Chapter 7: A Great Noble Has Taken An Interest In Me
There’s royalty in Class E-1. This news spread in the academy in the blink of an eye. After school, the classroom was thrown into chaos. Factionless students who heard the rumor, and more importantly, young nobles who don’t have any backers yet, visited Class E-1 to form a relationship with Claudia.
It appears that a lot of students surround Claudia every day.
「As expected, it’s impossible to hide your social status」
Theresa looked at the situation in which the students gathered around Claudia. Although she seems happy, she knew that they are people who still cannot find backers, even at this late hour. They’re a bunch of people who couldn’t announce themselves as Hildegard’s faction, however.
Theresa failed to notice this. On the other hand, competent but factionless people looked at the situation cynically.
「It’s amazing, right?」
「Well, duh. After all’s said and done, she’s the imperial princess of the empire」
「Are you curious about why I made it public？」
Kamui was the one who started the rumor about Claudia. He gossiped here and there in the academy, as if letting the people around hear it. If the rumour is spread to some extent, there’ll be some people who will try to confirm it.
When they realized that the rumour is true, the entire academy is wrapped in surprise.
「If I did that, they won’t approach me, right?」
「I expected something like that.」
「Otto-kun, you’re fine with that?」
「Eh, about what?」
Otto became bewildered when the topic suddenly changed. Kamui words were just too short; sometimes it’s hard to understand what he’s talking about. Moreover, Otto hardly had any chances to converse with him.
「Ah, I mean if you become close with her, it might prove to be useful in trade right?」
「Ah, about that? I’m not that troubled you know. Moreover, if we look our profit as a whole, the percentage coming from the transactions with the imperial court is actually extremely small」
「Is that so? I thought the imperial family would spend more money」
Kamui thought that the imperial family has the image of living in every possible luxury; wearing various ornaments and different clothes everyday.
「Well, they do use money. It’s just that unless it’s a large amount of money, our end profit would be equivalent to none, you know. 」
「Then, in business terms, it’s something like a bribe, right?」
「Please, can you not say it that way？ There are severe penalties for bribery」
「Though nobody was ever actually prosecuted for bribing.」
「Well you see, the one who should be prosecuted with the crime is the one on the receiving end」
Actually, government officials and feudal lords from various places are the ones who receive the greater amount of bribes. This is because they aim for the practical advantages provided by them, which are more than that which is provided by the imperial family.
「The world is over, huh」
「It’s still a considerably long way from the end of the world though.」
「Ooh, it’s surprising that Otto-kun can follow up with a harsh remark like that」
「I also want to say that. I mean, taxes are going to rise you know」
「……As expected, a merchant’s intel is fast huh. When will that be? 」
Otto’s home is a merchant house. Though Kamui knows of the speed of their information, he is still a little surprised that Otto – who is still a student – also knows about it.
「It’s right after new year’s. But Kamui-kun’s group doesn’t have to worry about this. Only the merchants are subjected to this tax increase」
「That makes me a bit relieved. Our financial situation is severe」
Kamui knew of the grevious financial situation of Viscount Kreutz’s house very clearly.
「I mean, we have nothing to do with the tax decided by the empire」
In the first place, Selene’s house is already under heavier taxation than it should be. Still, it doesn’t mean that it’s irrelevant to her, either.
「Even so, this will be used as an excuse to take more, right?」
「Yeah, that’s right. Thinking about it like that, it’s a good thing huh.」
「I’m not okay, you know 」
Otto lightly complained to Kamui and Selene, who were showing relieved expressions.
「It looks like that to me but, is it really that bad？ Otto-kun merchant house is quite large right？」
「Which means that the offering money is also larger. I mean, it was rumored that the tax rate will be in proportion with the property」
「……If you think of it that way, it’s a good thing that we got to know about this. Various money of that kind will be flowing around, right?」
Merchants won’t quietly watch things develop to their disadvantage. They will use various means to crush it.
「Obviously, I think there will be considerable amounts of ‘that’ flowing around.」
「Even so, the increase is still going to go ahead. What happened? 」
「Should I be answering that?」
「Don’t fret, it’s not a big deal」
Kamui knew very well that Otto hates explaining when things become bothersome. That part of Otto is similar to him.
「I didn’t mean it that way you know. The reason why ‘that’ failed to flow was because we couldn’t reach a satisfactory figure. No, it’s because they wouldn’t accept ‘that’.」
「Someone like that exists?」
Officials who refuse bribes. Even that should be the obvious case, such officials are actually quite rare. Even if they didn’t wish for it, given as a present, they’ll still accept it.
「That’s why I asked if I am the one who should be answering this. As nobles, you guys should’ve known about this. A while ago, a newcomer was promoted into the government with a recommendation from the crown prince. That official seems like a rather excellent person you know」
「Perhaps, that newcomer possesses considerable political power?」
「Well, that’s probably right」
「What kind of person is that newcomer?」
That person is not even royalty, but capable of ignoring a prominent merchant’s coercions. This shows that that person has considerable influence. This is the fact that Kamui is most interested in.
「I haven’t been informed of the minor details. Since the investigation was not called off, then perhaps it’s a fact, huh.」
「This is getting interesting. That official is quite a mysterious person, huh?」
「At least in this situation. Since it was a sudden promotion. We don’t know yet what that official was doing before this.」
「You said that the official received the crown prince’s recommendation right？」
Since the crown prince recommended that person, it’s possible that they have similar ideologies. Kamui felt that if he knew that person, he could grasp the crown prince’s true nature.
「This is the only information we have, though I guess they’re reasonably trustworthy. Because, even if he’s a crown prince, for him to suddenly promote an unknown person – I feel that that’s quite unreasonable. The crown prince’s reputation will be tarnished if that person wasn’t excellent」
「Even so, that person was excellent. Since that person wouldn’t accept bribes, perhaps that official is an honest person?」
In that case, the crown prince who gave that recommendation could also be an honest person. If that is so, there might still be a little hope for the next era.
「I’ve told you not to use those words, right?」
「My bad. It’s ‘that’ right, ‘that’. 」
「It’s still uncertain whether that official is an honest person or not, you know.」
Otto denied Kamui’s line of thought.
「It’s a rationalization that I was taught a long time ago though. There are two types of people that will not accept ‘that’. First is the honest kind of person as Kamui-kun said, the other one is a person who got ‘that’ from the other people already.」
「They already have alliances. If that’s true, that official would be quite the dangerous person, huh」
In a situation where the other party was already in an alliance, it would mean that their goal would be – for the sake of their allies – crushing any holders of vested rights. It would be the start of political strife.
「Just like in Kamui-kun’s line of thought, this might be in order to crush the merchant house that is similar to mine」
「And then, rising as new force themselves. Quite amazing, huh. I wonder what lies beyond that? What do you think, Alto? 」
「……Their purpose is something along the lines of crushing the existing merchant house. How will they do that is uncertain, but there will be considerable chaos, right?」
「That’s right. Even my house has its roots quite far and wide across the empire, you know」
The structure of distribution of goods in the empire is composed of this type of merchant. Each merchant has his own link that connects a city to another city. If that is stopped, there’s no doubt that the circulation of goods in the empire will fall into chaos.
「Even if it’s compulsory, it’s not a thing we’d like to do. It’s beyond the authority of a merchant house, right……. As it is, it’ll be considerably large scale, you know.」
「Nobles with merchants backing them.……It looks like a coup d’etat, huh」
「I’m not saying that the imperial family is planning a coup d’etat, duh.」
「Is that so? The possibility of this being be the crown prince’s intention is quite high, though. Weakening the noble and at the same time increasing his fellow imperial family’s power. It’s consistent.」
The subject of the talk between Kamui and Alto grew rapidly.
「Are you seriously saying that?」
For the first time in the conversation, Otto failed to grasp the point.
「It regrettable, Otto-kun. Your generation might have it bad.」
「I wonder. Will you please stop saying things that will only bring bad luck ？」
「I mean your opponent is the crown prince you know. He is the future emperor. Making an enemy of the the emperor is just too dangerous, right」
「Even you, Alto-kun……」
「Good grief. You guys. Just how far can your imagination spread with just this kind of information. If the earls ever come to know about it, they won’t stay quiet. The empire will fall into chaos, you know」
Unable to endure seeing at the depressed Otto, Selene joined the conversation. Unfortunately, her following remarks were quite dangerous.
The houses of the earls are the merchant’s biggest support. Those who get hailed as great merchants must have some connection with an earl’s house. It can be said that they grew that big by using connections.
Naturally, the compensation given to the earl’s house is also big. Trying to crush these great merchants certainly means provoking a confrontation with the earls. If the situation escalates into a confrontation between the imperial family and the earls, then it might be at a considerable scale.
「Chaos, huh. Even so, this might be outside of their plans」
Unexpectedly, Alto showed a delighted expression after hearing Selene’s words.
「If chaos transpires, there will be a need for people who can resolve it, right?」
「And they are？」
「People like that – there are many of them in our generation」
There’s no need to say who. It’s those who became the origin of the term of golden generation in this academy.
「Indeed. Does Alto-kun also feel that way too?」
「I’ve been investigating various things, you know. Those guys – they’re not a bunch that can live in a peaceful era, are they? That’s how I feel. They’re a bunch that will shine during chaotic times.」
「The era is waiting for them?」
Selene uttered those words that come to her mind, without even considering it.
「Oh, nice words, Selene-san」
It seems that Alto was quite pleased with Selene’s remark.
「If it became like that….…… I see, it might even be a good thing？ 」
Selene’s face suddenly changed to a serious one.
Chaos in the empire will become the frontier territory’s best chance. If a civil war spreads all over the empire, the influence of the frontier territories, which occupies a quarter of the empire, will inevitably increase. It would be fine for them to pick a side, aim for military achievements or even plot for independance.
Though it’s a dangerous bet that will lead to ruin if it failed, Selene felt that it is much better than gradually letting the situation worsen as it is.
「Hee, Selene-san also has the disposition of shining during turbulent times, huh? 」
「I don’t have that kind of power, you know. Nevertheless, the chaotic era is what I wish for. At the same time, I’m not the only one who’s wishing for it right？ 」
「As Kamui said, Selene-san is a difficult woman. Who knew. However, I know a man who’ll shine the most at that time」
After hearing what Alto said, all of their eyes naturally gathered at Kamui.
「It’s you, FOOL!」
「Hey, didn’t you just call me a fool？」
「Hey you, stop being thickheaded. Rather than those guys, I think you’re the one that lost his mind, you know.」
「I appreciate the concern, but that’s wrong. The one who lost his mind is someone else.」
「That person is superior in magic and sword, and has a nice personality. That person has considerable insight. In addition, that person is good looking.」
Impeccable. If it’s as Kamui says, there’s this kind of impeccable person in the imperial academy.
「It’s quite a rave review, isn’t it?」
Alto smiled wryly as he noticed who Kamui is talking about.
「If I’m praising him this much, I thought I might get a reward, Diefried-san」
Saying those words, Kamui looked behind him.
「I’m exposed, huh」
At that place was the figure of Diefried, who was trying to getting closer to Kamui’s back without being noticed.
「Since I’m not a blockhead that fails to notice people who are standing behind me. Unlike a certain someone」
Selene, who had a lot of things coming to mind, voiced her complaint.
「My presence has been noticed huh, it seems that I’m still lacking in training」
That Diefried could say that shows that he’s quite depressed.
「You’re wrong, to tell you the truth, I only noticed you due to Selene’s line of sight. Other than the people here, if I had to guess who would creep from behind, the answer is clear」
「Should I let it slide? So then, should I treat you? 」
「It comes to that, huh」
Kamui’s words, which were meant as a joke, was being used by Diefried.
「Because I failed last time. Thanks to a certain someone who’s standing happily there.」
Diefried’s lightly pointed his chin toward Theresa.
「It’s not like Diefried-san failed, right?」
「Nah, it’s a failure, you know. Eavesdropping on other people’s conversations isn’t like me. Furthermore, choosing the wrong person to eavesdrop. As for that matter, I’ve decided to prepare some kind of plan with my own hands」
「That was my plan but, since you’ve asked for treats on your own, I’ll gladly give you a treat」
「I wonder what will be good?」
Before even hearing Kamui’s acceptance, Diefried made as if they’ll eat together as a matter of fact.
「Nah, it won’t matter if I don’t get a treat, you know.」
「As expected, it has to be meat. The steak I ate the other day was truly delicious. It’s meat, but it’s somehow so tender as if it melts in your mouth」
「Steak? Don’t tell me it was boiled, right?」
What came to Kamui’s mind when it comes to tender meat can only be at least something like the soup at the General’s place.
「Steak isn’t boiled, right? It can only be roasted. I can tell you that the condition of the fat from the meat varies. I’ve actually seen it, white fat from the meat spreads like string」
「Since it’s fatty meat, it melts just by placing it on the tongue, and so it seems that the whole meat feels soft and tender」
「And you will treat me to that?」
「……No, no, since I’ll be troubled if you asked for something strange after you’ve given me the treat」
Kamui was almost lured out by the steak but, he somehow managed to regain himself and endured the temptation.
「I won’t do such thing, you know. This is, well, it’s as an apology for this time」
「Uhm, do you mean that it’s only for Kamui?」
Selene cut into their conversation timidly from Kamui’s side. Selene too has never tasted meat that was so tender as if it was melting. It really made her curious when she heard Diefried’s description.
Diefried noticed Selene’s reaction, and thought that her reaction seemed favourable to him.
「If it’s okay with you, how about going together?」
「REALLY!? I’M IN!」
Selene was extremely easily lured by it. Hereafter, Diefried thought to skillfully use Selene’s interest.
「Sele! Don’t decide it on your own!」
「Isn’t it nice. There might be no second chance to eat something like that in a lifetime. I won’t miss this chance」
「Noisy. Call me a gourmet」
Before saying anything to Diefried, those two was started their own quarrel.
「Gourmet my ass. You were contentedly eating at the cheap food stall in the back alley while saying it’s delicious, delicious.」
「Ah, I’ll report this to the General」
「I don’t care, it’s a fact」
「Then, is Kamui saying that the dishes at General’s place isn’t delicious?」
「I didn’t say anything like that, right? Of course it’s extremely delicious」
Diefried didn’t have any chance at all to cut into the quarrel of Selene and Kamui.
「Then, without a doubt, I’m a gourmet, right!」
「That’s just sophistry.」
「Geez, you’re so noisy. Anyway, let’s go. It’s steak, STEAK you know」
「Good grief, it can’t be helped then」
In the end, it ended with Selene and Kamui persuading themselves without Diefried doing anything.
Though Alto and Otto were already used to it, it’s the first time Diefried saw those two quarreling like this from up close.
At first he’s taken aback, but seeing how it ended, he muttered in admiration.
「Selene-san is amazing isn’t she?」
「Well, I didn’t expect to find here someone whose words Kamui is willing to listen to.」
「If you want to capture the king, take his horse first. To persuade Kamui-kun, I was thought that I had to start with Lutz and Alto. But it seems that Selene-san was an option too. What’s the proverb for a case like this? ‘To persuade the husband, you have to bring his wife to your side’, something like that perhaps? 」
「Well, with this, I got some nice info. Well then, I’ll have to immediately deepen my friendship with the wife, right.」
Diefried kept talking while ignoring those two, who were denying it with all their power.
「If you want to go, let’s go」
Alto cut in at that moment. Furthermore, it was an approval to go to eat.
「Are, is Alto-kun also feeling like going?」
「The gazes from the surroundings is annoying. It seems that those guys feel uncomfortable with Diefried-san being here.」
The ones who Alto called “those guys” are the student in Claudia’s vicinity. They kept glancing at Kamui’s place.
Disregarding the house of the Earl of the West, but trying to get closer to Claudia, won’t this be something troublesome? They’re worried about this..
Their anxiety is pointless. Diefreet had no interest in following anybody else, aside from the people in this group.
「……That’s right. Shall we go」
「Understood. We’ll have to pick Lutz up along the way」
「Come to think of it, he’s not here, is he？」
「He’s in the middle of training. Since it’s about to end, it’s just right, isn’t it」
「Indeed. Then, let’s go」
Eventually, all the members of Kamui’s group was participating.
An unexpected spectacle reflected in Matthias’ eyes while he was walking in the schoolyard. Seeing it, Matthias unintentionally stopped walking.
「What’s the matter?」
Though Hildegard was walking in front of him, she noticed that Matthias stopped walking and called out to him.
「Look at that.」
Matthias pointed to the group of students that just appeared from under the shadow of a building. The conspicuous silver haired male pupil walking in front is Kamui. But Matthias was surprised at the another male student who was walking beside that Kamui.
「That’s Diefried. Lutz is also with them……」
Hildegard’s subject of interest isn’t Kamui, it’s Lutz.
「Are they joining Diefried?」
「If they’re not on our side, it’ll have to be Diefried’s side. No wonder they refused our invitation. It’s regrettable, but there’s no other way. This is Diefried’s victory」
「But, for him to be an underling is……」
「He’s originally Kamui-kun’s subordinate over there」
「I’m referring to Kamui-kun. My impression was that he’s not someone who would follow someone as an underling」
「Isn’t he the son of the house of the viscount of the frontier territory？ He’ll happily accept if he can become part of the House of the Earl of the West. Even though we’re basically the same. ‘I don’t want to work under a woman’ – I wonder if he might have that kind of prejudice? 」
Hildegard’s evaluation for Kamui is low. That irritated Matthias in a way.
Judging from the appearance, Diefried is actively approaching Kamui. It can be said that Diefried is aiming for Kamui.
Similiar to himself, Diefried noticed that there’s something else about Kamui. His own master, Hildegard failed to notice it.
「It might be better for us to not underestimate that person called Kamui Kreutz」
「Is there something to him?」
Hildegard has the caliber to obediently lend her ears to the voices of her subordinates. It is not that she’s merely gathering people with her title as the daughter of house of the Earl of the East. If one must say, her shortcoming is the fact that she’s way too bound by her pride as a noble.
That was why Kamui rejected Hildegard, but accepted Diefried to some degree.
「It might be just my imagination but, I believe that people are evaluating him wrongly. No, I think I can say that he’s deliberately aiming for that.」
「……What made you think so?」
It’s crazy theory but, since Matthias is the one who is saying it, Hildegard knew that there must be some basis to his theory.
「First, it’s about Lutz-kun. Originally, Lutz-kun didn’t show any kind of power which deserved an evaluation. One day, he suddenly became powerful and attracted his surroundings. Don’t you think that it’s strange?」
「You want to say that he was hiding his ability right?」
「Indeed. There’s nothing to say that Kamui-kun as his master wouldn’t do the same thing.」
「But, it’s a fact that he can’t use magic. Didn’t you go so far as to inspect the elementary grade division?」
「Yes. As a result of the inspection, I judged that he can’t use magic」
「In that case, you can’t say that his surroundings evaluated him wrongly 」
Fights in this world rely on magic, to the extent that it seems impossible to imagine a fight without magic. Nobody has attempted to earnestly raise their actual physical ability and polish their sword skills.
Therefore, it all came down to natural born talent – nobles who inherit blood which carries talent in magic, the knight lineage who take pride in their absolute power as compared to a commoner.
「Hildegard-sama, do you remember the match that resulted in his wound?」
Matthias’ theory had another basis.
「Yes. I saw it」
「What do you think about it?」
「It’s not as bad as they’ve said. That’s his level of evaluation」
「Yes, that’s right. But, think about it again under the assumption that he didn’t use magic at all? 」
Matthias noticed a precondition that was left out from the considerations of many people.
「……Under the assumption that he didn’t use magic, what do you mean?」
「A little bit after we realized that Lutz might have been hiding his true ability; try to recall the match when he got injured. Since that’s the only time we ever saw his actual sword skills.」
「And so, what are you trying to say?」
「I thought: can I really do that movement without using magic? My conclusion is, I can’t」
Since it was the first match against Selene, even if it’s an arranged match, Kamui thought that it won’t be noticed unless he executes some level of movement. After all, Selene’s adjustments were poor.
「Even so, it’s quite meaningless, isn’t it? Whether he intended to rely on magic or not, the meaning of power is all about the result.」
「But, what if that condition is that he didn’t go all out yet? What if he actually can use magic?」
If they assume that his current ability, without using magic, is on par with the other students… that’s a monstrous ability.
Further, if the power of magic is added in, just how much would that ability increase?
「……Isn’t that just overthinking things?」
Hildegard denied that assumption. That assumption surpassed Hildegard’s common sense.
「It’ll be good if that’s true」
「Assuming that it’s true, do you think that he’s surpassed me?」
Though she spoke of her denial for a moment, she still worried about it.
That’s the proof of her faith toward Matthias. Hildegard believed that when Matthias is giving advice, he was always thinking on her behalf.
「I’m unable to answer that. I can’t imagine his ability when he isn’t pretending」
「That’s natural, isn’t it. You can’t make a comparison with something that you can’t see the limit of」
「Even so, I understood something」
「What is it?」
「He, if he and Lutz-kun enters Diefried’s faction, I can say for sure that our side will definitely lose」
「……Can we bargain with him?」
Hildegard decided on this point. Kamui must be advancing forward with everything, assuming that he didn’t consider herself.
「If we go by what you said earlier, he’s not the type that will easily abide by another person」
「It’s no good then……」
「Nope. Since I know it’s true, we still have time. It’s not like he’s already completely attached to Diefried-dono」
「Well then, I’ll leave that matter to you. Solicit him and see through his true ability. I don’t mean that you must really solicit him, though. It’s plenty as long as he’s not under anyone or any side」
「Certainly. Depending on the situation, I’ll try to invite him for a talk with Hildegard-sama once again」
「Not just once, I’ll do it no matter how many times it’s needed. I have no intention of hating the labor required to gain excellent personnel」
In a place where he’s not aware of, the competition for Kamui had begun. Hereafter, Kamui will lead a long and hectic academy life.
In addition to Diefried and Hildegard, it is a fact that there’s another person with strong interest in Kamui, though no one noticed that person at that point in time.