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19 Family Reunion

 The voice from the door came to an abrupt halt as Ai and Hayama looked up with varying reactions, one being dread and the other being bewilderment.

No matter how one looked at it, this current situation was not good. Ai's outer robe was halfway down her shoulders while Hayama's hands were clutching it tightly.

...What's with this caught-in-the-act-101 scenario?! That Hayama and his itchy hands!... Ai felt the dreadful sense of foreshadowing as she stared at her brother silently.

Saito Shizuka stood frozen at the doorway as his expression drastically changed from happiness and excitement to unbridled anger. Like a looming volcano about to erupt, Saito's nostrils flared as he bellowed loudly: "You!!!", while pointing an accusing finger at Hayama.

Seeing that kind of batshit-crazy-anger directed at him out of nowhere, Hayama paled. He only wanted to heal Ai and yet the familiar Shinto official, who he now found out as Ai's brother, had barged into the room and yelled at him? What did he do wrong?!...

But looking at her brother who looked like he was ready to put Hayama's head onto a spike, he suddenly felt fearful. Without thinking too much, he immediately leapt up to hide behind his stronghold of protection: the unwavering and unbreakable shield Ai Shizuka.

...Talk about being a dignified crown prince... Ai thought solemnly as she pulled on her robe slightly, ready to explain to her overprotective brother.

"Big brother..." Ai began.

But Saito wasn't having it. Seeing the prince comfortably nestled up behind his baby sister, his anger shot up multitude higher as he roared: "Let go of my baby sister!", while unsheathing his famous word, Thousand Blades of Ultimate Brotherly Devotion.

Seeing that familiar multi-bladed weapon with an unusually long name, Ai sighed tiredly. She had always known that her brother liked to pamper her and was truly indulgent towards her but really? Thousand blades of ultimate brotherly devotion?... That would make anyone choke with tears of uneasiness.

Yet her brother wielded the sword with a great deal of confidence like a naked blind man walking down the street, not at all bothered about how ridiculous he appeared to others.

Before things got out of control, Ai decided to open her mouth again to stop her brother, but she was cut off immediately when a voice behind her yelped: Brother-in-law! Calm down!

If Saito was angry before, Hayama's words were the exact trigger that unleashed the hellfire from the depth of hell.

The veins on Saito's face popped up dramatically as he ground his teeth in rage. ...Brother-in-law?! Brother-in-law your mother! Who gave you permission to call me that?! Crown prince or not, I will whoop your ass today!...

Visibly angered that someone dared to "defile" his precious sister and even thick-skinned enough to call him brother-in-law, Saito shot forwards, holding his blade horizontally with the profound intention of slicing up Hayama into sashimi.

But luckily enough, Hayama was truly gifted at being a slippery bastard. He easily manoeuvred out of the way as he ran out the door, yelling: Help!!!

Yet his luck had run out when he was caught by Hakura, who just joined due to the noises.

"What is this ruckus about?" Lord Shizuka asked annoyedly as he frowned slightly. He just came back, being tired from his travel and what's with all the running?

But missing his dear daughter, Hakura looked towards Ai's direction with happiness evident in his eyes. But the sight that greeted him caused his happy expression to instantly freeze in the air.

His little girl, who usually dressed meticulously and modestly, had her robes in disarrays as if they were assembled in great haste while sporting two large bruises on her shoulders. Seeing the intense fury in his son's eyes, he could just put two and two together and he immediately gripped the arms of the prince tighter. "You!!!", he yelled as he glared at Hayama harshly.

Hayama, who was constantly being wronged by his supposed in-laws, was close to tears as he looked at Ai pitifully.

Ai sighed again, there go her efforts in maintaining good relations. It seemed that the trait of easily being angered and jumping to conclusions ran deep in the vein of her family and she seriously wondered who the hell put them in charge of external relations...

With the Shizuka being the true blue diehard fans of "Attack first, ask question later" policy, the future of Shinto's diplomacy is truly doomed. What of external relations, they could hardly maintain friendly relations with the residents of Shinto. Being cold to anyone outside their family, the Shizuka family wore the status of being anti-social like a true badge of honour. (Author: Welcome to the Anti Social Social Club!)

"Papa, it's not what you think. His Highness was just treating my injury", Ai told her father, trying to salvage whatever she could from the miserable plight she was in.

Finally receiving his salvation, Hayama nodded eagerly as the grips on his arms slightly loosened. But as always, Hayama who seemed to have suicidal tendencies, blurted out happily: "Father-in-law, we were not doing anything improper. Yet!"

Ai facepalmed.

After what seemed like an eternity of convincing the raging bulls in her family, they finally settled down in her room. Ai was just about to take her seat when Saito immediately yelled out: Why is Koyozoki on your bed?!

Ai: ...

She just finally solved a problem, another problem arose. Her life is truly miserable ah. Having no mood to explain further, Ai just replied, "Injured."

Seeing the darkened expression on his baby sister's face, Saito immediately kept quiet as he took a seat obediently.

Hakura watched silently as he observed the interactions going on. When he received the letter last night, he was overjoyed. His precious daughter had managed to find the lost prince and she was truly capable! Very good, father is very proud and couldn't be any happier!

But as the saying goes, don't celebrate too early and that was exactly what happened the moment he came home.

Suddenly a fine aroma of freshly brewed tea wafted into his nose. "Father-in-law, you must be tired from travelling, please take this refreshment!" Hayama said as he respectfully passed the tea to Lord Shizuka.

Hakura narrowed his eyes but accepted the tea begrudgingly, glancing at his son who was still displaying a full-on glaring mood. When his daughter had explained that the prince was just healing her, he was momentarily relieved. But only to have it destroyed, when the damned brat of the prince insisted on calling him father-in-law!

Hakura sighed tiredly.

... Little Ai, why so many proposals?! Father had been only away for a few days and you had another man proposing marriage! What happened to the other boy?! ...

A few months back, Hakura had received secret intel from a trusted source (cough* Kiya cough*) that his little girl truly liked the older Omaru boy. Though slightly overwhelmed at the sudden news, he wanted his little girl to be happy so he made an appointment for them to meet, under the guise of a business merger. But seeing how she had reacted to the older Omaru boy with complete disgust and fear, he thought... perhaps his Intel was wrong and thus he put that matter to rest. His little girl was far too young anyway!...

Thinking that all was well and he still had a few years before Ai got married, Hakura had been complacent, only to have it slapped in his face in the form of a certain naughty brat! The naughty brat, crown prince Hayama had been a handful since they met. First, he ran off on his own, causing a great deal of headache for him and his men. Second, he was found by his little girl, and only in a span of few days, the brat steadily decided that he would marry his daughter! This kind of unreliable character, how can this father be at ease?!...

Also, Hakura knew all about the background of the prince. Raised in the matriarch country Kukio, Hayama is the sole heir to the imperial throne. Though the empress does have many male concubines, there was only one child born out of her marriages. Because of that, it was an unspoken rule that anyone that marries Hayama would ascend the throne and become the next ruler of Kukio.

Since Hayama's position as the crown prince was crucial and held great importance, he was very much pampered and spoiled since young. Anything he wanted, he just had to breathe a word and it would be his. Not only that, the child was also blessed with heaven's grace by possessing an exceptional beauty. His beauty was truly renowned in Kukio that he was consecutively crowned as No.1 beauty of Kukio since he was 13. With that kind of background, which father will be at ease?! Wouldn't there be many competitions?!...

Plus he could not accept for his little girl to get involved in politics. He had long tried to shield her away from Shinto Politics itself and yet there were still some strays that escaped his watch. But thankfully, those stray young masters were not interested in marrying his precious daughter or else he would be crying tears of blood. But anyhow, the big question now is how to get rid of this prince?