“Um…… Would you like to eat lunch together?”
One day during lunch break, somebody unexpectedly called out to me with her lunch box in her hands.
When I raised my head, I saw a timid looking girl standing before me.
It was Philine.
The typically shy Philine was the one extending an invitation to me.
“Yes, of course.”
“Thank you very much.”
After saying that, Philine took a seat on the other side of my desk and opened up her lunch box.
Her lunch was probably made by the Imperial Family’s personal chef.
The ingredients were neatly arranged inside of her small lunch box.
“Philine-sama, your lunch looks delicious.”
“Eh……? Ah, is that so? Um…… thank you very much?”
Philine looked a bit puzzled.
It seemed that she was not very used to making conversation with others.
“May I have one of your meatballs?”
“Ah, sure…… If you want to give it a try, then feel free to take one.”
I took a quail egg-sized meatball from Philine’s lunch box.
…… It wasn’t very good.
There was something wrong with the Empire’s tastes in food.
However, I wasn’t planning on yielding here.
“Is that so? I’m glad.”
“As thanks for letting me have one, I’ll answer any question that you want to ask me, Philine-sama.”
Philine looked surprised.
Her expression looked like it was asking how I knew what her intentions were.
“Philine-sama, since you were the one who called out to me first, I figured you had something you wanted to talk to me about, right?”
“Um…… that’s….. right……”
Philine looked embarrassed.
It was as if her cheeks were dyed with the color of guilt.
“I want you to tell me about Claire.”
At the moment, Claire-sama was over in the classroom next door with Lene.
Since Claire-sama was incredibly fond of Lene, she wanted to spend as much time with her as possible to rekindle their old friendship, but since we were from different countries with our respective goals, it seemed that it was difficult for them to meet up.
Because they had the opportunity to see each other today, the two of them wanted to spend time together with just the two of them.
“I can answer the questions that you want to ask, but why not just ask her yourself?”
“Umm…… Claire….. still kind of scares me……”
Ahh, as I thought, Claire really did leave a deep impression on the first day.
For the time being, I was ready to listen.
“Well then, what do you want to know?”
“Umm…… let me see. For example, why did Claire do something as troublesome as starting a revolution?”
Philine asked timidly.
Even though she was afraid of Claire-sama, she was still curious about something like that.
“The revolution, huh. Well, first of all, let me clear something up. Claire-sama did not start the revolution.”
“Eh……? But don’t they call Claire the heroine of the revolution?”
Philine had a surprised expression on her face.
“While it’s true that Claire-sama played a crucial role during the revolution, the ones who initiated it were undoubtedly the citizens of Bauer, so please don’t be mistaken.”
Philine had a subtle expression on her face like she wasn’t exactly convinced.
“In that case, let me rephrase it. Why did Claire take part in the revolution at all? She used to be part of the elites, right? Even among the nobles, she was considered quite high up in the social ladder, wasn’t she?”
“It’s a bit difficult to answer that question, but if I had to give you the short answer: it’s precisely because Claire-sama was a noble.”
“I don’t really understand.”
Philine tilted her head.
“At the beginning, even Claire-sama couldn’t understand the point of the revolution. If anything, she thought that the very idea of a revolution was outrageous.”
“…… then why did she get involved?”
“There was a certain incident that made Claire-sama question all of the differences between nobles and commoners.”
I was referring to the ghost ship incident that occurred in Euclid.
It was a tragic event where one of Louis’ family members was taken hostage, which caused him to target me and Claire-sama.
“Something like that……”
“Ever since that incident, Claire-sama learned about the harsh reality of being impoverished. And she thought that as a noble, she couldn’t just leave things be.”
From then on, Claire-sama started thinking of ways to end poverty.
But she struggled as she realized that while she was a noble herself, the aristocracy was one of the primary causes behind poverty in the first place.
“Claire-sama started thinking from the perspective of the people. She wondered about what could be done in order to correct the imbalance of wealth between the nobles and ordinary citizens, and was desperate to find things that she could do to help.”
“…… Finding things that she can do.”
Those words seemed to have left a deep impression on Philine.
She looked like she was deep in thought.
“From then on, lots of things happened one after the other. Claire-sama gained popular support after managing to expose the injustices of the nobles. And after the eruption of the Sassal Volcano, instead of sticking up for how the deteriorating government at the time handled the crisis, she continued to side with the commoners.”
“The revolution was a result of all of that,” is how I ended my explanation.
Some parts of my explanation were condensed, and not everything was completely true; however, most of what I said was not a lie.
“Claire is…… quite strong.”
“I completely agree with you there, but if Claire-sama had to go through all of that on her own, she would’ve been crushed by the weight of it.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Claire-sama is a talented person, but there was no way she would have accomplished all of that by herself. The reason why she is still alive today is because of the efforts of many different people.”
If Claire-sama fought that battle alone, there was no way she would have been able to avoid getting publicly executed.
And if that happened, she would’ve had her name tainted and been remembered in history as a symbol of corruption within the aristocracy.
“If you want to accomplish something, I think it is important to start by making friends.”
“Philine-sama, if you feel a certain way about the current state of affairs in the Empire, Claire-sama and I would be willing to cooperate with you.”
When she heard my words, Philine’s face stiffened.
Did I overstep my boundaries?
“I-I… My stomach is suddenly starting to hurt, so please excuse me!”
She took off.
Right when I thought we were getting somewhere with our conversation too.
I might’ve rushed things a little too much.
That was something I needed to reflect upon.
However, it was by sheer luck that I was able to tell her about Claire-sama.
At the very least, her fearful impression of Claire-sama should be toned down now.
The next step was to find an opportunity for both of them to speak with each other directly.
“Did something happen? I saw Philine run out in a hurry.”
Claire-sama entered the classroom and walked towards me.
“We were having lunch together. She asked about you. I think this is a good sign.”
“She asked about me?”
I explained what happened to Claire-sama.
“Philine should have her own thoughts about the Empire. I want to raise her awareness of those issues.”
“You’re right. Although our true intention is to ensnare the Empire.”
“It can’t be helped.”
Politics was a dirty business, after all.
“Claire-sama, what happened to lunch?”
“Lene and I finished with lunch. I was treated to Frater’s newest dish.”
“Oh wow, what kind of dish was it?”
“I was told to keep it a secret from you. She said that if it was a dish that you already knew of, she’d be crushed.”
I guess I may have teased her a bit too much.
“You should hurry up and finish your lunch too, Rei. The school bell will ring soon.”
I started to devour my lunch.
It was a bit ill-mannered of me, but some things had to be sacrificed.
“In any case…… I wonder which capture route Philine is currently on right now.”
Right, that was something important to keep in mind.