I am no hero of the shadows! Volume 1 Chapter 8 part 4

[I thank you all deeply for coming today to celebrate my birth. Please enjoy yourselves extravagantly tonight!]
The blonde man holding a wineglass calls out to the whole hall.
The young man appears younger than Phil, yet has an air of dignity about him.
It’s not about physique – it’s his aura, his charisma. If you lined Phil and this man up side by side and asked “Who would you rather follow?”, who would get the votes?
“Yo, Your Highness. You sure have that magnetism that draws people in. Maybe you’d make a better commentator than Zan? You’d probably get almost all the citizens’ attention.”
“If you hired the Crown Prince as a commentator, his employer’s head would roll. And his temperament is completely different from Zan’s.”
“Um, was that meant to be a compliment?”
As the nobles gather around the Crown Prince, Phil’s group watches the situation from the edge of the hall.
“Usually participants should go greet the royal family, the hosts, at least once… but for some reason, my feet feel glued down. Am I sick?”
“If you’re sick, let me help! I can heal you!”
“I’m fine, Your Holiness. It’s a sickness of the heart, so physically, Phil is in perfect health.”
“Can I use a mental sickness excuse to sneak out? I wanna relax in a nice fluffy bed. If the moon comes out and I don’t sleep, the wolves might eat me.”
Even the nobles swarmed Phil as soon as they saw him. just imagine what they’d do to royalty?
Treat him like a pack mule and drag him away? Or just watch him?
Phil thinks he could get by with the minimum effort needed to brush them off… but he can’t come up with any good ideas.
“(Should I just say “I’m a fan” again? No, if Lady Nicola already told them everything, it’s too late. If I’m not careful, I could be executed for disrespecting royalty… Oh crap, I’m cornered! Despite giving a fake name last time, it doesn’t seem to have had any effect at all!)”
Before Nicola arrived.
When helping some young lady a while back, Phil gave a fake name to throw her off.
He’d forgotten about it amidst everything else going on, but now that he thinks back, the effectiveness of that name seemed to be completely nonexistent.
Since he gave a fake name himself, shouldn’t rumors about that name have spread too? All day today—no, even until now—he hasn’t heard even a whisper of “a man named Fee being the Shadow Hero”.
“(Could that girl I saved be too ashamed about being rescued she hasn’t breathed a word? Or is she secretly composing fan letters about her crush…?)”
“I don’t really get what you’re mumbling about, but we should head over now. Getting tedious stuff over with quickly is my master’s style, right?”
“I-I’ll go too!”
As the number of people gathering around the Crown Prince begins to dwindle, Phil heads over half-dragged by Kahlua,
timid little Milis tottering adorably along beside them.
They queue up much like an autograph line and after some time passes,
the noble in front of them leaves and the vision of the Crown Prince lounging in a luxurious chair enters their view.
The instant they see him, Phil and Kahlua bow their heads.
Perhaps not well-versed in etiquette and such, Milis panics seeing them and hurriedly follows suit.
“We sincerely congratulate you today, Your Highness.”
Phil speaks first, representing them.
“Thanks, Phil Salemabart. And you too, Kahlua Scarlet. Also, Holy Maiden, The Saintess Milis. I really appreciate you all coming. It makes me very happy.”
The Crown Prince’s tone changes from when he was speaking to the crowd earlier.
Was it because it was in front of the masses? His current way of speaking feels more fitting for his apparent age.
“Fufu, Sir Phil. Thank you so much for being here today. Getting to see you has made me so very happy.”
“Likewise, it brings me great joy to see you again, Lady Nicola.”
Glancing sideways, Phil bows his head towards the person beside the Crown Prince.
There stands Nicola with her rare pink hair, clad in a thin pink dress.
“(I don’t see His Majesty or the other princesses around. That’s incredibly reassuring to me, but…)”
“(Our southern neighbor is in the midst of war right now, right? His Majesty is probably preoccupied with that. And I don’t see the Prime Minister either, so the First Princess must be on the frontline.)”
“(So despite it not being his turn for guard duty, Pops is here protecting the Crown Prince amidst a freaking war? Dammit, if it’s so dangerous they should be offering prayers instead of throwing feasts to lift spirits.)”
“(It’s probably for reassuring the citizens. “Our country has enough leeway to party” and all that. The war seems to actually be going quite favorably for us.)”
“(I see… By the way, this is the first I’ve heard of any war.)”
“(I didn’t tell you because I figured you’d stick your nose into it. Please take better care of yourself.)”
──This sort of exchange transpiring through nothing but meaningful glances
It proves truly convenient for Phil and Kahlua even in situations like these.
“So, Phil Salemabart… I hear you’re that Shadow Hero guy, right?”
There it is,
Phil steels himself.
“Even Your Highness has heard the rumors… However, they are simply that – rumors. Utterly unsubstantiated tales lacking any shred of credibility or evidence.”
──He proceeds to equivocate as long as he can avoid direct lies.
Merely stringing together superficial words without touching on the truth.
“But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, no? At the very least, seems you had the sparks.”
“I-I’m also a huge fan of the Shadow Hero… S-So I collected his black outfit and blank mask…”
“I see, your claim is simply that someone happened to spot those.”
“it is as you say.”
A brief yet distinct silence descends upon the surroundings,
carrying such oppressive pressure Milis, oblivious to politics and such, tenses up unbearably.
“(I-I shouldn’t say anything here…!)”
She wants to deny it, but fears causing more trouble by speaking out of turn like before.
Milis refrains from opening her mouth unnecessarily.
And then─
“Haah… You really don’t give an inch, do you Phil Salemabart?”
“That’s right, Big Brother. He’s someone you have to handle delicately.”
“Hmph, magicians put their ideals before all else first. I suppose trying to provoke him would be foolish?”
The Crown Prince sighs, ending the conversation there.
Expecting to be grilled, Phil breathes a quiet sigh of relief.
“Well, just enjoy yourself tonight. I’m glad you came all this way to celebrate, so try not to let the mood suffer and revel in the party a bit.”
“You have my gratitude, Your Highness.”
The weight on Phil’s shoulders lightening a little, he bows once more before the Crown Prince and turns his back.
“(Yes! I’m on fire today! My biggest worry vanished in a flash! With this I’ll have clear sailing!)”
The line to greet guests still hasn’t ended.
Eager to leave before getting caught in it again and wasting time, Phil starts briskly leading the girls away.
“Let’s continue our talk later… at length♪”
His buoyed mood plummets.
Despite getting away from the royals, the words have tethered him and he forces a smile before bowing, thwarted.


“Geez, Lady Nicola… She really… Geeeeeeeez!”
“Wasn’t Lady Nicola known for her shrewdness…?”
“How very like her to hook her prey so they can’t get away.”
“Can’t refuse and now I gotta go talk to her agaaaaaaain!”
Somewhere away from the royal seating area,
a certain someone’s shouts echo.

A small night breeze blows through the rurally-adjacent royal capital situated in the worst location ever.
The sky glitters with bright stars, somehow refreshing the heart.
“Man… I’m beat. This is why I hate events that are just smiling contests. Pretending “I’m totally smiling but not really lol” all the time is too much…”
Having slipped out of the hall after plastering smiles at crowds of nobles, Phil takes a short break relaxing on a balcony.
Unlike usual, Kahlua who’s always by his side and Milis who he’s been seeing more of lately are absent for the moment.
Not in the “where’d they get lost to” sense, they just have their own people to talk to.
With no one reacting at all to Phil’s flippant griping, desolate tranquility spreads across the balcony.
“(It’s a noble’s duty but I’m more drained than normal… Feels like I’m getting further and further away from my carefree life.)”
He wishes he could sew his mouth shut for spouting off back then.
Phil broods over such gloomy thoughts.
Just then, the balcony doors open and─
“Found you! You were here!”
Phil’s sullen face returns as he twists his weary body around towards the voice.
There stands a lovely silver-haired girl clad in a crimson dress, her beauty so sculpted she resembles an angel.
The rosary dangling from her neck catches the eye, her sweet smile amplifying the bright aura about her.
And he recognizes that face.
“(Isn’t this the girl I saved a while back…? When I gave the fake name.)”
He remembers – her.
The daughter of Count Amethyst he rescued in Amethyst territory ─ Alicia Amethyst.
And that’s why Phil’s first words to her are:
“You’ve got to be kidding meeeeeeee! “
“Ehh?! Why am I being yelled at straight away?!”
Of course Alicia would be shocked to get angrily yelled at out of nowhere.
But not Phil.
“Why didn’t you deny the rumors even after I gave a fake name?! Saying “No no, the Shadow Hero is some guy named Fee!” would have made everything so confusing!”
Forgetting propriety, charm, everything, Phil just screams exactly what he feels.
The sheer unreasonable frustration simmering inside demanded nothing less.
Taking it in, understanding something from Phil’s outrageous reaction, Alicia gives a small nod.

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