33-Ice Princess of the Thaw

 The next night.
 I was eating in the mess hall of the barracks.
 The conversation among the guards was about the Order.

The knights, who had been arrogant until now, suddenly became quiet, didn't they?
They used to spit all sorts of sarcasm and scorn at us when we ran into them on patrol, and they used to even touch us.
I guess Ice Princess's coaching did the trick.
"It's probably because you watched the fight yesterday. Seeing how Zeke fought changed the way they looked at the guards, didn't it?

 It seems to me that there may have been a change in the Order.
 I've felt that too.
 When I ran into the knights on patrol.

"Hey look. It's Zeke from ......!
And by Zeke, you mean the ...... guy who defeated Vice Commander Eleanor yesterday?
"You weren't there. It was horrible. You beat her to death. You were like a demon god.
Oh, so much for .......
"You'll get your head bashed in if you try to displease him.
"Mr. Zeke! Thank you for patrolling again today!

 I'm not sure what to say.
 ...... No, I'm not that kind of man. I'd rather you quit greeting people ostentatiously on the street. It hurts when people look at you.

 Well, I'm glad to hear that the knights have quieted down.
 Now the people of the city will suffer less unreasonably.
 That was when I was thinking about it.


 said one of the knights, jumping up and down.

 There was an uproar in the room.

"......? What's with all the noise?

 I'm not sure if there was a bug in the food or what. 
 I'm not sure what to make of it.

 I was just as surprised as the guards.

 The one standing at the entrance of the dining room was Eleanor.
 The guards were excited by the sudden visit of the vice commander of the Order.

"Is Zeke here?

 Eleanor opened her mouth while the guards were upset.
 Eleanor opened her mouth while the guards were upset, probably because of her refined appearance.
 The guards all looked at me, "Over there! They all pointed towards me at once.
 ...... They've sold out their colleagues so easily.
 Eleanor and I came eye to eye. Then she came closer to me. I'm sitting in a chair and she's standing beside me.
 We look at each other.
 The guards watching from afar are buzzing.

"Why is Eleanor here ......?
It's unheard of for a knight to come to the guards' barracks!
I'm sure she's here to avenge the fight she lost yesterday. Now the bloody battle begins. ......!
"What do you want from me? I asked.
"I've come to ...... tell you something.
Something to tell you?

 Eleanor nodded and was silent for a moment. She played with her bangs and fidgeted. I watched her and nodded my head.

What's the matter? You have something to tell me.

Its .......

 Eleanor, her cheeks flushed with vermilion, said hesitantly.

I think I've fallen in love with you. So I'm going to ask you to marry me.
"I see. "A relationship?

 I recited it, and then I felt uncomfortable. I asked back.

"...... I'm sorry. Did I hear you wrong? I thought I just heard you say you were going to ask me for a relationship. Did I just mishear dueling as dating?
No. You're right. I'm not asking you to fight, I'm asking you to be my girlfriend. I'm asking you to be my girlfriend.

 I froze.

"...... Why?

 That's what I finally managed to get out.

I told you. I told you I think I've fallen in love with you. ...... Zeke. Do you know what I like most?
I can tell you a little about what I don't like.
Hmm. Well, I'm flattered. Does that mean you're interested in me in some way?

 No, it's knowledge that I've acquired by force of habit since you've been asking me. ...... Well, it would be wise not to interfere here.

"What I love most is people who are stronger than me. Zeke. Ever since you defeated me, I can't stop thinking about you.

 Eleanor put her hand on her chest and spoke seriously.

When I think of you, my heart races, and I feel like I'm not myself at all. At first I thought I was under a spell. So I got worried and talked to my man. I didn't tell them it was you. They told me it was love. That's when I first realized I was in love with you.

 Eleanor had lost the inorganic quality of the Ice Princess. Her eyes were filled with passionate heat, and her cheeks had a hint of vermilion.
 The ice of the Ice Princess had melted.
 The ice had melted and she had the expression of a maiden.

"May I hear your answer?
"I don't think so.

 After all, it was unexpected.

...... All right. I'm not asking you to make a decision right away. It's about our future together. Just take your time and think about it.

 It's good that you understand.

...... By the way, you seem to be carrying a lot of baggage.
This is. I'm thinking of resigning from the Knights and joining the Guards.

 You caught me by surprise.

No, but what about your pride as a knight?
Of course I'm proud to be a knight. Of course I'm proud to be a knight, but you, who I respect the most, belong to the Guard. Then I want to be with you.

 Eleanor seemed to be in earnest.
 Oh no.

 If this continues, she'll quit the Order because of me.

Wait. Please reconsider.

 I said, and put my hands on Eleanor's shoulders.

"Oh, you're too close .......
 Eleanor looked away, embarrassed.
I'll be the guard, you'll be the knight, and we'll each protect the city. And I need Eleanor to be in the Order.
"...... I wonder why?
Because the relationship between the Guards and the Knights is not a good one. I hope you and I can be a bridge between the Guards and the Knights.
Does that mean you trust me?
...... Okay.

 Eleanor nodded.

You're the one who asked me. I'll remain a member of the Order. I'd like to join the Guard right away, actually.

 You've convinced me somehow.
 And it'll be easier for the Guards if you can coordinate with the Order. It'll be easier to protect the city if the two organizations work together.

I'll be back.

 Eleanor said and turned on her heel with a smile on her face. I'm not sure what to say, but I'm going to say it.
 ...... I never thought this would happen.