Reborn as The Underdog First Prince Volume 1 Chapter 2 part 3

“If only some yokai incident would happen somewhere. With field testing, even that bald guy would have to acknowledge it.”
 
“I absolutely refuse anything like unsealing Yamata no Orochi, okay? If it’s too intense, I’ll run away.”
 
“Haha…good idea.”
 
No, it’s not, it’s not! Oh, I shouldn’t have said anything funny! “
 
Since the ley lines – nature’s underground magic circuits – had stabilized, yokai damage was virtually nonexistent.
 
Taiyo he worked at now was a small department rumored to be shutting down soon, mainly used to banish talented researchers.
 
While resenting his superiors’ misfortune, when Haruto arrived at Taiyo, he encountered a fateful woman.
 
His junior colleague and probationary employee he had hired – Kujou Renge.
 
Like Haruto, she was one of the staff banished here after physically resisting sexual harassment from their superior – with her fists.
 
With her magic power able to stabilize mobile armor circuits and high physical abilities, it was an almost suspiciously convenient pawn coming under him.
 
What else could he call it but fate, for such a person to come work for him?
 
Haruto didn’t know the words to properly express it.
 
Without informing either his colleagues or superiors, he had Renge work as a tester for the mobile armor.
 
Naturally providing danger pay and various other stipends from his own pocket and research funds.
 
As a researcher herself, Renge complained up a storm at first about being made to do practical testing.
 
However, she is now willing to do the work if it means that he does not have to worry about her salary.
 
For the sake of his research, Haruto could sacrifice anything.
 
With no telling when the next talented individual might appear if he let Renge go, he never viewed her in a sexual light.
 
Their relationship was purely business – the ideal supervisor and subordinate able to interact without reservations.
 
“If only I had a sponsor. Hey Renge, you aren’t actually some sheltered noble daughter, are you?”
 
“Oh please, don’t joke about that. If I had money, I wouldn’t be doing such dangerous work.”
 
“Yeah, you don’t seem the type.”
 
“What do you mean by that?”
 
Haruto’s research funds were completely depleted from creating just one mobile armor.
 
There were limits to how much he could siphon from the research institute, and fabricating reasons took considerable time and effort.
 
Weapons were only meaningful when used in Haruto’s mindset, but Akitsu Shima was currently at total peace, leaving no chances for field testing.
 
On paper Haruto was a member of the Yukizawa clan’s technology department, one of Akitsu Shima’s military families, but he was just a no-name researcher.
 
Quitting this job and going elsewhere wouldn’t be that hard.
 
He wouldn’t leak any military secrets of course, and luckily the mobile armor is completely out of the scope of that, since it is completely self-made.
 
If he left Akitsu Shima for one of the continental conflict zones, there would be a greater chance of the mobile armor seeing the light of day.
 
While Haruto had no intention of double suicide with Akitsu Shima’s idiots, he remained in the country for a reason.
 
His weak mother who he couldn’t leave alone.
 
The Iijima family had originally been nobles, but his father’s blunder had led to the household being dissolved.
 
After squandering the family fortune, his obesity seemed to curse him with an early death.
 
Perhaps because of the ensuing life of poverty, his mother of noble birth had been in poor health recently.
 
For a former sheltered lady who had initially not even known how to dress herself, there was no way Haruto could envision her living alone in such a state.
 
If he could secure housekeeping help able to care for his mother on good terms, going overseas might not be out of the question…but currently, no peculiarly trusting individual would place such expectations on Haruto.
 
“Man…wish there was someone willing to pay me a better salary than this measly one. Hey Renge, you don’t happen to know any rich folks?”
 
“None, unfortunately. After all, I grew up in a poor neighborhood.”
 
Haruto mentally flipped through his list of acquaintances, quickly checking for any possibilities.
 
But having done this several times already, there were none, as expected.
 
Haruto had no foreign connections either.
 
As a hired hand, traveling overseas wasn’t easy.
 
Foreigners visiting Akitsu Shima…reminded of something, he recalled a certain fact.
 
“Oh right, some of Rynsgaya ‘s princes are here now, aren’t they?”
 
“Prince Todd and Prince Takeru, along with Lady Miyahi – three in total have come.”
 
Akitsu Shima and Rynsgaya are considered equal in national status.
 
So matters regarding succession and peerage are handled the same as here.
 
Having already married into the family, Miyahi no longer had succession rights,
 
but as the third imperial daughter originally, her son Takeru could potentially become the legitimate heir.
 
Whether their visit was purely a sightseeing trip, or something more…
 
“Excuse me, may I have a moment of your time?”
 
“Renge, you handle the guest.”
 
“Yes yes, so bossy… Huh?”
 
Too focused on his thoughts, Haruto hadn’t even glanced at the man addressing them.
 
Seeing that, Renge forced her exhausted body through the full day of testing to slowly turn toward the voice…and froze up.
 
Then like a doll with poorly oiled joints, she swiveled back to Haruto.
 
“Mr. Haruto, you haven’t gone and done something outrageous again, have you?”
 
“Huh? Well, I do siphon research funds and cook the books.”
 
With strange polite speech on her lips, Renge’s face wore a broad smile.
 
It was an anger-filled smile recognizable as her being angry despite the smiling.
 
“Oh, you! Don’t act like you don’t know how careful I’ve been, humbling myself for you, only for you to do this again!”
 
Renge shook Haruto’s lab coat hem with twitching eyelids.
 
The mobile armor’s power was on full display, making her strength far outclass what it should be for her lesser muscle mass.
 
Unable to suppress a grin at the outrageous performance of the armor nearly wrenching his neck, Haruto’s smile gave him away.
 
“Ooh…how interesting. It has quite a few possible applications.”
 
“Oh no, I apologize, Your Highness! Please excuse my unsightly state!”
 
(Your Highness…?)
 
With a questioning look, Haruto’s restraints were released, allowing him to finally turn his head and take note of the man who had spoken to them.
 
A boy a full size smaller than him with golden hair.
 
The fine tailoring of his clothes marked him as a person of status at a glance, and the stern-faced knight standing right behind him left no doubt about his standing.
 
Based on Renge’s words…he was likely Rynsgaya’s Prince Todd.
 
Todd Al Rynsgaya.
 
The first in line to inherit the throne – the boy who would someday become king of his nation.
 
(For him to take interest in the mobile armor Todd developed…! This is a chance! A huge, massive chance of a lifetime that Todd can’t afford to let slip away!)
 
Imagining a bright future and abundant research funds, Haruto’s eyes glittered dazzlingly.
 
While it was odd for a foreign prince to visit such a remote location, that faint sense of incongruity quickly vanished before the opportunity dangling in front of him.
 
“Prince Todd, these mobile armor are amazing. They could crush Reinfelt infantry like ants. Not just combat ability – survival capability rises too.”
 
“You are Mr. Haruto Ijima, correct? The superior I conferred with before coming here called them useless fantasy weapons, but seeing them in person…hmm.”
 
(That guy interfering again…Useless allies are more hindering than capable enemies, indeed.)
 
Haruto made a mental note to pluck out what little hair his superior had left the next time they met as he refocused on Todd appraising Renge intently.
 
“The magical circuits have incredibly precise construction. Did you do all this yourself?”
 
“Oh no, I developed it, but the fine-tuning and carving was done by this young lady, Miss Renge.”
 
“The materials are from magical beasts, yes? May I touch?”
 
“Um, well…”
 
“By all means, feel free.”
 
A momentary eye signal.
 
Renge was visibly unhappy, but Haruto exerted strong will, staring sharply to convey that this was the critical juncture.
 
Against a neighboring prince, open defiance wouldn’t be tolerated.
 
Renge seemed to suspect him of plotting something untoward using the armament as cover.
 
But Haruto did not allow her to refuse and held no concerns.
 
Todd’s sparkling eyes and his focus on what Renge was wearing instead of Renge herself made her realize that he probably saw His Highness as a fellow enthusiast.
 
Noble people tend to avoid contact with monsters.
 
Many believe that touching the corpses of monsters or animals can transfer impurities.
 
Despite this, Todd was taking the initiative to touch them.
 
It was unusual behavior for royalty, but for Haruto, it was something to be grateful for.
 
Rather than aversion or rejection, Todd was showing interest.
 
After a moment of hesitation, Todd touched the part of the mobile armor that covered the wrist.
 
He caressed it, pinched it, and pulled it, confirming the texture and elasticity.
 
“What material is this?”
 
“You can find this around here. It’s the skin of a Thunder Sea Cucumber. Due to its nature of being surrounded by lightning, this material has a very high magic transmission rate…”
 
“I actually tried to make this kind of body suit myself. I thought it would work if I combined metal with monster materials, but it didn’t go well…”
 
“You shouldn’t use monster materials like that. Those are used by monsters that use strengthening magic on their internal muscles to fight. If you want to create mobile armor from muscles, you need a large quantity of materials from multiple creatures, but then the magic wave would be different…”
 
“No, it’s different. I was trying to develop an even larger, mobile armor-type suit. I thought it would work if I combined monster materials with metal, but it didn’t go well…”
 
“The cost of this mobile armor is…”
 
Both Todd and Haruto seemed deeply engrossed in their conversation, discussing technical details.
 
Renge, who had feared that she might be harassed again, looked relieved as she saw Todd turn his attention to Haruto, and the venomous atmosphere dissipated.
 
It seemed that Todd’s interest had already shifted, and now he was talking with Haruto about technical matters.
 
(Oh, this person is also like Mr. Haruto, it seems.)
 
///
 


 
scene transition
 


 


 
///
 
An idiot who concentrates so much that he loses sight of his surroundings… In a positive light, a straightforward person who thoroughly pursues what interests him.
 
Renge feels the gaze and lifts her head.
 
It turns out the source is one of the guards behind Todd and Haruto.
 
He wears a very apologetic expression.
 
It seems their side is having quite a tough time as well.
 
[I’m sorry, Your Highness.]
 
Even without saying a word, his face and hunched back spoke eloquently.
 
Renge also gave a slight nod and apologized with a nod, then sighed as she watched the two who were so absorbed in their conversation that they were oblivious to her.
 
Todd-sama was still fine. After all, he was just a ten-year-old boy, an age where he couldn’t help but be interested in anything in the world.
 
(But Mr. Haruto, you’re over thirty, aren’t you?)
 
Yet, he was enjoying chatting with a child who was almost two sizes smaller than himself.
 
In that state, he really didn’t seem any different from a child.
 
(Really… What a hopeless person.)
 
Watching the two of them getting along so well, Renge couldn’t help but smile.
 
Completely unaware of her demeanor, Todd and Haruto were immersed in their own world.
 
Likely, with this, Haruto would have a patron.
 
Todd-sama was a person who would become a future king.
 
There couldn’t be a better candidate for a patron.
 
With His Highness, it wouldn’t be difficult to offer favorable conditions for moving Rynsgaya , including Haruto’s mother, so that they could immigrate.
 
In that case, Haruto would surely leave the research lab without hesitation, and go to the neighboring country as lightly as a feather.
 
Zukin…
 
A twinge of pain in her chest made Renge’s eyes widen in surprise.
 
She realized that she was feeling sad about him leaving.
 
She could act alongside him because she could use magic and was a subordinate who followed orders.
 
Their relationship was that of a boss and subordinate.
 
And… it was only that.
 
Although the days of the past two years or so had been tough, filled with unreasonable demands, they had also been fulfilling.
 
She felt a sense of loneliness at the thought that those days were coming to an end.
 
Lost in sentiment, Renge noticed that Haruto was looking at her silently.
 
The conversation had somehow stopped, and His Highness was also standing a little away in silence.
 
(What on earth is going on?)
 

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Before she could catch up with the situation, Haruto closed the distance between them.
 
“Um, well… if it’s okay with you…”
 
In an unusually hesitant tone, his gaze wandered around aimlessly.
 
Perhaps due to anxiety or nervousness, he repeatedly made and then unclenched his fists.
 
His behavior was like that of a child before being scolded by his mother, and he still lacked the maturity befitting his age.
 
“Would you… come with me?”
 
The hand he offered was thinner and paler than any of the men around Renge.
 
Blushing from embarrassment, his cheeks were pink and his ears were bright red.
 
Renge had thought of Haruto as someone who had no interest in anything other than research.
 
But that wasn’t true.
 
Haruto was just clumsy and couldn’t straightforwardly express his feelings.
 
…That was all.
 
Renge took a deep breath and slowly extended her right hand to hold Haruto’s hand.
 
Wiping away the tears from her eyes with her left hand, she whispered in a voice so soft it seemed to disappear.
 
“It’s a pleasure to work with you too.”
 


 
And so, Haruto and Renge would leave the Special Anti-Yokai Weapons Research Lab and head to the Kingdom of Rynsgaya .
 
Three years from now, the great disaster would come, the resurrection of Yamata-no-Orochi.
 
Unbeknownst to them, they would become key players in saving it, and the researchers, relieved that they no longer needed to provide them with salaries, would send them off with smiles.
 
Todd wouldn’t realize this until later, but on this day, ten years after his reincarnation, he would be directly involved in someone’s life and death for the first time.
 
Originally, Kujou Renge was supposed to lose her life in the battle against Yamata-no-Orochi.
 
And witnessing her death, Haruto would become engrossed in his research, dedicating himself to developing weapons that could defeat any monster.
 
And he would succeed in developing a powered exoskeleton, even heavier than enhanced weaponry.
 
The trigger that immersed him in research was Renge’s death.
 
But as a result of pulling both Renge and Haruto out, her fate would change.
 
After a conversation that was almost like a confession, they would start dating.
 
The researcher who was originally supposed to lose the person he loved would realize love and begin to walk hand in hand.
 
Creating some differences, Todd would return to Rynsgaya , adding new members to their group.
 
The development of enhanced weaponry, which had been stagnant, would make tremendous progress with the addition of Haruto’s talent.





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