8. The guest of you and me.
Laius had never been occupied in the past.
Yet, the name of the biggest festival held every year is called ‘Liberation Festival’.
It’s not the day the previous rulers fell. It’s a few days after that. It’s the day when the bloodline went extinct.
The day I died is the day the nightmare of Laius ended, a day of blessing.
There’s still 2 weeks until the festival, yet the town was already full of decorations and people from many different places, as if to say that the festival had already begun.
There were numerous large pillars erected in the street, with paper flowers linking the flowers and adorning the road to the square.
At the grand square, there was a stage of about four steps high set up. The wall section had a blank space for something to decorate it. It’s likely a painting, but maybe from the thought that it might rain, or maybe for leaving it until the last day, it wasn’t there. I watched the hurried movements of the curtains from afar.
Not just the adults, the children too were gleaming their eyes at their days that were different from usual. Excited from the atmosphere, they boisterously chatted.
“Eh—! Unfair! I wanna be Kaid-sama!”
“No, I was faster! You be the previous lord!”
An especially big boy crowned himself Kaid while swinging a stick about. There were complaints from the other children, boos echoing out. Amidst the rowdy boys, a lovely pink colour swayed. Someone’s little sister, perhaps. The youngest, the girl frantically wandered in between the boys.
“What about me? Hey, what about me? Onii-chan, what about me?”
The smallest hand tugged at the biggest boy, her brother’s hand. He buried an end of the stick he was wielding in the ground and started thinking.
“Eh—! You’ll cry if you’re not the princess, right?”
The boys put their heads together and started discussing. It seems that their complaints are of less concern than if the girl cries.
“Then, the lady?”
Hearing someone mutter the role, the girl’s eyes glinted.
“Lady. But, the lady’s an enemy though?”
“She was a outrageous villainess, my dad said.”
“Eh—, my mum said that she was a good person.”
“My dad too.”
“Eh, my dad said that she was a really scary woman~”
At the feet of the boys that were groaning from thinking, the girl was happily going, “Wady, wady.”
“Children are innocent, huh.”
Next to me, Isador waved at a woman passing by. The woman giggled and waved back. Probably not an acquaintance. He indiscriminately waved her hand at other women too. The lovely, angel-like boy had grown up.
Feeling the flow of time, I stepped aside slightly but that continued.
We stood at a corner of the square.
There are stalls surrounding the square, then behind those there are people who bought food sitting down or leaning against the wall.
We mixed into them and waited for Kaid to come back.
Kaid left me to Isador before leaving off to the back alleyways.
“Their hero is currently on the lookout for ruffians in the back alleyways.”
I did know he had work, but seeing that I didn’t know what it was, Isador slightly narrowed his eye with the beauty spot.
“Right. It’s not just good people gathering to the Liberation Festival. The people who want to kill him, they of course gather too. He confirms and arrests them himself without others’ help. Well, if someone wants to do something to the guy, manpower will be needed and that would draw attention, so they can be crushed beforehand. He’s a man I don’t want to make an enemy out of.”
“……May he not just receive reports?”
“Of course he can just receive reports, but he thinks that he has to do everything himself. He believes he has to bear everything. A lord’s work, the grudges, the scars, the victims. Even the infamy of murdering royalty.”
Murder of royalty.
It’s not something that should be said casually like commenting on the weather. Especially for a future lord.
Ignoring my gaze, he continued as if n0thing happened. His gaze was pointing towards the children from before.
“It’s already been fifteen years, yet the chaos ‘the Treasure Flower’ of Laius brought still lingers…… she must have been quite something.”
His flowing gaze headed to the lord’s mansion. From here only the box shape of the building can be seen. Yet, his eyes seemed to hold the white building that used to be there.
A wind passed through the square, rattling stalls’ roofs, scattering paper and stealing flowers from children.
As I reflexively shut my eyes from the passersby, Isador held his hair down so that it would not be ruined and faintly narrowed his eyes.
“I wonder if young people like you might not know. Before, in Laius, there was a princess who was called ‘the Treasure Flower’.”
“…………The Fruiteless Flower of Laius.”
“My, so you knew that? Right, she was quite the villain. Even now, people who say that she shouldn’t have been killed and people who say that it was the correct action argue. Especially more so since she was very beautiful. Some say she was innocent, some say that ignorance is sin too and some say she was a notoriously wicked woman. Now there’s just the stories, all mixed up. But, back then, she shouldn’t have been left alive. Kaid did the right thing. If she was alive, definitely, somewhere, someone would have lifted her up. Since there are no policies that can satisfy everyone, there is bound to be dissatisfaction. If there was a pretender, then Laius back then would not have been protected. The people are selfish and quick to forget past pain. Once their past pain and wounds heal, then they start hurting from things in front of them. But looking at their scars, they still bark that the past wounds hurt. This hurts, that hurts. Once all their pain is gone, then they start attacking up, saying that other people’s injuries hurt. It must be convenient to be able to say such things. How envious. Especially more so since they can ignore other people’s pain. They say with fury that nobles don’t see people of lower station as humans, yet they do not think of nobles as humans. There’s no pain for them, they say. It’s because they don’t think we get hurt and cry the same like them. Weakness is privilege enough. Those are the privileged class. The don’t need to make choices nor take responsibility, yet they complain at the results. They are allowed to whine and hit others. It really is enviable. If they do it, it’s called complaining, but if we do it it’s called abuse. It’s discrimination.”
“……People gather if there is something to put up, so I also believe that master’s decision was correct.”
“Ah, sorry. That got off topic. Also, you are smart. Indeed, even if it was a provincial school, I can see how you were always at the top of your class.”
I wasn’t surprised at what he was spouting casually. People with power like him don’t talk without knowing the other person. Not to mention for a topic like this.
When I quietly looked up, Isador raised an eyebrow this time and made the expression that he made a mistake.
“You’re not surprised either. I must wonder at the size of your guts. Yes, I know you. Likely better than you do. Shirley Hince. Fifteen years, on a rainy day, you were found wrapped in a cloth on a stone by a road. Then, you were raised at the orphanage in Kaina. Always good at academics, with sports slightly good? Thanks to that, there were many adoption offers but you didn’t accept any. There was even one from the local noble, isn’t refusing that being too above your station?”
“There’s nothing I could give back for adopting a woman who will become a nun. It would have been everyone’s loss if I was adopted.”
“Amazing, your goal from the ‘my dream’ essay written when you were six had not changed at all, that really is amazing. Then, I wonder if you knew that the mayor of Kaina wanted to marry you to his son. Since his son isn’t too bright, he probably wanted a wise woman to grab his reins. That’s why the orphanage director sent you here.”
I frowned slightly. This time, Isador laughed merrily, refreshed.
So that’s why the orphanage director got desperate. It wasn’t just to stop me from becoming a nun. As soon as it was arrange me for me to work here, I was driven away without time to listen to details, so I was wondering if I was making a face as if I would die if I can’t become a nun.
The mayor’s son…… Right, he was a rowdy boy with a aquiline nose. I remember him throwing balls of mud, flipping skirts or pulling hair. It felt like he had energy lying around. He fixed the roof of the orphanage, so I don’t think he’s a bad child, but since it was him who ruined the roof he’s not a good child either.
“……Did investigating me did anything?”
“No? It was just weird to have nothing. But it wasn’t just me who investigated you. Kaid investigated when he hired you. And now, not just Darich and Wyfar, even the king is probably looking into you.”
I grabbed my index and middle finger. I put some strength into my back which was straight to begin with.
“Laius is big. So no one could touch it fifteen years ago. With the king, it couldn’t be touched. It was a land descending from the union between a general and a princess. The root of the previous rulers were royalty. So other noble couldn’t touch it. If a noble tried to do something it could mean that they are acting against the crown. The king meant to dismantle the fiefdom of Laius. So he did not reach out. The power of Laius was too much. Then Darich knew that it can be divided up after it’s dismantled, so he even encouraged specific actions to the previous lord.”
Yes, that was how our paradise was completed. With nothing threatening it, our paradise exploited from Laius and grew.
The princess of the past who fulfilled your love. Your blood mixed with your love had became the yoke upon this land. Your descendants, us, became obstacles.
“So Laius was near its end. The rulers of other lands didn’t move yet, letting the rulers of Laius be finished by the people of Laius, poised to swoop in once the only resistance would be the people. No one knew this noble house of Falua that was demoted away to a remote province a long time ago. Moreover, who would have though that a fourteen-year-old boy whose family was wiped out from epidemic would bite off the neck of the lord. Even though his family was already dead, if he was found out his followers, their families and possibly even related villages and towns would have been burned, yet he did well despite the risks.”
“I still remember it. He was only four years older than me, but he had the face of an adult. People’s lives, Laius, murder of royalty, shouldering all those on his then thin shoulders, he became a lord. ……My father said that he was pitiful. To those hands that dirtied themselves to get back that which was taken away from the people Laius, nothing would come. Saying that, my father decided to support Kaid. To begin with, Gimii isn’t very big. Not much could be gained from Laius collapsing. We could see that there was too much on his hands and Laius falling would be troubling for us.”
My body grew cooler but a heat whirled in my head.
My sins were too heavy for me to go to hell. That’s why I am here.
……Ah, I hope at the least that my parents are in hell. I’ll take all the unremovable sins, so please wash away your sins in hell. I hope they could pass away into the embrace of our ancestors.
In front of us, a child swinging from her parents hands smiled. Boys with arms around each other’s shoulders ran. A blushing pair of man and woman let their hands go but entwined their fingers again. They grew embarrassed from each other’s gaze, but their smiles were very dazzling.
“He doesn’t marry because of hereditary succession. Because hereditary succession was why the past Laius was born, he wants the next succession to be someone of good ability. …….With that as the excuse, he lived alone. He kept losing without having anything. Casually, in front of me who called him a friend. It really is a cruel story.”
Unlike Isador who stared up into the sky, I stared down at the ground.
“Laius takes from him without giving anything or paying back. But he will still live as a Lord. He’ll be the wise lord. Kaid is the obedient slave of Laius. Kaid know he won’t gain anything. He will rot away without hope. A lord worse than a person. If that’s the condition, it’s too harsh.”
I clenched my two fingers as if to snap them and bit my lips.
“……Telling me that, what do you wish to tell me?”
A shadow fell over my feet as I hung my head down. Isador was looking at me. I knew that I have to lift my head, but my gaze did not leave the beautifully cobbled street.
“I’ll tell you why I investigated you thoroughly. It’s because you threw Kaid out of order. You made Kaid, who did not tremble a bit for the past fifteen years, waver. Going down to town with a maid, it’s the first time I heard of it.”
“…………There were many such occasions. Might your investigation be not adequate enough?”
“Before he would take a few servants and maids. It’s the first time seeing him go out alone with someone. I saw with these eyes and got surprised. If he got interested in chasing skirts, that would have been better, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Now then, who could you be? It’s a mystery to me. How did you make that Kaid waver? You couldn’t have had any opportunity to have prior contact. It’s the first time coming out of Kaina for you, and Kaid doesn’t have time to go out to such a place in the sticks. Then within this month? That’s too fast even for a fated meeting. Even love at first sight isn’t believable unless there’s more time. Falling for your charms, I’m sorry, but I don’t that is a possibility. And even if you were his type, he wouldn’t let you close more than necessary. Then, who could you be. What is it about you that made Kaid waver? Just a month is still a month. This can only apply for people other than that stubborn man. For him, I won’t be surprised if it takes a year.”
Relying on the fingers that I clenched without minding if they broke, I lifted my head. Isador was closer than I expected. I could see his beauty spot. In the backlight, those curled lips were especially clear.
“Before I met you, I asked a servant I knew, but it doesn’t really seem like anything special happened. Now that’s strange. You were just doing the same thing as the other maids. Rather, you’re increasing your distance from Kaid. But then what lured Kaid?”
He’s searching. The gaze judging me was particularly sharp. He must truly be wanting to find the answer, yet it feels like he’s teasing rather than interrogating. I wonder if I feel that way because I’m menial.
“Nothing like that happened, so it’s difficult for me to answer.”
“No, it’s different. I wondered if these people didn’t realise it…… Now that I met you, I’m certain. You look his way so many times yet you say that. You look at Kaid’s back, while Kaid looks at your back, ‘Nothing,’ won’t work here. I’m sorry, but please tell this to Kaid. Unless it’s fixed before other lords come, it’ll be quickly found out.”
I realised only after it was pointed out. I wonder if I was looking at him that much. …….I, might, have.
I clamped down on my lip. It’d be nice if it tore away and bled, but my trembling mouth didn’t have such power.
The way tied back his black hair swayed, the trembling gold colour softer than the sun, the back that grew quite large, the legs I once saw at the stream, the hands I once held.
I was watching those. The person I once loved, the first love. I was watching. Surely.
I was watching.
I was always watching.
Now, and in the past.
Because, I had loved you.
Merry Christmas everyone! It’s almost over for me here in the Far East, but shouldn’t be for most people around the world. I hope you enjoyed the chapter!