4 (3) – 5
Just what do you need in order to hold a festival?
Flowers, music and food. Not to mention lots of stalls and stands.
“I guess I’m gonna have to rely on a bunch of people, huh?”
Klaus groaned to himself as he walked through Blume’s streets.
It was a clear winter’s morning. Just as they had been doing every day recently, Camilla was taking a tour of the main square in town alongside Alois, Klaus and Nicole.
The reason they were doing so was to make plans for the main area the festival would take place in.
The largest town square in Blume was asymmetrically designed, laid out in a strange shape with its east and west borders demarcated by flowerbeds. Because the majority of Blume wasn’t built on flat land, there was a series of steps that led down into square that came together at the base as a landing.
Along the outside of the steps, water flowed. Flowing slowly down the layered steps, the water eventually pooled into a fountain at the base where the bottom of the stairs all interceded. Even though the waterways were covered with snow now and the fountain was frozen over, Camilla was still stunned by just how beautiful the square was.
In the land of Mohnton, where entertainment was taboo and modesty was considered the highest virtue, people tend to avoid ostentatious architecture or clothing. That was clearly seen in Einst. Even in Blume, all the buildings and walls were uniformly painted white. There weren’t many eye-catching attractions such as this fountain.
However, in its own way, Blume was a beautiful town. Even though the buildings seemed uniform and without glitz or glamour, they all possessed a simple kind of elegance to them.
“Would it be possible to open stalls at the base of the square? It’s connected straight onto the main street and it would be simple to arrange the stalls neatly as well.”
As Camilla looked around the square with glittering eyes, Klaus calmly assessed the plaza. ‘Where would we put the band?’ ‘Just what pattern should the stalls be arrayed in?’, along with Alois, those were the kinds of serious topics they were discussing.
“After sorting out the food for the festival, there’s a lot of work that’ll need doing. We need a lot of manpower… Manpower, huh…?”
“We also need people to serve as security. Klaus, are the people from your house not useable?”
“Have you seen the people there who are aligned with me? None of them are exactly muscle heads. Well, maybe I could try talking to aunty about it.”
Alois crossed his arms as he thought. Although Klaus has become a powerful candidate in the emerging succession crisis, there were still quite a few people throwing their weight behind Franz and Lucas.
Especially those who count themselves amongst the vigilante militia. Since Lucas placed such an emphasis on military affairs, it only made sense that those supporting arms flocked to his banner. But as Klaus himself admitted, he wasn’t truly compatible with military affairs. Perhaps having such people on his side wouldn’t be such a huge advantage.
As Alois was lost in thought, Klaus shook his head.
“Ahh, stop overthinking things all the time! It’s annoying!”
Klaus turned his head away from Alois, intentionally saying that quite loudly. Then abandoning what it was they were talking about in the first place, he waved to Camilla and Nicole who were wandering about the square.
“Let’s go to the next place! We need to organize food and clothes, right! And flowers too!”
“If it’s about costumes, then I can make them.”
After not getting the answer they were looking for from the restaurants in town, they eventually came back to the underground cellar. To Camilla, who had lost a bit of heart after talking to all the owners, Mia said that.
“Well, I can’t do it alone, but I’m sure we can organize something if I ask my father. Our family make clothes for a living, after all.”
As usual in that cellar lately, the five young musicians were practising with one another.
Now that they had Klaus’ protection, someone with increasing power in town, there wasn’t anyone who would disturb their practice sessions. Even if there were people who deeply disapproved, there wasn’t much they could openly do against them.
Even the vigilante militia couldn’t directly interfere, either. Since Victor’s group didn’t feel the pressure of having to hide away anymore, they could relax and play.
It would still be difficult to describe their performances as ‘good’. At the very least, it resembled music now, unlike the racket it used to be. If they continued like this, when the day of the festival arrived, the townsfolk might actually be able to bear listening to it.
Meanwhile, Victor’s fiancée, Mia, was keeping the five of them company.
She had played the part of the audience, brought them all food and supported them in any way she could, but it seemed she was a little lonely not being able to participate herself. When the talk of costumes arose, she jumped in so passionately that Camilla and the others were taken aback.
“I don’t just want to watch, I want to be able to help everyone out somehow as well. If it’s clothes, even if I can’t read a musical score, I can help Victor and the rest, right?”
“Mia…! You’re helping just by being here supporting us in little ways! But if Mia makes us costumes, that’ll definitely make me want to try harder.”
Hearing Mia’s words, Victor who was sitting beside her as he took a break looked like he had found a second wind of inspiration. That expression caught halfway between joy and pride was heartwarming to see.
“If you’ve got time to say embarrassing things like that, then you’ve got time to practice.”
Clapping Victor on the back, Mia cut off his honeyed words with her own curt ones. Even though it seemed cold, the smile didn’t disappear from Victor’s face.
Camilla sighed as she watched those two lovebirds.
“It would have been excellent if we could have sorted out the food problem as well…”
She bitterly remembered the hushed replies of the restaurant owners that they visited. It wasn’t as if they were flat out rejecting any involvement, but it was more that none of the restaurants wanted to be the first ones to dip their toes in the water. It was the first time a festival like this would be held in Blume, so they couldn’t anticipate the number of customers that would participate. What’s more, they were worried that they would draw the ire of the vigilante militia just by participating. Also, any of the restaurants that expressed support for Klaus could go down with him, should Klaus lose out dramatically in the succession struggle.
It wasn’t as if Camilla didn’t understand where the restaurant owners were coming from. It was no easy thing to be the first one to take a leap of faith. She sympathized.
But, that wouldn’t stop her from venting her complaints about it.
“Even though it’s such a good business opportunity, they’re all so cowardly and foolish!”
“Well, even if you say that…”
Trying to calm down the obviously irritated Camilla, Klaus kept going.
“Maybe if we brought along the Old Man, things might go differently.”
“Ugh,” Camilla’s mouth twisted. The ‘old man’ Klaus was referring to could only be the Montchat family’s most senior chef. He had accompanied them to Blume, but Camilla hadn’t seen sight nor sound of him for the entirety of their stay so far, like they were both perfectly avoiding each other.
Truth be told, he had been invited to join them for today’s outing. But after saying ‘I won’t go if Camilla is there’, he stayed back at the Lörrich mansion.
“Are you going to say that it is my fault?”
Not even trying to hide her dissatisfaction, Camilla pouted.
The reason why Günter was avoiding Camilla was wholly because of Camilla’s earlier faux-pas. ‘The one I love will always be Prince Julian!’, after she said that, Günter, who had a deep respect for Alois, had been avoiding all conversation with Camilla.
Günter was the one who had been teaching Camilla more about cooking. Inside the Montchat manor, he was one of the few people that Camilla could speak comfortably with. But in this situation where neither of them spoke to one another, Camilla was left alone with her thoughts.
– It wasn’t as if I was trying to hurt him.
However, people’s hearts were delicate things. It wasn’t a lie that she loved Prince Julian. Even if she had come to Mohnton as Alois’ potential fiancée, it would be unreasonable to expect her to suddenly fall in love with him.
But, well, perhaps she didn’t have to say it like that. Camilla realized she wasn’t blameless. Thinking that way, she did feel a sense of responsibility about it. Thanks to that lingering debacle, the preparations for the festival had been delayed.
“Oh, you’re looking down?”
Looking at Camilla, who avoided his gaze, Klaus laughed. Then, although it was difficult to tell whether or not he was trying to cheer her up or not, Klaus approached Camilla.
“It’s alright, it’s alright, don’t worry about it too much. That Old Man is just sulking, that’s all.”
Camilla looked up to glare at Klaus, who had brought his face quite close. Startled by just how near he was, she tried to pull back, but Klaus pressed forward. Getting even closer, he cupped a hand around his mouth and whispered softly into Camilla’s ear. He was extremely close.
“It’s like he’s sulking in Alois’ place. That guy, you know he won’t throw his toys out of the pram, even when he’s like that!”
As he said ‘that guy’, Klaus’ eyes shifted to look at Alois. As if taking Klaus’ invitation, Camilla also glanced at Alois.
“He’s not getting angry. He’s hardly complains at all either. Even when someone confronts him with something unpleasant, how often does he just sit there with a smile and take it? Even when the woman he likes is this close with another man?”
Alois seemed to finally have noticed Camilla and Klaus’ eyes on him. Seeing that the two of them were close enough that Klaus could whisper in her ear like that, Alois blinked in surprise. But then, his expression changed to one of a bitter smile as he spoke out to them.
“Is there something on my face?”
As Alois called out to them gently, Klaus laughed mockingly. Gracefully avoiding Camilla’s hand as she tried to push him away, he left her to go and help Victor and the others with their practice.
As Klaus left, Alois approached in turn. As he watched Klaus leave, there was a slight frown on his face.
“Was he bothering you?”
Camilla’s answer was rather quiet as she looked at Alois. She was annoyed at Klaus, who was running his mouth like that… But she couldn’t deny his words.
It was very rare to see Alois lose his temper. Sometimes he would raise his voice. Other times he might use strong words. But rather than getting genuinely angry, it was closer to scolding someone out of worry.
At times, she had seen him full of joy. At other times, deeply aggrieved. She knew for a fact that he wasn’t cold and emotionless.
But, there was something on Camilla’s mind.
“Lord Alois, ah… It doesn’t bother you at all? Seeing Klaus and I like that?”
Like that… In other words, what some bystanders might call ‘intimate’.
Klaus was clearly only doing that on purpose to prove his point about Alois, but he had gone too far. Camilla and Alois had never been intimate to the point of being able to whisper in each other’s ears. Of course, she hadn’t given Klaus permission to do that at all and was still angry about it, but she would have to chastise him later.
Alois’ smile seemed to widen a little at Camilla’s words.
It wasn’t a smile of joy or any sort of happiness, it was a smile that betrayed no feelings.
“I think it’s a good thing to have such close friends, Camilla.”
Alois kept smiling as he said that, his voice soft and calm.
There was something about that attitude that Camilla couldn’t be satisfied with.
An attitude that tried to be gentle to everyone, never seeking to hurt their feelings. Trying not to put whoever he is talking to in a tough spot. Whilst keeping what he really wants to say in check, he trots out a nicety, never airing his complaints or grievances.
Trying not to make trouble for anyone. As a person, it was commendable, but…
Camilla finally found the words to describe the distinct impression of Alois that she had held for some time.
– It’s as if he’s trying to be a ‘good boy’.
Edited by: ApoPie
Sorry for the break, but y’know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.