This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat.
…Well then, it’s about time I get going.
With determination, I have arrived at the door of Father’s study. I knocked at the door before entering the room.
“…Please excuse me, Father.”
Father looked at me intently from behind a mountain load of documents. Even though I also spoke to Father soon after I was expelled from the academy, that conversation felt like it happened in the distant past.
“…Are you heading back?”
“Yes. I plan on returning to the fief tomorrow.”
“Is that so…”
With a clunk, Father placed the pen in his hand down on the desk. And then he urged me to take a seat on the chair right in front of his study desk.
“Please excuse me.”
I took a seat in accordance to his invitation.
“There is one thing I would like to warn you about.”
Upon hearing Father’s grave tone of voice, I unconsciously straightened my sitting posture. For some reason, I felt more restless compared to the time last we clashed words…
“What would that be.”
“Queen Ellia and her paternal house… the House of Marquis Maelia, be careful around them.”
“About that… Since they are the head of the Second Prince’s faction, I will naturally take extra caution around them now and in the future…”
“That is not what I am trying to convey. During the Foundation Day annual party, it was exposed that you had the backing of the Queen Dowager.”
“In other words, Father is trying to imply that because of that backing, I have become a hindrance for Queen Ellia and Marquis Maelia?”
The engagement I had with the Second Prince had been annulled. And because of that, they knew it would be impossible for me to side with their faction. Other than the feelings I had towards them, my existence made their faction look bad. Following that line of thought, my being can’t be considered anything but a hindrance for Queen Ellia.
“No… It’s not ‘you’ but rather, the ‘House of the Duke of Armelia.’”
“From the very start, for the House of the Marquis Maelia, the House of the Duke of Armelia has been a thorn in their sight. Other than producing a Queen candidate and me being a Prime Minister, Melly has also received the favor of the Queen Dowager and has considerable influence high society. Because of those factors, the prestige of our House has increased even further. Even so, I have always declared being neutral, and Melly has also been thoroughly avoiding the battle for the throne. That is why even though our House has always been a hindrance to the House of Marquis Maelia, they have never taken the risk of attempting to attack our House. However…”
“I, The daughter of the House of Duke Armelia, who has been abandoned by the Second Prince, has improved my competency…”
“Precisely that. You have improved the fief beyond my imagination, and in addition, you also founded a conglomerate which earns considerable profits. You have accomplished all those affairs in such a short time. Therefore, our House has become an existence that the House of Marquis Maelia can no longer ignore.”
“….Pl-please do accept my sincere apologies…!”
…How deplorable. I made advancement too quickly, and because everything was going as well as I planned, I simply accepted it as good luck and I forgot to consider the aftermath. If I thought about it a little, this kind of situation would naturally happen. My existence, how much trouble it would bring to the House of the Duke of Armelia. The only reason I was able to do the things I did was all due to Father’s kindness. And yet, for me to cause more trouble for the House…!
“…No, it is also my blunder for not knowing you had that kind of strength. Hence, there is no need for you to apologize.”
“Fortunately, nothing has happened yet. That’s why, Iris. Take absolute caution when regarding the fief’s government.”
After Father heard my response, he rang the bell. Soon after, a lady’s maid entered the room.
“Please get us something to drink.”
Without a moment’s delay, she poured tea into the teacup and placed it right in front of me. To calm my rapidly beating heart, I gratefully partake in the tea.
“…Although this might be redundant…”
With a concerned expression, Father started to speak.
“…Albeit it’s only natural to pay attention to the House of Marquis Maelia, it is more imperative to take further caution against Queen Ellia.”
“About that… How different is it from what you have mentioned a while ago…?”
“…Queen Ellia, it seems like she has gone and betrayed the kingdom’s royals…”
Father spoke unhurriedly, as though he was carefully choosing his words. Why is that, I wonder why he seems to be speaking so carefully…?
“…About the death of the first Queen, there are rumors that it was the work of Queen Ellia.”
“Father… such an important matter, why has no one gotten to the bottom of it.”
“…No evidence has ever been found. Or are you saying we should have interrogated a daughter of a Marquis who would be the next Queen?”
“…Please excuse my slip of tongue.”
If one thinks about it, in this world where forensic science doesn’t exist, it would be difficult to carry out a criminal investigation. Furthermore, it is unwise to apply pressure on someone who has extensive influence.
There is also a possibility that it was the First Prince’s faction who deliberately started the rumors, and it might not be true. Although I don’t know which one it is, but by the rumors spreading, it can ruin a person’s character but it can also prevent others from investigating it further.
“In any case, there is that dark rumor being spread around. Because of that, take extra care of yourself and pay more attention to your actions.”
With a flinch, I felt a shiver running down my spine. Even though I don’t want to make enemies out of them… the other side has already considered me as one.
“…Make sure to warn Tanya, Ryle, and Dida as well. Please take care of yourself as well.”
“I will take father’s warning to heart.”
I have come so far from the original confinement. I, myself, don’t want to meet my end just yet. In addition… if I die here and now, it would be inexcusable to the people of the fief. With the reformation of the fief’s government underway, it would be a waste not to see it through.
“…Moreover, it seems like you are conducting an investigation on the Baron’s daughter, Yuri Noir?”
“Oh my… it seems that the reach of Father’s ears is quite broad.”
“Well, of course. And so, how much have you found out so far?”
“I have recently found out that Lady Yuri’s mother used to work in the royal castle as a maid.”
“I see, up until that point. …Incidentally, it was the Reuben House that guaranteed her identity.”
“…The House of Reuben?”
After hearing a name I have never heard before, I tilted my head in confusion.
“At this moment, this is as much information I can elucidate.”
Because of Father’s decisive tone, I gave up on prying for more information.
“If it’s you, just from this information alone, I’m just you can ascertain what is happening in this Kingdom. However, don’t look into it too deeply. Because if you do that, you will only aggravate the severe situation you are already in.”
“…If that’s so, why did Father…”
“If your proteges are sniffing around the royal capital in every nook and cranny, I’m sure you would want to stop them before anything happens. With the House’s name, you can get the information you need from a book, right?”
“…Thank you very much for your information.”
‘With this, there’s no need to investigate further’ …Huh. Because of the warning earlier, I can’t move around freely. As expected of Father. There’s no place for me to refute.
“Thank you for sparing me some of your time. With this, please allow me to excuse myself.”
“All right. Be careful on your way.”
It was as though I also heard him saying ‘Take care on your journey as well.’ That’s right. It is only natural that people are vulnerable while traveling out in the open. Let’s listen to Tanya, Ryle, and Dida’s instruction while on the way back.
* * *
For those who took the time to contact me via discord, thank you for your concern, I feel so much better.
PS: I hate the current see-saw climate!