IAWWMSP Chapter 465 – Dance Hall and the Black Mask.
As the gentle melody started to flow, men and women present in the ball started dancing with one another. Since most in attendance were children born from noble families, naturally, those who couldn’t dance were just few in numbers. Attendees from Brunhild weren’t exactly nobles, but they had been taught the basics so that they could at least dance.
It was a masquerade ball, but it was up to the person whether they’d dance or not. But, since there would be chances that you could get invited to a dance, not being able to do so would not only lead to you not having fun, but embarrassment as well towards your partner. That said, Yumina and Lu told me that to prevent these things from happening, we had the attendees from Brunhild be able to at least dance at the minimum.
The ones left dancing now were the few noble children from each country that were invited by others to dance with them, while everyone else were either in the vicinity of the hall or outside the garden observing the state of affairs.
And since everyone was wearing masks, they were forced to talk to each other, leading them to either invite the person to dance or to a walk in the garden.
However, it seems like people coming from the same country were just sticking together. Well, it might have been unavoidable though.
“Still, there sure are a lot of people chatting here and there, huh. Oh, isn’t that one of ours?”
The King of Linea, who was standing next to me, was peering downstairs from the second floor of the dance hall using an opera glass with a handle. Apparently, not only Linea, but as well as other countries, appear to have some sort of mark for their own countrymen. A matching brooch or cufflinks, for example.
“Cloud-sama, I think you should refrain from snooping at them too much. They’re doing their best finding their lifelong partners, you know?”
“Ah, no.. I didn’t mean to do that.. I was just a little curious.”
When his fiancee rebuked him, King Cloud hurriedly returned the opera glass in his hands to me.
The fiancee in question was the First Princess of the Palouf Kingdom, Lucienne Dia Palouf. She is the older sister of the young King of Palouf, King Ernest, and will become the Queen of Linea in a few months. She is not your usual gaudy princess but a calm and gentle one.
As the princess said those words, I glanced around and noticed that not only the King of Linea, but the others were peering at the dance hall downstairs as well.
Well, I guess it’d make sense considering that among these many attendees were their families and acquaintances. So, it’d be impossible for them to not be curious.
When I returned my gaze around the whole second floor, I saw all of the important nobles coming from each nation talking to each other while clinking their champagne glasses. The royalties, including me, have exchanged a few words of introductions and greetings to the others before as well.
The Reverse World…. or rather the Western Continent’s nobles and royals were not acquainted with the royals from this continent. And with me, being the only one who’s most involved with the countries from the western continent, I had to play the role of mediator to let both parties get to know each other better. Honestly, it was such a pain in the ass, but it’s still part of my work, so I properly did it anyway.
Well, I was done with all the introductions, so I’m just taking it easy.
I watched Princess Lucienne as she turned her gaze around the reception hall.
“It’s been such a long time since Ernest have been in company with children of his age.”
“Well, he’s been with adults all this time after all, so I think he’s more comfortable talking to them than us.”
Princess Lucienne was happily looking at the sight of her little brother, the young King of Palouf, with his fiancee Rachel, happily discussing with the first and second princes of Lemza and Alba of Mismeed, the first princess Lilac and second princess Milnea of the Kingdom of Hannock, and the former first prince of the Gardio Empire who is now the count of Lowe, Lucrecion.
They were all at the same age of 10, so it might be that because they were of the same age, they find it easier to talk to each other. I glanced around and spotted the new King of Dauburn, the Nation of Fire, Akeem, and the new King of Zadonia, the Nation of Ice, Frost talking to the recently crowned Knight King of Lestia, Reinhardt, who is also my brother-in-law. They were all comrades-in-arms since the three of them were new leaders… Well, the same goes for me and the King of Linea too, though.
Yumina and the others were mingling with the foreign queens and chatting with them happily. Probably, they were asking about how life is for a queen, since they’re now basically the same as them. Elze, Linze and Yae, who clearly did not know how to act were showing stiff smiles. Well, I guess it can’t be helped since they weren’t used to this kind of occasion, but I’m sure they’ll be able to act naturally given enough time.
Each country’s kings and leaders were grouped together and appeared to enjoy conversing with one another. So far, the event appears to be going smoothly. Now then, how about we go take a look around on our own?
After a few songs ended, I parted with the King of Linea and the others and headed to the balcony. From there, I could clearly see what was happening down the garden. Men were nervously trying their chances on women, while the others were sitting on a table, sharing a cup of tea under the open air. They seem to be enjoying themselves in their own way. It appears to be going smoothly here as well. But, that’s that…
It would be rude of me to say that I hadn’t expected this, but… It’s strange to see that all the kings who were muscle-brains, namely the leaders of Mismeed, Felsen, Lassei, and Egret were all gathered here in the balcony discussing something with one another. I didn’t think they were the type to be interested in someone else’s romance though.
They’ve been looking at the other attendees downstairs cheerfully for a while now though.. Are they up to something?
“Oh, Grand Duke! Have you come to spectate as well?”
The Beast King of Mismeed greeted me, champagne in his hands, as I walked into the balcony. What exactly were we supposed to spectate? I haven’t booked any performances whatsoever though.. Well, I guess they were talking about spectating the attendees’ romantic development. As I looked around once more, for some reason, there were a few of Refreese’s healers on standby. Huh? Did someone get sick or something?
“Uhh.. did something happen?”
“Not quite, more like, something’s just about to happen.”
The King of Felsen smiled wryly as he exchanged glances with the Beast King.
“It’s the sort of stuff that happens throughout these kind of gatherings. I think it’s about time it starts.”
I don’t understand what’s going on at all. As I was twisting my neck deeply thinking about such matters, the King of Egret tapped me on the shoulder. It’s quite a rare sight to see him in a tuxedo instead of his usual Native American-style tribal outfit. Though, since he’s always been manly, he looks good no matter what he wears. It’s no surprise that he’s got seven wives.
“I take it that the Grand Duke have not been to gatherings like these before, no?”
“Well, of course… I was an adventurer before so… But, I at least had attended family gatherings and the like.”
“They are young, and because they are young, they don’t yield. And when two of the same kind meet each other, well..”
As if to interrupt the words of the King of Egret, I heard voices coming from the courtyard. What now?
“Oops. Looks like it has started.”
“What do you mean it has started?”
When I looked down at the courtyard from the balcony together with the King of Egret, two masked young men were glaring at each other. Both of them appeared to be quite tense, and the others were surrounding them while keeping a safe distance.
“Are they going to fight?”
“Well, yes. These kinds of things are always bound to happen in these kinds of gatherings. Though, when it becomes too intense, the parents of these young men or the one in charge will come out and stop the fight, but there are times when it even turns into a duel.”
Wait a sec! Isn’t a duel a bit too far? Wouldn’t they end up killing each other then!? That sounds pretty bad!
“Don’t worry, staking one’s life at these kinds of duels are as expected, taking things a bit too far. In cases like this, we’ll simply set some rules and have them compete against one another, with the condition that whoever wins or loses does not hold a grudge against the other, and breaking it means you’ll be shamed by your peers.”
“Set some rules? Does that mean that if the rules say that they are to compete against one another in a racing game, they would?”
“Hmm, I haven’t quite heard of such a thing happening but, I’ve heard of a case where they settled it in a horse racing game. See? It’s quite peaceful, ain’t it?”
Certainly, it seems quite peaceful.. Well, it’s better than actually having them compete with their lives on the line. Still, I understand that when two parties are at odds with one another, it’s preferable to settle their differences through a match. But it’s even better if the match they’re competing in is peaceful.
“However, we’re probably going to have them engage in a fistfight.”
“Just what the hell does ‘peaceful’ means to you?”
What the hell? That’s no way in hell peaceful! Before I knew it, the King of Felsen, who was standing beside me, was laughing hysterically.
“Because they are young, having them compete against each other in this manner is preferable. They had to let all of their frustrations out rather than keep them bottled up. It’s for this reason that the healers are also on standby.”
So that’s why all of you muscle-brains were gathered here!? Damn, they’ve even prepared this much.. Still, are these situations really a common occurrence in gatherings like this? Ugh… well, given the large number of people gathering here, a fight or two was almost unavoidable..
“Those masks won’t come off that easily, right?”
“Eh? Ah, yes, that’s right. Even if you bump it or hit it on something, it still won’t come off, unless I uttered the predetermined keyword for it.”
“Then, it means that even if you’re a commoner, you can even fight a prince with these masks on, since usually, if you’re not of the same status, fights like these always end up with someone arbitrating.”
“Umu, that’s good. Status is irrelevant in a fight between men. What matters is that you press forth onto the path you’ve chosen with your fists.”
The Beast King of Mismeed and the King of Lassei were nodding at each other as they looked down below the garden.
Are you really fine with this..?
After that, a third-party observer came in between the two young men, and I anticipated a fistfight to ensue, but then, both young men, together with the observer, vanished into the depths of the garden, followed by some of the peanut gallery.
“Oho, seems like they’ve realized that they were causing nuisance to the other guests, so they took their fight somewhere else. I guess it’s time we follow them as well.”
“…You guys really just wanted to rubberneck at fights like these, huh?”
“Hahahaha! The main event that you must watch on occasions like these are the passionate fights between men, rather than some silly romance that isn’t even certain to develop between two individuals.”
All of the muscle-brained Kings left the balcony swiftly, clearly eager to watch the fight, leaving me, who was befuddled behind.
I’m pretty sure romance is the main event for today, though…
Some of the participants followed the lot to watch the fight, but most of them stayed in the courtyard and were having fun conversing with one another. Many of them who had set their sights on potential partners were also busy trying to get a good impression on them.
There were groups where one woman is being fawned with several men and vice versa. Even while the effects of the masks make it impossible to determine how a person looks or what features they have, there were people who were naturally born with the characteristics that make them stand out even if they lack the appearance. Conversation, mannerism, demeanor, and how one handles the situation… These characteristics will eventually show from the person, and would be the base for judging their real personality.
Suddenly, my eyes caught sight of a figure in the courtyard below me. She was all alone, leaning against a tree in the courtyard, looking down, away from the partygoers. If that had been all, I would have assumed she was a “wallflower,” a shy woman who couldn’t seem to make a move at a party. However, this person definitely did not suit that description. I knew that the reason why she was standing alone there was because she was busy mumbling something as she typed away at high speed with the phone in her hand.
Dr. Babylon’s mass-produced smartphones were only given to the hands of a few select people. Only the leaders of each nation, their closest associates, and my friends have them. And, aside from the people who were talking amongst themselves on the second floor, there were only a few people at the party, not counting the people from Brunhild. So that would mean that the girl standing alone over there is Princess Ririel.
Her fingers continue to dance on the phone without stopping, giving off a disturbing aura. No, you’re supposed to be dancing with the others inside! This girl is definitely writing that nasty book of hers.
If the Emperor sees you here fiddling with your phone like that, he’ll definitely take it away again. You sure haven’t reflected on your actions, huh?
“Oh! So you were here all along huh, Touya-dono?”
“What do you mean ‘BegUh’?”
Speaking of the devil, Princess Ririel’s father had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I turned around to face the Emperor of Refreese, the King of Belfast, and the Queen of Elfrau standing side by side, champagne glasses in their hands.
“T-the event’s finally begun, huh? Isn’t this so much fun? Haha..”
“Hm? Well.. it’s wonderful to see that you’re having fun.”
As I laughed nervously, I hurriedly stepped forward attempting to keep their view from eventually reaching Princess Ririel. He’s still Princess Ririel’s father after all, so even if she’s wearing a mask, he would definitely recognize that it was his daughter standing alone over there while frantically typing away something on her phone. Even I could immediately tell at a glance that it was her.
“Eh, uh, well.. where’s Prince Ridis by the way?”
“Oh.. Ridis? He’s over there, but—”
“He’s over there huh!? Ah! I want to give him an engagement gift! Can you take me to where he is!?”
I know I’m being a bit too pushy, but I have to get the Emperor away from here. Prince Ridis, Princess Ririel’s little brother, and Princess Tia of Mismeed had already announced their engagement a long time ago, but I still haven’t sent any gifts to celebrate it. Though, I have sent gifts as a country, I have never done it as an individual.
“Hoho, a gift from Touya-dono himself huh? I bet it’s something unusual again.”
“Yep, kinda. It’s a rare item I bought on our honeymoon. I think Prince Ridis is going to love it.”
I vigorously nodded at the voice of the King of Belfast who suddenly chimed in, and then lead the three of them into the hallway.
Wait, why am I the one being followed when I was the one who requested them to lead me to where the Prince is?
I soon found Prince Ridis and Princess Tia almost immediately and took out the aforementioned item from my【Storage】among the many items I had bought on Earth.
“Woah, it’s so beautiful!”
The crystal balls I took out were filled with liquid and glittering flakes floating inside like snow. There were also a small house and a miniature reindeer contained inside it. These things are called “snow globes” or “snow domes” in Japan. It was a good thing I had bought a few of it from the souvenir shops I’ve visited on earth. As I handed them the snow globes, they were both showing pleased faces, and immediately after receiving it, both of them were already shaking them while happily watching the beautiful scenery inside.
“Did you get this souvenir from Elfrau?”
“Ah, uhm, no.. I got it from a different country..”
I can’t definitely say that it’s from another world, so I just dodged the King of Belfast’s question. Another thing is that, the snow globes I had given them were enchanted with【Program】, which causes the snow to float around within without the need to shake it.
“Hmmm…. This item is indeed wonderful. It shows the beauty of the snow country very well. These snow globes will definitely sell…” Muttered the Queen of Elfrau as her eyes were looking at the snow globe even more intensely than the two children. Her expression was similar to that of her niece, the Guildmaster, Rerisha. I had a hunch that the snow globes would later become a special product of the Kingdom of Elfrau in the near future.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Ughh, damn it! Why did I have to go to an event like this at such a time!?” I complained in a small voice as I typed on my phone.
Tomorrow is the deadline for this book! And I have to somehow finish it today, have it printed using the printer I had left inside my room, and hand it to my editor first thing in the morning! I’m running out of time! I could have accomplished this a lot sooner if my father hadn’t taken away my phone! I also had to deal with this ridiculous costume fitting and had to greet those other shitty nobles! It’s very annoying! It’s such a freaking waste of time!
I was getting impatient which resulted in more typos. And every time I make a correction, I have to double-check to be sure I haven’t missed anything. I was becoming increasingly frustrated, but there was nothing I could do about it.
“Excuse me young miss, I just wanted to ask if you were alone?”
“…Yes I am, what about it?”
I glanced upwards and saw a young man wearing a golden mask holding a champagne glass in his hand. Again? This is the fourth time an idiot called out to me. And I even bothered to go out here to avoid creeps like this guy. Ugh, I am wearing a mask, you know? And, I am purposely keeping my distance to the others, you know????? Why don’t you go and talk to them instead!? Asshole.
“If you don’t mind, let’s have a chat.”
“No, I very well mind it, try hitting on someone else instead.”
“Haha. Don’t be like that now, young miss.”
I was able to repel the other three creeps from before in the same manner, but this idiot didn’t even try to leave and instead went to stand by my side like he was already familiar with me and then peeked through my shoulder. What the hell is up with this freak!?
“That thing in your hand, it’s an artifact created by Brunhild, right? By any chance, are you from that country?”
“No, I’m not.. I’m fro—ah..”
By the time I thought, “Shit, I messed up,” it was already too late. Did I just reveal myself as someone of higher position? Since these so-called smartphones have been created by the Duke himself, the ones who own such an artifact would be people from royalties and higher positions. Ah, now I get it! This creep and the other three before only approached me because of my phone!
“I’ve had enough, why don’t you get lost?”
“Now, now. Don’t say that. I have some good sake here, why don’t you join me and drink it on the table over there? It will be fun, I assure you.”
Fed up with the creep’s tenacity, I turned off my phone and stuffed it in my dress pocket. If he doesn’t leave, then I will. As I started to walk away, the creep suddenly grabbed my arm forcefully and shamelessly.
“What the—!? Stop! Let me go!”
“If I let you go, would you drink together with me? Just one drink! It’s okay if you just drink one time, yeah?”
What the hell is up with this creep? Even though I couldn’t tell what face he was making because of the mask, I could still feel that he was somewhat smirking at me. As I thought of such a thing, an uncomfortable chill suddenly crept up my body. This asshole! I can clearly see through your ulterior motives!
I was starting to feel scared. He was basically grabbing my arm violently. Still, If I reveal my identity here and called for help, I might be able to get away from this creep, but that would essentially ruin the party and it might even bring disgrace to my father.
“Anyway, let’s go somewhere more private, aight? Don’t worry, I won’t do anything to you.”
H-he’s strong! I can’t resist him from dagging me away! No! Stop! Let go of me!
“Why don’t you stop there, mister? It seems that she doesn’t like what you’re doing.”
At the sudden sound of a voice, the creep who was dragging me by force and I looked towards where it came from. There stood a man wearing a simple black mask and a tuxedo.
“Who the hell are you, pal? Don’t stick your nose in other people’s business.”
“I don’t mean to do that but, to me, it looked like the lady over there seems to not want your company, dear sir. Or am I just being nosy?”
Then, the black-masked man turned to me as if to ask if I was okay. I shook my head and desperately tried to take my arm back from the creep, and run towards him.
“Are you alright?”
“Y-yes, thank you very much..”
My hands were still trembling, and I couldn’t properly say that I wasn’t at all fine, still, those were the only words I managed to get out of my mouth.
“I’m afraid this lady here isn’t feeling well, so can I ask you to leave? There are other people as well over there, so I think it would be better if you invite them instead.”
“Don’t just suddenly appear out of nowhere and interrupt other people’s business and do as you’d like, you fuc—! HghnK!?”
The creep in the gold mask violently reached his hand out just like the time he did with me. But the black-masked man swiftly avoided it, grabbed the creep’s outstretched arm and twisted it as he moved around his back. What!? The way he moved just now.. He did it so perfectly… D-don’t tell me… He’s a knight?!
“….If you go any further, I’ll take you seriously, aight?”
“Damn you! Let me go, you bastard!”
The black-masked man let go of the creep’s arm in response to his words. As the creep began to walk away, he clicked his tongue and rubbed his arms that got twisted by the former. I felt a sense of relief wash over me as the creep left. Good thing it didn’t end up in a duel, it would be bad if they fought just like the men who had made a scene earlier. As I was finally free from the scary situation I was in a while ago, I suddenly lost all my strength.
As I almost slumped to the ground, the black-masked man supported me. He grabbed my arm in the same way the creep had done, but I didn’t feel any disgust towards him. On the contrary, I felt a strange sense of relief. What is this feeling..? I have never experienced this before…
I sat down on a nearby bench as I calmed myself down.
“Are you okay? Do you want to drink some cold water?”
“N-no, I’m alright… Thanks for saving me from that creep..”
When I thanked Kurokamen-san1[She called him 黒仮面さん here, which translates to “Mr. Black Mask,” or when read is “Kuro Kamen-san.” Before, she just referred to him as 黒仮面の男性 or “Black-Masked Man/Man in the black mask.”] again, It felt like he smiled slightly. Ugh. It’s a little frustrating that I can’t see his smile because of the mask….. Eh? W-why do I care about such thing?
“Well then, I should excuse myself now.”
“Ah—! W-wait! C-can you stay more a l-little bit? Uh, e-eh… The creep from b-before might come b-back, so…”
As Kurokamen-san turned to bow to me as if leaving, I hurriedly panicked and tried to make him stay a bit longer. Ah… why did I do that? My voice sounded weird as well.. so embarrassing.
“You’re right. Then, I’ll stay with you for a while.”
“Y-yes! T-thank you very much!”
Those were the words that came from Kurokamen-san as he sat down beside me.
Aaaaaaa, it’s so awkward! I know I have to say something, but nothing comes to mind at the moment! As a writer, I was desperately looking for something I could talk about together with him, but all I could come up with was topics that were not something I could talk about with a man I had just met! Etto… etto… think! think! I’m a writer, aren’t I?
“T-the weather’s w-warm today, i-isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
What the hell!?!? Why did I talk about the weather? That’s like, the most boring topic one could ever think of! N-next! What should I talk about next?! Anything? Anything at all!? My head was spinning in circles and I couldn’t even understand what the hell I was thinking of. Eh? What was I doing here again? ……Ugh, I’m so pathetic… I couldn’t even properly talk about something with Kurokamen-san…
As I was thinking of how pathetic I am, tears were starting to form around the corner of my eyes. Then, suddenly, Kurokamen-san presented a white handkerchief to me.
“It’s fine, you can go ahead and let it out. I’m gonna stay with you until you calm yourself, alright?”
He probably thinks that I was crying because of the creep earlier.. But, I am not, you know! It’s just because of my patheticness..
I couldn’t bring myself to correct him, so I just cried and wiped my tears using his handkerchief.
Eventually, I calmed down, and even after Kurokamen-san left, I was still seated on that bench, all alone while looking up at the blue sky.
- 1[She called him 黒仮面さん here, which translates to “Mr. Black Mask,” or when read is “Kuro Kamen-san.” Before, she just referred to him as 黒仮面の男性 or “Black-Masked Man/Man in the black mask.”]