“Unlike horses, they show the most loyalty to the person who raises them. So, Eliza. Be his master and raise him.”
The conversation progressed rapidly, but I can generally understand what the Earl wants from me. He was saying that this baby draconis had just been born, and it will be useful if the baby is raised well, but he couldn’t get the soldiers to raise the baby, because of their traits, so I should raise him. I remembered the menacing gazes from the soldiers a few days ago. Indeed, he can’t leave the baby draconis to them when they acted that way. If he left the baby to them, then the beast will likely run wild and maul the feudal lord to death.
However, I don’t think I could easily raise a creature. It was impossible for me since I wasn’t even familiar with domestic animals such as sheep and horses.
“I understand… but, how do you raise a creature? I’m a novice who doesn’t even know how to take care of a horse, I don’t think I will be able to raise him alone.”
I told him my concern, and the Earl’s stern expression loosen to a gentle one. Has he finished giving his report? He answered in the same slightly soft tone as his expression.
“You don’t have to think about that. I’ve decided to give you a servant to act as your assistant. He’s someone I brought with me from the royal capital, but he’s apprenticing in the fief army right now. He comes from a merchant house. He’s used to dealing with animals, so you can ask him about how to take care of the draconis.”
The Earl pointed at the boy named Kamil. He watched the exchange between the Earl and me in confusion, but he must have known that he was going to become my servant, because he kneeled down without hesitation and lowered his head.
“My name is Kamil Novak, Feudal Lord.”
He’s probably passed that age where his voice cracks. I have never seen a person who has pearl-like skin, different from the Kaldia citizens who had skin as white as snow, soft light brown hair, and bright amber eyes, before and was simply curious. I haven’t seen someone close to me in age since I killed my siblings with my own hands.
“… I’m Eliza. I’ll be in your care.”
Kamil immediately raised his face when I asked him to and looked straight at me.
He slightly smiled. The perfect smile, which was obviously fake, was extremely impressive.
I couldn’t remain in the Earl’s office when I didn’t have any business here. I took Kamil and the baby draconis to the courtyard and bathed in the spring sunshine. I gave the baby draconis warm milk as it struggled in the basket. But I got tired afterwards and ended up sitting on the bench, probably because I wasn’t used to feeding a baby.
The draconis had just been born, so it didn’t cry and just stirred in the basket sometimes. Leaning against the bench, I listened to the sound of the wind blowing gently without doing anything and gazed at the pond across from the courtyard. I picked up the poisonous plant to kill my family in the pond between the forest, behind the mansion, and the paved courtyard. The gardener had already been executed at that time, so the dangerous plant grew wild, but now they were neatly arranged as part of the garden.
“Mm… Feudal Lord.”
After a while, the silence was too much for Kamil, so he called out to me. I looked towards him, and he had the same soft smile on his face.
“You don’t seem very well. Is something the matter?”
It was a caring voice, but I wasn’t used to people being overly polite, and it felt strange. The servants in the mansion have never spoken to me, and all the other adults only taught me, so they spoke more candidly.
“… No, nothing.”
I wondered for a second if I should answer, and eventually shook my head. I can’t honestly answer that I was thinking about when I poisoned my family even though I was asked if something is wrong.
Kamil tilted his head slightly. He pretended that he hadn’t heard my answer, and tried to read between the lines by observing me. It felt unpleasant to meet his gaze, which seemed like it had been fitted with high-purity amber, so I suddenly diverted my gaze onto the baby draconis.
“… I was just wondering if I can raise this draconis well.”
It was an excuse that I had suddenly came up with, but it wasn’t a bad lie, because it’s true that it took a lot of time and effort to take care of something for the first time.
“It’s okay. If it’s the Feudal Lord, then you can raise him well… But-.”
I felt Kamil’s smile darken after he’d said pleasant words that sounded harsh, and looked at him again.
“But if it is going to become a source of your anxiety, then why don’t we kill him?”
His fake gentle smile twitched and distorted. His smile hadn’t crumbled, but it couldn’t be called a smile.
I got goosebumps all over my body. Kamil’s eyes were clear and didn’t reflect any emotions, so I felt chilly.
… At the same time, I felt close to his dangerous imbalance. It was as if I had sensed the same corrupted, heavy emotion as my own from him, like a shallow beast, and I had unconsciously concluded that he was a being similar to me.
“――― Isn’t it painful to take someone’s life because of your fears?”
I wonder if I suddenly blabbed those words out because I had remembered the moment when I killed my family. I looked strangely at Kamil as his expression crumbled in surprise.
“It’s painful for me, so much so that I even think it’s fine for me to die.”
On that day three years ago, when I served poisonous food to my family, I couldn’t bear letting people get killed one after another as if they were toys, so I killed my family to end those hellish days. But, at the same time, I was worried about my future. While ignoring my previous memories, I was afraid of the future of the game ‘Eliza’ in my memories. I was scared of becoming like my father, who toyed with people’s lives for pleasure. ――― I avoided being killed by my repeated sins and by people who hated me.
Even now, my heart is gouged out by it. Didn’t I just kill my family for my own self-protection? Things such as sins against the citizens and atonement are just naïve ways to deceive my dirty self, and my guilt has always been whispering at me.
… And, I smiled wryly at the me who was immediately captured by those sad and gloomy thoughts. If I had the opportunity to deny it, then I would get my memories changed.
Actually, I became obsessed with living after I killed my family. As I’m aware, I was thinking of ending the pain I witnessed from my family’s madness when I poisoned them rather than my own life. I was worried about the future, but I was more eager to die because of my bleak heart.
“I do not understand what you mean.”
Kamil deliberately uttered those words slowly. I nodded. Of course, I knew that people wouldn’t understand what I meant if they don’t know my background. I had only talked about things that wouldn’t let others guess my circumstances because I didn’t intend to reveal that information.
However, contrary to his words, Kamil’s expression calmed down. I felt relieved that his eyes were still shaken with confusion and relief. He felt more human than when his eyes were like glass balls.
“It’s fine. Just take it as a joke.”
With no intentions of continuing this talk, Kamil looked flustered. Say, would he feel awkward by the silence and try to talk to me?
“… Anyways, can’t you do anything about the stupidly polite way of speaking? It smothering to be spoken to that way all the time. We’ll be acquainted for a long time.”
I changed the topic.
I’m not going to pretend to be from the commoner faction, but I’m not a noble girl from another family, who came here to learn noble mannerism, so I wasn’t comfortable with a formal relationship. Moreover, I might gain unnecessary animosity from the fief soldiers if they were to hear this, because politeness was developed by nobles to distinguish their own social positions. It was also a somewhat uncomfortable sight to be served by a child.
“I am sorry… I am not used to using casual expressions.”
“If you can properly use the right expressions in public and in private, then you don’t have to be afraid of using it in normal conversation. Also, stop calling me feudal lord. It doesn’t feel nice… I also don’t intend on messing with the citizen’s feelings.”
The things my father did crossed through my mind every time someone calls me feudal lord. Kamil must have felt the disgust from the words I had added. He looked confused and then smiled a little. It looked closer to a wryly smile, but this was the most human he had looked until now.
“… Alright. Then, I’ll call you in another way.”
That was my first conversation with him… and perhaps, the most true and emotional exchanged we’ve ever had.
After the commotion caused by the draconis, when the crescent moon was in the sky, the baby draconis, whom I decided to call Rashiok with the help of Mareshan, started to grow scales and began to slightly open his eyes. His nose twitched when he wanted milk, and he awkwardly rubbed against the cotton, but when he gained his eyesight, he began to turn his nose and Kamil, who assisted me in taking care of Rashiok, was really disappointed.
“He was cute when he moved awkwardly…”
“Isn’t that what growing is all about?”
“Everything is cute when they’re small, Tsar. Even though you’re small, you’re not cute at all; you must lack something…”
For some reason, he called me Tsar, and his respectful attitude from the first day completely changed, and he started acting casual. We spend most of the day together, so we may have become too frank with each other.
“Young ones can obtain love from those around them because they’re cute, it’s a type of defence mechanism. I’m protected by my social status and position, not by cuteness, so I learnt another type of behaviour.”
“That part of you isn’t cute at all, Tsar.”
Then, Kamil held his head and sighed. This had already become a regular habit of his, and I heard the maid burst into laughter from the corridor, which led to the courtyard. She thought our conversations were interesting, so she would listen to use from time to time and laughed in amusement. I wonder if she was taking a breather from work by doing this. I wasn’t trying to make people laugh, but if she finds it amusing, then I don’t mind if she listens from time to time.
This was one of the changes that had happened since Kamil came to Golden Hill Mansion. The maid always avoided me, and I have never heard her voice until now. The stagnated gloomy aura in the mansion faded away before I even realised. Of course, I didn’t feel bad. The servants who worked freely while occasionally laughing, instead of working in stifling silence, made me not remember when my father was alive.
Kamil heard the maid’s voice and glanced at me, but I ignored them both, and he smiled as if something was interesting. There wasn’t a trace of the warped smile and emotions he had shown me on the first day, and I wondered what had changed him in this short period, but I didn’t ask.
“If this is just like a clapping game, then I think Rashiok will be able to move around by himself by the next full moon.”
“‘A draconis who is born on the new moon, will open its eyes on the night of the full moon, run about and play during the crescent moon, and will leave its nest on the night of the third month.’ Rashiok was born around the time of the full moon, and when he opened his eyes matched the contents of the game.”
“I don’t really understand the documents that the Earl has collected, but I guess it’s alright to believe them.”
I listened to Kamil whisper in interest as I stared at Rashiok’s golden eyes.
The scales, which were beginning to grow on him, were bluish, and his small wings, which looked like bat wings, had a beautiful magenta gradient to them. Apparently, these colours darken as he grows. Both of these colours reminded me of the sky, so I gave him the name of the sun god that people used to be worshipped in this region.
So, this little creature will be able to move around by itself in less than ten days…? For someone like me, who didn’t have an affinity with babies, whether they be animals or humans, in my previous world, I found joy in watching his growth every day, but I also felt a bit lonely seeing his childlike innocence disappear day by day. I didn’t let it show, but I felt the same as Kamil.
As expected, Rashiok energetically jumped out of the basket ten days later, just like the game had stated. If he had no wings and scales, then he would look entirely like a cute puppy, and he was doted on by the servants of the mansion as he ran around everywhere.
As for me, who had to chase around after him, there was nothing more unpleasant than this. Not all the servants were those who Earl Thelesia brought with him from the royal capital; some were employed from Kaldia. I only visited certain places in the mansion so that I wouldn’t irritate them, but Rashiok didn’t care and ran everywhere in the mansion. I’ve already scared a few servants without meaning to.
However, Rashiok also ran around today, chasing the smell of people.
――― I can only say that it’s my bad luck that Rashiok ran towards where the soldiers were when Kamil wasn’t by my side today. Or, my guard wasn’t up enough.
A young man was patting small Rashiok’s head at the northern corner of the mansion. He had navy hair which was almost black, and looked as if he had just reached adulthood. His gentle smile warped into hatred as soon as he saw me.