Chapter 18 - The True Heroine and Aquasteed
Three days after the welcome party, I took a carriage to Aishira's house.
It was quite reckless to meet the heroine voluntarily, but it couldn't be helped because I promised her.
The atmosphere of the carriage felt heavy, but Philliane seemed oblivious to it and was actually pretty happy.
"The sea near Aishira's mansion is very beautiful, and Elliot told me that there are some fish that can only be found there." She said.
"Is that so? It seems fun" I replied half-heartedly.
The only good thing about this, is that lord Aqua is not with us because he is too busy with work. I wouldn't be able to stand raising a flag between them both with my own actions.
Philliane was happily looking outside the window when Tarmo approached his horse and asked if everything was alright, Philliane answered she was very comfortable.
"I'm sorry to ask something like this of you, Tarmo." I told him.
"There is no need to apologize lady Tiararose, it's an honor to be your escort." He replied, and I thanked him in return.
Tarmo is a knight that is serving as our escort while riding a horse outside the wagon, he has silver hair, blue eyes, and an excellent physique that fits his position.
He is actually one of Aquasteed's personal knights, but he was appointed as my escort instead, which I felt really sorry for.
However, Tarmo didn't feel bad about it at all, being an escort of Tiararose is actually a great honor that earns him Aquasteed's favor, so he was happy with the assignment.
"Marineforest is truly a beautiful place, isn't it?" Philliane told me.
"Indeed, I think I won't have any problem spending a year here." I answered her.
We both smiled and appreciated the view while the carriage moved towards the mansion for another half hour.
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When we got out of the carriage, Aishira greeted us. "Welcome lady Tiararose! I was waiting for you."
"Thank you for inviting me lady Aishira." While I replied, Philliane and Tarmo kept their distance to give us space… I would prefer if they were closer though, it's not particularly comfortable to stay near the heroine. I can't say such a selfish thing though, so I silently endured it instead.
"We are preparing a tea party at the beach" She told me, and I thanked her for this kindness.
I was worried about the sea breeze getting in the way of a tea party, but there were beautifully arranged plants nearby that served as windbreak, which was a relief.
The sea was the biggest surprise though, it shone brightly and you could see diverse colorful fish silhouettes even from a distance.
"It is as beautiful as the rumors." I told her.
"Thank you, would you like to look from up close?" She asked, which I promptly accepted to fulfill my urge to appreciate this sight to the fullest.
We got close enough to the water start touching our shoes, it was a transparent ocean on a beach of white sand with a myriad of colorful fishes swimming around with a gorgeous coral visible on the background.
Aishira got into the water and started playing with the fishes, they seemed to like her quite a bit, probably because of the blessing of the sea fairies.‹›
There is probably no other noble woman in Marineforest that can have as much influence as her, considering that she is also a high rank noble and close to royalty.
I looked at her with glittering eyes, she saw me and then made a proposal, "Lady Tiararose, would you like to enter the sea?" which made me completely dumbfounded.
"I'm afraid I am in no condition to do that." I replied while waving my hand.
"The power of the sea fairies allows me to use magic to breath underwater, I can also make a bubble of air to avoid wetting your clothes." She explained.
She is truly a heroine, it seems she can do anything. "Lady Aishira can do these things? That's amazing." I wonder if I can win against a gentle heroine that is loved by the sea fairies, it would be easier if her personality was bad like Akari's… I mentally sighed while thinking that.
"Ah, let's just warm ourselves first with some tea, even if we won't touch the sea water, the surroundings will still be cold." She said.
"Of course, I also bought some sweets to go with it, please Philliane." I answered.
As soon as I said that, Philliane took a pretty box out of our baggage and slowly opened it to reveal the cake inside.
"It is very cute and looks delicious." Was Aishira's reaction.
"I am very happy you like it." I replied.
Aishira then gave a dazzling smile and gave instructions to a nearby maid that served the cake and tea.
"Please sit down." She asked us.
"Thank you very much for this experience, drinking tea right next to such a beautiful sea will be a memory that I will cherish." I approached her and replied like this.
And then, we started talking about me and Aquasteed.
“So you meet lord Aquasteed by chance in the academy?" Aishira asked.
“Yes, and he always seemed so thoughtful of me too…" I replied.
“Then you two are in a love marriage, that's so sweet." She seemed to be having fun.
While we ate, I told her about the events at Lapis Lazuli and on the way to Marineforest, during the whole time she smiled without scowling even once… What does that mean? Is she not in love with lord Aqua?
Even though she kept smiling, my head was clouded with worries, I need to know her feelings in order to get some peace of mind.
"Is lady Aishira not in love with any man?" I asked.
"Lady Tiararose… I am not." I couldn't believe what my ears just heard, a beautiful 14 years old duke's daughter should surely be engaged, she would probably be with Aquasteed if it was in the game… We're not in the game though. "I just left everything related to engagement on my father's hands, I would be happy for as long as I could remain near the sea."
"Truly, this line of thought is not uncommon among nobility, but was there no man you ever liked?" I replied.
"Unfortunately, I did not have a first love." She said with a meek laugh after taking a sip of tea.
I don't think Aishira is lying, but as a Marquis of Lapis that went through plenty of social gatherings, I have a hard time accepting that a 14 years old girl could behave like that.
If she truly doesn't know love, then perhaps it would only develop when she got closer to a capture target… In that case it's better if she doesn't get close to Aquasteed.
While I was thinking about this, Aishira invited me to go to the sea. "Should we get going? There are plenty of cute fishes over there."
"It will be my pleasure." I answered.
Aishira applied the magic only on the two of us while everyone else waited at the beach, I felt a bit uneasy about it, but decided to trust what she said earlier.
As she held my hand, an air bubble wrapped itself around me.
“Amazing…!” Was all I could say.
Then, she made another bubble for herself, and we went into the water.
It was an underwater paradise, filled with fishes and coral shining on the ocean floor, before long one of the former quickly got near me.
"They don't mind getting close to people?" I asked.
"They don't, I enter this sea everyday and am in good terms with the fishes." She answered.
"That's lovely." Was what I said while Aishira stretched her hand and had her fingertips kissed by a fish, she looked like a goddess.
I slowly walked through the seafloor until I reached the coral, the multiple colored fish swimming right next to it made a wonderful sight. "This coral is very beautiful, do you make accessories with it?" I asked
“Yes, I'm happy you like them." She answered.
"So pretty… I never thought I would be able to walk through the sea like this." I said while admiring the view, it's even more beautiful than the diving trip I did back in Okinawa.
I walked around enjoying the sight of everything in the corals, even the crabs and shellfishes, it was truly a wonderful thing.
Aishira seemed to be happy I was entranced in it, so she gave me some fish bait. "It's only a little, but it attracts many fishes, please be careful though, as your hand will get wet outside the air bubble."
“Thank you, lady Aishira” Was my reply as I got the bait and put my hand into the water, many fishes instantly came and started eating it, I giggled while their mouths tickled my hand.
"I'm glad you're enjoying it lady Tiararose, I will go back first and prepare some tea." She said.
"It was very enjoyable… Ah, sorry, I will return with you." I quickly corrected myself.
"No, please make the most of it, there is still some bait left, isn't there?" She insisted.
"… Then, I'll take upon your kindness." I told her, lady Aishira seems like a good person.
She went up to prepare some warm tea to counter the coldness of the sea. Once she left I got back to feeding the fish, it was a simple action, but one that gave a healing feeling, I felt as if I was released from some tension that I have had for a long time.
While I can relax near lord Aqua, my heart always beats extremely fast with how many times he kisses me… And remembering this much made my face red too, I'm glad there was nobody nearby.
Trying to calm myself down, I closed my eyes and started thinking of something else, and my thoughts drifted to lady Aishira. She seems like a gentle girl, and judging from her hair and eyes' color, she is definitely not Japanese, though she could always be a reincarnated person like me.
Did she seem to have knowledge of Japan or of the game though… I don't think so.
I nodded to myself, though it could still be someone pretending to be clueless about it, so I can't be careless, she could even be an actress that reincarnated, so her behavior would be perfect.
Maybe I'm just overthinking it… Still, there is no bait left, so let's go back.
Time flew while I thought about Aishira, the people above will worry if I take too long, so I should return already.
There were no problems on the way back as I was surrounded by the air ball, and this was a fun experience overall, so my mood was pretty good.
However, it crumbled as soon as I got on land.
Looking up while wondering where everyone was, I saw my loved dark blue.
"Lord Aqua…?" Aquasteed was happily talking with Aishira.
Neither him, her, the maids nor anyone else noticed I was here, lord Aqua was happily smiling while moving his hand towards Aishira's hair.
I don't want to see it!
I turned around and squat down, to avoid that scene horrid scene.
… Why? Did I take the role of the villainess that is supposed to get in their way? Am I going to get hated by lord Aqua? Is this the power of the game being enforced? Those two seem to have been close since long ago, there is no room for me there.
My thoughts kept spinning round and round in this downwards spiral.
No, I decided to not run away.
I shook my head, stood up again and hit my own cheeks making a loud noise. "Alright!"
"Tiara." Aquasteed noticed it and called my name. However, I didn't reply, and instead silently walked towards him, both Aquasteed and Aishira tilted their heads curiously.
My hair was hiding my expression right now.
I got very close to him, and then tangled my arm with his own while saying a single phrase. "Please don't leave me alone lord Aqua…"
I felt like a small kitten being held by Aquasteed, his gaze went through me while his voice resonated within my heart. "No good, you're way too cute, Tiara."
Even though Aishira was right next to him, Aquasteed held me tightly.