“Oi, look…… that’s Earl Kaldia. Black hair and blood-red eyes, there’s no mistake.”
“Ahh, is that the atrociously brutal earl that enjoys blood……”
In the hall filled with chatting students, I could hear some voices talking about me. Since I’m an earl and the second highest-ranking student in school after the crown prince, I’m attracting a lot of annoying attention.
There are far more court nobles that live in the royal capital compared to landed nobles. Apparently in the “second royal capital” of the school, rumors about my infamy have spread quickly from parents to children.
While observing the power balance that was subtly different from the House of Lords, I slowly walked around the hall, looking for anyone that seemed familiar.
There’s supposed to be an evening party for welcoming the new students later tonight, and I thought about if I should attend, but being a recently promoted noble, I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention. And besides, I can feel everyone looking at me, saying whatever they like, and honestly, it doesn’t feel good.
Although I was planning to leave after I found someone I recognized from the otome game, I wasn’t able to find anyone like that. ……At any rate, I don’t really have anything to say to such a person regardless, apart from basic greetings, so how about I take my leave now? Just as I was getting tired of all the attention in the hall, someone tapped me on my shoulder.
“Hey, Earl Kaldia…… no, Einsbark. Congratulations on your noble title promotion.”
When I turned around, I saw an astoundingly handsome boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. I managed to suppress my surprise.
“Your Royal Highness, the Crown Prince……”
This person who was smiling softly at me was the crown prince of this country, Prince Alfred. With a dazzlingly brilliant smile, he held out his hand to me.
I took his hand, and after a moment of confusion, I kissed the back of his hand. He greeted me when we haven’t even been formally introduced to each other yet, there’s no proper etiquette on what to do in this situation, but from his expression, maybe he had wanted me to shake his hand instead.
I’ve seen him a few times before when visiting the royal palace, but this is the first time I’ve seen him up close and gotten a good look at his face. And now, I’ve remembered that he’s one of the capture targets from the otome game, and that he’s supposed to be the freshman representative who will give the opening speech later. Now that I’m seeing him directly, some hazy memories are coming back to me about the otome game, just like when I reached the school’s door.
I recalled that the crown prince had a close relationship with the other capture targets, and when I looked at the people next to him, as I expected I was assailed with more familiar faces.
It’s such a strange feeling. I’ve forgotten their names, but I remember some other basic information about them from the character list.
According to my vague memories, these guys next to him are the sons of the archduke, and the grandson of the Arxian Royal Army’s general commander Marquis Rolentsor, they’re definitely people that will be in positions critical to the future of this country.
They’re definitely going to be pillars of support for the crown prince in the future. ……I wouldn’t be surprised if this school gets attacked by those with nefarious plans in the future. It feels like too many important people have gathered here as freshmen with me this year.
I remembered the woman that invaded our kingdom, and set so much of the commoners’ district on fire, but I kept those unpleasant memories to myself.
Well, it’s probably due to my high ranking that the crown prince took the trouble of coming to greet me, due to social status within this school. Of course, there are noble children here from higher-ranked noble families than I am, but according to the laws of this country they’re still treated as nobles without titles. Most students haven’t obtained their own noble titles yet, after all. I think there may be a few students here that have inherited a baron or viscount title, but I seem to be the only one with a title of earl.
“……It is my good fortune to be in the presence of Your Highness. I am most honored by your words.”
“Mm, I’m glad to hear that we’ll be in the same class. I will be in your care from now on.”
I finally managed to eke out some words of courtesy required of me by etiquette, and the prince smiled back beautifully.
Ahh, this is…… With such an excellent appearance, I believe I can understand why many people would be attracted to him.
His excellent appearance is one of his qualities. The first prince Albert is known for his intelligence, but evaluations about his appearance say that he’s only average. The second and crown prince Alfred who’s in front of me now, however, has a matchless appearance that makes me doubt my eyes with just how fine he looks.
The fact that he was in the same class as me, I expected that as well based on the game of course, and unlike the first prince – his bloodline has no controversy, coming only from Arxian royal blood.
“Hey, if possible, I’d like it if you weren’t so stiff around me. You are not my vassal yet, you are still the vassal of my father the king. Besides, this place is just a school. I’d like to just be friends with you. How about it?”
While I was busy thinking in silence and lost in this social situation I didn’t understand at all after too much time on the battlefield, the crown prince’s voice brought me back to my senses again. Maybe that’s why he seemed dissatisfied with my kissing the back of his hand, I must have been too formal.
……If possible, I’d like to agree. If I’m able to say that out loud, how joyous it would be. He’s not just an otome game character, after all. However, I absolutely can’t allow myself to make friends with someone for such a silly reason.
“I apologize for being too formal. Your Highness will be the future king. I cannot allow myself to be impolite. Please forgive me.”
“But, are you going to be so formal for three whole years? I think that it’ll just be tiring for everyone. Given our ranks, I think that we’ll be seeing each other quite often.”
……No, of course it won’t be too tiring. What is he talking about, this crown prince.
Although I’m the second highest ranking noble in school after the crown prince, once I leave school, I’ll be just an earl again. What’s more, I’m an upstart inheritor. Unlike a higher rank like a marquis or a margrave, my social status isn’t appropriate for getting close to the crown prince.
There should be some dukes’ daughters here as well, so I think he’d be better off going to find them instead. In noble society, people of different statuses hanging out together would only plant the seeds of useless friction. Even now, I’m still dealing with the annoying consequence of receiving that medal.
Although I say this, my social status is much lower than the crown prince’s, so unfortunately, I’m unable to refuse his direct request.
“……As you wish, Your Highness.”
In the end when I was forced to agree with him, the crown prince showed off his gorgeous smile again. It’s quite blinding, my eyes are getting dizzy, please stop it.
“Thank you, earl. By the way, I was curious. Could you please tell me why it is that you’re wearing clothing for boys?”
“According to the school regulations, students with noble titles are supposed to wear formal military attire.”
“Well, I know that, but still……”
I suppose it’s only natural for the crown prince to be confused with what I’m wearing. As always, I wore ceremonial clothing for males.
This noble school has no school uniforms, and most noble children just wear their own clothing that they like. Especially the girls, it’s normal for most of them to dress up every day and accessorize because other nobles’ eyes will be on them. The majority of girls that aren’t engaged will desperately be trying to find a partner here at noble school.
But just as how the crown prince was wearing the clothes of his knight order, I was also currently wearing the military uniform of the Kaldia army, because of the rule where nobles with titles must attend school wearing military clothes. This rule is meant to make their statuses stand out from the other students.
“……Are female students truly required to comply with that rule?”
“I am the first example of a female student with a noble title that this school has ever had, so it applies to me as well.”
Also, the reason why I’ve always been wearing this style, is still the same as before. Since there have never been any underage female domain lords like me before, there’s a lack of official rules regarding formal attire for girls. That’s why I’ve always been wearing knight attire or my military uniform whenever I attend social gatherings such as evening parties, I never change it.
“These clothes are more practical than skirts, and I happen to like wearing this style as well. I am glad that I do not have to spend any unnecessary money on accessories. Your Highness has no need to worry about my clothes.”
“……Um, ……I see. It’s fine if you like it, then.”
The crown prince seemed even more confused as he nodded.