16. Adelaide’s Tea Party
While Eleonora was living a highly stressful school life, Lydian was energetically concluding new treaties with foreign countries and looking overseas in search of markets.
Especially in a honeymoon relationship was the Fire Forest Kingdom of Urabezua.
“…Why did the Fire Forest Kingdom send us a tribute every month? Are you sure you aren’t threatening them?”
When Xanagan eyed him suspiciously, Lydian smiled gently.
“What are you talking about, Father? We really have a friendly friendship with the Fire Forest Kingdom. The emperor may be young, but he’s an interesting person with a lot to offer. We’ve become friends.”
The truth remained unknown, but looking at the emperor’s personal letters, it was apparent that he idolized Lydian.
…At the very least, the tribute wasn’t sent out of dread, but as a heartfelt thanks.
“Well, it’s nice to have more allied countries…”
Xanagan decided to trust his son for the time being and gratefully accepted the tribute.
“Wow, I’ve never seen such beautiful fabric!”
Queen Dorothe was enchanted by the glossy silk fabric.
“Is this a hair ornament? Look at the way it sways!”
Dazzling hair ornaments and earrings studded with gold and silver jewels were rare, yet they were given to the queen and Eleonora.
Then, Prime Minister Delcidius let it slip during a family gathering.
“—The tribute from the Fire Forest Kingdom was wonderful. Unlike the tiara, the hair ornament was especially made for Lady Eleonora.”
The prime minister simply wanted to praise his friend’s daughter.
But to Adelaide, Eleonora was nothing but an enemy.
“I-I see… Indeed, Father. The tribute from the Forest Fire King sounds really amazing. Well, what about me?”
Adelaide asked her father, her face twitching.
The prime minister’s answer was curt.
“There’s none. The tribute from the Fire Forest Kingdom is intended for the royal family. Lady Eleonora received a gift because she’s the future queen. We have nothing to do with them.”
The prime minister burst out laughing.
He was competent and good-natured, yet lacked delicacy.
Adelaide was secretly furious.
‘That kind of gift would suit me more than that woman, yet I got nothing!! Father is also annoying!! Doesn’t he want his daughter to become queen!?’ (Adelaide)
The reason why Delcidius opted against making his daughter queen was out of parental love.
After all, he witnessed the fire dragon semi-summoning scene.
‘—I can’t believe that an eccentric crown prince will marry such an adorable girl! I feel bad for Duke Bazestilma, but I’ll protect my own daughter!’ (Delcidius)
Prime Minister Delcidius was a doting father.
However, Adelaide, who was unaware of it, was dissatisfied with her father and grew resentful towards Eleonora.
‘I’ll definitely become the crown prince’s fiancée!’ (Adelaide)
Concealing her anger, Adelaide smiled at her father.
“Hey, Father. I want to learn more about the Fire Forest Kingdom. Please arrange for an opportunity to talk with Prince Lydian.”
Delighted at his cute daughter’s request, the prime minister agreed without further ado. He was truly a good father.
He immediately sent invitations to a tea party (sponsored by the home office) not only to Lydian but also the daughters of other high-ranking aristocrats. As a parent, he was concerned about Adelaide, who had no friends in this kingdom.
…As one could see, not only did he lack delicacy, he was also dense.
When Adelaide heard about it later, she became furious and confronted her father.
“—But Father!? This isn’t a one-on-one tea party with Prince Lydian!?”
“Well, you’ve only been in this kingdom for a short time. You should use this opportunity to make more friends.”
Adelaide couldn’t help but feel pressured by her father’s calm words and said, “Now that it has come to this, I’ll have to fend off the other ladies vying for Prince Lydian as well.”
—And came up with a plan.
“Unlike the rest, Eleonora’s invitation will have the scheduled time late by an hour. I’ll make fun of her for being late!!”
Thus, a tea party in Adelaide’s scheme was held.
The location was a room in the palace.
Multiple tables were set up in a space large enough to accommodate a battalion of knights, while the seats were arranged according to status.
Incidentally, Lydian’s table was set for two, but of course Adelaide would be the one to sit with him.
Adelaide grinned when Eleonora didn’t show up on time.
‘I want to make fun of her, but let’s wait until she’s right in front of Prince Lydian. First of all, I have to introduce myself to him!’ (Adelaide)
Adelaide ramped up her facial muscles and showed Lydian her best smile.
“Your Highness Lydian, I’m so honored to meet you! I was in the Kingdom of Kuzuf until last year, so I regretfully couldn’t attend Your Highness’ tea party.”
She implied that the reason she couldn’t attend the tea party to be chosen as his fiancée was because she was abroad.
Afterwards, she went on to show how talented she was by speaking fluently in the Kuzuf language, and also discussed complicated economics.
‘Hmph. Based on my research, political economy is Eleonora’s weakness! Prince Lydian is the type who prioritizes practical gain. I’ll change his mind. Not only because of my beauty, but also because I’m highly educated and intelligent.’ (Adelaide)
However, Lydian was gazing at the door with a bored look on his face.
Adelaide was growing discouraged by the second and changed the subject in an attempt to get his attention.
“Oh, by the way, Your Highness? May I call you ‘Lydian’?”
Adelaide was speechless.
She didn’t expect that he’d flatly refuse her.
…After all, no man had ever denied her attention before.
Adelaide tensed up for a moment, but quickly regained her composure and smiled.
“I’m glad we got to know each other. I’d love to see you again.”
Despite her friendly smile, Lydian didn’t even listen.
After all, Eleonora had stormed into the room, panting heavily.
“—Eleonora! Right here, hurry! I felt like I was about to die of boredom without you.”
Lydian’s expression was as bright as sunshine. The difference from his previous expression was like day and night.
Driven by jealousy, Adelaide glared at Eleonora.
“Look whom we have here—Lady Bazestilma! Why are you so late—” “—Eleonora, I brought some sweets because I wanted to eat with you. Dargal, prepare it right away.” “—Uhm…”
Adelaide yelled at Eleonora, but her voice was drowned by Lydian’s voice.
Furthermore, Lydian went up from his seat and went to Eleonora’s side. Before Adelaide’s eyes, the two sat down at a table and chair for two that had been set up for the prince and herself.
“It’s a lucky charm gift from the Fire Forest Kingdom. It’s delicious, so give it a try.”
In truth, the dessert was made with seasonal and rare fruits that even the aristocrats of the Fire Forest Kingdom couldn’t afford to taste.
Adelaide’s father did tell her about it. Apparently, when her father was offered the dessert, he declined because he felt unworthy.
…In fact, even Eleonora understood the value of the treats.
“Your Highness Lydian, I appreciate your consideration, but I can’t afford to receive something so precious from you. Please enjoy it, Your Highness.”
Lydian smiled when he saw how pale Eleonora was. His expression at that moment was full of yearning.
“Eleonora, did you know? Precisely because it’s so precious that I want to eat it with you.”
“O-oh my, Your Highness…”
Eleonora’s flushed expression was exactly that of a maiden in love.
—To Adelaide, there was nothing more infuriating than that.
Adelaide rushed in, her face bright red, trying to get in the way. However, since it was a two-seater, Adelaide had to keep standing.
“—Lydian!! Speaking of the Fire Forest Kingdom, I heard that it was through your efforts that diplomatic relations were established!! I also want to support the kingdom, but I can’t do it as I am. I hope I can at least support you…”
Adelaide could no longer sit back and relax.
‘I want to secure a status for myself, even as a concubine! Afterwards, I’ll slowly try to get rid of Eleonora!’ (Adelaide)
Of course, Eleonora wasn’t so dense as not to realize what Adelaide was implying.
Eleonora glared at Adelaide with a terrifying expression.
‘—This woman! She’s trying to get rid of me. You’ll suffer my wrath!!’ (Eleonora)
Eleonora turned around, trying to find the best words to repel Adelaide. If Lydian wasn’t there, she’d lash out at Adelaide. As expected, she couldn’t do that right now.
While Eleonora was still pondering, Lydian spoke.
His voice was cheerful, as if he was extremely happy.
“Your willingness to dedicate yourself to your country is a sight to behold, Ms. Adelaide. I’ll make arrangements right away. You’ll be leaving for the Fire Forest Kingdom the day after tomorrow. After all, there’s a custom of sending beautiful women as tribute. I refused to do it at first because Eleonora is mine. But now, I have you. Again, I’m so grateful to you.”
Lydian seemed so thrilled.
At last, he smiled at Adelaide—but his words were nothing but ominous.
…The seriousness of his words, the fact that his smile didn’t reach his eyes…
—Everyone here was acutely aware that Lydian meant every single word.
“—No, please don’t!! I absolutely refuse!!”
Adelaide turned pale and distraught.
Lydian sighed incredulously upon hearing that.
“But didn’t you say that you want to support the country? So they’re just empty words…”
Seen with contempt, Adelaide desperately tried to save face.
“N-not at all! I truly want to help Lydian…”
“Enough with the pretense. Besides, there’s no way the person who harassed Eleonora should remain in this kingdom, right?”
Lydian’s smile became cold.
After seeing that his beloved Eleonora had been tricked, he was furious inside.
Eleonora started to feel sorry for Adelaide, who was weeping.
‘—The man I adore gave me to someone else. As if that isn’t enough, His Highness Lydian is looking at me as if I’m a snake. I’ve been thoroughly humiliated in public…’ (Adelaide)
After crying, Adelaide’s makeup was ruined and her face was a mess.
To add insult to injury, Eleonora even offered her a handkerchief.
‘When her face is caked in makeup like that, she looks as terrifying as a ghost—!!’ (Eleonora)
When Eleonora handed her a handkerchief, Adelaide stared at her in shock.
‘Despite how I’d mistreated her, she’s still trying to help me? How kind she is…!’ (Adelaide)
…To be honest, Eleonora was just terrified of Adelaide’s face. But as a sheltered lady, Adelaide was easy to win over in the first place.
“Lady Bazestilma, I’d like to apologize for everything that’s happened until now. I no longer have any rights to say this, but you’re kind and generous, suitable to be our future queen. I pledge my lifelong loyalty to you!”
Adelaide, still caked in makeup (she didn’t realize it), knelt before Eleonora and kissed the back of her hand.
Seen from a distance, the sight of a beautiful young lady bending her knees was as marveling as a religious painting.
Since Eleonora bestowed her mercy on those who tried to ensnare her, she was truly a Virgin Mary.
The nobles and the servants present burst into cheers.
Lydian smiled satisfactorily, Adelaide wept tears of joy, and the audience rejoiced at the touching scene.
The tea party ended up with Eleonora getting indigestion.
After returning home, Eleonora complained to Luna, the maid she recently hired.
She was Eleonora’s favorite.
Luna may be expressionless and quiet, but she didn’t try to curry favor with her, and would give serious answers.
Eleonora felt comfortable with her.
“Hey, Luna, it’s nice to be praised for good deeds, but I feel sick whenever I was praised for something I didn’t do. Ugh, I’m getting chills again…!”
Right across from Eleonora, who’d turned pale from the nausea, Luna adeptly brewed tea while nodding.
Eleonora, who had finished venting and felt refreshed, allowed Luna to leave.
Luna’s colleague, the maids, called out to Luna as she left the room and walked down the hallway.
“Luna, are you okay? Are you frustrated? Lady Eleonora is very demanding, so it must be difficult! If you’re tired, let me fill in for you!”
“You can be honest with us!”
The veteran maids were worried about Luna.
But Luna shook her head.
“It’s okay. Not like I paid her any attention.”
She was the third daughter of an earl.
Due to how smart she was, her parents urged her, ‘You can attend Percidius!’ But Luna had a different opinion, ‘Going to school is a hassle. I want to earn easy money and go on a trip.’
Staying true to her own desires, she came to the Duke of Bazestilma’s house.
“As expected, the salary is something else. At this rate, I’ll be able to reach my target amount in two years.”
Luna gave a rare little smile.
The veteran maids said, ‘Well, as long as Luna is all right with it…’ Nevertheless, they still offered to take over all the troublesome chores for Luna. ‘You must be tired! Let me take care of the rest!’
—and that was what they ended up doing.
Eleonora felt refreshed for being able to vent to her heart’s content, while Luna earned an extraordinary amount of cash just by doing her usual job.
They had an amicable relationship.
Good for you, Adelaide. Almost died there.
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