“I apologise. Your Highness, you will be the future King. I cannot allow myself to be impolite. Please forgive me.”
“But are you going to be formal for three whole years? I think that will be just tiring for everyone. I think we’ll be seeing each other quite often given our ranks.”
No, no, of course, that wouldn’t happen. What is this Crown Prince talking about?
Although I’m the second-highest-ranking noble in this school after the Crown Prince, once I leave this school, I’ll just be an Earl. Furthermore, I’m a rising newcomer. Unlike a marquis or a margrave, my status isn’t appropriate for getting close to the Crown Prince. There should be dukes’ children here as well, so I think he’d be better off associating with them instead. In noble society, people of different statuses acquainting themselves with each other would plant the seeds of useless friction.
Although, my status is lower than the Crown Prince’s, so, unfortunately, I couldn’t refuse his direct request.
“… As you wish, Your Highness.”
In the end, when I reluctantly agreed with him, the Crown Prince showed off his gorgeous smile. It’s so dazzling, my eyes are spinning. Please stop it.
“Thanks, Earl. By the way, can I ask? Why are you wearing clothes for men?”
“According to the school regulations, students with noble titles are supposed to wear formal military attire.”
“I know, but…”
Even I think it’s natural for the Crown Prince to be confused with what I was wearing. I was wearing the Kaldia’s formal military attire. The school had no uniform regulations, and most noble children wore their own clothes. Especially the girls, it’s normal for them to dress up every day, since other nobles’ eyes will be on them. Most of the girls, who aren’t engaged, are desperately trying to find a partner here while in school.
However, there was a rule stating that nobles with titles must attend school wearing military uniform; just like how the Crown Prince was wearing the Imperial Guard’s uniform, and I, the Kaldia’s military attire. This rule was meant to make their statues stand out from other students.
“… Does that also apply to female students?”
“I am the first female student this academy has ever had with a noble title, so it applies to me as well.”
In Arxia Kingdom, it was customary for a man to inherit. A woman only inherits the title only when there were no other suitable candidates, and if there is only a minor female in the direct bloodline, then a boy from the branch family is given the right to succeed. I was a complete exception because there weren’t any other candidates from the branch family.
Well, I might have led a much easier life if there wasn’t a noble law stating that everything would be inherited by the sole survivor…
Thus, I am stuck with dressing up as a man for the next three years. Since the knight uniforms and military attires are considered as uniform, I had to dress up in this whenever I attend the House of Lords or evening parties.
“I like them very much since they’re more practical than dresses. I am glad I do not need to spend unnecessary money on accessories. You don’t have to worry about my clothes, Your Highness.”
Well, even before entering the academy and holding a Viscount title as a minor, I can count the number of times I’ve worn women’s clothing because of customs. I’m already used to wearing men’s clothing. I’m more familiar with them than dresses.
“Then, that’s fine. Now then, how about I introduce you to my friends?”
“It is my pleasure to meet them.”
After a slight bow, the Crown Prince summoned the people around him with just his gaze. The gesture, which hadn’t made me feel uncomfortable, was just as expected from a Crown Prince.
“Everyone, I’ll introduce her to you. This is Junior Earl Eliza Kaldia Einsbark. These are Archduke Dorvadain’s sons, Viscount Grace and Baron Eric. And this is Baron Sieghart from the Lorenzorell House.”
“It is an honour to meet you. My name is Eliza Kaldia Einsbark.”
I was impressed by the line-up of handsome boys in front of me. All of them were capture targets in the otome game. It would be strange for them not to be handsome. Their faces are younger than I remember, probably because I’m meeting them a year earlier than when the game started.
“Mm, you’re the one we’ve heard about. When I heard about your military achievements, I was astonished to find out you were a girl.”
“That’s right. Would a dress look better on you than a military attire?”
Without introducing themselves, Archduke Dorvadain’s sons, Grace and Eric, chuckled while saying impolite things; they had royal blood in them and are the Crown Prince’s relatives. Both of them completely inherited their looks from their father and looked like they could be twins, despite being birthed from different mothers. They had red shoulder-length hair, which was tied behind them, and matching saffron eyes. In the game, they certainly had those positions.
In the game, they had excellent specs, but they made fun of me in this place, right in front of me. It seems like their heads are rather empty. The people around us, who were listening in, started chatting among themselves.
Well, the immature side of me which got provoked by trivial remarks has been worn out since I entered the House of Lords.
“Though, you seem to resemble your father greatly even like this. Depending on who you ask, you’re the living image of him… As for the battlefield, you’re lucky. Our military is extremely confident because they’re well-trained, but that’s only a few. It’s nothing but sheer luck that you managed to defeat a small unit with a commander.”
I didn’t allow my facial muscles to twitch and spoke to dodge their malicious remarks.
“She’s like her father, huh. I’ve heard about him. The infamous demon feudal lord who tortured his citizens to death and ruined his own fief, right?”
Eric probably had a sense for striking at people’s weak points. He irritatingly added malicious information.
I glanced at my surroundings. The people around us, who were listening in, gulped their saliva while a dangerous aura surrounded us. The Crown Prince, and the remaining follower who hadn’t spoken, Sieghart, failed to come up with an idea on how to stop Eric.
“――― Yes, he was definitely an infamous man. The horrible deeds committed by my father in his fief were really troublesome. As you know, reconstruction still isn’t complete. I wish he could have been stopped five years earlier.”
“Ridiculous. You wouldn’t have been born had your father died five years earlier.”
“There wouldn’t have been any problems even if it was before I was born,” I replied indifferently. I predicted my answers would agitate him. Eric shook his head in annoyance. It seems that my answers really got on his nerves.
――― I supposed I distanced myself from him with this. Eric isn’t a legitimate child, like Grace and Seighart, and his animosity is probably because he is incredibly selfish. Even after graduation, I will continue to interact with nobles, and he had a higher family status than me. It would be troublesome if he approached me futilely, and it was hard to make him hate me. Eric is an illegitimate child, so I probably won’t get involved with him in the future.
Grace grabbed Eric’s shoulders and stopped him when he glared at me and looked like he was about to explode. Grace whispered something to Eric and dragged him away to the dance floor. Although I was supposed to have a higher rank than them, they didn’t even greet me. I didn’t want to worsen my relationship with Grace as well, but I wouldn’t interact with him if I don’t enter the upper noble ranks like Archduke. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I just left them alone.
“… My friend was rude to you.”
Before long, Sieghart awkwardly lowered his head towards me. Being the grandson of the commanding general Marquis Lorenzorell, he had sharp maroon eyes which shone gold when they hit the light, and dark black hair. He had fearless features like his grandfather and had ambition appropriate for someone who descended from the greatest military family in Arxia. He’s also the tallest of the four boys, had the best physique, and people could tell at a glance that he’s a military noble.
I was also treated as a military noble because of my Einsbark name, but compared to him, I feel like my body is awfully tiny. I guess the difference in our genders is too large.
“Please don’t mind. It appears that I have hurt his feelings.”
I shrugged my shoulders, and the commanding general’s grandson sighed in relief. His actions were slightly similar to those of my knights and definitely felt like he had a relation to the commanding general.
“How has Marquis Lorenzorell’s health been? He took good care of me on the battlefield.”
“I’m sure you know my grandfather better than I. We do live in the same house, but the last time I saw him was before the war began. He seems quite busy lately.”
“Oh, he’s probably still dealing with the aftermath of the battle. There’s a lot of injured soldiers, and many captured prisoners as well. Also, the enemy has invented a new weapon. Since the war hasn’t ended, he must be preparing for the next battle.”
The royal army is commanded by the Kingdom, while the fief armies are personal armies. Therefore, in a war between kingdoms, most of the fighting is done by the royal army. Since Marquis Lorenzorell has a solemn personality, he’s probably taking the lead in doing the work.
“… How about the injured soldiers in the Kaldia army?” The Crown Prince, who had been silently listening to us, asked quietly. He had a serious expression, probably because he already knew how many were injured in the royal army.
“Fortunately, most of my army returned unscathed from the battlefield. My army consists mainly of cavalry troops… so it’s slightly different from the royal army which consists of mostly infantry.”
“Ah, that’s good to hear. You won your first battle, and most of your troops returned unscathed? That’s brilliant. You must be a reliable leader,” the Crown Prince congratulated me with a smile, but I felt my lips slightly twist into a wry smile.
“Thank you for your compliment.”
Actually, that wasn’t my first battle. The Kingdom pretended it didn’t happen for their own convenience, but my first battle was a skirmish that occurred in the eastern border.
It happened seven years ago. It’s understandable for the Prince not to know about such a small battle. After all, the Crown Prince had only been six-years-old at that time… Well, of course, I was also six.
But, what I had lost in that fight wasn’t that big.
If the Crown Prince didn’t know about this event, even though he more or less hears about information on war, then no one would find out about it, and the battle will fade into oblivion.
I feel ――― strangely sad about this.
As if mourning for the people I lost in that war slowly sunk into sentiment.