My current duty was to improve His Highness Alforth’s position, so I went about this by spreading rumours saying that he wasn’t an elitist himself, but someone that was manipulated by them.
This would clear up the general misunderstanding the public had of him, while emphasizing that he was just another victim. While this would enforce the idea that he was an unreliable prince, it was at least better than being seen as a cruel person willing to cut off his friends.
Once the rumours spread, we could move on to the next stage of the plan, but it would take some time. So while we waited for the gossip to take hold, I began implementing another project I’ve been meaning to enact for some time now.
“Today’s lesson is about how to hold yourself with grace. Straighten your back, and try to keep the nerves at the ends of your fingertips taut as you move your limbs.”
“Umm… like this?”
“Yes, exactly like that. You should more or less be just at the boundary between stillness and movement– in other words, move your limbs as if you were carrying heavy luggage with them.”
I had reserved one of the school’s private training rooms and was currently giving lessons on proper bearing. However, the person I was instructing wasn’t my lady, but His Highness Alforth.
Even if it was only on the surface, I wanted him to be able to present himself appropriately for his position as a royal.
This would help improve his status among the nobility, and with how my lady held those who put in effort highly, the goal of improving her image of him truly motivated the prince to strive for greater heights.
In truth, this wasn’t necessary if I just wanted to pass Fol’s test.
However, it was necessary to fix the prince’s demeanour. No matter how raised the public’s opinion of him, it wouldn’t matter if he just messed up again afterwards.
Not to mention, if His Highness Alforth remained unreliable, he would undoubtedly bring more struggles to Lady Sophia when they had to work together in the future. To prevent such a thing from occurring, I was currently training him.
So while we waited for the rumours to spread, I continued my lessons with the prince.
“Un, deux, trois, un, deux, trois. Walk elegantly and beautifully without changing the height of your waist or shaking your head. Yes, that’s it. Exactly like that, Your Highness.
His Highness worked hard and followed my instructions obediently.
He reacted quite similarly to Lady Sophia, and while he wasn’t as young as she was when we had this lesson, children of his age still learned things fairly quickly.
“It’s time for a break, Your Highness.”
“Really? I can still keep going, you know?”
“No. It’s important to take breaks so you can really let what you’ve learned sink in. Constant practice without rest will only be detrimental in the long run.”
Humans organise information when their brains are at rest, such as when they’re sleeping. Therefore, it was important to take breaks before you burnt yourself out.
“…I see. You really do know everything.”
“You overestimate me. I’ve only learned what was needed, that’s all.”
I acquired the knowledge necessary to serve my lady as she grew up. Therefore, I didn’t know much about unrelated topics.
With that said, I have dabbled in a variety of subjects as a precaution, since I wasn’t sure what the future had in store, but nothing more.
“Oh, so then it’s just a matter of effort then? In that case, I’ll do my best to catch up to you, so please continue to help me with training from here on, Cyril!”
“As you wish, Your Highness.”
Shortly afterwards, we resumed his training on how to properly conduct himself.
A few days had passed since I became His Highness’ temporary educator. Seeing as how the rumours about him being manipulated by the elitists had spread, I decided it was time to start the next stage of my plan.
It was lunch break.
I was about to leave to meet with my lady, but I was once again stopped by Professor Tristan.
“Hey there Cyril, looks like you’ve started something interesting.”
“I don’t recall doing anything special?”
“Is that so? Then tell me, where else in the world would you find a child working as a prince’s educator even in spite of them being the same age?”
“Professor, are you by chance complaining about the royal family’s decision? In the first place, didn’t the queen only recommend me to the prince because of the reports you’ve sent to her?”
“…you have quite the silver tongue there.”
Professor Tristan exaggeratedly shrugged his shoulders with that statement, but I didn’t want to be told that by someone who was able to steal the hearts of my classmates in less than a day.
“Putting all of that aside, what did you need from me?”
“Hmm? Oh… I was just wondering why you– the exclusive butler of the young Lady Sophia, had decided to become His Highness’ educator.”
“You’re asking why I accepted his request? I thought you would already know, Professor.”
“Of course, I’m aware of your deal with the student council. However, the way the test is made suggests that the results don’t actually matter. There’s no point to your actions, so why would you do something that could complicate your position such as this?”
He was right.
All we needed to do to pass Fol’s test was to get her to declare that we passed. In extreme terms, it could be said that it didn’t matter whether His Highness Alforth’s reputation was fixed or not.
If that was all I wanted, then it’d be far more efficient to look into ways to get on her good side. Nevertheless, there was still another reason as to why I was seriously trying to improve the prince’s status.
“Isn’t it obvious, Professor?”
A competent prince would bring less grief to my lady in the future. So eventually this would all benefit her in the end. For Professor Tristan of all people to not notice this… it’s not like I was trying to hide it.
I was training His Highness Alforth for my lady’s sake, and while it might be considered improper for someone of my status, my actions were also a symbol that told others Lady Sophia was on friendly terms with the royal family.
“I know that you’re doing all of this because of your loyalty to your mistress, but what I’m asking you is why? Why do you work so hard for her? What’s your goal in all of this?”
“I’m Lady Sophia’s exclusive butler, do I need any other reason?”
I just wanted my lady to be happy, wasn’t that enough?
At my words, Professor Tristan laughed and said, “Well, let’s leave it at that then,” before departing.
I still couldn’t grasp what he was evaluating me for.
After that, I left to meet with my lady.
The usual lunch break tea party was happening today as well– but the members attending included a boy that wasn’t there before. The second prince of Ephenia, His Highness Alforth.
Needless to say, this was all done with Lady Sophia’s permission. As another step towards improving the prince’s position, I asked my lady for her assistance.
That’s why she was currently greeting him.
“Your Highness Alforth, welcome to our tea party. It’s just a small gathering for us to enjoy some afternoon tea, but I do hope you enjoy it.”
“I’ve heard a lot about your parties from Cyril. I’m grateful that you’d allow me to participate in an event that’s usually reserved for your friends. Thank you.”
His Highness politely responded in turn.
Until just recently, he would’ve innocently answered in a way unsuitable for the occasion, but he was different now. Now he was more aware of the situation around him.
It’s only been a few days since we’ve started the lessons, but the results could already be seen. As I thought, the prince had considerably higher base specs in comparison to other children.
Well… if you compared his behavior to what a prince should’ve been like at his age, then he was still inadequate. However, to the public he was supposed to be the leader of the elitist faction.
I decided it’d be fine to drop his evaluation slightly if it meant we could change that image of his.
Speaking of which, I’ve already received permission for this from one of His Highness’ attendants. Basically, they told me that I could move as I wished.
It seems the queen was serious about treating me as if I were the prince’s brother.
…under normal circumstances, this would be impossible to understand.
But if something unusual happened, there was probably an unusual reason behind it as well, and when considering the good impression my lady undoubtedly left on her, it wouldn’t be odd at all for the queen to start making moves to draw her in.
In any case– everyone had just finished their greetings and sat down.
Confirming that they were done, I began placing the tea and sweets down on the table. The noble girls seemed to be looking forward to them, as their eyes followed the confections with rapt interest.
“Today’s sweets are freshly baked waffles. Feel free to add jam, cream, honey, or fruits on top according to your preferences.”
After my lady tasted it for poison, the other elegant daughters of nobility… quickly began scarfing them down.
“Today’s confections are wonderful as well!”
“Yes, truly. The outsides have a crispy texture while the insides are soft and fluffy. They’re not overly sweet, but that can change depending on what toppings you add. Delicious.”
“Honey is my favourite!”
The general reaction from the girls was quite positive today.
Though it seems that sweeter confections like the ones that used honey were preferred. In this country, sweets that had high sugar content were commonplace, so I guess their tastes were conditioned to be that way.
But on the other hand, they were quite terrible considering the current fashion trend among the nobility was to wear dresses that squeezed at the waist.
“Cyril, did you bake these?”
“Not this time, Your Highness. They were made by a trusted cook that I shared the recipe with.”
“Oh? So if I had that chef, then I’d be able to have these sweets whenever I wanted?”
The air seemed to freeze at the prince’s words.
With how the mood changed so quickly, even His Highness noticed something happened. His eyes were asking, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ as he turned towards me.
“Your Highness, your words from before were the equivalent of you saying, ‘Give me that cook, I want them for myself.’”
His Highness Alforth wasn’t the only one surprised.
I hadn’t disclosed the fact that I was temporarily working as the prince’s educator, so for those that weren’t in the know, I was definitely stepping out of line.
Therefore, shocked reactions came not just from the noble girls, but from the servants that stood behind them as well.
With that said, my lady was one of the ones that did know, so she didn’t react at all.
And seeing how his attendants weren’t commenting either, His Highness went on to say, “I-I didn’t mean it. Sorry about that, Sophia” in apology.
The noble girls and their servants seemed to have accepted this situation on the surface, but in their minds, they were undoubtedly wondering why a student like myself was able to give such candid advice to the prince.
…well, this situation puzzled me too, so there wasn’t any point in thinking about it.
“Your Highness, while it is necessary to reflect on your actions, someone of the royal family shouldn’t apologise so easily.”
“Really? But isn’t it only natural to say you’re sorry after doing something wrong? If what you’re saying is true, then what am I supposed to do?”
“In cases like this, instead of directly apologising you should propose an alternative action that would imply your remorse. However, do not force it on them.
His Highness fell into thought with those words.
Although this wasn’t the time for him to let his thoughts drift, how I chastised him was already breaking so many rules it wasn’t even funny.
However, this move would further push the image that His Highness was reflecting on his past actions and was doing his best to change. So making just a little bit of a scene was fine as long as it set the right mood.
Though with that said, he shouldn’t neglect why he was here in the first place. So as I placed down more sweets in front of the prince, I quietly asked him, “Did you forget the reason why we’re doing this?” before backing away.
After wincing at my words, His Highness then raised his face and began speaking.
“Actually, I asked to join this tea party today because there was something I would like to discuss with you all. Please lend me your ears.”
The second prince abruptly cut into everyone’s conversations, but the noble girls didn’t seem to mind. It might’ve been due to the fact that they got to talk with him a bit beforehand that they were so calm.
“I found out just recently that people see me as the leader of the elitist faction, but that’s a misconception. I hold no disdain for the lower class of nobility, nor the commoners.”
First, he needed to deny the direct allegations that the public placed on him.
Staying silent for a moment to let those words sink in, Lady Sopia then asked, “If that’s true, then why did you surround yourself with those very same elitists?”
This was undoubtedly painful for the prince. Everything, including how he was manipulated, was a result of his own immaturity. Maybe he was looking for the courage to continue, as he bit his lips in frustration.
–however, this entire exchange was planned in advance.
“It’s… because I was naïve. That’s why I surrounded myself with them. Before anything else, I’d like to apologise for any inconveniences I’ve caused you regarding that matter.”
His Highness acknowledged his mistake and bowed.
Just before, I openly scolded the prince that members of the royal family shouldn’t apologise so easily, and yet here he was lowering his head once again.
This would give his apology more ‘weight’ and assure everyone that his words were genuine.
In the first place, it wasn’t easy to admit you were in the wrong.
Most people would make excuses when in trouble. Revealing this weakness always came with the fear of being taken advantage of afterwards.
But even so, the prince confessed his mistakes. This was already a sign of his growth. His Highness Alforth had taken the first step on his path to change himself.
“Of course, no matter how much I’ve reflected over this, it’s only natural that you’d be hesitant to believe my words. That’s why I’d like to ask you all to help me bridge the gap between the nobles and the commoners.”
Everything was all for this moment. I might’ve proposed this plan to him– but it was His Highness that decided to go along with it. It was a scheme made to clear the air between the prince and the commoner faction.
Of course, the prince wasn’t going to go as far as to join the commoner faction, but to counteract his current image, he would need to deepen his friendship with them. With this, he could distance himself from the elitists and send out a message that said, ‘His Highness Alforth is close to the commoners.’
—This was only possible because of the school policy that pushed for equality, regardless of status.
His Highness was saying that he wanted Lady Sophia’s faction to act as the mediators between him and the commoners. The prince would get closer with the lower class, and my lady would gain the achievement of organising it all.
This way we could achieve our own goals while selling a favour at the same time.
This whole charade might look like something made on the spot, but the details were actually discussed far in advance. Lady Sophia participated in those meetings as well.
That’s why my lady was able to nod towards the other noble girls with confidence before turning back to the prince.
“We will gladly accept this request, Your Highness.”
Lady Sophia had taken the task of mediating between His Highness and the commoners.
However, the relationship between my lady and Libert’s factions wasn’t actually that great. Although the previous misunderstandings were cleared, the two groups haven’t interacted in any manner since then.
As a result, Alicia and I were on our way to begin negotiations with them, since the two of us already had a reputation as mediators. That’s why we were currently on our way to the commoner course classrooms, but–
Alicia had stopped walking to look back over her shoulder.
“Cyril, why are you walking diagonally behind me?”
“Naturally, it’s because I’m a servant.”
“Geez… I don’t know where the commoner course classrooms are, so can’t you guide me there?”
“Understood. In that case, it’s this way.”
As I began walking, Alicia flipped her bluish black hair and lined up next to me. It looks like she wanted us to walk beside each other, but… this wasn’t appropriate for a girl of her status.
I turned towards her maid, Melissa.
…but she averted her gaze.
Apparently, she was going to pretend she didn’t see this. As expected of the woman who’d become a reassuring ally even during Libert’s commoner route.
…this was troublesome.
Well… if the noble girl in question wanted this, and if her maid wouldn’t stop her, then I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. Pretending not to notice, I continued to guide Alicia towards our destination.
“By the way, is it really okay for us to arrive there unannounced?”
“It definitely isn’t.”
It was bad enough when the prince visited my classroom. While I might be able to get away with something like this, Alicia would surely cause a commotion.
“…then why are we doing this?”
“This time is special because we want to make a lasting impression.”
Alicia tilted her head, but didn’t question it further. Perhaps she’d realise what I meant once we actually arrived there. Or rather, hasn’t she already done this multiple times herself?
But before I could ask her about it, she had already spoken up.
“To be so trusted by His Highness Alforth, you sure are amazing, Cyril.”
“Things just happened to end up that way.”
“I don’t think it’s that easy to gain the trust of royalty. Even the prince’s attendants seem to approve of you.”
“Oh, there’s a reason for that. I can’t explain it in detail, but the fact that I’m my lady’s butler had a large effect as to why that is.”
“Ahh… His Highness does seem to like her quite a bit.”
I didn’t respond, but it wasn’t that hard to tell. Whenever the prince is speaking to Lady Sophia, he always looks really happy.
The sight of a beautiful girl smiling together with a handsome boy really painted a nice picture.
“But she loves you.”
“Of course, I’m quite proud of how much she trusts me as her servant.”
I expected these comments to appear eventually, so that’s why I was able to respond without changing my expression. Nevertheless, Alicia smiled at my answer– albeit somewhat sadly.
“…and you love her.”
“I care for her very much as my master.”
“You don’t need to hide it, it’s obvious.”
“I’m really jealous of her, you know?”
Despite my denials, Alicia didn’t seem convinced at all, and let out a small sigh.
…I think it’d be better if she wasn’t so open about these things.
Alicia and I finally arrived at the building where the commoner course classes were located.
Libert’s class– the commoner A-class, seemed to be having an extended homeroom, so by the time we arrived there were still many students in the classroom.
I called out to one of them.
“Excuse me, could you please tell Libert that we’d like to speak with him?”
“Huh? Tell him what? –wait, you’re a servant? And that girl… a noble?!”
The boy shouted after seeing Alicia’s uniform. The base design might be the same, but the materials used and the finer details in the lining were noticeably different.
Silence spread throughout the classroom as everyone’s eyes gathered on Alicia. Quiet whispers slowly began to break out, some of them even identifying her.
Commoners didn’t have many opportunities to interact with the aristocracy, so it was surprising to see they recognised Alicia’s face. They must have seen her during the new student welcome party.
“Huh? Wha… Lady Alicia? Why would you be here?”
“We’re here to talk with Libert. Could you please go get him for us?”
Alicia tilted her head and smiled. As expected, only the heroine could reveal a smile this lovely. Having had no resistance to the smile of a noble girl, the boy’s face immediately flushed red.
“Now if it isn’t Lady Alicia? You didn’t have to trouble yourself with coming to a place like this. If you had called me, I would have gladly answered your summons.”
Libert had suddenly appeared with a smile. However, similar to how I was when His Highness visited me, I could detect his inner feelings leaking into his words.
“…Cyril. So you’re here too. What’s the meaning of this?”
“My apologies for the commotion, but this was necessary to show our determination and sincerity.”
“Proof of your determination?”
As his eyes narrowed in suspicion, I handed him the letter of introduction entrusted to me by Lady Sophia, and said, “Were you aware that my lady is hosting a tea party this weekend?”
“Of course… is this an invitation?”
“Precisely. Lady Sophia has stated that she wants you to attend, important guests including His Highness Alforth will be there as well.”
At my words– the classroom broke out in unrest.
It’s no wonder. Even if the rumours that I spread earlier had taken hold, it was still just gossip. The possibility that the prince was an elitist willing to eliminate his two followers was still a real threat to them.
It’s only natural for those who didn’t know the whole situation to be wary.
However, after hearing my message, Libert seemed to be able to realise the truth. Unlike the others, he was able to see the real intent of my words. The light of understanding could be seen in his maroon eyes.
“…what’s your goal here? Are you trying to shake our resolve?”
“No, we have no intentions of doing so.”
“So this is a trap then?”
“We have no such things planned.”
“Then why invite me to the tea party? I heard that the second prince held commoners in disdain. Wouldn’t my attendance only make things uncomfortable?”
As I thought, Libert truly was excellent. He realised my intentions, and asked all of the questions that I wanted. So I made sure to give him the answers he wanted in turn.
“That’s actually an unfortunate misunderstanding. In truth, His Highness wants to build a friendship with you, and has asked Lady Sophia to act as the mediator in pursuit of that.”
“…really? The second prince said that?”
“Yes, it’s exactly as I said. Your friendship is desired.”
In this situation where there were many ordinary people listening, I openly stated in Lady Sophia’s name that she was working to mend the relationship between His Highness Alforth and the commoners.
This is what Libert was originally looking for at the new student welcome party– confirmation that Lady Sophia would be an ally. Though putting that aside, one of my objectives was to make a very public statement.
In the game, there were events where the elitists framed my lady for harassment against the commoners. Therefore, I thought it would be desirable to stay neutral, and had made moves matching that belief.
However, recent incidents have undoubtedly turned the elitists into our enemies. A half-hearted stance would only bring danger, so I decided it’d be better to just openly announce an alliance with the commoner faction.
“I see. I’ll gladly accept then. How many people will be participating?”
“As long as they contact us in advance, there’s no limit.”
“Oh? Then I can bring as many people as I want?”
“Of course. Just be aware that they’ll be your responsibility, Sir Libert.”
I had a bad premonition, so I made sure to shut down whatever he was planning immediately.
Libert clicked his tongue in response.
“My responsibility, huh? Are you going to frame me for something, then?”
Woah there. Did he seriously still not trust me? Being cautious was fine, but picking a fight wouldn’t help anyone.
But that’s when Alicia cut in.
“Libert, we truly just want to get along with you. Please believe us.”
“Hmm… well, I’ll believe your words, Alicia.”
An instant change.
Could it be… that he was burning with rivalry towards me and wanted to earn more of Alicia’s favour?
Wait, was Libert taking the villainous daughter position and harassing me because I was the one Alicia currently liked… or something?
I’d like to say it was fine because there was no such development in the game, but I was never supposed to be a capture target in the first place– things have already diverged from the original work in many ways.
Incidentally, the title of the game was ‘Espressivo of Light and Darkness.’
Espressivo means expression. In other words, the game was saying it didn’t just focus on the shining light of high society, but the darkness of the shadows cast behind the scenes as well.
–the nuance here was that even the bright and perfect characters had dark sides to them.
Therefore, it couldn’t be said that Libert never had a ‘villainous daughter’ persona.
Alicia innocently laughed while saying, “Thanks for believing in me, Libert” oblivious to his intentions.
…have I ever been like that?
Written by Scarlet Rain (緋色の雨)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com