After the Audience
“I see…… So that’s Empress Dorothea, huh. She really is a tyrant.”
Yuu-sama bit her lip as she spoke.
Misha was helping her get changed.
We were currently in a room in the dormitory that was assigned to Bauer’s student exchange group.
We were told that the dormitories were actually originally built as inns, but they have since been remodeled to accommodate us for this occasion.
Every room here was bigger than the ones back at the Royal Academy, so it was easy to tell just how much national power the Empire held.
After the audience we had with Dorothea, the four of us gathered in one of the large rooms in the dormitory and shared our impressions of the Empress as we got changed.
“I didn’t expect her to completely disregard all diplomatic formalities.”
“She probably thought of it as the most rational thing to do. It makes sense, since she seems to find it difficult to deal with people like me, who tend to put on an act.”
Yuu-sama sighed as Misha helped her take off her formal wear.
It’s true that Yuu-sama didn’t seem to do so well during today’s audience.
She was at Dorothea’s mercy the entire time, was told that she was boring and then proceeded to get ignored by her.
“Rei, you seemed like you were able to handle her well. I’ll leave anything that has to do with Dorothea to you from now on.”
“Please don’t say that. Rei was only able to behave like that because you followed basic diplomatic protocols and maintained etiquette.”
Misha was comforting Yuu-sama, who looked unusually dejected.
Those two really were close.
“Claire-sama, please comfort me too.”
“Why should I? It’s not like you are feeling particularly depressed.”
Claire-sama bluntly turned down my request to fool around.
“Now that we’ve all met her, what do you all think of Dorothea? Let’s start with Misha.”
Yuu-sama asked for our opinions.
Misha looked deep in thought for a moment before she opened her mouth.
“Although she is very arrogant, I think that’s just one way of being a ruler.”
“What do you mean?”
“She doesn’t seem like the type of leader who listens to the opinions of anybody lower than her, but she’s the kind of person who has a firm goal in mind and can lead others towards achieving it.”
‘It’s the exact opposite of the late Majesty Rousseau and Sein-sama,’ Misha added.
“That’s true. Dorothea seems to act like collecting opinions from her own advisers or stressing over little dilemmas are things unrelated to her. In a way, that can either be a good or a bad thing.”
“It would be simple to just call her a despot, but she’s more than that. She does not neglect the well-being of her people. It’s exactly as you said, Misha. That’s just one way of being a ruler. What do you think, Claire?”
When Yuu-sama directed her question towards Claire-sama, her face clouded over.
“I do not think she and I are compatible.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“We have a difference in values. I could not sense a shred of respect for other people from Dorothea. I dislike people that disregard the need to be courteous.”
In the past, Claire-sama once explained to Mei and Alea that not having any manners was basically the same as not wearing any clothes.
For Claire-sama, who still upholds the values of a former noblewoman, she probably could not condone such insolent behavior.
“However, I can understand why she is considered a charming person. There are probably lots of people that wish to follow her. Specifically, those who are capable, but feel like they lack a purpose.”
That seemed to be the whole principle behind the Imperial meritocracy.
The Empress set a clear objective for everybody, which caused the citizens to band together and work towards that single purpose.
To that end, anybody who could work would be employed, regardless of nationality, and any acts of discrimination were strictly prohibited.
“You’re right. To be honest, since I’m the type of person who can’t set goals for myself, I admire those kinds of people. Out of us three royal siblings, I think Rod-niisama would be the closest example.”
It’s true that I could see some similarities between Rod-sama and Dorothea.
They were both the type who could lead the people around them, and their pushiness was rather similar as well.
“What did you think, Rei?”
“Somehow… she seemed kind of childish.”
Since my impression was somewhat vague, Yuu-sama tilted her head in confusion.
Misha and Claire-sama also looked puzzled.
“I mean, look at it this way. She does whatever she wants. She doesn’t listen to the people around her, and yet, she gets other people to help her all the time. I think that’s how children behave, anyway.”
“…… I never would’ve thought of it that way.”
Dorothea was already an adult, and her beauty was deceptively frightening, but that was the first impression I had of her.
Yuu-sama smiled wryly, but nodded and acknowledged that perhaps Dorothea did have that kind of side to her.
Dorothea has been deified in various ways due to her position, and people were often at the mercy of her behavior, but I thought that she was actually quite simple at her core.
When she said that she liked rationality, perhaps what that really meant was she just didn’t want to bother with whatever she personally thought was unnecessary.
“Well, one way or another, she is still at the very top of the Empire, so I would like to think that she’s a bit different than most children anyway. That being said, I want to point out that my kids are quite amazing as well.”
“I’ll assume you’re just saying that as an overly doting parent.”
I wasn’t trying to be overly doting, though.
“In the end, does this mean that our suspicion of the Empress utilizing some type of magic to charm people has been cleared up now?”
“I would think so. Simply put, it was probably just something somebody said to explain her attractiveness. It’s true that she seems charismatic, though.”
Yuu-sama laughed as she added, “Although she didn’t seem to come across like that to Rei.”
“I went through the trouble of bringing the Tears of the Moon with me, but it seems like that was pointless in the end.”
“No, we’re treading on foreign territory right now. There’s always the possibility that we may need it in the future.”
Yuu-sama spoke while playing around with the box the ring was currently sealed away in, with Misha voicing her rebuttal immediately after.
Unfortunately, Misha was probably right.
There was no such thing as being too careful.
“In any case, thank you all for your hard work. Starting tomorrow, we’ll begin attending classes at the Imperial Academy. Get some rest for tonight, and be ready for tomorrow.”
After Yuu-sama spoke, the meeting was adjourned.
“Claire-sama, aren’t you tired?”
On the way back to our room, I checked up on Claire-sama.
Claire-sama’s athletic ability was higher and she was physically stronger than the average person, but we had just come a long way from the Kingdom and sat through an audience with the Empress.
I thought she might’ve been worn out from all of that.
“I am fine, thank you.”
“Are you sure? You’re not just trying to act tough?”
“Why would I need to try and act tough in front of you, Rei? I really am fine. More importantly, has our luggage arrived in our room yet?”
“Yes, it should’ve. Hopefully, Mei and Alea didn’t do anything too mischievous, though.”
As I said that, I opened the door to our room.
The sight of a large room came into my view.
It appeared that our luggage had already been brought in, but Mei and Alea were nowhere to be seen.
Claire-sama and I were in one bedroom, while Mei and Alea were in another.
Due to Yuu-sama’s thoughtfulness, she decided to give us the bigger dorm room.
We didn’t feel as attached to this place as we did with our home back in Bauer, but starting from today, this was our temporary residence.
“We are over here!”
As soon as their names were called, two small figures came running towards us from inside.
Both of them hopped straight into Claire-sama’s chest.
“We’re back, Mei, Alea. Were you two behaving well?”
Although we left them on their own for quite a while, the two of them did not seem particularly bothered by it.
When I thought about it, even back in the Kingdom, Claire-sama and I were often absent from the house together or took turns house sitting, so perhaps they were used to it already.
“Well then, let’s have something to eat. Rei, may I ask you to handle it?”
“Please leave it to me.”
I was worn out after having that stiff audience with the Empress.
There was no way that Claire-sama and the kids weren’t tired by now either.
‘I have to give it my all today’, I thought to myself as I made my way over to the kitchen.