37 Cat Fight
「What kind of person is Adel-san?」
Princess Morena went right to the reason for their meeting.
There wasn’t any other topic she had to talk about with younger students, nor did they have any other similarities that could connect them. That much was obvious.
Marcella of course was aware of this. So she decided to just tell her the story they had laid out beforehand.
She started with what she had deduced, although admittedly containing some speculation, about Adel’s life in the Askam family from stories Adel had told her as well as from her letter.
But there was not really much to talk about sind Adel hadn’t been very keen on telling them about her home.
It seems like she lived normally with her parents and maternal grandfather until she turned eight. Then her mother and grandfather died at the hands of bandits. She had always held doubts as to the background of this attack, but that seems to already have been resolved by your side.
After that she lived a life of quasi incarceration, her father, the woman he cheated on his wife with as well as their child ignoring or bullying her. At age ten she was sent to Ekland Academy after being forbidden from using her family name and being thrust out without a single coin. The illegitimate daughter was then presented as the Viscount’s heir. After that there had been neither support nor contact by the Askam family. That is all I know concerning Adel’s family.」
The King, Prime Minister, Burgle, and Count Bonham had come upon similar results during the investigation of the whole affair, so they only felt slightly disturbed. Princess Morena, the two Princes, and Count Bonham’s wife on the other hand hadn’t heard of this, so they sat there with eyes opened wide.
「T-This can’t be… How could such an awful fate have befallen that girl’s memento…
Why didn’t I ever check up on her!!」
The Countess broke out in tears.
Dark looks had also draped themselves on the faces of the princess and princes.
And then, Marcella finally got to the point where her personal experiences with Adel started.
「The first time I met Adel was on the day of the enrollment ceremony…」
About her self-introduction, how Marcella had gotten jealous of her popularity and together with her friends raided Adel’s room, generally keeping it low on the extraordinary parts and presenting her as a slightly odd but funny girl. All in a bid to make the other side see Adel’s good points.
Like this the conversation continued.
「… and the underwear she said she was going to make for us were really pieces of art…」
Without being reprimanded by the adults for being 『improper』, the Princess loudly laughed out. And while the First Prince Adalbert was composed, the topic made the face of his brother, the Second Prince Vince, light up in bright red.
Wiping away her tears of amusement, the Princess asked a question.
「So just like that self-made underwear, she also bestowed the blessings of magic onto you?」
In reaction to the Princess’ explosive question, Marcella and friends froze up, and the Princes and adults leaked gasps of surprise.
「Because the three of you were suddenly able to use magic or had a drastical increase in ability one day, all of a sudden. All three of you, at the same time.
Isn’t it only logical to assume that 『someone connected to you three』 was the reason instead of pure coincidence?
And, even though you might have helped her out of pity in the beginning, didn’t you get closer to her rapidly after that for some reason and started covering a lot of her shortcomings, more so than one would do out of pity. Yes, almost as if you wanted to return a favor….
You three, are privy to Adel-san’s secret, am I right?」
Combining the stories just now with the prior investigation, the Princess had reached a conclusion infinitely close to the truth.
The King raised his voice in a hurry.
「You, leave the room!」
Being suddenly ordered to leave, the Princes, the Bonham couple and the Prime Minister let out voices of surprise.
Stopping the Prime Minister from arguing, the King sent him alongside the slightly lost looking Bonhams and the unsatisfied Princes out of the room with a gesture of his hand.
「That was careless Morena! Were you not explicitly told not to speak to others about this!」
Having thought that everybody in the room was in the know about the entire situation for a moment, the Princess paled at the realization of her blunder.
「Nothing can be done about what has already been said. Luckily, it should be fine since you have not touched the core of it, so we can just make something up if need be. But be more careful from now on!」
The Princess, whose face was still pale from almost having destroyed her country, turned to Marcella again.
「So, you are aware of it right, Adel-san’s secret…」
(T-This woman! Despite looking fluffy and mellow, she’s quite tough!)
Marcella appeared calm while inwardly starting to sweat at the renewed frontal assault.
Monika and Oriana had left everything to her and remained silent.
The gears inside Marcella’s head were turning at full speed in attempt to find a good way to hide Adel’s abilities.
「You know of it, right? That the goddess has descended and taken residence inside Adel-san’s body!」
An effectful self destruct by the Princess.
「And as a reward for keeping it a secret to Adel-san that the goddess was using her as a vessel as well as covering for a lot of her problems, the goddess bestowed the gift of magic unto you, correct?
It is fine to admit it, all present here are in the know about the goddess…」
(What, is she talking about?)
Marcella was thinking. Thinking as if her life depended on it.
(This is certainly the result of Adel trying to gloss over one of her failures in some strange way! But what exactly did she tell them…
She probably showed off some impossible magic. If I was that girl, how would I try to fool them?
If I lower myself to her level, subtract common sense and the ability to read the mood, and multiply the ditziness by 5, what would I do as that girl…)
Marcella had become quite good at predicting Adel’s actions. By running this 『Adel Simulator』.
Recently she had become able to notice during a conversation that (Ah, she’s about to say something inappropriate) and cover her mouth, or predict her action and stop her right before she started moving, averting a multitude of tragedies. Such was the ability of the 『Adel Simulator』 when it ran at full power.
(According to the rumors there was… the descent of the goddess, a divine messenger.
And now this. The goddess was dwelling inside her? What did Adel tell them to pull wool over their eyes?
To avoid any unreasonable demands after being cornered, what would the thought process, which was as two dimensional as her breast, of that girl come up with?
「Yes, so you all were aware of the goddess too!」
「So you knew…」
In response to Marcella’s outburst, the Princess nodded in satisfaction at the verification of her speculations.
「Then, I’m sure you are also aware that interfering with that girl is forbidden…」
「We wouldn’t dare! Completely unrelated to the goddess, I only wanted to thank the courageous girl who risked her own body to protect my honor, and become friends with her. There should be no problem here, right?
The goddess wouldn’t say something as cruel as Adel being forbidden from making friends, right?」
There was a certain undertone of victory to the Princess voice as she asked this.
(This woman! She doesn’t only want to become a positive influence to Adel, she wants to take her in completely!)
When Marcella glanced at the adults, they all nodded in affirmative.
(They’re all in this together!)
Inside her mind, Marcella was gnashing her teeth, but she couldn’t show such behaviour when faced with royalty.
But, she couldn’t let this comment slide.
「But thinking about such matters is futile as long as the person in question is missing!」
「T-That is true, but」
Since the tide was about to turn, the King decided to join the conversation.
「Adel…., the Askam Viscountess, do you have any idea about her current location?」
「「「None at all!」」」
The trio replied in unison.
Just as they had rehearsed many times.
After that, they were asked whether any country or village names had come up, whether they knew of any acquaintances, and many other things, but since they really didn’t know anything, answering honestly was no problem.
And after quite a while had passed, their interrogation had finally finished.
Even though their magic had improved, people of their level could be found by the dozen among C Rank Hunters, so with the essential Adel missing, there was no point in keeping Marcella’s group in the palace.
They hadn’t been able to win over the Princess to be of use to Adel in the future, but they hadn’t given them any more than the mistaken information they already had beforehand.
(Well, for us this went quite nicely)
Thought Marcella while she was about to exit the conference room with Monika and Oriana, but was suddenly addressed from behind.
「E-Excuse me! Would it be fine to talk to you again?」
「Y-Yes, we don’t mind…」
There was no way the third daughter of an impoverished Baron could refuse the Princess.
Several days later.
When Marcella was talking with her two friends in their dormitory room, there was a knock on the door.
「Marcella-san, your father has arrived!」
「Yes, I will open the door!!」
When Marcella opened the door, the dorm mother as well her excited and panting father were standing there.
「Father, what brings you…」
「M-Marcella! Is it true that you were summoned to the palace!」
「Ah, well, it is true…」
「W-Why were you called! What is this about!」
His daughter being called to the palace could be an extremely happy event if it was something positive, or it could mean the end of their line if it was something bad. More than enough reason for her father to be excited. Ignoring the friends of his daughter in the same room, he continued.
「Weeell~, the third princess said something about becoming friends…」
「W-What! No, if that is the reason it is something to be celebrated, but why? Why someone completely unrelated to her like you?」
「W-Who knows, what are you…」
「If you want to know you should go and ask her yourself.」
Upon saying this, he looked in the direction Marcella was pointing at.
「Ah, I am the third princess, Morena. Please pardon my intrusion…」
A girl about fifteen years of age said while curtly bowing her head.