The Villainess is a Marionette - Chapter 99
Translator: thursdays PR: scarcecrow
Scene 17. The Social Season
Dame Noa Kedrey was staying at the house of an old friend.
Perhaps it was her old age, but she found it more pleasant to pass time with the friends she spent her youth with rather than her son.
There was also the fact that her relationship with Raphael was not great.
Meryl Winston—her childhood friend, daughter of a marquis, and currently a viscountess—belatedly entered the music room.
The two decided to play a duet together like they had done when they were young girls.
“Did you get lost in your own house?”
Dame Noa, who wouldn’t let down her cold attitude toward anything, lightly joked in front of her dear friend.
Normally, Madame Meryl would have burst into giggles in response. However, she went to Noa’s side with a worried expression.
“I heard that the princess was appointed as the emperor’s temporary deputy in government. Did you hear anything from your son?”
The dame asked back, puzzled, “The government? Not the internal affairs?”
“Yes. Duke Raphael was said to be with the princess just a few days ago. Did you not hear of it? And I just received some other news, that the Evans family was involved in distributing drugs.”
It had become difficult to receive immediate news of palace affairs since Cayena had taken control of the internal affairs and overturned the staff.
Madame Meryl, as Chancellor Debussy’s niece, was only informed just now.
‘She isn’t a new candidate for the throne, but she’s the emperor’s regent…? That means she has more power than the chancellor.’
Furthermore, the Evans family cultivated drugs on their lands.
Noa would have to watch over how this incident changed the world of politics.
Currently at the center of the political world was the princess.
‘Raphael is doing well.‘
Noa had been displeased that her son was suddenly in close communication with the princess.
The princess was the daughter of that former empress, and the rumors surrounding her were substandard. It was only a few months ago that everyone believed her to be careless and foolish.
But now, Noa started to wonder about Princess Cayena.
She lost herself in thought for a moment, then asked her friend, “Is there a way to make a situation where I can naturally come across the princess?”
Cayena’s surroundings were presently much more forbidding than usual.
There should be a grand banquet for her coming of age, but there would be too many prying eyes during the event.
Noa needed a place to meet her privately.
The dame thought about acceptable ways to arrange this. She recalled her son’s method.
“Should I also donate a building?”
Raphael had been able to meet the princess after dedicating one building to her. Then, wouldn’t it be fine if Noa donated three buildings, maybe?
She was seriously considering it.
The auxiliary building used by the central army was the second largest after the main palace and was composed of several buildings. In addition, there was a large training ground where the knights trained as soon as the sun rose.
The knights of the central army were returning to their lodgings after their morning training, as usual.
But there was a strange commotion just outside their dorms. Court servants were busily moving things around, sweeping the ground, and cleaning.
They were thoroughly cleaning the building.
“Move this there…”
“You there! Don’t dawdle!”
The knights stared blankly at the sight in front of them.
They grabbed one of the servants and asked what was happening.
“Who knows? We were just ordered to clean the knights’ quarters this morning.”
“Ah.” The knights nodded.
It must be spring cleaning, though a long time had passed since spring came.
The building, which had been a bit grubby because it was filled with only men, quickly became more pleasant.
That alone made the knights feel refreshed for the first time in a long while.
But things didn’t stop there. Many strangers came to visit the knights’ lodgings.
“Who is in charge of managing this building?”
The knights couldn’t respond. They asked each other, “Do we have someone like that…?”
While they were speaking, one of the vice commanders heard the news and came running.
“I’m one of the people who manage this place. What happened?”
“I’ve been asked to make the central army’s garments.”
Their visitor was none other than a clothes merchant. He explained to the vice commander that he had been given an imperial order.
“So you’re here to fix our uniforms?”
“Yes. I was also told to make new training clothes as well.”
The knights really couldn’t understand what was going on.
“To begin with, I brought over all the cloth I could acquire from the capital’s linen stores to the department of the interior.”
The strange happenings did not end there, either. The knights headed to the mess hall when it was time to eat.
As they approached the mess hall, they began to smell something amazing.
“What is this smell?”
Bemused once more, they entered the mess hall.
But the menu was different from their norm.
The savory smell was coming from a dense meat stew, buttery steamed potatoes, and thick, juicy pork that made them feel even hungrier.
“Is there some sort of festival or anniversary today? They brought out a special meal.”
The knights’ wide eyes ran over the table stocked with food, and they hastily filled up their plates.
Then, someone said, “Didn’t Sir Warren say something good was going to happen a few days ago while handing out the cookies?”
Their conversation quickly turned to the topic of Cayena’s cookies.
“You’re right. The sweets that Her Highness made were so delicious.”
“Ah, yeah. It was the first time I’ve had such a rich, buttery dessert!”
“But how did Sir Warren come to receive the cookies?”
In any case, all of the knights were feeling light-hearted after enjoying a delicious and healthy meal for the first time in so long.
“It couldn’t be that this is our last feast before getting more budget cuts, right?”
The happy atmosphere died down a little at one of the knights’ question.
“It’s horrible how our salary decreases every year. I feel ashamed in front of my family.”
“Honestly, there’s no difference between being a mercenary and being in the central army.”
“I may have to go back to the countryside after being discharged. I thought everything would be figured out once I came to the capital…”
Then, Commander Jed entered the mess hall.
The knights’ leader, whose expression had been troubled of late due to various things, looked lighter.
Jed joyfully looked around the mess hall and asked, “Are you enjoying your meal?”
“Yes, it’s wonderful!” someone shouted.
That made Jed laugh.
“I’m glad it suits your taste. Then, we’ll have more meals like this in the future.”
In the future? Jed grinned and continued, “I know you all are eating, but I came here to share an important announcement.”
He coughed and cleared his throat because the news he was about to share was truly groundbreaking.
“The central army will be mobilized next week to cultivate land to expand the capital.”
Everyone glanced at each other at the unexpected words.
It was common for the military to be mobilized for labor-intensive tasks such as taming the land.
“The cleared land will then be distributed to us soldiers in return for our labor. You gentlemen will also receive funding from the government to settle down.”
Land distribution? Funding?
The knights’ jaws dropped as they looked at Jed.
“All of these events were ordered by Her Highness, the Princess.”
Once their leader finished talking, the knights in the mess hall began to stir.
“I-is this for real? They’re really giving us funding to build homes? Including the land?”
“That’s correct. Princess Cayena is encouraging the central army to settle in the capital and raise families here. Everything you’re eating now and the services provided today have all been made possible thanks to Her Highness’s reallocation of her own palace funds.”
The knights were listening to him speak, but their comprehension took a moment to catch up.
Why was the princess being so kind to them?
“Her Highness will be coming soon to inspect the building and speak with us in person. Greet her with your utmost gratitude!”
The knights finished their excellent meal in a daze.
They returned to their clean quarters and were given a new, clean cotton shirt.
“Is this a dream?”
At that time, one of the knights ran inside.
“The princess is in Knight Commander Jed’s office now!”
The knights made eye contact with each other.
Should they take a peek? Well, their commander did tell them to greet her.
They made their decision quickly. They gathered like sardines to Commander Jed’s office.
“Huh? Next to the commander…”
One of them pointed at Commander Jed escorting a woman.
The knights’ eyes widened like they would pop out. The woman that Commander Jed was escorting did not appear human.
She was clearly an angel, stepping lightly like she was walking on clouds and wearing a sky blue dress. Her hair fluttered with each step like wings.
Commander Jed shouted in a strict voice, “Pay respect to Her Highness, the Princess!”
Only then did they recognize that the woman Jed was escorting was not an angel, but Princess Cayena.