Just who the hell was this daredevil?
That was the only phrase that came to mind of all the adventurers and guild officials in the hall who stood as bystanders. It only made sense as well, this crazy newcomer called Cumore Stahl had just proposed to the Shirley, the Sword Demon herself, a woman famous for being able to bring an enemy to his knees with her gaze alone, defeating a dragon king in single combat and being a ridiculously doting parent.
He had proposed to a woman in public, and in such an ostentatious way as well. In a way, it’s a pretty manly thing to do, but the bravado of the act quickly slips away once you consider just who it was that he was facing.
If you really think that you could make seduce this kind of woman like that, then you’re not brave, just a reckless idiot.
“Oh? Oh? W-Whatever’s the matter? Are you so overcome with emotion that you’ve lost your voice?”
Just what kind of reasoning led him to that mind-boggling conclusion? Whilst all the adventurers thinking that watched Shirley in anxious silence, she didn’t seem to react much as she turned her back on Cumore, whispering to Kyle and his party who sat next to her.
“…Is there someone else with my name that he is talking to?”
“No, no matter how you look at it, he’s talking to you. That fatt- I mean, that nobleman, he’s looking your way pretty intensely.”
“I heard him mention something about a bride… Did I mishear that…?”
“I don’t think so. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone else here heard.”
“…So that means, the ridiculous thing I just heard is…”
“A proposal, obviously.”
“…I suppose so.”
As she felt a headache coming along, she pinched the gap between her eyebrows. Every single woman in the hall looked at Shirley with the utmost sympathy as she didn’t raise her head.
“W-What is it that you’ve been whispering about over there!? S-Since I’ve come to pick you up, should you not be jumping into my chest with delight?”
True to expectations, this guy really was like that. Shirley herself found it completely unbelievable… Or rather, she didn’t want to believe it was happening. He truly, truly was living up to the initial prejudice. Even though he hasn’t had the chance to say much, it was already easy to tell he was the type who looked down his nose at everything and everyone.
“…I mean, she only just realized she was being proposed to anyways.”
“? What do you mean? Wouldn’t anyone be bewildered like that if they were suddenly proposed to?”
“No, I was expecting you to have some cool retort like ‘So, you’re just trying to use me as cover to escape from your political marriage, right?’ Something like that.”
“What exactly do you think of me as?”
Shirley looked at the familiar boy next to her as if he had gone mad. But, as she wondered about just what that look in his eyes meant, the rest of the group continued despite how annoyed she looked.
“Well, since he’s so fixated on you, do your best to hang in there and answer his feelings?”
“W-Why are you telling her that!?”
“…What exactly are those two talking about?”
“There really should be a limit to being insensitive, right?”
Although Kyle muttered that as he listened to his companions’ chat, Shirley couldn’t understand what they were talking about. As she was about to ask Leia what on earth she meant by that, Cumore shrieked in indignation at being ignored for so long.
“H-How dare you turn your back on m-me!? J-Just who do you think I am!? I am a member of the greatest noble family in the Kingdom, the heir to the Stahl Dukedom! I-If I tell papa, I can have you arrested for your impudence!”
As the young nobleman stamped on the floor in frustration, all the adventurers in the room glared at him. Obviously, he lived in a completely different world to them, but it was hard to imagine an adult like him still threatening to tattle on whoever wronged him to his parents.
“I will hear you out for the time being, however…”
No longer able to ignore Cumore any longer, Shirley stood up to face him. Then spoke the last words anyone expected to hear from her.
“First of all… Who exactly are you?”
“Huh!? You don’t even know this guy!?”
Everyone assumed that since he had come to propose to her, they would at least be acquainted, but Shirley has no idea who he is at all. Then, just how did this happen? After Leia couldn’t keep her voice down and shouted out in shock, Cumore was just as flabbergasted as his eyes opened up wide.
“That can’t be…!? Y-You’re saying you have forgotten!? T-That destined encounter of ours!?”
“Even if you suddenly say that…”
Whilst she was at a loss about how to respond to this person she truly had no memory of, Yumina suddenly hit her palm with a fist as if she suddenly remembered.
“Come to think of it, wasn’t it back in autumn last year? When you received a request to act as a bodyguard for the Duke of Stahl?”
“…Ahh, now that you mention it…”
It had already been over a year since then. The request Shirley had taken entrusted her with guarding the Duke’s carriage as it passed between his territory and the capital.
The contract was quite lucrative because of the number of bandits that had been waylaying nobles’ carriages around then, but Shirley being Shirley, she had only accepted because she already had her own business in the capital.
Eventually, the carriage was indeed attacked by bandits, but Shirley had knocked them all out to a man and left them for the local forces to arrest. She had completed the request without a hitch.
“Hmm… Much less remembering talking to you, I don’t even remember your face at all either.”
Back then, she had received all of the details during and discussed the particulars of the reward afterward with the family’s butler. Cumore may well have been riding in the carriage, but since Shirley was walking alongside it watching out for bandits, she never talked to him.
Isn’t this just some kind of misunderstanding after all? Despite explaining that it was over a year ago and that he must be mistaking her for someone else, Cumore wasn’t convinced at all.
“T-There is no misunderstanding. W-When you struck down those bandits, our eyes surely met.”
He said something unbelievable again. Putting aside the person in question, Shirley, even Kyle’s party and the other adventurers’ eyes widened further in disbelief.
“W-When I saw that beautiful figure of you fighting the brigands, I fell in love with thee at first sight. W-When I saw those two eyes of yours sparkling like precious gemstones, I decided that you would one day be my wife.”
As Cumore said that with an increasingly haughty attitude, Shirley stared at him with her signature stone cold face. Meanwhile, after listening to Cumore’s spiel, Leia couldn’t even begin to hide her disgust.
Well, obviously. After hearing him go on, it was quite obvious he was a distasteful man. Who in their right mind would propose to a woman simply because he saw her once from a carriage window?
“To put it nicely… I suppose he’s passionate…?”
“No, if anything, he’s got a stalker’s state of mind.”
As for Kyle, for whom this kind of display was far out of his reach, as shocked as he was looking upon this farcical proposal scene, thoughts such as ‘I’m jealous’ or ‘What if Shirley accepts his offer?’ didn’t even cross his mind.
(…Why is this happening… I just came to ask for some advice about my daughters’ free research project…)
As if to secure that boy’s relief, Shirley’s thoughts were very much with her daughters.
To tell the truth, she had heard about it from the frontier town’s branch chief… About how many people had eagerly asked after her as a bodyguard, especially men. However, at the time she thought it was him paying her lip service and didn’t pay it any mind. She never really thought about who those clients could be until now, but…
It’s not as if she had any obligation to do something for someone she didn’t know. Although most men would give up at Shirley’s curt refusals, it seems that an especially clingy fellow finally made his way to the guild.
“B-Because of those meddling ‘guild privacy obligations’ or whatever it is they call them, it took me quite some time to find you, but I am finally here. N-Now, come along with me right away.”
It was this kind of man. If Cumore had been a person that Shirley knew well, someone she thought of as sincere and kind, she might have been actually been upset by him doing something like this. However, the only thought that ran through her mind as she coldly stared at this nobleman is that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with him, most of all because of her desire to stay out of the realm of the aristocratic world.
“W…W-W-W-What did you say!? D-Did I not speak clearly enough!?”
Even though that was the only reply he was ever going to get, Cumore stammered in disbelief.
“H-How dare you speak back against your future husband!? W-Women should just quietly and obediently do as a man commands!”
“As I told you, I refuse. I have absolutely no reason to follow you.”
“W-Whahaha!? J-Just who do you think I am!? I am Master Cumore, the eldest son of the Duke of Stahl! W-Whoever doesn’t listen to me, I shall have papa teach them a lesson in discipline!”
He kept on going as if he hadn’t really understood Shirley at all. It’s almost comical at this point. It has gotten so ridiculous now that adventurers in the guild were even starting to wager bets with one another, on just how long this pantomime will last or who will snap first, Cumore or Shirley.
“I have no intention of marrying you nor leaving this city. That being said, as the son of a duke, should you not already have a fiancée?”
“T-That’s just some woman my parents foisted on me without my permission! B-Because you and I are destined star-crossed lovers, I have no time for such a person!”
Shirley’s glare grew even colder. Lusting after another woman whilst already having a fiancée, isn’t he peas in a pod with the man that Shirley hates the most in the world?
She doesn’t know anything about Cumore’s fiancée, but as the sensation of disgust for the man in front of her rose in her chest, she felt a great sense of womanly compassion for whoever that poor young lady may be.
“Firstly, I have two daughters. Those children have friends in this town, not to mention at their young age if they were suddenly introduced to a new parental figure, it may negatively affect them.”
Yet despite all that, Shirley still tried to persuade him using her words. In the past, it would have been easy to chase this man off with intimidation or sheer violence, but because of the things she has gone through as of late Shirley’s barbs have somewhat dulled. As Shirley sincerely tried to talk the arrogant young nobleman down, Cumore meanwhile unceremoniously trod all over the chance she was offering him.
“H-Hmph! I-It is not necessary for you to bring another man’s child back to the Duchy of Stahl! Y-You ought to just leave them at some orphanage in this town!”
The sudden illusionary sensation that the temperature inside the guild had dropped to below the point of freezing ran through all the adventurers. Even though their teeth didn’t chatter together nor did their blood freeze over, the feeling of ice running through their body made them paradoxically break out in a fearful sweat.
Knowing full well the havoc that the white-haired adventurer named Shirley could unleash with her blades and magic, the increasingly anxious adventurers tried to appeal to Cumore with their gazes.
Don’t say anything stupid. You might be able to survive if you get down on your knees right now and beg forgiveness. But, somehow ignoring both the pleading eyes of the adventurers and the overwhelming fell aura emanating from Shirley, Cumore proposed a further idea that could only be described as the most ill-advised thing ever uttered.
“T-That said, any child born from you must undoubtedly be quite cute. V-Very well, I will let you bring them along and I shall have them be my second and third mistresses.”
Even though he seemed to have more to say, the words never left his lips as his chin was crushed by the butt of a sheathed blade that Shirley drew out of thin air, with the delayed thud of Cumore smashing into the ceiling echoing through the silent guild.
As Cumore slammed back down onto the ground, he was swiftly knocked out with a blow to the back of the head before he even knew what was happening. His eyes rolled back in his head above his horribly disfigured jaw.
“Pardon me, Yumina-san. I am going to be borrowing a room.”
“B-By all means.”
Grabbing the man by the nape of his neck, Shirley began to drag him towards the back of the guild. In her left hand, now unsheathed, she grasped the sword that could manipulate all five senses of her foes, 《Ipetam》.
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