The trip to the Sovereignty was, for the most part, uneventful. To keep the whole matter secret, Savine did not tell anyone of her departure, not even her original family. Thanks to that, the trip was uneventful.
The Magicracy was, for the most part, what she heard from the stories. A land of cold winds and tall mountains. It was currently fall, so there were many rainy days on the way. Savine took in the sights of the countryside, Eliseline recited noble etiquette alongside religious teachings, and the driver carefully navigate the carriage around spots where the Magi were prone to visit.
Thankfully, Savine didn't get to hear the Bishop's complaints and interact with him in general, as he traveled in a separate carriage with his own two servants that also acted as his concubines.
Villages, mines, and farming lands were all avoided, since many places were celebrating their Harvest Festivals, and thus likely possessed Magi or slavemages that were sent to inject mana into the lands.
As a substance that was widely considered second to only Divinity, mana had many uses. It was widely known that it helped lands recover from plowing more quickly, helped trees grow faster and more abundantly, and supported the development of animals and beasts alike. Hence, it was used almost everywhere it could be used.
And of course, the only people that could do work like this were mages. Even though the process only involved burying an unstable manastone under the plowed field and letting it seep into the soil slowly, it had to be a Magi's hands that did it and it had to be done behind a row of guards, so no commoner could see it.
Doing so allowed the Magi to retain their mysterious appearance and also make the commoners more dependent on them.
It was a similar situation in the Sovereignty, but the priests there were more liked, since they weren't like the high and mighty Magi or the dull, lifeless slavemages. Moreover, there were many more festivals there that celebrated the priests' arrivals and land fertilizing ceremonies. The vibe was more friendly as well.
Coincidentally, Savine managed to witness one in action when the group passed the border to the Sovereignty and stopped by a farming village.
She wondered if the mages knew of runes and rituals that further improved the crop's growth, but she found no such thing. The High Priest simply broke into pieces a cracking manastone and buried the shards under the farmer's grounds. The farmers sang a solemn song as she did so, and when she finished, there was a great feast.
They butchered a sheep, gave Savine and the two the lean meats, while the rest shared the fattier meats, the innards and the organs among themselves. Noticing Savine's indifferent gaze, the villagers offered her some cuts of the organs, thinking she was trying to act cool, but then cheered heartily when she ate them without complaint.
Seeing it, the bishop snorted and walked away, souring the atmosphere a bit, but Savine felt that it was a miracle he could stay there for so long in the first place.
The only thing interesting in these dull travels was interacting with Eliseline during her lectures on nobility and the temple.
"Do flowers have special meanings as well?"
"Let me guess. They're mostly divided by colors, darker hues having more negative implications, the lighter ones ranging from love, adoration, loyalty, etc. Except of course, yellow. Which is always associated with jealously and envy. But there are also some specific flowers. Roses and camelias naturally mean love, if it's white it might have a more innocent feeling. What else is there, edelweiss meaning courage or longevity?"
"Let's move on to clothing."
Since Savine had visited so many worlds and experienced being a noble for so many years, she was intimately familiar with everything they tended to prefer. After all, etiquette was always based on politeness. So unless there were some extremely special circumstances, most of noble etiquette in the various worlds was the exact same thing.
As for the flowers and their colors, it was a more associated with color theory and psychology.
Savine just had to be worried about the subtle differences. But so far, everything was leaning towards the default format. Hence why Eliseline was so confused and impressed by her knowledge.
It was nice seeing her reactions.
But regardless, Savine found out that she didn't really need to worry about herself in noble society. There was also nothing to worry about in her position as a priest. She was only going to join ceremonies and work the various magic tools.
What she was most curious about was the situation for commoners. However, Eliseline refused to tell anything about them, except for the bare minimum.
She only spoke of how the city was structured, where the high nobles lived, where the laynobles lived and where the commoners lived.
The only thing of interest she mentioned was the existence of a large area that she labeled as the slums. Even that, she seemed to regret saying.
Eventually, Savine gave up and stopped bothering her about such things. She could find out about them by herself.
Two weeks of traveling later, they finally reached Fest Duchy's centermost city, also known as Fest City.
The two locals sighed out in relief when they saw the city's gates. Despite the trip being mostly uneventful, there was always the fear of being suspected and getting caught after all. Though Savine had documents to prove she was from the Sovereignty, she still looked malnourished and weak. There was also her white hair. It was impossible to not garner attention.
But although the two were relieved, Savine couldn't be too complacent, either. Though she did everything she could to guarantee her safety, it wasn't impossible for something out of her expectations to happen.
Something out of her expectations did happen.
Savine found herself left inside a room, gazing at a young man. He was everything one would expect a charming prince to look like. Tall and well-built body, a criminally handsome face, and clothes that looked smooth, comfortable, and, of course, rich.
However, what she was most focused on was his eyes. There were many things that could be gleamed from his eyes that shattered the previous princely notion. Hatred, helplessness, annoyance, curiosity, and most of all, tiredness.
"Your subject greets His Highness."
The young duke scoffed.
"So you're the one who's been bullying my poor little uncle?"
"Your subject was foolish, not knowing proper etiquette," Savine said. "Thankfully, the High Priest's efforts helped to educate me slightly better."
"She would teach you etiquette, and you would teach her avunculicide. I see, I see. A grand arrangement indeed," the duke sneered.
Savine wanted to sigh. When Eliseline said they were going to visit the duke's palace to get her Vasa, she thought that would be it; but she currently found herself stuck in a private meeting with the duke himself.
And she quickly realized that the man hated her to the core.
'Really, I just said some harsh words and then told your sister the bishop was probably better of gone.'
Savine never told her to kill her uncle.
Her tongue was itching, wanting to just start arguing with the man. She was at that point in life where she liked to just do things and see what happened.
"What? Can dare to run your mouth against my uncle, but can't dare to insult me?"
Savine smiled. Thankfully, the duke gave her something that she could throw back at him.
"Why should your subject insult you when you've done nothing to be insulted for?" she said, sounding wronged. "The young duke who took control of the mess his predecessor left, working tirelessly and diligently to lead the Duchy back to prosperity."
The duke's raised left eyebrow immediately turned into a crease when he heard Savine's next words.
"The bishop, however, eats as much as two men and creates the same amount of waste as three men. He is better off dead."
The duke looked like he was about to dash at her any second, but Savine kept herself at ease, as if she didn't even register the duke's body language as threatening.
As the silent battle continued, Savine realized something about the duke.
'He's someone who loves his family unconditionally.'
There were definitely a few people like that. Even if their family members acted like pigs in human skin, they could tolerate them because they were family.
It was an undesirable trait to have as a duke. Even if he was competent and smart beyond the level of common men, it didn't mean anything when it crumbled under a family member's pleading eyes. No wonder the incompetent Grand Duchess took over the Duchy, when there was such a pushover fighting for the inheritance with her. It was likely that the current Duke didn't even bother making things difficult for her talentless sister.
'But when I think about it… If his family doesn't pull him down to the ground, then he's someone nigh-faultless.'
Savine shook her head at the last thought.
'Though… with the duke like this, it would be hard to deal with the bishop. Even if Eliseline takes my side, I would still be on the losing side if the duke takes the bishop's side.'
'A headache… ugh. Let's just finished what I came for.'
"Your subject came to take her Vasa."
She didn't embellish the words any further, only referring to herself the proper way. Since the man was dead-set on hating her, then there was no reason for her to act nice.
A couple seconds of staring later, the duke scoffed and threw a thin wooden box that was on his desk.
Savine caught it nimbly in her hands and bowed.
"Your subject thanks Your Highness. Your subject shall now take her leave."
Done with the charade, Savine silently walked out of the room. Sighing, she put the box in her bag and went to the palace's entrance. There, Eliseline nodded to her and helped her into a carriage.