Having finished the sightseeing tour to keep up appearances, Harold decided to return to the Berlioz mansion alongside Erica . Erica didn’t say anything in particular as she was silently walking a few steps behind Harold, with a smile on her face .
In the mean time, Harold tried to somehow regain his composure .
Earlier, his eyes had been snatched away by some kind of mental bewilderment . He couldn’t deny that having his hand grasped had been effective on him, but the emotions he felt were absolutely not love .
As a man, there was no way he would stay completely indifferent upon having his hand taken by a beautiful woman like Erica, so his reaction was unavoidable . However, that didn’t mean there was any special meaning behind it either .
Moreover, considering the roles he and Erica had to play, and the future that was awaiting this world, he couldn’t possibly allow himself to be attracted to her or anything of the sort .
As Harold enumerated those negative matters in his head, he considerably regained his composure .
Still, it was quite mischievous of Erica to tease him like this . Though physically Harold had the same age as her, mentally, he was ten years older . His honor as a man was on the line as he had been led by the nose by an adolescent who wasn’t even in her twenties, despite himself being a proper adult .
I gotta calm down already, Harold secretly pumped himself up . And like that, the heat in his face and his perturbed heart-beat completely settled down .
For now, Harold and Erica uneventfully arrived at the Berlioz residence where Aurelian, who had been waiting for Harold, apologized to him, making the event from lunch-time water under the bridge .
Not only did Aurelian not blame Harold for his extreme rudeness, on the contrary, he apologized to him . Harold was astonished by the negotiation skills of Itsuki, who had remained on the scene and made the situation evolve in that direction . It seemed like his title as the next head of the Sumeragi household was not just for show .
To show his appreciation to Itsuki, Harold was determined to properly do the work that was requested of him . Well, in the first place, if Ituski hadn’t given that task to him, Harold wouldn’t have been rude to Aurelian, but still, Harold decided to make use of that to raise his morale as he wasn’t motivated to do the job at all . If he took it easy and failed his mission, Harold didn’t know what kind of retribution he would get from Justus and Itsuki .
And then, one hour after Harold and Erica came back, the party started . Apparently, most of the participants in the assembly hall had come by boat .
After the party’s hosts, Itsuki and Sylvie, finished greeting the guests on the banquet hall’s stage, they went around the room, thanking the participants for their congratulatory words . And, in but a moment, the two of them disappeared, buried in the crowd .
Even so, the number of people they could talk to at the same time was limited, they couldn’t easily handle that whole crowd . So, in the mean time, the participants who weren’t busy with anything, started entertaining themselves as they wished; they were chatting with each other, enjoying the dishes and alcohol, or dancing to the orchestra’s performance .
But, frankly speaking, among all of that, the most popular activity was flirting .
However, they weren’t flirting on a whim like what could be seen in town, here, they were aiming for future companions and connections . As one would expect, this type of socialization was very common among the sons of aristocrats and big merchants .
And as Harold had somehow anticipated, Erica was an obvious target to these kinds of men as she was breathtakingly beautiful, came from a distinguished family and yet was still unmarried . Although there were many seemingly noble women dressed beautifully in the assembly hall, Erica was still the most popular .
Which meant that Harold’s work kept him all the more busy . The men who started going on the offensive with Erica were knocked down one by one by Harold’s violent words, but far from decreasing, their numbers were getting bigger .
At a certain point, the crowd that was formed around Erica was as big as the crowd around Itsuki .
【”Beautiful lady, may I ask for your name?”】
【”Would you do me the honor of dancing with me?”】
【”How about we get out of here and go to my room? I have some quite precious wine there . ”】
Several men were whispering pick-up lines to her . Harold was not Prince Shōtoku, he could only hear three people at the same time, that was his limit . As for the voices of the other people he couldn’t listen to, they were just noise in his ears .
Those men were extremely troublesome . And they seemed to be intentionally ignoring the existence of Harold, who was actually next to Erica . In other words, he was also completely surrounded, just like her .
It seemed like the situation was a few steps away from getting out of control . Erica was at a loss about how to reply to them .
Even though she tried to reply to everyone, every-time she answered, three or four other voices would appear so she couldn’t catch up with them . But that was only natural, she only had one mouth .
Her patience was at its limits .
Harold’s right arm forced its way in the men’s way, as if to protect Erica . At this point, it seemed impossible for them to ignore Harold, therefore, they started threatening him with sharp voices that had completely changed from when they were speaking to Erica .
【”Who the hell are you? Get out of my way . ”】
【”What a boorish behavior . ”】
【”Seriously . How could a rude man like you possibly stand next to Erica? Know your place . ”】
【”Why are you so silent? Too cowardly to keep acting like a knight?”】
Harold was under a concentrated fire of malice .
But this still wasn’t at a level where Harold would turn on his switch . Rather, as a bad example to follow, he was worried about their behavior, as he believed one could not simply hurl abuses towards someone without knowing their identity .
At least some of them should have known that Erica was the host’s younger sister, and as Harold had been escorting said little sister the whole time, they should have asked themselves whether Harold was one of the Sumeragi or Berlioz family’s officials .
Well, normally, in these kinds of festivities, everyone knew about the name, face, title and official position of everyone else, so those men probably looked down on Harold who didn’t appear anywhere in their personal list .
Harold put those trivial thoughts aside for now . The main problem for the time being was how he would go about making those men disperse .
In this happy occasion, violence was completely forbidden, let alone brandishing a weapon . If he raised an uproar, he would be throwing cold water on the party .
But, having said that, persuading them with words was not even worth trying . In any case, even if he tried, he would only provoke them, insult them and make things worse .
Then, what should I do? Harold wondered as he could think of only one thing .
Harold exhaled for a bit while getting rid of any useless feelings . What he needed was a very pure killing intent .
He pictured the men in front of him as powerful and clearly hostile foes . He pictured them as being sworn enemies at Justus’ level . And like that, a burning flame colder than ice was lit up and shaking within in his mind .
Rampaging hostility, boiling malice, and pure killing intent were mixed up as one within him, in complete harmony . Then, Harold put those feelings into words, and poured them on those men, without mercy .
【”Get out of my sight . ”】
It was only one short sentence . However, within that sentence was an excessively dense, illusion of death .
Harold was thinking of frightening the men and make them run away .
However, the power of Harold’s killing intent ―― of his thirst for blood, was no longer at that level . No one moved from their spot . Of course, it wasn’t because the thirst for blood wasn’t effective .
It was actually too effective . For someone who wasn’t resolved to die or had never been on the verge of death, it was impossible to bear . It could even make them feel actual physical pressure .
A thud resounded . Looking at the source of the sound, one of the men around Erica had lost consciousness and collapsed to the ground . As if taking that noise as a signal, some other men noisily fell down as well .
The reactions varied from one person to another, there were those who fainted like the other men, there were those who were shaking with fear and unable to stand up, then there were those who perceived their own death and were in tears, begging for their lives .
It was a bizarre sight to see . It naturally ended up attracting the attention of the surrounding people .
From a gap in the crowd, Harold could see Itsuki who had placed his right hand on his head, as if he was saying “Oops” .
And Harold was in a quite similar state of mind from these unexpected results .
Starting from this day, a story, seemingly close to the truth, started to spread among the aristocrats .
『The daughter of the Sumeragi has a watchdog that could bite a death god to death . 』
The man thought he had died . Or, to be more accurate, he actually thought he had been killed .
However, either way, he was wrong .
But he had certainly felt that a sword had pierced his abdomen . He even had the illusion that it had cut his neck .
And what made him feel that way was someone’s thirst for blood .
However, it seemed like it hadn’t been aimed towards the man . As he turned his had and looked behind him, many people had fallen down on the ground here and there, in the middle of those people was a beautiful woman dressed in a kimono, and a young man who stood beside her as if to protect her .
Judging from the situation, the man assessed that the young man was probably the one who let loose that thirst for blood . Considering that the man had only felt the after-effect of that thirst of blood and yet it had given him such a vivid image of death, there was no way that young man was an ordinary person .
Who was that young man? How strong was he? And why was he here? Though the man had many question, none of these things mattered to him .
Because the man’s eyes were completely nailed on the beautiful woman next to the young man . She was like a lovely, fragile flower basking in the moonlight . But in front of her, even the brightest of flowers, the most dazzling butterfly, or a perfect view of paradise, would be overshadowed .
Her beauty was that powerful . Which is why the young man’s existence instantly went out of the man’s head, and before he noticed, he went to greet the woman .
【”Meeting you today is the luckiest thing that ever happened in my life . And I’d like to share this wonderful feeling with you . But first, may I hear you name, my lady?”】
【”… . I am the daughter of the Sumeragi family, Erica Sumeragi . I’d be pleased to make your acquaintance . ”】
【”Oh, Erica! A lovely name, fitting of your beauty . I am-“】
【”-Francis J . Arkwright . ”】
The man’s ―― Francis’ words were interrupted by a young man . The young man who was standing next to Erica had correctly guessed the name of Francis, who had yet to introduce himself .
And that felt suspicious to him . Francis had decided to take part in this event at the last minute . In other words, his name wasn’t on the list where the participants’ names were noted prior to the celebration . Which meant that the young man knew about Francis from before .
【”Do you know me? Well, I am famous after all . ”】
【”Yeah, your bad habits are famous . ”】
【”Wha……! You seem to know me very well . But that information is already outdated . ”】
Francis kneeled on one knee and took Erica’s hand .
【”Because my heart will be completely devoted to Erica from now on!”】
【”Mister Arkwright, even if you suddenly tell me that, I am not going to… . ”】
【”Arkwright is way too formal! Call me Franck . ”】
Erica was perplexed by Francis’ fierce approach . However, this was his style .
When he seduced a woman, he did it with passion, and if pushing wasn’t enough, that just meant he had to push harder . Up to now, Francis had conquered many women using that technique .
However, now that he had crossed paths with Erica, he was confident that all the woman he had conquered were no more than a training so as to win over Erica’s heart .
But that wasn’t all . He believed that his naturally handsome looks, as well as everything he inherited thanks to his lineage, were all part of the fate gifted to him by god so that he wouldn’t be inferior when compared to Erica .
If someone came in the way of that fate, he wouldn’t even mind facing a monster who could kill people by merely using his thirst for blood, and Francis believed he would definitely win against him . With that strong conviction, Francis looked towards the pupils of the young man next to Erica .
But the young man’s eyes seemed completely indifferent, as if Francis’ strong conviction did not matter to him in the slightest . Still, that had caught Francis off-guard .
He expected at least some sort of reaction .
【”This is quite unexpected . Are you not going to stop me?”】
【”You seem like a different kind of dimwit from the masses that tumbled around here . Do what you want . ”】
As he said that, the young man crossed his arms and leaned against the wall behind him . From the young man’s attitude, Francis could feel that he didn’t really care about what was happening .
Was he not Erica’s servant or fiance?
Though Francis still had many doubts, the young man had said that he wouldn’t get in his way so this was convenient for him . And so, when he was about to restart his attack on Erica…
【”Well, that is, if you can get that guy’s permission . ”】
Added the young man, as Francis felt someone’s hand on his shoulder .
That hand had so much strength to it that it felt like it was going to crush his shoulder . But it was that very pain that triggered Francis’ memory .
He had been distracted by her first name, but the woman had certainly called herself Sumeragi . And Francis knew someone with that same last name .
He timidly turned his head around . There, stood someone who was on such good terms with Francis that he could call him a friend, his name was Itsuki Sumeragi .
Francis, who instantaneously understood the situation and the relationship between Itsuki and Erica, spoke up without any hesitation .
【”Itsuki, allow me to call you my brother-in-law from now on . ”】
【”Call me what?! Get your hand off Erica, you lustful imp!”】
Itsuki’s angry voice resounded everywhere through the Berlioz mansion .