24. — Between Greed and Conscience
「 “I could catch it at a glance. It seemed that Adelia was the only one in that space.” 」
This, this cute little boy…!
At his remarks, which made even the best casanova of this era cry, I finally could not stand it and hugged him into my arms.
「 “Uh, Adelia…?” 」
“Really just be my little brother, Noya!”
With the soft fur that touched my face and the wiggling paws sprang up my affection for him. Thanks to Noya, I felt a little bit relieved and expressed my gratitude, feeling that I was very nervous about the role that was getting more significant compared to the role entrusted to me.
“Thank you, Noya.”
In response to my gratitude, Noya tilted his head as though she did not know what to be grateful for.
He was so cute that I touched his ears. At that, his face also loosened leisurely, perhaps feeling similar to the feeling I felt when I was a puppy.
By the way, did Cain not come…?
“Would you like to enter now?”
My thoughts flowed in the direction of Cain involuntarily and I glanced at the man, startled by the voice I heard. The man who guided me to the audience room was waiting for my answer. With a belated mind, I stared at the large door in front of me and inhaled slowly.
All right. What would be a big deal?
Actually, I did not do anything so if I was called like this, what would happen?
“Yes. Then, please.”
The man slowly opened the door at my calm answer. There was a large window in the pure white room decorated with gold. The sunlight pouring in through the window shone like it was broken through the trees, and there, the Emperor was in front of it. The Emperor with golden hair shining like melted gold and golden eyes shining like the sun…
“Another hero has arrived.”
Before I could even understand the Emperor’s words, a man kneeling in front of him stood up — black hair as dark as jet black and bright red eyes like ruby…
It was Cain.
ﾟ· : * ✧ * :· ﾟ
“I didn’t know you were here.”
“Is Jo Malone caught all because of your contribution when you turned into a puppy?”
Cain answered the whispering question as if teasing. When I gazed up at his playful voice, he giggled like it was funny to see me like that.
“You two seem to get along pretty well.”
When I heard the Emperor, Joan, his low voice, I flinched and bowed my head. Still, I could feel a piercing gaze on the back of my head lying flat.
…God. Please, do not let the Emperor talk to me. Please!
“I heard from Grand Duke Destro. The Young Lady played a big role in this case.”
…This was a problem if you only looked for God when you needed to, even though you do not have religious beliefs. Even if God knew what was wrong, he never listened to my cries.
I glanced at Cain for a second and spat out my words.
“I’ve done nothing, Your Majesty.”
“No, it’s not like that. I really…!”
“I heard that you even drank a drug that turned you into a shapeshifter to persuade them.”
No, that was not why. I just drank it because I was thirsty…
“You also found the place where the shapeshifters were imprisoned, didn’t you?”
No, it was because my claw caught on the rug and accidentally…
I frowned at Joan’s words, which seemed to have been misunderstood somewhere, before turning my head toward Cain. Seeing him with his head bowed and struggling to hold back his laughter, it must have been him who caused this misunderstanding…
“The Count’s Young Lady, Adelia Blaise.”
“…Yes, Your Majesty.”
“After consulting with Grand Duke Destro, we’ve decided that it is appropriate to honor your service.”
“If there is anything you want in addition to an honorary knighthood, I’d like to give it to you, who saved the village of Winder where shapeshifters’ rights were being violated.”
My conscience was pricked by Joan’s voice full of praises. Why would he want to grant a wish to me, who had not done anything for an honorary knight position…? I never even asked for it, but now, the situation with the Emperor was enough to make my heart even more disturbed. As I gazed at my hands that were visible under the bowed head, wondering what to do, suddenly, Noya’s tiny feet suddenly came up on top of his hands.
When I met his black eyes, I remembered Irene with Noya.
「 “I like Adelia. I don’t like anyone else.” 」
But, to Noya, Irene and His Majesty the Emperor were more important than me…
「 “I don’t care about that. I’ve to be with Adelia.” 」
Noya’s voice echoed like a resounding voice, though I could not make up my mind. To be honest, I was terrified of the consequences of the decisions I would make now since I was biased towards my emotions. In addition, the lives of other people who would be turned upside down by my choices.
〈 “What’s the matter? The Young Lady once said that sometimes the conscience is short-lived, but your stomach will be full for a long time!” 〉
In my mind, I remembered the conversation I had with Lily in the carriage. Eventually, after staring at my hands and Noya’s tiny feet, I raised my head up determinedly.
“Then, I’ll be blunt and say it, Your Majesty.”
“Tell me, Young Lady.”
“Please, give me Noya.”
Now, I do not know anymore.
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