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Interlude II: I’m Happy Just To Dance With You 

“My, my, my! What is this?! Could it really be?! This is incredible!” 
“Is it really that impressive?” I had no frame of reference to go on, so I wasn’t quite sure why Zanac was so impressed by the item I’d presented to him. 
“Magnificent! This material is produced by moon silkworms, and they’ve been extinct for hundreds of years! This cloth is simply exquisite! Exquisite I say! This kind of material is sought after by royalty, you know! At the very least nobility! Where did you find this?” 
“Uhh... A chest in the dungeon.” 
“Oho! Perhaps the chest you found it in was enchanted with preservation magic... It’s in perfect condition, ooh! This is truly wonderful!” 
Zanac seemed absolutely smitten with what I’d brought him. 
I told him I’d discovered it in the dungeon, but that was a lie. It was actually something I’d found while messing around in Babylon’s storehouse. The piece of fabric was from the Partheno civilization, back during Doctor Babylon’s time. Even back then it was considered a valuable thing. 
All of Babylon’s treasures were ultimately mine to do with what I wished. They were originally the Doctor’s, but she handwaved it all and said she didn’t really care. Apparently she was fine living out her life as a gynoid and didn’t really need extravagance. 
Since I was free to do whatever I wanted with whatever I found, I decided to bring this material to Zanac and have him check it out. 
“So, do you want me to do something with this material?” 
“Yeah. I didn’t bring it here just to brag about it. I’ve got a party to attend up in the Kingdom of Palerius, anyway. So I figured I’d bring it to you to see if we could get outfits out of it.” 
“Palerius? Oh, that island to the north?” 
It seemed like the word had already spread to most of the world’s merchants, I wasn’t too surprised. The discovery of a new nation was huge news, especially from a business perspective. 
“Yeah, me and the girls were invited there for a party.” 
I turned and looked deeper into the store. I’d brought my fiancées to Fashion King Zanac, and all of them were eagerly browsing the costumes. 
“I see... Then you want me to use this fabric to tailor dresses for the young ladies?” 
“That’s right. Can you?” 
Zanac grinned broadly at my words. He moved closer to me. A little too close for comfort... 
“Ohoho! Of course, I’d be honored to work with a fabric like this. I swear on my honor as Fashion King Zanac, I’ll have my people feverishly create the best things they can!” 
I was glad. If he’d appraised the fabric as cheap or mediocre, it wouldn’t have made good dresses for everyone, so I was glad to hear that not only was it good, but that he was willing to fill such a big custom order. 
I didn’t want us to be seen out in public dressed in anything that looked cheap, our outfits needed to be appropriate for royalty. Nothing would be worse than us being sighted at the party in something tacky, and then a rise in rumors of Brunhild not being financially well-off or something... 
To be honest, I had a fair bit of money in my coffers anyway, so getting luxurious dresses made wasn’t a big deal. 
“Touya, is everything alright?” 
“Ah, yeah. All is well. Seems like we’ll get something nice.” 
I turned around at the sound of Yumina’s voice, and I saw the other girls behind her. 
“I’ll take your measurements now, please follow me.” 
A female store attendant gestured toward the girls and took them to a fitting room. That reminded me, the girls had all been eating very little... I wondered if they were worried about their weight. I hoped they wouldn’t deprive themselves of food all the way until the party started. 
I decided to look up some lower calorie recipes and give them to Crea, since unhealthy eating habits could end up catastrophic. 
“Oh, right... Here... It’s the designs that each of the girls picked out for their dresses... Is this fine?” 
I took out nine different sheets of paper and spread them out across a nearby table. Zanac picked them up and carefully looked over each. 
“Hmhm... I’ve never seen designs this pretty before... They’re truly lovely... Your eye for design is certainly versatile, Grand Duke.” 
I couldn’t tell him the truth, that the designs were just taken based on image search references I’d looked up online. They weren’t actually my designs. 
I swallowed my guilt and continued talking with Zanac about the dresses. 
There were four major cities on Palerius island, one in each cardinal direction. In the days of Alerius Palerius, his four disciples reigned over a respective city each. The temple with the dimensional door was in the center of the island and had a path that forked off to each of the four cities. Now each of the cities was inhabited by the descendants of the people who were brought to the island’s relative safety. 
Since the island was safer now, more buildings were being constructed around the central temple. The ultimate goal was to turn it into a bustling capital city, with the temple serving as the new Kingdom’s palace. 
Since the capital didn’t technically exist yet, the party was being held in Meridius, the southern capital. 
Heads of state from around the world, along with their families, had been invited to celebrate there. Naturally, I was invited as well. Besides, I was the only one who could bring everyone to the island. 
Each country had one or two mages that specialized in teleportation or transportation magic, but I was the only one who could precisely leap across nations and move people to exact locations from my memories. 
The party was to formally coronate Mentor Central as the Queen of Palerius. 
Palerius island didn’t exactly have an aristocracy, but there were favored bloodlines. The descendants of the city founders would be designated as four lords under the new Queen. It was kind of similar to Eashen’s structure. 
Due to the fact that Palerius didn’t really have anything much akin to nobility, the party wasn’t that fancy either. It didn’t feel gaudy or oppressive. 
Personally, I liked that, it felt a little more casual in the same way that Brunhild did. Plus, I didn’t want to participate in any dancing, so that was a relief too. There wasn’t much in the way of music, either. There was a band playing, so some music rang through the halls as the festivities went on. 
Hmm... A band... I don’t think Brunhild needs one. As far as music goes, Sousuke is more than enough. 
That did remind me, though. A few members of our knight order were interested in instruments, but they weren’t exactly unified or anything. I decided it might be a good idea to get them some proper training, then they could end up being Brunhild’s official band... Or maybe even an orchestra if there were enough. 
“Grand Duke, thank you so much for all you’ve done.” 
Queen Palerius approached me and flashed an earnest smile. Djent, leader of the southern city, was behind her. 
He stood stoic as ever, but I could see the traces of a grin on his face. It was good to see the people of Palerius looking happier than ever. 
“No need to thank me. Rather, thank you for founding this nation properly. I wish you well, honestly. From one leader of a fledgling country to another.” 
I grasped Queen Palerius’ outstretched hand. It was true we were both fledgling nations, but Palerius island had a history spanning five thousand years. 
Queen Palerius smiled and went off to speak with the other royals. 
The tables were lined with various meals. I’d never seen any of them before, but their taste matched how great they looked. I used my hands to rip off a portion of some meat and bone. It was delicious... Whatever it was, it reminded me of spare ribs. 
I chowed down and noticed Sue walking toward a crowd. I followed her stride and found her settling near my other fiancées. They were surrounded by curious women. Apparently they’d all noticed the quality of the dresses they were wearing. 
The royal and noble girls immediately started fawning over my fiancées and complimenting them on their looks. The compliments only increased once Yumina casually mentioned that the dresses were made of moon silkworm thread, and also dropped the fact that the material couldn’t be obtained anymore. 
While that was a true statement, there was actually a truckload of the stuff in Babylon’s Storehouse. What they were doing might’ve amounted to gossip, but this kind of shallow interaction had its uses. It was important for the noble and royal ladies of each nation to talk, get along, and exchange information. 
Either way, I had to abide by social norms. There was no way I was going to approach the girls while they were all in the middle of their chatter. 
I shifted my gaze and found that Sue, Sakura, and Yae were side-eyeing me as I ate the ribs. It seemed like they wanted some, but it wouldn’t be proper or ladylike to eat finger food in a dress that nice. 
“Mmh... I’m tired...” Yumina eventually walked her way over toward me, free from the clutches of the other women. 
I glanced to my left and found Sue sneaking some snacks into her mouth while nobody else was looking. 
“Touya, you should help us out more... I don’t wanna talk to stuffy ladies all night!” 
“C’mon now... What do you expect me to do?” I definitely didn’t have the courage to approach that crowd. Making a single wrong turn meant risking the ire of noblewomen on an international level, and I wasn’t interested in that. 
Leen walked over, her face just as tired as Yumina’s. 
“Darling... We might want to change our cover story about where this fabric came from... As it stands, the ladies might have their husbands send knight squadrons into our dungeons.” 
“Ah... That’s not good.” 
Even if they scoured the whole place, they wouldn’t find any of the stuff. Maybe it’d be a good idea to slowly introduce the fabric into market circulation instead. 
“It’s been a while since I’ve attended a party... But it is rather pleasant.” 
“I understand that you must be accustomed to this, Hilde-dono... But I am of common birth and do not find it comfortable, I do not.” 
Yae grumbled quietly next to Hilde, as her feet fidgeted around. Apparently she didn’t like wearing heels. I quietly cast [Cure Heal] on her and the others to offer their feet some relief. 
“Thank you, Touya-dono...” 
“Yeah, don’t overdo it. We can get you a change of shoes if it’s too much.” 
“Not at all. If this is what it takes, then this is what it takes, it is.” 
Yae put on a brave face, but I didn’t want her being uncomfortable. I stood back a bit and looked around the room. I didn’t really feel like talking to anyone I could see. 
For noble families, parties like this were a good place to mingle and try to see about forming marriage-based alliances with other important families. I had no interest in getting swept up in that kind of conversation. 
In my case, I didn’t have any wives, just an overabundance of fiancées. I definitely didn’t need any more. 
I really hope nobody tries to marry their daughters off to me. I decided to sit down and stop people-watching. 
Hmm? Why’s Queen Palerius rushing over here? 
“Grand Duke, do you have a moment?” 
“...Sure, what’s wrong?” 
“...Ah... It pains me to say it, but there are some people in this nation who opposed us opening up to the outside world. Some of them are causing trouble right now.” 
“What kind of trouble? An attack?” 
It was one thing to peacefully protest for personal reasons, but kicking up a fuss was another matter entirely. 
Then again, this party had various important families from around the world in attendance. It was a prime opportunity to damage international relations. I wasn’t surprised they’d try to attack at an event like this. 
“It’s worse than we feared, actually... They’re attempting to call Behemoths to Meridius.” Djent spoke up, walking up to me from behind Queen Palerius. 
Calling Behemoths here? Is that possible? 
“They’re using beastwood, I’d wager. It’s a special kind of wood that releases a monster-attracting scent when it’s burned. Something like that, right?” 
“You’re right, but it isn’t beastwood. There’s a special dried plant in this country called mystic herb. When burned, it has properties much like beastwood. It calls to creatures in the wild and makes them lose what little reason they have.” 
Queen Palerius promptly answered Leen’s inquiry. That definitely didn’t sound good. 
“We used to use it as a hunting tool. When attacked by Behemoths outside the barrier, we’d burn it and leave it in a different location as a distraction.” 
“And now they’re using them to attract Behemoths to the city. Meridius has a barrier around it, so nobody will be harmed... But the incident is sure to scare the royals and nobles we have as guests here. I’m certain public opinion of Palerius will decline if such an incident is allowed to happen...” 
That was definitely true, and there wasn’t much worse than a bad international image. To have such a terrible event happen during the coronation ceremony? It’d be unthinkably embarrassing. 
We’d hunted down most of the Behemoths on Palerius island some time ago, but obviously, we hadn’t killed all of them. There were still mana wellsprings here and there on the island, which meant new Behemoths would surface from time to time. 
Even though the main barrier separating the island from the rest of the world was gone, the magical barriers protecting the temple and the four major cities were still in place. That meant they’d be safe so long as the Behemoths didn’t attack en masse. 
“Search. Locate all Behemoths in the area.” 
“...Searching. Search complete. Displaying.” 
A map of the area surrounding Meridius was projected into the air. It was still far away, but there was a single red dot moving toward us. It was probably being drawn here by a group of hunters on the move. I wondered what to do. Kicking up a fuss would definitely kill the party’s vibe, so I decided it’d be better to handle it without letting the attendees find out. 
“In that case, should we use Brunnhilde? It has stealth armor, so it should be able to fire a shot off completely unnoticed.” 
Yumina suddenly appeared by my side with a suggestion. That seemed fair. We could mute the sound of the gunshot with [Silence], too. 
I spoke to the queen about it and negotiated for the Behemoth’s corpse as compensation. It’d be good to make back the money I’d spent getting those dresses tailored. 
“Alright, we’ll head off. Yumina and I’ll go with Djent and some of the knights, since we need to figure out who’s actually drawing the Behemoth in.” 
“Alright, then. Sounds good.” 

“As for the rest of you girls, please stay right here. We don’t know their plan, so their friends might end up trying to disrupt the party directly. You gotta be here to take care of things if worse comes to worst.” 
“Leave it to us, Touya-dono.” 
Yae nodded firmly. They could easily draw their weapons from the [Storage] in their rings if need be, so I was sure they’d be able to handle themselves. 
Yumina and I headed off out of the city with Djent and about a dozen knights. 
Once we made it out of the city, Yumina held up her left hand and called her Frame Gear through her engagement ring. It appeared in a flash, wielding its sniper rifle. 
The knights were impressed as Yumina hopped into the cockpit and triggered the stealth functions of the machine. 
Brunnhilde dissolved into the evening environment itself. 
“[Long Sense].” 
I projected my senses about a kilometer away from us, but the Behemoth wasn’t in sight. I decided it must’ve been a little further, and pushed my sense of sight onward a bit. Eventually, I found it. 
“Yumina. It’s about five kilometers this way.” 
“Got it. It’s in my sights.” I saw an animal-drawn carriage with smoke rising from it, and a monster trailing behind. The Behemoth resembled a large and scruffy black goat. 
“It’s a Dark Goat.” 
It was a creature with large, twisted horns. It wasn’t an especially powerful monster, but any means, but that didn’t mean it could be underestimated. 
A Behemoth was a Behemoth in the end, it was still capable of catastrophic damage. Plus, this thing was over twenty meters tall. Our only saving grace was that it wasn’t as agile as it could’ve been due to its sheer weight. If it was slightly more athletic, it would easily catch up to the cart leading it. It seemed like the people riding it were aware of that as well. They looked terrified. 
I looked a little closer and noticed bits of animal guts under the Dark Goat’s hooves. It was crushing other animals in its path. It seemed like the mystic herb was drawing other animals toward it as well, and the poor little things were dying immediately. 
“I’m glad it’s not a shelled monster like an Armored Turtle. Alright, I can’t let it get any closer to the city or people will notice. I’m gonna take the shot.” 
All noise in the surrounding area vanished in an instant. I saw a puff of smoke and a flash of light from Yumina’s rifle, and then the Dark Goat toppled to the ground. One shot, one kill. Great work. 
“...! ...! ...!” 
“...! ...!” The knights were all cheering and jumping for joy, but they were completely inaudible due to the effects of my spell. I quickly canceled it. 
I saw through my projected senses that the men in the carriage were surprised by the sudden downpour of giant goat blood. 
“I’m gonna open a portal, so you guys can grab the morons.” 
“We’re in your debt again.” 
I figured it’d be better to have the guys captured here and now rather than let their nonsense carry on any further. I opened up a [Gate], allowing the Palerius knights to charge in and surround the carriage. I passed through the portal after them and used Water magic to wash away the burning leaves. 
“Urgh!” The water came crashing down on the men’s heads. The smoke from the burning herbs vanished, and the men were washed out of their carriage as well. 
“Apprehend them!” 
On Djent’s command, the knights moved in. There wasn’t much in the way of resistance, and before long all the men were caught. 
“Is that it, then?” 
“For now.” 
Yumina came through the portal behind me and tilted her head to the side. The situation wasn’t over for the most part. They still needed to find out who was behind this stupid plan to begin with. But that was a problem for Palerius, not me. 
I looked at the Dark Goat’s corpse. It had been shot cleanly through the forehead. I was amazed by Yumina’s precision, even at that distance... I didn’t want the Dark Goat stinking the place up or rotting, or getting eaten, so I shoved the carcass into [Storage]. 
We took the captive men back to Meridius. After parting ways with Djent, Yumina and I returned to the party. 
“Welcome back.” 
“Everything fine now?” Linze and Elze noticed our return and called out to us. Queen Palerius also cast us a curious glance. I shot the queen a thumbs-up and a grin, letting her know everything had gone smoothly. 
“Thank you so much... We must repay you for this...” 
“Nah, it’s fine. I got the Behemoth’s body. That’s all I need.” 
I hadn’t really even done anything this time. It was all Yumina. 
“Any problems here?” 
“None to report. The teriyaki chicken was great...” 
That’s not really what I meant, Sakura... But I guess I’m glad you like the food. 
“...Wait a second... Why does it look like there’s a dance starting?” 
Half of the dining space had been cleared away, and there were men and women dancing in pairs. The band was playing a gentle waltz, causing the partners to sway and dance in tandem. 
Wait a second... On the piano, is that... Sousuke? When did you get here?! “Ghh... Why is there a dance?!” 
“There wasn’t one planned, but it seemed some thought the party was lacking without a dance. Thus, it happened...” 
“And then Sousuke appeared out of nowhere and started playing music?” 
Lu nodded. This felt unnecessarily convenient. 
He was currently playing Flower Waltz from The Nutcracker. I stared at the band, wondering how they knew to play something like this. Leen, apparently reading my mind, spoke up. 
“Those aren’t Palerius natives, darling. They’re from Brunhild. It’s the group that was interested in taking up instruments. Sousuke has been working with them for a while.” 
There were a lot of instruments lying around the knight barracks. I’d heard that some knights had taken an interest, but I didn’t realize Sousuke had already taken them under his wing. He must’ve pulled them over here using his teleportation magic. 
“Ohh... Father and Mother...” 
“Hm?” I followed Yumina’s gaze and saw the king of Belfast slowly dancing with his wife. Their movements were deliberate and mesmerizing. Wow... Although, I guess that kind of thing’s standard with royals. They look great... I have a lot to learn. 
“...I refuse to lose.” 
Yumina grabbed me by the hand and began walking us toward the dance floor. Whoa, easy there! 
“Hold on, Yumina! I can’t dance...” 
Since I became a royal, I’d understood that attending social functions was necessary. That’s why I’d taken a few dance lessons. But unfortunately, it became clear I had no talent for it. 
I knew some basic moves, but I was a little clumsy. Frankly, I just found the whole thing difficult. 
“You can do the basics, right? Don’t worry. I’ll guide you, and it’ll just be for one song.” 
“A-And then one with me, after!” 
“Then I will dance with you after Lu!” 
“You crafty little... I’ll dance after Hilde, then!” 
Yumina’s words caused quite the stir with my other fiancées. Lu, Hilde, and Sue immediately spoke their desires. 
“I would be better off just watching, I would.” 
“Uhhm... I’ll pass.” 
“Me too...” 
“I’m not much of a dancer.” 
“I prefer singing to dancing...” 
Yae, Elze, Linze, Leen, and Sakura all declined the opportunity to dance with me. 
It seemed like they were split into two camps. Those that wanted to dance, and those that did not want to. But I suspected that the girls who declined simply couldn’t dance all that well. But that wasn’t my place to judge. I definitely wasn’t any good at dancing. Ultimately, my protests proved fruitless, and Yumina dragged me off. 
Uhh, let’s see here... Elbows straight... Shoulders lowered... Spine upright... Oh, hold on... Gotta put my hand on her shoulders, no wait... Her waist? 
Yumina smiled at me as I frantically wracked my brain. 
“It’s okay. Just calm down and follow my lead.” 
I took a deep breath and squeezed Yumina’s hand. Then, I moved to the slow beat of the music, and we began to dance just like the other couples. 
“Hmm... This song...” 
“Something wrong?” 
“...No, it’s okay.” 
As we danced, I narrowed my eyes toward Sousuke. I wondered if he’d chosen this song on purpose. It was Je te veux, by Erik Satie. It was originally composed for a French actress, and the title translated to “I want you.” 
The lyrics that were created for the piece were layered with thick, almost erotic intent. 
“...Hmm...” I wondered why Sousuke had chosen this song, but I couldn’t dwell on it. I needed to focus. 
Yumina slowed our dance and flashed me a gentle smile. 
“It’s okay just to take it easy, you know. You don’t have to be so tense. Let’s enjoy our dance, and take it as slow as we need. There’d be no point wasting a good opportunity like this.” 
...She’s having fun... Even though I’m not great at this, she seems to be happy... I looked around, and all the couples around us were dancing happily as well. It was nice. 
“...You knew I was tense, huh? Was I holding you too tight? I’m supposed to be a royal, so I guess I was nervous about giving off a good impression. But you’re right. I shouldn’t worry about that, I should just be myself.” 
Yumina always had a knack for pointing out things I hadn’t noticed. She also had a knack for giving me personal courage. 
My legs began to move in a proper rhythm as the song went on, and an earnest smile crept across my face as I gave into the music with Yumina. 
The dance was starting to feel really pleasant. I was happy just to dance with her. 

Eventually, the song came to an end, and we stopped our dance as well. 
“That was fun!” 
“It really was. You’re amazing, Yumina.” Yumina smiled once more, and I ran a hand through her hair. Lu suddenly approached from behind us. 
“Yumina, it’s my turn now. Shall we, Touya?” 
Oh, right. I have three more dances to go... Well, no point worrying about it. I’m gonna have fun. 
Yumina waved us off on to the dance floor and joined the other girls. 
Sousuke started up another song. This time it was The Skater’s Waltz by Waldteufel. 
I took Lu’s hand into mine and began an elegant synchronized motion with her. 
I guess dancing isn’t so bad, huh? I smiled softly as I continued to dance the night away. 

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