CHAPTER 160 – LIKE A BOARD GAME
(Translator note: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, either I missed a paragraph in Chapter 138, or the author added it later, probably the former as I may have overlooked it originally. It’s actually a pretty important one, as many people have been asking what happened to the Nordsturms. I’ve edited the original chapter, and I’ll also repost it here for the convenience of people that don’t want to reread a whole chapter:)
Chapter 138, missing paragraph:
After the incident, the corpse of Marquis Nordsturm, leader of the northern nobles, was discovered. This was also information that was concealed from the public. His funeral was carried out quietly in secret, and the nobles just know that his successor only inherited a low-ranked noble title for some reason.
There were rumors that he couldn’t bear the disadvantageous evidence piling up against him, and that he committed suicide, but the truth was unclear. The new leader of the Nordsturm family was his eldest, and also said to be his only son, a young man with wheat-yellow hair like his father. Melchior disappeared during the incident, and hasn’t been found since.
Chapter 160 – Like a board game
The next day when I returned to noble school, “good morning,” just as Zephyr greeted me, he was roughly pushed aside, by someone I hadn’t expected to see so soon.
It’s Eric. He was glaring at me as if he had something against me, an expression that seemed like he was dissatisfied with something. ……It feels a bit pitiful that I have to deal with opponents like him that are even shorter than me.
Before I could even ask just what he wanted, I noticed Zephyr falling from the violent shove, about to hit a desk, and I reflexively grabbed on to Zephyr’s arm. I managed to catch him right before his head hit the corner of the desk.
Maybe I pulled Zephyr too hard, this time he staggered forward. I was about to support his shoulder with my left hand, but my arm was still trembling from the impact so he slipped from my hand, so I had to catch him in my arms.
Even though I do exercise regularly, of course I don’t have the strength to hold someone my size for a long period of time, but he was a bit dizzy and had trouble standing by himself. -Since it couldn’t be helped, I gently rolled Zephyr onto the floor.
“……That was dangerous. You almost hit your head.”
“T, thank you, Kaldia. You saved me……?”
Even though he thanked me, I feel like there was a question mark at the end of his sentence, is it because I ended up rolling him onto the floor? I made sure to do it gently so that he wouldn’t get injured, but I don’t quite recognize the expression he’s making right now.
I pulled Zephyr’s arm again to finally help him stand up, then turned around and looked at Eric. He seemed rather shaken, and he stood there frozen. However, the moment he noticed me looking at him, he started moving awkwardly, and he slowly changed his expression to an apologetic one as he looked away from me and at Zephyr.
“……Uh, my bad, Molton. Um…… because I wasn’t paying attention, you may have been injured.”
…………What, was that supposed to be an apology? Is Eric a commoner or a low-ranked noble? It doesn’t seem like an apology that should come from the high-class archduke’s family that can have the most luxurious lifestyle, living off of the people’s taxes.
As Zephyr was about to hurriedly say something like “not at all,” I pulled on his arm and stopped him. Zephyr is the eldest son of a margrave. As a member of a higher-ranked noble family, he should consider proper noble behavior at all times. Since Eric obviously isn’t being very polite, there’s no need to be polite to him back, even if he’s from the archduke’s family.
Zephyr seemed surprised as he didn’t say anything, and I coldly stared in Eric’s direction. Eric also wasn’t saying anything. I don’t know why, but his willful expression suddenly seemed to be at a loss for what to say.
“-Kaldia, Molton. Even Eric’s here as well. What just happened?”
With a dubious expression on his face, Sieghart arrived. That’s when Eric’s atmosphere of confusion suddenly vaporized.
Eric turned around, and left the classroom just like that. He can’t deal with his emotions, so he ran away, is that what it was? He’s at a moody age, maybe something like that.
And in the end, I didn’t even find out what Eric wanted from me……
“Um, there’s something I’ve always been thinking that I haven’t said before. Could it be that Eric just wants attention from Eliza-sama?”
After I finished talking about what just happened, I heard a shocking comment from Reka, causing me to blink. I moved a piece on the chess-like board game I was playing with Athrun, then I looked over at Ratoka and had a simple exchange with him.
“Did you understand what Reka was talking about just now?”
“Nope, not at all.”
From the edge of my vision, I noticed that Tira was giggling, and even Athrun seemed to be looking at me as if I was a small child. It seems that only Ratoka and I don’t understand what’s going on.
“When the two of you first met, didn’t you make him into your opponent?”
“It’s because he was making fun of me. It seems that he’s disliked me ever since then, so I’ve continued to treat him that way.”
“That’s, why it is. He also wants to make friends with Eliza-sama, but doesn’t know how to do so. It’s probably because he didn’t have any friends to begin with. He has no idea how to become friends with Eliza-sama, nor does he know how to make up with friends after fighting.”
……That extremely rude behavior is the only way Eric knows how to communicate?
“He tried to do something resembling an apology, correct?”
“He has an older brother, right? Maybe he doesn’t know how to apologize for what he thinks are small things.”
As expected of children that had somewhat more normal childhoods, I got the feeling that Reka’s explanation was quite convincing.
……Noble children have a special environment growing up. Besides, Eric probably had a more unique environment than most, since his mother died five years ago. I honestly hadn’t considered that it would cause his communication skills to drop so precipitously……
“……By the way, I don’t have any intention of making friends with Archduke Dovadain’s sons, you know.”
“Eh, how come?”
“Other nobles are already unhappy that I received rewards from the king, if I try to get closer to a powerful family like the archduke’s, it’ll increase their negative feelings towards me even further. I still want to limit my bad reputation as much as possible.”
“Mm…… I see. Eric wants to be friends! But because of the adults around you, you can’t make friends with children your own age, such a sad story……”
Athrun who was having difficult figuring what move to make next in our chess-like game finally moved his knight. When I attacked his knight with my archer, Ratoka whispered something in Athrun’s ear. Hey, giving advice isn’t fair.
“Is that so? Even if I improve my relationship with Eric, I don’t feel like I’d have much to talk with him about.”
Tira joined our conversation as she poured some black tea for me. She also brought a small dish of confectioneries to go with the tea, so I took a baked good and placed it in my mouth, thinking about what she meant as I chewed.
“Is Eric’s problematic behavior well known among nobles?”
“Hmm. The other nobles probably know about it through the servants that work here.”
“What about the eldest son Grays, will Eliza-sama consider having a better relationship with him?”
I nodded at this question. In Grays’ case, I feel like before the question of “do I want to make friends with him,” there’s this huge gap in our social statuses that’s getting in the way.
“Given the current situation, any noble would think that the archduke family’s power will be inherited by Grays, not Eric. In the first place, Eliza-sama was being cold to Eric in order to distance herself from the crown prince and Grays, right?”
“……Even if I make friends with Eric, I doubt that Grays’ opinion of me would change, and it’s really questionable if he’d be able to influence the crown prince…… Nobles’ viewpoints aren’t that simple. No matter how bad Eric’s reputation or evaluation is, he’s still a member of the archduke’s family, and there will be some sort of backlash if I get close to him.”
“I see. Arxian nobles are so complicated, unlike the King’s Spears in the Shiru tribe.”
The former Artolas Kingdom was a country consisting of many ethnicities and didn’t really have a nobility system, but something similar to nobles in social status existed there. Among the citizens of Artolas, the Shiru tribe was one of the closest related tribes to their king. It seems that they often served the king directly.
“I don’t know how complex it really is, but it’s definitely a different way of thinking. The Arxian king has absolute power as the symbol of royal blood descended from the first king of the Holy Kingdom of Arxia, Ahar Xia. He doesn’t choose representatives from the most powerful clans to serve him, it’s quite a different system from our King’s Spears.”
“Worshiping the bloodline as sacred, it’s so inconceivable. Even though we’re all believers in the Xia sect, why are our customs so different?”
I shrugged my shoulders and dodged answering that last question. That’s a question for theologists, not for a domain lord that doesn’t even believe in this religion and only considers how she can use religion to her own advantage to help in ruling her domain.
“Ah, Athrun. You’re in check.”
Athrun and Ratoka simultaneously groaned as I moved my knight to attack their king. They’re still so weak. The only person who I’ve never defeated in this chess-like strategy game is Claudia.