71-71 Ball

 The woman leading us down a wide hallway led the three of us to the ballroom.

It looks like it's already started.

 There was a glittering banquet with sunlight streaming in and people dressed in all kinds of clothes. In the middle of the hall, I could see a few groups of people dancing.

 As we stepped into the large room, we noticed that all eyes around us turned to us at once.
 It was not Leanne or Ines, but ──── me.

 There was a whispering voice in the distance. ......

"Is it true what your eminence said? I didn't think you'd actually bring something like that with you.
So that's the ──── demon tribe.
I've never seen a real one before.
Do you have any ...... demons with you? Are you sure there's no danger, ......?
I've never seen a real ──── demon before. It looks like the color of a demon's blood.
──── Don't look at him, he'll kill you.
That's what you get when you take a guest of honor to ......? It's ...... in bad taste, isn't it, Kingdom of Crace?

 With a look, fear. Hate. Disgust. Contempt.
 All sorts of emotions erupted and flooded into me.

 All of the people who are directing these emotions at me know that I'm a demon.
 They may have been told beforehand.

 ──── that the demon tribe is coming here.

 I'm not sure what to make of it, but I think it's a good idea.


Are you okay, Rollo?

 I've never had so much malice directed at me from so many people at once before.
 But I'm used to people stabbing me in the back.
 I should be used to it.

──── Yeah, I'm fine.

 That's what I knew before I came here.
 I didn't care, I walked to the back of the hall.
 I saw the prince sitting on a golden chair.

I don't like the idea of ......, but let's greet him first.

 The three of us stepped in front of the prince and he seemed to notice us.
 He was being congratulated by a number of girls around his age.
 As I approached them, they looked first at Lean and then at me, and showed their wariness.
 Leanne quietly brushed aside the stares and bade the prince adieu.

"──── is honored to have you with us, Prince.

"Hmm, you've finally arrived.
 ...... You're late.
 What's the trouble?

 You'll be able to find a lot more than just a few of them.

No, nothing.
 However, the person who came with me as my escort has left me to receive hospitality (・・・・・) at the direct order of His Eminence.

Oh, well, I'm sorry to hear that (・・・・・・).
 Hey, Leanne. It's a good opportunity.
 Let's talk closer, not so far away.
 It's just you and me, right?
 If you want, you can come and sit on my lap.

 I'm not sure if this is a good idea, but I think it's a good idea.

'──── Play along.
 I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that.
 I'm sure they'd love it.

"Hmm, I'll think about that too.
 I'll think about that too. ...... if you're willing to be mine.

──── I think I've already respectfully declined that offer.
I've already respectfully declined your offer." "How dare you, ────, when I'm the one who's asking you so eagerly?

 I'm not sure what to say, but I'm sure you'll understand.
 It was a clear hostility towards Lean.
 On the other hand, ...... you can't see into the mind of the prince, even if you try to look into it, just like yesterday.

 Sometimes ──── is there.
 This is the kind of person who has a solid 'wall' in their heart.

"So what do you say, Lean. How about you come over there with me?

"──── What's over there?

Don't you see? I'm asking you to dance with me.
 It's a ball and I'm the star.
 I think you should have the right to choose your partner. What do you think?

Yes, ──── I have no reason to refuse you if that's what you want.
That's good to know. Let's go.

 The prince stood up from his ornately decorated chair and took Leanne's hand.
 Leaning on Prince Tyrence's hand, he walked toward the center of the ballroom, receiving the envy and jealousy of the people around him.

 As they walked forward, people naturally avoided them, creating a wide space around them.

The two of them walked forward and naturally avoided people, creating a large space around them. It's a great way to celebrate my coming of age.

 When the prince gave the signal, the music began in a gentle tone.
 The two began to dance slowly to the music.
 The others resumed dancing along with them.

 As I listened, I could hear Lean and the Prince talking quietly as they stepped gently.

I've seen those people ──── as the Twelve Apostles.
"Oh, ...... you knew them, didn't you? As I recall, they went to pick up your followers, didn't they?
Where are they now?
Are you worried about the squire?
──── No, not at all.
Hmm, that's cold, isn't it?
It would be very rude for me to worry about Dr. Noor.
 I'm more worried about them.

"Oh, ────, you know about the Twelve Apostles, don't you?
 It's said that each one of them has the same level of ability as your Six Saints.

"Yes, I know about them. That's what they say (・・・・・・), that's all.

...... You have a lot of faith in that guy, don't you?
Yes, I do. Enough to trust him with my life.

...... I really envy you.
 How would you like to be a part of that?
Oh, you're joking again. I don't want any more of that.

You think so? Let's go to ....... tonight and see if it's true.
 No, I want you to come to my room ────── right after this.

 Lean's foot moved quickly for a moment and flew to ──── the prince's foot.
 It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're looking for.
 There were only a few people in the audience who noticed the exchange.

──── Excuse me, I took a wrong step.

"Hmm, I thought I was going to break my foot.
"Don't worry. I'll take it easy.
...... You're really scary, you know that?
No, I'm not. Just make sure the prince doesn't say anything crazy and I won't accidentally step on him.

"Hmm, you are really ──── strong-minded.

 The two of them talked and danced beautifully.

 Before long, the people dancing around them stopped to watch them, and even the woman carrying the food stopped to admire them.

 After a while, they bowed and parted, and the prince returned to his place in the chair, while Lean came back to us.

 The party continued.

 As usual, there were only bad feelings directed at me.
 Thanks to Leanne and Inez standing next to me, the stares softened somewhat, but ──── I felt bad.

 ──── hatred. Disgust. Contempt. Contempt.
 Just standing there is a never-ending barrage of negative emotions.

"Rollo, whatever you think of me, I don't care.
"............ Yeah, I know.

 I didn't want to worry her any more than I already had, so I decided to change the subject.

...... That was a great dance.
"I'm glad you were watching it. I'm not very good at that kind of thing. ...... Oh, by the way, didn't Rollo teach you?
Yes, at least the ...... basics.
Did you get an idea of what it's really like from ────?
...... Yeah, pretty much.
"Hmm, that's Rollo. Well, then, let's go.

 She suddenly pulled me by the hand and started walking.

Where are we going?
Of course, we're going to dance, we're going to dance.
"...... What?

 She pulled me along, and I was thrown into the middle of the ballroom.
 I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure I'll be able to do it.

"Are you sure you want to dance, ......?

Yes, I heard that we stand out even if we don't do anything anyway.
 ──── Let's make ourselves stand out for good.
 You'll have to match me.

 Leanne took me by the arm and pulled me close to her.
 And she steps to the music.

 It was the same as when Leanne and the prince were dancing earlier.
 Surely, I can handle this.
 I retrace my memory, and start to step forward as if I were watching.

"Is it like this?

"──── Yes. It looks good.
 ...... You look like you're getting used to it.
 Can I pick up the pace a little?

I think so.

 Lean's movements become faster and louder, and I follow suit.

 Her shining white dress billowed like a living thing, filling the air and covering the air as she took large steps, using all the floor space around her. ──── This drew many eyes to me as I danced in the middle of the hall.

 She didn't shy away from it and widened her stride even more, dancing faster and sharper.
 It's a great way to get the most out of your time and money.

 ──── As I did so, I noticed something strange.

 The disgust and disdain that had been directed at me earlier ──── gradually turned into a strange look.
 Then, gradually, it faded into a ──── curious look.

 There are some people, not all, who enjoy watching ──── us dance.

 I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure it's a good idea.

What do you think? I'm starting to enjoy it a little bit more, so I'd like to keep going.
"──── Yeah, okay.

 We increased our pace and danced.
 We danced faster and faster, and there were cheers from everywhere.

 It was more like a fancy sword dance than a dance.

 It was not particularly difficult to imitate and follow her movements as she moved in all directions.
 She has opened her heart to me and I can see what she's going to do next.

 We occasionally let go of each other's hands and dance together, mirroring each other's movements, and then we quickly come together and take a big step.
 We gradually became accustomed to such improvisation.

 I could hear a kind of applause from the people around me.

 The prince was also staring at me.
 His expression was unexpectedly very happy. ────

 ──── found that the walls of his mind had crumbled a little.

 As the dense malice of the venue faded, it became easier to read his mind, and I could feel his emotions flowing into me.
 I could feel what was going through his mind, and I was a little confused.

 The feelings he has in his heart right now: ────
 It was "trust" in Lean.

 The same kind of unshakable trust (・・・・・・・) that Noll had once had in me.
 It occupied about half of his mind.
 That was very surprising, but ...... what bothered me more was the rest.

 He was now smiling happily and unconcernedly as he watched us dance.
 But in his mind, other than the ──── trust and expectation he had for Lean, the rest of his mind was occupied with ──── fear and despair of something unknown.

 As I danced, I called out to Lean.

"Yes, Rollo?

 I saw the moment when my face was close to her ear and said.

He might be ──── the prince, not our enemy (・・・・・).
"What did you just say, ────?

 We danced for a while, and finally we both bowed to the people around us.

 The prince stood up and clapped his hands, and the ──── audience applauded loudly.

 ──── I feel a lot better now.

 The malice directed at me has not all gone away.

 There is still a lot of scorn, anger, and disgust ──── left in the world.

 But most of them have been transformed into jealousy and other emotions.
 At least the fear and the desire to kill have lessened.

"Thank you, Leanne.
"Well, it's been a pleasure, Rollo. See you at ────.

 Lean was about to say something when all the applause and cheering stopped.

 Suddenly, there was no more talking, and a silence enveloped the previously lively venue.
 The heated air was instantly ──── chilled to the point of freezing.

It's ──── strange.
 Why are the demons dancing at my son's coming of age ceremony?
 I invited them in, but ──── I'm a little confused when they act like they own the place.
 I wonder what the applauders are thinking about that.
 ──── You don't think we're the same person, do you?

 ──── The music, which had been playing quietly, stopped.

"Your Holiness.

 In an instant, a feeling of fear overcame the place.
 The strongest feelings of fear and trepidation I've ever felt came from everywhere.

"Rollo, what's wrong?

 I tried to look inside her mind and couldn't stop myself from throwing up.

 That's the ──── Pope.
 The one who rules with fear over many countries across the continent.
 And the biggest ──── enemy of our demon tribe.

"Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't welcome you. I've been looking forward to seeing you here more than anyone else. ──── Linneburg. Rollo. I've been waiting for this day to come for a long time for you to be mine (・・・・). Now, come here. Let's talk.

 Her mind was filled with a malice and darkness that was far more dense and ──── incomparably deeper than all the emotions in the room.