It’s really been so long since I last saw Earl Terejia.
“I haven’t come to greet you for such a long time, my apologies.”
“No, it’s fine. I was the one who should have been there for your school’s opening ceremony.”
The earl was casually resting on a couch, and it feels like his expression is just slightly less strict than usual after seeing me return here. Ever since he arrived in Kaldia to become my guardian, the situation had been so bad in my domain that it took up so much of his time, that’s why the earl that I usually see was always so strict.
“I’ve heard that you’ve been feeling worse lately……”
“It’s just some light coughing. My family is making a big fuss out of nothing every time I want to get some bed rest for a day or two. There’s no problem.”
“Is that the case? I’m glad to hear it’s not serious.”
“Humph, everyone’s treating me like an old man at death’s door. Even though my older brother is still energetically working in the castle every day. Shouldn’t he be the one treated like me because he’s even more of a workaholic?”
After my tenth birthday, Earl Terejia started staying in the royal capital for longer periods of time. And when I was promoted in noble rank, he ended his regency of taking care of Kaldia for me, and returned to his royal capital residence permanently.
He has no children or anyone who will inherit his title, and lately he hasn’t been attending House of Lords meetings much either. Apart from doing some accounting for the royal palace which was his original work and the basis for his noble title, he’s mostly retired now, and spends his time enjoying himself in his mansion.
“……Well, it’s whatever. Anyhow, I hear that you’ve been caught up in a troublesome situation?”
He still holds much information on the other nobles’ weaknesses, and even now many nobles in the royal capital will often come to consult him on various matters. As always, my guardian seems to have a little too much influence.
Well…… it’s exactly because he has so much information that I’m coming to consult him this time, though. Since my noble rank was promoted, I’m going to have more and more dealings with other nobles in the future.
“Yes. Actually, Eric-dono from the archduke’s family is giving me some trouble……”
“It’s just like the situation you wrote me about in the letter? After I read it, I instantly disposed of the letter.”
I simply confirmed by nodding. Before I came to visit him, I gave him a report on the tangled relationships between me, the crown prince, and the three members of the prince’s retinue. Since I also wrote my personal thoughts about them in my report, it would greatly trouble me if someone other than the earl saw it, and the earl and I are now deeply connected and on the same boat, so of course he would never betray me and he shredded my letter. That’s what he meant when he said he disposed of it.
“Yes. Also, I don’t understand why Eric seems to have such strong feelings of enmity toward me for the things I said. Although I did want to verbally attack him so that it would be easier for me to be distant from the crown prince.”
“It seems like you haven’t talked much to the Rolentsor boy or Grays yet? Especially Grays, you haven’t talked to him since the first day other than greeting him?”
“It felt like an appropriate distance to keep from Grays-dono, it felt comfortable this way. Does it have to do with the archduke’s family education as well?”
I don’t know what type of person Archduke Dovadain is, as he hardly ever attends House of Lords meetings. As the younger brother of the king, he’s a major figure in the Upper House of Lords, but from what I can tell, he almost never gets involved in politics.
“……The archduke’s family, eh……”
However, it appears that even Earl Terejia who’s spent time in the Upper House of Lords before doesn’t know much about the archduke. In a rare instance, he didn’t have much to say, and his usually strict face became even grimmer.
I kept drinking my black tea as I waited for him to say something. While waiting for the earl’s information, I reviewed the facts I already knew about the archduke’s family.
No matter how much of a child he may be – even if Eric is only an illegitimate son, he’s still from one of the most important major noble families, and his behavior is too strange. Every time he behaves inappropriately, it makes me raise my eyebrows in wonder at just what kind of education he received in the archduke’s family, and he’s done so more than once.
He’s the son of a concubine, with how much he resembles Grays and the way he acts, he probably received equal treatment to Grays. Then, his education shouldn’t have been all that different from Grays.
Among the crown prince and his retinue, Grays is the only one who hasn’t spoken to me much. Does he already have his sight set on being the next archduke I wonder, it feels like he has an attitude where he doesn’t even pay attention to a mere upstart lesser earl.
And, I feel like his attitude is to be expected. Sieghart being from a military family is an exception, but the crown prince and his two cousins that are the archduke’s sons shouldn’t be showing this much interest in me.
……Since noble school has its own isolated society, it’s unavoidable that the crown prince and other nobles would pay attention to me since I have the second highest noble ranking.
However, that only applies inside noble school, once we’re back in normal noble society, I’m still just one of many lower-ranked nobles. With regards to military noble families, the Rolentsors and the Einsbarks are much more accomplished than I am. The crown prince is being way too friendly with me for some unknown reason…… but I’ll leave him alone for now.
The mystery is in the difference between Eric and Grays. Being from the archduke’s family, Grays is distancing himself from me appropriately, but Eric isn’t doing so. But if they had different educations and were treated differently in their family, Grays and Eric shouldn’t be so close to each other. Even though one is the heir and the other a bastard son, they get along just like twins would. Since Eric is allowed to be equal to Grays, then why is it that their attitudes toward me are so different?
……I really don’t want to stick my nose in other families’ household problems, but in order to manage Eric, so that nothing bad happens to me in the end, I’m going to have to learn more about whatever his bothersome family issues are.