Chapter 3: Lillia and Treize
The 10th day of the fourth month of the year 3306.
Roxche’s capital was situated in the northeastern part of the continent.
The capital city had been created at the founding of the confederation, well away from the border and any coasts from which the enemy could mount a sneak attack.
The city, measuring at about 30 kilometers in diameter, was known as the Special Capital District and was not a part of any Roxchean member state. The word ‘capital’ in Roxchean referred not to the capital of a member state, but the Capital District.
The city infrastructure had been planned meticulously, as it had not taken the place of any preexisting settlement. Key government buildings formed the core with a business district encircling it, which was itself encircled by a residential district.
The city was a sprawling metropolis of buildings, covered mostly in brown brick and pavement save for small bubbles of green in the parks. It was an unusual sight in Roxche, which was composed mostly of vast, green plains.
The Capital District was Roxche’s largest, most inhabited, and most densely populated city.
It was the center of Eastern culture and a subject of admiration for those who lived outside.
On the outskirts of the city, in the 9:30 direction, was the 4th Capital Secondary School.
Students between the ages of 12 and 18 attended secondary school for the purpose of moving on to university. As apparent from its name, the 4th Capital Secondary School was the fourth to be built in the Capital District, its student body numbering at over a thousand.
The campus was surrounded by apartment buildings, each side measuring at approximately 600 meters.
It housed many buildings, a large athletics field, gymnasiums, and a student dormitory in neat or haphazard formations.
There was a light westerly wind and a slight cloud cover on that warm day.
Two girls in green uniforms and spring coats were on the grounds of the 4th Capital Secondary School.
One had long brown hair.
The other, black hair tied into pigtails.
The brown-haired girl smiled as she said something, holding out a photograph to her friend.
The pigtailed girl stared at the photo. Three seconds later, she lost consciousness.
The brown-haired girl panicked.
* * *
“Spill it, Treize! Who was this mysterious ‘Hilda’ from the train?!”
It was evening on the same day, in a deserted classroom.
“C’mon, Lillia. Strauski must’ve told you by now. And could you please try to remember that three of my ribs are still healing?”
The brown-haired girl from earlier was gripping the collar of a black-haired boy.
Both were in uniform, with green blazers and a skirt and pants respectively.
The boy was Treize Bain.
He had transferred to the school and moved into the dorms on the 2nd day of the month—eight days earlier. He was 17 years old, and had a slender but strong build thanks to his regular exercise regimen. On his left wrist was a chronograph.
The girl was Lillia Schultz.
She was 16 years old and a fourth-year at the school. Her hair cascaded down to her waist.
‘Lillia Schultz’ was the shortened form of her name (which she preferred to use), her official name being ‘Lillianne Aikashia Corazòn Whittington Schultz’. It was an unnecessarily long name by any standard.
The light of dusk seeped into the empty classroom.
The room was at the top floor of the building, and Lillia and Treize sat by the windows—as far from the hallways as possible. The curtains were closed to keep them hidden from anyone who might be on the grounds.
The situation almost had the makings of a romantic tryst, but reality was not so sweet.
“Urgh…fine. Can’t exactly interrogate you when we’re both on our feet,” Lillia said, slowly letting go. “Now siddown!”
“Is that an order, milady? And is this going to take long? I have to go back to the dorms and catch up on the curriculum,” Treize complained, making his displeasure clear. Lillia glared.
“That will depend on the answers you present, Your Highness.”
“Please don’t call me that. And please stop acting so formal, milady,” Treize begged, grabbing a chair off the desk and turning it over to sit.
“All right.” Lillia took a seat opposite him, letting her hair flow over the back of the chair. She seemed extraordinarily unhappy. “I won’t call you that. I won’t call you ‘Your Highness’ at school, okay?! And I won’t call you that outside, either! You’re just Treize. Always have been, always will be!” she hissed, in Bezelese like the rest of their earlier conversations.
Relief flooded Treize’s face as he smiled and placed a hand over his chest.
‘Treize Bain’ was a fake name. ‘Treize of Ikstova’ was the official designation of the boy, who was one of the few people in the world permitted to add the title ‘of Ikstova’ to his name.
Officially, the royal family of Iks was composed of Queen Francesca, her husband Sir Benedict, and their so-called only child, Princess Meriel.
Treize was Meriel’s twin (the twins would always argue about which one of them was the elder) and a child of Queen Francesca, but his existence was not revealed to the world because of an ancient rule in the royal family. The rule, however, had been put in place only to protect the secret of the Ikstova Pass. Now that the pass was known to the world, the rule no longer needed to be enforced. Perhaps Treize’s existence could be announced to the world someday.
At this point, however, he was only officially known to Iks’s royal guard, leading figures in the Roxchean government, and the royal families of Sou Be-Il, with whom the Ikstovan royals interacted.
Allison Schultz, a longtime friend of Queen Francesca, was also naturally in the know.
Allison’s daughter and Treize’s childhood friend Lillia Schultz had recently—and very loudly—joined this privileged group of insiders.
“Nobody’s gonna believe me if I tell them, ‘oh, the mysterious transfer student is actually a prince from some faraway kingdom’. This is like a bad radio drama!” Lillia cried.
“That’s cruel of you,” Treize sighed, puffing up his cheeks.
“And then they’ll start thinking I’m some sort of hopeless romantic!”
“This is no time for ‘oh right’s!”
For some time Treize calmly responded to Lillia’s rage, allowing her to vent.
“Ugh! If I’d known ahead of time, I wouldn’t have shown it to Meg! She’s completely obsessed with royalty—do you have any idea how hard it was to explain my way out of this?!”
“How did you explain it to her?”
“I used a lifetime supply of the word ‘coincidence’! I even told her I took a train from the Port Watts area! I’ve never been to Port Watts!”
“Ah, that’s from the fake itinerary they announced, right?” Treize nodded.
According to the official itinerary of Princess Matilda’s visit to Roxche the previous month, the princess had gone from the Capital District to Port Watts by train before returning home on a battleship.
However, the princess at Port Watts was a decoy. The real Princess Matilda had quietly visited the Kingdom of Iks before heading north by train with Treize and their bodyguards—Major Travas’s team—when she was caught up in a certain incident.
“So I had to tell her, ‘I actually wasn’t allowed to take a photo but managed to get special permission but I’m actually not allowed so please don’t actually tell anyone’!”
“That’s a few too many ‘actually’s in there.”
“And whose fault is all this?”
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry.”
“Anyway, I think I managed to convince Meg. I swear, I was sweating bullets back there…” Lillia exhaled. “Treize…”
Lillia leaned in close and lowered her voice.
“I wanted to clear something up. Who in the Capital District knows about you except for me and Mom and Major Travas? Spill it.”
She was demanding that Treize reveal a national secret. But he complied without hesitation.
“Let’s see…a few people high up in the Roxchean government. Not exactly sure how high or how many, though. Of course the president knows. I met him once before I started class here. He was a nice guy.”
“The pres- never mind. Not like he’s ever gonna come to our school. Who else?”
“A pair of royal guards. They’re a married couple living in the Capital District. Right now they’re staying at a rented apartment in the area, and if anything happens while I’m here they’ll claim to be my distant relatives and act as my legal guardians. They’re taking care of my motorcycle too.”
“Two guards, huh. I can’t believe you brought the bike.”
“I mean, I don’t know the Capital District too well, and I need to get around somehow…”
“Most normal secondary school students here don’t drive themselves, you know! Please don’t ride your motorcycle to school in uniform or something. It’s not against the rules but you’ll stick out like a sore thumb! You can take it outside the city, though.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. ‘Don’t bring the motorcycle to school’.”
“And what about your royal pendant? You have to change with your classmates for gym class and stuff. Our school has swimming classes too,” Lillia explained, more serious—and worried—than before.
Members of Iks’s royal family were required to always wear a golden pendant that proved their identity, The pendant was engraved with the royal’s personal crest.
“People here probably don’t know about the royal crests and stuff, but still…” Lillia trailed off. Like many people outside Iks, she had not recognized the pendant when she saw it for the first time.
“Thanks for being so concerned,” Treize replied with a smile, “but that’s not a problem.”
“I know most secondary school students—especially boys—don’t wear jewelry. And I know the school only lets you wear accessories for religious reasons. So I spoke to Mother and got special permission to not wear my pendant while I’m here. I left it at Ikstova.”
“That’s a relief. So you got the queen’s permission…which means it’s a breach of royal custom but you get a pass.”
“Uh-huh. It’s the first time anyone got this kind of permission in our 400-year history.”
Treize seemed completely oblivious to the scale of the permission he had received. Lillia shook her head in disbelief.
“Well, all right. I guess I don’t have to worry about the pendant.” Then she paused. “You left your guns back home, right? Didn’t bring a handgun to the dorms for ‘personal protection’ purposes or anything like that?”
Lillia was half-joking when she tossed out the question.
But Treize looked away.
“It’s stowed securely in my safe with the ammu-”
Lillia did not let him finish.
If anyone had been in the hallway, her voice would have pierced their eardrums.
“TREIZE! Do you have any intention of living like a normal student here?!”
* * *
It was only after the sun had completely set that Lillia finally finished educating Treize on the ways of student life at a Capital District secondary school and allowed him to return to the dorms.
In the lobby, Treize ran into a classmate and RA who helped him settle in at the dorms.
The RA was in school-issue sweats and on his way out for a routine run around the campus. He greeted Treize and gave him a curious look.
“Is everything all right? You look exhausted.”
Treize answered just as Lillia had instructed him earlier.
“Oh, no, nothing. It was some personal and really trivial stuff. I’m just a little tired. Wonder how long we have until dinner…”
“Not long. They’re serving steak tonight. It’s only twice a month and really good, so the lines’ll be longer than usual. If you wait too long you’ll miss it when it’s piping hot, so I suggest lining up ahead of time or near closing time once the lines are gone.”
It was great advice. Treize nodded.
“Thanks for the info. All right, time to get some protein into my system. Oh, but I have to clean up my safe…”
Treize staggered up to his floor.
His room was at the very end of the hall on the highest floor of the building. It was hard to go up and down the stairs every day, but his window gave him a great view of the front gates, the intersection outside it, and the apartment buildings surrounding the campus.
The RA watched Treize depart, wondering what had driven him to such a state.
“Well, I guess that’s his business.”
But he quickly shrugged off the thought and went on his way.
* * *
The spring dance party took place three days later.
Hosted by the school, it was only open to students in their fourth year or higher.
The talk of the campus in the aftermath of this year’s party was the couple who stepped up first, dancing with spectacular skill and a confusing mix of hostility and attachment.