasion to start getting used to it?”
Wha… What is he talking about!?
I quickly put on the aura-blocking glasses and looked at Gilbert, demanding an explanation. I’m not sure, but even if I have the feeling that he said that to make fun of me, as Glenn was, wont to do. I can’t let the more serious implication of his little speech stand uncontested. Bad jokes shouldn’t be said as if they were matter-of-course facts!
Gilbert stepped in and reined in his insolent subordinate.
“Lord Gilbert, please say something to Sir Glenn! His joke was in poor taste…”
Although I gazed at him insistently, Gilbert didn’t seem like he was about to admonish Glenn. He was hiding his mouth with one hand, an elbow on his desk, looking at me with a concealed grin. This little grin and facial pattern told me that he was about to start tormenting me.
Regrettably, even that face of his was also beautiful.
What’s worse, in my agitation, I had carelessly looked at Gilbert without any mental preparations. Now I was getting lost in those breathtaking azure eyes, which made me feel like I was plopping down into the depths of the night ocean.
“…Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.”
What the… Oh no, they are teaming up to tease me again. What is this uncomfortable vibe? I want to run away from here! The air is getting thinner. Somebody help me!
“Excuse me, may I request His Highness’s attention?”
Oh! Thank goodness! A voice I didn’t recognize bellowed as it was followed by a knock on the door. Nice timing!
It was Glenn who replied. His tone not carrying the slightest hint of remorse at how he had just been tormenting me the moment before. I hate him.
“It’s time for Prince Gilbert’s rendezvous with Lady Richmond. Shall I announce you will be with her presently?”
“Ah, yes, I’ll be right over.”
In response to those words, the maid departed immediately. Gilbert stood from his desk, seeming ready to leave and head out straight away.
Phew… I took a deep, relaxed breath. My work today was finally over.
“Ah! Sarita, tonight’s dance practice… Don’t forget it, okay?”
And so my brief moment of relief was crushed by Gilbert’s offhand remark. I was happily watching Gilbert heading out the door, but now I’m just staring at his back, consumed by a fresh new grudge. Maybe I can just pretend that I was busy with the documents and wasn’t able to catch his remark?
“Sarita, accompany me. We’re heading out now.”
What kind of invitation is that? I have a bad feeling about this.
“Don’t worry. I won’t tease you this time so that you can rest assured.”
I don’t feel reassured at all!
“Sir Glenn, wait, I don’t like this!”
“What are you talking about? This too is part of our distinguished service to the Prince.”
Only a skilled liar like him could say that with a straight face. What we’re doing right now… We’re just Peeping Toms!
Gilbert and Maribel were sitting on a bench, talking right across a row of hedges. We were watching them from a gap between the hedges, hearing their conversation.
“Lady Richmond, how has it been living in the Royal Palace for more than a month?”
“Yes. It’s a dream come true. Above all, to be able to go on a date with His Highness is just…”
Maribel is adorable. Her face had reddened very innocently, finding herself unable to finish her sentence.
“I am thrilled that a gorgeous lady like you would find my company not entirely unbearable.”
Ah… Well, there it is. Gilbert flashed his sweet smile, and Maribel was instantly smitten.
It looks like Gilbert has zero qualms about using his special glitter effect turned up to its maximum.
By the way, the effects currently being deployed against poor Maribel were the soft afternoon sun descending from the blue sky makes his already shiny golden hair look even shinier and speaking with his back against roses that are in full bloom.
Is everything in this world conspiring to make Prince Gilbert look even more dreamy!? I wish there was another girl here to share that dig with, but all I got to work with here was… Sir Glenn.
Furthermore, those slightly arcing lips overflowing with sweetness had the destructive power to throw into utter disarray even the most formidable female resistance. I wonder if women could actually be killed by extended exposure to this. The reaction of my fellow princess candidates during the tea ceremony entered my mind.
Everyone has been deceived, however. If this particular cat gets out of the bag, they’ll see that their dazzling Prince is just a grade school bully. Super selfish and with an overinflated concept of himself. HeY eVeRyOnE, lOoK aT mE! I’m A pRiNcE aNd yOu’Re nOt!
“Lina. Look for any suspicious changes in Lady Richmond’s aura whenever she’s addressing His Highness. From this angle, you should be able to block Lord Gilbert’s out of your field of view.”
What a waste of time! It should be obvious even to a guy as insensitive as Glenn that Gilbert entirely entranced Maribel. Her eyes almost look like heart figures, for crying out loud.
I cast a disdainful look at Glenn and this work request of his, but he simply replied with a head gesture telling me to just roll with it and do it at once. Fine! I’ll take a look! You’ll be happy then, right?
I took off my glasses and peeked through the gap in the hedge.
“…I don’t see anything in particular in Lady Maribel’s aura worth reporting.”
“Sir Glenn, let’s go already! I don’t want to be in this embarrassing situation any longer!”
“Right. Let’s wrap up after we listen in to their conversation a bit longer. You can put your glasses back on now.”
Glenn was the type who doesn’t seem to be interested in this kind of thing. Still, he was unexpectedly serious about picking up every single corny detail in their dialogue. I didn’t want to keep listening to it, but the conversation between Gilbert and Maribel continued.
“Will I have the opportunity to dance with His Highness at the upcoming evening party?”
Incidentally, that was a hot topic at the last tea party.
“Well, of course, let’s enjoy it together. Your cute casual attire today is most charming. Still, the gorgeous appearance of Lady Richmond at the ball should be a beautiful sight to behold.”
“Oh, Prince Gilbert!”
Ugh. I can’t stand this any longer. Haven’t we heard enough? I want to go back to my room.
“Sir Glenn, I can’t be doing this any longer! Let’s go!”
I stood up and started leaving, crouching down, careful about not stepping on something that would betray my presence. I’m so angry that I’m even wondering why I’m so mad.
When I glanced back, Sir Glenn just smiled thinly.
“So, did you notice anything at all?”
I’m wearing the glasses, so I’m not sure, but Sir Glenn must be giving off a very unpleasant aura right now!
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