“……How much do you know about the archduke’s wife?”
Just as I was finishing the last sip of my black tea, Earl Terejia finally spoke up.
“I’ve heard that Grays’ mother is the official wife, and Eric’s mother is a concubine, and that the archduke got married when he was still one of the possible heirs to the throne.”
“The archduke’s concubine Marleen is from the Provents family…… which is a branch family of Marquis Zellutelutsviha’s family, and the archduke’s official wife Otelia is from Duke Zastin’s family. The archduke married them both at almost the same time, and again they almost simultaneously gave him two sons, Grays and Eric, in the same year. I don’t know in detail if his two wives get along well or not. Marleen almost never goes out in public.”
“Marleen’s a princess of Zellutelutsviha. In order to deepen the relationship between the royal family and the independent Marquis territory, it was a common type of political marriage in order to increase friendship with Zellutelutsviha.”
In the Red Karan mountains, there’s a unique area in Arxia known as the independent Marquis territory. I didn’t know that Eric’s ancestry hailed from such a region. Well, unless Eric’s temper is because of a special type of mental disorder in Zellutelutsviha, I don’t see how this is very useful so far.
“Also, from what I’ve heard, the concubine Marleen was originally treated the same as the official wife Otelia. That’s probably why Eric has a higher status than Otelia’s second son as well.”
Come to think of it, I received an invitation recently to Grays’ birthday party first, meaning he’s older than Eric. I didn’t pay much attention to it, since nobles typically send out a huge amount of invitations just for courtesy.
Considering my current relationship with Eric, I really want to decline it, but……
“Was originally, does that mean it’s not the case anymore?”
“Marleen passed away approximately five years ago.”
I looked at Earl Terejia as he fell silent.
“……I didn’t know about that. The concubine being treated equally to the official wife in the archduke’s family, as well as her having passed away, it’s not well known to many people.”
I would remember any knowledge about the royal family and the archduke’s family as it’s common sense to do so. If there’s something I didn’t know, it probably means that it wasn’t meant for a lower-ranked noble like me to begin with.
“The archduke’s family held only a small private funeral for Marleen, and it seems that they only told the relevant parties.”
“I see, does this all have to do with Eric’s outrageous behavior?”
“I can’t say with absolute certainty, but I did start hearing bad things about Eric’s reputation right after Marleen’s death. He lost his mother, he’s alone in a complex family situation, it’s conceivable that his personality may have become a little twisted in such a scenario.”
……As he said his personality may have become a little twisted, it felt like the earl was taking a very deep look at me. Well, in my case, my personality may have become twisted when I killed my parents, Eric’s case is probably a lot different from mine.
“So the exact reason is unclear, correct?”
“That’s all I know. It’s because I hardly have any dealings with the archduke’s family.”
After that, he stopped talking, and finished his already cold tea.
It seems that if I want any more information than this, I’ll have to find it myself, eh. I do have the birthday party invitation coming up, so that’s a potential chance I could use. I’m going to have to adjust my schedule again…… I suppose I should leave everything I don’t have time to handle personally to Ratoka.
In the afternoon, just like I planned, I went to the House of Lords. Since there aren’t many people staying here during spring, the meetings usually aren’t as important. Usually what they do in spring is things like confirming the national budget, hearing cases involving people from the palace, stuff of this degree.
I took the fact that the House of Lords usually doesn’t have anything important going on at this time into consideration when I decided to leave school to go and collect information today. Since the House of Lords is where nobles gather, it’s a place where I can gather information even if there’s no meeting today as some nobles will still be there.
“Hello, how are you today, Earl Ruktoferd?”
“Ohh, if it isn’t Earl Einsbark. How are you? How’s school life treating you?”
“It’s a fresh experience for me every day. I’ve never had so many people of the same age around me before.”
The first noble that I saw and greeted was Earl Ruktoferd. His domain is one of the few that produces warhorses, and Kaldia’s first batch of horses was from the Ruktoferd domain as well. And since a retired soldier from his army was the one who helped teach my cavalry troops how to ride horses, I’ve known and had dealings with Earl Ruktoferd for a long time.
“What are you up to today, then? I thought that there wasn’t anything on the agenda today about the Kaldia domain……”
“Actually, I wanted to consult with you about something today, Earl Ruktoferd. It’s about the Shiru horses that my domain took in……”
Although it hasn’t reached the extent to where I can export them, the number of horses in Kaldia have been steadily increasing every year. The Shiru horses are smaller than warhorses from Ruktoferd, and aren’t as suited for traveling long distances or pulling heavy carriages, but their lightness, ease of handling and top speed are excellent qualities for my light cavalry on the battlefield to become a mobile strike unit, and it seems that others have become interested in purchasing some from me lately as a result of my success in battle.
Meaning, Kaldia could possibly become Ruktoferd’s business competitor in the future. The earl seemed slightly confused that I would consult him, but he politely said “alright, I’ll hear you out” as he led me to an empty resting area in the House of Lords.
Honestly though, the Shiru horses are just bait to get the earl hooked in conversation, my true goal is to hear more from him about the eastern border’s situation since he regularly supplies the border with horses…… After talking about horse breeding, I can steer the conversation in that direction. I talked with the earl about the possibility of breeding Shiru horses with his horses and creating a new breed of warhorse, improving the species slowly over the next fifty years, a grand plan to undertake.
Of course, I was able to achieve my actual goal as well. Thanks to our conversation, I learned that the stalemate on the eastern border was still continuing, and that the royal army’s lower-ranked troops were slowly becoming disorderly.
About 10,000 soldiers are basically occupying enemy territory now and remaining there. While Arxia is forbidding them from making any further attacks, they must always be on guard for ambushes from Rindarl, it’s a stressful situation for the soldiers.
……It’s only a matter of time before our soldiers’ morale begins to drop as well. I shall inform Ergnade of this situation. He’s not a member of the royal army himself however, so I don’t know if he’ll be able to intervene effectively.