Now then. My school life finally began two months after the rest of the students, but I didn’t feel like it was a brand new experience, since I did the same things no matter where I was.
I handled the administrative documents brought in by Oscar, Claudia and appropriate fief soldiers, checked the reports on the irrigation work in the west and gave instructions, checked the food production status in the fief and estimated how much food the fief imports… Sometimes, for some reason, I’m summoned to stand at the peace negotiations between the Rindarl ambassador and the members of the Upper House of Lords.
Peace negotiations are something that should only be done by people who are in the Upper House of Lords or have a higher position… Apparently, I was being used as something to threaten Rindarl, as a ‘whip’ who is conveniently in the royal capital.
Because of this situation, I haven’t been able to concentrate on my studies. If someone was wondering how I’m able to handle all the lectures every day, and the large number of assignments that are given out in those lectures, ――― then it’s simple: there are two of me.
“Hey, my hair was pulled today as well by someone who was passing by. They stepped on the hem of my mantle and explained the outline of the Advanced Academy (?) course to me since they said I’m smart. What’s up with all these incidents?”
“It’s the northern nobles.”
That was the only thing I could say to Radka, who was working on assignments next to me as I silently pressed the seal of approval.
It seemed that the harassment from the northern nobles was carried out quite publicly at the Academy since adults couldn’t see. Although I was disgusted that they would use children to do something like this, unlike Agren’s unreasonable request, there was no real harm, so I left them alone for now.
… I mean, they’re doing completely useless things like pulling hair and stepping on mantles.
A child, huh. They’ve already turned 13… no, 13 is still a child.
“What do you mean by the outline of the course?”
“Hmm? Well, apparently there’s a lecture that uses the law books of Artolas. They explained that the laws were the same at a glance, but there are differences between the Artolas and Axian laws which are based on the same Sacred Code. They also explained why they were so different, their impact, and predictions on what would happen if they were adapted.”
“Comparative law? What’s the title of the book?”
“『Investigation of the Difference of Law in Another Sect』. It’s a church book.”
“Oh, I’ve read that before. It’s fine. You should read it later.”
“Understood,” Radka nodded and went back to his task.
I know it’s wrong to have someone else do my schoolwork for me, but I made an exception since Radka is my spare. I just have too much work for one person to handle. I’m not forcing Radka to do all the work; I do attend classes as much as I can, but… I tell myself that I had no choice.
Even so, I glanced at the side profile that was next to me. I had always felt that our complexion and facial features matched very well with each other even as a child, but as he grew, his face became more and more like mine to the point that even Claudia mistakes him as me. If someone were to compare our faces side to side, then Radka’s face is slightly more feminine than mine, but no one would doubt he is me unless they see him on a regular basis, since he mimics my movements and facial expressions.
That was why he impressively acts on my behalf…
“… What is it?”
I’m not sure if it’s because of Claudia’s training, but Radka asked me why I was looking at him, even though he wasn’t facing my way.
“Nothing,” I replied and looked away.
I still hadn’t found the person who I have been looking for since the day I entered the Academy, even after a month of living this way.
It would have been easier to find them once the practical classes started, but I couldn’t make any progress at all since I was stuck in the lecture from start to finish.
The person who I was looking for should stand out from the crowd and be easy to find, but when I try to look around the lecture hall, the Crown Prince’s violently good looks usually block my view and get in the way of my search.
Today, my eyes were drawn to the luxurious blonde hair that shone in the light as soon as I entered the lecture hall and my eyes met with the Crown Prince’s eyes. His frighteningly conspicuous appearance really drew one’s gaze regardless of one’s intention… I wonder if it would be different if I got used to looking at him.
I greeted him with my eyes and quickly sat down on an empty seat. I didn’t want the Crown Prince to invite me to sit with him because he thought there were no seats available. I can easily predict that the hall would become noisy if I were to sit next to him.
I couldn’t help but think about the Crown prince, who is friendly towards me without regard to my circumstances, while listening to the lecture that had already been drilled into me by Madam Marechan.
… I understand why Ergnard and the others are concerned about me. It’s because I’m useful in battle. And since the King had given me their House name, I guess I have to treat him like family even though we aren’t related by blood. However, I don’t know what the Crown Prince’s intentions are. I will be going back to my fief after I graduate from the Academy. He is in a position where he will rule the entire Kingdom from the royal palace, so what’s the point of keeping a Junior Earl who is a feudal lord of one of the fiefs?
Even if I only have to put up with it for three years, it isn’t pleasant to be used as a pawn in the games of nobles. It’s alright if they were only using me, but if it affects my fief then… Since there’s no way to control the Crown Prince, it might become necessary to somehow shut up the nobles of this Kingdom.
I clenched my hand into a fist. Then, I heard an unpleasant sound come from inside of my hand.
Dammit, my pen broke.
No, I knew that the pen barrel had become old and had reached its limits, but I kept using it since it was still working. I didn’t crush the pen’s barrel because I had superhuman strength like Claudia.
The problem was that I didn’t have a spare pen with me. I glared at the pen in my hand while thinking, I did break it, but did it have to break right now?
… What do I do about the lecture? Should I just hold the barrel and finish writing? I would like to write down what the professor teaches as long as I’m sharing information with Radka.
“Excuse me, Earl Kaldia.”
I finally looked away from the broken remains of the pen when someone quietly spoke to me from the right.
I turned my head to the owner of the voice and almost shouted. The boy who had spoken to me was the same person who I was looking for.
He looked just like Margrave Moudon ――― and yet he didn’t stand out like Margrave Moudon, even though he looked like a copy of him. Margrave Moudon’s beloved son was sitting next to me.
“Please use this.”
Why hadn’t I noticed his distinctive silver hair when I sat down? The boy held out a brand new quill to me while I was feeling dazed as if I had been shown a magic trick which I didn’t understand.
“――― Thank you.”
I had planned to meet and greet him but the shock of finding someone who I hadn’t found before in the same class as me, and sitting next to me, made the words that finally came out of my mouth rather stupid.
… Why aren’t my eyes drawn to him like they are towards the Crown Prince and his father when he has that complexion and looks?
“You know my father? No way. Really?”
“I do. Your father has been very nice to me. I’ve also sent you birthday presents before.”
I conversed with the boy I was looking for, Zephyr Moudon, Margrave Moudon’s son, as we walked down the Academy’s brightly lit corridor towards the cafeteria.
He had beautiful silver hair and eyes greener than his father’s. The more I looked at him, the more I wondered why I hadn’t noticed him before. Did I overlook him because the impact of the Crown Prince was too strong?
“… Oh, were you the person who sent the box of baked sweets?”
“Yes. I’m surprised you remember.”
“Father is always in a good mood whenever it arrives every year and told me that it was from a dear friend of his. I thought it was from a noble in the capital…”
“It’s because my fief doesn’t have any specialties. And, I have to go to the capital if I want to buy an assortment of baked sweets.”
“Ah, I see,” Zephyr smiled gently and replied. That expression doesn’t look like something his father would do; I couldn’t help but compare him to the person I know… The gentle smile on his face, which didn’t seem like there was a hidden intent behind it, reminded me of someone who was much closer to me. Their auras were so similar that I felt like I was going crazy.
More and more students appeared in the corridor as we approached the large cafeteria.
Zephyr didn’t seem to mind, but his friendly conversation with me, someone who has a bad reputation, was clearly attracting a mixture of curiosity and ill feelings.
“… Oh, right. I’m sorry but I have a few things to do in the library before lunch. I’ll see you later.”
I said at a suitable corner and stepped away from him. I knew we would attract too much attention if I were to enter the cafeteria with him.
The Moudon House didn’t have a strong presence or influence in the capital. This was because they were geographically too far away from the capital and because the time Margrave Moudon can stay in the capital is limited.
However, as a major producer of gems, the Moudon fief makes money by trading with merchants who are based in the capital. They probably wanted to avoid having a bad reputation in the capital if they could. It was hard to tell how the impression Zephyr made in the isolated environment which is the Academy would affect him after he graduates, even if the Margrave has solidified his position among the merchants.
“Really? Ah… Okay. I’ll see you later, Earl Kaldia… I mean, Earl Einsbark.”
Zephyr tilted his head slightly in confusion, but he must have noticed the other students’ gazes on us. He nodded his head in understanding and waved his hand.
“Moudon, you can just call me Kaldia. I won’t be able to distinguish who you’re talking to if you call me Einsbark.”
“Oh, you’re right. Alright… I’d like it if you’ll call me Zephyr. Moudon is my father.”
“I’ll do that.”
I nodded and turned my back towards him.