༺ There was a Brief Commotion (3) ༻
The capital was so huge that it couldn’t be compared to any city I’d seen before. It was so big that it made me wonder if it was even appropriate to call it a city.
We’ve traveled around various areas of the capital ever since the first day when we visited the square, but it felt like we hadn’t even seen 10% of it. I think we wouldn’t be able to see everything even if we stayed here until the end of the vacation.
‘I guess we won’t be going to other cities anymore.’
I lay in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. Honestly, 10% was a very generous estimate. Was there even a need to go to another city? The hassle of choosing another city and finding another accommodation felt like too much.
I hugged the pillow beside me. Traveling around was exhausting.
Traveling for a day or two was enjoyable, but constantly keeping that excitement up was hard both physically and mentally, and we’ve had days of non-stop touring around the Capital.
Luckily, Tannian had church-related matters to attend to today, so we got to rest. If we’d gone out, I would have returned crawling.
I stretched my body. I had to rest today as much as possible so I could move again tomorrow.
‘I have to stay strong.’
As one of the Empire’s citizens, I could take my time. There was no need to rush whether it was the Capital or another city.
However, out of the group, three weren’t from the Empire. If not now, then when else would they be able to explore the Capital, let alone other areas outside the city?
Even if it was a bit tiring, it was something I had to bear. While it was an experience I could always have, it was a once-in-a-lifetime memory for them.
“I should be accompanying you, but I have things to deal with for a while. I’ll leave it to the Manager. If anything happens, tell the butler immediately.”
I have to do my best for oppa, who started working the day after we got to the Capital.
Under normal circumstances, oppa wouldn’t need to be with us during the vacation. However, after hearing that we would come to the Capital, he opened up his mansion and even ensured our comfort. It was a gesture beyond consideration.
That’s why I couldn’t make him worry. We should stay in the Capital without causing any trouble. If we were to travel somewhere else, he might have to move with us as well.
But then, something unexpected happened.
I felt stuffy inside my room, so I went out to the garden and saw the Duke’s daughter. Usually, I would just greet her and move on.
“Ah, Lady Louise.”
However, I couldn’t just pass by after seeing her drooping shoulders and lifeless eyes. She smiled weakly and barely managed to react to my voice.
This was the first time I saw the dignified Duke’s daughter in such a weary state. She sometimes looked like this due to matters related to oppa, but she had never looked this lifeless.
‘Is it because of oppa?’
Seeing her current state, there was a high chance that oppa was the one at fault. After all, she’d been invited here by him. In a way, she was more his guest than our travel companion, although she did enjoy the tour with us.
Technically speaking, oppa had been neglecting his guest. Senior might understand his situation, but if this unintentional neglect kept going on, it was inevitable that she’d get hurt.
Being ignored by someone you care about is probably the worst feeling.
Upon realizing her situation, I felt sad for her. Unlike me, who had the club members and Irina, the position of a Duke’s daughter was somewhat isolating. She probably came here for oppa, but he wasn’t here and she had no one to confide in.
While we were enjoying the sights, she must have been struggling a lot.
Not only that, but given her status, she couldn’t even freely express her pain.
As a daughter of one of the Empire’s dukes, she had to maintain her poise and dignity in the presence of foreign royalty. Because of her position, she had a lot of responsibilities.
‘What should I do?’
There was nothing I could do for her. It was unthinkable for someone from a Barons’ household to offer comfort or show concern for someone from a Duke’s house.
Then, I needed to resolve the issue that was making her struggle. But oppa was busy, so there wasn’t much I could do.
While I was contemplating what to do, Senior, who seemed to be thinking about something, approached me.
“May I ask for your help?”
My help? I don’t think I’ll be able to help much.
I blinked in surprise at the unexpected words, but her expression was deadly serious.
Ah… can I really help her? Should I go to where oppa is and ask him to finish work early today?
* * *
Standing in the hallway, I felt my own inadequacy.
It didn’t matter if the other person was a royal family member or a saint candidate. I am a daughter of one of the Empire’s dukes. Even if I objectively lacked in status, there should at least be some advantage for me. After all, I was a noble of the Empire, and we were in the Empire.
I believed that with my dignified demeanor and persuasive authority, I could prevent rash actions. After all, it was common sense.
But that very thought was evidence of my inadequacy.
‘If they were people who had common sense…’
They wouldn’t have come to the Academy in the first place.
It was a belated realization. After realizing that they wouldn’t have come to the Academy or the Capital if they were rational, I felt dizzy.
“Wouldn’t it be better to visit other areas than just staying in the Capital?”
“That’s true. Since the purpose of our trip was to see the Empire, it’d be better to explore different places.”
While I was hovering near the royals to deal with unexpected behaviors, I overheard those shocking words. Go somewhere else? No way. It was already hard enough to see Carl although we were staying in the Capital. How much harder would it be if they went elsewhere?
Not only that, but they were figures too important for a mere governor to handle. If they could be stopped, then I should.
“The Capital is where everything in the Empire gathers, so why not experience the Capital first?”
That’s why I cautiously stepped forward to dissuade the two princes. Fortunately, the saint candidate had left early for the church, and the third prince was elusive unless specifically sought out. So if I could stop these two, there should be no problems.
And after that, I honestly can’t remember.
No, let me correct that. I don’t want to think about it.
I did my best to stop them. I used every reason I could think of, and my points were valid and persuasive. Anyone sensible would have given up.
“While we understand your opinion, we can’t help but be curious about the other cities.”
It was in vain. Once the royal family members decided that they were going, there was no stopping them.
‘Carl, I’m sorry…’
I wanted to lessen your burden. I really wanted to do well since you entrusted this to me.
Tears threatened to fall. Carl, what kind of battle have you been fighting all this time? Just dealing with them briefly made me feel like I was losing my mind.
“The thoughts of those in high positions are different from ours. Sometimes, surprising things happen.”
He hadn’t muttered those words out of exhaustion. It was the words of someone on the verge of giving up. How foolish of me for not realizing it sooner.
I wanted to run up to Carl right now, to hug him, and cry. I wanted to tell him to quit everything and join my family as a son-in-law, but I couldn’t do that. Carl was a true noble, bound by duty and responsibility.
‘What should I do?’
I stood in the hallway for a long time, feeling lost and helpless.
“Ah, Lady Louise.”
At least until Lady Louise showed up.
‘This is it.’
My once-blank mind started to work again. It’s Louise. If anyone could handle this situation, it was her.
The center of the pastry club was Louise. It was no secret that the members gathered around her. Ordinary staff and students who don’t frequent the club might not know, but anyone who’d been around for a while couldn’t help but notice.
“May I ask for your help?”
Louise blinked while making a puzzled expression. However, I firmly believed that Louise was the only one who could stop those irrational beings.
I believed in her, but seeing it unfold right now felt a bit surreal.
“Wandering around can be tiring. Wouldn’t it be better to just stay in the Capital?”
“Well, that’s true.”
Why did they accept it so easily? When I was the one speaking, it seemed like they didn’t even hear me.
How had he managed to spend a semester with them? And how would he spend two and a half more years with these people?
I felt genuinely worried about Carl’s health.
* * *
I heard a commotion, so I went to check. There, I saw Louise talking to the club members while the Duke’s daughter was watching from behind with a calm expression.
‘I guess it’s nothing important.’
I grasped the situation and went on my way. The princes had probably said something weird again, and Louise was trying to stop them.
It was most likely something trivial. After all, why would she, an ordinary young lady from a baron’s family, concern herself with serious things?
‘Everyone looks lively.’
That’s why they can afford to have time for those things.
I took an apple from the bag I held and took a bite. I planned to share it if I met someone, but looking at the situation, it seemed unnecessary.
‘Was her name Yuris?’
The brown-haired young maid suddenly gave me a fruit as a gift. She was unusually kind to me, so I asked for her name.
It’s delicious. It should have been hard for a maid to prepare something like this. I should prepare a gift for her, too.
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