Chapter 2 Prince, The Black Dog, The Failed Knight Part 3
The next day, Octavian walked to the Outer Palace again.
The clothes he had on today were thankfully not like those of a nobleman going to an evening party. Rather, he was in simple casual wear: a plain-white shirt and a pair of easy-to-move-in trousers he was accustomed to. His unruly, golden sunset-tinged hair was tied simply at the back and at his waist hung his favourite sword, one that had accompanied him for many years.
The guard at the path to the castle glanced at his clothes with disdain but didn’t make any comments as Octavian’s position as a Personal Knight was higher than his. The guard could only stay silent and let him pass.
(If you have a problem with it, you can bring it up with the prince…)
Octavian grumbled in his head.
Yesterday, after they had finished cleaning up the documents, his new boss, the prince, leaned back on the sofa and began introductions.
“I am Herscherik, the Seventh Prince. This is my Chief Butler, Schwartz. I call him Kuro though.”
(Calling him ‘Kuro’, doesn’t this just reinforce the idea that he is a black dog?)
The insulting thought popped up in Octavian’s head…
Kuro said sharply.
“Kuro, don’t start a fight. Just because you’re upset you lost the other day doesn’t mean you can be immature about it.”
Kuro backed down, following Herscherik’s order with a sulky face. Octavian guessed that this man was likely only so obedient in front of the prince.
“It’s Octavian, Your Highness. Just Octa is fine.”
Although the prince had only changed a few letters in his name, Octavian felt strangely compelled to immediately correct him…
“You can call me Hersche if you’d like. You don’t need to add honorifics like ‘Your Highness’ or ‘-sama’ unless it’s in a formal setting.”
Octavian was surprised by Herscherik’s words, who said this while smiling very sweetly.
He wondered where the pride of the royal family, where they would insist that it was a crime to speak disrespectfully to them, had gone.
(No, a member of that very royal family is right in front of my eyes.)
“So then, Otaku-san.”
“It’s Octa. There’s no need for the honorific.”
Octavian corrected the error in a flash. Herscherik looked around, unwilling to meet his gaze.
“Well, then, Octa. Unless we’re in a formal area, you also don’t have to speak politely to me. It’s very troublesome.”
The master said the same thing as the butler. Conversely, it must be because of the master that the butler was like that.
Feeling troubled, Herscherik observed Octavian from head to toe.
“Starting from tomorrow, you can just wear your casual clothes, again, with the exception of when we go to formal places. Although, being honest, these clothes match you. You look cool.”
Octavian sensed that Herscherik was trying not to say the same thing his butler had previously said. Even though the prince didn’t put it into words, his eyes clearly indicated everything.
That was why, on the next day, he wore mostly ordinary clothes when he arrived at the castle.
Octavian headed towards the third’s floor southern area of the Outer Palace. En route, he crossed path with a man who bowed as they passed. He later found out that he was Herscherik’s language teacher.
When he knocked and entered the room, the prince greeted him. The room was clean, making the mess made by the scattered documents yesterday seemed like a fantasy.
“Morning, Prince. You have mistaken my name again.”
Like what they had talked about yesterday, Octavian dropped the honorifics. The prince forewent both sharp retort and formal speech and just apologized.
There were no particular plans for today, Herscherik informed Octavian. Usually, he would have language studies but Herscherik explained that the teacher had just canceled them due to some urgent matters.
Octavian’s spirit dropped as he assumed he would be spending the day babysitting the prince when Hersche announced that he would be heading to the castle town.
“But isn’t it hard to get permission for that this quickly?”
Originally, the royal family was required to request permission to leave the palace, with the exceptions of designated areas like the Academy.
From there, they would have to arrange to meet with both the Patrol Bureau and the Guards and determine the plan for the days they would be away. This would generally take a minimum of a week. That was what Octavian was told during the introductory meeting the other day.
Octavian was at his wit’s end when he saw the town outside of the castle spread before his eyes.
(How would the prince… furthermore a five-year-old child… even know about this secret path…)
The place he was guided to was past the courtyard: an old, withered waterway hidden behind the trees. Herscherik skillfully removed the iron grid, and at the end of the waterway tunnel was the castle’s town.
“In this town, I am not called Hersche but Ryoko. For Otaku…”
Somehow, the prince appeared to have imprinted his name as Otaku.
The prince stared at Octavian motionlessly.
“I remembered it in a weird way, so I can’t forget it…..”
The prince grumbled, troubled. The incorrect name was already carved into his mind, making it hard to change. Troubled for a moment, Herscherik was struck with an idea and clapped his hands together.
“Since I’m also using an alias, let’s just use a different name for you. Orange, oranju… Yeah, I’ll call you Oran.”
Octavian could only blink his eyes at Herscherik who said so carefreely.
To be given a name by an aristocrat was a sign of absolute trust. It was not normal for a member of royalty to give a name on the third day of the encounter.
He had thought of declining the new name for a moment, but Octavian didn’t feel particularly troubled by it. Being called the wrong name many times and correcting it each time was more stressful.
“…The meaning is?”
That was why he did not refuse but rather asked about the foreign sounds that he was not familiar with. Herscherik was reminded that this had happened before.
“The meaning is the colour orange. Oran’s hair is orange-coloured, right? It looks like the sunset, very beautiful.”
Octavian narrowed his eyes at Herscherik’s words.
His words were the same as what his beloved had once told him. His small smile overlapped with the smile of Octavian’s sweetheart. Octavian… Oran was pulled back, into a past he wished he could forget.
Originally, those past memories would be painful. However, with Herscherik’s words, for some reason, he thought of those warm and gentle memories.