Chapter 9 - Fundamental Bias

Kaede grasped the door frame as she limped out from the Princess' cabin. Her legs still felt like sticks of jelly. The lingering pain had long been replaced by a numbness that refused to go away after the ten hours of torment yesterday.

In fact, it was a testament to Samaran fast healing that she could walk at all.

Unfortunately, the expandable cabin had an elevated floor that raised it two steps above ground. Two short, wooden steps -- which barely even warranted a thought in everyday motion -- now proved a daunting hurdle.

Kaede stretched her stockinged leg down with reluctance. She had a decent footing; but as soon as her body's mass shifted over, even her light weight proved too much. The leg crumbled beneath her, hurling her towards the dirt and pebble ground.

"Kaede--!"

"Air Cushion!"

The distant spell came just in time. The air condensed beneath her, breaking her fall as though a giant, deflating balloon.

"Kaede, are you alright?" Pascal called out as he and Sir Robert rushed up to help her stand.

"Sorry..." Kaede muttered, ashamed that she couldn't even walk by herself.

I feel like a crippled on rehab...

"You have nothing to apologize for," Pascal scolded.

There was no trace of his prideful or teasing smile. Her master wore only one expression today: tight-jawed brooding.

With the two men holding onto her arms, Kaede teetered over to a yew tree in the center of the clearing and sat down against its trunk.

"How was calling her name supposed to help anyway?" Pascal turned back to face Robert, who bit down on his lips in annoyance with himself.

"Pascal... don't be a jerk," Kaede retorted for the abashed armiger. "I'm glad you broke the fall, but not everyone thinks as fast on their feet."

"No, he's right," Robert sighed as his eyes bore a hole into the ground. "I'm never helpful when I could have helped."

The gloomy dejection was in stark contrast to the usual bright demeanor of this boyishly handsome knight.

It made Kaede cast a scowl in her master's direction, only to bounce off his thick skin completely.

...Although to be fair, he wasn't exactly paying attention.

"Here we are -- Rejuvenate spell," Pascal settled on a page of the tome he had pulled out.

He then knelt down besides Kaede's outstretched legs:

"Give me a minute. I have not cast this for a long time."

Not being a specialized healer, there was no reason for him to dedicate the higher tier curative spells into muscle memory. But that meant he had to use spellcraft the hard way: by zoning out from the world and focusing all attention inwards, he would align his nerve conduits into the proper arrays necessary for shaping ether into manifesting the supernatural.

It left the other two in a brief moment of silence.

"How is Her Highness doing?" Sir Robert tentatively asked.

"Lady Mari is with her now, trying to get her to go back to sleep," Kaede spoke with care, hoping to suppress her own mixed emotions toward the Princess.

She had silently cried herself to sleep last night, only to wake up in the Princess' arms during the midst of a nightmare. Befuddled and agitated, her mind soon conjured a dire fear of impending rape -- a continuation of that one time when the Princess almost molested her.

Kaede struggled in panic at first, twisting and straining against the tight embrace. But as foreign tears fell wet against her cheeks, she came upon the realization that the Princess truly harbored no ill intent.

...In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Sylviane's sobbing apologies came in an endless stream, and they were not just sincere but made in almost desperation. Rather than merely the voice of someone with a guilty conscience, they felt like the confessions of a woman struggling to maintain her sense of identity -- one where she still controlled her own actions.

Sure, Kaede was still scared. Yes, she still felt bitter and sullen. But in the face of such emotional misery, it had been impossible for her not to feel sorrow and pity in return.

The barriers crumbled one at a time. Before long, Kaede found herself hugging Sylviane back. Hesitantly at first, but with soft, reassuring whispers as the night went on.

It was hard not to extend forgiveness when the other made such a hard landing in bleak, utter depression.

Besides, what else could I have done? She is Pascal's fiancée...

The two girls had stayed like that for the rest of the night: a princess and a familiar, on the cold floor and in each others' arms, silent except for the intermittent sobs and the occasional whisper.

...Though to be honest, both the situation and the posture had grown rather uncomfortable over time. Kaede was certainly glad when Lady Mari returned in the morning.

Talk about a 'unique' bonding experience...

Kaede could probably forgive the Princess this time. After all, Sylviane was truly sorry for it, no permanent damage had been done, and her own legs would recover in a day or two. As far as punishments went, the Princess certainly could have done far worse: being told to kneel for hours was closer to the disciplining of an old-fashioned Japanese schoolteacher than vindictive royalty.

Emotionally though, She was still struggling to persist that forgiveness.

It was hard to not feel bitter when she couldn't even walk by herself.

But... what about the next time? she worried.

...Will I even manage to walk away?

"Sir Robert, could you please tell me..." she began, her brain grasping at straws to cushion the blunt statement. "Is the Princess... mentally unstable, or something?"

Robert's brows furrowed back at that.

"Yes... and no."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

The young armiger sighed in exasperation, as though he was unearthing a horse that had long been beaten dead.

"It means Her Highness is bipolar -- her mood swings like the moon and its two faces. It's obvious to anyone who understands what bipolarity means. Except my father wouldn't actually classify her as bipolar because her bipolarity isn't severe enough."

Kaede thought back to yesterday, when Sylviane went from raging machine to sobbing wreck within the span of just a few hours.

"You call that 'not severe enough'?" Her eyebrows shot up in response.

"To be considered a proper mania episode, it has to last at least four days," Robert emphasized. "Yesterday was the worst one I've seen from Her Highness to date, but it hadn't even hit forty hours before subsiding..."

Four days! Kaede shivered at the prospect. If yesterday was any indication of how quickly events could spin out of control, she would be the victim of 'off with her head!' by the end of it.

"--Not to mention her 'hypomania' are a milder form of the bipolar 'mania' episodes -- ones where we could still talk her out of some poorly influenced decisions," Robert finished with a grave stare. "'True bipolarity' is utterly crippling."

The fact they had such precise, clinical terminology for psychological disorders was yet another sign of just how advanced Hyperion medical sciences were. It reminded Kaede of how much she grossly oversimplified a complex reality every time she slapped the label of 'pre-industrial society' upon this world.

"I take it that your father is some kind of expert in this field then?"

"As close as it gets," he half-shrugged. "Both of my parents are actually healers by training. They've campaigned alongside the army in every recent war Rhin-Lotharingie has fought and spent countless hours patching troops together. But over the years they realized that while physical wounds could be readily healed by curative spells, the mental scars that veterans accumulated were... much more difficult."

Of course, Kaede reflected. Not only do Hyperion mages live much longer, but magic can bring a level of destructive savagery onto the battlefield unseen on Earth until the World Wars...

Robert then offered her a wry smile. He wasn't instantly rebounding from his earlier moment of depression, but there was still a shadow of his usual cheery self as he explained with a personal passion:

"You could say they're pioneers in the field. In fact, they were the ones who coined the terms 'anxiety disorder' and 'mood disorder' to separate behaviors like panic attacks from the more common problems we see in everyday life -- like mania and depression."

"Why did you become a royal armiger if both of your parents are healers?" Kaede puzzled. "It's obvious that you're interested in their line of work."

"Well..." Robert scratched his cheek.

"You see, I had wanted to be a healer. I mean, like most boys, I wanted to be like my father, to help others and see the gratitude in my patients' smiles. But my parents? They wanted me to be a royal attendant... They told me that it was a rare opportunity, since they had become acquainted with the Emperor thanks to his interest in their work. They said that if I truly wanted to help other people, this was the better way."

Of course, Kaede nodded. The difference in scale was just incomparable.

A doctor might be able to help individuals. But those in position to advise powerful figures could influence policy that benefited entire nations. Only those blinded by idealism would fail to see which could contribute more to society as a whole.

Meanwhile, Robert took a deep breath as he leaned back against the yew tree.

"But you know, I was a child back then -- I could only see the results that were in front of me. So one day when I was ten, papa decided he had enough of my pestering to become a healer, and chose settle the matter once and for all."

His countenance clouded as he sat down besides Kaede and stared into the sky.

"I didn't grow up with many children nearby. So the animals of our elderly neighbor's farm sort of... became my friends. But on that day, papa told me that we could adopt one of their dogs or even a mare as our own. He asked me to pick my favorite... so I called Arly out..."

Even now, there was still a sense of lingering guilt as his vivid-green eyes darkened.

"He struck her down with a cutting spell right in front of me."

One thing was clear: for all the dedication his parents poured into researching the effects of trauma, they did not hesitate to inflict one upon their own son.

"I was appalled," his breathing hastened as outraged memories flashed across his eyes. "I screamed at papa, pleaded for him to heal her. But there he was, just calmly watching her thrash and whimper her life away. There was blood all over, but he paid it no mind and looked at me with the coldest eyes I had ever seen in him. He asked me which could be done faster, easier: to kill them all, one by one just like that, or to save even one of them from death."

...Just as a prince could kill men faster than any healer could save. Kaede thought.

Robert sighed once again before simpering at himself:

"I never did forgive him for that."

"That must have been... difficult," Kaede's wispy voice barely made out.

"It certainly changed me, changed how I looked at everything," he admitted. "It also made me realize that the world... was just really unfair. That becoming an adult means to accept reality for what it is, and not what it should be."

"Because you can harm others faster than you can help them?"

"Well... yes," he gave a tilted nod. "Also the fact that the Knight Hospitallers -- the only institution in Rhin-Lotharingie that offers training in both arts at the same time -- doesn't accept any men."

"But--Ouch!"

Kaede's attention swiveled back to Pascal as his healing spell finished with an electrifying shock.

"Owowowowow..." her legs seized up as the lingering electricity coursed through her nerves for several seconds.

"What was that for!?"

"As I have said: Rejuvenate spell," Pascal noted as he stood back up to stretch his legs. "There is a shock component in it to re-energize your nerves, or did you forget that time when Parzifal cast it on you after the assassination attempt on me?"

"My legs need healing, not electric shock therapy!"

"The shock is part of the healing spell though," Pascal puzzled back.

Recognizing that her cause was 'lost in translation', Kaede turned to Sir Robert for a third opinion.

"Well don't look to me," he replied. "I thought His Grace picked the right spell... but I'm no professional healer."


...


In the end, Pascal settled on applying several Climatize Invigorate spells on her legs. They kept her muscles bundled in a soothing warmth, all while the slow healing effect aided in repairing any damage inflicted from yesterday.

"So what are the full symptoms of this 'hypomania'?" Kaede asked.

After all, understanding was always the first step, and it seemed that Pascal had already received this 'talk'.

"A 'hypomania' episode is a period when her mental functions move into an elevated state," Sir Robert explained as he casually stood just five paces away. "There are actually many characteristics associated with it -- which is what makes these episodes difficult to identify. But the most common traits are hyperactivity, restlessness, inflated confidence to the point of grandiosity, and a general lack of inhibitions..."

"So... what Pascal suffers from all the time," Kaede nodded back earnestly.

"Hey!" her master retorted from the right, apparently offended.

It was actually a welcoming change from his dead-serious face. Furthermore, it also returned a real smile to Robert's countenance.

"The key difference is that 'hypomania' is an episodic event -- a specific, finite period of time when her personality deviates from the norm," Robert clarified. Then, with a humored nod to Pascal: "although Kaede isn't entirely wrong. Her Highness is more like Your Grace during these episodes than Your Grace would like to admit."

"I do not lack inhibitions!" the Landgrave shot back.

So you're not denying the 'grandiosity' then?

Meanwhile, Robert's eyebrows shot up:

"I heard Your Grace once painted the entire Königsfeld Academy in rainbow colors, then filled its corridors with glowing swarms of pink flamingos."

"That happened only once!"

"I'm sure Your Grace's academic advisor could give me a full list of similar examples if we asked," Robert stared back as though a real psychiatrist in diagnosis mode. "But don't worry: denial is a common initial response for all individuals suffering from such a condition."

Kaede had tried to suppress her laughter -- which turned into a rather feminine giggle that left both men with a tinge of red across their cheeks... albeit for very different reasons.

"But to be serious," Robert cleared his expression. "High confidence and self-esteem do tend to bloat one's perceived value of their own decision-making..."

Feeling a hint guilty for laughing at him, Kaede decided to defend her master this time:

"Pascal often argues with himself though. So his differing voices of reason is acting as his own self-checking inhibitor."

"Right," Robert simply nodded. "But Her Highness isn't used to being supremely confident. Her own self-doubts are what's normally holding her back; they make sure that every decision is thoroughly examined and reconsidered. But when you remove that and pump her full of self-assurance..."

She goes off the rails like a runaway train fueled by her own righteousness.

"Are you saying," Pascal's eyes suddenly widened. "That she becomes like this because she wants to be more confident in herself?"

"That's a theory," Robert shrugged back. "Honestly, even my parents have no idea. It may very well be a combination of factors, and the burdens on her as a Crown Princess is just one of them. All we know is that faekissed in general exhibit mood disorders with greater frequency, and that for Her Highness, the hyperactivity goes straight to her head when she enters 'hypomania' mode."

"What do you mean?"

Instead of responding, Robert pulled open one of his extradimensional belt pouches and reached into it. What came out was a stack of papers that he handed to Pascal:

"Speaking of which, Her Highness wanted these done today... or as soon as possible. Though I would suggest you discuss them with the senior lords and commanders first. Unlike Weichsel, the Rhin-Lotharingie military is still feudal; the various dukes have authority over their fiefdoms' battalions. It would be best if we snubbed as few prominent noses as possible."

"I know that," Pascal added irritably as he began to flip through them.

"What is it?" Kaede asked from the ground beside him.

"Charts for restructuring the army and various officer assignments for reorganizing the devastated battalions..."

With awe rising in his tone, Pascal then stared back at Sir Robert in disbelief:

"When did she manage this?"

"Last night, before she let Kaede back in and slept."

"Last night?" Pascal's jaw dropped. "She had but a few hours! It would take even a headquarters staff -- an entire team of people -- multiple days to examine the hundreds of personnel available and make such proposals!"

"Like I said: straight to her head," the royal armiger reiterated. "I dare say that her brain works even faster than yours when she is in one of these energized states."

"So these 'hypomania' episodes give her a boost to intelligence?" Kaede pondered aloud.

"--In exchange for her emotional self-control, yes," Robert nodded back. "It also gives her energy when she is exhausted; it offers her inspiration when she is stuck; it brings her courage when she stands against daunting odds; and these papers here are just another perfect example of what she can manage during a crisis."

Meanwhile, Pascal was still stunned speechless as he kept flipping through the papers, his own mental circuits already tapped to analyze her 'suggestions'.

"Of course, the trouble is that the more intense her episode, the less self-control she has; not to mention the worse her depression becomes when her mental high crashes afterwards," the armiger finalized as he glimpsed toward the Princess' cabin with concern.

"Is that why... you believe she'll make a good ruler? Despite her condition?" Kaede hesitantly asked.

Swiveling back around, Robert pursed his lips in deep thought.

"Maybe a little..." he admitted after a brief moment. "Though my main reason is simply that Her Highness is still a good person, especially between her episodes. Even at her worst, I do not believe that she would commit a blatant evil. She may toe the line, but not even her mania would be able to justify a true crime to herself.

"...Besides," he added, "if anything, I would support her for the throne because of this."

"Because you think the pros outweighs the cons?" Kaede's brows furrowed, not really convinced by the idea herself.

"No," Robert corrected her at once. "Because what makes her a little bit insane actually leaves her saner than most of us."

Kaede blinked back, not understanding, but the young armiger beamed in response:

"How long do you think it would normally take for a prideful sovereign to acknowledge their own failings?"


...


Pascal had barely said another sentence before departing, only claiming that he had best start the reorganization process immediately. Although before he left, he told Kaede that he would drop by the field kitchens and tell the maid Marina to come take care of her lady today.

Perhaps not surprising for a trained spy, Marina was multilingual and even had a native Lotharin accent. Combined with her servant status which had most people ignore her as part of the background, it made her the perfect candidate for discretely gathering information from the Lotharin forces -- especially the officers' tables as they shared meals and alcohol.

But as soon as Pascal walked out of sight, Sir Robert pulled Kaede's attention back with an expression of unease:

"Kaede, I... we, rather, owe you an apology."

"Why?" She felt her emotions tense. "It wasn't your fault for what happened yesterday."

"By we, I meant Mari and myself. We... didn't exactly try very hard to stop Her Highness yesterday..."

His statement only puzzled Kaede more. She remembered both of them kneeling on the ground and pleading to the Princess. If that wasn't 'trying very hard', then what was? They could hardly slap a royal highness and expect it to bring her back some sense. That only worked in fantasies. In reality, it would only land them in the oubliette.

"You put yourselves in her line of fire and begged for her to reconsider. What more could you have done?"

"Yes, we did that. In fact, we did everything we could think of to keep Her Highness from having His Grace flogged in public -- that would simply have been an unmitigated disaster..."

Robert exhaled a deep breath -- at least the worst scenario had been avoided.

"But... we didn't exactly try very hard to hold her back when she imposed an excessive punishment on you. That's why... both of us owe you an apology."

Kaede thought back. She had been too distraught over her own welfare at the time. However, it was true that neither of them offered anything more than verbal objections when Sylviane hauled Kaede outside and glued her legs to a rock.

At the time, she had thought it was simply because they saw it as a hopeless cause. But in hindsight...

Her emotions suddenly flared as she felt wronged for a second time.

"Excessive?" she hissed. "It was unwarranted! At least Pascal was to blame for some of the fault. I was innocent!"

The armiger sighed as though he expected this.

"Pardon me, but no, you're not," Robert insisted as he stared back into her aggrieved gaze. "How would you like it if your fiancé was sleeping with another woman? Whatever the circumstance?"

"But that's--!"

"You must remember that the higher an individual's social status, the more they value reputation and image; for royalty, this becomes critical as legitimacy is above all," he added sternly. "Infidelity towards a sovereign is a capital offense for a reason -- because even the illusion of it undermines their authority."

"Nobody will obey an empress who becomes the laughing stock of the court," he finished.

Kaede bit down on her lip as she looked away. The historian in her knew this perfectly well: how many adulterous queens and ladies had been jailed or executed outright over the centuries for high treason? Many of them weren't even proven guilty; merely the public accusation had been devastating enough to ruin their reputation.

It's still unfair, she couldn't help but fume in silence.

"But the fact is," Robert continued after the pause. "Her Highness knew perfectly well that both of you were innocent, and that you had no intention of undermining her. She should have just given you a warning, or some proverbial slap on the wrist. Instead, she took her anger and jealousy out on you... and we..."

He sighed once more before an ashamed voice conceded to the inevitable:

"--And we allowed her to do it."

Kaede's gaze spun back in an instant, meeting only a guilty, apologetic light from those vivid-green eyes.

It wasn't because he felt like he couldn't stop the Princess.

No, he chose to step aside.

"Why did you then?" she whispered, feeling what could only be classified as betrayal -- even though he had never been truly on 'her side' in the first place.

"Because it was either you, or hold her temper back and risk her blowing it off at someone else later in the day... and, I'm sorry, but she had far more important people to meet," he explained with brutal honesty.

"So I'm the punching bag?"

Kaede's phrase left Robert lost for a split second, but her glare made it perfectly clear what she meant.

"We don't punch bags," he insisted first. "But true 'loyalty' means going beyond what is simply expected of us. And occasionally -- rarely, for something this serious -- that means being dealt the unfair card because we are the ones they can afford to offend."

Robert then turned towards the east, eying the sun that was now halfway up the cloudy, morning skies.

"If you cannot understand that, then you might want to reconsider this life," his solemn voice added. "The trust we are given is not without its price."

"You say that as though I chose this life," Kaede mumbled in retort.

"Neither did I," Robert half-shrugged as he looked back, peaceful.

"Those who stay among the aristocracy do not choose. We're simply given a role to play."

He then took a step away, halted, and swiveled right back around to stare at her again:

"By the way, is it true that you were a young man before being summoned?"

Kaede gawked back for a moment, floored by the unexpected question.

"...Yes?"

Robert tilted his head and looked up as he considered the implications.

"You know -- I'm kind of envious."

With that, the young armiger turned away once more and walked off, leaving Kaede with her mouth hanging in astonishment.

What is there to be envious about? or does the psychiatrist himself needs psychological help?

 

----- * * * -----

 

Edith groaned as her consciousness returned.

A burning ache permeated her body. Every part of her below the neck felt numb and sluggish. Even the warmth of the phoenix aura, which usually soothed her with a gentle touch, seemed oppressive and stifling.

It was as though her muscles were in open rebellion after the brutal treatment they had been put through... yet again.

It wasn't even the first time this week. Since the war began a month ago, she must have had nearly a dozen occasions when she would wake up to find her entire body in pain.

At the beginning, she could shrug it off with just a few extra hours of rest. But the duration it took to recover a semblance of normality had escalated with every episode.

"Edith," she heard the gentle voice of Mother Abbess Anne as a damp cloth wiped her sweaty forehead.

Her eyelids fluttered open, meeting a pair of deep-emerald eyes heartbroken with worry.

"M-mother..."

Pressing her elbows against the bed, Edith struggled to even push herself up to a sitting stance.

"Don't..." Anne spoke as she laid a tender hand on Edith's arm. "Your body is exorcising all the damage it accumulated. Let it rest."

In other words, she was in a 'controlled fever'; except instead of being a natural bodily response to disease, her 'fever' was induced to accelerate internal cleanup and repair.

It was no wonder why her body felt hot and her lips parched; the atmosphere seemed sweltering compared to the usual aura from her phoenix Durandal.

She soon noticed that there were in fact two phoenixes standing atop her comforter. Her Durandal was joined by his best friend Hauteclaire, both of whom chirped as they looked up towards her with expectant eyes.

Edith could feel the ether streaming through her familiar link. Durandal was not just feeding her magical energy; he was cycling his innate power through her, burning away all contaminants with the blazing heat of purification.

"W-water... please..."

With one arm behind her back, Anne slowly helped Edith lean up -- just high enough to sip from a waiting cup.

"You almost died this time, you know," the Mother Abbess spoke in a pained voice. "You've been unconscious for two nights! Even though the backlash from the sword is supposedly 'non-lethal', there's only so much your body can endure!"

After finishing the entire cup, Edith laid back down, albeit against a few extra pillows this time.

"You know I have to do it, mother," the saint smiled weakly. "I am the only one who can do it, and therefore I must do it."

"It is... the Holy Father's will."

The Mother Abbess pursed her lips. It was clear just how much she hated those words in this instance.

"Were it not, I would take that sword away from you in a heartbeat," Anne declared. "You may be the Holy Father's daughter first, but I'm the one who raised you! Saint of the Church or not, I am still your mother."

"...And I will never forget that, mother," Edith beamed with gratitude. "None of us will."


...


"How is everyone?" Edith asked some minutes later, after she had drunk three more cups, and Hauteclaire had departed back to his master.

"We've retreated back to the Gwilen River crossings," Anne began. Though her words soon turned to acid: "Her Highness, or more precisely, that Weichsel fiancé of hers, has more or less taken command of the army using her authority."

"It matters not who is in command as long as the soldiers managed to withdraw safely," Edith smiled with relief.

"But he has completely rewritten our strategy and began reorganizing our forces, without even the courtesy of consulting you -- the official commander in charge of this front -- or even your plans first!"

Edith tilted her head. Whereas others might see it as an insult to their honor, she felt that it was only natural.

"Well, I have been rather... unconscious. The war waits on no one."

"That is no reason to scrap all of your arrangements without so much a word!"

"Mother..." Edith returned a calming smile. "I don't mind. I really don't. We all know that I am by far the least experienced of the front commanders..."

"--As if that pretentious, insolent brat has any more experience than you do," the Mother Abbess scoffed. "At least you've had practice commanding a border garrison for the past decade."

"Nevertheless," the saint patiently added, "if the Holy Father has sent Her Highness, then her fiancé is just as much a part of his plans. After all, His Grace is the prodigal son of the famous Marshal of Weichsel. If our Lord wishes to make use of his talents to aid our country in repelling the infidels, then whom are we to say no?"

But Anne wasn't convinced in the slightest:

"Who is to say that the Holy Father has sent them? I should remind you that she is the daughter of an apostate! Her father was excommunicated by the representative of our Lord!"

Edith winced at those words. If Princess Sylviane could be tainted by her birth, then what about herself? After all, Edith's father didn't... couldn't even acknowledge her as his own.

"...And I, am a bastard in the eyes of the Holy Father," she felt the stabbing pain in her chest.

Anne's expression softened as her lips twisted under an apologetic frown:

"The sin is your father's! You, my daughter, are innocent! The Lord himself has expressed that you are blameless -- how could a sinner be recognized as a saint?"

"Then... surely, Her Highness also cannot be held responsible for the wrongdoings of her father."

...Especially when they were accusations that Edith wasn't convinced of. This was an emperor who had toiled for the good of his people, who had shown her such personal generosity, who had risked his personal safety in order to meet this crisis upon the Trinitian Realm -- and consequently, lost his very life.

How could such a man be condemned to hell for all eternity?

Unless... Edith agonized, the man I knew had entirely been a lie.

"It is not the same," Anne sighed. "You were brought up within the sanctity of the Church and taught all that is good about the world. The Princess... was groomed by an apostate."

Feeling uneasy, Edith had opened her lips again to counter, only to halt when the Mother Abbess stopped her with a raised hand.

"You were not there at the meeting yesterday," Anne's sad tone rang with disappointment. An agitation fueled by disillusion soon began working its way in: "you did not hear how she callously advocated that we forsake our vows and abandon the innocent. You did not see how she lashed out at the officers for bravely making our stand; how she raved with the fury of one possessed! She even stated that we should have just retreated -- turned our backs upon helpless women and children! -- while those immoral disbelievers overran the main refugee column."

"--Why? Why would she say such things, if she was truly the chosen of our Lord?" Anne exclaimed. "No virtuous woman would speak such blasphemy! Unless, of course, she was not sent by the Holy Father, but by the Devil to trick and deceive us, to tempt us into damnation instead!"

With a deep breath, Edith returned an uncertain gaze.

To her dying day, she doubted she could forget that moment when Princess Sylviane's white-blue hew soared in from the horizon. When all hope seemed lost, when forty thousand Lotharins found themselves in the noose of Cataliyan cavalry, the Cerulean Princess had descended like the light of heavens to save the day.

It seemed too perfect, too beautiful not to be the work of the Holy Father.

"I don't know... mother," Edith shook her head. "If the Holy Father worked in such a straightforward manner, then he should have crushed the Tauheed uprisings before they ever forged the Caliphate. But rather than allow the Imperium to spread the Holy Scriptures far and wide, he allowed one nation after another to break away..."

"That is because the Imperium is decadent and sinful," Anne stated.

"But surely, it is still better for the people to be educated in the true words of our Lord?" Edith thought aloud. "Even if the state is sinful and most of its people corrupt, would it not still be better than an empire of false religion that sought to lead everyone astray?"

This time, even the Mother Abbess could not answer.

"What are you trying to say?" She asked with a troubled expression.

"I am saying that whatever plans the Holy Father has, they are well beyond our comprehension," Edith replied. "It is folly, if not outright arrogant of us, to believe that we can understand his work -- when he is all knowing, while we see but a few kilopaces before us."

"You believe we should place our faith in the Princess then? When her words actively seek to lead us astray?"

With no clear answers to guide her, Edith could only frown and look out the window.

O Holy Father... just what is your will?

But there came only silence, only dark clouds that continued to obscured the heavens.

She had to think for herself, to remember those truthful words that -- in a fit of irony -- had been taught to her by the same emperor now cast off by the representative of the Lord:

Would our blessed, merciful savior do thus?

"I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt first," Edith decided. "After all, we are but imperfect creations of the Holy Father, and none of us are without sin. Following such catastrophic losses, perhaps her judgment merely erred in a moment of helpless frustration... Lord knows I have done similar."

She then turned back to Anne:

"However, mother, you are also right: the Holy Father would never love someone who gladly abandons the innocent. Thus," she added with increasing discomfort, "we must also prepare ourselves for the worst possibility -- that she is indeed tainted by evil, and therefore unworthy of the throne."

...Just like that king-and-kin-slayer Gabriel.

Edith had announced years ago that she served only the Holy Father, and would not take part in any petty conflicts between fellow Trinitians. But despite Duke Gabriel's papal backing as the Defender of the Faith, she... just couldn't pretend to approve of him.

Staring at the subordinate who was also her foster mother, the Crusader Saint declared her intent as the road forked before them:

"Mother, privately contact every duke and senior battalion commander whose character you can trust. Tell them that for now, we should follow Her Highness. However... should she fail to correct her behavior and follow the virtues and responsibilities entrusted to her by the Holy Father, then make sure they're ready."

"After the number of toes Her Highness stepped on yesterday," Anne scoffed, "acquiring their support will be easy."

With a nod and a deep breath, the saint then announced her firm resolution:

"Should that time come, I shall lead the coup myself."

 

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82 thoughts on “Chapter 9 - Fundamental Bias

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  1. Jay

    These last few chapters have been terrible imo. It's a giant mess that just got more and more obnoxious and aggravating to read.
    Despite a nice run, I'm out. I just no longer like or respect basically any of the main characters.

    You're a great author. I look forward to future stories when you have more time to write. Hopefully with a different cast.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Going thru unlikable phases is part of character development?
      Personally I'd say people (and realistic characters) are not supposed to be likable when being put through the grinder... but hey, there's no accounting for taste.

      Reply
    2. vanagandr

      But that is exactly what is so good about this story.
      The characters are realistic because they are not idealistic.
      And trying to overcome major flaws (like blind devotion and religious fanatism [signs of overcoming it are already planted inside of Edith]), and seeing if they can is the most interresting part of this story (for me). Just look at the impact Kaede had on the character of Pascal.

      Reply
  2. Ceralis

    Regarding character inconsistencies:
    I fear Kaede's character already took several blows under the belt during the story.

    First she was introduced as a strong person who can make a stand on her/his own.
    -opposing her so called master.
    -thwarting a plot to assasinate him.
    -finding friends in this new world.
    -having wits and education

    Then the princess is introduced and she falls apart piece by piece during the war. Which can be seen as the first inconsistency. Or not, if the experience is bad enough.
    -so called nearly raped
    -near death experience
    -being treated as a tool
    -trauma / bad dreams

    I get that, but you don't get over something like this in a single night. Much less forgiving the ones who are responsible or quite a few points on that list.
    Maybe a character with less integrity would be able to do that.

    But Kaede was introduced as a character with integrity and education. Then she was continuously dismantled into a sidekick/ maiden in distress.

    So what is she now?

    Someone who has character and responsibility for her own being? ... Maybe someone like that could forgive the princess, but certainly not over a single night of apologies. Once trust is broken in such a way it is hardly restored. And the point with the princess's mental issues is even more reason to distrust her. Who with a spec of brain would trust a maniac?

    Or someone who fell apart and got a serious war-trauma? I see even less reason for trust in that case. The princess just pushed her back over the edge and is likely to do it again once she gets the next fit.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I think you're mistaking integrity for a lack of compassion.
      To forgive someone (or attempt to, as Kaede notes she's still having trouble doing so) and to trust them are entirely different things.
      That being said, can Kaede truly forgive Sylv when she's obviously still scared of the Princess?
      (Btw, why are you still reading? You use to flame this story... changing your posting name isn't going to fool me)

      Reply
    2. Kero

      PTSD is a very common issue with many modern people not only within military. Rape victims suffer it as well. Now the fact that she is suffering these issues so soon after her first battle and girls night with princess. Is easy to see when reading the description of the battles people being hacked into, set on flame with 'dragon fire' flames, ripped apart at only 3-30 meters away. Compared to modern warfare where similar levels of destruction is only really seen from double to much farther distances and usually through a screen. The fact that she only has night terrors currently can show how mentally strong the MC is.

      Reply
    3. Himeko Inaba

      What makes you think Kaede 'got over' everything in one night? She is enduring her troubles.

      I think the qualities we like about her have not changed either.

      Reply
  3. Exilius

    Hi there, Aorii.
    This is my first time writting on this blog. First of all I have to say it: I totally love your work. Found out this place after started reading OSO and got hooked in no time. Yours is the first "gender bender" story so long that I liked since it's not just for making fun of the MC but to build a coherent story. Also very good job at making such a interesting story, plenty of coherent characters, political affairs and militar strategy. No kidding when saying that I'm expecting every new chapter. Really, nicely done.
    Now to the matter, a Spanish reader here. Sad reality is, despite having talked to a whole lot of people here about you, I got pretty tired of the "I'm not that skilled in english" thing. So recently I though about giving you a proposal about volunteering on translating your novel to Spanish, of course only with your consent, your terms and giving to the author totally of the credit. Plase contact me if you're interested, I'd totally love to share your work with my acquaintances.
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Glad you're enjoying it o/
      If you feel like you're up to the task of translating it, feel free to. Just drop back with a link of where you do it so I know xP

      Reply
      1. Exilius

        Thanks!

        I'm eager to start working on this ASAP, although since i do not own nor have affiliation with any kind of blog/forum/website of the kind. Since I'm doing it purely for self-enjoyment and sharing it with some acquaintances, I though about mailing it to you, so you can keep a copy or uploading it to Baka-Tsuki or whatever other sites you usually post.

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          You can just sign up at baka-tsuki and create a new language page if you don't have/feel like making a website (shrug).

          Reply
  4. Ran Cossack

    Thanks for the great story! :) Just read this over the past week, and loved it. Now I'm all caught up and can't wait to read the next chapter!

    It's not normally the kind of story I read, but it reminded me (in good ways!) of some alternate history stories I've read before. Yet, I also care more about the characters than the setting -- poor Kaede, poor Sylv to a lesser degree, poor everyone really. :( Count me in the camp that thinks ten hours is excessive and fears for her life next time Sylv has another episode!

    And ah, this chapter and the last ... wow, I'm *really* on the edge of my seat.

    If Sylv hadn't had that episode ... sounds like she'd have won over Edith completely, and her entire army. And if Pascal hadn't cut that short, she'd have had that same army mutiny on her in favor of her Uncle, which may still happen. Something to keep in mind when waxing poetic about 'capital crimes' or the unlimited power the royalty has... everyone the Empress gets to threaten has an alternative already sitting in the capital. (Though while *we* know Gabriel would probably make a decent ally, the Weichselians may think he already made a deal with the Inner Sea Imperium. Is Weichselians right? Weichselese? Weichselvolk?)

    I'm also sympathetic to Robert here -- up to a point. He loses sympathy points for me when he switches from "better it's one of us" to "you deserved it anyway", to drastically oversimplify what he was saying. (That zinger at the end about choices -- I mean, I know she's got it better than Random Commoner #1425, but really?)

    I wonder what Sylv would had done had Kaede, say, asked Marina to sleep beside her instead of Pascal? Seems like a much better, non-torture-inducing idea, though who knows with her mind in the state it was in. Although ... things are always more interesting to read when people make poor choices, of course!

    ... anyway, that's just a lot of excited babbling; thanks again for the wonderful chapter, looking forward to reading more! :)

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I'm glad you're enjoying it o/

      Sylv and Edith have fundamental ethical differences though; their views on what is the 'right decision' diverges quite a bit.

      (It's Weichsen)

      If anything, Robert's sympathies aren't really kicking in. Given that the reader DOES feel a lot of sympathy for Kaede, it creates a mismatch that makes us dislike him xD I'm actually a bit amused to how much backlash this has drawn from the readers -- it goes to show how easy our emotions are to manipulate. It's not like he did something objectively terrible -- it was a 'foot-in-mouth' moment more than anything else; but because we favor Kaede's side, some of us automatically shove him into the 'hateful' category.

      Reply
      1. Ran Cossack

        Thanks, I really am! :) (Weichsen sounds best, too.)

        I've been thinking more about Robert... I think we as readers definitely favor Kaede's side, but we also know more than he does -- Robert never heard Sylv and Cecylia talking about their plans for Kaede. If he knew Sylv was (logically, clearly not emotionally!) considering that, it *would* make his complaints about Kaede seeming to be Pascal's mistress and the political fallout horrible: mere justification for abusing her now and in the future to help Sylv's mood. But since he (probably) *doesn't* know that, only the readers do, so that's his genuine worry/anger/irritation thinking about how poorly his Princess has been done wrong by coming out... well, that's how it seems to me as I think back on it.

        I kinda think he'd be better off pretending sympathy for political reasons (allies etc), but it's a mark in his favor that he doesn't. ... unless the lack of sympathy itself was political to make the punishment seem justified to the camp, but it doesn't feel that way. I completely don't know, but I'm excited about the story! :)

        Reply
  5. Emait

    Just catch up to the latest chapter, and thank you very much for this story.
    I guess Kaede doesn't entirely blameless either, she did sleep with Pascal, though she probably didn't think the Princess will be this furious. (Why didn't she try sleeping with someone less "dangerous" anyway, like Marina?). Though I hope this incident won't be solved too fast and easily, Kaede may forgive and understand that it is because of an mental illness, but she won't open up with the Princess anymore, at least until this abusive relationship is resolved.
    Btw, do you have any release schedule? Looking forward to your next chapter XD

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I don't think Kaede feels 'safe' with Marina yet. I mean, to want to make amends over the past is one thing. To sleep next to someone (when one is most defenseless) is quite something else xD

      Release schedule? not really. I try to do it around once a month, but it's often delayed because I was distracted or just busy.

      Reply
      1. Ran Cossack

        Ah, my first thought was that she should have asked Marina, too ... but that makes sense. Really, it's how comfortable Kaede is with someone that poisoned her before that's the unusual part!

        She sleeps fine on Tofu, though. Tofu x Kaede OTP.

        Reply
  6. Jhime

    Is it just me or did we get a hint that Edith is Sylviane's sister? At the end when they were talking about Sylv being the daughter of an apostate Edith said so am I. And the mother superior said but she was raised in the church so it's ok. But 1. Edith has the Oriflame Phoenix which I thought only ran in the royal line. 2.she is unusually strong 3.The king gave her a piece of royal equipment that was supposed to go to Sylv and favored her. I smell royal bastard on Edith like stink from skunk pee

    Reply
    1. Hakurei06Hakurei06

      She didn't say "so am I", she just indicated her bastardy.

      1. The Oriflammes are not exclusive to the royal line, but one is required to have one to claim the throne legitimately.
      2. Not unusual for having one of the swords of virtue and an Oriflamme phoenix. (I smell hax.)
      3. I don't remember this and don't feel like digging ATM, so I won't argue the point.
      It's not that I think it's impossible, just highly suspect.

      Reply
    2. AoriiAorii Post author

      I cannot say anything either way, but...
      (1) no Oriflammes do not have to be of royal lineage.

      only Oriflamme Paladins -- their character proven by the phoenixes' choice -- may inherit the throne, so the phoenixes always select at least one individual from the royal line of succession. As you can imagine, Sylviane's appointment is more political than purely martial.

      - Pascal, v2ch2

      Reply
  7. No

    Kaede is quick to blame Pascal when she's fundamentally the reason why the princess misunderstood her relationship with Pascal. I mean she was the one that initiated that act of sleeping in his room--whilst acknowledging, at the time. that the princess would not take kindly to it. But I'm not saying that such malicious abuse that she suffered is justified though; I'm just surprised that she thinks she's innocent, and the only innocent party at that. Honestly, this whole drama was caused by a lot of people struggling to admit their faults.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      "Shocking new discovery: psychologists discover that humans are bad at admitting their own faults and like to blame others!"
      xD Sorry, couldn't resist.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Well, humans are rather perfectionists to some degree... that's why we put the blame on other people if we deny the fact that it is our fault( even partly).

        Reply
  8. Daniel

    I would like to ask who is Holy Father , becaose I am not 100% sure.
    Is he biological father of Edith?
    And correct me if I am wrong but I remember that he plotted assasination of Pascal,s father , did he not?
    And he,s posistion is something like Pope in our world?
    And the uncle who is now the king , he killed Sylviane,s faher? He just used oportunity of invasion from south and claimed the throne?
    All his guards were killed right, that girl too?

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      um...
      Holy Father is a euphemism for God... ^^' (just like 'our Lord'/'the Lord')
      in our world it's also a title to address the Pope, but I have not used it in such a way in Daybreak (because seriously, confusing).

      Pascal's father's assassination was plotted by the Emperor (Imperator) of the Holy Imperium

      Gabriel is Sylv's Uncle who killed her father, after receiving the Church's blessing by becoming the Defender of the Faith. And yes the guards died during that attack; no idea which 'girl' you speak of.

      Reply
      1. Ebisu

        I took a peek at the chapter (2-13). He's probably refering to Lindsay, the responsible of Palace security.

        Interesting... Edith was referenced in that chapter too. :D

        And the reason Geoffrey died was because he had sent nearly all his troops to help Edith's front. This Mother...

        Reply
  9. Einshart

    When will Robert die?Can it be as soon as possible because I really hate guy...and Robert is a knight or vassal or caretaker toward Sylviane?

    Reply
    1. Technomo12

      yes, yes he is..
      and why would you like him to die?
      I mean he is pretty much a good personification of a regular dude who has a dream but was shattered by parents and wats not and now a slave of the system
      or I think I may got that wrong if Aorii-nee has put a different personification on him

      Reply
    2. AoriiAorii Post author

      @Einshart
      That's a strong reaction lol... I fail to see how Robert's actions warrants it. ^^'
      He's a knight (therefore vassal) and adviser to Sylviane.

      @Technomo12
      That's a different interpretation of him that I didn't think of P=
      I reminds me about how we view characters reveal a lot about our own views of the world.

      Reply
      1. Technomo12

        @Aorii-nee

        yeah maybe I see a lot of stuff happening around me and the me who aspired to take on newscasting only to be shot down by my parent who forced me to take Computer engineering, in which now im a Tech support of some large company, where in day in day out I help/coordinate/pincushion to many many customers with many different walks of life such is my life now but hey atleast I get to talk a lot with people which I love to do so

        Reply
    3. Lunar Lunacy

      I'll admit, I similarly loathe Robert.

      His rhetoric goes along these lines, though I've taken some liberties and paraphrased it:

      'I was once an idealist, then I saw animals get killed, now I'm part of the problem. The world is unfair? Just accept it, you can't do anything about it. Y'know the harmless sleeping together thing? Well, we can't have Sylviane's shining spotless reputation as the throneless young inexperienced bat-shit crazy daughter of a now dead apostate getting tarnished by people's belief that you and Pascal are having sex. Almost as though every single damn person in this world didn't already think it was so, calling you a whore and harlot since the second you arrived despite having not done a thing. Furthermore, you're absolutely insignificant, so Mari and I decided to throw you to the wolves (Read: Sylviane), look forward to more of that in the future. If you don't like it, you may want to rethink having been abducted to another world and enslaved without the capacity to leave, negotiate or do anything at all as you're forced to fight wars like a conscript in a world that treats those without magic like 3rd-class citizens and possessions. You should try to be a good little slave in future. Therefore, I'm giving you this completely worthless apology despite the fact that if similar circumstances arise in future, you're getting thrown to the wolves yet again'

      The test results have come back positive, Robert de Dunois, is in fact, a complete dick.

      I'm of the attitude that if his life is in danger or some other tight bind and he needs help or he'll die, return the same lack of help.
      I'm not sitting here waiting on the edge of my seat for him to die, but if he does I will also admit that at that time it is likely I will have the world's biggest smirk.

      Edit: Ah, just saw Sinkingship below has pretty much brought up the same stuff. Damn.

      Reply
      1. AoriiAorii Post author

        "The test results have come back positive, Robert de Dunois, is in fact, a complete dick."
        Gosh, I would hate to see how you label people who does something 'dickish' and never even apologize for it.
        ...like, you know, most people in real life to others who are not friends/acquaintances/family.

        I'm certainly guilty of not stopping my own mother that one time she got angry and began cursing the airline attendant at check-in, and I bet most people have similar experiences (of turning a blind eye because we didn't want to be caught in the line of fire).

        Reply
        1. Lunar Lunacy

          It's rather late, and I'm simultaneously typing up my assessment task, so I apologise if I'm a little incoherent at present.

          It is more than just doing something and apologising, it is rather 'dickish' to give an apology when you know if it happens again you're just going to do the same thing. Politely throwing people under the bus doesn't make it any less of a dick move, as well. Furthermore, there is the entire paragraph there, which contributes towards my perception of him. Robert has pretty much proven himself pretty callous as well with his apology immediately leading into 'you'll just have to deal with this injustice because you don't warrant consideration like aristocrats do, there's more coming, it'll never end and you'll just have to play the obedient enduring slave'. In addition, there are his personal character traits of 'too hard to fix so I'll give up' which I am biased on, completely, so I accept fault there. Some of it may be simply my personal values getting all riled up, but I'm human and prone to bias -- but I do think there remains some credibility to what I say.

          I just see things oddly, I suppose, if we differ on this point. Apologising simply because you feel guilty with every intention on doing the thing you're apologising for again, is just silly. So Robert's apology, as I see it, is entirely hollow and without meaning.

          --So, in short, people who don't apologise I generally see in the same light, Robert simply draws my ire because his apology is an utterly pointless mockery if it's only to assuage his own guilt and he's going to do it again if he thinks the situation warrants it.

          Calling him a dick is very mild I think, perhaps the 'complete' part for emphasis made it seem more severe?

          Reply
          1. AoriiAorii Post author

            Well, that's fair. It is true that Robert is apologizing more for his own comfort than Kaede's, which is a selfish move. Because guilty or not, he still expresses the opinion that he did the 'right' thing. It reminds me of a saying that kind people shouldn't go into politics -- where a certain level of ruthlessness is considered 'required pragmaticism'

          2. Murali

            It doesn't even get into required pragmatism. Any time you have conflicting values and one value defeats the other without undermining it, it will be necessary to apologise for an action that is right and which you ought to do again if the opportunity arises. In modern societies, there are conflicts between liberty and equality. To pick an extreme example, we can only truly equalise opportunity if we did not let parents raise their own children (and instead raise them in a state creche). But this will violate parent's liberty to raise their children as they see fit*. However we wish to resolve this conflict, we can be said to throw some people under the bus. By allowing parents a particular liberty, you are going to make it such that some kids have fewer opportunities than others. By equalising opportunity to some degree you will be limiting important freedoms. In this case and numerous other similar cases, the mere fact that the values conflict does not nullify their status as values. So, when one value over-rides another, there is, what philosophers call, a residual claim. Namely, that even though the right tradeoff is made, there is still something unfortunate about it that might need apologising for.

            There may be other cases where one of the values is dependent on the other and so not only cannot defeat the other, but is in fact undermined by the 2nd one. In such cases there is no residual claim and no such apology is called for. But, the existence of this second kind of case does not mean that the first kind of case does not exist or is not pervasive.

            *we don't have to think that this freedom is absolute to see how having even some degree of it is going to upset equal opportunity. Something as simple as helping your child with her homework is something that well-educated (and thus usually upper middle class) parents can do better than poorly educated parents (or for that matter single parents holding down two jobs to make ends meet) Over and above that there are other opportunities that money can buy that will always be available in any free society. Banning all those other things will involve increased burdens on people's liberty.

    4. Steele

      I wouldnt say he deserves to die, but the second he said i have to apologize i was, "robert, im gonna let you finish, but dont compound my already overtaxed mind with your empty, self indulgent apologies!"

      Reply
  10. Technomo12

    hmmm Robert Feeling envious because he Can't feel up a girls body. ohh boy I know that feeling.
    Edith Going all Religious and stuff hope it does go all Holy war and shit.
    Pascal well pascal is pascal.
    Sylvie.....what can I say I love and hate her even more! but then again no I just love and pity her instead because of that mental disorder and if you look at it positively, I mean I would totally get flogged or suffer a seiza for 10 hrs if she can do paper works the would take 10 days into1 hr .
    and for Kaede ganbatte just keep moving forward what does not kill you makes you stronger and cuter >_<

    Reply
    1. Murali

      Was Robert feeling envious because he couldn't feel up a girl's body or was he confessing to being transgendered?

      Reply
          1. Hakurei06Hakurei06

            gid (gĭd) n.
            A disease of herbivores, especially sheep, caused by the presence of larvae of the tapeworm Taenia multiceps in the brain and resulting in a staggering gait. Also called sturdy.

            It seems to also affect horses, where it is called staggers.

      1. Now Confused

        I assumed he was feeling envious because the healing combat school was females only... but seeing Aorri's comment right below... Who knows

        Reply
  11. Ookami

    great read as always, Aorii!

    That comment Robert made about Kaede's "choice" made me mad lol. its not like she can just run away when pascal can find wherever she is. nor can she really fight back much because they are royalty/government.

    Can't wait to see what happens next and i can finally stop f5ing the main page lol

    Reply
  12. sinkingship

    Everyone is so forgiving it's booooring. When the crazed princess crosses the moral event horizon you're not supposed to just forgive and forget! Especially not with modern sensibilities! It's all well and good for a historian to be aware the medieval punishments are brutal, but reading it in a book and being chained to a rock for 10 hours are two entirely different experiences. And then that prick sermonizes at her for not sucking up like a good little servant? He tells her she should be more understanding of her position and if she can't '...you might want to reconsider this life...' like she had any choice at all?!? Man that made me mad tho. 'Sup person who has been forced into servitude against their will, why can't you suck it up a little better? If you keep this up you won't make the cut as a slave!' Really guy? Really?

    I'm overstating things a bit. I still really enjoy the story but these last couple chapters have been...

    "Punching bag" Indeed.

    Reply
    1. Mizura

      'Modern sensibilities'? Do you see the amount of abuse modern politicians get away with? How about the amount of insults Donald Trump for example gets away with in public, uncaring of how his targets feel? How about abuses in prisons, Guantanamo, abuses committed by soldiers? Yes, in the two latter cases there were a lot of protests, but evidently it was tolerated by insiders long enough for it to happen in the first place.

      Kaede is in a military setting where people can get flogged. She got by with just kneeling for a pretty long while. As far as I can tell, she's not happy at all, but realizing that it could have been much worse on an objective level and still not feeling happy about it emotionally are not mutually exclusive.

      But I'll also say that it's Precisely because she comes from a modern setting, that she should be better placed to understand at least, at some level. She doesn't get cruelty. But she -does- understand what mental illness is. Sylviane was mentally ill. In our modern justice system, the mentally ill are patients to be treated. It doesn't mean that Kaede should happily accept abuse, but she should be able to understand that Sylviane wasn't entirely responsible for her actions. I get the impression that she doesn't accept it Yet (things are too fresh on her mind), but maybe once she's no longer in such a bad shape.

      Reply
    2. AoriiAorii Post author

      I'm pretty sure the chapter expressly states that Kaede isn't quite solidified on the 'forgiveness' position; but she's also not a spiteful person. If a tolerant, sympathetic, and mature character puts distaste in your mouth, then... I donno; you may be reading the wrong book. All I know is that I'm not going to create character inconsistencies just to create "interesting melodrama".

      Pascal on the other hand, is willing to forgive a lot for "family"
      The bigger issue is the 'future' -- once may be forgiven, twice may be forgiven, but if it keep occurring?

      Reply
  13. Mizura

    Haha, that's right, her hypomania episode is just like Pascal's usual self. xD

    This was Such an interesting chapter! I'm pretty glad that several of my interpretations played out here: Sylviana is indeed not inherently malicious, and Kaede wasn't exactly blameless, which realizes on an objective level, even though she still has trouble accepting it (perfectly understandable, really, feeling grouchy does that to people).

    The psychological components in this chapter were fascinating. I hope Kaede took some interest in it too, because it should remind her that regardless of how 'not advanced' this civilization is, they are all human beings who suffer psychologically from the circumstances. As the chapter implies, these people can suffer quite strongly, too. The hypomania explanation also turned out to be quite interesting. It seems like a hyper version of adrenaline rush, except one that applies mostly to the mind, and it certainly removed mental inhibitions. I guess the stress + feeling extremely cornered is what led to such a response?

    And hey, they have psychologists! They've diagnosed things such as Bipolar disorder and Anxiety disorder! They take these seriously instead of dismissing them people as just being mentally weak! That's quite something actually, even in our time, not all societies take mental disorders seriously yet. Psychologists are a very new thing in China, for one (and probably other East-Asian countries, too, judging from the high suicide rates). ... the comment about being envious of Kaede was rather D: though.

    This chapter reminds us once again, that the people in this world can be surprisingly decent people. Is it because of the Noblesse Oblige sense of chivalry that they actually do seem to adhere to? Robert had no need to apologize to a mere familiar girl. In a royal court, nobody would usually feel the need to lift a finger if the royalty were venting on the equivalent of a servant, much less one accused of adultery, especially for a punishment as 'light' as this. At the same time, wow, Sylviane really took that badly. Robert is right, the fact that Sylviane repents so quickly and completely is ironically a strong point, considering how high-standing people can cling on to their pride for oh... their entire life. I understand that Kaede is still grumpy, but I hope she manages to get along with Sylviane later on, especially once she realizes how pitiful Sylviane is when her very supporters passively support a disorder that is ultimately self-destructive.

    Edith also seems to be a surprisingly reasonable person. She actually realizes that she's inexperienced, she fully accepts that hey, if she was unconscious, obviously someone else would take over, and she doesn't judge Sylviane badly just because of what happened to her father (and ironically, while she is obviously of very strong faith, she doesn't blindly believe Sylviane's father was a bad person). However, she still keeps an eye on Sylviane, worrying if she'd abandon innocents. I think this is fair enough, to be honest. In this case, this is rather a misunderstanding: Sylviane isn't not worried about innocents, she's worried about MORE innocents dying, but in any case, it's Sylviane's job to prove herself now.

    Anyway, I like this. In most reincarnation/world-hopping stories, the locals (those that don't worship the protagonist in any case) tend to be bad caricatures, unable to muster a shred of decency and intellect in their pursuit of making the protagonist's life as miserable as possible. It's nice that Kaede landed in such a culture: seeing how grounded others can be should help her calm down and focus on dealing with her own issues better.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Bipolarity is a rare and interesting condition. I've compared it to a much-upgraded version of adrenaline too -- exception the condition isn't necessarily 'triggered' by anything, and unlike adrenaline, mania doesn't really focus the mind, so it's far more of a wildcard.

      I figured that since Hyperion has both advanced medical sciences already, and mind-affecting magic that can permanently damage the mind, it makes sense for psychology to be a field of research (however new). Of course, not everyone will understand or accept it =P

      Robert is a kind person in general -- you can't have a backstory like that without empathy. But if anything, he's also someone who recognize that given Kaede's relationship to Pascal, she's anything but "some servant".

      Can't say much about Edith; I feel like I'd be spoiling something.

      Honestly, the way most world-hopping stories image the protagonist as some enlightened being going there to straighten the moral decency of the locals really gets on my nerves. It's the same kind of culturally biased if not imperialistic literature than white Europeans once wrote when embellishing their journeys to other parts of the world <_< -- as though the local 'barbarians' were direly in need of their help and knowledge.

      Reply
      1. Mizura

        Interesting. I've actually never thought of that. Our own medication comes with a fair amount of warning regarding side effects including psychological ones. It would make sense for magic to have similar effects.

        Ah, yes. Kaede is more than 'some servant'. Which kind of makes things worse from everybody else's POV, actually, it doesn't help that Pascal Is physically attracted to Kaede...

        "the protagonist as some enlightened being going there to straighten the moral decency of the locals" ahahah! Thanks for the laugh!

        Reply
      2. Diamona

        In my childhood I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but my more recent evaluation has done away with it. However, after looking up hypomania, I think I actually have quite a few fits of it; no, it is not hypochondria because I knew I had these moments, but did not know the proper term. I just call them my 'moments of inspiration'. I've even had rare moments in my life when I was under the impression that I "understood the universe". The whirring of the gears in my mind don't break into storms nearly as much as when I was younger, but it does pop up.

        Hmm… I get the feeling that a lot of the disorders and parameters overlap… I get periods of mental highs, but I occasionally hyperfocus on mental trains of logic. And diagnosed with depression.
        Whirring… Dopamine rises with to coop with stress… Hmmmmmm…… So melatonin serves to slow the effects of dopamine and allow body to recover… Would this mean that extended periods of dopamine release leads to exhaustion of its release? I wonder if longer periods of dopamine exhaustion would be similar to depression… Excessive transmission through thalamus… Production of GABA uses up glutamate… So if the body does not relax, glutamate would build up.

        Okay, I think I have an idea of how it works: Dopamine helps keep humans attentive for long periods of time, but has natural dipping periods when the amount of light decreases, when melatonin is produced. Melatonin functions as an emergency stop for dopamine, so the body can relax and GABA would be synthesized at this time from glutamates, GAD and vitamin B6 are also used. In the deficiency of GABA production, glutamate levels increase. Glutamate levels rising may end up killing neurons being a natural neurotoxin in excessive concentrations.
        When GABA levels cannot keep up with dopamine, hallucinations and distorted perception begins. Since schizophrenia is permanent, that would explain the pools of dopamine that build up in the brain. Bipolar disorder is characterized by depletion of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter.

        So I think Bipolar disorder is when GABA synthesis cannot meet the needs of the amount of dopamine active. Mania is when dopamine is at a high, while depression is when dopamine is at a low. Lack of GABA would explain the restlessness that comes with depression, as well as the lack of inhibitions while manic.

        Okay, the sudden logic shift occurred due to one of those hypomanic episodes. Started writing comment around three hours ago, and my mind started whirring ten minutes into it. I have processed several articles of varying scientific levels and kind of have a strong understanding of the subject right now. I think I understand what causes schizophrenia. After I finish my comment, I'm going to try to go to sleep.

        While I'm familiar that my current state is a hap hazardous one and should take conclusions I reach with a pinch of salt, for people like Sylviane who do not have self-checking mental inhibitor built up at habit, would go into quite strong mood-swings. Okay, need to sleep, as my mental habits do not prevent me from going in circles and restating points. You have quite a good grasp of hypomania, Aorii. I'm going to shut up now.

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          Just as a lot of diseases overlap, mental 'abnormalities' do as well.

          I wasn't aware the body stored dopamine... I thought it released them as soon as they're produced =P which would make depression a 'low' in the production cycle. It does make sense for those in a mania state to lack melatonin, which slow us down / make us sleepy in general (and mania = restlessness)... but those who are depressed aren't always hit with an overwhelming urge to sleep either, which you get if you take melatonin supplements for insomnia.

          At any rate, psychology is very much still a recent science seeing as most of its major discoveries are hardly a century old... and I'm very much an amateur still probing its depths xD

          Reply
    2. Ran Cossack

      That's a really different feeling than I got! Though I also thought Robert meant well, I think it was absolutely right of him to try and mend fences (however well or poorly he accomplished that) -- "servant girl" or familiar, she won a medal for bravery and is an ally, and it'd be bad if Sylv got a reputation for laming allies and treating them like dogs, you know?

      Even if you cast it as a mild punishment, when you're relying on the same ally/allies during battles in a civil war, there's no point in alienating them just for a power trip -- which is why he tried to explain and said he felt like he owed her an apology, I think.

      Also, it'd hardly do Sylv's reputation any good if word got around Kaede was being punished for being her husband's mistress. As far as nobody lifting a finger goes, I mean. If false rumors are buzzing around, that's better than confirming (is that the right word when it's a lie?) them. Even if nobody did lift a finger, it wouldn't be good for morale, so I think it's better if most people think follow the official reasoning of it being punishment for Pascal's insubordination.

      Speaking of, if Pascal *did* get flogged by von Mackensen, that's another thing Sylv will feel guilty about. :(

      Reply
      1. AoriiAorii Post author

        I don't think servants are generally considered 'allies' in traditional societies. When they're helpful, they're simply doing "what's expected of them"

        And no, Pascal didn't; maybe I'll get the chance to explain that snippet in more detail at some point.

        Reply
  14. Ebisu

    So in the end Kaede got a long apology and nothing was left to misunderstanding... No soap opera, damn it! (I'm kidding here :P)

    I just hope Kaede's relationship with Sylviane does not continue to be an abusive relationship. That's no good and I hope Kaede takes measures for the future.

    About the adultery, if Kaede starts to pass more nights with the princess, I would start to think just maybe it's Sylviane who's cheating. Kaede is Pascal's familiar so it's "ok" with him (cause it's a familiar's duty), but why does Sylviane sleep with the samaran. :D
    Or just assume it's a polyamory, heh.

    And finally, Edith and the lotharingians should be more thankful Sylviane and Weichsel's armies got there on time. It would have been a complete slaughter otherwise with the full encirclement they were under. So prideful. Backstabbing Sylviane would be the same as surrendering to the Califan.
    I just hope Edith is saying all that at the end of the chapter in order to keep her allies and troops in check and avoid a catastrophe.

    Reply
    1. Ebisu

      I'd like to add that Robert's envy felt normal, as he couldn't pursue his dream career because those Knight Hospitallers don't accept men.
      Although isn't that weird, why is there a career path that should easily accept people from both genders blocked to men?
      The conversation was at a good point but Pascal had to cut in. :-/

      Reply
    2. AoriiAorii Post author

      I always felt that soap opera typically only lasts because people failed their basics in communication, which is why it mostly happens with teens =P Like seriously, go talk it out like reasonable adults.

      That being said, I don't think things are over yet =P

      The Edith vs Sylviane perspective conflict is a real one and even my beta-readers are in disagreement over which one they agree more with. It's a reminder that morality can often conflict with logic. I think people often forget that in the end, "logic" is immoral -- not that it's evil, but that logic simply doesn't care. We like to pretend that the "best" thing and the "right" thing are often the same, but that just isn't true.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Well I do think that logic is very different with morality but to say that logic is immoral, maybe no? There are still some things where logic and morality has the same assertion. Logic looks for the "truth" and morality aligns itself with the society's acceptable conducts so logic is more scientific and morality is culturally based if look at them from one point of view. And I do have to say that "best" and "right" are subjective and people say that both are the same. Logically, we can say that the best is what's right. But morally speaking, it differs actually, societal concepts of the word "right" may not be the same entirely.

        Reply
      2. Murali

        I think people often forget that in the end, "logic" is immoral -- not that it's evil, but that logic simply doesn't care.

        Dude, stop dissing my job (moral/political philosopher)

        Also, you are just wrong about morality not being logical. Morality has to be logical because a big part of morality as it is actually practised is about demanding and offering reasons to one another. Morality is supposed to be authoritative. It is supposed to provide a standard which over-rides other competing considerations. It can only do this if it provides reasons which are in principle capable of defeating the other reasons which people have. However reasons cannot be reasons if they are not at the minimum a) logically consistent and b) logically linked to conclusion they are supposed to support. So, morality has to be logical at the very least. Something that is not logical cannot be moral. Morality may require more than just logical consistency (though people differ on what the extra bits are) but that does not make morality illogical.

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          @Anonymous:
          Well, they're not mutually exclusive, for sure. But logic in a moral society tends to be more moral, while logic in an immoral society (i.e. those that value power above all) tends to be immoral. Because of this I find the two rather separate paths of thinking, even if they intersect at times.

          @Murali:

          No offense intended.

          As much as we can wax philosophies about it, it doesn't change the fact that logical answers to problems often involve either turning a blind eye towards or outright ignoring morality. Otherwise, 'idealism' and 'pragmatism' would be seen as synonyms rather than... almost opposites. Logic dictates that we apply what works in the real world (usually that means doing something 'just moral enough' to pacify social conventions but not quite as moral as 'goodness' demands), while morals dictate that we attempt the right action even though there are often high chances of failure involved.

          Personally, I find that while the morality of a society can affect logic, sure, the motivation behind logical decision making does not care about the morals itself -- just how others may react to it.

          But if say, there's only one other person on the island who you can easily kill to take their food, well... logic starts nodding at nature's answer to limited resources, and 'natural selection' is almost the opposite of the modern day perspective on morality.

          Reply
          1. Murali

            No offense intended.

            No offence taken. Should have put a winky emoji to indicate that I wasn't really being serious.

            Logic dictates that we apply what works in the real world (usually that means doing something 'just moral enough' to pacify social conventions but not quite as moral as 'goodness' demands)

            Logic dictates no such thing. Logic requires consistency and completeness (but what that entails with regards to morality can be extremely complex).

            Questions of ideal and non-ideal theory are still at bottom questions of morality. There are complex questions going on in this issue that do not easily support the distinction between "idealism" and "pragmatism"*. In fact, on a number of views the distinction between the two is artificial. On one view, "pragmatists" are just hiding behind other implicit ideals (perhaps one that says that the most important thing is that we just get along one way or another). On another view, so called "idealists" do not offer any moral principles at all. If morality is fundamentally about practical advice (i.e. advice on what people should do) and the "idealist" is telling people to do things that they cannot achieve (or perhaps reasonably hope to achieve) then they aren't really giving practical advice and thus not giving moral principles at all. Even if we do think that the distinction between "idealists" and "pragmatists" tracks something (and there are lots of philosophers who do), its not merely logic which guides the pragmatists. Of course logic has to play a part (or no consideration could ever recommend in favour or against any belief or course of action) but what does the motive work for in the non-ideal cases are the same moral principles at work in the ideal case. We are morally required, when certain non-ideal conditions obtain, to compensate for those conditions by implementing a different course of action than the one which would be best in a perfect world.

            To some extent, I think your confusion here is merely terminological. A lot of people think that the doing the spock-like selfish thing is just the logical thing to do. But they are committing a logical error when they think that. It does not logically follow**, from the mere fact that we all happen to care about our self interest, that ought to do the self interested thing.

            *Philosophers use those words differently. Idealists are people who think that the only things which are real are mental stuff. Pragmatists are people who think that we can accept theories not because they're true but because they work (or perform some kind of felicifc social function)

            **Or at least not straightforwardly so. In order to show that it does indeed follow, you would need to provide a successful analysis of ought. Something which has yet to appear in any known philosophy since the beginning of recorded history.

          2. AoriiAorii Post author

            I am reminded of why I never really got into philosophy, merely scratching around the peripheries...
            You folks are way too technical about how every term is used =P probably even more so than linguistic purists.

            A word only means what it means to most people, not to the few. Language evolves through society and culture. Without general and widespread acceptance, a word is nothing.

    3. Ran Cossack

      Is it weird to say poor Sylv here? If the (friend?)ship she was trying to develop with Kaede didn't sink, it just took a torpedo below the waterline. ._.

      Reply
  15. Kemm

    The thing about rulers and scandals is quite weird, and depends mostly on age, country and government.
    Just to put two examples from my country, Spain, we have, in a short span of time, Charles IV and Isabella II.

    Charles IV is known, among other things, for, the day of his weddong, after hearing about his bride-to-be fame, saying "There's no way she'd cheat me, since, who would cheat on the King?", with his father answering him "You're truly a moron, Charlie". The adventures, flings and love affairs of his wife the Consort Queen were common knowledge among both the high classes and the populace, and in her deathbed she confessed that none of her 14 children had been born from her husband (but since she was his cousin, they can still be considered to have rights to the throne).

    Isabella II, granddaughter of Charles's wife, was also known to have slept with almost all the palace but her husband (which would have been impossible as their shared tastes in that matter), and no one knows who were the parents of most of her children. (In this case it's the Queen Regnant the one who cheats, so it shouldn't count.)

    All in all, cuckolded regents were common, and in many cases also common knowledge. Depending on the circumstances, the reactions vary: in the case mentioned of Charles IV it made him a laughingstock, but didn't affect the country as the ruling was done mainly by his close assocciates and advisors. In other cases, if the monarch is well-liked, all blame falls onto the cheater and the support of the cheater even goes up. In other cases it may lead to a revolt or even an invasion.
    The way Sylviane, Rhîne-Lotheringie and the Empire are pictured here, I surmise that any rumor of cheating over a certain line (as her fiancé having a beautiful human female as a familiar are bound to incite a number of rumors that, by themselves, will become just background noise) will most likely end, in the best of cases, with her (already lacking) credibility destroyed, her ruling, contested, her orders ignored and her uncle hailed as true king. Not very good prospectives for her.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Honestly, I never understood Spanish royalty =P
      My only knowledge is that 'infidelity' was a big problem in general in the courts of the Mediterranean cultures (French/Iberian).
      Not that the German/Brits don't have it, but they're more conservative and there's a greater tendency for head-rolling (especially with Henry VIII)

      Reply
    2. Ebisu

      No matter the culture, when there are arranged marriages involved, adultery is quite an usual happening.
      You already have to put up with your husband/wife forever and there may be zero sexual chemistry between them. If you can't find love inside your matrimony, you look for it elsewhere.

      Reply
  16. kisuke

    Is this going to be yuri? I really dislike yuri/yaoi so I was wondering before I invest anymore in this amazing story. Or at least brace myself. I love your story. I wish i could of to asked this privately but, there is no contact information. Thank you for your time

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Not... particularly? I didn't design the story around such a thing, and the period certainly isn't tolerant of such behavior.
      That being said, Sylviane has some bisexual tendencies (shrug).

      Reply
      1. kisuke

        Thank you for your quick response. I was wondering how much space Pascal and the others have in the Extra dimensional pouch. I mean if they are able to carry a months worth of provisions in volume two, so is there a limit to how much they can carry? Also wouldn't the ban on information for other countries religious information put pascals country in a disadvantage. I mean culture does have some effect on warfare and strategy, right?

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          I'm not going to quantify the mass/volume limitations of an extradimensional pouch =P that's something only rule lawyers will argue over in a narrative.
          But there is a limit, yes.
          Does culture/religion affect warfare? Yes, because it affects how your opponents think/behave. But honestly it's not a big disadvantage either, or all military cadets would be studying foreign cultures and religions (both of which are generally absent on their curriculum).

          Reply
  17. Sylvia Moriah Le Titania De La Waldgrave

    the chapter is a good read.

    Kaede is still suffering a lot despite being thrust into such an unnatural and cruel situation, here's hoping things will start to ease up on her a little in the chapters to come.

    as for the closing lines of the chapter, it's nice how they can conveniently overlook the existence of her familiar and what it stands for, including the very fact it remains by her side once she calms down. this "mother" figure is sounding like a very narrow-minded individual who would bite the hand that feeds her just because it doesn't always give her treats -.-''

    Just want to repeat that I greatly enjoy your story and look forward to the future updates with anticipation. Was in the process of re-reading your story when I saw a new chapter got posted :3 (just reached admiral winter stepping onto the stage xD)

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Why would Anne/Edith care about Kaede's existence or behavior though? o_O to them, she's just a servant.
      Although it's true that Anne isn't particularly thankful.

      Reply
      1. Glacierfairy

        Hmm.. I think the commentor was referring to Hauteclaire, the Princess' phoenix familiar, and not Kaede. XD

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        1. feha

          While I think so too, the same argument would actually apply to kaede. She is supposedly of "the race of samsaran witches/heathens" and as a familiar she does symbolize some questionable things. Add to this that Edith is a saint of their faith and they are talking, in part, about how pascal is seemingly taking over their military while the princess has shut herself inside her cabin, so I am a little surprised no concern whatsoever was raised on this topic/relation. Not to mention the rumors about her sleeping with him.

          Perhaps we should just assume that Saints and other higher-ups of the faith knows stuff that makes them less prone to such racism/superstition/rumors. Would make sense and is the simplest explanation. Alternatively they just haven't found out about her yet.

          Reply
  18. Shino

    hey nice chapter but the only thing about this story that i realy hate ist high strung miltary Officers who think that just because ur young u dont know shit about military leadership/logistics/etc...... in most story those characters will drive their army or country into ruin.

    and just asking how many internal twists are u planning ? there are already too many to count?

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Seniority and experience is a big deal in every profession.
      Honestly, being seen as 'incompetent' due to young age is actually the less problematic issue; the bigger one is the envy/jealousy that rapid promotion attracts, which often attracts outright sabotage.

      There's been a lot of internal twists? Not sure I've noticed. I only "planned" for one real twist this volume. Anything else is simply caused when a handful of characters (each with their own quirks/motivations) are brought together...

      Reply
      1. Shino

        is that so ? then it was my misinterpretation, i shouldn't read so much between lines......

        Reply