Chapter 1:

CHAPTER 1: SIMMERING TENSIONS

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 3


***The Imperial Council Chambers of the Empire of Chersea***Bookmark here

Several leagues south of Chersea’s northern shores lay the territory of the Empire of Chersea. Formerly the overlord of the entire human realm, this ancient country was just a shadow of its old self, with various kingdoms, principalities, and duchies to its north and east regions, achieving independence at different times in its long history.Bookmark here

However, though relatively smaller compared to its glorious past, the Empire still was formidable. Its power may have weakened for a while now, but they remained a force to reckon with. Their neighbors were wary of every movement within the Imperial borders, for experience could tell that their ambitions to rule humanity never faded just yet…Bookmark here

And just like how it was before, this time was of great concern; an Imperial Council of all the Empire’s nobility had been called, and anyone who knew the inner workings of this country could say that it was summoned because of the sudden turn of events recently.Bookmark here

“Such insolence!” a noble going by the name of Sir Petaine cried out the moment the news about the treatment of the Imperial Prince was made known to the council, “Despite knowing of our might, those northern barbarians had the gall to insult our Emperor and his heir! We cannot let this pass; a slap to our Emperor’s face is a slap to us all!”Bookmark here

“Call the legions! Let’s go to war!” the other nobles echoed Sir Petaine’s sentiments. The entire council was in an uproar, and soldiers had to be rushed in to quell the potential riot.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, in all his dignity and glory, the Emperor himself sat comfortably on his high chair; right at the center of the hall. He was quietly musing over the chaos before him, knowing full-well that it wouldn’t be long before he gets what he intended to call the council for.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

At that moment, he snapped his fingers and the chambers immediately fell in order and silence. In those parts of Chersea, the Emperor’s words were absolute—comparable to the voice of the gods. He had the power to take away the life of his subjects, should he will it.Bookmark here

“My dear subjects!” the Emperor spoke softly; everyone else listened intently, “While I understand your sentiments and faithfulness to me as your ruler, I implore you to desist from taking rash and violent actions based on feelings. While the northern barbarian kingdoms had committed a great offense to us, it is of utmost importance to remind you we still have to abide by the treaty we signed before the Saint of Chersea herself!”Bookmark here

A noble then asked, “Your Imperial Majesty, while we had to conform with Her Holiness, our traditions would never allow insults to you, our emperor! However, if we must exercise restraint, what does your great and endless wisdom propose for us to do?”Bookmark here

“For now, we’ll have to agree with them, or Her Holiness will unleash a plague against us.” the Emperor explained, “I don’t want to cause unnecessary suffering to you, my children. But know this, the falcon never sleeps. We shall never forget what was done to us, however, we must stay our hand for now. We will have our honor—soiled by that foolish ‘Iron Duke’—avenged. This, I assure you!”Bookmark here

“Then we’ll gladly support you, our Emperor!” someone shouted. He was followed by thunderous cheers and applause from everyone else. Soon, the entire chamber was in an uproar once again.Bookmark here

“Down with the North! Restore our honor! Kill the barbarians!”Bookmark here

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After the council was adjourned, the Emperor called his few trusted men and his Imperial heir into his private chambers.Bookmark here

“Your Majesty, it is of note that I’d report to you we had our spies in place.” One of the Emperor’s loyal military men, the Marshal d’Erlone told the Emperor, “We also placed some agents ready to move in and ‘clean’ the undesirables, should you decide that their life is forfeit.”Bookmark here

Hmm? What for?” the Emperor asked absent-mindedly. His men were quite concerned when they heard that, for their monarch had forgotten the reason they’d gathered in the first place.Bookmark here

Err…Sire, isn’t it the Holy Congress coming soon?” someone brought it up to him.Bookmark here

Ah yes, yes! I finally remember it now. That pesky congress…” the Emperor waved his hand as if dismissing the man who reminded him of their goal for that secret meet, “I have already given my orders to our emissary regarding that matter. He should know by now our sentiments to be conveyed to Her Holiness.”Bookmark here

“Yes, my Lord.” Marshal d’Erlone reiterated, “That’s why we placed some agents to back our Imperial emissary, should things go for naught.”Bookmark here

Ah! Good work, Marshal, good work!” the Emperor heaped praises on the military man, who proudly accepted it.Bookmark here

Someone from among the nobles then asked, “Sire, are we sending an ambassador instead of your Most Majestic person attending?”Bookmark here

“Of course! Because of my foolish heir of a son, I couldn’t show my face to the barbarian kings for a while.”Bookmark here

The eyes of everyone present in that room fell immediately on the Crown Prince, who silently squirmed at the unwanted attention being given to him.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry too much about the smallest of things.” the Emperor advised, “Isn’t this somehow helping us? While the northern barbarians are busy bickering with their petty quarrels at the congress, we’ll attack accordingly. And I’ll remain here to oversee our preparations for that.”Bookmark here

“Your wisdom is something to reckon with, Your Imperial Majesty!” Sir Petaine complimented him.Bookmark here

Oh, yes! My ever-so-loyal orator, Sir Petaine!” the Emperor tossed a bag of coins towards the man, “I’d also like to praise your oratory skills back in the council chamber, Sir Petaine. You galvanized those simple fools into supporting me.”Bookmark here

“It’s my pleasure to have served you, Your Imperial Majesty.” Sir Petaine bowed reverently as he accepted the reward from the Emperor, “My mouth shall be your herald in the council as long as I live, my Emperor.”Bookmark here

Hmm…very well then!” the Emperor went back to his business, facing his trusted men, “It’s good that all of you have gathered here, my most faithful children. For a while now, we have just been following the events in the northern region, reacting to whatever and whenever something happens. And because of that, we ended up being shamed and the influence of our state challenged.”Bookmark here

“…” No one dared to speak as the emperor recounted the events that led to the incident now known as the ‘Boxing of the Imperial Prince’. His heir stood beside him, head cast down as the younger Imperial never wanted to talk about that humiliating episode.Bookmark here

“And here I thought Sir Milne hired the best mercenaries available to capture the Saint as she went on her way to Fen?” the Emperor’s eyes went around, as he finished his speech, “Where’s Sir Milne? I need your explanation!”Bookmark here

“I am here, Your Majesty!” a bumbling, bespectacled man raised his hand from the back of the crowd, “If I may explain myself, my lord?”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s what I want to ask of you. Go ahead.”Bookmark here

Ah yes!” Sir Milne tried to appear calm and collected, but in reality, his knees were quivering from fear, “Indeed, I bought the best mercenary companies available in the northern continent and accordingly planned our operation to capture Her Holiness as she went on her vacation to Fen. I even had our spy spiked the drinks of Her Holiness and caused her deep sleep so that she won’t be able to intervene while we attack her carriage…”Bookmark here

“Then what caused the failure of your plan?”Bookmark here

“Sire…” Sir Milne swallowed his fear and explained, “There was…erm…a bit of a…’nuisance’ that hindered our plans.”Bookmark here

“And what nuisance is this?”Bookmark here

“That commoner named Kuro.”Bookmark here

The Emperor suddenly burst out laughing. His laughs were so loud that it filled the entire room and secretly annoyed his subjects present. They never dared to show it though, lest they suffer grave consequences.Bookmark here

“Are you telling me that commoner is a threat?” the Emperor had his eyebrows raised, “Is this how you explain your incompetence?”Bookmark here

“Your Majesty, if I may explain, our spies in Nerfes credited him for prevent—”Bookmark here

“I won’t hear any of your excuses anymore, Sir Milne! Either you give me a proper explanation of why you failed, or I’ll have your head on a pike later.”Bookmark here

Sir Milne was forced to shut his lips for a while. However, the Imperial Prince came to his defense.Bookmark here

“My father! Sir Milne speaks the truth!” he pleaded, “That man named Kuro is not just a mere ‘commoner’; he even defeated the army of the Grey Knight with a handful of mercenaries in his command!”Bookmark here

“It’s just a fluke.”Bookmark here

“Father!” the Imperial Crown Prince cried in dismay at his father’s apparent nonchalant attitude, “He even used a demon weapon to defeat the fully armored Paladin Prince in one fell swoop!”Bookmark here

“A peasant using a cowardly weapon of devils isn’t exactly a warrior!” the Emperor quipped, quite fed up with the ruckus about that commoner, “You’ve been giving him too much credit for something so trivial. I take it you’re still bitter when he punched your face; however, that’s your undoing. You should’ve never let loose of your vicious tongue hurling those insults at Her Holiness. Even if she’s unsightly, she’s still the Saint with the powers of the gods and you’re just a prince.”Bookmark here

The Imperial Prince couldn’t counter those words from his father. Not only those were true; he feared that if he said otherwise, he’ll join Sir Milne’s head on the pike.Bookmark here

“Why don’t we focus on something more threatening, like the Golden Sword of Heaven, or the Iron Princess?” the Emperor turned to his military men, “Do you have any reports about those two?”Bookmark here

“Your Majesty, the Golden Sword is one thing; but the Iron Princess is of a greater threat. She may be exiled with Her Holiness for now, but for our greater chance of success, we’d want to isolate her further from Nerfes.” Marshal d’Erlone explained.Bookmark here

Ugh…that bastard, Arthur, trained his sister well…” the Emperor muttered, “I should’ve had him killed before he could impart his martial skills to that little princess.”Bookmark here

The Marshal, however, didn’t mind what his ruler said and carried on with his words, “I already prepared measures to make sure that the Iron Princess would stay on the sidelines, should we make our move to destabilize the northern kingdoms.”Bookmark here

“As always, outstanding work, Marshal!” the Emperor applauded, “And speaking of our plan, when do you think your men would be most ready to execute it?”Bookmark here

“As soon as you give us the order, Your Majesty. I believe that just as you say, the most ideal time would be the time when the conference is in full swing and the barbarian rulers are distracted” the marshal replied, “The Kingdom of Amaranth is the most vulnerable since the nobles there had no love for their crown prince. And as King William of Amaranth is getting weak, the opposing factions to his heir grow stronger. I think it’ll be only reasonable that we’ll strike there first.”Bookmark here

“Yes, let’s do that, Marshal.” the Emperor agreed.Bookmark here

“And also, Your Imperial Majesty, may I remind you that the Bloody Witch of Meldech is on our side as well.”Bookmark here

Everyone’s eyes in that room listened intently to the Marshal after he said those words. Only the Emperor was left unfazed.Bookmark here

“What are you saying, Sir Marshal?” one noble asked, quite alarmed, “If I can recall correctly, that madwoman was defeated and killed by Her Holiness before!”Bookmark here

The Imperial Prince backed it further with, “I also knew it was so. Do you mean to say that Her Holiness is lying? That she-devil is alive?”Bookmark here

The Marshal didn’t reply to their concerns. Instead, it was His Imperial Majesty who answered the questions, “Don’t ask for too much. What’s important now is that this witch is fighting for us right now.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

An air of dread and fear then spread to all who were present, save for the Marshal and the Emperor. However, as if expecting such kind of reaction from his subjects, His Imperial Majesty then spoke…Bookmark here

“Please call over the Flame Saint’s Grand Templar.”Bookmark here

“I am here, Your Majesty!” an old woman in crimson holy garments came up and presented herself before the monarch.Bookmark here

“Great Templar, would you be so kind as to request the presence of your patron? I’d like to speak to her about these fools doubting our wisdom.”Bookmark here

The old templar bowed in reverence, “Yes, my lord. I will summon the saint, Seirna, as soon as possible!”Bookmark here

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**Kuro**Bookmark here

Ah! We’re finally here…Bookmark here

Well, in all honesty, I missed these familiar sceneries. Those moss-green ramparts that made up the walls, the tall towers of that dominant, colossal building in the middle of this place, and the pearly-white, and gilded doorframes of that 5-story palace we call the ‘Saint’s Chambers’…Bookmark here

Yep, at long last, we’re back at the Holy Palatial Gardens.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Uh, can you guys help with these luggage cases here?”Bookmark here

“Sure thing! Here, hand me that thing over there.”Bookmark here

“Get those stuff here! Don’t you dare drop a single bag!”Bookmark here

The maids who remained in here for the duration of the Saint’s vacation quickly moved to assist us in unloading our baggage. Well, let me correct that…it’s their baggage. In all the time I stayed at the Rubinforth estate, I bought nothing else, save for that gunpowder. The flasks were made by me, and it’s from several discarded potion bottles. Virtually all of those bags and suitcases being unloaded were from the guards and maids who were with our group, and the two saints. They were the ones who took time to shop for anything since they had the means to do so…Bookmark here

Hah, typical girls.Bookmark here

But yeah, I guess I needed to help with that stuff because I’m the only guy here. I didn’t want to be seen as an irresponsible and lazy adult…Bookmark here

“Hey, Mister Kuro, you can leave that to us.” a maid told me.Bookmark here

Well, it’s a bit of a sting unto my pride, so I insisted, “Ah, I can help you with that, at least.”Bookmark here

The maid stared at me. I could tell those eyes seemed to emit some kind of meaning to it. Then she giggled and quickly took the case from me, “You may reserve your energy for when you’re alone with Her Holiness!” The maid mischievously smiled and scurried away.Bookmark here

I pretended not to hear anything and moved on to the next group of suitcases. Well, not wishing to appear ‘weak’, I took every bag I could lift.Bookmark here

Heh, you know, ‘guy’ problems…Bookmark here

“Please, Mister Kuro!” it’s the Head Maid, Lily. Her voice was strangely aloof and formal, compared to when she was talking to me before. It’s like she was putting on an invisible wall between us, “Put down those bags and let the girls carry it. That’s our job, see?”Bookmark here

“Well, at least let me get mine.” Embarrassed, I tried to salvage my situation by offering to take care of my belongings.Bookmark here

But Lily won’t even budge, “No. Don’t meddle in our work.”Bookmark here

Err…the blunt refusal from Lily made the air between us extremely awkward.Bookmark here

Is she mad because of that ‘engagement’ between me and Maddie? I mean, Lily’s pretty attached to Maddie before, since they were childhood friends. Could it be that she’s getting jealous now that I came between them and technically ‘snatched’ Maddie away from her?Bookmark here

Well, Maddie’s attention nowadays always focused on me, so I guess that’s understandable.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Nah. It’s better that I didn’t presume on things, especially with girls. I might be just mistaken; from what I observed, Lily’s matured enough not to let this matter get into her head. Maybe it just that she’s tired from the long journey, like the rest of us.Bookmark here

It’d be bad if the head maid would see me as someone threatening to her.Bookmark here

But man, she can be snappy when tired, eh?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Anyway, though the air was awkward, Lily remained beside me. It’s as if she wanted to tell me something.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

“It’s about Her Holiness, Madelaine.” she began, her indifferent tone piercing my ears. Lily’s sudden change of behavior towards me was just painful to experience; you know, like an old, close friend of yours getting all angry at you? It felt like that.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

She continued her explanations, “Although Her Holiness may seem to be like that—sweet and whimsical at times, I advise that you still keep your distance. You may be engaged to her, but you could be certain that the winds of change would come, so be careful.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“You can be sure that we’re always watching.” Lily then bowed politely and returned to her work, fixing our luggage.Bookmark here

I found myself unable to say anything. I felt like I wanted to cry; it seemed like Lily suspected me. This was a big change from being her friend!Bookmark here

Man…this is why I don’t like that ‘engagement’ thing. It’s not that I also wanted to be Maddie’s fiancée. I mean, not that I hated it, but she deserved a much better person than me!Bookmark here

I didn’t even know what to do when the Duke of Rubinforth happily announced it to everyone in our group, all the while the Rubinforth kids happily chirped in. The servants and paladins initially couldn’t believe the big change of heart of the ‘Iron Duke’ of Nerfes, but when they saw that the Saint’s old man was sincere, they also began teasing us.Bookmark here

I remembered Lily’s face back then. She had no expression on her eyes; but I could feel hostility oozing from her.Bookmark here

And then, amidst their merry-making, Lily posted a suggestion: that was to keep this matter a secret for now. Yes, I agree as well. If this issue gets out to the public, it would only increase scrutiny towards my private life, and my relationship with Maddie.Bookmark here

Not only that, nobles and royalty would soon swarm around me—either challenge me for a duel (since it’s not a secret that the Saint has a legion of admirers in both the aristocrats and commoners) or, they’d vie for my favor (since I’m technically the closest person to Maddie).Bookmark here

Of course, petty human politics entering in…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Besides, I guess Maddie’s just being swept by the suddenness of the events around her. She’s got heartbroken just recently, and I’m the closest man to her ever since; so it’s all due to what happened before. There would come a time that she and everyone else around her would suddenly wake up from this ‘dream’, and I’ll be once again a nobody.Bookmark here

Yes, that’s why I didn’t like to presume things; and would treat this as carefully as possible. It’s painful when you realized that you’re just a replacement in someone’s heart in the end.Bookmark here

And, I knew full well that no one would fall in love with someone like me; back on Earth, all the girls whom I tried to court flatly rejected me—BUH!Bookmark here

A small branch from the tree flew and hit my head fair and square. My eyes quickly went to Maddie, who was smiling at the person she was talking to as of the moment. Well, I guess it’s just a coincidence that the branch broke off and hit me.Bookmark here

I mean, look at that girl; she’s all smiles and a dark, threatening aura is coming out of her…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Yep, she read my mind. These branches would only go off like that whenever she’s pissed.Bookmark here

Ah, anyway. I guess I did my part. It’s just that they—I mean, Lily—didn’t allow me to help them with anything. And with that, I should just sit back, relax, and remove my useless self in this place so that the maids could focus on their work…Bookmark here

Good lord, I guess I should find work soon. It feels like I’m becoming more and more of a liability here rather than an asset.Bookmark here

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And so, everything was back in order at the Holy Palatial Gardens. The normal, and slow, uneventful ‘days’ resumed as usual. As someone who was close to Maddie, I didn’t face suspicions that much compared to before. I could come in and out of the Saint’s Chambers without being questioned by the Paladin Corps.Bookmark here

However, I resolved to myself that I won’t abuse my given privileges. While I do drop by that place to visit, it’s usually when I’m about to assist in Maddie’s exercise, which by now had become something of a normal routine. Nothing more, nothing less.Bookmark here

And, while I get the questions you have in your head, like ‘we’re engaged’ and similar stuff like that, I’m not in a hurry to tie the knot with Maddie. Like I always say, she had more potential in other good men than she was with me.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Aside from our relationship, many things had also changed—both big and small. For one, there were now organized groups of servants and paladins doing jogging rounds every time we awaken from our ‘long sleep’. I could hear their shouts meant to encourage their companions to keep up the pace of their exercise.Bookmark here

I wonder how did those guys end up jogging? Did they witness Her Holiness doing it?Bookmark here

Another thing—and this one was pretty big for a change, was that the maids’ and guards’ treatment of me significantly improved. Before, I always had to endure some suspicious stares thrown at me whenever they see me walking around; now, even if I do my laundry in front of a maid (I wash my undergarments, see?), the maids would try to help me.Bookmark here

Yep, the atmosphere is kind of pleasant right now.Bookmark here

And also, the food. You see, although I’m a commoner, the kitchen—under the chief maid Jessica—was now serving me the usual fare reserved for a distinguished guest. Back then, I would get scraps, or after the incident with Eris, they’d give me ‘commoner-style’ food.Bookmark here

Of course, I had to refuse their gesture. I preferred to be seen as a usual ‘commoner’, and the sudden improvement of treatment stressed me out more than ever. I mean, it’s not like I don’t want any improvements with relationships…I just got used to the usual lifestyle I had inside the palatial gardens.Bookmark here

Heck, I’m not even a member of nobility! What made them think that getting close to Her Holiness—yes, I’m not using the word ‘engaged’—changed the very essence of my personality?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Anyway, they also offered me a room inside the Saint’s Chambers (the palace where she stays), which I immediately rejected. Well, any man with self-decency would do it; it’s almost as if we’re cohabiting before marriage, an idea to which I disagree.Bookmark here

The maids still treat me like an oddity, though with a bit of better reception. Maddie still drops by my room to relax, often accompanied by her friend Lily. Sometimes, she’d come along with another servant, to have a little chat with me…usually about politics and similar matters.Bookmark here

I think we both have the same interests, that’s why we’re hitting off quite good on those topics.Bookmark here

Yep, our rendezvous was as platonic as it could be, don’t worry. I guess if someone sees us, one would think we’re not dating at all.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Oh, that brings into mind, if there’s anything that changed for the worst, I’d say it’s my relationship with the head maid, Lily.Bookmark here

I mean, before, we’re way too close. But nowadays, we barely talked to one another. Lily often accompanies Maddie when she hangs out in my room. However, the Head Maid maintains her ‘aloof’ and ‘quiet’ self whenever she’s here.Bookmark here

It’s as if she’s just watching us together, monitoring me.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Honestly, it’s painful at first. I’m hurt by the silent treatment, and I couldn’t help but feel extremely awkward whenever she’s here. But as time went by, I gradually became used to it. I didn’t know if Maddie’s aware of her friend’s behavior; I never wanted to raise it because I hate them to fight because of me.Bookmark here

Haa…but well, I do miss that ‘warm Lily’…Bookmark here

I am at a loss for what caused her to change like that.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I probably should get some sleep. These negative thoughts were getting to me.Bookmark here

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Rise and shine, Maddie!”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The Saint’s head maid, Lily, greeted her the moment she opened her eyes. No, just to be clear; it’s not that she was awakened by the head maid. It’s more like Her Holiness woke up on her own and Lily was there to greet her. You know how deep of a sleeper Maddie could be; she won’t awaken until she decided to open her eyes…even if she’s already conscious. I was watching them from the sidelines since I had my unofficial duty of prodding Maddie to take on her ‘daily’ exercise routine.Bookmark here

Ah, hello Lily!” Maddie smiled at her friend the moment her senses were up, “By the way, where’s Kuro?”Bookmark here

“I’m over here, Your Holiness!” I waved my hand for her to see me.Bookmark here

“Hello, Kuro! And it’s Maddie.” she was quick to remind me of her preferred way to call her.Bookmark here

“Right.” Lily—all business-like and formal—immediately went to work, having the other maids bring out the selection of ‘exercise’ clothes for her to choose from, “Well, Maddie, what would you wear today?”Bookmark here

Hmm…I don’t know…it’s just an exercise, anyway.”Bookmark here

“Well, you have to appear at your best every time you go outside.” Lily reminded her, “You always tell me that before, right?” She then picked out a set for her friend, “Well, why don’t you wear this one? I think you’ll be able to move free in this one than the other.”Bookmark here

“Maybe I’ll just wait outside for you to get dressed.” seeing that Lily would decide for Maddie, I excused myself. ‘Girl stuff’.Bookmark here

But then Maddie stopped me from leaving…Bookmark here

Ah wait, Kuro! I want you to choose for me!” I heard her say.Bookmark here

“Eh?” I stared at Lily, who remained indifferent, keeping up her usual smile, “Err…didn’t you guys already agreed on a dress?”Bookmark here

“Well, Lily always decides on my clothes for quite a long time now. I think it would be a breath of fresh air if I let you choose this time.”Bookmark here

“…” I couldn’t help but feel awkward for Lily. But the head maid was silent. She just gave me a nod and went on displaying the choices for Maddie’s exercise clothes. I…I just hope that Lily’s all fine with this.Bookmark here

Come on, Maddie, won’t you read the mood? I mean, you’re good at this and all, right?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I’m having my apprehensions.Bookmark here

I could feel something was off. I mean, Lily’s suggestion just got rejected, and though she may put up a brave face, being refused for your opinion was something painful…especially if it’s someone as close as your friend.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro?”Bookmark here

“!!!” I was brought back to reality by Lily’s voice, “Eh? What now?”Bookmark here

Uh, Maddie’s clothes? Have you already decided on one?”Bookmark here

“O-of course!” I randomly picked out a dress for her that was on the bed, “Here, I think this will do it!”Bookmark here

Well, picking carefully for a girl’s clothes could be a handful, especially if it’s someone as picky as Maddie. And also, I’m not that good with women’s sense of fashion—be easy on me! I’ve been a single virgin dude for the past 25 years of my life, ’till recently.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Lily and Maddie intensely stared at the pair of clothes I chose. And then, much to my surprise, they both blushed. What just happened?Bookmark here

Uwaah…I didn’t know that Kuro liked this one while I do my jogging…” Maddie commented with an embarrassed expression on her face, “Quite bold for your choice, mister!”Bookmark here

Lily was more direct and clearer than the Saint, “Uh…Mister Kuro, I don’t think Her Holiness could wear that, at least for an exercise session.”Bookmark here

Huh? Isn’t that just a normal exercise dress?” I took the clothes from Lily and examined them carefully. I think I just made a mistake…“!!!” By reflex, I quickly threw the clothes back to Lily, who caught them in time.Bookmark here

Hey, it’s not like I can help it; after all, it’s something that a girl should wear in private.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro, would you like Maddie to wear lingerie when she does her jogging?” Lily coldly asked, though with amusement and bits of sarcasm.Bookmark here

“Well, yes—wait—ah, NO!” I panicked, “Wait! What is lingerie doing there on the choices for an exercise dress, anyway?”Bookmark here

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And so, after picking up an appropriate dress for the occasion, we did our usual jogging routine. Maddie was the one doing the most intense part of the exercise, while I just watched her from the side, throwing encouragements and guidance at her from time to time. Round and round the entire courtyard she went, and Lily was on standby with a pitcher and a glass of cold water placed on an ornate silver table nearby.Bookmark here

Well, I don’t know. After that episode with Maddie earlier in her room, I’m embarrassed to talk to Lily for now. I’d like to tell her I’m sorry for what happened, but it felt like I shouldn’t do it, or I’ll be patronizing her…Bookmark here

“She’s gotten used to your ‘exercise’, Mister Kuro.” Lily broke her silence, much to my surprise.Bookmark here

Oh, ah…yes!” I blurted out. And then I fell quiet once again, unable to come up with something to keep our conversation going.Bookmark here

I could feel an air of tension between me and the Head Maid. I didn’t know why, but she also reverted to adding the ‘Mister’ before my name, which she usually does when she’s in her ‘formal’ mode.Bookmark here

Lily must have taken offense about Maddie’s decision earlier.Bookmark here

Uh…H-head Maid…”Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

Yep, I guess Lily took it to her heart. She’d usually remind me to call her ‘Lily’ whenever I referred to her as ‘head maid’.Bookmark here

Err…how do I say this, but well, I’m sorry for earlier.”Bookmark here

“For what, Mister Kuro?”Bookmark here

“Well…” to be honest, I’m having difficulty in putting to words the mixed feelings I had in my heart. However, I believe this was better than having that awkward, cold treatment at all, “Uh, you see, about earlier…”Bookmark here

Ah, that incident with Maddie rejecting my suggestion on what she’d wear and instead she accepted yours?” Lily was dismissive, “Don’t worry Mister Kuro, it’s all fine with me.”Bookmark here

She said that with a business-like smile on her face. And yes, I felt that something’s off with that face of hers; Lily’s not reassuring—it’s scary.Bookmark here

“Head maid—”Bookmark here

“It’s Lily.” she forcefully reiterated. I could sense tension from her voice when she said that.Bookmark here

Uh…are you angry?”Bookmark here

“Why should I? It’s a trivial matter, anyway.”Bookmark here

Yes, she’s mad, indeed. By the sound of her voice, Lily’s getting more pissed the more I talked to her. Well, and with that, I guess I won’t proceed much further. I’m afraid the more I said anything, the more she’d get angry.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Good lord, this is awkward…Bookmark here

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