Chapter 24 – School

I didn’t get much sleep after that. When Genette came in to rouse me, I was wide awake. She acted like a miracle had happened.

I know I wake up slow in the morning, but really?

Mother had apparently not officially come home last night. She must have flown from the Palace to my veranda and back without alerting the staff. She was taking breakfast in the Palace, so I took mine in my sitting room.

I was enjoying some of Genette’s tea when Carson appeared with a letter for me. It had Mother’s seal.

I broke the seal and unfolded it with a bit of fear, but it was just an errand she wanted me to run. It was quite an errand, though. I had to go to school and complete my admissions process.

Already?

It was spring, and unsurprisingly, the school ran on a calendar just like in Japan. I say ‘unsurprisingly’ because so many other things had already insisted on following the standards of a Japanese light novel. I know that, technically, I was in the world of a light novel, but it was supposed to have existed before the author wrote the story, right? It shouldn’t have any Japanese influence, right?

The new year would be starting up in less than three weeks, at the beginning of the month of early flowers (they have very poetic month names in Orestania) so I had to make my arrangements right away.

I didn’t have to take a transfer exam, it seemed. As a knight, I was exempt. They hadn’t created the rule for royal knights, but it covered me anyway.

Normally, ‘knights’ mean the house knights of aristocrats. Higher aristocrats such as the children of marquesses and dukes always sent a young house knight as a bodyguard and a maid or two along with their child, and expected all of the above to be allowed to take classes, so knights and maids are admitted once their lords are in. They don’t have to take classes, but they can, and they graduate if they manage take enough classes.

“I have to go register for school today, apparently,” I told my lady’s maid.

“Oh? You’re going to school, then? Is it because of the engagement?”

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I nodded. “That’s right. Mother says I’ll be taking three maids, since I don’t need a bodyguard. You’ll be one of them. I pick the other two.”

After thinking about having to do that for a moment, I added with a sigh, “Could you handle that for me, please?”

Genette’s wolf ears twitched, and she smirked slightly, “You’re going to make me be the villain, My Lady?”

I held my hands together and gave her a puppy-dog-eyes look. Genette let out a short laugh that sounded a little like a yip. Well, she’s wolf-kindred.

“I will speak with the other girls and try to pick some that would like to attend school. I will not be attending classes at my age, but…”

“Oi! You’re going to pick some young things, aren’t you?”

I could imagine losing it after a long day of classes and sinking my fangs into one of them in my fatigue.

“My Lady, it would be a wasted opportunity, otherwise,” she insisted. “And at least one should be at your side during school time, anyway. I’m too old to wear a school uniform.”

I gave another sigh. “It’ll be your job to make sure they behave themselves.”

To my surprise, the primary carriage– the one festooned with Pendor livery and brightly polished brasswork– was waiting for me on the drive. Mother had sent it home from the Palace when she decided to stay the night. I rode through the town with footmen on each running board and another seated with the driver, with my face blazing deep red. Look, attracting that much attention is embarrassing.

The Royal Academy is not inside the city of Atius. It was a full hour, very boring ride to the fortress town of Copen.

Carson was with me. I asked him, “I’ll be dependent on sending for the carriage if I need to come to the city, won’t I?”

It would be impractical to keep a carriage with a team, footmen and a driver at the school. And even though I was more than enough to defend myself and a carriage without the footmen, it would be scandalous for me as a Lady to go out of the city without them.

Why was it okay for me to travel on my own as a knight? Technically, it wasn’t, but an individual on foot is not as visible as a whole carriage. I could get away with it.

Carson nodded. “That is correct. Although, the King keeps a carriage at the school for his children. The Palace may make that available to you, as the second prince’s fiancée.”

I think I paled a little. The idea of having a royal carriage carting me off… As many as seven footmen, ten-horse team, excessive brass work and enough gold inlay to raise an army. With a knight escort. I would die of shame. No, I think I would go ahead and fly, instead.

Why so many horses? Even the Pendor house carriage that I was riding has four horses, and when they use it for travel to Pendor, they add another pair. A two horse team can only drag a big vehicle like the royal carriage around at walking speed. Pendor’s carriage needs four to travel at a trot and could get to a gallop in an emergency, but a royal carriage absolutely must be able to get to top speed fast, and it is heavier. Eight horses are the minimum needed to get something of that size up above twenty mph in a hurry, and they add two to have a safety margin.

Not that we were doing twenty. The team was at a trot, which meant maybe fifteen. American highway speeds only happen in the air, on Huade.

Why am I so knowledgeable about the Royal Carriages? I’ve been one of those footmen, as a squire. The corps only allowed it for a month because the Royals wouldn’t stop treating me like a family member instead of a squire, but I learned a lot.

The Academy began, centuries in the past, as a place to train young lords and heirs in the art of military command They had built a massive military facility with great parade grounds and defensible walls that would have put West Point to shame. But, that was back when Orestania was doing constant battle with its big rival neighbors, such as… well, Pendor.

Having conquered everyone who could threaten us, we scaled the military requirements for the nobility back a bit, and started educating our warrior class in the arts of managing a kingdom. It’s just like how, by the end of the shogunate, Japan’s samurais had become the bureaucrats of the empire more than being its warriors.

Sorry, being an otaku, I know Japanese history better than American history. Kinda sad, right?

Anyway, the Academy evolved into a place of learning, although military training is still part of the mix, and the aristocracy started sending its daughters there as well.

Girls began attending the school after we conquered some semi-nomadic tribes in the north who didn’t see anything wrong with female warriors. When our young nobles began prizing those well-educated military and business savvy daughters as wives more than their uneducated southern sisters, the southerners began sending their girls to school too.

So the school itself grew, but in more peaceful times, it no longer needed an enormous garrison of troops protecting it, so the military base around it shrank. Civilians began buying up vacant land inside the walls, and the fortress town of Copen was born.

We arrived at the checkpoint on the outside of the moat– yes, an actual moat, and I understand they keep a pair of tamed hydras in it– and had to submit to an inspection. Well, they called it an inspection, but a couple of royal squires just stuck their head in for a moment.

The drawbridge for this monstrosity of a ‘castle’ is basically a two-lane road, a solid eighty feet long. Can you imagine a drawbridge as tall as an eight-story building when it’s up? I also once served as one of those squires on guard duty here, so I happen to know a pair of bicorns are required to raise the massive thing.

A twenty-mule team dragging a four wagon cargo train passed us coming the other direction while we were on it, and there was room to spare.

We arrived at the front of the main school building fairly quickly. A town with a third of its population attending school isn’t crowded during the day. I straightened my hair, summoned up my aristocratic best, and let a footman help me down. Carson fell in to the right and just behind me, exactly as if he were attending my mother as her butler.

It was an unusually hot day, and I held a folding fan. As I entered the building while waving it, I remembered the thought about how I was just like a villainous noble daughter.

What was this sudden urge to laugh, o-o-ohohohoho?

I folded the fan and hid it in my bag to get that out of my head.

- my thoughts:

Hah.

Check out my other novel: Tales of the ESDF

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