What should I do? How can I make Feyria talk without making her put her guard up against me?
First, I’ll talk to the Viscount about the Academy and the House of Lords to pass time while probing her. Viscount Roguesia was smiling calmly, Felicia was still trembling and Claudia and Radka were standing in the corner of the room. I wondered what I should say to them and how I should start the conversation. My gaze, which had been wandering around slightly, suddenly turned to the windows as if attracted by it. Seasonal flowers were swaying in the breeze in the courtyard on the other side of the window. A gasp of admiration escaped my lips as I looked at their vivid colours.
“The rembias are blooming well this year. Last year, I had some red and yellow ones planted, and the colours have mixed together this year making it pleasing to the eyes.”
Viscount Roguesia didn’t fail to notice that I was looking at the courtyard. The conversation about the House of Lords immediately changed.
“Oh, rembias? It’s a magnificent garden, so I’m sure they’ll look beautiful.”
Rembias are plants that produce frilly flowers that spiral along its straight stem. The brightly coloured flowers effectively enhanced the courtyard, but at the same time, they were so gorgeous that it was difficult to harmonise them. Especially in a courtyard of this size, there are more than a dozen different kinds of flowers in full bloom. I wondered if they were arranged by a good gardener.
“Yes, I think you will like them… Feyria, show Earl Kaldia the courtyard.”
Viscount Roguesia demanded. Feyria replied, “Yes,” as she gracefully got up from her seat… At that moment, I saw a thin anklet that was covered by her silk socks.
――― Ah, this is really going to be troublesome.
I managed to bite down my bitterness and not let it show on my face.
In Ryunfeld, unmarried or underage women aren’t allowed to wear metal jewellery. This is a tradition that has continued for a long time. And yet, there was a silver anklet on her ankle.
The bottom line is that this noble woman had a fiancé, but she loved freely, and so, she’s being unreasonable.
A puzzled Feyria hesitantly called out to me. I felt peevish at the pit of my stomach when I saw her left hand floating in the air as if she was asking for an escort.
I looked at her hand once, met her eyes and bowed. I didn’t offer her my hand.
“… Then, please show me to the courtyard, Feyria-sama.”
A chill instantly appeared in Felicia’s eyes. She seemed to have been able to clearly read the emotion that I had included when I had called her name.
When people of the opposite sex meet for the first time, they rarely call each other by name unless there is a big age difference between them. This is especially true in Ryunfeld where gender etiquette is a big concern.
“Yes, what is it?”
“… Will you escort me?”
“I’m already 13, so I’m old enough to walk around without holding someone’s hand.”
I looked at Viscount Roguesia while teasing Feyria whose face was red with annoyance. He still had a gentle smile on his face.
Dammit, I clicked my tongue in my mind. I should have done a background check on Viscount Roguesia. If he really isn’t a genuine native of that region, then all the measures I have taken will be in vain. Although I’m prepared for all of Ryunfeld noble’s troublesome habits, it’ll all be for not if the Viscount isn’t offended by this.
“That wasn’t what I was asking, I’m asking you to escort me…”
“Oh, I beg your pardon. I apologise for being slow, but I am officially a Junior Countess. I would like it if you restrain yourself as we are not close enough yet for you to take my hand and show me to the courtyard.”
I heard Claudia sigh unusually behind me. She was advising me not to pick a fight with someone who I am trying to persuade.
“… A woman, Earl?”
Feyria was dumbfounded and I thought, I see. It seems that my gender is completely unknown in the Academy. It is rare for women to hold a peerage title in Arxia, and completely unacceptable for women to hold a peerage title in Ryunfeld.
“――― I see, so that’s why you’re dressed like that…”
Her voice sounded disorientated as if she had finally managed to wring out a sentence from her confused mind. Her eyes looked even more confused than before, and there was another complicated emotion flickering in them.
That was probably jealousy. The emotion reflected in her eyes was neither pity nor contempt and I sighed in my mind.
The more I observed, the more I realised how far away she is from Ryunfeld’s image of a woman. This house was completely devoid of women so much so that it could be the very model for the customs I had heard about. But Viscount Roguesia and his daughter completely opposed that image.
――― It really is troublesome after all.
For the time being, I had completed my goal of meeting her, so I quickly left the Roguesia residence after I had a random look around the courtyard.
The head of the house and his daughter, who didn’t act according to the customs of Ryunfeld, but on the other hand, the people who worked in the house and their education were perfectly arranged according to the custom of Ryunfeld. The contradictory situation in the house made me realise that I didn’t have enough information.
Also, the glimmering piece of metal on Feyria’s ankle ――― even though it was a coincidence, the fact that I saw it was fruitful. I had a rough idea about why Feyria wanted to break off her engagement with Agren.
She is currently in a relationship with someone, and she probably wants to get married to him. Therefore, she wanted to break off her engagement with the person who she doesn’t love. It’s as simple as that. The fact that it involves emotions and the circumstances of the person she is dating makes it even more complicated, and at the same time, a little annoying.
Engagements between noble families don’t exist simply because of status. It is also a way to bond families together, or to fight for power, but most of the time, they are arranged for the purpose of trade.
This is a little off topic, but in Arxia, merchants don’t have much power. This is due to the fact that large transactions between fiefs are usually done between the feudal lords. Like how I arrange the daily necessities, food, household goods and materials for the newcomers, as well as how I obtain daily necessities that cannot be produced in my fief, the other feudal lords also order things from other fiefs and distribute it to their people.
Merchants have no power because they deal with luxury goods, so their business is limited to nobles, and they’re completely under the control of nobles.
It is written in the Sacred Code that exporting and importing for the masses is the work of a feudal lord. This was probably done to prevent exceedingly powerful merchants from destroying the balance of power within the kingdom.
The most convenient way for such commercial transactions to take place between fiefs is through marriage between the feudal lords’ families.
It is normal for young ladies to get engaged early in Ryunfeld, but it is also known that in many cases, her betrothal will be swapped if a better match is found.
However, in spite of this, the Agrens have gone to the trouble of expressing their desire to make this engagement definite. If this had been a request from the Roguesia House, then it would have been because they can’t keep their honour if they broke off the engagement when there are no other candidates, but since it came from the other party, then this must mean that there is a big problem with their transaction.
When two people are engaged, their relatives are officially treated as in-laws. This gave them a number of advantages, such as a lower tariff and a reduction in the annual restrictions on traded goods.
This is the reason why the Church goes out of their way to address the issue of engagement. There are some fiefs that trade in daily necessities, so the lives of the citizens will be directly affected if the fief can’t import the necessary amount of goods because of the annulment of an engagement or if the trade itself is dissolved.
What annoyed me is that Feyria, who is about to graduate from the Academy, is trying to break off her engagement while ignoring all those things.
Viscount Argen has bad intentions and I know he made me take this request to harass me. However, there should definitely be a part of their engagement that would help improve the lives of their citizens.
A feudal lord’s income mainly comes from the tax they receive from their citizens. I don’t know if it’s money or goods, but the citizens of the fiancé/fiancée’s fief receive some kind of benefit. And yet, the daughter of a feudal lord, who is provided with the daily necessities through tax, is putting her own love affairs ahead of the affairs of the people?
But since I don’t know what’s exactly going on right now, it’s wrong to be angry.
――― Well, whatever. There’s nothing I can do except to persuade Feyria.
The problem is Viscount Roguesia.
I told him beforehand why I was coming to visit him. I told him that Viscount Agren wanted to make sure that the engagement between their two houses is definite. And yet, the Viscount still lets Feyria do as she pleases. I saw it myself today, but I’m pretty sure that Feyria has no idea what’s going on. Nor does she know that I came to her house today because her engagement is in jeopardy because of her.
… Which means the real problem is not Feyria’s love life, but why would Viscount Roguesia purposely let his daughter jeopardise her engagement.
“Here’s your drink, Eliza-sama. Why don’t you take a break?”
As soon as I got home, I furiously pulled out the noble’s list and other things about Viscount Roguesia to investigate him. It was almost time to light the candles when I was called.
I looked up to see Thiele and Oscar being ushered into the room by Claudia. Behind them, a maid with a tray in her hand was following after them timidly. Come to think of it, I’ve never called a maid to my study before.
“Ah, I’m sorry. Did I worry you?”
“Don’t worry about it. More importantly, what are you looking up? Is there anything I can help you with?”
I smiled wryly at Oscar’s concern. He has been quickly trying to learn all he can about Kaldia. It pains me to make him help me with anything else while he’s learning about Kaldia, and I’d rather he help Earl Thelesia with his work, rather than help me. Even though Earl Thelesia is ready for retirement, people are still coming to him to ask for advice about the peace negotiations with Rindarl.
“Thiele, please pour tea for everyone.”
Thiele smiled as if to say, “Good girl,” and began to brew tea with the maid.
As I looked at her swaying black hair, I suddenly realised that it was good that I had brought her along.
I brought Thiele, Rekha and Aslan with me to the Academy as my maid, attendant and bodyguard. Since I couldn’t bring any adult attendants, I had to rely on them, who I had educated many years ago. It was nothing more than a request, but they have exceeded my expectations and have supported me mentally.
In a sense, they’re the only ones to whom I show that I’m a ‘child’ to, other than Radka. They help stabilise my unstable mind by taking care of me in many ways.
At any rate, I’ll take a break like I was told to, since tea has been brewed for me. I put down the documents and drank the tea that had been given to me.
At the same time, I noticed a strong mixture of refreshing and sweet smells from my nose. Hmm, this is… something that I’ve smelled a lot of today.
“… Did you change the blend?”
“Yes. I tried adding rembias in the tea today. I learnt it from the children of the southern nation that you protect.”
Rembias again. The rembias that I thoroughly enjoyed for comfort in Viscount Roguesia’s residence as we had bland conversations while in an uncomfortable mood, although that was mostly my fault. I’ve had enough rembias for today.
“… I’m sorry, but can you brew me the tea that you always make? I’m a little tired and this is too sweet for me. Oh, it’s not because I don’t like rembias or anything. Please don’t worry about that.”
I said as I handed my cup to Thiele, and she let out a hopeless sigh, however it also sounded like a very happy sigh.
“I’ve heard that rembias are also used as medicine in the south, so I thought it would help make you feel a little better. Oh well, I’ll brew you another cup right away.”
“I’m sorry for being selfish.”
“It’s fine. I’m happy to hear you being selfish. Your selfishness is precious.”
Honestly, I’m never a match for Thiele.
So, rembia can be used as medicine? I’ve never heard of this before, but it was interesting to hear about a different culture.