This year, I quietly celebrated my 5th birthday in the mansion as if I was holding my breath, and it happened a few weeks after.
Early in the morning at the beginning of spring, when it was still dim. I suddenly woke up before my wet nurse came to my room. My pyjamas were moist with unpleasant sweat, even though it was still cold. It felt disgusting, so I got out of bed.
… It wasn’t unusual for me to have nightmares when my father was alive. I even think that it’s my responsibility to remember those hellish days.
Because that was my sin.
But my heart was beating fast, as if it was going to jump out of my chest, and my breath was shallow, as if I had just finished running. I didn’t think I would be able to go back to sleep.
I wet a cloth in the water jug, wiped my face and body, took off my pyjamas, wore my tunic, covered myself with a dalmaticThe dalmatic is a long, wide-sleeved tunic, which serves as a liturgical vestment in the Catholic church and tightened the slash. My body felt cold, even though I was wrapped in thick clothes, but this world didn’t have a method of warming your body up by taking a warm bath. I wore another coat and left the rest to my body temperature.
I stood in front of the mirror so that I could tie my waist-length hair, and the nightmare I’d just had flickered through my mind.
Father’s crazy smile reflected in the mirror. White skin, black hair, and dark red eyes that looked like trickling blood. My features were exactly the same as my father’s. My features looked more like his as the years passed by. Consequently, I also resembled the ‘Eliza’ from my previous world memories, which were still stuck in my mind.
My trivial memories of my daily life in that world have already faded, but the game and things related to this world haven’t faded at all. Even though I wanted so badly to forget the cause of my sin and wanted it to be erased.
A violent impulse which made me want to smash the mirror rose up in my throat. My heart beat loudly, I forgot to breathe, and the tips of my lips moved like several fish washed up on the shore. I felt the scorching hot and muddily, oppressive emotions being piled on with every passing day and month, slowly strangling me.
In the cold, a half-hearted sigh escaped from my mouth. I forcefully breathed and relaxed my whole body. My body felt heavy, like mud.
Cold sweat dripped down my cheeks, even though it was cold. I roughly wiped my face again and quickly tied up my hair. I pulled my hair, which was different from ‘Eliza’ and my father’s, and felt like my face had changed a little. I knew it wasn’t very noble-like, but I couldn’t change it anymore.
The feudal lord’s mansion was built on a small hill with a wheat field at the bottom and was called Golden Hill Mansion because the ears of wheat looked like a golden sea in harvest season.
After the previous feudal lord died, the inside of the mansion was empty, despite it being small, and it was also silent, since all the extra furniture and ornaments had been sold off and the personnel were kept to a minimum. The root of my father’s evil still remained, and it was still gloomy.
But my days of silence suddenly changed drastically since the other day.
A lot of soldiers entered and left the mansion, and my guardian, who was acting as the substitute feudal lord and usually secluded himself in the office, gave out instructions in the entrance hall. It was my first time seeing that scene. I carefully peeked out from the window in the courtyard and tried to understand what was going on. I didn’t go directly to the entrance hall because I’ve already had a dreadful experience there.
――― That day, after breakfast, bloodthirsty gazes greeted me when I went out to the entrance hall. Soldiers from the fief army dressed up in leather equipment were glaring at me with hatred. There were even people who put their hands on the handle of their swords.
A young man asked me with a roar, “How dare you show your face in front of us?”
Men in metal armour tilted their heads in suspicion, or surprise, and looked between the young man and me. I couldn’t say anything, and all I could do was look up at the young man.
“Eliza, go back to your room. Gunter, stand down. You’re in front of the feudal lord,” my guardian’s harsh voice echoed, and my feet finally retreated sluggishly. The soldiers of the army continued to look at me without averting their gaze until I closed the door.
It was my first time meeting the people of Kaldia since I took over the lordship. In short, it was my first time since I killed my family with poison.
They hated me and were furious enough to kill me.
I remembered those stern gazes from behind the door, and a feeling close to relief welled up in my heart. I felt oddly satisfied with my heavy emotions because they hated me properly.
I am someone who should be loathed, my sinful conscious whispered to me. ―――
“Eliza-sama, what are you doing?” A voice called out to me from behind, and my shoulders jumped. I turned around, and saw my tutor, Mareshan, looking at me in shock.
“… I’m sorry. I was really curious, so I was seeing what the soldiers were up to.”
“It seems you understand that what you are doing isn’t appropriate for a noble. You don’t have to apologise, if you’re curious, then you should proudly go and see what they are doing. You are the feudal lord, the master of this mansion.”
I couldn’t agree with her, nor shake my head, and turned away from Mareshan’s sincere gaze.
Indeed, I’m the feudal lord. In other words, the master of the soldiers is me. But why did I brazenly show my face in front of them again? I wasn’t planning on running away from their hatred, but I didn’t want to stir up their murderous intent either… My atonement towards them didn’t include being killed.
Mareshan sighed, pulled my hand and sat down on a nearby bench.
“Listen, Eliza-sama. If you think you’re still inexperienced and aren’t worthy of being the feudal lord, then leave everything to Earl Thelesia, and don’t pry into the work of adults.”
She’s absolutely right. I could only agree with her warning. There’s nothing I can do, even if I knew what was going on. I shouldn’t have sneaked around to get a peek.
“Of course, if it’s something you need to know, then Earl Thelesia will tell you exactly what is going on. I’m sure you know this well.”
I nodded again. Like she said, it was evident that he was faithful to his work from the way he acted in the last three years.
The old noble, Earl Thelesia, became my guardian and parent on behalf of my parents and acted as the feudal lord on behalf of the new feudal lord who couldn’t do her work because of her young age. He was equally strict on himself and was sincere to the citizens. He was completely opposite from my family, who had indulged themselves with pleasure and tormented the citizens.
The Earl supported me because I wasn’t at an age where I could rule, and when he had first came to this mansion from the royal capital, I had observed him in secret for a while, but I couldn’t find any dishonesty in the work he did. When I was four and had first started learning how to add and subtract, he even explained to me what he did for the reconstructions, and how he got money for it. After I’d turned five, he also gave me post-reports on things other than management in the fief.
“You can just ask him if you have any questions. He will answer all your questions without any deceit,” Mareshan said confidently. I didn’t nod to that.
The Earl certainly doesn’t lie, nor does he deceive. But I know that his words are difficult to understand for a baby and that he can’t explain them in a simpler way. At least, his explanations are not something to tell a child who was only a single-digit old.
Who except for him would talk about taxes to a child who hasn’t even learnt the law?
The Earl is someone who doesn’t take heed of who he is talking to and calmly talks about something they don’t understand at all. I barely comprehend his words because I have the annoying memories from my previous life. This world had a lot of differences from the world in my memory, and they were becoming vague, so he also says words I don’t understand. Mareshan volunteers to come with me, so she explains what the Earl says, but the Earl, himself, doesn’t give me that kind of consideration.
Mareshan sighed as if this conversation was over, probably because she had said what she had wanted to say. The door leading to the courtyard from the entrance opened at the same time, and Earl Thelesia came out.
“Eliza, I have to talk to you. Come to my office in the afternoon.”
“Yes, Earl Thelesia.”
He told me his frank request, confirmed that I understood, and went back through the door. We haven’t seen each other for three days, but that didn’t matter. Well, it’s a bit late to say this, since the Earl hadn’t gone out of his way to see me in the two years since he started acting as the substitute feudal lord.
I went to the office on the second floor accompanied by Mareshan and knocked on it three times. Then, Earl Thelesia’s voice responded from within, “Come in.” It was rare for him to call me to this office, and it has been six months since I’ve visited this room, but barely anything has changed. Both walls were covered with bookshelves that were nearly as high as the ceiling, and there were two simple bookcases. It was an office. The room smelled uniquely of paper, maybe because the bookshelves were cramped together, or because of the documents and books.
There were two things in this office which were different from what I remember. The big basket which was placed on the bookcase in front of the Earl, and a boy standing idly next to it.
“Kamil, this is Eliza.”
The Earl pointed at the basket, and the boy quietly dropped it in front of me like he was told to. A thick cloth was laid on top of the basket as if for nursing, and a mass of fluffy pink hair moved slightly from inside.
“Earl Thelesia, what is this…?”
“It’s a baby Draconis.”
I tilted my head suspiciously, and the Earl’s gaze moved to Mareshan. She explained, “It’s a monster that inhabits Amon Nohl.”
Simply put, monsters are creatures that have magic. This hasn’t been scientifically studied, so the truth is unknown, but monsters are said to be able to manipulate wind, call on storms, and start fires.
Draconis are dragons who look like wolves, and they can manipulate wind to fly in the sky. They are covered in silver scales, have wings which are proof of being a dragon, and long tails which look like a snake’s.
“For the past few days, I’ve mobilised the fief’s army and my private army because I received information that a draconis had strayed from their herd and descended Amon Nohl. It’s breeding season, so they get more violent, and the citizens could have gotten injured if it was a female with offspring.”
“Draconis usually act in groups called herds, and they have turfs. In other words, they have a territory where they hunt, but, sometimes, some individuals stray from that herd. Such individuals may descend down to human habitats looking for a new turf. They mainly prey on snakes, and they’re intelligent so they normally don’t attack beings that live in groups, but they do attack people who invade their turf, so we had to be vigilant.”
As usual, the Earl gave me his report while Mareshan explained things that I couldn’t understand. He began telling me things that were happening in the fief this spring, and I was already used to it because he summoned me a lot.
“After we discovered the nesting place of the strayed draconis, we continued observing, and placed soldiers who could deal with them if needed, but the draconis passed away while giving birth to four babies. She probably used a lot of time and effort wandering around the northern part of the fief without deciding on a turf. We took the remaining babies. Three were sent to Jugfena Fortress, which borders the eastern kingdom, and we decided to raise the last remaining baby.”
“Draconis are social creatures, so they’ve been used as mounts before. People have ceased breeding them because it wasn’t going well, but there are still documents on this.”
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