3 – 3
As has been said before, the Montchat are a branch family of the royal family of Sonnenlicht.
Several hundred years ago, the brother of the King at the time began the colonization of the Mohnton territory.
He cleared and cultivated the marshy swamplands of Mohnton, establishing towns and beginning the excavation and export of manastones. In other words, the progenitor of the House of Montchat.
And that founder was served by four key aides. Those four, who accompanied him from the kingdom’s capital to help him tame that wild frontier, were granted rank and peerage, with their descendant families serving the Montchat family ever after.
One of them was the Ende family. With a lineage of strong magical power, their house has given rise to many powerful spellcasters over the years.
Another was the Brandt family. They were known for their deft skill and handiwork. It is said that they were the family who played a key role in the development of the manastone mining techniques still used today.
Next was the Lörrich. They were gifted diplomats who served as the Montchat’s family’s brains.
Finally, the Meyerheim family. Ever since the founding of their family, they had been renowned for their martial prowess, and also served as the head of the four subordinate families.
The two of them sat in Alois’ private room in the afternoon. On the table where the cakes from their afternoon tea would usually be piled, instead dusty old books and a fountain pen were laid out. Camilla didn’t even have a chance to raise the point of doing something about his rough skin as she listened quietly to the unusually talkative Alois’ lecture.
But, when she heard a name that was familiar to her, she couldn’t help but interrupt.
“Like Günter Brandt? The cook? That man is actually a noble?”
That can’t be, she thought to herself. He was incredibly boorish and crude, there was no way he had any sort of title. He was far more suited to yelling in a kitchen than exchanging pleasantries at a ball.
Alois, sitting opposite to Camilla, nodded as he unfurled a map next to a book with the expanded family tree of the Mohnton nobility.
“Yes. That house were once hereditary baronets. The Brandt family has already collapsed, however, so that title has been revoked. This all happened before Günter was born, so it’s hard to see him as much of a noble.”
“It was his Great-Grandfather that brought ruin on the house. Apparently, they lost out in a conflict with another family. Afterward, the Brandt family name fell into obscurity. In this land, the family lineage carries even more weight than it does back in the capital.”
Just like how Günter was now, the Brandt family were known to be boisterous yet ultimately good people. They also were unique in how they actively resisted the chains of traditions that bound the families of the Mohnton territory. Yet, their lack of political subtlety and know-how eventually became their downfall.
Their noble rank was also the lowest of the four houses. Needless to say, they never got along with the other noble families. In a way, their downfall was inevitable because of that.
In Mohnton, excluding the fallen Brandt family, the influence of these founding aristocratic houses could not be underestimated. The members of the Brandt family found it hard to find honest livings after their house’s fall, dogged as they were by the new stigma their name held amongst the other houses. They retreated to the shadows, doing their best to live quietly.
It was in that way Alois found Günter. When Alois was originally raised up to a lord, he underwent the customary inspection tour of the region, and by sheer coincidence Günter was working as a chef in a restaurant he happened to eat at.
“In this land, you can roughly estimate a family’s standing by their hair colour. In the case of the Brandt family, their red hair always stands out.”
Alois admired the level of skill that went into the dish he ate and asked to meet the chef straight away. The person who emerged from the back of the kitchen was a rough looking man with bright red hair, characteristic of the Brandt family.
He was the eldest son of the direct heir to the Brandt lineage. His name was Günter Brandt.
“It would have been a shame if he just wallowed in obscurity like that. The Brandt family had always been known for their dexterity and skill, after all. I thought that he could help me with a lot of things, not just cooking.”
However, for better or worse, that’s not how it turned out. Ever since their downfall, the Brandt family had dedicated themselves to the profession of cooking. All the extended family members were living in hiding in the city, but once Alois found out about this he allowed them to openly run their own restaurants. Alois’ plan to employ their skilled fingers for all sorts of means may have fallen through, but he was still a saviour to the Brandt family.
– So that’s why he said that he was indebted.
As she listened to Alois’ story, Camilla remembered what Günter had said back in the kitchen. Maybe he wasn’t bluffing when he said that he could ‘make restaurants quake’ after all? If he had an entire kitchen of family members just like his loud self in the kitchen, it was possible.
Hmph, Camilla rested her hand on her cheek as she breathed out. Seeing that he had managed to gain her interest on at least one key point, Alois’ expression was caught somewhere between satisfaction and relief.
“The Brandt family were merely baronets, but the other families are of higher rank. The Ende and Lörrich families are both baronial houses. The head of the Meyerheim family has always been a viscount. Because each family prefers not to mix their blood as much as possible, these houses always have their own unique physical characteristics in their offspring’s hair. The Brandt family are redhaired. The Ende family are a golden blonde. The Lörrich are light brown. Whilst the Meyerheim are a chestnut brown instead. Naturally, there are sometimes exceptions.”
Hmm hmm, Camilla thought about the hair colour of the servants in the mansion as she nodded along.
Certainly, a lot of the servants could be classified by the hair colours Alois had mentioned. In particular, the more senior level employees. Amongst the senior employees, the highest proportion of them were from the Ende family. After that, the Meyerheims. She couldn’t think of anyone with that particular brand of light brown hair though.
The one who always stood tall. The one who always glared at Camilla. The one whose eyes never concealed their loathing. Brown hair streaked with strands of grey, braided tightly behind her head. The image of a woman who seemed to have a perpetual scowl floated through her mind.
“…Then, Gerda is a member of the Lörrich family, is that it?”
“Yes. She’s the older sister of the current head of the House of Lörrich. True to her family’s fame, she’s skilled in politics and has no qualms about voicing her views. That said, she’s also very firm and inflexible.”
To say that she had her differences with and objections to Camilla would be an understatement. Gerda was a person fully wrapped up in the age-old familial traditions of this land.
The bitterness she felt towards Camilla stemmed from the deep respect for the customs handed down through the families of Mohnton. As a result, they had a deep distrust for outsiders. These were families that jealously guarded their bloodlines, after all, only intermarrying within their own houses. No matter how high their peerage may have been wherever it was they come from, they had no love for anyone who came from outside the territory.
– But, this is taking it too far.
The other servants merely talked about Camilla behind her back. However, Gerda didn’t pretend to hide her hostility and would often tell Camilla exactly what she thought of her. Wasn’t this really going far further than merely being ‘firm’?
“Did that catch your interest?”
As he watched Camilla’s face twist in doubt, Alois flipped over a page of the family tree. On the page he showed her was a complete record of all the successive heads of the Lörrich, complete with the length of their tenures and a list of their achievements. It was a history book that was written cover to cover in the finest of print. As he pressed it towards her, Alois smiled at Camilla as if he had been practicing it in a mirror.
“We can study into the night. This land has such a long history, so there’s so much the two of us can talk about.”
As Alois’ eyes, surrounded by puffy toad-like skin, twinkled as they stared at her, Camilla shook her head.
I’m sorry, I’d rather not.
I’m sorry, she had said.
But Camilla’s refusal had been in vain, as from then on her afternoon tea time with Alois instead became study sessions.
I’m surprised it took this long to get to an infodump chapter.