Chapter 17: Elise Cherstoka
Because an orphan from Cyril village in the Kaldia domain had thrown a rock at Viscountess Kaldia, and caused her to fall off her horse, several villagers were punished and had to take responsibility.
The child that was the actual culprit in question was tied up in a jute sack and thrown into a river, while those that hired the child to do it, the people that the child was living with, and various other villagers associated were flogged in front of the other villagers. That was the rumor that reached the capital soon after my birthday celebration ended.
The Kaldia domain has no particularly noticeable features about it. However, the scandal about the previous lord Orville Kaldia’s atrocities, and the family’s deaths by poisoning in which only the youngest daughter survived, causing Marquis Rittergau’s younger brother to have to become her guardian, were some of the biggest events to be gossiped about by the nobles in the past thirty years, the gossipy nobles in the royal capital with too much leisure time all had their attention on the Kaldia domain.
“- and that seems to be the current overview of the Kaldia domain in the royal capital.”
“Thanks for your hard work, Kamil. Although it’s within expectations, that they even know about the orphan incident means that the House of Lords really has nothing better to do than pay attention to what’s going on here. It’s depressing to think about that.”
The other day, when the earl attended a meeting at the House of Lords, as part of the earl’s retinue, Kamil had went along with him to the royal capital for the first time. Even though I’m a noble, I still can’t go to the House of Lords as I’m only six. But this means that the earl finally intends to take me to the royal capital soon.
The House of Lords, is like a government agency, which all Arxian nobility with peerage belong to. It’s the highest level government body below the king, and it can do various legislative and administrative tasks apart from judicial ones which are left to the church.
As an aside, thanks to the existence of the House of Lords, there were very few other places for Arxian nobles to socialize. Very little diplomacy or politics was actually conducted there, it’s simply become a place for nobles to have fun and show off their power, far from the church’s values of being contented with honest poverty.
“So that means Charlie’s surprisingly delicate?”
“What’s this about surprisingly, how rude.”
Kamil was just as imprudent as usual, and I began to massage the wrinkle between my eyebrows reflexively. I had said before that I would forgive his irreverence, and since I had memories of a previous life, I figured it would probably be easier to put up with Kamil’s informal attitude rather than the alternative, I was finally able to organize my feelings recently.
I briefly summarized what I had heard from Kamil and jotted it down on a piece of parchment, sorted it away simply on my writing desk, and got up from my chair. The sunlight shining through the thick window panes felt so warm, it was making me drowsy. Recently the chill of spring had been fading, the long hours of sunshine in the summer were arriving.
I laid my head on Rashiok’s belly while he was sleeping on the windowsill, feeling his smooth scales against my cheek as he breathed. Rashiok woke up with a snort of annoyance as his nap had been disturbed, but even so he stretched out a wing and covered my body. Before I’d realized it, his wings had become wide enough to comfortably cover my small body. Even though his wings had only been the length of Kamil’s arm when he came to this mansion, his growth rate is really quite something.
“Charlie, are you sleepy?”
“No, I’m just lying down for a bit. Let’s go see how Elise is doing before noon.”
– The residents of the Mansion of Golden Hills changed immediately following my birthday celebration. My nanny was changed, two girls were welcomed as my companions, and Kamil got his own small room as well. However, one of the girls “was sickly and had to recuperate right after she arrived.” – That’s the story.
“How’s the food, Elise?”
In one of the innermost rooms of the mansion, I greeted the child that was lying in bed. Although I called him a child, he was actually three years older than me, and due to malnourishment he didn’t seem older than me at all. Although he was now receiving good care every day, there was still something wild about his black hair, and his shining dark eyes were glaring at me. The gloves that covered his fingertips and the dress he was wearing don’t seem to fit his image too well.
“The cook Nathan was worried about you and even went to the trouble of making it for you himself. If you don’t properly eat your food, you won’t have the energy to strangle me, ‘Elise.’”
A jarring metallic sound resounded. From behind me, Kamil softly put a hand on my shoulder, hesitantly thinking to restrain me from something rash. On the bed of the dim room, the small child was trembling in anger.
“……So annoying. Besides, my name’s not Elise. I’m Ratoka.”
“No, that’s wrong. The orphan named Ratoka from Cyril village has already been executed. You’re Elise Cherstoka, my playmate companion, and a girl belonging to the Mansion of Golden Hills.”
“That’s not it! ……I’ll definitely kill you someday!!”
This time his chains were making a loud jingling sound. I laughed at his high-spirited appearance as he shouted at me. You’ve gone overboard, Kamil indicated to me by squeezing my shoulder more firmly.
“You, in the end, you’re just a coward who couldn’t even kill me!”
“Well, I have no idea what you’re talking about at all. You’re such a precious companion of mine that’s come to visit my mansion, why would I have you killed?”
In anger, he threw a pillow at me. However, since it was filled with light feathers it had little momentum, and it fell silently to the floor before it even reached me.
“Let’s ask Nathan to prepare something that’s easier to consume. Since she can’t even get down from the bed, let’s not make things too hard on her, right, ‘Elise?’”
As I listened to him yell, I wondered if he was going to burst a blood vessel, as I left the dim room. I used a cheap provocation, but as long as he eats, then it’s fine.
But next, just how long does Kamil intend to keep his hand on my shoulder? However, his hand did not leave on its own. When I looked at him to see what was going on, he hesitantly opened his mouth.
“……Um, you know, Charlie. Why’d you decide to specially place that child close to you? You really might be killed in your sleep.”
“It’s not that I’m specially keeping him close. I’m keeping him alive because his dark red eyes could be useful. You can fool people with hair color, but eye color is the one thing that can’t be changed. Even if he won’t become a trustworthy retainer, there’s plenty of ways to use tools.”
When I said that, I saw something that I’d never seen before in Kamil’s eyes. He furrowed his eyebrows while thinking something, but for some reason it didn’t seem like he was condemning me. What is this feeling, I wonder. Even though I probably should have known it in my previous life, right now the current me had no idea.
A strong gust of wind must have blown outside the window, the leaves of the trees suddenly made a loud rustling sound.
“……If that’s the excuse you’re going to make to me, that means you don’t think you need to tell me.”
“Then, I didn’t kill him, in order to use him. Because I wanted him to acknowledge me, I placed him beside me. Are you satisfied now, Kamil.”
Silence enveloped the hallway. Kamil’s hand dropped from my shoulder, and I saw him clenching his fists tightly. It seemed as if he disliked me looking at him, and he averted his gaze. I wonder if he’s disappointed in me at this late hour.
He can think whatever he likes, and we continued under this strange atmosphere. This wasn’t the only “Elise’s” room we were going to. As we walked on in unnatural seeming silence, something heavy suddenly landed on top of my head. It was loosely twirling around my hair, and I realized that it was Kamil’s hand.
From his hand that seemed like it was comforting me, I finally remembered the emotion I saw in Kamil’s eyes earlier. It had been pity. Kamil had felt compassion for me. However, as for why he would pity me, I still have no idea.