It’s the third and final day of my birthday celebration. In the halls that were normally empty, and the garden were quite a few people I didn’t know. They were nobles from neighboring domains, and various nobles connected to Earl Terejia in some way. Although I know their names, it’s my first time meeting them.
I killed my family at an early age, and I hadn’t even gone out from the area under direct control until the day before yesterday, so I had no way of getting acquainted with other nobles. Having so many people gather here in the mansion, it’s the first time that I can recall.
From my second floor window, I could see a deluge of various colors. Since I’m still a minor, the earl is taking care of greeting all the guests. The invited guests were waiting in the garden.
“That young man over there is Viscount Henznaut’s only son. And, the person next to him in green formal knight attire is one of Earl Genas’s sons.”
“They’re about at the age of graduating from school. If it continues to remain peaceful, it’ll be beneficial for us to have good relations with them in the future.”
Kamil stood next to me and helped me by providing information on the neighboring domains’ nobles, since he had served as the earl’s guard before during visits to other domains, he recognized them.
The nobles from the royal capital were mostly lower-ranked nobles and nobles without their own lands, and having their children accompany them might be normal, but the smaller border domains’ nobles often had commoners accompanying them instead. As a respectable noble from the royal capital, Earl Terejia who had a history of serving in the royal palace, whenever he visited neighboring domains, just like how he would have lower-ranking nobles serving him in the royal capital, he would bring servants along with him.
And, because there weren’t all that many chances to visit the neighboring domains, it’s really convenient how Kamil had gotten to go along with the earl every time.
Since it was plainly obvious, no matter how dumb Kamil was, since he was my retainer, the earl must have been trying to train Kamil and give him some experience. Today he’s left Kamil by my side as well, which was probably something done on purpose.
And so, while looking at the nobles from the window, the earl’s servant Bellway suddenly came up the stairs. This man is capable of appearing unexpectedly at random. I wonder if it’s a requirement to be able to walk extremely fast as the earl’s secretary.
“Eliza-sama, it seems that everyone has arrived.”
“Got it. I’ll be there soon. Kamil, get Rashiok.”
In front of Bellway, Kamil didn’t have his usual attitude, and I left him in charge of leading Rashiok. An extravagant mantle cascaded down from his shoulders.
Today, just like always, I was wearing formal knight attire, and today’s was less casual and more formal than usual. The only slightly informal part was my longcoat. However, my mantle was heavier than usual, and annoyingly, I would become winded if I moved my upper body too much, but there was no helping it. It would have been better if I could ride a horse like on the first day of my birthday celebration, when I had to walk, I suddenly felt my vexation increasing. I reflexively raised my right elbow to try and alleviate some of the weight, but Bellway softly chided me, saying “bear with it, it’s only for today.”
“Formal ceremonial wear is really so heavy.”
“It’s actually lighter than a dress. It’s because the undergarments are heavier.”
Bellway talked about women’s undergarments like it was nothing, to which I couldn’t reply and remained silent, as we headed downstairs to the first floor. At that moment, my attention was involuntarily caught by the face that appeared around the corner.
My voice sounded fed up, and although I wanted to come up with an excuse, there was no helping it. There was an abundant amount of soft, sheer fabric in her arms, and she was also holding onto a gaudy dress. Because today is the first day where I’ll be introduced to all the nobles, she had implored for me to at least wear a dress on the occasion, and had appealed over and over to anyone and everyone without regards for who they were.
“Eliza-sama, ojou-sama. Please, please reconsider, if you appear in front of all those nobles dressed like that, isn’t that just like you’re declaring that you’ll be working even though you’re a girl!?”
“And is something wrong with that, Mrs. Galton?”
I’m really fed up with her gender discrimination. Naturally, my tone became rather harsh, and Mrs. Galton shrank back slightly from my pressure. I bet that Bellway behind me probably has a scary face as well.
“Without a doubt, I’m the lord of this domain. I have no relatives, and I can’t afford to leave everything about managing this territory to Earl Terejia for the entire remaining time until I graduate from school. He’s already quite elderly, I don’t know when I might lose his protection.”
I don’t have the free time to continuously listen to Mrs. Galton’s meaningless petitions. Especially right now, when important noble guests are currently waiting for my arrival. It’s very regrettable that my nanny who raised me was unable to discern the proper time and place for things.
“If that happens, I’d have to govern this domain and its people entrusted to me by the king all by myself. That’s why I’m learning. That’s why I’ll be appearing in front of the nobles as I am. Or, is there a problem with that?”
Seeing that Mrs. Galton was lost for words, since I was in a hurry, I talked over her as I passed her by. She’s become more heated recently. Since I’ve grown and her duties as my nanny have been significantly reduced, I wonder if she’s feeling frustration.
Whatever the case may be, if she doesn’t calm down a bit, she’ll become more and more isolated within the mansion. It might seem odd if I try to seriously confront her about her views, but luckily Bellway feels the same way I do and keeps her in check.
I could hear the band beginning to play their music. I stopped for a moment at the hallway door, to go over my appearance once more. Bellway reached out his hand, and slightly adjusted the position of my scarf.
“Your sharp words just earlier, were quite refreshing to hear. If Eliza-sama really thinks that, the earl-sama will be pleased to hear that as well.”
“……Because I returned with an injury on the first day of my birthday celebration, I think it’s made me more irritable. Mrs. Galton’s actions, in her own way, are out of consideration for me and my future as well.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
Bellway didn’t smile as he replied, and he entered the hall without saying another word, so I followed him without hesitation. When the doors opened, brightness filled the entire hall as lights were everywhere despite it being noon. I glanced everywhere around me, but could not feel any fragments of favor from their eyes. Well, it’s nothing to falter over. After all, it’s common to first meetings. I got used to it even though it’s unpleasant. As expected of the guests gathered by the earl, there was no rude commotion to be heard from them at all.
Since it’s like this, while I can’t completely put aside the issue with Mrs. Galton, I decided to give up defending her. It’ll be terrible for me later if I’m inattentive and make a blunder.
Earl Terejia brought me around, and introduced me to the noble guests. Among the Arxian nobility, there are customs and manners that must be observed when introducing someone to one’s acquaintances for the first time. It’s that I’m not supposed to do anything as the guest of honor, and someone else shall introduce you to everyone. Meaning, I was limited from directly greeting people. I was introduced to nobles from domains we had dealings with, domains that we could build relationships with in the future, our neighboring domains, and nobles from the royal capital that the earl has known for a long time.
Since Kamil had been teaching me prior to this, remembering their names was a relatively smooth process. Guests from important domains that we would trade with such as Henznaut and Rogshia would have to be treated courteously, while I had to pay attention to not offend those from nearby strong domains such as Genas or Jugfena, it was quite tiresome.
Among them, there was a young man who strangely didn’t seem disagreeable to me. He seemed young, probably just a little past twenty years old. He had snow white skin that I’d hardly ever seen since being born in this world, rare silver hair, and deep blue eyes. He must be from northwest of the royal capital, only the people from west of the Albus Mountains have such a special coloring, and my eyes were involuntarily drawn to him. He met my eyes, and broke into a faint smile. At his complete seeming lack of bad intentions, I actually started to think he was suspicious and only nodded back.
“Kamil, who’s that person with the silver hair?”
When Kamil took a look at the young man I was indicating at, he seemed to be a little lost for a bit, until he finally replied in a voice lacking confidence in the answer.
“……I think that’s Margrave Molton from the Foshubari region.”
Foshubari…… the most northwestern region of the kingdom. Since it’s rather far away, I only know the rough outline of the geography in that region. He’s really come quite a long ways just to visit this backwater domain belonging to a junior viscountess. It takes almost a month to come here using a horse-drawn carriage. As a margrave, I wouldn’t think that he has all that much influence in the palace, so I don’t know why the earl would have invited this man here.
“Would you like to go greet him?”
“……Nah, it’s fine.”
Earl Terejia hadn’t introduced him. Rather than spending time on him, I think I should be paying more attention to other nobles.
And so I drove that beautiful silver color out of my mind, and went back to watching Earl Terejia. The young man continued watching me for a bit. I could see him out of the corner of my eye, he was the only one in this venue who had something like a slight, soft smile at me for some reason.