Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
QC Kiro: Hello I done messed up. Got dates scrambled. My fault chappy late by… if math right, 9 hours? I am sorry.
Edit: Apparently it 4 hours and a half according to wordpress calendar
Chapter 34: Blooming Flowers on the Battlefield
After the Knight’s awarding ceremony was over, the royal palace filled up with ladies and gentlemen in colorful and splendid outfits. All of them were there to attend the soirée1 to be held later in the evening.
Many nobles probably considered the soirée more important than the actual awarding ceremony. Of course, that was true, as all sorts of information would be exchanged at the soirée.
For nobles, intel was a weapon. Therefore, the soirée was (basically) a battlefield. The future of one’s household depended on whether or not one could successfully navigate in a place where all kinds of deceptive people abound.
“Vincent, your presence at the Knight’s awarding ceremony was magnificent!”
“Thank you. You’re looking absolutely stunning today, Sis.”
“It’s not strange, is it?”
I was nervous that Vincent, who disliked salacious ladies, would not like this unusual cleavage design. I was relieved to see that my fears were unfounded.
“It’s not weird, but… I’m worried it might attract some strange insects. There is already a silver barbarian bug flying nearby.”
“You can’t say that in front of him, okay?”
“I know, Sis.”
The silver barbarian bug was probably prince Edward in all likelihood.
Let’s not tell Vincent that I met with prince Edward before the ceremony. This boy’s sisterly love sometimes went too far, and the other party was the first heir to the throne. It would be unfortunate if something were to happen to him.
Vincent and I walked side by side and entered venue, the Water Lily Room.
Many nobles were already inside, but there was no sign of the royal family.
“It looks like we still have some time before the royals arrive. Vinnie, let’s split up.”
“But I can’t just leave you alone, Sis…”
“I’m still considered the flower of society, you know. I’m not going to be disgraceful at a soiree, don’t worry. I’d rather spend my time gathering information.”
“…Alright, Sis. But remember, all men are wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
“Yes, yes. You’re such a worrywart, honestly.”
I parted ways with a fretful Vincent and headed off to gather more information.
Although I had my people investigate the social circles, I probably did not have a complete grasp on the current trends ever since I infiltrated the royal capital’s church.
Well, the hottest topic right now was likely the engagement between His Highness First Prince Douglas and Lady Isabella, daughter of Duke Macmillan. Clearly, the royalist faction and the religious faction would engage in a full-fledged struggle for the throne as a result of this engagement.
The country would be in turmoil. And the nobles, who wanted to be on the winning side, would calmly and vigilantly watch for an opportunity.
It was also likely that the nobles wanted to know whom I was going to marry since the political situation in the country would change drastically depending on who it would be.
I decided to look for my comrades-in-arms in order to gather useful intel, while I was inwardly amused by the nobles who were giving me reproachful glances as they left me alone.
One could not survive in the social world alone, especially women. It’s a place where a single scandal could be fatal, and why they formed communities different from political factions called ‘cliques’. They were led by high-ranking ladies and were mainly divided by generation.
Within the tight-knit cliques, the ‘leader’ would protect the ladies of her circle from unreasonable forces while the other ladies — her ‘followers’ and could call each other ‘comrades-in-arms’ — would contribute to the clique in various ways. Therefore, the worth of a lady was dependent on the nature of the clique which she belonged to.
I, as the daughter of Marquess Lewis, one of the three pillars of the royal family, was also the leader of one of these cliques.
I looked around to find my fellow clique members and spotted a strawberry blonde girl at the end of the hall with Isabella, the current subject of the rumors.
So, I approached them.
“How dare you appear before me! I am repulsed that you, whose mother is a mere daughter of a Viscount, and I, whose mother is the daughter of a Duke, think we are the same!”
“I see. Take care then, Lady Isabella.”
Isabella was lashing out at the lady, who was clearly younger than her. However, the other lady wasn’t really taking her seriously and brushed her off. Isabella, irritated by that attitude, started complaining again – it was a splendid, vicious cycle.
Perhaps Isabella was upset about her engagement to the first prince. It was no secret that Isabella had her sights set on prince Edward.
For goodness’ sake… one would wonder which of them was the elder.
Despite my exasperation, I decided to help the strawberry blonde girl since she was part of my clique as well as my relative.
“Good day to you, Lady Isabella. Lily. “
“Older sister Anna!”
The moment she saw me, Isabella’s face twisted into distaste. Her cronies stood just behind her, but I ignored them and turned my attention to Isabella.
Incidentally, the young lady who had been in the middle of it all, Lily — or Lilianne Olcott of House Olcott — hid behind me unhesitatingly with a happy look on her face. Lily was my much (very much) older cousin, Linus’, daughter. Grandfather had given her the name in the hope that we would be like sisters, sharing similar names and all that. True to his wish, I loved Lily as if she were my own little sister. However, whether it was Lily’s own character or because of the excessive care I gave her, she grew up to be a tiresome child. Normally, as a high-ranking lady, she would have had to form her own clique, but she was too lazy, so I had no choice but to take her into my own.
She really was a handful.
“Lady Isabella, did Lily do something wrong?”
Isabella didn’t like me.
Although I was the daughter of a marquess, a status lower than her own, I was superior to her in both bloodline and family lineage, so she did not take kindly to me. Moreover, I was so flawless that I was called a ‘Perfect Lady’.
Surely, I must be an eyesore. Nevertheless, it had nothing to do with me. There was no need for me to hold back with Isabella, who was lashing out at my lovely sister.
“As I recall, you said her mother was merely a Viscount’s daughter… yes? Lily’s mother was the first woman to rise to the position of Knight Commander and was trusted by Queen consort Dahlia. She is a marvelous woman we noble ladies admire. You must be mistaking her for someone else, right?”
I smiled broadly to intimidate Isabella. I didn’t know if Lily was relying on me to handle it or was just being a pain in the ass, but she remained quiet as she watched what was transpiring from behind me.
Even though it was all related to her… Goodness, that child.
“Speaking of which… Congratulations on your engagement to His Royal Highness First Prince Douglas, Lady Isabella. Everyone is talking about it.”
“Tha—! It’s only an engagement! You are not marrying Edward!!”
“My engagement will not be announced until I turn eighteen. Marriage is a long way off.”
Isabella added a sarcastic remark or two and left with her followers.
Usually, Isabella could act like a normal young lady, but when her emotions ran high, her hysterical nature made her forget herself. I wonder if she realized that she was on display for all to see at this huge soirée.
I couldn’t deny that I had provoked her, though. In any case, that was another blow to House Macmillan’s reputation.
“Lily, how long are you going to hide behind me? I won’t drive away any of the nobles’ sons who approach you, okay?”
“Yes. Thank you, Older sister Anna.”
While Lily and I were giggling, a young lady emerged from the crowd. She was also a member of my clique.
“Good day, Lady Julianna, Lady Lilianne.”
“Good day, Lady Cornelia.”
“It has been a while, Cornelia.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you, Lady Lilianne.”
“It’s all right. She’s too much for you to deal with. Besides, I had older sister Anna, so it was fine.”
“Fufu, Lady Julianna is sometimes more charming than any gentlemen, isn’t she?”
“Let’s cut the jokes short, shall we? Cornelia, may I ask you for a favor?”
“Is it about the social scene?”
“Your perceptiveness is appreciated.”
Cornelia might be a viscount’s daughter, but she came from a family of musicians, so she frequented lots of places. As a result, she sometimes obtained information from places I couldn’t investigate.
A truly reliable comrade-in-arms.
“Let’s talk about the most important topics of the day: the engagement and the poor knight that suddenly disappeared.”
While I waited for the party to begin, Cornelia and I exchanged information.
A short while later, the royal family and my father, the Prime Minister, entered the hall. I looked around the hall and saw Duke Macmillan looking at him hatefully.
The engagement between the daughter of the religious faction’s head noble and the first prince, the second in the line of succession to the throne. How would the nobles and His Majesty react to those sparks?
Given the mix of heavy hitters from the royalist faction and the religious faction, this soirée was the perfect battlefield. My assigned role was that of a perfect lady, the flower of high society. Now then, I shall play my part wonderfully and impeccably until the very end–