Mariwa Toinette was silently offering a prayer when a strong sense of uneasiness struck her, and she opened her eyes.
Her current location was a chapel within a small church situated in the downtown area of the imperial capital. She was sitting in a corner of the pews and offering a prayer to one who was long dead. She knew that usually such prayers were given in front of tombstones, but the woman’s bones were laid to rest in a place that Mariwa could not enter. And so once a year, she would search for a church where she could pray alone and in the quiet, and offer her prayers.
But just now, something unexpected and disagreeable had entered her heart.
She narrowed her eyes in displeasure and looked around the room.
Everything happens for a reason, that was the rule of the world. There must be a reason for this as well. And so she looked about her, but this poor church was quite bare with only the necessities placed here in the chapel. There was nothing that caught her eye. The usual time for prayers had already past, and so there was no one here, no one to see her, other than the statue of the holy mother.
Then what was it that had troubled her heart just now? Never quick to give up, she continued to search the room until one of the doors to the side opened.
Mariwa couldn’t help but remark when she saw the person who had opened it. The person who had exited the room next to the chapel was a familiar ten-year-old boy with black hair.
“Leon, was it?”
“Ah, Miss Mariwa?”
It was the boy that her current student, the duke’s daughter, Christina had dragged around with her the other day. He was unlikely to have anything to do with the sudden feeling of unease that she had, but she remembered him well. He must have been quite the child to have been able to stick with Christina for as long as he did.
“I’m surprised a noble such as yourself would come to this downtown church… Is Christina with you?”
“Heavens, no. It is only me. I’ve just come here to pray a little, and to meet an acquaintance who works here. Why are you here, Leon?”
It was a chance encounter, but both Leon and Mariwa had met before. They had a common acquaintance in Chris, and so the two were able to talk without too much thought towards differences in status and age.
The only reason she could think for a child to be in church was Sunday school, but today was a weekday. But it did not seem like he was here to worship either.
“The priest here gives you private lessons if you ask. I’ve taken advantage of that and started to study under him.”
That was an impressive reason. There was a certain pupil of hers who could use such an attitude towards one’s studies.
“I am very impressed Leon, and hope you do very well. …But, what has made you want to study so hard, all of a sudden?”
“Well, you know. You can take the entrance exam at the Royal Academy when you turn fourteen. Since you’re Christina’s private tutor, that must mean that she has been studying for a while. So, I feel like I might as well study as early as I can as well.”
“…So you want to enroll at the Royal Academy.”
Mariwa knitted her brows slightly.
One would have many doors opened to you in terms of a profession if you graduated from the Royal Academy. But it was also a school where many were nobles, and there would be a strong prejudice against those that were not. Why, it was not that long ago where the very school had strong traditions of looking down on women, regardless if they were nobles. Mariwa herself had enrolled at a complicated period when it had just become coeducational. She had been maybe too brilliant, for her memories of her life then were that she always felt stifled.
She had heard that things had gotten better since then, but from her own personal experiences, she could not feel good about encouraging this child to enroll.
“I wouldn’t advise it. There are other schools, such as the town’s school. If you have good grades there, you will have just as many good opportunities opening up for you.”
“Hmm. That’s what I was considering until recently, and I thought it would be stupid to go to go to a school with nobles, but… After talking with Christina, I felt it might not be too bad.”
“She is an exception. Most nobles are spoiled and have a bloated sense of self-worth. They believe that this status they were born with makes them superior, and it makes them act arrogantly.”
“Eh? That sounds just like Christina.”
That was exactly right.
Mariwa was shocked speechless by this unexpected retort. Leon laughed.
“It’s not just Christina, who is as typical a noble as there is. But the other girl she was with was normal as well, it was fine. Mishuli is, well… I don’t quite understand Mishuli…”
He was probably remembering her bizarre actions during that time when she threw him to the ground. She couldn’t help but sympathize with him as he started to get a far-away look in his eyes.
Even Mariwa felt a little strange when she thought back on it. She had realized that the young, blue-eyed and blonde haired adopted daughter of Duke Noir appeared shy on the outside, but was, in fact, more trouble than her older sister. What was most sad, was that this was no surprise to her when considering who her mother was.
That woman who had the same hair and eye color. She was so innocent and bright, a little spoiled and manipulative, but more than anything, she was persistent.
“Also, even you, Miss Mariwa. You are a lot easier to talk to than I had thought. So I should be fine.”
“…Ah. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you after you get in.”
“Don’t you worry. …Oh, by the way, Miss Mariwa. Do you know the name of the young girl with chestnut colored hair who was with Christina?”
“Chestnut… You mean Lady Surfania. Both Lady Surfania and Lady Chris will enroll at the Royal Academy without a doubt. I am sure you will meet her again should you be accepted.”
Mariwa saw Leon repeat the name of the chestnut-haired and mahogany eyed daughter of a marquis, and shrugged. Perhaps she was the reason that he was determined to enter the Royal Academy, but she was not so immature as to make fun of an innocent young boy. He may have held enough of a fondness for her to want to become friends, but it didn’t seem to be a strong attraction. This boy seemed like he didn’t even know that Christina was the daughter of a duke. So she would not mention what kind of distance lay between a commoner and someone like Surfania.
But then again, considering recent affairs in this and neighboring countries, it may not be long until they entered an age where there were no nobles or commoners.
“Well, I’m going home now. Goodbye, Miss Mariwa.”
Slowly, gently, the times were changing. The current generation might have failed, but perhaps the day would come when future generations would bring to fruition things that others could not. Mariwa held such hopes in her breast as she saw Leon leave the church. Then, she once again faced the chapel with folded hands and closed eyes. An exciting idea came to her.
Revolution of the times.
If the person who would start it and stand in the front of such a movement were her own student, she would be at least a little pleased. Currently, she lacked the knowledge, experience, and personal connections. But as young as she was, she had the charisma to attract both nobles and common people. Mariwa had no intention of forcing such a role on her, and she would do everything that she could to raise her to be a lady that aligned with what high society expected. But surely, she could dream about that day when she exceeded her teachings, what might happen then.
The abolishment of the aristocracy.
Evelia Eduord, the king’s sister, had failed at this and was now gone from this world. She had been buried along with her plans. Mariwa closed her eyes to offer a prayer for her. There was an unusual smile on her face over this thought that was pleasant but yet useless.
To her current pupil, Christina Noir.
With a silent hope in her heart, a soft laugh escaped her lips.