The Commoner Menace
The incident, now known as the “Courtyard Incident”, where Deed Marey had nearly killed Matt Mon quickly took a turn for the worse.
The public perception was that an arrogant noble had taken action and oppressed a poor commoner, sparking fierce criticism from the public.
It did not stop there.
This newfound rage impassioned the existing commoner’s movement, leading the angry populace to protest outside of both the academy and the royal palace.
Even the academy gates, normally left open, were now locked tight.
We nobles were left to furrow our brows as we listened to the angry roars just outside.
“Pipi, Loretta, if you breathe such deep sighs, we won’t be able to enjoy our tea.”
“Ah, I’m sorry, Claire-sama.”
We found ourselves at our usual gazebo.
With the academy’s lectures in a temporary hiatus, we decided to meet here for tea.
As usual, Lene offered her diligent service, and our sweets had even been ordered from Blume… And yet, we found it difficult to immerse ourselves in meaningful conversation.
“I think it’s only natural that you feel anxious, but it’s not as though there’s much we can do, right? The arrow’s been released, all we can do is wait to see where it lands.”
“That’s… Perhaps true…”
In response to my words, Pipi showed hesitation while Loretta remained silent.
After the Courtyard Incident, the commoners’ actions grew increasingly radical.
This had less to do with the incident itself, but rather its resolution.
Though Matt Mon suffered heavy injuries, coming close to the point of death, Deed Marey’s sentence was but a one week confinement.
Even I, while admittedly biased toward the noble’s perspective, felt that sentence was an abhorrent decision.
The punishment was far too light.
According to Rodd-sama’s analysis, both the noble supremacists and the spirit church had a hand in deciding the sentence… Could they have known that things would turn out in this way?
“What is it, Loretta?”
Setting her cup back on the table, Loretta spoke with a dark expression.
As gently as I possibly could, I urged her to continue.
“Of the commoners? Why?”
“There’s no telling what they might do if they get angry! If this continues, who knows what violence they might resort to…“
“That’s not like you.
House Cugletto is renowned for its military might, isn’t it? Won’t you just say that the commoners are nothing to be feared?”
“That’s precisely why I can understand.
The commoners have numbers on their side, and now, with the discovery of magic, they’ve gained the power as well.
Though I believe our kingdom’s military is still stronger at this point in time, I doubt it will be long before the balance flips the other way.”
Very weakly, Loretta stated that this incident may become the impetus to that eventuality.
“Don’t you think you may be overthinking it? There are a lot of commoners, and it’s true the use of magic is spreading, but isn’t the army a specially trained elite force? Even should the likes of commoners band together―”
“At best, it’s one to three.”
“… What do you mean by that?”
I asked for clarification from Loretta who had, uncharacteristically, interrupted me.
“A single trained soldier… Can handle at most three untrained opponents.”
“Three? Just three?”
In the case that neither side is able to use magic and we restrict it to hand-to-hand combat, no matter how much experience a veteran soldier may have, they can at most handle three untrained opponents at a time.”
That number was far smaller than I had imagined.
Loretta wasn’t being oversensitive, she felt afraid because she had an accurate understanding of the power balance between the two sides.
“But if we allow magic, I’m confident that I could take ten commoners all at once.”
“Yes, Claire-sama is very strong… But, even though the military does have capable soldiers, only a select few of them could even hold a candle to you, Claire-sama.”
I had effectively been told not to consider the situation with myself as the standard.
As I reflected on that,
“Claire-sama, I too agree with Loretta.”
“Pipi, not you too…”
“I mean, I’m not strong like Claire-sama and Loretta are.
I absolutely despise our practical combat classes, and couldn’t even move an inch when that water slime attacked.”
Pipi paused to mutter, “I wish I could just spend all of my time playing the violin.” Before she continued,
“Uhm, Claire-sama, would it be at all possible to change the details of Deed’s punishment? It may not be too late… “
“Pipi, do you understand what you just said? There’s no way that would be possible!”
In Bauer, judicial power was almost exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Spirit Church.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that nobles held no influence, but I was certain that King Rousseau would frown upon any noble that got themselves involved in such matters.
“That may be the case under normal circumstances… But Claire-sama, if it’s you, wouldn’t you perhaps be able to do something?”
“Don’t ask me for the impossible.
What do you claim that I am capable of?”
“Couldn’t you please ask Dor-sama to establish contact with the noble supremacists? I understand he himself does not hold their beliefs, but he represents the nobles.
Surely he’d have connections to the supremacists too…”
He does, but dealing with them―
Could you please just ask Dor-sama about it and see?”
The request came from none other than these two, I was left with no other choice.
“… I’ll bring it up with my father.”
Perhaps in relief, the two now wore smiles.
I doubt they’d lend an ear.”
I had returned to the François manor and now stood in his study.
He entrusted his weight to his leather chair and said such before releasing a puff of smoke from his pipe.
The day after I accepted Pipi and Loretta’s request, I filed for temporary leave from the academy and requested an audience with my father.
This was, of course, to ask that he negotiate with the supremacists.
To my dismay he immediately refused, claiming that it would be impossible.
“Why is that? I don’t believe that the current situation is favorable to us nobles either.
It is obvious that the supremacists had a hand in deciding Deed’s verdict, shouldn’t they feel somewhat responsible?”
“As if that lot would be capable of such admirable thoughts.
All they care about is their own self-preservation and the authority they flaunt.
They’re convinced that the commoner’s anger will settle down naturally in due time.”
He released another puff of smoke.
“But there’s simply no way we can just allow this to continue! I believe that the commoners are making a valid point, and if things are left as is, their anger will only fester.”
“Alright Claire, then, let me ask you.
What do you think we should do?”
“We need to persuade the supremacists… their leader, Marquis Achard in particular.”
Even as I made such a suggestion, I knew full well that it wouldn’t be easy.
If we were to approach them to negotiate, they would surely demand some sort of compensation.
The houses of the Duke of François and the Marquis of Achard were in a constant struggle to take leadership of the political faction supporting the Kingdom’s first prince.
There was nothing that they wanted more than this leadership, and it was also the one thing that we as House François could not afford to give up.
“That isn’t happening.
Claire, your expression tells me that you understand that too.”
He saw right through my facade, there was nothing else that I could say.
“Depending on the details of the exchange, Clément may agree to compromise.
However, I have no doubt that he’d ask for an exorbitant sum that we could not simply overlook.”
“Claire, do you really think that we have the obligation to go that far for the commoners?”
“… I do not.
“The discussion is over, Claire, drop it.”
Leaving those words, my father spun his chair and faced the other direction.
I was absolutely powerless.
Struck by reality, I realized that I needed to leave the room.
It was then that Pipi and Loretta’s faces flashed through my mind.
They both appeared so anxious as they sought my help.
Would I really have to go and tell those two that there was nothing that I could have done? That… I absolutely wouldn’t allow myself to do that.
Before I myself could realize what I was doing, I turned to face my father and declared,
“Father, if you can’t do it, then I will.
Please grant me an audience with Clément-sama!”
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