In the serious atmosphere, there was a deafening sound. Petra straightened her back.
The spacious meeting room was filled with a strange and unique atmosphere of tension. In the center of the room, there was a table with space for more than a dozen people to sit around, and now it was filled to the max.
There were more than ten attendants, each with his or her own servants, making a total of more than thirty people gathered in the meeting room.
...The meeting of the Western Border Leaders.
That was the grandiose name of this meeting, and the goals of the participants were just as the name would suggest.
Lugunica was divided into four parts: North, South, East, and West, and the person who ruled the western borders of Lugnica, was Petra’s master, the renowned Margrave Roswaal L. Mathers
The meeting was centred on Roswaal, who brought together the powerful people of the Western Borders.
The owner of the mansion, Viscount Talion Aluz, whose position was second only to Roswaal's in the west.
The mayor of the industrial city of Costuul, one of the five major cities in the kingdom, Reynolds Rex.
The one who owns a number of vast farms and is known by the name of "Dairy King", Griffith Allen.
Also, the head of the Western Merchant Union, "The Hypocrite" Gwen Merrett.
At the moment, the situation of the gathering of outstanding people, including the above-mentioned ones, is hellish. None of them are people who you can underestimate, and they are not Roswaal's comrades.
If there were anyone who was Roswaal's comrade, it would be…
???: [...Petra, it's been a long time since we last met. I am relieved to see that you are still in good spirits.]
The first to enter the meeting room and greet her like that was a youth with dark blue hair, Clind, whose master is Roswaal’s relative, Annerose Miload.
Frederica: [The meeting is about to begin. Could you please go back to Annerose-sama's side? Also, please don't approach Petra at will.]
Clind: [Why must I follow your instructions? Are you Petra's mother or guardian? There is no such information in my memory. Doubt.]
Clind,who just entered the scene, and Frederica, who had halted his advances, sandwiched Petra and faced off against each other.
It seemed that Frederica didn't want Clind to get close to Petra, so she was always lashing out at him. It was at moments like this that Petra felt that she was truly valued by her, so she secretly expressed her gratitude to Clind for his existence.
Having said that...
Petra: [Frederica-neesama, Clind-san, the meeting has already begun…]
With Petra's mediation, Frederica and Clind ceased fire. After Clind, who elegantly bowed before making his exit, had returned to his master's side, Petra and Frederica gestured towards each other then proceeded to head back to their designated position.
During this small incident, the participants took their seats at the conference table, and the meeting between the leaders of the western border officially began.
As usual, the purpose of this meeting is mostly to bring resolutions to important issues related to the rule of the western borders.
Before Petra was educated in the mansion as a maid, she had only a vague impression that Roswaal, who held the title of a Margrave in the West, was one of the select few who held enormous power in the Kingdom of Lugnica. Of course, the greatest person in the kingdom is naturally the King, but Roswaal, who ruled the West under the king's orders, can be considered the greatest person in the West of the Kingdom.
Therefore, even at the talks held at the borders of the west, Roswaal participated in the negotiations as the speaker and gave his final rulings on major resolutions that can greatly influence the lives of the citizens, including Petra.
This is not only Roswaal's power but also his duty. ...However, this time is different from the ones before.
Talion: [...I hope to hear Margrave Mathers's views on the Royal Selection.]
The first to bring up the topic everyone wanted to discuss was a gentleman with a beard, Viscount Talion Aluz. Sitting across from Roswaal in the venue, he was the acting speaker of the day.
The heavy sense of responsibility gave a strong sense of tension in his eyes and expressions.
At the start of the meeting, Petra, who was acting like a part of the furniture, stiffened, feeling the tingling tension on her skin.
Glancing at her side a little, Frederica, who was also in the same position, stood upright and composed. Adhering to unwavering etiquette adds supreme beauty to her standing posture. Petra couldn't help but be fascinated by it.
Tailon: [Oh, but please don't choose the Royal Selection itself as a topic to start this long-winded meeting. Time is precious. Especially for someone in a position like me.]
Gwen: [Too roundabout Talion-chan]
In contrast to Petra who was immersed in it, the tension in the conference hall had already begun to shift.
The man who interrupted the words of Viscount Aluz while leaning his body on the table was an unshaven brave man. The representative of the Western Merchant Union Gwen Merret. He stroked his brown hair.
Gwen: [That is not what we were hoping to hear, right?]
Talion: [I thought I told you before, stop calling me Talion-chan, alright?]
Gwen: [Ah, sorry sorry... After all, we are much more concerned about the candidate you are backing than just the craziness of the Royal Selection in general, don't you agree Roswaal-chan?]
Without even heeding the warning from the Viscount, Gwen gave Roswaal a lazy smile. His attitude towards Roswaal seemed to be a bit more intimate than that of the other participants, but...
Gwen: [Besides, didn't you say this beforehand? “Because I found a candidate to participate in the royal election, I will be backing that girl, I'll leave the work of shielding and supporting her to you all” There was such a thing. But...]
Gwen, who was smiling but at the same time not smiling, frightened Petra.
Gwen: [If that girl is a half-elf, isn't this just a trap?]
Gwen's words added to the heavy atmosphere of the conference room.
Including Viscount Aluz, the other participants who had not yet spoken probably agreed with Gwen. And Annerose, who stood in the position of her comrade, seems to be ready to change their views.
The atmosphere was filled with a strong sense of suspicion against Roswaal and rejection towards the "half-elf".
Half-elf, using this term, treating Emilia in such a manner truly aroused Petra's anger.
However, it was only during this year that Petra started feeling such anger for Emilia after getting along with Emilia day and night and learning about her as a person. For most people, half-elves and the “Witch of Envy" are closely interlinked. If she didn't personally know Emilia, even Petra would probably react like them.
Therefore, as long as they get to know Emilia, their mindset will change accordingly. However, the curse carried by the name of being a half-elf wanted to take even such an opportunity away from Emilia.
In order for Emilia to get this opportunity, today's meeting took place.
Therefore, Petra is looking forward to Roswaal's first words. Looking forward to the most annoying unforgivable master who was the only one that could reverse the predicament that Emilia is currently in.
She doesn’t know if he realizes Petra’s contradictory thoughts and expectations or not. Roswaal nodded to everyone.
Roswaal: [In other wooords, as long as the subject in question is a puuure-blooded elf, Gwen-dono would raise his hands in faavour?]
This is the first time Roswaal spoke at this meeting. Let alone Gwen and other participants, even Petra was caught off guard by his unhesitant tone.
And Roswaal crossed his hands on the table between the white gaps that were born.
Roswaal: [Putting aside whether I was joooking or not...Before I tell you the deetails of the Royal Selection, I apologize for conveying to you the incorreect contents. Hoooowever, please don't misundestaaaand.]
Gwen: [Oh? Misunderstand?]
Roswaal: [My pooosition is not such that I have to aask you, but a position where I can commaaand you.]
In response to Roswaal's deep voice, the atmosphere in the venue once again tensed to its limits.
In this atmosphere, Roswaal closed one eye and stared at his surroundings with his yellow pupil.
Roswaal: [You looots' circumstances and that of those quuuarrelling trash nobles are different. Emilia-sama, who I back, is an indispensable presence for winning the Royal Seleeection. For this reason, the Mathers family has spent a looong time preparing the western borders to become what it is toooday.]
Griffith: [Fufufu. That statement makes it sound like preparations for the Royal Selection began several generations ago.]
In the middle of Roswaal’s speech, the morbidly obese "Dairy King" Griffith interjected. Facing the question of this giant who had almost passed his twilight years, Roswaal shrugged.
Roswaal: [This weeestern border is a place of exile for weirdos. After the ooorigin of Emiiilia-sama was made public, those vassal loords who immediately changed their attitude are fundaaamentally different from everyone present heere, no?]
Griffith: [Why? Do you plan to suppress and hold our reins using the power of your authority?]
Roswaal: [The inteeensity of suppression depeends on the resistance...That is whaaaat I would liiike to say, at least.]
In the hostile venue, the atmosphere around Roswaal changed instantaneously. All the attendees were surprised by this sudden change in attitude.
Roswaal: [In the paaast, I would give priority to quickness aand reliability and take the most pooowerful approach. But unfortunately, it is quite tricky to use that method right nooow.]
As he said this, Roswaal glanced at Frederica and Petra behind him... No, he glanced at Petra. Seeing him look directly in her blue eyes, Petra couldn't help but hold her breath.
... “Keep your eyes open at all times.” What Ram said echoed in her mind.
It wasn't until now that Petra realized that the original meaning of those words also contained the meaning of having to observe carefully.
Roswaal: [Neeevertheless, even if I talk exteeensively about Emilia-sama’s character here, it still laaacks authenticity, right? Sooo I'll just change the player. Petra-kun, cooome here.]
The sudden call of her name caused Petra's shoulders to twitch as she screamed.
She wondered if she heard the wrong name but Roswaal's nasty smile that gave her a feeling of Deja Vu was in her field of vision. At that moment, Frederica couldn't help but utter angrily.
Frederica: [Master...! Master, doing such a prank in a situation like this… I can't remain indifferent.]
Roswaal: [Praaank? My, what an unexpected staaatement. As you know, there is no persuasiveness in my words that can gain their trust. This can be easily seeeen from their usual behaviour]
Frederica: [These words should still be coming from your mouth…]
Roswaal: [In addition, regarding persuasiveness, yooouu can't do it either. After all, I have been with you for faaar too long, they knoooow you. So naturally, they would have biased thoughts towards you.]
To Frederica, who wanted to take on Petra’s position instead, Roswaal said so first. And the reason Frederica stopped speaking after hearing the reason was due to that indisputable fact.
Backed by this ruthless fact, Roswaal looked at Petra again.
Roswaal: [Hooowever, I haven’t spent a long time with Peeetra-kun. They should aaall know about the matter regarding her haaating me, right?]
There is no way to deny it. Petra recalled that when she first arrived at the mansion for this meeting, her matters had already been known.
She was investigated in some form and Roswaal had already expected it.
In other words, he wanted to let Petra, who does not support Roswaal, support Emilia.
Talion: [That said, Margrave Mathers. Will that maid's words really have such power...?]
Gwen: [Isn't it fine, Talion-chan? Let them be.]
Regarding Roswaal's answer, Viscount Aluz and Gwen once again disagreed. However, the debate between the two ultimately ending with Gwen's victory is a matter of course. This is also true for this time, Gwen's words forced Viscount Aluz to make concessions.
Returning to her consciousness, Petra was already bathed in the gazes of all these powerful people and had become the center of attention.
With thirsty lips and dry tongue, Petra's head devolved into intense chaos. The tense strings shook her heart, and she began to feel dizzy. Why did it turn out like this?
Just a year ago, Petra was a mere village girl. For her, the people who own villages, towns, and majestic and spacious territories outside of her own village were as far from her as the sky.
But now, Petra is standing in front of them like this...
Annerose: [Don't be afraid. Just treat them like you treat uncle.]
The one who spoke to Petra, whose breathing had become rapid, was a young girl sitting a little further away ...Annerose, sporting a bun of dark blue hair. Her awe-inspiring attitude and posture made Petra's breathing slightly disturbed.
After all, she was only a nobleman who was ten years old and is younger than Petra.
Annerose: [Take a deep breath, and then say something about Emily. Even if you make any strange remarks, I will cover for you. After all, it's all for Emily.]
Annerose's words made Petra choke, then she closed her eyes tightly.
Annerose held excessive kindness towards Emilia. Even if she wasn't on stage, her words were still powerful.
If she can speak for the unsuspicious Petra to support Emilia, then it is not a bad choice to follow it.
However, Petra will not do it
Petra: [...Thank you, Annerose-sama. But let me do it.]
Annerose: [Re..., really, can you do it?]
Petra: [I will work hard. After all, this is a task entrusted to me.]
After an earnest request, Petra accepted the task of the day and volunteered to take up this task.
She remembered all the words Subaru and Emilia said to Petra before leaving the mansion. Amongst them, there is not a word expressing concern regarding Petra's shortcomings.
Subaru and the others never felt uneasy regarding Petra, they have always been looking forward and never hesitated to believe in her.
Roswaal: [Hmm? What's wrong?]
Petra: [I really hate you more than anything.]
Turning her head, Petra's thin lips opened, and she confronted Roswaal angrily. Upon hearing this, Roswaal raised his eyebrows slightly in surprise.
But Petra no longer looked at the changes in his expression following it, but instead quickly turned and lifted the corners of her skirt.
Then, she showed a perfect curtsey that was enough to intoxicate all the people present.
Petra: [I must apologize for taking so long. I am a maid serving Margrave Roswaal L Mathers, Petra Leyte.]
Petra: [Although I am still clumsy and might repeat myself, please allow me to tell you about Emilia-sama. Not about a "half-elf", but about Emilia-sama.]
Facing the sight of the vassal lord, Petra opened her words with this kind of opening remark.
Unbelievably, her inner turmoil had disappeared at this very moment, and nothing but boundless pride filled her eyes.
This is a matter of course, because,
...How could you not laugh with joy when you speak of a person you like.
Behind Petra, who made such an awe-inspiring declaration was Roswaal, who smiled at the immature figure with excellent posture, and Frederica who was tightly holding onto his arm and shaking with anger.
No matter how much Roswaal apologized, saying that he overdid it, Frederica would not let go of his arm and calm down. But compared to her anger, there was another overflowing sentiment that filled Frederica's heart at this moment. This is also a matter of course.
Because, it is far more important to guard her cherished, beloved sister’s shining stage than to be angry at her master with a bad personality.