Chapter 87: “I’m Not Sorry!”
I did it! We did it!
I gave Ludwig a good beating in a way that wasn’t my fault! Ludwig’s opinion of me must have dropped considerably. And I even got him lunch with Helene! If I can keep this up and force Ludwig on Helene, it’ll be perfect!
Ludwig must have thought I was a nag in that exchange. He couldn’t retaliate against me right then and there because I was right. I’m sure he’ll shun me now and keep me away from you.
I didn’t expect Helene to be as close to Ludwig as I thought she would be. I thought they’d be closer than I’d expected since she’s the top candidate for his hand in marriage. I can’t even remember his face, and I suspect he didn’t even have a name to match his face.
Well, I’ve only met Ludwig a handful of times. That’s how many times we’ve actually seen each other.
It’s not how you feel about each other or how many times you’ve met, it’s how your houses relate to each other. The Bayens are the most powerful non-blood dukes in the kingdom of Prois. The Dukes of Creff, a branch of the royal family whose head is also Prime Minister at the moment, are second only to the royal family. Behind them are the dukes who are related by blood.
Apart from them, the Dukes of Bayen are the most powerful family outside of blood, and there is a lot of merit in marrying Ludwig to the most powerful family, the Baiens. There is no problem if we don’t bring in the Carruthers now, but there is merit in bringing in the Baiens in this generation.
The Duchy of Aust to the south has been experiencing some problems in recent years. The reason is simple: the Kingdom of Prois is currently in a lull in relations with its neighbor to the west, the Kingdom of Frasier.
The demon tribe of the northwest is hostile to the common enemy of mankind. It’s the same for all nations and all nations are supposed to cooperate against the demon tribe. But at least since I was born there hasn’t been an armed conflict with the demon tribe. The most recent conflict was nearly 30 years ago.
The absence of conflict with the demonic nations who are the common enemy of mankind means a loosening of the bonds between men. It’s a fact of life that nations that fight each other while they have a common enemy will attack each other when that enemy is no longer present.
So since the last conflict with the demon tribe ended the Kingdom of Prois and the Kingdom of Frashear have had many small conflicts. Even after I was born, border disputes with the Kingdom of Frashear happened frequently. I didn’t know much about it but there’s been border disputes not only on the Carruthers Frontier but all along the western border. Or should I say they were.
Even now, we have not made peace with the Kingdom of Frashear, nor have we ended the conflict. But the Kingdom of Frashear has been tending toward a policy of appeasement…
The war has been over for nearly thirty years but the land of the demon tribe is still alive and well to the northwest of the Prouse Kingdom and the hero of salvation, the god of war Alberto, guards the northwest direction. As long as his father Alberto is around he doesn’t think that the borders of the Kingdom of Prois can be breached.
So they’re probably keeping a policy of appeasement with the Kingdom of Prois for the time being and waiting for us to let our guard down and relax our borders. Or maybe they think that if their father Albert passes away, they will lose the pillar of their border security and the invasion will be easier.
If you look at it from a personal point of view, you may think it’s a long time to wait until your father dies, but as a national policy, a hundred-year plan is not unusual. Rather, a country that can’t manage itself for the next 50 or 100 years will probably go under sooner or later. That’s why tensions with the Kingdom of Frashear to the west have been growing slack of late.
Which brings us to the relationship with the Duchy of Oath. The Kingdom of Prois and the Duchy of Oath originally had a cooperative relationship. They have a history of dealing with the Kingdom of Frashear as a common enemy as well as the demon tribe which is a common enemy of mankind. But now that tensions with the Kingdom of Frashear are loosening… the relationship between the Kingdom of Prois and the Duchy of Oath is deteriorating.
The fact that we have been able to put up with each other’s problems while we were fighting together against external enemies has become more noticeable now that the external enemies are no longer present.
The Kingdom of Prois and the Principality of Oath are also claiming territory along their southern borders, and the seeds of a regional conflict have been smoldering. Until now it’s been the land of the demons and then the Kingdom of Frashear… but in recent years these issues have been put aside to fight foreign enemies.
The Dukes of Bayen have a strong connection to the Duchy of Aust and have protected the southeastern border of the kingdom for many years. If the Dukes of Bayen should turn on the Duchy of Aust and rebel, it could be a disaster.
If the Duchy of Aust crosses the border without any obstacles and suddenly attacks with the Dukes of Bayen… there’s a chance they’ll suddenly attack the center of the kingdom. If that happens, the Kingdom of Prois could collapse at once. Considering that, it’s important to strengthen our borders by marrying the Dukes of Bayen and taking them into the Kingdom of Prois while we still can.
The Carruthers family is currently in a lull to the northwest and the demonkind and Frasian kingdoms are quiet. It may not always be peaceful, but it’s not urgent. More pressing is relations with the Principality of Aust.
Wilhelm and Dietrich must know that. That’s why they’ve made me a dummy fiancee while behind my back they’ve arranged the marriage of Ludwig to Helene of the Duchy of Bayen.
“Lady Flora, are you in a good mood?”
“Yes? Yes, Herr Ludwig invited me to lunch, but I was able to force his hand with Helene.
We were eating lunch in the freshman cafeteria when Katharina approached us and I blurted out the truth. Well, no one’s around us anyway. No one’s gonna come near me, so I don’t have to worry they’ll hear what I have to say.
“What! Were you allowed to do such a thing?”
“What? Why not?”
Me and Katerina, we tilt our heads at each other. It’s cute. When Katharina does that, I want to hug her. But I can’t do that here, so I’ll hold back.
“Her Highness Ludwig is married to Lady Flora, isn’t he? And I heard that Helene of the Duchess of Bayen is trying to push away Flora to become Her Highness Ludwig’s betrothed.”
“Yes, I know. That’s why it’s good. I want Herr Ludwig to marry Miss Helene.
Again, me and Katerina are tilting our heads at each other. I don’t see what the problem is. I’d rather you did. I’m ostensibly single for the rest of my life. The thought of being forced to marry a man and have children with him horrifies me. I want to spend the rest of my life with pretty girls.
“Oh, I’d better get to my afternoon classes. See you later, Katharina.”
“Oh… Yes. Have a good day.
I’m going back to the classroom with Katharina who still wants to say something… We can’t stay here forever. We’re still doing the easy parts of the lesson but it’s going to get harder. If I’m not careful I’ll be at the bottom of the class in no time…
Afternoon classes are over. All I have to do now is go home. But it’s a problem that I can’t go home right away. I look out the window and I’m fed up with all the carriages lined up in a row.
The carriages are lined up in the order in which they arrive, so there is no fixed time for the carriage of any one house to arrive. However, if the return carriages are lined up freely without any arrangement, the carriages will be lined up in order from early on, so there are restrictions on this.
You can only line up for the carriage home 30 minutes before classes end. This is so as not to cause traffic jams around the school. If this regulation wasn’t in place there would be carriages that come an hour before to be the first in line and carriages that line up two hours before and eventually the carriages that dropped off their owners in the morning would wait in line for their turn to return.
Since then it’s been decided that the carriages can only be lined up for their turn 30 minutes before the end of the day. So every house would pick up their carriages just in time to get them in line 30 minutes before.
The rush to get home after work is ridiculously crowded and honestly I don’t want to get in line. The first few days I didn’t know what was going on, so I just got in line, but now I’ve changed my mind and I’m telling Helmut to come get me slowly.
Students who want to get home as soon as the rush is over go outside to wait in line, but I don’t want to be in that line. I don’t want to stand in that line. It’s better to wait until the rush is over and the crowd has thinned out, and then slowly make your way to the exit. There are a lot of people like me who choose to go home slowly, so let’s just kill some time in the classroom until the rush is over.
But then we were interrupted by the same two idiots from lunch. It was the same two idiots from lunch.
“… Do you remember my noon words, Herr Ludwig?”
I told you not to come because of the commotion you’d cause! You’ve forgotten what it’s like at lunchtime!
“After school, the crowd’s gonna be smaller, right? We’re not going to get anywhere if we’re told not to move when the crowds are down.”
I’d like to punch this idiot who’s smiling so cheerfully. I don’t care what you do or where you go or how crowded or chaotic you are. All I’m saying is don’t come around me because my peaceful life will be disturbed by your presence.
If you can’t understand me when I say it like that… then I’ll say it like that. But don’t lose your temper. If you say that in front of this many people, you could be executed for disrespect or treason. Even if Ludwig forgives you, they won’t let you. If you say it in public, you can’t take it back.
“But, Herr Ludwig, let’s get on with our business.”
“Oh, yeah, right.”
Lutger elbows Ludwig in the side of the head. What the hell do you want? It’d be better for me if you’d get on with it. I’ll shut up and let you finish.
“Thanks for the daytime. I almost went off the rails. It must have been hard for you to be so loyal to me, even though you’re married to her. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Flora.”
What? What are you saying? I don’t quite understand what you’re saying. That’s why the aristocrat’s phraseology is so bothersome.
Even though you’re married to him? How dare you say such horrible things to me in public? I’ve been humiliated. Remember that! Is that what this is about?
I’m sure you’re right. He said that to me in front of all the students. The third prince must feel quite humiliated to have a younger girl say that to him in public even though he’s married to her.
This is going to make Ludwig and I break off our engagement. At least Ludwig’s starting to hate me. And at least I haven’t done anything wrong. I may have offended Ludwig, but I’m sure I was right. That’s why he’s come to order me in this roundabout way.
And I’m sure the three of you had a lot to talk about at lunch with Helene. And if she took an interest in Helene, then all the better. That’s a good thing for me.
“So how about we have tea in my room afterwards? I want to apologize for lunch.”
I’ve got some business with my father today, so please forgive me.
Who’s going. Who’s gonna go to your room and tell you what happened at lunch? By “apologize,” you mean make me apologize. I don’t really have anything to do with this, but if I get in their ring, they’ll make me get down on my knees and they’ll make me do it. I can’t apologize for something that’s not my fault.
I may have done things to offend Ludwig on purpose, but I don’t think I said anything wrong. I’m not going to apologize to a royal for something I didn’t do.
“Well… So what about tomorrow? Tomorrow is my day off…”
I’m sorry. I have to go on an inspection tomorrow…”
Why do I have to see Ludwig tomorrow when it’s my first day off? I have a date with Louisa tomorrow. But she’s supposed to show me around the town. And I’m not lying about the tour. I’m going on a secret visit to the Kansa Trading Company’s branch in King’s Landing. It’s an unannounced visit, so I can’t miss it tomorrow.
“Well… I’m sorry I asked you to do this. Then let me know when you’re free.”
“Okay. I’ll contact you later.”
I can’t say no to that. I’m not going to be free for the rest of my life. Or at least wait until Ludwig’s anger dies down and clear my schedule far enough in advance. I can’t say no every time if I don’t say yes once in a while.
Yeah, I’ll be waiting. Come on, Rutger.
“Yes… Hey, country girl! His Highness Ludwig may be a generous man and let you get away with it but your attitude is unbecoming. You’d better watch out.
Yes. Thank you for your advice.
Shut up. You don’t get to tell me what to do! I want out of this engagement. And since Ludwig hates me too, the sooner you break it off, the better. You don’t know what it’s like to be a dummy in a wall!
“How good of Flora to think of me and give me advice like that. If she marries me, she’ll be there for me in the shadows and in the sun.”
“Herr Ludwig… That country girl doesn’t suit Herr Ludwig. I’ll take her from you, but perhaps you should find another woman.”
“No! Even if it is Lutgar, I will not compromise about Flora!”
Ludwig and Lutger are having a conversation in the distance, but it’s so quiet I can’t hear them. Probably not a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. They’re probably talking about how they’re going to humiliate me or make me apologize or something like that.
I shook my head lightly as a series of bad thoughts ran through my head, and then I got ready to go home.
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