Stay safe xoxo
After the interview, Ronnie and Cordelia went home. Then, Emina gave her a letter addressed to her. She turned the letter around and saw a wax seal of a seabird at the back. It was from Earl Zakharov.
When Cordelia went back to her room, she changed clothes and opened the letter.
He wrote that he wanted to invite Cordelia and Shelley to his mansion as an apology for getting them involved in the kidnapping incident.
“A tea party to apologise, huh? I don’t think it’s Earl Zakharov’s fault though.”
However, that’s only if the Earl isn’t involved in this incident. I’ll have to reply since he’s sent a written invitation.
She thought that, and there was a knock at her door.
“Pardon me. Ojou-sama, Master will be coming home early today.”
Cordelia put the letter on the desk after she’d responded to Emina. I don’t have to write a reply straight away. I have to report to Otou-sama first.
Cordelia gave a long sigh because the things she had to report increased by one.
Usually, when Elvis said he was coming home early, he would get home a little later than dinner time. Thus, Cordelia thought he would be home around that time today too, but he came home much earlier and even called her to have dinner with him.
Elvis was still dressed in the clothes he wore when he came back from the castle.
“I heard you came to the castle today too.”
“I’ve heard most of it from Isma, but I want you to give me an explanation too.”
It seems like he’s already heard the gist of things.
Cordelia said the same things that she had told Isma.
“Even if that girl is short-tempered, I didn’t think you would accompany Earl Zakharov.”
“I’m sorry. But I haven’t heard that Earl Zakharov was a particularly careful person, so I went with them.”
She informed straight Elvis the reason why she had accompanied them straight away, but he gave a deep sigh in reply.
“I heard that girl has the Clydereine House’s crest.”
“Normally, it’s unimaginable for someone to give ear cuffs to a servant. If they didn’t steal it, then they’re probably a relative or something. I’m leaving this matter to Isma, but you got to know a girl like her?”
Elvis’s expression gradually grew bitter.
Why is he making an expression like that? Cordelia questioned, and thought of something terrible.
(I want to believe that’s not the case… but he’s not thinking that Shelley would be my rival for the position of the Queen, right?)
Cyrus-oniisama declared that there aren’t any merits to me marrying into the royal family.
But Otou-sama hadn’t told me that directly. However, it shouldn’t be a problem since he hadn’t brought that topic up ever since I declared that I didn’t want to marry the Prince.
(No, no. That must never happen!)
Once she started thinking about this matter, she couldn’t stop, and desperately tried to calm down the fear that had arisen within her. She was on the verge of trembling.
Before long, the words she heard were utterly different from the ones she had expected.
“… They got you involved.”
Elvis grumbled slightly.
His voice sounded as if he was protesting against the damage she had suffered, and Cordelia went blank.
(Come to think of it, Otou-sama didn’t ask me about the time when I met the Prince either.)
If he wants me to marry His Highness, then it wouldn’t be strange for him to ask what we talked about.
Can I take that as him thinking my marriage into the royal family is unnecessary like Cyrus-oniisama does? She wanted to ask him straight away, but she hesitated because the current conversation would be skipped. We should clear the matter about Shelley first.
However, his words indicated that he treasured her a lot, so it made her happy.
(It’s not related to the Pameradia House’s reputation, but he still got angry.)
I already know he treasures me, but it makes me happy that he’s showing it again.
“It seems like they don’t know much about the kidnapping yet. But the ones you captured are probably not the main offenders; rather, they are people who can be discarded.”
“Otou-sama, I have something to talk to you about that. To tell you the truth, Earl Zakharov has sent me an invitation for a tea party as an apology for today. The girl I mentioned earlier, Shelley-san, is also invited to this tea party.”
Cordelia nodded while listening to Elvis’s sharp tone.
“I haven’t written him a reply yet. But, before that… I’ve looked into Earl Zakharov a little, and I thought a few things were strange. I’ve heard that Earl Zakharov’s income plummeted due to his ships being wrecked, but it seems like he’s more prosperous than before.”
“If you’re talking about his welfare work, then it’s simple. He’s just consuming his fortune and turning it into gold.”
Cordelia widened her eyes because Elvis had answered so easily.
“I also researched to see if he was doing anything illegally. But he seems to have levelled his savings to keep face. When he lost his ship, he could have bought another if it wasn’t the latest model. But, he hadn’t done that, and a lot of servants saw that he was spending his money lavishing, so they quit since they were worried about their futures. As a result, I heard that he hardly has any servants left.”
Cordelia widened her eyes at what Elvis had said.
Is that a noble’s pride? There are times when appearances matter, but he might have too enthusiastic about spending money that even his servants were worried.
“Publically, Earl Zakharov isn’t a harmful person right now. He’s just a fool who can’t face reality, but he doesn’t seem like he would hatch a plan and deceive people. He’s not someone who can put together a plan. He doesn’t have much interest in politics, so I never get involved with him.”
Is that why he wasn’t included in the Houses I should be careful of? Cordelia thought, and Elvis turned his sharp gaze onto her.
“Remember the difference between pride and delusions.”
However, Elvis quietened his voice a little.
“But there is something that’s bothering me. When I looked into him, his property should have already reached the limit, but you said that he hasn’t changed his behaviour. He probably doesn’t have any collateral left to borrow money. But he doesn’t seem like he’s panicking.”
He declared and looked back at Cordelia.
“If you’re going to the tea party, then pay attention to see if you feel uncomfortable in any way.”
Elvis was saying he was worried, but he didn’t mind if she went. He told her the Earl’s circumstances, and that she should be on the lookout.
(Isn’t this his first command to me?)
In contrast to Cordelia’s surprise, Elvis was indifferent.
“But don’t search too deeply. All the more if you think he has something to do with the kidnapping of that town girl.”
“I understand, Otou-sama.”
I don’t know if I will produce any results.
But, if Otou-sama expects that I can do this, then I have to respond to his expectations.
Hence, I need to reply to Earl Zakharov at once.
(But we have to eat before that.)
Cordelia thought as she headed to the dining room with Elvis.
Three days later, Cordelia headed to Earl Zakharov’s mansion with Ronnie at the allocated time. Usually, Emina would accompany her to tea parties, but Ronnie already knew Earl Zakharov, so it shouldn’t be a problem for him to accompany her.
Earl Zakharov’s mansion was a quiet place.
The garden, made up of pruned evergreen trees and stone statues, maintained a beautiful balance, and looked elegant. However, she felt like the plants were complaining that they were lonely.
“It’s a quiet mansion. It seems like people are hiding their presence.”
Cordelia and Ronnie got off the carriage in front of the entrance while whispering to each other. They were invited into the mansion by a servant, and Ronnie was guided to a separate room, as was usual with tea parties. Attendants waited in a separate room until the end of the tea party, but Ronnie would have to wait alone, since Shelley didn’t have any attendants.
Cordelia, on the other hand, was guided to a room on the second floor, which was strange.
Tea parties were often held in sunny rooms on the first floor or in the garden, but according to the servant, Shelley had asked for a room located in a high position, since it would have a better view.
Earl Zakharov was already waiting in the room.
“Hey, Cordelia-san. Thanks for coming.”
“Thank you for inviting me, Earl Zakharov.”
There was a lot of light in the room she was guided to. However, on the other hand, she felt the same loneliness from this room as she had in the garden. It may have been related to how dreary the room was.
Cordelia felt complicated feelings, since the arrangement of the room gave off a hollow feeling, instead of being simple. She knew that just having decorations didn’t make it a nice room, but if Earl Zakharov was a show-off, like Elvis had said he was, then he would have decorated the room a little when he invited guests to it. Did he not have enough money to do that?
“I sent someone to get Shelley-san, but it seems like they’ll be late.”
“Oh my, then I should have gone to pick her up.”
Shelley stayed in the castle until late, on the day of the kidnapping incident, but she had returned to the church afterwards.
However, Isma had told her that she already has a Clydereine House magician as her guard, and they have already begun to identify her using magic. Isma said that Earl Clydereine had done that because he was almost convinced that she was his blood relative.
“I can’t let guests do that. I’ll be happy if you could take a seat and wait.”
“Then, pardon me.”
Cordelia slowly sat down, and Earl Zakharov spoke again.
“I’m really sorry for the trouble I caused by suddenly inviting you two out. I’ve done something awful.”
“It’s fine, you don’t have to worry about it.”
“No, I do. If you hadn’t been there, then Shelley-san would have gone missing. Thanks, Cordelia-san.”
“No, I… It’s because Ronnie was there.”
“Ah, Ronnie-kun, yes? I thought he would be strong, since he’s your guard… but I really can’t thank him enough. The magicians at the Pameradia House are amazing.”
Earl Zakharov smiled and stated, but Cordelia felt uncomfortable.
He said he can’t thank Ronnie enough, but he didn’t invite Ronnie here. Ronnie said this way is better for him, but why didn’t the Earl invite Ronnie to the tea party when he interacts with commoners a lot? Although he’s Shelley’s patron, she’s still a commoner right now.
(I wonder if Earl Zakharov knows that Shelley may be connected to the Clydereine house.)
I told Shelley to keep quiet about that, but if he saw the Clyderine magician at the church, then it wouldn’t be strange for him to know.