Despite it not being held at home, we had already begun our preparations. I stood in place similar to a wooden puppet, observing the people on both sides. My supposed free day ended up not being so relaxing since formal wear was a tiresome and time-consuming endeavour. Unfortunately, I had no sense of aesthetics when it came to clothes, so I left it in the hands of the experienced designer. The designer provided us with a friendship discount thanks to Sisi, so I heard. I always wondered if people in the fashion line of work had their own odd hobby. How he managed to dye his hair in six different colours in this era was beyond my scope of comprehension.
Veirya and Leah, watching from the side, shared their thoughts with each other. For my safety’s sake, I felt it was best to not let the two get involved with the design.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I had no intention of getting involved with the South. That was absolute. Having said that, I remember saying the same thing previous times, only to involuntarily ended up getting involved to protect myself. I refused to discuss it in the imperial palace or show that I cared as a means to stress that I planned to mind my own business. Being the minister of business wasn’t a painfully busy job. Businessmen had their own ways of doing things. Therefore, as long as they didn’t take things too far, I didn’t have to do anything.
“I’m going. To a banquet. Tonight,” informed Veirya, eyeing my clothes. “I’d like to ask. You to. Join me.”
“I never realised you liked balls and whatnot. I was always worried that you wouldn’t be able to adapt to life in the imperial capital, but it seems I was worried for nothing,” I remarked with a smile, curious as to what she did when she attended them as I couldn’t imagine as being an ace at socialising. What would she do at parties filled with the allure of money and power? Drink?
“I. Don’t particularly. Like them.” Veirya seemed surprised that I didn’t know her motivation behind attending them.
“Don’t you often attend them? I thought you liked them. If you don’t like them, why do you keep attending them?’
I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Veirya being unable to turn others down given she rarely turned anyone down. Not many people made requests of her. When they did, though, she always seemed unable to refuse requests. For instance, there was Lucilia and then Anna. As the current Countess, it was inevitable for there to be people who wanted to be acquainted with her, and it was obligatory since she had a military background. I suppose she wouldn’t like them, then.
“But. Her Majesty said. I have to go to banquets. If I want to be your wife. So I go.”
That statement sure swayed me. While social events weren’t my sort of gig, I had to go after hearing that. “All right. I’ll join you tonight.”
Leah grumpy metre maxed out when she heard I was going out together with Veirya, giving me attitude the entire day of what would’ve been a peaceful day, otherwise. When it was time for us to leave, she literally wanted to cut my cape off. Seriously, I couldn’t help thinking that her revenge would be more horrific than the last time at the Demon King’s castle. That was when I decided that I must find an opportunity to make Leah obedient.
Sisi generously loaned out one of her buildings for tonight’s banquet. Judging from that fact, whoever the host was must’ve ranked high and wielded considerable authority. She didn’t attend the ball. She was a good girl who always made sure to sleep at night, after all.
Thanks to the candles that crystals on the ceiling reflected, the immaculate glyphs flaunted themselves. Around the tables were countless people who separated themselves into countless smaller groups to discuss their money and power.
Similarly to how they say that one cannot break off blood relations, the people present in the hall couldn’t be separated from the power and money of others. In essence, money and power was a thread that connected them all together. The countless small groups in the hall formed the network that enclosed the entire imperial capital’s heart. I used to think that the Queen’s rear palace was a webbed cave, but I finally realised the hall was the real webbed cave.
I thought it would be just an ordinary banquet, so I didn’t pay much attention. When Veirya appeared arm in arm with me and my name was announced, howbeit, I found myself as awkward as could be. To a certain degree, I had been in contact with a fair number of people present. Put it this way: not long ago, I almost emptied out the accounts of some people – make that a lot of people – overnight. In fact, some of them nearly died in the elven forest. Yeah, I noticed a lot of people with a missing part of their ears. Hence, my appearance would understandably be awkward, right? They also struggled to maintain their polite smiles. I was honestly envious of Veirya, because, if I could also keep a poker face on twenty-four seven, I’d presumably look a lot more natural.
Though it took a while, the reason Sisi was so generous dawned on me. Lots of the people in attendance were in the business arena. In saying that, they weren’t the stars. Instead, they hung around a group of people I had never seen before. If I had to venture a guess, I’d assume they were affluent figures similar to myself, such as barons or dukes. Businessmen happened to rely on the power of the influential.
You needed to have your guard up around businessmen. With them now joining forming alliances with affluent figures, it was even more alarming. I’d turn around and leave if I could.
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