TWEM Vol. 2 Chapter 10

 

Chapter 10 – The Party

 

In the evening of the promotion ceremony, a party was held in the royal palace, gathering the kingdom’s upper elite, high-ranked military officials, nobles, and more.

It was a celebration of the victory over the monster horde and my promotion to EX rank.

Dillan had prepared a fitting outfit for me to wear: a black swallow-tailed coat, white shirt, and red necktie, formal wear that was very different from my usual clothes. I had my hair done too: the left side was slicked back.

I heard they prepared an outfit for Finne too…I wondered how she’d look?

Just as I was thinking that, someone knocked at the door.

“Ehm, how do I look?”

I turned around and found Finne, clad in a dress.

It was completely white, with a simple, not too gorgeous design and patterns. Her hair was tied in a single knot on the back of her head, differently from the usual.

I was so enraptured I couldn’t say a word.

“S-sir Haruto?”

Finne curiously called out to me, and I rushed out an answer.

“Ah, er, no, I’m sorry, you look great.”

“Really? Thank you very much…oh, but you look very nice too, sir Haruto.”

“Ah, thank you.”

Finne’s cheeks were flushed red.

She was probably feeling the same way as me.

As we were standing there, blushing awkwardly, an attendant came to escort us to the party venue.

After noticing our arrival, Dillan raised his voice to attract the participants’ attention.

“ — Ladies and gentlemen, our guest of honor is here!”

All the people present, engaged in conversation at their tables, produced roaring applause.

We followed the maid’s directions and headed towards the stage.

Finne was told to wait just next to it, while I proceeded towards center stage.

I walked towards Dillan, kneeled, and bowed my head, putting my right fist on my chest.

“Your Majesty, I am truly thankful for such a celebration to be held for my sake.”

“Please stand, Sir Haruto. As promised, allow me to present you your reward.”

Following Dillan’s words, Zebastian brought a small, yet intricately decorated box.

It was like a small treasure chest: inside there were several coins in a leather satchel.

“Sir Haruto. In honor of your extermination of the monster horde, we present you ten Black Gold coins.”

Dillan took the box from Zebastian and offered it to me.

Ten Black Gold coins…one billion Gould!? One Gould amounted more or less to one Yen, so…!?

It was such an incredible amount that I felt dizzy.

I barely managed to keep a straight face as I received the box — all thanks to the skill Poker Face.

“I am, deeply thankful…”

Dillan nodded to me, then asked another question.

“Sir Haruto, you are currently staying in an inn, is that correct?”

Eh? I think I told him that before, but…

“Yes, that is correct. Is anything the matter, sire?”

“Well, I was thinking that not having an official base of operations might inconvenience you in the long run, so we decided to prepare a residence for you in the capital. I will let you know the precise location later…but please do not worry: it is merely a base of operations, I do not have any intention to force you to serve our kingdom.”

W-whoa…they even gave me a house!? I guess I should gratefully accept it for now…

“I am honored, Your Majesty.”

“Please use it freely with your party member, Finne.”

Dillan glanced at Finne, then turned towards the venue.

“ — this concludes the main event! Please enjoy the celebration to your hearts’ content. If you would please raise your glasses…cheers!”

“Cheers!!”

Dillan’s greeting gave the start of a very lively party.

I entrusted the Black Gold coins to Zebastian and stepped down from the stage, together with Dillan.

There I found Finne, Iris, and queen Amalia.

“Welcome back, sir Haruto”

“You looked good on stage, Haruto!”

“Thank you, Finne, Iris…by the way, Dillan, aren’t 10 Black Gold coins too much money to give to a single person?”

I thanked Finne and Iris for their words, then turned towards Dillan.

Apparently, the nobles close to us could hear me: I could hear a pudgy middle-aged man whisper something like I was being disrespectful to the king. The other nobles looked at me with shock or scorn.

Whoops…I talked casually because Dillan told me to do so when we were in private, and it slipped out…

I looked at Dillan, but he was chuckling, amused.

“Hahaha…please do not be alarmed, everyone. Haruto has saved the princess’ life before: I have asked him to speak as if we were equals. He spoke properly during the ceremony, so that is enough, is it not?”

The nobles seemed to begrudgingly accept the king’s explanation.

“Haruto is the world’s first and only EX rank adventurer, what is the point in fretting over social status, I wonder? Anyhow…you were saying something about the reward, Haruto?”

“Yes, well, I doubt I will ever have the chance to use that much money…”

“Please, don’t say that. It is barely enough compensation for our kingdom’s savior. That is why I also took the liberty of preparing a residence for you.”

Well, I suppose he had a point…

“I’ll gladly accept it, then.”

“Please do…let’s go enjoy the buffet now, it would be a shame not to.”

On Dillan’s encouragement, we went to enjoy the delicacies prepared for the party.

~

After tasting a bit of everything, I thought of going outside to get some fresh air but was immediately surrounded by countless women and nobles.

“Lord Haruto, would you dance with me?”

“Please, dance with me first!”

“More importantly, are you already married, sir? If not I could— ”

“Don’t try to steal him, you!!”

“That’s not what I meant!”

“You see, sir Haruto, I have a 17-year-old daughter that— ”

“Oh, but my daughter is 15 and— ”

Their enthusiasm and momentum were something to behold.

My EX rank was too appetizing a treat, I guess.

I didn’t have the slightest interest in their offers, however, so after humoring them for a couple of minutes, I excused myself and left.

I didn’t expect to be surrounded like that…finally free, I looked around and saw Finne — surrounded too, but by a multitude of men.

It wasn’t strange, considering how pretty she was, but I couldn’t leave her alone like that.

“Finne, can you come with me?”

Finne looked at me and nodded vigorously, her face beaming.

“Ah, sir Haruto! Yes, of course!”

I walked closer to her and all the nobles left, greeting me as they walked away.

Finne and I had been close most of the night, so everyone knew she was my partner. Some of the nobles acted disappointed, but no one tried insisting on staying with her.

We went out to the balcony, drink in hand.

“I’d never have expected to be hounded like that…”

“That’s right…I certainly didn’t think it would happen to me too.”

We both sighed at the same time.

“Were you invited to dance, Finne?”

“I was just treated as an accessory…everyone tried to get close to me just because I know you, sir Haruto. No one was looking at me as a person…”

“I don’t know if that’s really the case, though…”

Finne turned towards me, a look of surprise on her face.

I went down on one knee and extended my right palm towards her.

“Would you fancy a dance with me, miss?”

Finne looked troubled at first, then blushed and smiled.

“Y-yes! Gladly!”

She said as she put her hand on mine.

I stood back up and led Finne back inside, then headed towards the center of the hall.

The young noble ladies who invited me to dance, the noblemen who swarmed around Finne, the old nobles who were simply curious about me…I could feel all sorts of gazes on us.

I noticed that Iris too was staring in our direction.

It looked like she was trying to say something…

Well, let’s see…the…next…dance…is…with…me…? For real…?

Iris’ expression was very much serious, so I nodded back. I was sure I’d get scolded if I refused.

Finne probably noticed something was up with me.

“Is anything wrong?”

“Iris just asked to dance with me next…”

“Y-you’re going to attract even more attention…”

“I’d be dancing with a princess, after all…”

We arrived at the center of the hall, which was cleared wide: the other participants probably created a space for me, as I was the guest of honor, after all.

We awkwardly held hands and I put a hand on her waist.

“I-I’m so nervous…”

“Right, me too. But let’s just do what we can.”

“Y-yes, okay.”

I looked around and noticed that, not only the space around us, but the whole dance hall was empty.

Eh? Why is no one dancing?

This is bad…I never danced before in my life, so I planned to do what the others did…

My budding anxiety was answered by the usual metallic voice.

<<Skill “Social Arts” acquired. Skill level reached 10.>>  

…oh, it’s the usual.

Looks like this skill helps with dancing, manners, and other things helpful for nobles.

Once again, All Creation proved its amazing worth.

“S-sir Haruto…I didn’t think we would be the center of attention like this…and I don’t know how to dance properly…”

“It’s alright, Finne, I’ll take the lead.”

I reassured Finne and she blushed, whispering “You truly can do everything…”

As the music started, I slowly started moving my body.

We danced like that for a bit: when Finne started getting the hang of it, the music switched to a more upbeat rhythm.

We focused on dancing, gradually shutting off everyone else’s gazes and presence.

When the music ended, thunderous applause broke out in the hall.

“Who would ever expect they could dance so well?”

“Lord Haruto is so handsome and cool…”

“Miss Finne was very pretty too.”

Comments like those could be heard from all around us. Rather embarrassing, honestly.

After that, I danced together with Iris, as promised, and the nobles showered me with even more praise.

~

After I danced with Iris and left the dance hall, the other nobles finally started dancing too.

Together with Iris and Finne, I returned to Dillan and Amalia’s seats.

“That was an excellent dance, you three.”

“Finne, Iris, you looked so happy.”

Both of them complimented us as soon as they saw us.

Seeing that Finne and Iris both blushed visibly, queen Amalia chuckled and smiled knowingly.

“Haruto, listen, I wouldn’t like to take you away from the party, but could we speak for a moment in private? Miss Finne, please come too.”

Dillan’s words came as a surprise to us, but we nodded in agreement.

We followed the royal butler, Zebastian, to a spacious room used for receiving guests and sat facing the royal family: Dillan, Amalia, and Iris.

Then, the very instant I put the black tea prepared by Zebastian to my lips— 

“Haruto, what do you think about taking Iris as your bride?”

“Gwhah!!”

Dillan spouted something unbelievable.

I coughed and almost spat my tea everywhere. After I settled down a bit, I had Dillan repeat himself.

“W-what was that? Could you say that one more time?”

“You didn’t hear me?”

“I did, that’s why I almost choked!”

It almost sounded like a gag routine.

“Well, just look at Iris, and I think you’ll understand too.”

Prompted by Dillan, I turned towards Iris and, indeed, understood immediately.

She was beet red, a pure and innocent smile on her face.

— I guess that means she fell for me?

Iris is the kingdom’s first princess, if I recall correctly. If we married, I’d be neck-deep in politics…isn’t this way too sudden, anyway?

I was still considering such thoughts, when Dillan leaned forward and pressed me to answer.

“So, what do you say?”

“Like I said— ”

“Am I….not good for you?”

I was trying to get Dillan to calm down when Iris added her own pressure to the mix.

“N-no, I mean, it’s not like you are not good, but…why me?”

“Because you talked with me normally, Haruto. All the people around me always treat me like a princess, not a person…besides, when you protected me from the assassins and defeated the monsters…you were so cool…I thought…”

Iris grew a shade redder and smiled again. I couldn’t help but blush too if she said things like that to my face…

I wondered how Finne felt about the whole thing and gave her a side glance: her innate fair complexion was now white as a sheet, and her expression suggested that she couldn’t believe her eyes and ears.

“F-Finne? Are you okay?”

Finne shuddered at my comment, then awkwardly turned towards me, like a puppet with too little lubricant on its joints.

“O-o-of course, I am p-p-perfectly fine!! E-even if sir Haruto and the princess marry, I — ”

Iris stood up suddenly, walked closer to the flustered Finne, and whispered something in her ear.

“ — hueh?”

Finne looked absolutely astounded, then Iris whispered again.

“But that’s…”

And again.

“!?!”

Finne’s previously pale face turned a bright shade of red.

“P-p-p-princess Iris!? H-how did you know that I like sir Haruto!? Ah…”

In her light state of panic, Finne apparently voiced her thoughts out loud: when she finally realized what she blurted out, she timidly looked at me.

Well, that was just like a…

I was thinking about what I should say when Iris whispered in Finne’s ear again.

Their whispered plotting continued for a little bit, but they quickly reached a conclusion and Finne turned towards me, an expression showing firm resolve on her face.

“S-sir Haruto!!”

“Yes ma’am!”

Finne’s intense tone caused me to sit upright and answer in the same manner.

Finne took a deep breath, then looked at me straight in the eyes and spoke.

.

“I, I…sir Haruto, I…like you!”

.

I couldn’t come up with anything to say and just sat there, speechless.

Dillan, Amalia, and Iris looked at us, without saying a word.

Finne probably found that silence ominous: her flushed cheeks gradually lost color.

“A-as I thought, someone like me is not a good match for you…”

Finne couldn’t stand the atmosphere and looked down, sulking.

I hurriedly shook my head.

“That’s not true.”

“Eh?”

Finne raised her head and looked at me. She looked like she was on the verge of tears.

“…I like you too, Finne. I wanted to say that on my own, not in a situation like this, though. So Finne…please stay at my side, always.”

Hearing my confession, Finne turned bright red again.

“Eh? Eh…?”

She surely didn’t expect me to say something like that: Finne looked utterly confused.

“Haruto, my boy, aren’t you quite the ladies’ killer? You have to make miss Finne happy, but don’t forget about our Iris! It’s okay even if she isn’t your first wife, you know?”

Dillan concluded his words with a grin.

Are you seriously offering your daughter, the kingdom’s first princess as a concubine…? This has to be a joke…right?

“Like I said— ”

“This is a royal order, mind you.”

Don’t come out with a royal order for something like this!!

I wanted to shout that back at Dillan, but Amalia spoke first.

“Haruto, please make our Iris happy, okay?”

“Wait, wait, can you even choose the first princess’ marriage partner so easily? I said I like Finne, didn’t I? I mean, I don’t hate Iris, but…is polygamy even allowed?”

In my country of origin, Japan, marrying more than one partner is illegal. I personally felt that polygamy isn’t normal either. For a man, it was like a dream, though.

Dillan looked at me, puzzled.

“Eh? Isn’t it normal? It’s not forbidden in this country…nor in most others. The kings and rulers of other countries all have concubines, anyway.”

I-I see…what did Finne and Iris think about it?

“I-It’s perfectly fine for me! As long as I can be with sir Haruto…besides, it’s kind of nice to like the same person!”

After saying that, Finne looked at Iris.

“Yes, I agree with Finne. Of course, I’ll let her have the first place!”

Iris accepted it very easily too.

“So! What do you say, sir Haruto!”

“Haruto!”

“…fine, if you’re both okay with it, I have nothing to say. I promise to treat you well.”

I nodded and the two young ladies showed smiles full of happiness.

Just then, a question popped up in my head.

“Dillan, what will you do about your successor?”

I didn’t hear anything about Iris having any siblings. I thought her husband would become the heir…

Dillan grinned and answered my question.

“You’ll be the next king, right Haruto? We’d be perfectly happy with it.”

“Give me a break, no way I’m suited to be a king!”

“Hahaha, I’m really joking this time…we haven’t told this to Iris yet, but — Amalia is pregnant, actually.”

Dillan turned towards Amalia and looked at her gently as she caressed her belly.

“EEEEEEHHHHH!?!”

Iris was naturally surprised, but I and Finne were too.

“We still don’t know if it’ll be a boy or a girl, but I sure can’t wait! Hahaha!”

“Will we have a boy this time? Hehehe.”

Dillan and Amalia both looked truly happy.

I should bring a gift to Amalia when the baby is born.

Finne and I congratulated the royal parents, who looked slightly embarrassed.

On the other hand, Iris was busy wondering how the new sibling would address her:

“Will it be just “big sis”? Or maybe “ my dear sister”? “Lady sister” isn’t bad either…hehehe…”

“By the way, who else knows about this?”

“The prime minister, Zebastian, and a few others…we won’t announce it publicly for a while.”

My question was answered by Dillan.

I didn’t want to think about it, but I hoped the baby could be born without problems. Compared to Japan, successful childbirth rates were probably lower here.

As I was considering these thoughts, Dillan spoke up again.

“Oh, that reminds me, about the residence…Zebastian, bring it here.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Zebastian, who was standing by near the door, pulled out a piece of parchment from his pocket.

Dillan took it from the butler’s hands and passed it to me.

“This is the residence’s proof of ownership. I’ll spare you the details, since it’s faster to go see it on your own…but this residence, located in the highest class area of the nobles’ district, was used by the royal family for generations. Please use it any way you wish: it’s too spacious for only three people, however, so maybe you should hire some helpers.”

“…eh!?”

Finne and I couldn’t help but react with surprise.

Could we really use the residence property of the royal family? Located in such a prestigious location, too…

I wanted to refuse, honestly, but I knew they wouldn’t let me.

Finne and I, for the moment, bowed our heads and said thanks politely.

~

After the conversation, we returned to the party venue.

Since we all vanished, the participants could only chat among themselves: the party was nearing its end.

Dillan walked to the center of the stage and the crowd went quiet.

“Are you enjoying the celebration for adventurer Haruto’s promotion to EX rank, ladies and gentlemen? Some of you had the chance to speak with him, but I believe most did not. I would thus like to ask our guest of honor for a few words.”

Dillan turned in my direction and motioned me to come up on stage.

“Eh? Again!?”

“Naturally.”

Finne and Iris watched as I headed towards the stage.

I was a bit of a loss about what to say and glanced at Dillan for help, but he just smiled and nodded. No hints, huh?

“…ahem. Once again, I am Haruto, adventurer promoted today to EX rank. First of all, I wish to thank His Majesty for hosting this wonderful celebration, as well as all guests for participating.”

I bowed to Dillan, then to the crowd, and continued.

“It feels like yesterday when I first registered as an adventurer: but even in such a short time, I have been helped by many people. It is thanks to them that I can stand here tonight.”

I took a deep breath, then continued.

“There are important people I wish to protect.”

I glanced at Finne and Iris, who smiled back at me, then looked over the venue one more time.

“All the people I met were funny, kind, reliable, including the ‘important people’ I mentioned. I am going to become much stronger, to protect them forever.”

I felt more and more embarrassed as I spoke. After clearing my throat, I concluded my speech.

“Thank you very much for gathering here tonight. I hope to see you all again one day.”

I bowed to the crowd and walked down from the stage.

After Dillan’s closing words, the party was officially over.

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