Alec watched me copying notes at the lounge with a mysterious expression on his face in the evening.
When I borrowed his notebook, he naturally asked me why. I told him honestly what had happened since there was no point in lying to him, and told him not to worry about it, but well, I guess he’s worried.
“Should I talk to them?”
I grabbed the glaring Alec’s sleeve to stop him from going to the students who were on the other side of the room.
Today was a rare day when there was no homework, so many of the students who had finished their classes were gathered here.
But I can see that a part of their attention was on us, so we were talking quietly.
“You’ll be troubled if this goes on, won’t you? And you won’t be able to study properly.”
Alec looked dissatisfied.
Alec looked unhappy as if he felt responsible for the fact that nothing had happened in front of him and so he can’t reproach them. He was much kinder than the teachers. But…
“Thanks for worrying, but I don’t want you to interfere. It’ll be like having a parent in a child’s fight.”
“… What do you mean?”
“It’ll get worse.”
Ah, he looked down. No, no, I am grateful to you.
“You always help me out. Thank you so much for these notes as well.”
“That’s not a big deal.”
“It’s enough. And you too, Rock. Thanks.”
“You don’t have to thank me like I’m just an afterthought.”
I tried to be considerate since we had been talking mostly without including him.
“Don’t rely on His Highness too much.”
Is he sympathising with me in his own way by adding ‘too much’ instead of not at all?
Rock doesn’t like me, but he doesn’t like to see weak people being bullied.
“I’m not being relied on at all. Aime, are you sure it’s alright to ignore it? Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
I wonder why Alec looks more desperate than me. He’s definitely a good friend.
But like I had said before, I don’t want it to become that serious. I think I should change the subject now to make this place more relaxing.
“Ummm, ah, take me to the palace next time!”
“I want to see how Rille-nee is doing. It’ll be a nice change and if I’m lucky, I can observe General Owen. I only need to see the medical department. Can you let me in, Alec?”
“I can… but that’s not what I mean.”
“I can only ask you this.”
Alec looked like he wanted to say something else, but then he let out a sigh.
Well, I haven’t been human twice for no reason.
I thought Rock would instantly get angry by my audacious request to be taken to the palace, but before he could be angry, a boy stepped out from near us and the room quietened down.
He had vivid purple eyes which contrasted his dull blonde hair.
He first apologised to Alec for his rudeness in interrupting our conversation and then glared straight at me.
“Don’t push your luck!”
His prude face scrunched up and he was really angry.
I couldn’t just laugh it off as a joke (even though I was half-serious).
“Your current attitude is only allowed by His Highness’s compassion! You forgot this and even forgot to show respect to a valuable person. How dare you speak disrespectfully not only to us, but to His Highness as well! A commoner’s daughter who is no better than a filthy rat crawling in the dark suddenly thinks she can become a royal!? Then let me educate you!”
His white cheeks were flushed and his voice was as loud as it could be, then I suddenly remembered that he was the boy who had given that splendid speech as the representative of the new students on the day of the entrance ceremony.
“Your lowly blood doesn’t change even though you’ve entered this school! Your arrogant behaviour is proof! If you’re smart enough to understand this, then show it on the ground right now! Ask for forgiveness for all the savage acts you’ve committed!”
In short, get down on my knees.
What is normal for me is nothing but an insult to them, who should be respected. Then, my behaviour in their eyes was almost like harassment.
He must have reached the end of his patience if he was being this talkative in front of Alec.
――― I’ve been waiting for this.
He demands an apology. Everyone around us was waiting for my apology. Not they will be willing to hear me out.
The stage is set.
I’ll take you up on it!
“What’s your name!?”
I confirm my opponent’s name before the argument.
He seemed startled for a second since I stood up so strongly which caused him to answer honestly.
“Clifford, you must win this argument if you want me to apologise. By the way, my brain works properly and I can understand your words.”
I set the rules. Now it’s time to get started.
“You accused me of disrespect, but I didn’t speak casually because I look down on you all. I was more polite than your attitude towards me. You all are the ones who lack manners.”
“Don’t talk about us as if we’re your equals! The very idea of placing a lowly person who has no surname on the same level as a noble bloodline is disrespectful!”
“What is nobility?”
I finally shouted out the question that I’ve been thinking about ever since I came here.
“If the blood that flows through me and the blood that flows through you drops onto the floor right here and now, who would be able to tell who it came from? Our bodies all contain the same structure.”
DNA, the blueprint of the individual, is made up of several components, common not only to animals, but also to plants and even microorganisms.
And if we break it down to the elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and countless other components, then we are the same as any other living being. Since we all live in the same land and eat the same food.”
“Blood… is not what I meant!”
Clifford refuted with an undaunted tone.
I know. What I said was far-fetched.
“The great blood of our ancestors who achieved greatness is innately superior and noble. That is the absolute difference.”
“I see! The nobleness you possess comes from the greatness of your ancestors, so your opinion is that those who achieve greatness are noble!”
“What? … Yes.”
Clifford was slightly lost as he nodded his head.
His response was probably due to the fact that even he has noticed the slight inconsistency.
“Then isn’t being noble something that has nothing to do with bloodlines? Do you know what your ancestors did before they moved to this land?”
Clifford was at a loss for words.
“Because one of your ancestors did something great, all of their descendants were considered noble. Then that first ancestor was not a noble before he achieved greatness, because his ancestors before him did not do any great deeds. Then I can say he was like me.”
“Nonsense! The ancestors are noble no matter how far back they are!”
If we go back to the very beginning, then we all would have one common ancestor, but there was no point in saying that.
“I get it. If you think that someone who has done a great deed is noble, and even those who have done nothing but inherited that blood are noble, then the value of Clifford Reevis is only in the Reevis family name, is that right?”
“W-what are you…?”
“By your logic, your nobleness and value can only be found in your bloodline. Your personality, your abilities, and will, all of which are to be prized, belong to your House and are denied to you as an individual. Clifford is a meaningless name.”
“You said it yourself, and you have declared that the only value of all the noble kids here and even His Highness Alec is their house. You denied their individuality.”
“I didn’t mean–!”
Even if you didn’t, that’s the way it would sound.
Since they were all still kids and have not yet achieved anything that would earn them the respect of others.
Clifford also realised this in the middle of the argument and was speechless. There were others who, like him, were pale and staring at their hands.
“You all are nothing. You are not noble ―――.”
How much despair do these words give these young people, who have yet to fully assimilate into their lineage??
I continued to speak in the depressing atmosphere.
“――― I don’t think that.”
I smiled brightly.
“This is my opinion. ――― I think a noble person is someone who continues to work hard. You naturally feel a sense of respect when you see someone like that. At least I feel that for all of the people here.”
I opened my arms wide and looked around me.
“You are all standing here on your own feet after studying hard. It has nothing to do with the blood you inherited from your great ancestors, you are here by your own effort and talent. That is something to be proud of.”
I felt it was demeaning whenever they boasted about their lineage. I thought it was a coercive logic to deny their own efforts and attribute it all to their bloodline.
It doesn’t matter what your family background is, we all passed the exams equally on our own and are here.
Perhaps they don’t know how to compliment themselves. It’s like when people say, “Ah, as expected of so-and-so’s son/daughter”. It’s natural for kids of good families to be able to do everything well.
If they fail, then they are disgraced as individuals, but if they do well, then they are only praised by their bloodline.
I think this because I was in a similar environment in my previous life.
It’s normal for a child who is blessed with an excellent family to be able to do everything. It’s embarrassing to show effort and suffering, and I had to act as if I hadn’t put effort into it. No one complimented me, so I developed the habit of complimenting myself.
As I grew older, I travelled from place to place where no one knew of my family, and I finally felt like I knew who I was when I met people who saw me for me.
After all, you can only know who you are through the eyes of others.
“And you know, living in any position is hard enough in its own way. Hard work is necessary. There is no life without effort. You and I are incomparable, so there’s no need to put others down. Putting others down would be humiliating yourself.”
Perhaps, a true narcissist would never do anything to belittle and degrade others.
Because regardless of external factors, they are self-sufficient, unwavering, and proud, and they do not compare themselves to others because they are not above or below others. They don’t compare themselves to others because they have a different perspective from others.
“Clifford, I believe you are a proud person. You have glared at me and abused me verbally, but all of that has been to my face and not behind my back. I’m sure you have your own beliefs. You can remain proud. The others may do the same.”
I looked around again.
“I don’t care if you’re proud of being a noble. But think about this carefully. What kind of person do you imagine a noble person to be? How do they behave? Please live your lives in an idealistic and cool way.”
Some people may be inspired by this persuasion while others may not care at all. Some might not even be happy about it.
But that doesn’t matter.
The important thing is that they listened to me to the end.
But I was able to avoid getting down on my knees for the time being.