Just as I was beginning to get tired of the overly luxurious food at the dinner party and was getting a little drowsy, the nobles from farther away began leaving as well. While waiting for Earl Terejia who was still surrounded by nobles, Kamil, Claudia, and I remained in the corner and poked at what remained of the food. Although we had free time, we weren’t bored. There were so many nobles here that I’ve never met before. While observing their elegance, I learned who each of them were, as this was absolutely necessary in order for me to seriously enter their society later in the future.
And so while I was quietly sipping my tea, Kamil suddenly froze up.
“What’s the matter?”
“Margrave Molton is coming over this way.”
He said so in almost a whisper as he kept his line of sight fixed on the margrave, and indeed Margrave Molton who had just been talking calmly with the other nobles from the royal capital was now walking leisurely in this direction. He was also looking at us, and our eyes met as if he had nothing to hide.
As expected, he was smiling without seeming to have any bad intentions. Without any hesitation, he came to our location, and he encouraged the shorter man following behind him to step in front.
I remembered the face of this man who seemed slightly troubled. He was introduced to me at my birthday party by Earl Terejia as a senior viscount who was a secretary at the royal palace.
“How do you do, Viscountess Kaldia?”
“Greetings and how do you do, Viscount Gribell. Thank you very much for having taken the trouble to attend my birthday celebration.”
“No, it was my pleasure.”
As he nodded, the viscount’s expression seemed like he was seeing something strange. I wonder if it’s because I’m not talking like a child. Since it’s been so long since I was actually a child, even though I have some idea of what it’s like, it’s difficult for me to act like one. Because it’s easier than having to pretend, I’ve become like this now.
However, because of this, the viscount now seems to be considering how to speak to me. It would be rude if he was too direct with what he really wanted without at least making some conversation first. As a result, he missed the timing for his next sentence and silence had fallen upon the conversation for a bit.
“……At my birthday celebration, thank you very much for the grape juice. I’ll have to hold off on trying the wine until I become an adult.”
“Ah, it’s fine. I’m glad that you were able to enjoy it.”
I managed to remember back to my birthday celebration in order to continue the conversation. Viscount Gribell had given me a set of both grape juice and red wine, since many other nobles had simply given alcohol, his consideration for me still being a minor had left an impression.
Viscount Gribell had such a relieved expression when I continued the conversation. He glanced at Margrave Molton who was now behind him, then spoke up again.
“Since it was from the Freche region, I felt that you’d enjoy it. My younger brother is currently serving Earl Garlof as a squire.”
“When you say Earl Garlof……”
“Junior Earl Robert Garlof is Margrave Freche’s younger brother. When my older brother was in school, he got to know Margrave Freche, which is why my younger brother got to serve Earl Garlof as an apprentice page, and now he’s become a squire.”
“I see, how fortunate for him.”
“Yes, yes. School is the perfect place for fated meetings. After all, studying together for three years, can cultivate deeper relationships. ……Ah, come to think of it. Viscountess Kaldia, I’d like to introduce my friend from school to you.”
He’s finally gotten to the point, as I sighed mentally at how roundabout the conversation was, by all means, I consented. It feels like meaningless chatter accounts for eighty percent of talking between nobles. I haven’t really interacted with many nobles other than Earl Terejia, so I’m unused to this kind of interaction.
“This is my friend from school, Margrave Molton.”
Viscount Gribell stepped to the side to make way for the man with him. The man bowed, and lightly shook his silver hair. As I saw his face from up close, I felt like he was really quite the handsome young man.
“Pleased to meet you, Margrave Molton. I would like to give thanks to the gods that I was able to meet you here today. I apologize for my rudeness in not greeting you the other day.”
“All good, Viscountess Kaldia. It is I who should have apologized for not greeting you despite it being a celebration for you. I should be the one thanking the gods.”
I didn’t expect the major noble from the northwest, Margrave Molton to approach me so directly, and while I pretended to remain calm, I was actually in turmoil inside.
It wouldn’t hurt to stay slightly longer in the royal capital to make some connections, but even though he had accepted the invitation to my birthday celebration, why is he only greeting me here at this late hour.
Unluckily, right now Earl Terejia is quite far away and busy accompanying the other nobles. It couldn’t be, was he aiming for when the earl would be too busy to pay attention to me? I wondered what Margrave Molton wanted from me as he smiled gently, I wasn’t able to read his intentions. I was nervous to the point where I was about to break out into a cold sweat.
“You don’t have to be so stiff around me. I have a son the same age as you. As a parent, I just wanted to talk to someone who was the same age as my son.”
Margrave Molton’s cheerful statement exceeded my comprehension capacity as I was being too vigilant and nervous.
I had been so high-strung that I broke myself.
As Margrave Molton began talking about his son being the same age as me and being the right age for a playmate, and asked what kinds of things I was learning, I could only feel like as if it were an out of body experience, as I had lost all my energy due to my own feelings of how stupid I’d been.
The reason for his mysterious smiles seems to have been because it was his way of encouraging children to work hard. That’s what I had detected at my birthday celebration. But it was natural I’d misunderstand since I hadn’t seen such an expression until today.
In the end, it seems that Margrave Molton has a soft spot for children and he’s taken a liking to me. Since he’s come to the royal capital to do business with the merchants here and sell daily necessities, I got a promise from him to sell those to us cheaply.
And since we needed to make many bulk purchases to help the refugees set up the foundations for what they would need to live in my domain, there’s no reason to turn down an offer to be able to buy things cheaply. When Earl Terejia was finally free from all those nobles, he seemed very pleased as well, so it seems that I didn’t do something unnecessary.
“Come to think of it, even if Kamil didn’t say anything, Claudia-dono kept quiet as well.”
Claudia’s father has quite a low social status among the prestigious Rolentsor family. Even prestigious families will have nobles without peerage due to having too many people. For those like Claudia that won’t succeed to the peerage, nobles without their own lands often have to find governmental work. Due to the family’s status and influence in the military, it’s relatively easy for Rolentsor to find work for the Royal Army. Compared to me, Claudia’s social status is actually much lower than mine, but even so it could be useful to keep a connection to the Rolentsor family.
“That’s because! I’m aiming to become a knight, so it’s different from you guys. Father told me that once I’m twenty, I’m free to enter the knights and do whatever I like, but since I have to do it with loans and I’m already mostly cut off from my relatives, it’ll actually be more like from when I’m thirteen. Shouldn’t you know this already?”
Urgh, although Claudia was proudly puffing out her chest, I had to conceal how much her story actually troubled me. Looking at the current situation, there would probably not be much of a bright future waiting for Claudia by the time she turns twenty. Judging by both her age and personality, I don’t think she’ll be easy to marry off, either. However, for Earl Terejia to have gone to the trouble of bringing her here, with how strong her spear skills are, and the fact that she’s still a Rolentsor, I feel like maybe she can actually make it as a knight before she turns twenty.
“……Arxia has never had a female knight up until now.”
As if to answer the question in my mind, Earl Terejia secretly whispered that to me. I see, then she has quite a difficult path ahead of her. In that case, then the earl’s aim can only be one thing. Claudia will enter the knights, so that she doesn’t become a burden forever on this household.