“Mary-Rose Brillant!1 How dare you attack Miss Feycar! First you unfairly bully her and now this. Who could marry a rotten woman like you? I am breaking off the engagement!” yelled His Royal Highness.
Here was the Royal Academy’s student cafeteria. Despite being built for students, it was as extravagant and spacious as any castle’s grand hall, with tables for ten dotted around the premises. In addition to being used for midday dining, groups would often come for afternoon tea.
I, a Viscount’s daughter who spent more time in our out-of-the-way territory than out, received an invitation to enjoy tea with a few other ladies in a similar situation to mine. I came in thinking that it was going to be a peaceful and happy affair—well, it was clearly obvious that I guessed wrong.
His Royal Highness and his sycophants came prancing in along with a certain infamous baron’s daughter of House Feycar, trespassing on our otherwise serene group led by Lady Mary-Rose Brillant herself.
“To think that anyone could bully Miss Feycar when she’s so sweet and kind… How unladylike,” said Lord Lyer, the eldest son of a Marquess House.
Following him spoke Lord Foulle, the eldest son of an Earl House. “Exactly, my friend! Look! See how her warped heart shines true in her vulgar face!”
“Even if she is a daughter of the Ducal House of Brillant, her ill-nature is, well… hard to look at,” continued Thomas Banity2, son of His Royal Highness’ tutor.
“Every single drop of Brillant blood in my body nauseates me because of her!” And after Lord Ensolant, a scion of a branch family of House Brillant, passionately exclaimed, the chorus of side characters was over, and finally peace fell upon the land.
The hottest topic among the academy students was precisely those four and His Royal Highness and their playful antics with a baron’s daughter to receive her favor.
Oh, something of note was that if one pronounced the three noble’s courtesy titles and the commoner’s surname out loud, one would find some interesting results that would describe their personalities quite well.
…Though maybe it wasn’t the time for that.
Looking for someone who could stop the stupidity before it got worse, I found the supervising teacher—the teacher who was in charge of overseeing the cafeteria after school ended—grinning and nodding along to the nonsense. This might’ve been obvious, but yeah, Mr. Baldnis was yet another one of His Highness’ sycophants. His treatment of students ranged from “as if they were literal trash” to “as if they were God himself,” in a neat scale that directly coincided with the peerage of a student’s father. He was the opposite of liked by anyone less noble than an Earl, even with his stylish hair—though it seemed he changed it up recently—and his good looks.
Interestingly, Mr. Baldnis quite enjoyed defaming Lady Mary-Rose, despite her being the daughter of a duke. But what was a duke’s daughter compared to the King’s son?
“You spread nasty rumors of Miss Feycar stealing and breaking your things, you force other girls to stay away from her, and just yesterday, you pushed her off the staircase in the back end of the schoolhouse! I heard everything from Miss Feycar!” said His Royal Highness. And when he saw Lady Mary-Rose stay silent with a folding fan covering her mouth, he pressed on, “You have nothing to say to defend yourself, I see.”
Sobbing into His Royal Highness’ shoulder, her strawberry blonde hair spilling down his chest, Miss Feycar cried out, “P-Please, Lady Mary-Rose! Please at least give an apology!”
…Honestly, I don’t remember hearing any false rumors. I’ve certainly heard things like “she gets too familiar with engaged men much higher in peerage” and “she barges in uninvited to other people’s tea parties,” but they both seemed to be quite true.
A lone student stood up and left for the terrace. There were also seats in the cafeteria’s terrace, and tea parties were sometimes held there when the weather was good. But perhaps because it was a little chilly outside, only a group of five guys who seemed to be playing cards were there. Despite being of the lower nobility, they were often seen in the worser parts of town and gambled amongst themselves. Lady Mary-Rose would often scold them.
Speaking of which, the lone student was also a member of their group.
He went up to his friends’ table by the half-open window and shouted in the loudest voice he could muster, “Hey! His Royal Highness just broke off the engagement!”
The next moment, a loud guttural yell escaped the mouth of a few people on the terrace for a few seconds. “Yaaaaaahh!”
“My God yes! Wulf, Rino, Bajer, you’re paying for our food!”
“I’m getting a dessert!”
“Argh, I didn’t think he’d actually do it…”
The boys seemed to be betting on whether or not His Royal Highness would cancel the engagement. Well, it was just over who paid for their meals, so I supposed it was rather innocent. Though it could be seen as rude depending on the viewpoint. His Royal Highness and his lackeys were certainly twitching with irritation.
Ignorance was bliss, I supposed. The boys out on the terrace didn’t seem to notice that His Royal Highness could hear them quite well through the half-opened window.
Mr. Dyr, a lithe viscount’s son who I found pretty cute, slapped Mr. Rino’s back and said, “Hey, didn’t I tell you earlier? You were definitely going to lose. It was just so obvious, but you bet that he wouldn’t. Hah.”
Mr. Rino hit the table in response. “Yeah, but think about it! The Royal Family themselves proposed the engagement! To a ducal house! Even breaking engagements among lower houses like ours is seen as dumb. What idiot would actually go break such a high-profile agreement all on his lonesome, especially when he’s only second-in-line to the throne!?”
His Royal Highness’ face was priceless at that moment.
But it was true. Even the most outcast of baronets would know that the engagement between His Royal Highness and Mary-Rose was highly valued by the Royal Family. Trying to break out of the engagement was more than just not looking at the bigger picture but completely ignoring all of the nation’s politics.
His Royal Highness’ group seemed to finally recover from the earlier onslaught of words, but unfortunately for them, that was just the start.
“Speaking of which, I wonder if the other people are okay. Breaking the engagement is one thing, but having one’s partner enamored with another girl has to feel terrible,” remarked Mr. Bajer, a plump baron’s son with a kind disposition. He was an odd fellow, a guy with good grades that still hung out with the group of problem children nonetheless.
“Well, yeah. But well, engagements and marriages are things meant for the good of both houses, right? If worst comes to worst, can’t you just swap out the guy? Every family has a younger brother or two. Honestly, it wouldn’t be much of a problem for the lady’s house,” said Mr. Leperd, a well-built warrior similar to Mr. Bajer.
This onslaught of words even hit His Royal Highness’ followers this time. All five seemed to have a cramp.
…It was to be of note that they all had fiancées, and their fiancées were all present in the cafeteria, smiling a very frightening smile.
Mr. Leperd continued, “And remember, that duke’s daughter was accused of having a ‘warped heart’ and an ‘ill-nature.’ Like, what even is that?”
“Yeah, there’s a limit to how rude you can be to a lady. Even as a joke, they made those comments in public…” Mr. Bajer agreed.
“Hah, love is scary, isn’t it. It sure blinds you,” said Mr. Dyr.
Mr. Wulf instantly retorted, “Dyr, if you have time to think about other people, why don’t you think about yourself? You still can’t hold hands with your fiancée outside. There’s a limit to these things, you know?”
Mr. Wulf was the leader of the group, a guy with a wild charm. He was pretty popular among the ladies.
“If I could do it, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, you know! E-Even for a single moment, doing it with an unmarried woman is—”
“Then why don’t you marry her so you can do it?” butt in Mr. Linx, the final member of the problem children group. He was a little on the small site and more cute than handsome, but after he sent a thug flying five meters into the air with a single punch, nobody dared to make fun of his build.
Unable to defend himself, Mr. Dyr averted his eyes and stayed silent.
Noticing that Mr. Dyr didn’t reply, Mr. Linx changed the topic back to the original one. “Remember the comments of that duke’s daughter being unladylike? But if you think about it, wouldn’t that fit the strawberry head better? She seems to have acquired a new breastplate: His Royal Highness’ arm. I mean, she has it on her chest more often than my own breastplate is on mine. Plus, some of her blouse’s buttons are undone and her skirt is too short.”
…I heard someone spit out their drink. And quite a few others were desperately failing at holding in their laughter.
Miss Feycar’s face was completely red, and her mouth kept repeatedly opening and closing as if she wanted to object but couldn’t find the words to do so. Her reverse harem of sorts were seething with fury, but none of them ended up going up to stop Mr. Linx.
Well, Mr. Linx was quite scary. Apparently, right after he started school, he challenged someone to a duel under the pretext “they bumped into my shoulder” and won in three seconds flat.
Duels in this school were actually decently common as duels go. A large part of it had to do with the fact that a lower-ranking noble could not be punished for winning against a higher-ranking noble, and if the higher-ranking noble was a sore loser and actually tried to get back at them after graduation, high society would not let the matter go for decades.
Without a care of their many eavesdroppers, the conversation in the terrace continued.
“To begin with, why would Lady Mary-Rose and Miss Feycar even interact with each other? Like, the higher-ranking aristocrats take separate classes from lower-ranking ones,” said Mr. Bajer.
Mr. Leperd replied, “Well, now that you mention it, Miss Feycar and His Royal Highness’ group should’ve had nothing to do with each other, but… what was it again? Ah yes. She was lost on the day of the entrance ceremony and had to rely on His Royal Highness’ help to find her way.”
“What? Aren’t there signs pointing to the auditorium all over the school on the day of the entrance ceremony? Even a pig couldn’t get lost, so how did she?” Mr. Wulf’s surprised voice resounded through the completely silent cafeteria.
I heard someone spit out their drink again. Taking a glance around the room, I soon found the origin of the noise: a boy holding his sides trying not to choke on his laughter. Despite being in the same class, I didn’t know his real name, only knowing him by his nickname, “Laughsack,” so-called for laughing at even the littlest of things.
“W-Well, I can’t say that it’s impossible that she did it because she wanted to meet His Royal Highness…”
Mr. Wulf once again jumped at Mr. Leperd’s words. “Why would she want to meet him? To be seen as an idiot who can’t read basic English?”
It was getting bad. If Mr. Wulf didn’t stop now, Laughsack was in danger of being the first person to die of excess laughter.
I took a glance at Lady Mary-Rose and noticed her shoulder and the hand that was carrying her folding fan were both trembling.
“Oh, His Royal Highness mentioned that Lady Mary-Rose stole and destroyed Miss Feycar’s stuff,” said Mr. Rino after a few seconds.
“Huh?” Mr. Wulf replied, “Maybe I’m missing something, but why would a duke’s daughter bother herself with anything a baron’s daughter could possibly own? Then destroy it?”
“Speaking of which, the last time I was in town, I happened to see Miss Feycar pawning a few things off. I began to become a bit worried about House Feycar’s financial situation. I didn’t know it was quite that bad. Though, she was selling a few of the same things, surprisingly.” Mr. Rino tilted his head.
Miss Feycar’s face turned pale at that exact moment.
After thinking for a moment, Mr. Dyr jutted in, “Hah! It’s that, isn’t it, an old courtesan’s trick!”
“What do you mean?” asked Mr. Leperd.
“Courtesans would beg all their clients for the same thing then sell all but one! Their clients would think that she’s wearing what they bought for her and the courtesan would get some extra income. As long as nobody finds out, everyone is happy!”
“Whoa, that’s dirty.” Mr. Leperd looked surprised.
Mr. Bajer, however, was beset with laughter. “Girls sure are scary!”
His Royal Highness and his four followers were looking at Miss Feycar strangely.
“Won’t the cat be out of the bag if the clients ever meet?” inquired Mr. Leperd.
“Well of course, the courtesan will softly whisper ‘This is our little secret❤’ and bam, nobody will know. And after a few days of her wearing it, she’ll say ‘I’ll treasure this forever❤’ and the matter’s done.”
I could hear His Royal Highness’ group exchanging a few whispers.
“So about that sapphire necklace…”
“You too, Your Royal Highness? Then what about the pink tourmaline brooch…”
“E-Even the hair ornament? The emerald one?”
The five’s expressions only got worse and worse while Miss Feycar tried her best to avert her eyes.
Unaware of the commotion on the other side of the window, the boys on the terrace continued on.
“Actually,” Mr. Leperd said, “Why is Miss Feycar even in the higher-ranking noble’s class? I haven’t seen her in our class recently. Isn’t her father a baron?”
“Who knows? His Royal Highness probably pulled her into their class.”
“Whoa, that’s a pity then… the two classes have separate curriculums. I’ve seen people beg some of the ladies in the other class for notes, but well, the lessons are different, so it never really worked out.”
Perhaps this could be the reason why Miss Feycar was friendless?
Ladies from the higher ranks of the aristocracy were more likely to be involved in the larger national and international politics, so the two classes were indeed quite different. Miss Feycar’s house was even less influential than mine; if she didn’t learn what she should’ve been learning, she would fail the grade.
His Royal Highness’ group was silent.
Mr. Leperd continued, “Oh yeah, apparently Miss Feycar was pushed off the stairs at the back of the schoolhouse. Linx, that’s your territory, right? You always nap there. See anything?”
Mr. Linx tilted his head in confusion. “I’m not an animal; don’t call it my territory… Anyways, that staircase and the hallway leading up to it, no actually, the entire back end of the schoolhouse have been off-limits for about a month now. Birds have been roosting there recently and the entire floor is pretty much covered with their droppings. But the birds are very rare in this country or something, so the bio teachers were all like ‘humans must not disturb them!’ or something crazy like that. People didn’t really go there in the first place and now that it’s off-limits, I believe it’s harder to get in. And if she really was pushed off the stairs there, wouldn’t she be covered with poop?”
Miss Feycar’s five admirers subconsciously took a step back.
“I-Is that true, Miss Feycar? I can’t believe that someone as pure as you could be covered with bird…”
“I wasn’t! I’ve never been there in the first place! Wait—”
…Thus, the cat jumped out of the bag.
Miss Feycar realized her mistake too late. The five boys around her were already in shock.
“Your Royal Highness,” Lady Mary-Rose finally chose to speak, “I should have mentioned this earlier, but the circumstances did not allow me so: I understand your heartfelt feelings in breaking off the engagement. Yet, we, as children, are unfortunately unable to make the final decision on this matter. I will promptly contact my father and His Majesty the King regarding this matter. I trust that I have your approval?”
A specialty of Lady Mary-Rose, so to speak, was her way of threatening someone whilst wearing a perfect smile and speaking in perfect formality.
“Ah… w-wait, don’t…”
I wondered where His Royal Highness’ confidence had gone.
Mr. Baldnis, the supervisory teacher, chose this moment to interject, “Lady Mary-Rose Brillant, how dare you speak in such a way to His Royal Highness! Even if you are a sheltered lady, I cannot condone your overbearing behavior! A noble lady must submit to her man’s every order! In the first place, men are allowed multiple consorts in this country. Even if you are from a ducal house, you are a woman! Know your place!”
Thus, Mr. Baldnis instantly earned the ire of every single woman in the room.
Unaware of the freezing glares he had attracted, he confidently stood, looking down upon Lady Mary-Rose.
The silence was only broken by the conversation on the other side of the window.
“That teacher says things like that, but just the other day, his wife found out about his mistress who was around our age. The argument was so loud that even I could hear it from outside. Oh yeah, you won’t believe what I saw,” Mr. Dyr spent half a minute trying to control his laughter, “Something came flying out the window. I actually have it in my bag right now. Lemme show you.”
He rifled through his bag. A few seconds later, he took the item out and raised it up high, high enough that we in the cafeteria could see it through the window.
“Look, it’s his wig!”
I recognized it, and I was certain that everyone else present recognized it too.
…Well, now I knew why Mr. Baldnis changed his hairstyle recently.
Anyone who was unlucky enough to be taking a drink or eating a pastry unfortunately started to choke. Even the more composed among us could only cover their mouths and look away, unable to keep their laughter in.
Though His Royal Highness’ group didn’t seem too amused, and Mr. Baldnis was trembling with rage, his face completely red.
But the boys in the terrace, unaware of the bomb that they had just chucked through the window, happily continued their conversation.
“Wait, he wears a wig!?”
“Ah, now that you mention it, I always thought it was weird why his hair sometimes shifted in the wind.”
“I’ve seen that happen too!”
“He should embrace his bald manliness! Right, Bajer?”
“Huh!? Ah, umm,” Mr. Bajer took a second to think. “A-As long as he makes sure the students in the front aren’t blinded by the shiny reflection!”
…Perhaps it was only meant to be an innocent joke, but I was half-sure that Mr. Baldnis’ soul had just passed on.
The cafeteria became a maelstrom of laughter. Nearly everyone was collapsed onto the tables and holding their sides laughing. I would’ve done it too if not for the fact that Mr. Baldnis was right in front of me.
…I snuck a glance at Laughsack and discovered him also collapsed onto the nearest table, only twitching slightly. I wondered if we would really see the first person to die of laughter today.
“Huh, why are they all collapsed onto the tables? Was the food poisoned?” mused Mr. Wulf.
“I kinda don’t want to eat anymore,” said Mr. Dyr.
Mr. Leperd tilted his head. “It isn’t the time of year for that, though? Well, I wouldn’t know.”
“How about we go back to the dorms? Actually,” Mr. Wulf clapped his hands as if he had thought of a great idea, “let’s bet on who Miss Feycar chooses. Guys can have multiple wives, but girls can’t, right? So she has to choose someday.”
“Alright. I’m putting my bet on His Royal Highness,” said Mr. Leperd.
“Isn’t he a bit childish, though?”
“Well, these things take time. He’ll eventually grow up. Let’s stick to whoever we choose; no switching.”
“I wonder who I should choose…”
The boys stood up from their seats and left the terrace.
They still hadn’t realized that the window next to them was half-open.
A few days later, Mr. Baldnis was fired from the Royal Academy. It was bad in several ways that he had a mistress of around his students’ age; plus, he offended several influential noble ladies. The decision came as a surprise to nobody.
His Royal Highness and his four lackeys soon became rather busy trying to please their fiancées. Especially His Royal Highness. His Majesty the King seemed to have given him quite the chewing-out.
The problem children’s most recent bet ended with nobody winning as all of Miss Feycar’s five admirers stopped talking to her.
Miss Feycar had to repeat the year after splendidly failing the supplementary exam the teachers kindly gave her. Well, His Royal Highness’ group put her in their class without making the necessary arrangements, so she learned almost none of the material she was supposed to. Again, it was something that came as a surprise to nobody.
The six origins of the entire fiasco were completely unaware that the havoc was of their causing and only enjoyed themselves in schadenfreude, doing their business as usual. They were still often seen in the worser parts of town and still gambled amongst themselves. Lady Mary-Rose would still often scold them.
…Though I did notice that her scoldings were more gentle than before.
- She should be addressed as either “Lady Mary-Rose Brillant” or “Lady Mary-Rose.” It is quite rude not to do so. This applies to all daughters of Earls, Marquesses, and Dukes. The eldest son should be called “Lord Courtesy Title” (a courtesy title is one of their father’s minor titles), while younger sons of Marquesses and Dukes should be addressed as “Lord Given Name (Surname),” like daughters. Younger sons of Earls and all sons of Viscounts, Barons, and Baronets should be called “Mr. Surname.” Daughters of Viscounts, Barons, and Baronets should be called by “Miss Surname.”
- No “Lord” because he is a commoner.