Author: This is actually the main story in a way, so I hesitated on this one, but it is more like Loic-kun is the protagonist here than Souma, so I decided to treat it as a Side Story.
There’s no gore warning or vomit warning, so read it without any worries.
TLN: Important. This is not a Side Story. It is actually tied to the main story and shouldn’t be skipped.
That clear voice that called out to me in a subdued manner brought me back to my senses.
When I looked at my side, there were clear blue eyes closer than I thought.
“…Did something happen?”
“N-No, there’s no issues…R-Ringo.”
I hurriedly shook my head to the sides at the questioning tone.
It seems like my consciousness flew away from the way too shocking sight.
Understanding it in your head and seeing it in the flesh is different.
I was once again reminded of such an obvious fact.
That guy, who called himself ‘Prince Charming Loic’, suddenly went in front of the target, Leila, the moment he saw her at the plaza.
“You are Leila-san, right? I have been waiting for you the whole time.”
And then, with such a cheesy line that I definitely wouldn’t ever be able to say, he offered her a bouquet of flowers with motions that even I as a man can tell were perfect.
It is exactly as we discussed, so I should have been prepared for it, but this being done with that face gave me more of a shock than I imagined.
Moreover, he grabbed the hand of the confused girl and kissed it!
Before the plan began, he said ‘I am not that good at talking with women’, and yet, he is completely into the role.
Or more like, he is overdoing it no matter how you think about it.
There’s no doubt he hasn’t considered at all who is the one that’s going to be suffering after this is over.
It is only now that I began to regret it, thinking ‘I really shouldn’t have trusted in him’.
Now that I think about it, he has been acting weird since the phase of choosing the outfit and the meeting.
Why did he have something like that?
“I think these are the clothes that fit a prince charming the most.”
He exaggerated as he wore knight-like clothes and…
“Right, in the middle of this operation, call me Prince Charming Loic.”
He said this with a straight face.
Honestly speaking, the only thing I could think of is that he is a nutcase.
Moreover, from what I heard, that’s not proper armor but a fashion item sold in the item shop and has papier mache defense.
According to the information I have, they will be heading to a level 130 dungeon now.
I don’t know how strong a great hero-sama is, but it is by no means a place you could lower your guard in.
Me, Ringo, and the others all said that this is dangerous, but the person himself said with a nonchalant face: “It is okay, it is okay. If anything happens, we can have that cat-eared swordsman-sama protect us.”
“…I will try, but it is not my fault if you get stabbed after I save you.” (Mitsuki)
And so, the aforementioned cat-eared swordsman, Mitsuki, said with a displeased look.
I am disappointed in myself for thinking even for an instant that he might be a decent guy the first time I met him.
Even while I was lost in reflection, the offensive of the Prince Charming was not stopping.
“That’s why I want you to watch me and judge whether I am worthy of trust.”
He was still approaching Leila with a serious face.
From the conclusion of the strategy meeting that took almost the whole night, we decided to divulge our plan to Leila from the beginning to a certain degree.
And so, he said to Leila…
-He needs an item from the ruins.
-He wants the cooperation of Leila who knows in detail about those ruins.
-About how he will need to return to his homeland once the ruin exploration is done.
-The fact that he will have to separate from Leila once it is over.
He clearly told her that, and requested for her help.
It doesn’t change the fact that we are deceiving her here, but you could say it is fair to an extent…I think.
More importantly, I was more interested in whether these conditions could convince Leila, but it seems like that was unnecessary worry.
“…I-I also wanted help…in exploring the ruins, so…I am fine…with that much.”
“I-It is not like…I have already decided…to bring you.”
I could see even from the side that Leila was being overwhelmed by his one-sided push.
The fearsome thing here is that they have grown pretty close to each other in the short time they have met.
Physical distance goes without saying, but his formal way of speech at first had changed into the same one that he had in yesterday’s strategy meeting.
In other words, this guy is beginning to get along with her almost in his natural state.
He really is an unbelievable playboy -is the new evaluation I had of him.
Ringo spoke to me once again.
“W-What is it, Ringo? Did something happen?”
Unease was reflected in my voice.
You could say this blue haired girl is the person that I have been together with the longest since coming here, but having these clear eyes stare straight at me still makes me nervous.
“…Standing out too much.”
I got so absorbed in observing their situation that I got a bit too at the front.
I hurriedly moved back.
My role in the first phase of the plan is mostly to make sure no girls get close to him, and to hinder any dangerous looking person.
I am currently the Ultimate Hero, the Sinking Prince Souma.
Thinking about the core of the situation, it feels like I am deceiving them, but I decide to concentrate on the people, taking it as work.
I feel bad for the elderly men and women that seriously come to me with admiration and gratitude. Seeing the boys and girls that were looking at me with pure eyes like that of seeing a hero, it feels as if I am looking at myself in my younger days, and it made me feel good.
While I was thinking that, a small girl came running with all she could from deep in the road. And then, with a big smile on her face, she held out a colored paper.
“Hero Onii-chan! Sign, please give me your sign!”
My heart shook at her way too pure request, but I haven’t practiced a sign.
Or more like, a guy like me doing signs is not good.
“I am sorry. Signing is a bit impossible for me.”
I felt bad for refusing the request of a young child, but I refused as politely and gently as possible.
“……I see. Is that so.”
But those feelings of mine didn’t reach the young girl.
Her eyes scrutinized me for a moment there, and she averted her gaze to the side.
I cursed my own inability with words and hurriedly continued speaking.
“N-No, it is not like I don’t want to give you a sign or anything…”
But the girl grinned before that and…
“No, you don’t need to worry about it at all, Onii-san! I actually think Onii-chan’s sign is worth less than trash anyways!”
“See ya, Onii-san. Do your best from here on too, okay?!”
She ran off with her short legs.
I really am terrible at dealing with women regardless of age.
And from the other side…
“I see! What you say is really educational, Leila!”
“No, honestly speaking, I had absolutely no interest in talking about ruins until now, but hearing about age and the types of traps from you, I went ‘I see!’.”
“That’s…great, I guess.”
And contrary to myself, our Prince Charming-sama was smoothly getting along with the princess.
I have only spoken with him for a few couple hours, but it feels as if a certain something had been unleashed in him after obtaining the mask of Prince Charming.
I can tell he is really lively even when looking from the side.
“…But is it really…fun to be together with someone…like me?”
“Yeah. I have been fighting the whole time lately, so I have had no experience of going out shopping and having fun.”
“Also, it is probably the first time in my life that I have gone out shopping alone with a beauty like you, Leila.”
“I am not…a beauty though…”
I could hear a conversation that made my back feel itchy just from standing slightly further away from them.
Right after I was assailed with the desire to shout mindlessly…
A sound like that of a blunt weapon hitting the ground with massive force rang somewhere.
A support aside from me might have not been able to take it anymore just like me and vented just now.
There’s no way Maki would do something like that in public since she is a princess, so it must have been Mitsuki who is also acting as support.
“Oi, is something the matter?”
And there’s someone here in a weird state too.
Ringo, who is by my side, was holding her chest tightly and her usual expressionless face was warped slightly.
“…I am…okay… Don’t worry, Souma.”
Seeing that state of hers, I thought ‘as expected’.
I knew clearly just how much influence he had on women…no, putting it bluntly, I could tell just how popular that guy was with women even before the operation began.
I barely interacted with people since coming here, but it is not like I am completely dense when it comes to matters with men and women.
I don’t want to admit it, but the blue haired blue eyed mysterious girl by my side, Ringo, in my eyes, is most likely in love with that guy.
Ringo would go to that guy’s side and would take care of him despite not being instructed to, and she would look happy simply from being spoken to.
I would instead be surprised if she were to not be in love with him.
No, it is not only Ringo.
It has only been half a day since coming from that cabin in the mountains to the capital, but in just that time alone, I could tell clearly that they liked this guy.
Mitsuki, Maki, and Ina, who is looking after the mansion now, were directing passionate gazes at him by the time I noticed.
Not only that, even the man with a weird mask, Sazan, also looked at him weird…but just imagining it is scary, so I will stop that. Anyways, it seems like everyone has fallen in love with him despite how hard to believe it is.
Being shown this much, it goes above jealousy and it even impresses me.
Looks like there’s popular guys that surpass my furthest imagination.
That short call hit my eardrums for the 3rd time.
I was so in my thoughts that I once again went too forward.
Moreover, the two of them are moving our way.
He saw me and made a face as if saying ‘I messed up’, but he must have thought it would be weird to change directions at this point in time, so he tried to pass by my side as if nothing happened.
I apologize to him with my eyes.
Receiving this, he responded with: (Don’t worry about it).
The problem is not that though.
Leila seeing me at this stage might hinder our operation.
I prayed she didn’t notice me, but Leila, who was walking a bit further apart, made complete eye-contact with me…
And she looked away soon after as if nothing happened.
She certainly looked for a moment at me as if she saw something weird, but that’s all.
She didn’t show any signs of unrest or even surprise.
And then, the moment I sighed internally in relief and she passed by my side…
That low whisper of hers reached my ears and shivers ran through my back.
Just hearing about a girl loving someone so much she would kill her partner would be hard to believe, but hearing that whisper of hers that felt as if it melted even the depths of your bones, I understood.
…She would do it.
That woman would do it.
Moreover, her feelings aren’t that completely up there yet.
Knowing of the possibility that such feelings could be directed at me, I once again shuddered.
Or more like…
“Don’t hurry too much and trip over, okay?”
“I would like you to support me at that time.”
“Of course, I will save you whenever I am by your side, Leila. But I won’t be able to do it if you were to trip over when I am not there.”
Being able to do such a conversation filled with landmines as if it is nothing, I hate to admit it, but he is the real deal.
I doubt he doesn’t notice how dangerous this conversation is. The nature of a hero might unexpectedly show up in situations like this.
(…I really am far from being a real hero.)
Leaving aside the type, his courage is the real deal.
I felt as if I was shown something that plain strength and power can’t attain, and ended up biting my lips.
But while I was being hit by a strange sense of defeat, I for some reason didn’t feel bad about it.
I instead realized that there’s even higher heights and was happy about it.
(But right now…)
Let’s just think about the success of this operation.
I psych myself up so as not to fail ever again, and returned to protecting the Prince-sama.
He didn’t stop even after that.
He took out dozens of presents from the bag and gave them to Leila, protected Leila from a carriage that had suddenly gone out of control in the middle of the city for some reason, got in trouble with a group of 3 hoodlums (who are adventurers and the leader is someone by the name of Abel or something like that) and he said firmly in front of Leila ‘she is my girlfriend!’.
Everything was planned beforehand in the strategy meeting, but I could only be impressed at how smoothly he performed them all.
Within those, their exchange at the library was a sight to behold.
“There’s a book I want to read, so let’s move separately from here.”
He said that and, inside the library, he would ‘coincidentally touch fingers trying to pick the same book’. Even if it is within the plan, your average person wouldn’t be able to do that.
Also, no matter how you think about it, it is strange that your fingers would touch when going for a book with the title ‘Cave Dungeon Transitions: the Present and Past’, but she was completely beside herself already, so it didn’t matter.
Leaving aside whether to admire that way of doing things, I had to admit that he did outstanding here.
And then, after less than 1 hour of the operation…
“A-Actually, I have been interested in you since the first time I met you.”
I was watching the two with a baffled look and…
“I might not hate you…”
This crappy plan had already entered the second phase.