“Thank you for your hard work, Claire.
Did you have fun?“
“Ah, Your Highness.
Yes, it was very enjoyable for me.
In that regard, Your Highness, I don’t believe I’ve seen His Highness, the second prince; may I inquire as to where he is?“
“My younger brother is in the order of knighthood.
He even almost gave up his title, saying he’d certainly become a knight commander.
Well, I’m sure we’ll see him sooner or later.”
I stepped out onto the banquet hall’s terrace, exposing my cheeks to the night breeze, which was hot from the rowdiness of the banquet behind me.
The party has been going on since a while ago.
And with the arrival of the orchestra and dancers, the atmosphere becomes increasingly lively.
They talked to me a lot.
I had answered the questions properly, but I wonder if I really hadn’t ruined the atmosphere of the banquet.
Prince Aglia draped his jacket over my shoulders unexpectedly.
When I looked at him, I noticed he was smiling and looking at me.
I feel like I know something about this person… No, I definitely know him.
“That… boy from back then!”
“You finally remember?”
The first time I met Prince Aglia was when a delegation from a colonized country came to the Fatenam Empire for an audience three years ago.
Telling outsiders any form of knowledge is forbidden.
The policy of the Fatenam Empire toward the delegations was carried out thoroughly and without exception.
Engineers for water and sewage systems, roads, architecture, bathhouses, and the like are dispatched to the new lands to help the colonists establish a livelihood so that they do not have to struggle in the new lands.
They can also settle in there if they wish.
And the trade in the Kingdom of Vallatenear.
This is all done under the supervision of officials of the Empire.
There is no prohibition on trading in goods, but bringing in knowledge is forbidden.
For example, if an ornamental artisan from across the sea wanted to emigrate to Vallatenear, they would be turned away.
It was only after the war was won that they were ready to start sericulture.
Craftsmen are also counted as knowledge.
And then, the delegation from the Kingdom of Vallatenear arrived three years ago, led by the King of Vallatenear himself, his aides, and his son, Prince Aglia.
I was 17 years old and the prince was 18.
At the time, he should have been a 15-year-old boy.
The prince, who had grown taller and more mature, and the boy, who had been crying at the time, finally overlapped.
“That time, Claire, you really saved my life… Everyone knows. I know there are spies in the room, that’s why I can’t say it out in the open.”
On the terrace of the banquet hall, we can certainly talk without being overheard by others.
At the time, I had this person carry a book hidden away.
I made him take off his clothes and wrap a few sheets of paper around his body, just transcribing the pages he needed.
It was a medical book.
I had almost finished reading all the books in the imperial palace… At that time, the reason why the King of Vallatenear came to the audience in person… It was because of a disease.
In various places, people were falling ill due to a disease that was similar to an infectious disease but could not be called that.
The audience’s topic was a request for a physician to be dispatched to fix this.
My father, however, did not listen.
And it was in the imperial palace’s garden that I saw an unfamiliar red-haired boy crying.
The voice of the boy, who was far too big to be called a boy, was muffled.
No one but me knows exactly what books are stored in the royal palace.
Even the librarian, who may vaguely recall the location but not the contents.
Vallatenear is a grain-producing region surrounded by mountains with a trading port.
It’s abundant in natural resources, and both marine and mountain products can be obtained there.
Then I heard about the disease.
I asked the boy about the sudden increase in people collapsing and having trouble breathing when they eat their food.
And then about the rashes.
He told me that some of the people who had difficulty breathing died just like that.
And after hearing the symptoms, it finally came to my mind. Wheat allergy.
The grain-producing region, fortunately, grows both rice and wheat.
What the Kingdom of Vallatenear does not have is a rich river.
The narrow rivers that flowed from the mountains to the sea and formed borders with neighboring countries did not produce enough river fish for them to become widespread among the people.
Fortunately, there is an ocean, but the fishing was poor due to bad tides that year, and not enough dried fish made it to the country.
Fish gives one allergy resistance.
In addition, because it’s a grain-producing area, what they inevitably eat is meat and grain… And wheat, which yields a more abundant harvest than rice.
And then there was also old wheat.
Eating the same food in large quantities can cause allergic symptoms.
It was thought to be an outbreak of an illness that had been suppressed by fish, all at once.
There were also cases where it was caused by mite-infested old wheat that had been stored improperly.
Fearing that I’d made a mistake because I’d only identified it based on what I’d heard, I tucked a dozen or so of the relevant pages into the boy’s body.
Although there is no physical examination, such as taking one’s clothes off, they do search your luggage.
He told me that the paper I gave him led to measures being taken to reduce the likelihood of allergic symptoms.
Rice is now Vallatenear’s staple food, while wheat is exported.
“Claire, do you remember what you said to me then?”
“… I was frantic at the time, so all I remember is telling you to remove your clothes…”
“Fufu… You are really brave.
Back then… You told me this, ‘Crying won’t solve anything.
If you want to be able to be happy with no worries, you have to get stronger.’”
I am now ashamed that I said such a pretentious thing.
The reason I was devoted to my studies was that they made me feel empowered, despite the fact that my older sister, younger sister, and family had always treated me as an embarrassment.
“Do you remember what I said back to you?”
“I’m ashamed to say… Please forgive me.”
My back hunched up once more.
Prince Aglia drew his hand behind his back and looked me in the eyes.
“When I can laugh, I want you to marry me.”
“You smiled back at me, saying, ‘Only if you can learn to laugh and come for me.’ And here we are.”
I was so arrogant and rude.
It’s truly a travesty of ladylike education.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Claire.
I’ve lived my entire life with your encouragement.
That’s why, once again, I would like to ask you to marry me.“
The prince took my hand and kneeled.
“I can laugh now.
So, will you marry me?“
How else can I answer that?
The night breeze, the sounds of the banquet, the lights, and the smile that adorned this person’s face.
… I’m glad I came here as a sacrifice.
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