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Chapter 22.1

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Audience with His Majesty the King.
“I’m Alice, the eldest daughter of the Count Fleur, from the country of Arland. I’m here today to greet you on the occasion of my first day of studying abroad.”

In the audience room, I pinched the hem of my skirt and bowed while lifting it lightly… that’s called curtsy. I did this to the King sitting on the throne before me.
I was the youngest person in the audience hall, but there were about 20 other children, all sons and daughters of noble families. Some of them were quite awkward and some of them didn’t seem to have any skills at all, but the nobles around us were looking at them with smiles. I guess they understand that it’s okay for children to be awkward. I have no problem with this, though, because I’m in a position where if I cut corners, I would be punished immediately.

“Welcome, younglings of the future, we welcome you to our country.”

After the King’s gracious words of gratitude(?), we did a noble-like greeting, and the audience itself was over in about an hour. Changing my clothes and waiting took more than two hours, so I would say all was over in about three to four hours. I can say that I was able to endure well.
I think I should leave soon, though. I’m bored.

“You are the daughter of the House of Fleur, I believe.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I’m the eldest daughter of Count Fleur, Alice.”

I wonder why the King is here? I’m sure I have seen him left the audience hall a while ago, but did he come back for something?

“Hoho, are you accustomed to this? Other boys and girls were quite flustered, but you don’t seem to be nervous at all.”

“No, my reactions are just a bit dull. I’ve never been out of the fief before.”

Is he harassing me? Normally, when the King is behind you, even the low nobleman would be scared witless, much less little boys and girls. (It often happens with family that even citizens aren’t surprised, let alone soldiers, though.)

“Hoho, you are well-educated. Your elder brother is often talked about, even in my royal court. They say he is outstanding.”

“Yes, I’m very proud of him.”

What do you want to say? Are you making a small talk with me? I’m afraid of the eyes of the other boys and girls, though.

“I’ve never seen a carriage like yours before, are they common in your country?”

Ahh, the carriage, huh…

“No. That’s the one I built at the request of the royal family. I took it for a special ride this time to make sure it was safe to use.”

“Mhm. I’d like to have one myself, but I’m not sure if I can request the Fleur family to make me one?”

“That… The materials used were those of an attributed dragon class, so I have no idea how much it would cost to buy. The materials used for this carriage were secured by His Majesty Draconia himself.”

“… Hmm, It’s true that an attributed dragon is hard to come by. The King of your country is as powerful as ever. I’m sorry, it’s just that our noblemen are insisting on that carriage.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t meet your request.”

I wouldn’t make it even if you asked me to. It’s a hassle, and if I stupidly gave an OK here, my Mother’s anger meter would rise, so I can’t.
When I refused, His Majesty the King spoke to me in a whisper. Some of it is mixed with small talk in a normal voice, but the real part is probably the whispering.

“(In fact, I know you.)”

!!

“(You need not be this vigilant. Can you come to my room later? I don’t mind if your maid accompanies you.)”

What is it about? Since he knows me, it means he knows I’m a princess? I cannot make the decision without consultion Arishia first, but I don’t feel any malice, so it should be all right. My danger radar doesn’t show any reaction (I would refuse if even a little was shown, though).

“(I’m sorry, but I cannot make the decision without consulting with my attendant first.)”

“(I have known Arishia since your father was an adventurer, and she has already given her permission.)”

“(I will accept your invitation then.)”

The air in this place was heavy (mainly because of the jealous eyes of the boys and girls), so I wanted to end the conversation. The noble young lady mode doesn’t last long, and I’m almost at my limit. I can feel the eyes of Arishia in the corner of the room, so she must have sensed that the end of my limited time mode is near and was putting pressure on me.
When His Majesty the King was satisfied with my reply, he walked out of the audience hall this time. Then we went out too. On the way, some kids said something to me, but I didn’t respond to them because they were just being sarcastic. I don’t have that much time to spare right now. My limited time mode is really wearing off. I’m not very good at these occasions.

“Young lady, please come this way.”

A maid was waiting for me when I stepped out of the audience hall. Isn’t the timing bad? The private conversation earlier and the immediate summoning outside, it’s obvious that someone summoned me… and it’s obviously the King, right? Doesn’t that make me stand out? The surrounding air was more than heavy, it was deadly. They were talking about me behind my back, like gossiping old women in the countryside.
Well, I should just go along with them. As long as I don’t get involved with them, there’s no problem. I don’t get involved with the nobles, especially the common nobles, even in our country, because I can smell and see their malice. I get along with the five lords as they are close to my Father, but they’re not ordinary people.

“Arishia, are you sure about this?”

“You’ve lasted this long, and saved yourself a lot of embarrassment… The King here and His Majesty are acquainted, so it’s all right.”

Hmm~ Rather, what is he calling me over for, I wonder?

“It’s over here.”

We entered after the maid knocked on the door and got permission to enter.
Inside, the room was gorgeous and opulent. There was a chandelier representing the divine beasts, pillars with gold and silver artwork, and elegant sofas. The King sat elegantly on the sofa.

“Sorry for calling you over out of the blue. Don’t mind the formalities and sit down.”

“Excuse me then… what did you want to talk about?”

I’d like to get this over with and be on my way. I hate formalities even more than my Father! Why can’t people just live their lives in peace and quiet?

“Hoho, they say people make mistakes when in hurry and impatient, but you don’t seem to like formalities very much.”

“I’m not much of a social butterfly.”

“Hoho, so it’s true you’re a recluse?”

When it comes to social circles, I’m a hermit. I am not good with the greed that is peculiar to the aristocracy, and if I detect it at all, I run away like a rabbit, so it seems that my parents have given up on acclimating me to the social world.

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