A few days later, my birthday comes around. This year was more hectic than usual because it wasn’t just my birthday, but also because the Ninth Order Ceremony was about to take place. I regret to say that I had to have the Count father present as well, and with all the preparations for the ceremony my men were busy working right up until the day of the ceremony.
But my nine-order won’t be much fun. On the surface, I’m regarded as a “spineless colorless hiding behind his younger siblings.” I’ve sent invitations to the nobles around here but I’m sure most of them will have a proxy. All we have to do is watch out for the Count’s gaffes.
The predictions were almost… accurate. Every house on par or higher with Foranada had a proxy present.
But there was one thing that caught me and my men off guard.
Is it really…
Congratulations on your ninth commandment. Congratulations, Master Zekes.
“Thank you for taking the trouble to see me, Prince Loramvel…”
A middle-aged man shakes my hand. He has black hair and vermilion eyes, a stern face and a muscular body.
He has a military bearing and a stern bearing to match his appearance. As I said before, he’s a duke.
The current head of the Duke’s family attended the ceremony for the son of a notorious Count. It was an astonishing occurrence.
I did send an invitation to Loramvell because they’re our neighbors by three realms. But who would have thought he’d show his face at a nine-order ceremony for the son of a Foranada bozo who wasn’t even a parachutist?
Naturally, everyone in attendance is flustered. Even those of us who had been informed of the event beforehand were upset. We didn’t know how to react. The only one smiling at this point would be the Count father.
In the end, the ceremony ended with a tense atmosphere. It was an awkward time, like a disaster, not a festival.
The Duke of Roramvel did not take any action during the ceremony, but he did not come to Foranada only to celebrate.
I was right. After the ceremony I sent the Count back to his room and while I was moving with Theon a servant came to tell me the Duke’s message.
He said he wanted to talk to me alone. It was too suspicious. Especially when he didn’t invite the Count father to the meeting.
I told him to set up as quickly as possible and got to my feet again.
I didn’t have a choice. I was genuinely curious. What’s he going to talk to me, a man of such ill repute, when he’s here himself?
And despite his descent from the Holy Kings, the Duke of Lorambré did not join the same faction as the Holy Kings, the Royalists who advocate the absolute rule of the Holy Kings. Rather, he was the leader of the opposing faction of the nobility.
Well, there’s probably a lot of political considerations involved. I’ll leave the details in the corner because it’s not important now.
The important thing here is that you belong to a faction that’s at odds with the palace. Which means if we play our cards right, we might be able to keep the palace in check. It was worth listening to him even if we knew it was a trap.
Theon’s melancholy voice comes on.
I know you’re trying to tell me how dangerous it is to be alone with him. Of course we’ll be careful.
But in all likelihood, it won’t be a problem. I didn’t sense any more hostility from the Duke and, more importantly, I’m pretty sure he’s not going to use any tricks to ・・・・・ me.
You never know what’s gonna come out of that.
The meeting with Loram Bell will be held in ten minutes.
Let’s see who Jawbach Stemphols Kan Lorambel is.
The Duke of Lorambere was more than famous for his position alone, but he also had another nickname that became popular.
It’s “Magical Madness”. It’s a double meaning of “Lord of Magic” and “Magic fanatic”.
His supremacy over magic was hardwired into him. He wouldn’t hire anyone with a low aptitude for magic… no matter how good they were at other things… and he wouldn’t listen to them. He would consider anyone of low rank simply because they were not good at magic. They decide who their children’s friends are and who they marry based on their magical abilities. There are too many other episodes to mention.
I’ve tasted these things in games too many times.
Yes, the Duke of Lorambr is a character in the game. His daughter is the saint’s best friend and the hero’s target. In the former case, he appears in the latter case quite often.
Now that you’ve heard all this you may be wondering… Why did the Duke of Loramvell come to me?
It’s unnatural in more ways than one. The Duke’s supremacy over magic is too far removed from his principles to contact me, a colorless boy. I think it’s safe to assume he has a very important agenda.
I’m going into the meeting with my head held high to make that clear.
The meeting was to be held in the most elegant parlor in Foranada Castle. As we had been informed, there was no one there but me and the Duke. The servants were sent to make tea and leave immediately.
We sit down on the big sofa, facing each other. We sip tea and some time passes. The atmosphere is a bit stern, and the place is filled with a heavy atmosphere.
Suddenly, the Duke of Lorambrous opens his mouth.
“I’m not good with words. I can act the part of an aristocrat, but I don’t think it’s necessary for you. How about it?”
Of course, of course. I’m a man of simple tastes.
I nodded my head in agreement to the question whether I could make a direct statement. As a former civilian, I’d like to avoid using such a pretentious phrase.
But this reply turned to regret in the next moment.
“I’d like to propose my daughter as your fiancee.”
I spew out a mouthful of tea at an inopportune moment. A little bit of it went into his windpipe.
The Duke doesn’t care about my reaction.
“This is my daughter’s file. Look through it. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
He puts a stack of A4-size papers on the table.
I cough and cough and cough, turning my head frantically. I’m trying to figure out where to start with this completely unexpected question.
Fortunately the Duke of Loramvell seemed to wait for us to calm down. He was silent with his arms crossed.
I managed to get my breathing under control and threw out the first word I needed to ask.
Why did you bring this up to me?
This isn’t a question about why you chose me as your daughter’s fiancee. Why did you invite me, a mere count’s son, to an important meeting to decide who her fiance should be? That’s what I’m asking. Normally I’d have the Count father and his men in charge of foreign affairs present.
I know what you’re thinking, but… I should’ve checked with him before I did this.
The Duke sniffs lightly and replies in a matter-of-fact way.
“If I don’t bring it to you, who will? You are the true ruler of this Count’s domain.
I knew this guy knew I was in control.