CHAPTER 204 – THE LONG, LONG PREQUEL’S CONCLUSION
After the final winter semester exams, there was winter vacation, and all the students typically either returned to their residences in the royal capital or back to their parents’ domains.
Before any of my classmates could see my returned test results with the teacher’s comments that I had received the highest marks in the entire grade, I hurriedly destroyed all my test papers. While waiting for my horse-drawn carriage’s arrival to come pick me up, Zephyr and I chatted a little in my free time.
“You’re going to be returning to the Kaldia domain?”
“Yeah. I still have lots of work to do as the domain lord. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t want to return.”
“Surely you must be joking. You’re always so serious, Kaldia, that the truth must be you really want to return to clear up all the accumulated work.”
Zephyr chuckled at his own joke, while I merely shrugged as my lips relaxed.
To tell the truth, I actually didn’t have too much work piled up, as I took care of it already while I was recovering from my earlier injuries. Even though I hadn’t been in Kaldia for most of the past year, letting work pile up was something that I absolutely wouldn’t allow. I would always take care of it even at school, so it couldn’t pile up.
Zephyr seemed to understand this as well, so it was probably just a casual joke by him.
“How about you, Zephyr? Are you going to stay in the royal capital?”
“I’m also going to return to the Molton domain this winter. The journey is so long that it’s rather bothersome, but my younger brother Lucius is waiting there for me. Also… when Lucius becomes a student at noble school next year, I think I’ll have less chances to go back to my home.”
There’s still two more years left before we graduate. Perhaps Zephyr was planning on not seeing his homeland for the following two years, as there was now a wistful nostalgic expression in his eyes.
“…The Molton domain is really beautiful. The white Amon Albus mountains are near, so the rocks are also white, plus there’s a colorful variety of wildflowers. I would love for you to visit me, and although it’s annoying for me to admit it, visit my father as well as you’re one of his best friends. It’s really far from the royal capital though, so I suppose it would be difficult for you to accept? Even if I don’t go back for two years after this, I’d still like to show you around there sometime after we graduate from noble school.”
I smiled as widely as I could while listening to Zephyr.
“The war is finally over. In two years, I think my domain will mostly have recovered fully. That’s why I think it would actually be nice to take a nice relaxing vacation somewhere at that time. The first place I’d want to visit… I think a close friend’s domain sounds like a great idea.”
“Wonderful! That sounds like the best vacation plan ever! Will you take me along with you?”
“…I don’t mind, but how many months do you intend to spend on the trips between the Molton and Kaldia domains, then?”
Zephyr seemed shocked at my comeback and fell silent for a moment. Then, we broke out into laughter almost simultaneously.
The other students around us that kept a good distance from me all seemed to glance at us with annoyed expressions, but I paid them no mind and continued laughing together with Zephyr.
Even now, I can barely believe that I’m able to enjoy myself like this, laughing at a joke and having fun together with a classmate of mine. I never even considered the possibility when I first walked through the school gate here for the first time.
The number of people I could relax myself around were so limited in number. Apart from Zephyr, there were only Ratoka, who knew almost all of my secrets, and Tira, Reka, and Athrun from the Shiru tribe, the children I lived together with in my childhood.
Despite the fact that we were both nobles, Zephyr seemed to have become someone I could relax and have fun with just like Ratoka and the others even though I’ve barely known him for that long compared to the rest. How inconceivable.
…As expected, was it because Zephyr’s way of talking and joking seemed so similar to his?
Even though I could no longer remember his voice clearly, it seemed that bits and pieces of him still remained piled up in the bottom of my heart.
It was almost time for the heaviest snowfall of the year in the Jugfena region when Arxia’s peace ambassador to Rindarl finally returned.
With the peace treaty finally having been completed and signed, the royal capital was incredibly lively this year even though winter was usually its quietest season.
Despite the fact that the royal army’s victorious return had already caused a huge commotion, there was actually a second round of invitations sent out for yet another victory celebration. I could only smile blankly at this in amazement.
Arxia had set out many conditions for Rindarl to follow in order to achieve peace.
Slavery was banned. Rindarl receiving immigrants from the southern countries was banned. An upper limit was set for Rindarl’s military expenditures. Furthermore, a tariff was established for Rindarl to trade with the southern countries. A large amount of compensation money was paid to Arxia by the Rindarl Union’s ambassador to Arxia. Apart from these, there were also countless other conditions that we obtained.
Apparently in Arxia’s “Royal Palace,” the new prevailing way of thinking was that now with a country like the Rindarl Union that was as large and powerful as Arxia existing, having a non-interference policy was no longer feasible for Arxia. Even with conservative voices in the House of Lords strongly against the changes to Arxia’s isolationist policy, Arxia still pressed through successfully with these demanding peace conditions that were basically akin to pushing down someone’s head against the ground.
In the long history of Arxia, this was the first time that we had ever “controlled” what was considered a heretic society.
Only a single Rindarl citizen came to Arxia together with our peace ambassador. This was information that probably even Earl Terejia didn’t know yet.
Another one of the peace conditions had been for Rindarl to send a royal hostage to Arxia. The name of the girl chosen for this purpose was Emilia Yuriel De La Rindarl.
She was both the princess of the former Rindarl Kingdom, and the daughter of the current Rindarl Union’s Archduke. She was the only daughter of the Archduke from the former Rindarl Kingdom that had been set up as the puppet government leader for the four united Dukedoms-
– And she was also the heroine of a certain otome game in my memory, who potentially was a person that could wildly influence my fate, and cause my life to completely go off its tracks.