36. His Excellency Knutgrieg, the Grand Duke of Rivalsi
The moment we reached the port of Rivalsi in the Republic of Ninorsk, Balakirev unexpectedly developed a high fever and lost consciousness.
The image I had of Balakirev was that of a strong military man. Therefore, that came off as a shock.
He had been working hard ever since he came to Arkhangelsk. As such, the unfamiliar voyage might have exhausted him.
Other than Mayor Kokoshkin, Balakirev was the only consultant we could rely on.
I should’ve foreseen that happened and advised Balakirev to rest…
How immature of me… all I could see was Alex-sama and myself.
I sincerely hoped that he’d recover.
Not only because he was a useful resource for Arkhangelsk, but also because he was a reliable companion. Not to mention, for Anastasia, Balakirev must had been an irreplaceable existence.
I set aside a room in the building assigned to us for our accommodations as Balakirev’s recovery room.
Thus, we arrived at that room.
The wooden building had been painted red and its interior was well-furnished. Ninorskwas treating us with courtesy. Moreover, they had also assigned us a doctor.
Balakirev, who was on a sickbed, seemed to be suffering. Still, he tried to get up. I hurriedly told him to lie back down.
“Please don’t overexert yourself.”
“But, Milady… I was entrusted with a mission by His Highness and Lady Anastasia…”
“I’ll negotiate with Ninorsk. For now, focus on recovering. I can’t afford to lose you, for you’re essential to our territorial management.”
I gently placed my hand on top of Balakirev’s.
The ruggedness of it let me realize the level of hardship he had endured as a swordfighter and as Anastasia’s protector.
In my astonishment, Balakirev smiled at me.
“Thank you for your consideration. As you said, I’ll focus on recovering my physical condition first.”
“Don’t overdo it, alright?”
Balakirev nodded quietly and closed his eyes.
“If it’s Milady, I’m certain you’ll definitely be able to make an agreement with Ninorsk.”
Balakirev’s whisper embarrassed me.
I was powerless. I could only entrust Balakirev to the Ninorsk doctor.
Nevertheless, I had a mission. In order to live up to Balakirev’s trust—
—I had to succeed.
If Alex-sama lost his position as the lord of Arkhangelsk, his position as Anastasia’s guardian would be jeopardized. Therefore, my negotiation was also for protecting Anastasia.
I renewed my resolve and left the room.
I became the lead negotiator due to Balakirev’s poor physical condition.
Of course, Alex-sama, Balakirev, and Mayor Kokoshkin had prepared me in advance. Together, we went through various possible scenarios.
Still, I didn’t know what would actually happen.
The official name for the serene republic was Ninorsk. Instead of a king or an emperor, aristocrats from each house formed a parliament to rule the country.
While the country had a harsh climate with many glaciers and frozen soil, it had amassed a considerable amount of wealth due to trade.
We were currently located in the port city of Rivalsi, located on the opposite bank of Arkhangelsk.
The town was governed by the Grand Duke of Rivalsi. His was one of the highest aristocratic houses in Ninorsk.
The Grand Duke of Rivalsi had a much longer history than the Duke of Tchaikovsky.
In order to meet with him, we were sitting in the waiting room of the grand duke’s office.
Judging from Felix’s expression, he seemed to mean what he said.
Instead of his usual butler’s uniform, he wore a red jacket. Felix was also the son of a count’s family, and he was wearing diplomatic clothes as my servant.
I smiled and put my hand on Felix’s cheek. He quivered.
His white, childish, and soft cheeks turned red.
“You look good in those clothes, Felix.”
“L, Lady Alisa, don’t treat me like a child…”
“I’m not. I want you to feel at ease for I will do my best.”
“As your knight, I’ll protect you.”
“I’m sorry, but the fact that Felix is nervous is making me more nervous.”
Of course, I knew that Felix was merely trying to help.
“Thank you, I have to work hard for you too, Felix.”
Felix nodded with joy.
At that time, the office door opened.
Two of the grand duke’s servants appeared. They were a pair of tall men dressed in gorgeous clothes. Each of them wore black hats and held spears.
“Please come in.”
After saluting, they welcomed us into the office.
A solid mahogany office desk had been placed in the back of the spacious office. Behind it sat a young man with the back turned to us.
He must be the Grand Duke of Rivalsi. Although I could only see his back, his body was lean. His slightly long, silver, hair was eye-catching.
He wore a formal outfit, one that resembled a military uniform.
The person seemed to be gazing at the tapestry hanging on the wall at the back of the room.
Rivalsi was also famous for its production of woolen fabrics. However, in recent years, it had lost to the fine textiles of the Eastern countries and the mechanical products of Orleans.
Still, the quality of Ninorsk’s woolen fabrics were high. The tapestry had also been beautifully woven with mysteriously shaped purple flowers as its motif.
It should be the coat of arms of the Grand Duke of Rivalsi.
“Do you know the name of this flower?”
The grand duke, with his back still turned to us, asked me in a low, calm, voice.
I was confused by the question and answered without expressing my greeting. Regardless, my heart was calm.
“It’s the ‘Heath’—the flower of the Republic of Ninorsk. In the republic, it’s said to be a special flower that is only allowed to be used by the three grand dukes as their coat of arms.”
“As expected, Lady Alisa is knowledgeable. Heath is a flower that blooms beautifully even in wastelands. It has a mysteriously-shaped petal, one which attracts people’s eyes.”
“The Republic of Ninorsk is the same, isn’t it?”
“That’s right. Ninorsk is a republic with nothing, but that doesn’t mean nothing is born here. We’re proud of our country.”
His voice was much softer than I expected.
I knew that the grand duke had been succeeded, but I didn’t know the exact details.
Thus, the grand duke turned around. His silver hair swayed lightly.
The grand duke was surprisingly fair and beautiful. Despite his gentle atmosphere, his jade-colored eyes weere impressive.
Being such a prestigious aristocrat and having such an appearance must had surely made him popular in the social circles.
However… I loved Alex-sama more.
He stood up.
“I’m grateful for your coming all the way to my Ninorsk. I’m the Grand Duke of Rivalsi, Knutgrieg.”
***T/N: The second male lead…!!
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