“I only have one way to judge whether a piece of clothing is good and that’s if it’s comfortable and doesn’t get in the way when I’m moving. Whether it’s a dress, suit, or pants, I always prioritize movement over design.”
“I get it. I don’t know how that works for you, but I totally get it.”
He paused for a moment, then added in a small voice.
“But as a tailor, I want to make my customers smile as much as possible… I’m sorry. I may have come across as presumptuous.”
“No. I understand. It’s just like when I started aiming to become a knight and walking the path of the sword. I took pride in walking the path I took, and you take pride in your profession as a tailor.”
“Thank you for your understanding.”
“Anyways, I like the dress made by Amarth. So far, out of everything I’ve worn, it’s the prettiest.”
“Yes. What’s the point of lying anyways?”
I said, while looking straight at Amarth’s eyes.
It was undeniable that the dress made by Amarth, regardless of my taste, was beautiful.
The dresses I’d worn so far, felt more like rags than clothes.
“So don’t think that you can’t make it work for me, or that I won’t like it. It’s just a personality difference.”
Perhaps my sincerity worked, Amarth’s expression became brighter than before.
He clenched his fists with an eager face.
“I will continue to work harder.”
“I’ll do my best to please Lady Iris!”
“You don’t have to…”
“You said that it felt a little tighter, right? Where is it, and how do you want me to adjust it?”
“I’ll fix it and adjust it again and again until there’s nothing uncomfortable about it anymore. Customer satisfaction is my satisfaction! Just trust me!”
A tailor’s passion was overwhelming.
Amarth started asking me one question, after another, and I started breaking out in cold sweats.
It was hours later that I finally escaped from that hell.
I’m tired, and drained.
I took a heavy step with a deep sigh.
I was confident in my strength, but somehow I was more tired than when I practiced the sword all day.
“Are you very tired?”
“Yes, a little.”
I replied in a groggy voice, but Sophie, who was ahead of me, gave me a worried look on her face.
“If you’re tired, just rest.”
Would I have rested if I’d been in my room? Absolutely not, I think.
I laughed halfheartedly, while slurring my words.
I was convinced that if Duke Bright hadn’t looked for me, I’m sure I’d still be in the custody of Amarth and Lady Elena.
“How can I just ignore my grandfather when he’s calling me?”
“Well, that’s true.”
“Come on, we’ve been wasting time trying to change clothes, so let’s go.”
“Yes, miss,” Sophie agreed and withdrew, she then started leading the way to the ducal residence.
I couldn’t help but sigh, while looking at her back.
‘We’ll have to do this a few more times, throughout my debutante year.’
I shuddered at the thought of a repeat of what happened today.
‘It’s driving me crazy.’
I can’t help but admit that it seems like I was taking the whole debutante preparation thing a little too nonchalantly.
I didn’t know choosing a dress would consume so much physical and mental energy.
‘This is why people shouldn’t ignore what they don’t understand…’
Perhaps I was secretly taking the noble ladies who were too eager for a debutante, for granted.
No, I actually did.
I thought I was better than those who wielded teacups and fans, not swords, and those who enjoyed themselves in banquet halls and flower gardens, rather than the battlefield.
How arrogant of me.
‘Debutantes and banquets are all extensions of politics. In the eyes of the onlookers, It may seem that the capital’s nobility is obsessed with frivolity and enjoys luxury and indulgence. However, once you become a part of it, and enter their world, you would understand, and learn the intricacies behind it. You’ll even learn something new.’
‘Yes, after all banquets are a place to exchange information. I’m afraid you’ll be a bit tired of all the gossiping. It’s a bit exhausting, but if you go through it, your horizons will be broadened significantly than before.’
‘If state meetings at the palace and diplomatic negotiations with other countries are the realm of public politics, then salons, tea parties, and other gatherings are where private politics take place. Especially the banquet hosted by nobles. They often serve as a venue for negotiations and covert dealings between factions.’
‘Come to think of it, I’ve heard something similar from his Highness, before.’
‘Is that so? Anyway, I think this debutante ball would be a good experience for Lady Iris.’
The conversation I had with Lady Elena suddenly flashed through my mind.
At that time, I just let it slide, but now that I think about it, she saw through my dislike for balls and banquets, and she gave me some sneaky advice in her own way.
What Lady Elena said was all true.
The more I prepared for my debutante ball with her help, and the more I learned about Imperial society— The language, etiquette, and things to watch out for, the more I realized things I hadn’t realized before.
‘I want you to memorize the list of Imperial nobles I sent you today before the Debutante, and if you look closely, I’ve marked those who are in good terms with the Bright family and those who are not.’
‘Those in red are those who have had personal conflicts with the Young Lady Bright.’
‘You should also be wary of people who are close to the young Countess of Olette. There are a lot of nasty people out there.’
‘I got it.’
‘If I’m ever away, Duke White and people from Count Soleit’s family will be there to help you. I’ve already spoken to them.’
The crown prince sent me a bunch of information and other materials to study before my debutante night through his aides.
And every night he would use the spirit stones to explain many things to me.
Sometimes, when he was free, we would meet at his secret hideout, the café.
‘As you know,’ He said, ‘The Empress and I have been at odds for the past few years, and you had accepted me, the crown prince, as your cavalier. How do you think it will look to the Empress and the others?’
‘They’ll think we’ve joined hands.’
‘Yes, and the nobles of the Empress’ faction will surely keep you in check.’
The Crown Prince was a friendly mentor, he was eager to teach me a lot of things.
I listened and watched and learned, and as my knowledge grew, so did my understanding of this new world, I’m getting myself into.
Socializing in the capital was a battle.
In preparing for my debutante ball, nothing was left to chance.
Whether it was a banquet or a tea party, I had to think about the number of different things that could happen there and prepare for them in advance, just as I would strategize in a battle.
Every move I made, every word I said, should be calculated.
“What an idiot—.”
I cursed myself and covered my eyes with my hands.
The more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I felt.
How could I have dismissed Debutantes like it was a chore that I had to do to become a knight?
I was like a one-eyed puppy who thought it was the only right thing to do?
I’m ashamed, but in my defense, I really didn’t know any better.
When I was at the Sabrina estate, my only social activity was within the estate walls.
That’s how people are.
When you’re struggling to make ends meet, you have to cut back.
The first thing I cut back on were luxuries like clothes, jewelry, and books.
How could I host banquets and buy new dresses and jewelry on a shabby estate that had to worry about running a deficit every year?
To me, a dress or a piece of jewelry was not as valuable as flour.
I couldn’t walk the bumpy roads of the estate or ride the steep mountains in a skimpy dress that covered my ankles, unlike when I wear a light dress that is above my ankles or maybe those pairs of active pants.
It’s worse if I wear a dress with heels.
Anyway, I didn’t feel the need to wear a dress at any time except when I went to a banquet or social gathering in a nearby estate, and I even attended it sparingly.
Even if I had the money to buy a dress, I would rather use it to buy a new sword, food, etc. that I needed for my life at the moment.
“This way, miss.”
Sophie’s voice broke my trance.
When I looked up, I saw Sophie standing in front of the thick rows of bushes.
“Is this the right way?”
“Yes. This is the side trail to the duke’s residence.”
I can’t see the trail no matter how much I look at it?
I frowned in front of the bushes that stood in the way.
Then Sophie made an awkward expression.
“Oh, there aren’t many people who use this trail… But this is the right place!”
I sighed as I watched Sophie navigate through the bushes.
If I’d known it was going to be like this, I should have just taken a carriage.
No, no, no, there was a hundred percent chance that we would have been captured and tortured by the newspaper reporters camped out in front of the Marquis residence by now.
“It’s the reporters…” I said,
“They’re the problem.”
They’re worse than leeches.
If it weren’t for them, I’d have had an easy horse-drawn carriage ride to the ducal residence long ago.
“That’s it, we just had to go through here.”
“Well, it’s certainly close.”
“It’s next door, though the grounds are large, so there’s a bit of a distance!”
Sophie responded, while smiling wryly still looking at the bushes.
True to her word, the Duke of Bright’s manor was right next door to the Marquis.
Somehow the Duke of Bright had managed to get in and out of the Marquis’s house without even trying, all because it was next door.
“Ah I don’t know why he even asked me to come.”
I don’t know why he called me over today because he would usually just come out on his own.
I grumbled and followed Sophie’s lead, through the thick undergrowth, a path finally emerged, and beyond it was a mansion that resembled the marquis’.
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