Chapter 7: Evening Party, Rose Prince, and Trap I
Rather than the host for tonight’s evening party, it was the guests who were restless in anticipation. The gentlemen and ladies in their stylish outfits continued to peek at the spiral staircase in the main hall, asking, “Now? Now?”
This started when a friend of the host mentioned that there was someone they wanted to participate no matter what. As the number of guests had already reached its limit, the host thought that this person would decline the invitation when he suddenly reconsidered and agreed. As such, the host was a nervous wreck when making preparations to ensure that tonight’s party would be a success.
This person who suddenly decided to participate had kept away from such social gatherings since becoming an adult. However, before then, this person was popular in social gatherings such as this one and had fostered various brilliant rumors. There was hardly anyone in high society who didn’t know his name. No, the only people who probably didn’t know were babies just born and children who weren’t aware of their surroundings yet. This flower who hadn’t appeared yet stood on a higher social level than all the guests waiting for him.
The lady closest to the door held her fan close to her mouth as she called softly yet excitedly to one next to her.
The aristocrat and his friend appeared, gracefully descending the spiral staircase. He was a beautiful man with burning red hair and eyes, and well-defined features. Each one of his gestures was divine. His navy blue clothes had various embroidered designs, clearly the work of an artisan who put their soul into their work to further complement the wearer’s beauty.
“It’s been a while since we saw the Rose Prince at a social gathering.”
“The Lord of Roses…He really is lovely.”
The women adored in dazzling outfits whispered. On the male side, they glared at the aristocrat with ambitious eyes, not letting this opportunity escape.
The prince landed at the base of the spiral staircase and was greeted by the host.
“Welcome, Your Highness Marcus. We’ve been waiting for you.”
“Thank you for agreeing to my sudden proposal to participate.”
The host mused that even his guest’s apologetic face was picturesque. This guest was the second most exalted person in the Greisis Kingdom after His Majesty the King—the 1st prince, Marcus Greisis.
When His Highness Marcus became an adult and entered the military, the number of times he appeared at these social gatherings decreased. The beauty he inherited from the king and his mother, as well as the magnificent red of his hair that resembled a rose, gave him the titles ‘The Lord of Roses’ and ‘The Rose Prince.’ Of course, these names were widely popular but the person himself didn’t know.
“No need to give me your gratitude. Please enjoy yourself here.”
The host bowed deeply before taking his leave. That was the signal for the start of the evening party. Elegant music began to flow, and guests danced and conversed. These ‘evening parties’ were the battlefields of high-society. It was one where aristocrats exchanged information rather than blade-strikes. The fashionably dressed guests eyed their prey with glittering eyes.
Their gazes felt like needles on his skin as Marcus let out a strained laugh. Even though it had been a while, these gatherings hadn’t changed.
“This place is still a war zone, huh. How scary.”
“What is a veteran of such a battlefield like you saying?”
The young man, who appeared to be a friend and accompanied the prince down the spiral staircase, sarcastically replied to the prince’s muttering.
“Hmph. How about you? You had a fiancée, but you still raised up a storm when you showed up. Eh, Octa?”
Octavian… er, Oran furrowed his brow at Marcus’ counterattack. He too was currently wearing a costume fit for such an occasion.
His outfit was a deep rouge to complement his sunset-colored hair. As with the prince, it matched him well and drew the attention of others.
“It was a chaperone job… She had a pedigree, and as such was in a position where she would be called to such places frequently. I was just there to keep the pests away.”
Oran recalled that time. While she belonged to a noble family, they also handled large-scale business endeavors. As such, she often appeared in such social gatherings. Being a docile and mild-mannered woman, she stood out in the opposite manner of the prince, whether Oran liked it or not. He worried that if he didn’t stick right beside her like a guard dog, she would be harassed by cheap men. From other points of view, his reason was only half true, while the other half was probably because of jealousy.
“…Well now, let’s hope the prey comes and bites the bait.”
“It’ll be bad if they don’t bite.”
Oran said. Right, it’ll be bad if the prey doesn’t bite. They were here because there was a lead.
“It’ll be fine.”
From behind the two, a young voice that felt out of place in such a location echoed. Because of Marcus, the owner of the voice didn’t garner any attention despite also being a prince.
Herscherik showed a harmless smile while carefully observed their surroundings. That was when he noticed their target. Herscherik flashed a broad grin at their target, who he noticed was observing them too.
However, being sandwiched by the two walls that were his brother and his personal knight, Herscheik’s smile was overlooked by the target.
“I definitely won’t let you escape.”
Herscherik’s eyes showed a level of sharpness a predator would show when they found their prey.
Next, Herscherik exchanged glances with his brother and personal knight.
“Now, shall we begin?”
His gentle blue eyes implied, ‘It’s hunting season.’
Ignatz Navy was the son of Baron Navy, a low-ranking aristocrat.
The Navy family was one of those mercantile houses that rose up to nobility. It was the former Baron Navy who bought their peerage with money. To Ignatz, the business ability of the founder, who was also his grandfather, exceeded all. After all, in just one generation, he managed to elevate the house to nobility.
However, the son of this man was different. After the father passed away, the son, Ignatz’s father, inherited his position but by no means did he inherit his business ability. If the family was just a normal mercantile family, there would be no issue. He was capable enough for that level, but as an aristocrat, he couldn’t match up to the skills of the founder. This caused the Navy family’s finances to decline around the time Ignatz was in the Academy.
With the Navy family in such a perilous situation, Ignatz had no choice but to act. Ignatz wasn’t particularly eye-catching and his intelligence was above average but not enough to stand out. However, he was good with his words, was charming and easy to socialize with, and had a calming personality. He used these qualities to raise his own position in these social gatherings and mixed in with the aristocrats. At first, they looked down on him for trying to rise up from such a standing, but after experiencing his charm, they started to have a favorable impression of him. And when he had proposed a deal, negotiations were completed before they had even realized it.
Ignatz had ambition. He wanted to advance in the world. Of course, this was to increase his family honor, but in truth, that was just a secondary goal to him. Even this social gathering was just another means to his goal. Here he was aiming to butter up some powerful aristocrats. A large prey was mixed in with the crowd tonight.
This prey was the kingdom’s 1st prince: Marcus Greisis. He was currently the first in line to the throne.
To Ignatz, this was a big chance, but this target had a repugnant man next to him.
Octavian Ordis: the third son of Duke of Ordis, one of the best generals in the Greisis Kingdom.
He really was an ideal man in Ignatz’s eyes. He came from a notable family. His father was a former general, and all of his brothers were knights of the kingdom. He was blessed with talent and beauty, and his personality wasn’t bad either. He was the kind of person who would lead a life much different from Ignatz in the future. That was why Ignatz had approached him in the past in hopes of using him, but the man would never follow. This led Ignatz’s inferiority complex to flare up.
(But his fall from grace was comical…)
Both inwardly and outwardly, Ignatz scoffed at Octavian.
Two years ago after his fiancée passed away, Octavian’s grades dropped like someone falling off a cliff. At first, his friends and teachers were worried, but as time passed, they ran out of patience. He was supposed to graduate at the top of his class, but he was flagged as a poor student and barely graduated.
There was no other time more enjoyable than that to Ignatz. But recently, another rumor had flared up his inferiority complex once again. So, in order to confirm this rumor, he dared to approach the repugnant man,
He put on a smiling mask so as not to raise any wariness.
“It’s been a while, Octavian.”
“…Yeah, it’s been a while.”
The young man had a surprised look on for a second, and this caused Ignatz to feel superior. It was a refreshing sight to see the top of the class who was always nonchalant now look at him with such annoyed eyes.
“Not since graduation, right? It’s quite rare for you to come out to a social gathering…”
Ignatz said while observing Octavian.
He was dressed in a slightly less gaudy rouge outfit. His unruly sunset colored hair with golden highlights was tied back with a high-quality ribbon. He was casually wearing such ornate clothing that he gave off an elegant air. Everything was of fine quality. In comparison, Ignatz’s outfit would give away its entire cost spent if he moved strangely; this once again reinforced that these two men were completely different levels.
The sense of superiority he felt before vanished right then. It was because Ignatz saw what Octavian had at his hip.
It was a sword. Furthermore, this wasn’t a decoration; this was a real, practical sword.
Generally, outside of palace guards, no one was allowed to bring a weapon to a social gathering. There was only one other exception. That was the personal knight employed to guard a duke or a member of the royal family. A personal knight was allowed to possess a weapon anywhere. They were only loyal to their masters, so this was a privilege bestowed upon them by the king.
“So the rumor that you became a personal knight is true.”
“I guess. It kind of just happened.”
Octavian let out a wry laugh which caused Ignatz to recall his forgotten envy.
(What do you mean ‘just happened’!?)
Those with aides following them were ones who could be considered close to the royal family. The position Oran obtained was something everyone envied, but why did he sound neither boastful or humble? Rather, his tone was matter of fact.
“What’s wrong, Oranju?”
Just before Ignatz lost himself to his emotions and was about to speak, a young and out-of-place voice cut through.