“… God will surely give my soul a restful sleep. I’m looking forward to it.”
Faris looked straight into my eyes again.
Those words seeped into my ears and then into my brain. It didn’t arise any emotion in me and settled in the centre of my mind.
“What if… This is just hypothetical. Faris-dono, what if your soul came back into the world and didn’t rest…?”
When I came to, I had already blurted out that question in a mutter.
Faris blanked out and looked at me like an innocent child for a moment, then she relaxed and smiled. It was a smile of compassion, but also a smile of pity. It was a beautiful smile, like Saint Sheen’s, and I was surprised that she could smile like that.
“Misorua doesn’t have the power to bring souls back to life. Therefore, that is neither fortunate nor unfortunate, nor is it fate, it’s just a coincidence. There is no other way but to carve out your life again with your own strength, pick and choose, and struggle through life. As long as you’re alive.”
The old woman’s words were heavy, but it still went straight to my mind.
… If this is true, then the memory of my previous life is not inevitable, but a coincidence. Thinking that, I felt a little less gloomy about those memories.
Then with a nod, Faris’s saintly smile changed drastically.
She was still smiling, but I was momentarily startled by the drastic change. I heard a faint groan from Radka, who had been standing silently behind me until now.
“Now, let’s get down to business. I didn’t call you here today to deepen your faith or ask you about how Sigmund is doing.”
“I thought not.”
I’m sure neither of us are free. She invited me here because she had something important to tell me, so I responded in kind.
“When people get together, there will be disagreements and factions will form, no matter the organisation. The larger the organisation, the more striking it becomes. It is said that a faction is created just when three people get together.”
… Is she talking about the House of Lords? Ever since I woke up, I’ve been anxious by the disturbing news that arose from my disagreement with the northern nobles. Faris had started speaking in a tone that strangely resembled Earl Thelesia’s and spoke to me as if she was lecturing me, so I listened to her.
“It’s the same with the temple.”
However, what Faris had said was so shocking and far beyond my expectation that I was taken aback.
“Before Arxia Kingdom was created, the King and his attendants married spouses from the temple and entrusted their children and relatives with the land and the citizens.”
“Indeed, it’s true. The church has recorded the history of the kingdom since ancient times… Things that don’t appear in the kingdom’s history books also certainly appear in our history books. We have been protecting the closest thing to factual history, that no one can falsify.”
Faris nodded calmly and I recalled the history that Lady Marechan taught me. It is said that nobility began with those who were recognised by the King and had assisted him. On second thought, that was a vague statement, and it wasn’t wrong even if those people were from the church.
But it’s true that I found this hard to believe considering the current power of the church, which was supposed to have created the noble system.
The church’s position is firm, and they are on the same boat as this kingdom. Considering all that, the power they can exert over this kingdom is really little. The only influence they have is in the ‘Sacred Code’, of which they are guardians, and they can’t have the power to influence the government of this kingdom, no matter how many key positions they hold.
“Of course, that is fine. The code doesn’t forbid that. Order is also preserved. However…”
Faris showed a frown for the first time. It was the first time I’d ever seen such a look on her face.
“There are fools in the church right now. Fools who speak false allegiance to the God of Law; who want to disturb the order and lead the kingdom to ruin.”
Faris declared and her voice sounded strongly of denounce, then in the next moment, her gaze shifted behind me.
I looked back as well and saw that Radka had frozen in place. I knew from a glance that Faris was looking at Radka.
“… Is there something wrong with my maid?”
“No. But I was wondering if your attendant had any idea of whom I’m speaking of.”
Radka flustered under Faris’s ghastly smile.
“Faris-dono, my attendant was born and raised in a village at my fief. Even in the royal capital, I keep her by my side and don’t take my eyes off of her. It’s not possible for her to be involved in a plot to ruin the kingdom.”
It wasn’t possible for me to accept her accusation, and I couldn’t ask Radka about it either. However, he turned even paler as soon as I covered for him.
Does he really know what Faris is talking about? My hands became sweaty from panic, and my palms were slimy. No, you need to calm down. I quietly took a deep breath so that no one would notice.
“Of course, Viscountess Kaldia. I also don’t believe that your attendant is involved in such a thing. But even if she isn’t, she knows what I’m talking about, doesn’t she?”
Faris didn’t even take her gaze off Radka and replied in a calm voice which was opposite to my panic. Her question indicated that she was confident about this. No, is it more appropriate to say that she was asking for confirmation?
“I have obtained a record of a nun who spread outrageous ideas throughout the kingdom, in a place called Cyril Village in Kaldia fief. It’s the fief where you were born and raised. Do you know anything about this? 『Elize-dono』.”
I got goosebumps. How much does this priestess know?
I’ve been careful to avoid letting information about which village 『Elize』is from, from going around. Even if she has known Earl Thelesia for a long time, he would never tell Faris, a complete outside, about sensitive information.
How does she know about this?
Does having the eyes of god mean this?
Radka was about to say something but choked. His frozen eyes flickered between Faris and I many times.
Gulp, my throat rang. I clenched my fingertips and brought my body and head back to the front, straight towards Faris.
“――― If you’re talking about the fief where she was born and raised, then I was also born and raised there.”
Faris looked back from Radka to me and seemed slightly surprised. There was no smile on her face. I continued to speak in an untarnished tone.
“Priestess Faris, you must already know that the nun, who holds dangerous ideology, carried out missionary work in Cyril Village. What other information could you possibly want from a child my age?”
“… Hmm. You seem to have a lot of faith in your attendant, Viscountess Kaldia.”
“Indeed. She’s a citizen of my fief. How can I, her feudal lord, not put my faith in her?”
Faris blinked a few times, then lifted the edge of her mouth in a grin. She nodded, “I see,” and her overbearing, threatening attitude faded away as if she was relaxed.
“What you say is right. But I would advise you not to keep her by your side.”
… Advice, you say? I could feel suspicion and discomfort from the ways she said, and how she phrased it. Priestess Faris’s expression didn’t change even when I showed her a disgusted frown.
“Don’t make yourself vulnerable. There are too many enemies down your path. If you can’t let go of them, then be stricter on them.”
It sounded as if she was singing. And yet, I felt my stomach get a lot heavier.
“… I’ll take your words to heart.”
The voice I had squeezed out was low. There was nothing I could say in reply. Why is this priestess so good at swaying my emotions like this?
“Don’t look so scary. You have to be more careful and cautious now.”
Careful and cautious. Earl Thelesia and I compared notes and I’ve always been careful and cautious since before coming to the royal capital, but she’s saying I have to be even more so?
“What do you mean by that?”
The moment I asked this, the smile on Priestess Faris’s face disappeared as if it had been chipped off.
“… The nuns who did missionary work in Cyril Village. They seem to be frequenting Nordsterm lately.”
An unpleasant tension ran down my spine as soon as I heard that name.
“This is a warning, Viscountess Kaldia. Pay more attention to your surroundings, more than ever before. Distance everything from you if necessary or put it away so deep that no one can reach it. ―――Stand alone if you don’t want to suffer.”
“Wait, I said wait…!”
The moment I got off the carriage, I grabbed Radka’s wrist and strode quickly into the mansion.
I didn’t even look at the servants who had quickly bowed and welcomed me home, and rushed for the innermost room. I told the maid, who was cleaning the room, to leave since I wanted to have a word to my attendant, and that no one should come near.
Then, I approached Radka when we were alone.
“Tell me everything you know about the nuns. Right now.”
Nuns going in and out of Nordsterm. It was concluded that they are a dangerous faction of the church who are anti-nobles, which is consistent with the information given to me by Margrave Moudon. I wanted to know all the information that I could get, since I didn’t know the movements of the northern nobles.
――― Behind that reasoning, fire-like emotions violently swirled within me. It was burning, yet terrifyingly old, and painfully froze the depths of my heart.
“… I don’t know much.”
Radka’s eyes shook in panic, probably because he could read my emotions. He was confused since he didn’t know why my emotions were riled up ――― of course he would be. Even I can’t express in words what these emotions are.
“You don’t know?”
I gripped Radka’s wrist tighter. The rage I felt was spilling out slowly.
“Hey, calm down a bit. They only stayed in the village for a short while, and it’s already been two years since then. You don’t have to get that worked up about it, do you?”
Radka told me while taking a step away from me. The pain from his wrist caused him to frown a little.
“And, they did indeed say that nobles are bad, but they didn’t do anything suspicious while staying in the village…”
“Then tell me everything you remember. In a way that isn’t distorted by your personal views. This is an order from your feudal lord.”
Radka turned grim at once.
“You talked to the nuns, didn’t you? What were they like? What did you talk about? What did you feel, what did you think?”
I knew that my words were like icicles, and yet I let them escape from my lips. My clenched nails dug into the palm of my hand.
“… What’s with you?”
He muttered, and the wrist that I was gripping flicked away.
“That’s not my name!”
He yelled as if he had exploded and kicked the floor. “Get a grip,” I reached out to grab his collar, but he grabbed mine first with both hands and pulled me towards him.
“You’re the one who should get a grip! I’m not alive so that you can do whatever you want to me!”
His reddish eyes looked irritated and full of anger. They were just as intense as when I had first met him, yet they were different from the cloudy eyes that I had seen back then.
“You… I allowed you to live.”
“So what?! I didn’t ask you to let me live! I wouldn’t surrender my everything, even if it’s to the person who kept me alive!”
My head boiled as soon as I heard those words. My hands moved faster than my thoughts. I brushed off the hand that was holding my collar and slapped his cheek. Radka stepped back and glared at me from behind his bangs. Blood oozed from the edge of his mouth as if my nails had scratched him.
The moment I realised what I had done, the head quickly receded from my head and I grew pale.
“… If you don’t like it then you can abandon me or kill me. 『Radka』is already dead anyway. But even if 『I』died, I wouldn’t be yours.”
Radka declared in a low and dangerous tone, then he slipped past me and left the room.
I let out the breath that I had been holding in for some time at the sound of the door loudly banging shut, and slid against the door.
Then, I took another deep breath. What the fuck am I doing? … I lost my temper. I don’t even know why I was so emotional. On top of that, I took it out on a child who was being pushed around for my own convenience.
This isn’t good, I opened my clenched palm. I have to control my emotions. I have to learn how to control them.
“… Eleanor-dono. Are you alright?”
Knocks came from the other side of the door.
“My name is Eliza, not Eleanor, Claudia-dono.”
I uttered the usual words almost on reflex. But I couldn’t answer the question about whether I was alright or not, and my lips flapped open and closed.
“Ah, I’m sorry, Eliza-dono. Uh, so… why don’t we have tea if you’re done with your business. I’m thirsty.”
“Alright. Please wait in the living room. I’ll go there after I take off my jacket.”
When I implied that I wanted to be left alone for a little longer, there was another knock at the door as if she understood, then I heard her footsteps moving away.
… When the sound was far enough away, I lightly bumped the back of my head against the door. Then I scolded myself for making her worry.
Calm down. There was no longer anyone here to unclench my pale hand.