I woke up even though it was still dark outside.
It wasn’t cold to the point where it woke me up, but it was chilly enough to chase away any drowsiness. Since I don’t like laying around in bed when I’m wide awake, I grudgingly got out from under my warm covers.
When I looked at the water clock in my room, it was much earlier than I normally would get up. Since I hate the idea of catching a cold, I immediately put on my dalmatic.
Since I hate having nothing to do, I decided to take a walk in the mansion.
There should be no problem as long as I return before Mrs. Hortensia wakes up, I thought the same thing as before like on a certain morning so long ago.
Rashiok who was sleeping beside the water clock raised his head. Growl~~, a whining sound came from his throat that indicated he wanted to be spoiled, and I took him with me on the condition that he promised to be quiet.
Since the curtains haven’t been opened yet, the hallways were just as dark as my room. Since Rashiok has night vision and acted almost like a guide dog, helping me avoid obstacles, bringing him along was quite useful.
As a domain lord’s residence, the Mansion of Golden Hills is considered quite small, so there’s not actually that many rooms. Since the barracks next door is actually larger, it makes one wonder which should actually be the domain lord’s residence. In order to manage the people in the eastern part of my domain, calmly taking things into consideration it might be best to build a new small city in the center of the domain, as I currently live in the western part of Kaldia.
If war with Rindarl becomes actuality, we’d have to build a new military facility anyways. If results can be shown from us training cavalry troops, the House of Lords will surely support us and further strengthen our army.
I kept my right hand on Rashiok’s belly as he trotted along, and I wondered if I actually knew where I was going, when Rashiok suddenly snorted. And then, as if he was troubled by something, he rubbed his nose against my face, and pushed against my back.
By now Rashiok has matured, and he’s at the size where his mouth can easily chomp off my head with a single bite. I can really feel how big he’s getting, and when he stopped to look at me I gave him a gentle glance.
I saw someone’s shadow, and I immediately hid in Rashiok’s own shadow. Since Rashiok is taller than I am, it was simple to hide completely in his shadow.
“……Hm, is that Rashiok?”
The person walking down the hallway seems to have noticed Rashiok in the dimness. Rashiok growled softly in reply, and the person went into a room without paying mind to Rashiok. The voice was Bellway’s. After thinking about it for a bit, I finally realized that we’re close to Earl Terejia’s room.
But, isn’t it still a bit early for the earl to be up? I had my doubts, and decided to remain here for a bit. After doing it once before, I’ve acquired quite the bad hobby of enjoying eavesdropping.
From the earl’s room, I eventually heard the two of them talking in subdued voices. They talked about the plans for today, and the reports on the pigeons that arrived last night. Getting up this early, must be due to the dedication they’re putting in about the matter of accepting the refugees.
I didn’t know about such a thing, because I’m still getting up at the same time as usual. Even normally, Earl Terejia overworks himself for his old age, and now he’s adding even more to his burden. I can only pray that he doesn’t collapse from overwork.
I thought I understood Earl Terejia’s reason for rising early, and was about to return to my room.
“Alright, so about Eliza-sama yesterday……”
Bellway mentioned my name, and I raised my hand to signal Rashiok to stop. I felt like he was going to report on my conversation with him yesterday, and I was interested in how he would talk about me with the earl.
Bellway’s voice became even more hushed, he seemed to be whispering yesterday’s conversation to the earl. His voice was so low that it was difficult to hear him clearly.
“……I don’t trust the future master.”
Bellway’s voice seemed agitated as he returned to a normal speaking volume, and I could hear him clearly. The future master would of course be referring to me. I wonder if the earl intends to have his servants work for me in the future.
Out of all the servants in the mansion, only Bellway was from noble society. Bellway’s father had been a titled knight, but since a titled knight was only an honorary position, it’s not something that can obtain peerage. Unlike nobles that can retain their nobility throughout the generations despite not having peerage, there’s a law that states once a titled knight dies, all their children will no longer be considered to have a noble’s rights.
With people like this, if I lose Earl Terejia’s protection, I might suddenly find myself without any retainers.
“You’re not the only one.”
Earl Terejia replied in a low voice that was like a sigh. It felt as if it sounded bitter.
“She doesn’t trust me at all. She’s been using Kamil and the soldiers and maids to collect information on the villagers.”
……As expected, that was exposed. As the years passed and the number of people around me increased, for me to go and gather information without using any of them, that does indeed seem like evidence that I don’t trust the earl.
Earl Terejia and I have a relationship of mutual benefit where we use each other rather than a trusting relationship.
That’s why he had been in charge of rebuilding my domain, and why he had participated in the early stages of the refugee acceptance plan as well. He’s also using this as a chance to get rid of his own subordinates that are too troublesome to use and passing them along to me. What’s more, all the grain that the Kaldia domain produces, goes through the Terejia family, and is sold by merchants affiliated with the Terejias. This could be said that it’s an excellent monopoly deal for him. It’s basically like I’m loaning the domain to him until I become of age since he’s a noble without lands of his own. There were plenty of advantages to be had from this relationship for both of us.
Since all the servants in the mansion were hired by and signed contracts with Earl Terejia, isn’t this evidence that he doesn’t need to build a trusting relationship with me. For future things, he won’t necessarily need me to do anything or require my trust to do what he wants.
Something like my trust, I wonder just how much it’s worth. As I was furrowing my brows, Earl Terejia and Bellway’s conversation continued.
“Then, Kamil also doesn’t trust her?”
……Kamil, huh. I slightly ground my teeth.
He was originally a soldier in training from the army, and he used to have a life as a merchant’s son. I’d heard that his father died, but if things were so simple he should have inherited his father’s riches. While he was a soldier in training, he was selected to assist me, and just like that he’s always stayed by my side, but I don’t know the true reasons for it.
What will they talk about, I concentrated even more on this topic. I’d definitely like to clear up some unknown factors.
As I listened, the earl’s next words were over in an instant.
“Ahh, that might be. If he knew that his father had been the merchant that poisoned the family he’s now serving, he might not be able to leave things as is.”
The merchant that had taken the blame for poisoning my father had been Kamil’s father.
I immediately paled, and my head was spinning around. My vision was flickering, and I collapsed against Rashiok. I was beginning to break out into a cold sweat.
That’s because, it’s my fault that his father died. I was the one who killed my father. But the one who was accused of and executed for the crime, was the merchant that had sold my parents the food for the party.
It felt like my heart was about to burst out of my chest. And even though it was cold, I was sweating.
……I had only heard that he was a villainous merchant. Although Kamil hardly ever talked about his father, I could tell from his expression that he still missed him.
If Kamil ever discovers that I’m the true culprit. A chill ran down my spine.
He might have been serving me all this time without looking for any benefits in return.
Urgh…… I couldn’t make a sound, as it felt like I was choking on some sensation. I feel terribly dizzy. My temple was aching in pain.
I somehow managed to lift my trembling fingers, and poked Rashiok’s back three times. Rashiok understood what I wanted and laid down on the floor so I could get on him.
As I somehow managed to endure the feeling of being sick while riding him and not throw up, Rashiok silently brought me back to my room.