Chapter 17 – Preparation for the Ball
While there was a new mystery, apparently, I was now going to attend the Red Rose Ball.
The royal ball that I dreamed of as a child!
To think that the day would come where I could attend!
What kind of place is it?
Perhaps it will be like a fairytale, and some foreign prince will fall in love with me at first sight.
As my cheeks flushed at this wild fancy, I suddenly realized a certain problem with all of this.
“Wait. If I am to attend such an upper class ball, wouldn’t I have to have the proper manners and be able to dance?”
“Of course. It is the most obvious thing.”
“But I don’t know anything about manners or dancing.”
I said, and then Luke chuckled.
“Then you must practice.”
And so began my ball training under Master Luke.
The first thing we did was a test of my current strength.
It was just to see to what degree I knew about etiquette and what was considered to be common knowledge. However, Luke sighed at my catastrophically bad scores.
“Well, I am not too surprised.”
“I cannot help it! There is no one to teach you such things in the world of commoners.”
“But we only went over things that they taught us at the academy.”
I looked away and Luke chuckled again.
“You really are hopeless when it comes to things that don’t interest you, Noelle. Your scores with anything that weren’t related to magic always caused great despair for the teachers.”
“I was doing my best. But try as I might, I could not do things that I wasn’t interested in.”
“And yet when it came to magic, you got scores as good as mine. And they treated me like some prodigy.”
“Hehe. Do continue.”
“That’s enough praise. You need to study hard now, Noelle.”
I wrote everything down, read it repeatedly and memorized.
It was difficult, when I’d rather be thinking of other things, but I realized that I was able to push through now in ways that I couldn’t as a student.
Perhaps it was because I had become used to doing things that I didn’t want to do at the Magic Artificer Guild.
Just bear it and do it over and over. And then it won’t be so hard.
And so I never gave up on things.
I knew that all too well now.
In life, you just never knew what skills might become useful.
Besides, Luke was rather good at teaching.
No matter how many times I made mistakes, he continued to teach me without looking annoyed.
He really hasn’t changed. I smiled and felt nostalgic.
Like this, I managed to learn the bare minimum when it came to knowledge. The real problem was dancing.
“…Why are you moving like that? You look like a fish flapping about on dry land.”
“What? Surely my dance form is nothing but the most graceful and elegant?”
“Then let’s do it in front of a mirror.”
Oh, please. What are you on about, Mr. Luke.
I am dancing perfectly. But when I saw myself in a great mirror, the shock was enough to make me speechless.
“W-what is… That is not me…”
“Unfortunately, it is you.”
Luke said with a sigh.
“It can’t be. I was always rather athletic as a child. There was no one better when it came to tree-climbing and beating wicked brats.”
“I know. That’s just the kind of story I’d expect you to bring up.”
“I went around beating all the bullies, and they called me ‘The most terrible woman of the west.’”
“You really are a unique person.”
Luke sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
“Surely this is more about rhythm and artistic sensibility? Things you don’t excel at, Noelle.”
Indeed, I was hopeless when it came to music, singing, painting and anything artistic.
Well, I was not going to do things that didn’t interest me.
They were boring, and I was bad at them, so they were to be avoided.
“Well, leave it to me. I’ll ensure that you at least have the bare minimum dancing ability.”
And so began the battle that I called, ‘Luke, the skilled instructor vs Me, the person hopelessly lacking in dancing sensibilities.’
Luke really did do his best, but I was so bad that I started to become exasperated at myself.
Ultimately, the day before the ball arrived, and my waltz had not reached the level that we were aiming for.
“I-I’ll stay a little longer and practice. You can go back, Luke.”
“No, you must return as well. Tomorrow is the big day, and it’s important that you are not tired.”
“But, if I go like this, I am likely to make mistakes tomorrow.”
“Then make mistakes. I’ll cover for you.”
“But what if it is so bad that we can’t recover. I might embarass you.”
“I don’t mind. It can be the biggest failure, but it will be a good memory if I’m with you, Noelle.”
“Now hurry along. Eat dinner with your mother.” He said, forcing me to return home.
Even during work, Luke treated me with care.
I was grateful for it, and this was such a comfortable workplace, unlike the previous one, but…
At the same time, I knew…
When Luke wasn’t around, I had looked at the dance guide that he had brought.
There were a few steps I didn’t quite remember, and so I wanted to check them. However, all thoughts flew from my head the moment that I opened the book.
The numerous notes.
They were filled with text on how best to teach me in a way that I would understand.
He had prepared all of this for me.
But I had never seen him do such a thing during work or during our breaks.
So he must have prepared all of this at home.
After so much effort, I could not stand around and do nothing.
“Where are you going?”
After eating dinner, mother called out to me as I was leaving.
“I’m going to practice a little outside.”
And so in a corner of the city at night, I practiced the dance.
Since there was supposed to be a full moon tomorrow, I had hoped to see a beautiful moon in the sky, but it was covered by clouds.
On a moonless night, all alone, I practiced the steps.
Please, allow me to dance the waltz tomorrow, so that Luke’s efforts won’t be in vain.