The small boy continued with his persistent questioning and disrespectful tone.It became evident that he was coached by Celi to maintain a facade of strength. Despite his youthful appearance, he had a wealth of experience and knowledge.
The boy, with his appearance belying his true age, was responsible for managing mining operations, expeditionary forces, the use of magic stones, battle mages, and healers in the Marotu region. This role was essential in both supporting the north and providing long-term assistance to Raygrain, despite his youthful exterior.
Scheuer understood that this boy’s questions were meant to test her patience and resilience. She recalled Celly’s advice about projecting an image of vitality and health, even in challenging circumstances. Scheuer knew that these people, despite their offensive questions, were pitiful if they couldn’t see her efforts.
As Scheuer was determined to maintain the image of a future duchess and to project good health and vitality, she resisted getting angry at the boy’s remarks. Instead, she prepared herself for Raygrain’s return by focusing on her appearance and cosmetic preparations, assisted by Celly.
It was clear that the boy’s focus had now shifted towards the crowd of people who would soon be his responsibility. This was a significant moment for him, and Scheuer did her best to avoid making eye contact with him, as she didn’t want to draw his attention.
Scheuer’s irritation and desire to lash out at the young boy were palpable. She found herself struggling to maintain her composure, especially given the delicate situation and the boy’s disrespectful comments. However, as she looked around, she realized that everyone in the room had noticed her reaction.
The expectations placed on her were clear: she had to embody the image of a healthy and capable future Duchess.
The Marquis’s young appearance, despite his true age, made Scheuer question her own role in this mission. She had to play her part well to ensure the success of her plan, but the boy’s behavior and comments didn’t make it any easier.
Just as she was about to let her frustration get the better of her, Raygrain spoke up and reaffirmed the importance of their agreement. His words not only relieved Scheuer but also served as a subtle reminder that they were here with a purpose and had to maintain their roles.
As Raygrain emphasized the importance of their planned marriage, Scheuer couldn’t help but let out a small, relieved laugh. Her initial anger had dissipated, and the meeting continued.
The boy, Leilda, continued to express his doubts about the situation, suggesting that Scheuer’s appearance and demeanor were too different from the past Duchesses. This made Scheuer recall Celly’s advice about the concerns surrounding this meeting.
As the meeting progressed, the focus shifted away from the boy’s pranks and towards the significant responsibilities and discussions at hand. Scheuer couldn’t help but smile when Marquis Leilda’s comments about their upcoming marriage surprised her, but she quickly composed herself. She realized that the situation required her to stay composed and focused on their mission.
The tension and discomfort seemed to have subsided as the group discussed the impending challenges in the northern territories. Even though Scheuer had initially been apprehensive about the meeting, she was now able to focus on her purpose – to ensure Raygrain’s success and contribute to the well-being of the northern lands.
As the meeting continued, it was clear that there was some tension among the participants. Marquis Railda commented on the state of Raygrain’s gardens and questioned why there were gophers present. This led to a sarcastic exchange with the middle-aged man with silver hair, who defended Regrain’s actions in sending just a few units to investigate the garden’s magical disturbances.
Hener, the Marquis from the northwest, mediated the conversation and pointed out that Raygrain had made significant progress by personally participating in the expedition.
This seemed to soften the tension between Railda and the silver-haired man.
Another man, Count Chetron, spoke in an amicable manner, emphasizing the significance of Raygrain’s direct involvement in the operation. He handled the monitoring of the border area between the north and west and seemed to get along well with everyone.
Lord Ather, the third participant, was known for his balanced management of various social classes, which demonstrated his strong leadership skills. He took note of the vase of flowers placed on the table and inquired about the reason behind this new addition.
The meeting continued with the participants discussing their various roles and responsibilities in the northern territories. Despite the initial tension, the conversation appeared to have settled into a more amicable atmosphere, with the four nobles sharing their insights and perspectives.
At Ater Marquis’s question,
Scheuer replied proudly,
“I arranged the flowers given by His Grace. Aren’t they beautiful?”
As her question ended, the camellia on the table fell powerlessly with a soft thud. From behind, Jess held his hand to stifle his laughter.
Ater Marquis continued to watch the falling camellias, and asked,
“Aren’t these the camellia trees cultivated by Lady Chetron?”
“My daughter was raising them, but she requested some and kindly cut them for His Majesty. It seems I intended to give them to you now.”
The Marquis, who had been the target of looting, was surprisingly willing to receive them through negotiation, contrary to Shuer’s concerns.
Ater Marquis turned a curious gaze on her and asked,
“Well, I’m not sure if I should ask this, but is your family from the southern Netri?”
“Oh, yes, that’s correct.”
Scheuer’s quick affirmation made Ater Marquis’s voice even louder.
“Oh, a noble family from the South! So, is that why you prepared this flower vase?”
His reaction was as exaggerated as his jewelry. It didn’t seem like it was just because they were a southern family. Among the noble families, the Netri family was highly regarded and renowned for their ability to cultivate flowers, but few had seen it with their own eyes.
If she hadn’t met Erina, she would have known even less. Moreover, for Ater Marquis, who was close to the Blenga family and was considered their rival, Netri’s entry was even more remarkable.
And so, Ater Marquis cleared his throat and, with a knowing glance at Raygraine, inquired,
“If you marry His Majesty, the two famous swordsmanship families of the Weyker Empire will be united in this generation!”
It was a heartfelt congratulatory message without malice. There was also a sense of anticipation mixed in for Netri’s cooperation in future punitive operations in the North. Although Netri might be vulnerable to information from the South, given the position of the upper nobility, he felt that their information network was not weak.
A surprised Chetron Marquis urgently stopped his words. As Scheuer’s gaze turned to him, Chetron Marquis quickly closed his mouth.
Without hesitation,Scheuer spoke to Ater Marquis.”
I got caught up in a commotion.”
“Excuse me? Oh, you’re the second daughter?”
“No, I’m more interested in His Grace than swordsmanship. Besides, there’s no law that says I have to follow the family just because I was born in a martial family. It’s quite presumptuous.”
With a composed tone, Scheuer explained, and Raygraine’s gaze was fixed on her. Scheuer faced him and smiled faintly, then shyly added, her hands gently touching her cheeks.
“I think I’ve come to the North at just the right time. His Grace even called me by name. It would be even better if he called me ‘Lady’ with it.”
A brief silence followed. No one had displayed this kind of behavior in front of Raygraine before, except for the Mistress of the Tower, Leilda. Everyone was busy maintaining decorum, and aside from a somewhat amused Leilda, the silence filled the meeting room with an austere atmosphere.
Scheuer pursed her lips, ready to say something, but Raygraine’s low, growling voice spoke first.
“You can’t just call someone by their name in an introduction, Scheuer.”
It was the same gruff tone he usually used, but the implications within his words sent shivers down everyone’s spine.
“What… What did you just say?”
In the stillness, Scheuer’s question echoed quietly. Raygraine, with a slight twitch of his eyelid, responded.
“I called her by her name.”