06 – I Just Don’t Understand Women
I didn’t think there’s much more I can say in regards to the way the lectures separated men and women, but it still bore mentioning that both the garb I wore and the ruling title I’d been bestowed with allowed me to be subjected to lectures and training that would, normally, be reserved for the opposite gender.
Much like last year I was, of course, not playing the escorted but rather the escort.
It didn’t really matter whether this one of Earl Terejia’s lectures – who had incidentally wasted no time in predicting this situation – or whether I was simply interacting with the educational facilities… now that I’d come this far, I was sure that I’d be given an exception and allowed this sort of behaviour, even once I’d reached adulthood. I’d enforced until now and I’d continue to do so.
Oh, well. The disagreement with Lindharl had already been settled anyway. Once I graduated, I would be little more than a regular member of the ruling nobility and would only have to show myself at the royal capital every other summer or so.
There was little room for escorts in the House of Lords, and while Kaldia’s demands for procurement had notably ceased as of late, I very much doubted that there was still some noble benevolent enough to extend an invitation to some evening party. I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t have to go out of my way to find the sort of clothes appropriate for someone fresh into adulthood or that I’d have to force any befitting conduct.
In any case, the overall useless, more masculine disposition which had only seen use once, namely upon receiving the invitation to the Moldon family’s evening feast, was finally of benefit to me. It was more than effective for playing the assisting escort to Emilia, who looked rather uncomfortable in her Arxian dress.
“You can use this book here to get an overall understanding of what we covered during our lectures last year. I doubt you’ve had the chance to become particularly familiar with either royal law or sacred doctrines, Lady Emilia, but this should make for a fine introductory manual. Oh, and it’s best if you take this dictionary with you. Even we Arxians have trouble with the more technical terms, learning them can be quite the handful without a lecturer’s guiding hand. I don’t think this is the best substitute, but it should be enough for the time being.”
I pulled Emilia along with me as I chose textbooks practically at my own discretion, hoarding them all in my free arm. Emilia didn’t seem to have much confidence in her capacity for study, and had come to the conclusion that it would be for the best if she could peruse what we’d discussed in the year prior.
Actually, now that I thought about it, I recalled that there were several bonuses that allowed for one’s stats to be improved upon. Stats like refinement, wisdom, charisma… what else was there? Battle prowess? No, no it was stamina. I vaguely recalled that the special event for the commander-in-chief’s grandson had given plenty of room to level it up.
They weren’t only essential in winning over certain characters, but if memory served, they also allowed for an increase of hidden parameters that affected things like public opinion and even grades. The lower they were, the harder it was to trigger random events, and the more challenging it was to increase the affection of whatever character you had your eye on… I only had the faintest memory of my little sister telling me these things back in my world, but the information was definitely in some distant corner of my mind.
That said, while the setting of this world was most definitely reminiscent of the game, the world itself wasn’t purely built on the loose foundation of gaming mechanics.
If any kind of ability could be increased purely by completing some kind of action, then something so simple it could be expressed as a straightforward numerical value could hardly be called true aptitude. It was just too much to assume that a culture built entirely on social strata evaluated skills as such, and it was just as ridiculous to presume that one’s good will towards you would be increased simply through continuous interaction.
“Thank you so much… Oh, I’m ever so sorry, Lady Einsbark. I realise that I must be quite the handful…”
Emilia’s apologetic nature only showed itself once we’d finished collecting all the books we needed.
It was clear to me that she was fully aware of the reserved glances that darted her way from every nook of the library. She was even more aware of the fact that she was a visitor from enemy lands.
Both the polish and structure of Lindharl’s royal court had been cemented only recently, and it was apparent that they differed from Arxian norms. It was fairly asinine to begin with, thinking that a kingdom that was hundreds of years old and had always followed royalty and nobility would even be comparable to the royal court of countries that were only a fourth the kingdom’s size.
It was then fair to assume that Lindharl, what with its much smaller hold over territories and with it being on the brink of destruction, offered a lifestyle that was far simpler when posed against the lives led in the royal castles of Junus and Freche.
If that was all true, then there really wasn’t much reason for her to not feel out of place. It also meant that there was little point in criticising her for blunders born from simple ignorance.
“You were sent to a different country with different customs. It’s only natural that there would be a few things you don’t fully understand just yet. I will help you, and do my best to make sure that this cultural divide won’t cause you further grief.”
I’d already been given the royal decree, in any case. I knew that I had to see this through, and mentally prepared myself for the worst. Whatever I’d said was less for Emilia’s sake and more for my own, a measure meant to reassure me.
“Then… I’m truly thankful. I really am putting you through a lot, aren’t I?”
The girl had yet to grow out of her apologetic shell, but I could nevertheless see the faint traces of a smile beginning to form.
“No need for that, just following the king’s orders.”
It would just become more and more troublesome if she kept apologising with every other breath. I wasn’t offering her my help purely out of altruism, after all. There was no need for her to be so overly appreciative.
At the time, those were the words that ran through my head when I spoke up.
“O-Oh, I see…”
Regardless of my intent, Emilia seemed to suddenly retreat back into herself, her head lowering itself just a tad.
Well then… I wasn’t quite sure, but I had a hunch that I’d said something wrong.