“I’ll show you some other time.
Perhaps somewhere more private.
There could be eyes watching.”

Yes, that’s right! This was my secret weapon.

‘From what I’ve seen, there are people who knew my identity in the past.
People like Aurora and Jane.
There could be others.’

“We have to be careful in this phase of ours.
We can’t mess things up.”

“O-oh, yeah.
You’re right.
My bad…” Maria laughed a little, but I could tell that I just made things worse.

All of my effort at lightening the mood had just gone down the drain.
A certain thought popped into my head, asking why exactly I cared so much.

I hadn’t always been so conscious in the past, had I?

‘I think it’s pretty obvious to me already…’ My thoughts trailed as I stared at Maria.

Things were different between us now.
That much was certain.

“Y-you know, I’d really like to meet your parents too.
I’m sure you’d share a lot of attributes with your mom.” I laughed, drawing closer to Maria as I tried to repair the bridge that was slowly collapsing.

“W-wha—?! Meet my parents…? No way!” Her cheeks turned pink and she raised both of her hands as her voice rose in panic.

“Come on.
It’s not fair you’ve met my parents, but I haven’t met yours.”

I mean, Maria spent some time in my house.
She met my mother too.
What about me?

“Well, maybe…”

“How about this? You come with me when I meet my father, and I go with you to see your parents.
You have to tell them about the trial and all, right?”

Normally, Nobles of their calibre—and even the king would be present during the trial of a family as influential and large as the Netherlores.

However, for safety reasons, I determined that they shouldn’t attend.

Maria had an Arcana, so she would be fine.
Elrich would have also been present, but after the sentencing, he would have returned by teleportation.

Maria’s parents did attend a part of the trial as witnesses, but they didn’t stick around for the sentencing.

‘Elrich utilized the Golems and Automatons I gave him during the Demon Incursion for security.’ Since he kept me updated with information through communication Magic, I was pretty much updated on how things fared.

“So what do you say?”

Maria’s stoic expression reappeared and she placed her finger on her chin, looking deep in thought.

“You know the implications of meeting with our families, right? You’re a Noble, so…” Her eyes sharply pierced mine and she gave a serious look.

‘A-ah! That’s true.
How could I—!’

“I won’t rush you, Jared.
But if you want to meet my parents, you need to have the resolve.”

A meeting like that was seen as a prenuptial tradition among intending couples.
I missed something so basic in order to get closer to Maria.

“So, until you decide whether or not you want to be with me…” Maria drew closer, causing my heart to beat faster.

I took a step back, but stopped myself and steeled my body.

“… And until you become a Legal Adult…”

At this point, her face was mere inches from mine, and her body was lightly pressed against my very teenage form.

I felt heat rise from my inside, and the tempo of my heartbeat followed.

“… The answer is ‘Nope! ’” Maria smiled after this statement, slapping my cheek twice before stepping back.

Throughout all of this, I couldn’t even move! I was just frozen in both shock and excitement, waiting to see what she would do.

“W-wow…” I muttered, unsure of what to say and how to begin.

Maria had recreated a distance between us, enough to indicate that she was still very much invested in our conversation.

“What is it?” Her stoic face looked at me once again.

After staring at her for a while, the image of her younger self overlapped in my mind.
While they shared the same expression, as well as many features, I could tell that there was a striking difference—both in how I saw her, and how she had grown.

“You’ve changed.” I smiled, keeping up my pace as I kept walking.

And, after moments of silence, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I was met with a smile from the amazing girl.

“I’m not the only one.” She said.

Thus, with both of us having that fuzzy feeling within us… we kept walking and discussing.

And, to be honest… it wasn’t so awkward anymore.



It took some time—though I hardly noticed at all—but we finally arrived at our destination.

“It’s been quite some time.” I smiled, staring at the large walls and humongous gate.
It reminded me of the last— as well as the first— time I made my appearance in the Royal Capital.

‘In my past life, I first came to the capital to Awaken my Mana Core.
I never got close to the castle, though…’ Humiliating memories coursed through my mind, causing me to smile wryly.

“You have a lot to do.
What’s your first order of business?” Maria interrupted my self-reflection with her melodious tone, and her blank face indicated slight curiosity.

Perhaps it was just my imagination, but it seemed I was beginning to understand the dynamics of her reactions… even though they all practically looked the same.

“Well, we’re about to enter the Royal Palace, right?” I smiled at the young lady.

Guards—both visible and invisible were stationed around the vicinity, and I could see many barriers erected all over the place.
It wouldn’t be very difficult for me to infiltrate, but a majority of people wouldn’t even dream of trying to pass through uninvited.

Fortunately, I had way more than an invitation with me.

Moving forward with a confident stride, I approached the giant gate.
Of course, the guards on duty would stop us and request certain things before allowing us to pass.

There was an exception to every rule.

“L-Lord Jared!”

“We’ve been expecting you!”

“Court Mage Elrich Lendertwale has informed us of your arrival!”

My smile grew broader.
It seemed Elrich had already set things into motion, just as I had instructed.

‘This way, we’ll preserve much of our time.’

“Is everything ready?” I asked, drawing even nearer as the gates were instantly opened.

Then again, it wasn’t like I needed them to be.

“W-we’re not sure, but the relevant participants have arrived already.
The Lord of the Crimson Household also arrived not too long ago.”

The Crimson family was recognized to be tardy—no, a better terminology would be fashionably late.
If they were present, I was guaranteed that everyone was around already.

Elrich really did a wonderful job setting things up while I was talking with Maria.
No time was wasted.

Turning back to the stoic-faced Maria, I realized that she was most likely confused, as well as curious.
It looked really cute.

“Everything’s ready, so we’ll be going straight to our first meeting, Maria.” I quickened my pace, passing through the bowing guards and widely opened gate.

We were members of high nobility, so this sort of treatment wasn’t exactly surprising.
Still, in case she still had some leftover confusion in her mind, I thought it would be better to clarify things.

“We’re going to see the King.”

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