14. The Royal Academy of Percidius
After going through 13 hours of studying a day, Eleonora was able to enroll in the Royal Academy of Percidius. Although she didn’t make it to the top, Eleonora did well in and of itself.
‘—I despise studying, yet I managed to come this far. Heap praise on me!’
Eleonora thought inwardly. But since her rank was around the fifties, she didn’t become the student of honor, and attended the entrance ceremony as an ordinary student.
Of course, Lydian became the representative of the freshmen, and instantly captivated the students of all grades.
“He’s so handsome…!”
“The white uniform complements his flaxen hair…!”
“According to some people, His Highness Lydian is the reincarnation of the Demon King. But there’s no way that’s true! Look at how angelic he is!”
“I know, right!? It’s probably a conspiracy from the pope’s faction! They want to undermine the royal authority!”
Due to how compassionate and gracious he seemed; nobody took the terrifying rumors about Lydian seriously. Wholly ignorant of his twisted nature, they perceived him as a splendid, admirable, and chivalrous prince.
Thus, yet another group of influential noble ladies began aiming for Lydian, just like during the debutante. Some of them were the ladies who failed to approach him during the debutante.
After all, now that they were enrolled, they might stumble upon him at the academy.
“…Maybe he’ll notice me.”
The exquisite sense of distance stirred the maidens’ hearts.
The prime minister’s daughter, Adelaide, gushed to her servant after she went home from school.
“I never knew that Prince Lydian is so dreamy! At my mother’s request, I spent time in the Kingdom of Kuzuf. If I had known, I’d have remained in the kingdom! Surely, had I attended the tea party to select his fiancée candidates, I’d have been chosen instead of that woman!”
Her mother, Medirama, was an aristocrat from the neighboring Kingdom of Kuzuf.
“Father! Why didn’t you let me stay in Llahendia!?”
“I-I did intend to do that. However, I thought it’d be better if you stayed with Medirama. After all, I was so busy at the time, I could hardly return home… I see… So, you wanted to spend more time with me… I was blind…”
The prime minister, who listened to her, was a nice person.
Still, that wasn’t what Adelaide was referring to!
“Hmph, I may be late to the party, but I’m more beautiful and well-mannered, so the title of queen shall be mine!!”
Other noble ladies also thought the same.
After all, some of the past queens were from count or baronial families… Or even commoners.
“We have a chance, too!” They said as they began to aim at Lydian.
Thus, the current fiancée of the crown prince became the center of their jealousy.
Despite being touted as a compassionate young lady, in reality, Eleonora was always looking for an opportunity to exact revenge on a certain shitty brat from the Dragon Shrine. As such, she’d regularly purchase weapons and poisons from merchants.
She had transformed her attic into an armory, while her dungeon boasted facilities comparable to those of the church’s inquisition chamber of torture.
Unaware of those facts, the young ladies began to harass Eleonora.
“This is for monopolizing His Highness Lydian all to yourself!”
Charmia of Margrave Drews stretched her leg to trip Eleonora in the hallway.
However, due to Eleonora’s excellent reflex (a fruit of hard work), Charmia ended up tripping instead.
‘T-this isn’t how it was supposed to go—! Tsk, I failed to humiliate her, but this is also a golden opportunity—!’ (Charmia)
Charmia covered her face with her hands and started bawling.
“Sobs… sobs—! Lady Eleonora, you’re so terrible! Why would you cause me to trip like that!”
Pretending to be the victim, Charmia stared at Eleonora while lying on the floor.
It was breaktime, and the students who were passing by stopped to watch the commotion between the two.
‘Hmph! What an idiot! Out of all the people she can mess with, she dares to provoke me!? Prepare yourself!’ (Eleonora)
Inwardly, Eleonora was laughing maniacally. After all, it’d been a long time since she last found her prey.
However, Eleonora’s vision suddenly became obstructed.
Lydian, who was taller than Eleonora, had stood in front of her as if to shield her.
“I saw everything. Weren’t you trying to trip Eleonora up? After your plan got foiled, you decided to shift the blame to Eleonora. How terrible of you.”
Lydian stared coldly at Charmia, causing her to tremble.
“I-I didn’t mean it! I was just upset… I-it was an accident…! That’s right, it was an accident!”
Charmia tried to gloss over it somehow.
Furthermore, she even dragged her family name into it.
“Your Highness Lydian, I swear in the name of my father! My father is Margrave Drews! I’m Charmia Palinial Drews!”
Charmia’s father was a margrave who ruled the South. To the South lay the war-torn country of Gudentale, and Charmia’s house acted as a key point for national defense.
Charmia looked triumphant, thinking that if Lydian dared to attempt anything against her, her father wouldn’t shut up.
…Again, she forgot that Eleonora was still there.
‘T-this woman! That’s a lot of courage! I’ll show you what I’m capable of!’ (Eleonora)
Since there was a failure last time (failing to get rid of Luriane), Eleonora spoke before Lydian could.
“—It is as she said! It was an accident!”
Lydian and Charmia, along with those around them, were surprised to see Eleonora declare that with a huge smile.
Unbeknownst to Eleonora, everyone thought that she was covering for Charmia.
“Ms. Charmia, it seems that you have a bit of a wardrobe issue. If it’s alright with you, won’t you come to my house after school? I’ll teach you how to walk in a dress.”
Eleonora smiled solemnly.
—Once Charmia came into Eleonora’s territory, there was no escape.
She’d bought a torture device in the shape of a pair of iron shoes. They were so heavy, the wearer wouldn’t be able to lift their feet. Moreover, the dance room had been remodeled so that it’d be slippery.
Eleonora’s smile was full of malice.
However, Lydian soon objected to the idea.
“Even if it’s Eleonora’s wish, I can’t bring myself to forgive the person who tries to harm you.”
Lydian always doted on Eleonora, but this time it was different.
Lydian, who was always composed in public, seemed furious. His eyebrows were upturned, his pupils dilated, while his piercing gaze was directed at Charmia.
He looked so frightening, even Eleonora was scared.
“There were many who were envious of Eleonora and tried to disgrace her, but you were the first to try to harm her, Charmia Drews.”
Lydian’s voice was low. At that moment, everyone learned what the term ‘bloodcurdling’ meant. His anger was palpable.
“P-pardon, Your Highness—! M-my father is Margrave Drews of the South—”
Before Charmia could finish her words, Lydian interrupted her.
For the first time, Lydian smiled at Charmia.
Despite that, everyone could tell that he was furious, and Charmia let out a yelp.
Eleonora was in panic—
‘—If this continues, I’ll lose the chance to make her wear the iron shoes!’ (Eleonora)
—and immediately interjected the two.
“Please wait—! I’m happy that you’re angry for my sake, but you shouldn’t terrify a woman! Also, like she said, it was an accident!”
Eleonora tried to smile as kindly as possible. On the surface, she seemed like a saint trying to appease the tyrant.
Unbeknownst to them, Eleonora much preferred to punish those who dared to stand against her with her own two hands. She was a villainess at heart.
“Eleonora, I know how kind you are, but she tried to harm you. Had she succeeded, the one who’d be sprawling on the floor, exposing her miserable state to everyone else, would be you instead. It’s not that bad, but I don’t feel like forgiving her for that.”
Lydian furrowed his eyebrows in disdain.
‘I’ve never seen His Highness Lydian act like this! Come to think of it, we never outright quarreled before! Oh! The reason we haven’t had any fights until now is because he always prioritized my wants!’ (Eleonora)
Upon realizing how much Lydian treasured her, Eleonora’s heart skipped a beat.
“I’m grateful for your feelings, Your Highness Lydian. But don’t worry, okay? It’s not like I am letting her off scot-free. I’m going to teach her manners and how to dress! If that doesn’t fix her behavior, Your Highness Lydian may do as he pleases with her?”
At Eleonora’s words, Lydian reluctantly agreed.
“All right, I shall leave it in your hands, Eleonora. …Hey, if you still didn’t learn, you know what will happen, right? Even if your father contributes immensely to the kingdom—even if he uses every means possible to protect you, I’ll crush you.”
As Lydian reached his hand to Charmia to help (or rather, threaten) her to get up, he whispered in her ear.
Charmia frothed on the mouth and fainted instantly.
Later, Charmia went to Eleonora’s mansion—the Duke of Bazestilma’s residence—with a cartload of apology gifts.
“Lady Eleonora! I’m truly sorry for what happened! Thank you for saving me from His Highness the Crown Prince! I’m ashamed for trying to trip you up out of foolish jealousy!”
Charmia knelt down in the drawing room, and even said things like.
“—Just enslave me! I’ll clean the toilet, wash the laundry, clean the stable, and do absolutely everything you told me to! I’ll be Lady Eleonora’s servant! I beg of you!”
She was desperate. Her life was at stake, here.
Just remembering Lydian’s threat made her entire body shake.
If not for Eleonora, there was no saying what’d happen to her.
Charmia sincerely apologized, and Eleonora was about to buckle under pressure.
Although she was a villainess through and through, not even Eleonora could withstand Charmia, who put her life on the line. Even more so because Eleonora was a sheltered young lady.
‘I-I was about to make her trip to the dance room, too… O-oh, well… She looks so desperate that I’m beginning to feel bad. All right, maybe I won’t take her there… Let’s just tell her to put on the shoes for now…’ (Eleonora)
Eleonora tried to at least make her wear the iron shoes, but Charmia stubbornly refused.
“What an honor! To receive such a gift from Lady Eleonora—but I refuse to accept it! I’m unworthy!”
Charmia tearfully declared.
… After all, if she insulted Eleonora, who knew what kind of demise would await Charmia at the hands of the ruthless crown prince?
Charmia vehemently refused, yet Eleonora insisted.
For Eleonora, who’d failed so many times up until now, Charmia was her only respite!
“Please, take it—!!”
The exchange between the two continued until late at night.
Eleonora’s enthusiasm finally touched Charmia’s heart, and she accepted the gift.
Eleonora was so sleepy that she was dizzy, while Charmia was overcome with emotions that she cried.
“Thank you! I’ll treasure these iron shoes and pass on the tales of Lady Eleonora’s mercy from generation to generation!”
‘—Wait a minute! This is not right at all! Why does she look so happy!? I want to humiliate her, not inspire her!? Give me a scream of despair instead of gratitude!’ (Eleonora)
Elenora thought as she battled the pervading drowsiness, but she couldn’t even muster a single sarcastic remark.
Thus, the only thing she could say was, ‘Ohohoho…’
Charmia embraced the iron shoes and thanked Eleonora again and again, before going back to her house.
The iron shoes she gave to Charmia were one-of-a-kind items that Eleonora had her craftsmen make.
The master of the craftsmen said, “There has to be a reason why the crown princess requested sabatons.’ As a result, the final product wasn’t only based on the Blacksmith Guild’s guidelines, but also pandered to young ladies in terms of design.
The base material was pale pink and was made of top-tier fabric, [Merte Leather]. The leather came from the Merte deer that lived in the North. The edges were adorned with delicate pearls, while the embroidery was exquisitely done with gold and silver thread. The fabric underneath was made of alloy, but the exterior was truly enchanting.
The very same shoes Eleonora bought to humiliate Charmia were placed on top of a luxurious pedestal, displayed as a treasure in the Margrave of Drews’ mansion.
Charmia told her parents. “Eleonora, the future queen, generously forgave my rudeness and gave me this—!” And tearfully admitted to her sins, causing her to be scolded by the strict margrave. At the same time, the margrave was in awe of Eleonora’s compassion.
“But why would Lady Eleonora ask for armor to be made!? I’ll do whatever it takes to aid her whenever she’s in trouble!” He swore.
Eleonora obtained some allies in the Far South.
…Not that she knew about it, of course.
Uwow, we are going to have school rom-com now!?
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