The author published 16 new chapters the past couple of days after a month of inactivity https://ncode.syosetu.com/n0358dh/ Happy New Year
The Villainess Is Being Doted on by the Crown Prince of the Neighboring Country 53 – Sleeping Villainess
The ring of the Fairy Queen that Tiararose had been wearing.
Yes–the fish had told her to wear it for more than one day. And yet, Levy, who she had thought was her ally, had taken the ring from her.
She had wanted to believe in him because he knew about the game. She had thought that, like her…he loved otome games.
This was all so unexpected for Tiararose. …And of course, for Aquasteed.
But perhaps the most shocking thing of all was–the fact that Aquasteed had been beaten by Levy. He hadn’t been killed or even dealt a grave wound.
Aquasteed had fallen to his knees, and Tiararose’s ring had been taken. It was the biggest insult, and she felt a sense of defeat that she had never felt before.
“Tiara, Tiara! Please, answer me!!”
Aquasteed was calling to her desperately, but she had lost all consciousness after the ring was taken from her. He didn’t know why and was confused.
Because Tiararose was the only one who knew that she must not remove the ring.
Aquasteed cursed violently as he slammed his fist into the ground. His stomach was bruised where Levy had kicked him, but that was all.
Of course, he felt pain, but it was not serious. After some time passed, the pain would subside and he would walk normally.
–Why didn’t he stab me?
He knew it from the first blow, that the butler had no intention of killing him. However, he had not knocked him into unconsciousness either. He had only taken Tiararose’s ring by force.
But Aquasteed could not understand why he did that.
“…If I’m not wrong, he’s the butler of house Ariadale.”
Aquasteed recalled these nobles of his country, as he picked up Tiararose. For now, he wanted to bring Tiararose back to the castle as soon as possible.
He forcefully awakened the unconscious Elliot and told him that they were returning to the carriage.
“…Prince Aquasteed! And…Princess Tiararose!? What happened… And I…”
“It seems that he knocked you out. You don’t remember?”
Aquasteed told Elliot what had happened as they headed back to the carriage. Elliot nodded and tried to remember what had happened as he was waiting.
“It was behind my head, I was hit.”
“So it was in one blow. …I could tell from fighting him just now, but he is good.”
It was hard to control your strength, but he could hit precisely so as to make you unconscious.
You had to have experience to be able to do that. He was clearly no ordinary butler. And the weapon he used was a concealed weapon.
Though, Aquasteed had never fought against someone who used one before.
How had he been able to carry and conceal so many? A chill ran down his back just by thinking about it.
He put Tiararose into the carriage and sat down next to her. Once Elliot sat on the opposite side, he ordered the driver to move.
Never had the trip back to the castle seemed so long.
◇ ◇ ◇
A low voice echoed in the quiet bedroom.
“This, how could this have happened…”
The doctor explained that he had never seen this before. He had checked her pulse and her bloodstream with magic, but–there was nothing wrong with her.
And yet, Tiararose showed no signs of waking up.
“Docter, how is she?”
“Prince Aquasteed… Her life is not in danger, but this illness is unprecedented.”
He knelt by her bed and squeezed her hand. The eyes that seemed to be praying for her to wake up were shaking worriedly.
The doctor watched him as he slowly got up from his chair. He had to do some research on whether similar things had occurred in the past.
Elliot was waiting outside, and had told Aquasteed to call him if he needed anything–but he did not know if Aquasteed even heard him.
–Could the ring be the reason that Tiararose won’t wake up?
The pinky ring that was from the Fairy Queen of the sea was now gone. He realized now, that Levy had been after this ring.
“So he wasn’t targeting Tiararose…”
Aquasteed did not know what the ring was for. He didn’t know if Levy did either, but it didn’t seem likely that a duke would know something that the royal family did not.
There were so many mysteries these past few days.
“Tiara, please wake up.”
Her adorable blue eyes were tightly shut.
He wanted her to call him ‘Aqua,’ hear her voice and for her to look at him. He wished for this, but Tiararose would not wake up.
He held her hand tightly and thought about the present–before Aquasteed knew it, he had stayed there, awake, the whole night.
–It’s a Fairy Queen’s ring, so maybe I should ask Grail about it.
Aquasteed thought this as he brushed the hair off of Tiararose’s forehead. He kissed her head preciously and felt the warmth with his skin.
What kind of husband am I if I cannot help you… Aquasteed thought bitterly. He had said so much about protecting her, and yet he had been hopeless when it mattered.
“I want to be stronger. But how can I become stronger than I already am?”
He trained daily and was skilled with both the sword and with magic. He had even studied in other countries and learned many techniques.
–I still haven’t tried hard enough.
Everyone around may have felt that he was strong enough, but that was all meaningless once he saw that he could not protect Tiararose.
He whispered her name again.
Whatever he could do to help her, he would do it now.
“I’ll get you out of this. Just wait a little longer…Tiara.”
He touched her cheek gently and kissed her. Even without consciousness, her lips were sweet…he thought in the corner of his mind.
He moved away from her with a feeling of regret and left the room.
“Elliot. What happened?”
“I sent someone to Duke Ariadale. …But he says that their butler has gone missing since several days ago.”
Aquasteed wondered if they would continue to insist that they had nothing to do with this. That would decrease any damage to them, even while their butler did something so bold.
But Elliot narrowed his eyebrows and continued.
“However, this butler–Levy. The daughter that he was serving also disappeared a few days ago.”
“What? I see. So that man was serving Olivia Ariadale.”
He had never talked to her directly, but he had seen her at dinners.
She was quiet and shy, but he could remember little about her aside from that.
And so, Aquasteed had very little data of her in his mind.
–A disappeared daughter, and the butler who seemed to chase after her.
He felt that it was related. This happened to be Aquasteeds territory, and his lips curled.
The ‘sky’ that had blessed Aquasteed was good for gathering information. More than the forest or the sea. The sky was full of information. From rumors of commoners to hidden transactions—there is no sound that the sky cannot hear.
“I could ask the sky fairies, and then Grail…hmm?”
Just as he was about to call the wind, Aquasteed heard the desperate sounds of someone running. It was usually a rule that you could not run in the castle, so it was clear that it was urgent.
The footsteps were coming straight towards him. And he knew that it must concern Tiararose or Levy.
“Elliot, open the door and let him in.”
“As you wish.”
They immediately heard a knock on the door, and Elliot invited the sweating knight into the room.
He kneeled in front of Aquasteed and handed him a letter before he had time to catch his breath.
“…What is this? It has house Ariadale’s seal.”
“Is it from the butler? …This is smaller than what the duke would use. Perhaps it is from Lady Olivia.”
Aquasteed tore the envelope open and looked at the letter. It had beautiful, flowing handwriting.
As a condition to returning the ring of the Fairy Queen, I ask for the release of Lady Olivia from her prison.
Levy’s name was at the end. And Aquasteed could tell from the contents, that this was from that butler.
“What does he mean by ‘the release of Lady Olivia’?”
That had never happened.
The castle did have a prison, but there was no one being kept their now. He asked the sky fairies to check just in case, and they confirmed that no one had been held there.
Elliot looked at the letter and frowned. “What could this mean?” He asked.
Elliot thought and named all of the prisons in the kingdom.
“The one under this castle, the knight’s order prison, the guardhouse in the city, and a small one by the church. Important nobles might also have prisons and soldiers. There is also the possibility of bandits, but if that was all it was, then the butler would rescue her himself.”
“I agree… Fairies of the sky, melt with the wind and bring information about all the kingdom’s prisons.”
He relayed all of the locations to the fairies and told them to find out if Olivia was being kept in any of them.
He silently closed his eyes and listened to the information from the sky fairies. However, none of them had seen anyone that could be Olivia.
What did this mean? He put his hand on his chin and wondered.
“They can’t find her. And there cannot be that many prisons.”
“Could it be a different country? That would explain why he needs you to negotiate.”
Would such a capable butler go through all this trouble just because she was in a foreign country? Aquasteed did not think so.
That butler would be able to easily enter any place. Of course, it would cause trouble, but there must be some dark reason for them to kidnap Olivia in the first place. It wasn’t likely to turn into a national affair.
As he started to dismiss the various possibilities, he came upon one final idea.
–A place that I can enter, that the butler cannot.
In other words, somewhere that was like the place that they had just been in. That would explain why Levy needed to bargain like this.
–I didn’t expect the blessing to come in handy in this way.
“I’m going to ask Grail immediately.”
Aquasteed changed into a new shirt and then left the room.