I was done with all of my business, so I just had to go back.
However, Grand Duke Saint-Owan seemed to want to walk around a bit more. Wasn’t that gentleman sleepy?
I could get back to Temple, but I sure wouldn’t be able to get a wink of sleep due to how late it was, so I actually didn’t have the time to walk around more.
“Reinhardt, what do you think of Arnaria?”
Grand Duke Saint-Owan was nothing more than the father of a friend to me.
But why did it seem like he was my father-in-law? He had his hands clasped behind his back, got all serious, and talked as if he was trying to put me in my place because of my relationship with his daughter and not because of my status.
What was with that?
There was nothing between us, but I felt like I had reached the point where I couldn’t fix it anymore.
Of course, putting that aside, the Grand Duke’s question…
What do I think of Arnaria?
“I think it’s amazing. I haven’t seen any place like it, but… I still have much to learn, so I don’t know how to express these feelings properly. My apologies.”
“You know how to talk.”
Was it too obvious that I was just saying those things without meaning them?
The Grand Duke looked over Arnaria’s garden.
“It’s a lonely place.”
Even the Grand Duke, who had populated the entire palace with nothing but automated dolls, thought that the isolated scenery of Arnaria was lonely.
Most of the gardeners, guards, and staff were golems.
It seemed like some among the staff were human, but Arnaria could operate with only the bare minimum of people.
It was probably for the sake of safety, and it would certainly be much safer that way, but as a result, Arnaria had become a safe, beautiful, and lonely place.
I didn’t know what kind of reaction I should have to the words the owner of the White Palace had said with his own mouth.
“Harriet spent a long time here.”
“That’s how it seems.”
Someone who despised anyone who had a lower status than her and had less talent—Harriet had been such a person.
She was treated with the utmost respect and grew up beautifully in that place, surrounded by her family that would take care of her whenever she felt angry and made a fuss if there was even just a scratch on her.
“Do you understand why I sent Harriet to Temple?”
That was a question I had for a long time already.
Harriet could study magic in Arnaria. It was the Grand Duchy of Saint-Owan, and her father was an Archwizard, so why did she have to go to Temple to study magic?
Harriet de Saint-Owan, the young lady of the Saint-Owan Duchy, a territory far advanced in magic, had gone to Temple’s Royal Class.
That was the setup I’d made for her.
However, Harriet didn’t actually need to study magic at Temple.
In the end, the ‘why’ for that had also been supplemented.
Harriet had lived in that lonely palace for all of her life up until then.
She was arrogant, ignorant on how to treat others, and lived a life where everything would be solved if she whined long enough. She was someone who treated commoners and vassals which she occasionally encountered like bugs.
What would a father do who saw his daughter acting like that?.
“You wanted her to gather some experience and meet a lot of different people… Is that it?”
Temple was a place where one’s status became meaningless.
In Temple, one couldn’t pressure others with one’s identity.
Grand Duke Saint-Owan wanted Harriet, who had grown up sheltered, to gather some experience in a completely different environment. He wanted her to know that the world she knew and experienced wasn’t everything.
So he’d sent her to Temple.
She hadn’t changed until the end in the original, though.
However, things had become different due to my presence.
Grand Duke Saint-Owan would have wanted Harriet to run into someone similar to me, if not someone exactly like me.
“Harriet seemed to have made a lot of friends, and her personality changed a lot as well.”
“Although I can’t say that it’s all because of you, I also can’t say it’s not.”
The Grand Duke wanted Harriet to change, and she actually had. He seemed satisfied with that. Her narrow-mindedness had greatly diminished. In the end, even though he opposed the Magic Research Society, it meant that Harriet was smoothly making friends.
He couldn’t bring himself to hate it entirely.
It felt kind of strange to hear those things from him.
The Grand Duke of Saint-Owan and his family…
They didn’t seem to be too stuck on their status. In fact, I was supposed to be a lowly street beggar, and, to put it harshly, I was someone that would even be looked down on by commoners. Actually, Harriet hadn’t called me beggar or anything like it for a while.
However, the Grand Duke’s family didn’t seem to hold any prejudice at all towards me, no matter where I came from.
‘He’s a commoner, but he’s still my daughter’s friend, so I should treat him well.’
It wasn’t even at that level. He didn’t seem to care at all.
When I’d first met him, the Grand Duke had said that his daughter would never seek counsel from a lowly person such as myself, but he had actually been speaking from her point of view.
I didn’t say anything back then because I didn’t want to back down.
“What do you think about my background?”
So I just decided to ask because I was curious. The Grand Duke looked at me silently.
It looked like he had to think about that for a while.
“…Do you know the Saint-Owan family’s history?”
The Grand Duke answered me with a completely unexpected question.
“The ancestors of the Saint-Owan family were tanners.”
“Executioners, tanners, and butchers… These jobs are considered to be the lowest of the low. Back then, they couldn’t even have a house near a village.”
The lowest of the low would be those who were ignored and despised, even by the lowly.
“A tanner’s house had urine bins in them to disinfect the leather, and the smell prevented them from owning houses inside a village. I’ve actually smelled it before; I can’t say it was enough to call it awful.”
“Just being a tanner was reason enough for a divorce. Even if they said before that they could endure it, if they asked for a divorce, you couldn’t do anything but accept it. The Saint-Owan family had its origins in such tanners.”
Grand Duke Saint-Owan told me stories of a past even I didn’t know happened. He could have just forgotten all about their origins in tannery, but the Grand Duke had remembered it.
“The Saint-Owan family, no, how do you think the descendants of such lowly people, who weren’t even considered commoners, managed to reach so far?”
The difference between a tanner’s cabin filled with the smell of rotting urine and the White Palace Arnaria was immeasurable.
However, the Saint-Owan family were the masters of the Duchy.
They’d left their lowly origins behind at some point. However, the owner of the White Palace had not forgotten his origins.
“…Was it through talent?”
That was the only thing necessary for the vulgar to become noble.
They’d managed to jump the gap.
“The Saint-Owan bloodline has carried a strong affinity for magic for generations, but for a tanner, magic was just a word, something too far to reach. However, from the moment we somehow awakened that talent, over generations, we eventually managed to reach this point.”
“After all, the world only needs useful people.”
“Those who were born noble may be nobles right now, but we don’t know what the future may bring.”
“Similarly, a person born lowly may be lowly now, but it’s impossible to know what might happen in the future.”
“With only ability, talent, or power…”
“Everything can be overcome.”
Grand Duke Saint-Owan looked at me.
He was a cold, meritocratic man.
“Your lowly background doesn’t matter anymore because you already managed to enter the Royal Class.”
* * *
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
“Status? The moment you graduate, any kingdom, state, or even the Empire, should you decide to stay, would be scurrying over themselves to give you a title to tie you down; it wouldn’t be an empty one, either. They might give you a title comparable to mine.”
I was a commoner, but I had no reason to continue to live as one.
It was because of my talent. I was a supernatural power user, and if I grew up safely until my graduation, I would be stronger than any ordinary knight.
My ability… My strength…
I could already be considered a noble from those things alone.
Grand Duke Saint-Owan didn’t even consider me to be a commoner when I was already guaranteed to have that kind of future waiting for me.
Of course, those were the values of the Grand Duke who knew that if one was backed by talent, their status would follow.
The members of the Grand Duke’s family treated me normally because they knew that considering my background was meaningless.
Only because of my ability…
Was that why he acknowledged me?
The Grand Duke of Saint-Owan and his family were all meritocrats, so they didn’t care about status.
If you were incompetent, they would despise you, if that wasn’t the case, they would respect you.
I was being respected.
“So I don’t care about your status. Don’t worry.”
However, what the Grand Duke said to me as he looked at me was a bit strange.
I was just asking him those things because I was curious, but I wasn’t actually that worried about my status, you know? So why the hell did he think I was?
“You’re more than qualified to marry Harriet.”
What was he talking about?
“That means that you don’t have to be concerned about your humble background to propose to Harriet.”
“Wasn’t that why you suddenly came to this place at this hour to ask that?”
It seemed that all of the Grand Duke’s family had seriously misunderstood something.
The Grand Duke held an even worse misunderstanding than that.
He thought I was already dating and that I came all that way with the next step in mind—marriage.
He’d opened the gates as if he had been waiting for that moment…
It wasn’t like that! I’d just stopped by Arnaria, I didn’t go there because I liked Harriet to such an extent, but it was clear that he thought that I’d gone to Arnaria at night because I wanted to get his permission to marry her.
“However, don’t cross the line.”
Faced with the Grand Duke who had a ferocious expression on his face as if he would rip me apart if I were to touch his daughter before marriage, I couldn’t tell him that I only went to Saint-Owan to meet up with a female senior I knew.
If I said that, he would kill me.
It was all a misunderstanding.
The moment I understood that it was like that, I froze because I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I simply went there to get priority access to the warp gate…
However, I suddenly got permission to marry Harriet out of nowhere.
If I wanted to become a noble, I would have countless chances.
I had enough qualifications to marry Harriet, so I shouldn’t worry about proposing to her.
However, I shouldn’t cross the line or else I’d die.
When the Grand Duke of Saint Owan said those things, I couldn’t tell him that I wasn’t actually in a relationship with his daughter.
I felt like he’d ask me why I wasn’t going out with her if I said that.
Harriet wasn’t there at the moment to stop the Grand Duke from running wild.
So I exited the White Palace after being acknowledged as their daughter’s lover by the whole family when there was actually nothing between us.
I felt like I was about to go crazy.
What the hell was with that?
If I didn’t marry Harriet later on, they would definitely kill me.
I was sure that they would think that I’d just played around with their daughter and wouldn’t believe me at all if I tried to explain why I didn’t end up with Harriet.
I had really done it.
Do I seriously have to marry the idiot now?
Of course, for that to happen, we would have to resolve that Gate Incident, so I thought it would be great if we could get to that point. Until then, things would be fine.
My nightly escapades, which were triggered by Adriana dropping out all of a sudden, came to an end.
I managed to take a day trip across the Saint-Owan Duchy while trying to figure out what to do.
In the end, I didn’t manage to bring Adriana back, but…
I felt like I’d caused something even bigger…
What should I do…?
* * *
[Quest completed – Return]
[You’ve received 200 Achievement Points.]
I returned to the Imperial Capital at dawn.
I was certain that Ellen wouldn’t have a reason to beat me up anymore.
She wouldn’t beat me up while asking me things like, “Where were you last night?!” right?
No, when I thought about it, I had never actually been beaten up by Ellen other than when we trained, but she had never actually been serious then.
Why was I so worried about getting beaten up by her? I wasn’t that kind of person.
Did I get tamed after getting hit so many times during practice…?
Adriana wasn’t in Temple anymore…
That fact made me feel a little lonely somehow.
There were some who knew that I went out the previous night.
However, no one knew that I had been to the Saint-Owan Duchy. I was incredibly tired because I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t sleep when I got back either because of the time.
“Did you stay up all night?” Ellen asked me, seeing that my face was the perfect representation of fatigue.
“Ah… I had to do something.”
It was time for breakfast.
Five people, including myself, always sat together to eat breakfast.
The four girls and I.
Harriet spoke up while frowning..
“Where have you been? Did you cause trouble again?”
I caused some trouble, alright.
However, that trouble didn’t just involve myself, but Harriet, who looked like she was trying to figure out if there was something she could tease me with, but I didn’t say anything.
Seeing Harriet acting like that… how could I tell her?
I felt like I had been too harsh to her. While she wasn’t as much of a princess as Charlotte, seeing the White Palace Arnaria, I’d realized that she definitely was comparable to one.
I’d bullied someone like that by spouting all kinds of bullshit.
Although the girl was trying to pick on me first, I seemed to have hurt her a lot just because I’d thought her reactions were funny.
Her personality had eventually changed, but when I thought of Harriet in a dress in that Palace, being treated so preciously, I felt guilt that didn’t exist before creeping up within me.
“Well, I’m sorry.”
Harriet openly showed her surprise when I suddenly apologized.
“You’re a young lady, but I didn’t treat you like one; that made you feel bad, right?”
“Wh-what’s all this, all of a sudden… What are you talking about? Wh-why are you… What are you going to do this time?”
Harriet seemed to be under the idea that I was saying those things because I had another, darker intention.
‘You bastard, what are you scheming, calling me young lady all of a sudden?’ was what she seemed to want to say.
Not only her, but Liana and Adelia also seemed terrified of my sudden actions.
No, but I’d seriously reflected on myself the day before. The Grand Duke’s words aside, I thought I had been too harsh to her so far.
The grandeur and splendor of Arnaria…
I’d treated that girl, who lived in a place like that, far too harshly.
I couldn’t treat her like a young lady, but I should at least treat her well.
She wasn’t an idiot, but a young lady…
I should have treated her with a bit more respect…
I shouldn’t call her an idiot anymore.
“From now on, I won’t call you an idiot anymore, but young lady.”
“H-huuh?! Wh-wh-what…? Are you kidding me? Why are you doing this to me right now?!”
“Eat well, young lady.”
Harriet’s lips were twitching, and she was wearing a puzzled expression. No, why was she like that? I’d only told her that I would treat her well, right?
“You, I don’t know what happened, but just get some sleep.”
Liana snorted at me and suddenly said something like that. Her complexion turned slightly blue for some reason.
What was wrong with her?
“Cause you’re in a damn weird mood right now.”
I guess she thought that I was talking nonsense because I was tired.
Well, I really was very tired.