Katalina’s emotions were swirling inside her, making her unsure of what to say. She had resolved to confess her feelings to him during their initial ride to this country, but now, she was filled with uncertainties.
Having only conversed with him about inventions and magic tools, she found a like-minded person to confide in. However, seeing him fight against his enemies had brought newfound feelings within her. He was every bit the hero that he was rumored to be. But at the same time, he was pragmatic and humble. Quickly switching his tactics as needed and able to rally the assistance from those around him, Claude was a man that proved capable of succeeding. Yet, it seemed like the only thing stopping him was himself.
Whether it be his silly mannerism or his casual personality, he sought nothing more than to live comfortably within his own means, only showing his tenacity when subjected to an unfavorable situation. How could such a man live in a society like this? This was a world filled with strong beings and calculating people, who could change things in an instant.
How he casually brushed that all aside and continued to act like a normal person intrigued her to no end. Would she find the answer if she got closer to him?
For that reason, she hesitated. She didn’t want to sever her connection with him. She didn’t want him to reject her.
“I-I…want to take what I’ve learned here and make Sistina a better country for everyone!”
“Oh? Is that so? I thought you were already doing that.” Claude looked at her, as if expecting something else.
“No, not hiding as Katsys. As Princess Katalina, this time. I will bring my inventions forward and have the country adopt them, so that the general populace can benefit from my knowledge, not just those that have the money to buy them. I wish to do more than simply be a figurehead of an aristocratic society!”
For the moment, Katalina settled on that kind of resolution. After being freed from her fate and experiencing a breadth of technological possibilities, there were plenty of ideas that she wanted to implement right away.
At least, that would be the excuse that she would tell herself for now. No longer facing the prospect of being married off, she had been given time to continue standing beside Claude. She looked him in the eyes.
“Will you help me achieve this?”
“Of course. You’ve helped me a lot in the past. I’ll offer whatever help I can.” Claude smiled.
“I see. Thank you.” Katalina was satisfied with that. Giving him a bow, she returned to the ballroom.
Seeing Katsys walk away with a spring in her step, I felt glad that she had come up with a solid goal going forward. I wasn’t about to hand her over to a guy with seven wives already, especially as some arbitrary way of buying favor. It was great to see her motivated again. Who knew when I would have to count on her next for some help?
Satisfied that her doubts had been cleared up, I hardly noticed a man with gaudy armor show up. Though we had shattered his previous set, he had plenty of others from his collection that brought his stats close to where they used to be.
“Yo. Got a minute?” Koujiro waved at me.
“Yeah, what’s a king want with an unimportant person like me?”
“Just some small talk. Some words between people from the same world.”
“Actually, I wonder if that is the case….” I scratched my nose.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s another Electi in our country who seems to be from Japan, but not exactly the one that I know of. There are differences which imply that she may be from an alternate Earth.”
“Why that seems unbelievable, if it weren’t for us being isekai-ed ourselves.” Koujiro chuckled.
We continued to compare different things that we could think about in our worlds. The more we talked, the less likely it became that he was from the same world as me.
“To think that there would be so many worlds out there. What a mysterious predicament we’ve been placed in, Knight Evers.” Koujiro tapped me on the arm.
“Claude is fine. I don’t care for titles.”
“Neither do I. You may call me Lightning.”
I gave him a sharp glare, in which Koujiro laughed.
“I kid. Koujiro is fine.”
A few moments of silence passed, the two of us grasping for what else to say.
“Come to think of it, you seemed pretty cozy with the princess. You two dating? Or do you fancy the strong beauty that summoned you?”
“Huh?” I paused at his sudden question. “I’m not with either of them.”
“Eh? Why in blazes not?! They obviously got something for you! You got to man up and take them away! This has been a dream world for me! A place where all my wishes have come true! That should be the same for you, right?”
“Nope, not at all. I had quite the struggle getting to this point. Plenty of strange events and setbacks. It’s strange how I got through them all with such limited abilities.”
“That’s certainly true, but you even bested me!” Koujiro said, his hand smacking his armored chest. “You should be doing things that heroes do in another world!”
“Like… rising to the top of the country?”
“Exactly!” Koujiro nodded.
“And… forming a harem?”
“You bet!” Koujiro nodded once more.
“Are you an idiot? Why would I do something troublesome like that?”
Koujiro looked at me in surprise. “…Because it’s the normal thing to do?”
I sighed. “You play too many ero-games, don’t you? I don’t find reality to be that convenient.”
“Why not? I’m living the dream.”
“Hmm… I wonder how long that will last. Have you ever asked your wives how they truly felt about the situation? From what I understand, they were like trophies to keep you happy.”
“Well… yes, but I’m not sure I see your point-“
“How well do you know them? For me, the girl I like draws my attention every time she passes. I can tell what she is trying to say from a single glance. I know exactly what will tick her off and what kind of tastes she has. I’ve developed my skills to impress her and improved myself for her sake. And I’ll keep doing it if there’s any chance that she’ll return the same feelings back! It may sound pathetic of me, but that’s how I go about things.”
Koujiro pondered for a moment. How much did he truly know of the seven girls he wedded. Obviously, he knew quite a bit more about Relia, who he had been with the longest. But the other girls? Other than how they responded to his whims, he had never bothered to learn more about them. They always seemed to go along with his suggestions, so he never considered it before.
“Yes, in a way, I envy how you seemed to have everything you hoped for. But to me, that’s a far-off dream, an inner desire to aspire for. It’s something that I place a goal at so that I always have something to look forward to. What meaning is there if it’s so easily reachable, and you have nowhere else to go?”
Koujiro had never tried that hard, not this life nor the previous one. With his ability, he could easily obtain many things, to the point where it was almost boring. He was a champion in this world, but had he really tried that hard? No, his abilities let him overpower everyone. There was no sense of accomplishment. No joy nor rush.
What would he do if it had actually been challenging? Would he have given up being king? Would he have given up on this life, too? The man in front of him, stats far inferior than him, had found a way to break through.
“I see… I really don’t have any passion… not in my past life… not now….” Koujiro felt a fist bump against his chest.
“What are you talking about? You’re Lightning Koujiro, king of this country. Your very presence has had an impact on the people here. You may do some half-hearted things, but something appears to be driving you.”
The things Koujiro introduced to the people here, the blatant acts of bravado and strength that he displayed, the will to keep his country prosperous – these were the scenes that flashed in his mind. These were the things that defined the person known as Lightning Koujiro.
“You’re right. I do have things that I believe in too. I’ll keep on maintaining this dream with everything I have. I guess I’ll have to try a bit harder… starting tomorrow!”
I congratulated him with a laugh, despite his latter quip of procrastination. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how this became such a heartfelt conversation. I was just trying to steer him away from his initial question. Personally, I didn’t think Katsys thought of me any more than a friend, as I mainly just imposed on her by requesting for new inventions.
I highly doubted that every woman that I encountered would be a potential love interest like some harem series. At this point, Ludmila was like a clingy little sister. Saki was… I had no idea what went through Saki’s mind.
“By the way, it would probably be best if you kept on your guard.” Koujiro interrupted my thoughts.
I cocked my head to the side in question.
“Being an Electi, especially one that is as strange as yourself, is no simple matter. There are many stories about them being taken advantage of and being used to shape the direction of a country, often by conniving people. The fact is, a single Electi has the potential to destroy the world. In my case, I ended up crushing all of those who tried to stand against me. No one had the power to rule over me.”
Koujiro paused and turned towards me with an inquisitive look. “However, what if I hadn’t stopped? What if I had been an evil person or controlled by someone evil? I could have very well conquered the world… that is, before I ended up running into you.”
Thinking back, I had wondered why I had been allowed to roam free so easily. It was likely that people had underestimated what the Crit stat could do. Saki’s incredible attack power was something to be feared, but she was mentored by an important person that regulated the peace. Ludmila’s speed was sought after, such that she had to escape and go into hiding. At this point, very few people knew about her.
Certainly, I could no longer be overlooked. Had I not noticed the bullseye that was on my back? It was likely there, but I had friends that were probably covering for me.
“What I mean is, how long do you think you can carry on this simple life that you’ve had so far?”
“As long as I can, I guess. I’m sure we can deal with it when the time comes.” I knew I was punting the problem downfield, but what more could I ask for at this point? I had no big dreams or aspirations. I simply wanted to be proud of what I had done, even if it was just a collection of little things.
“Well, come back some time and let me know how that goes for you. The country of Macali will always be open to you.” Koujiro gave me a reassuring smile.
“Trying to recruit me now, aren’t you?”
We both shared a laugh.
“You two seemed to be getting along well,” Liruru called out to us. The other six girls were lined up next to her.
“Oh, I was planning to look for you girls right after this. What good timing! I have something to talk to you about,” Koujiro said.
“Oh really? Us girls have something we wanted to speak to you also.”
Uh-oh. I felt a red flag incoming. It was time to make my escape. I slipped away as they were focused on each other. Final attack – Run Away!
“So… I was thinking… I’ve been treating you like my wives this whole time without asking your opinions. Maybe it would be better if I had a more serious relationship and acted like a true lover….” Koujiro tapped his pointer fingers together timidly.
“I see… That’s exactly what we had in mind.” The girls nodded in unison.
“Oh good. I was afraid of how you all were going to react to that. Though, I’m not sure how I could narrow it down to one of you-“
“One of us?” The girls said simultaneously. A scary look had appeared on their faces.
“Yes?” Koujiro jumped at their reaction.
“I’m afraid that it’s far too late for you to simply choose one of us. We’ve got to make sure that you give your undivided attention to EACH and EVERY one of us,” Liruru said with a wicked smile.
“Yes, now that we have the support of allies that can beat you, there’s no reason for us to let you have your way allll~ the time.” Relia pulled out a vitality potion and dangled it in front of her.
“We won’t give you any time to rest. After all, you’re going to be the father of seven children before long.” Lailah lifted Koujiro’s chin and gave him a kiss.
Koujiro hardly even noticed the feeling on his lips, as his body was frozen from her words before.
His dream scenario in this world had reached its first snag.