Act 1, Part 4
(Translator notes for anyone that missed it, turns out Ratoka is a guy that’s being forced to act as a girl by Eliza when in the mansion. Also, as a recap for anyone who’s forgotten some characters, Ratoka is the villager kid that threw a rock at Eliza and subsequently got arrested. Eliza faked his execution, and kept him as a potential body double because he looks similar to her, saying that their shared eye color, red, is very rare and impossible to fake, and created a fake identity, “Elise Cherstoka,” for him to act as in order to spread misinformation and confuse any potential future enemies. This fake name is purposefully similar to another girl currently living at Eliza’s mansion, Elise Sherstok, who is a noble girl with a sickly body that’s currently recovering at the Kaldia mansion, since the Kaldia domain has a climate that’s well suited for her illness. Hopefully this summary helps anyone who’s forgotten the details, as these two characters haven’t appeared for quite a while. The next 10+ chapters will be told from Ratoka’s point of view, and it’s actually narrated in third person instead of first person, so hopefully I do a good job, as it’s my first time tackling the third person perspective.)
……Ratoka smelled the faint scent of flowers, and opened his eyes.
He still couldn’t get used to the feeling of these clothes against his body. He missed the familiar scent of straw, and he laid and rolled on the bed a bit before getting up.
Since it’s not his usual wooden bed, but covered fully with soft cloths instead, it’s very uncomfortable for him. Well, due to that, he’s been getting up earlier than before, that might be the only good thing about it.
Then, he sighed deeply. There was a single flower placed by the pillow, giving his entire room a sweet smell.
This room is narrow and made of solid stone walls, and the loud snores of people in the connecting rooms echo loudly in his room as well. He pushed away the wooden board covering the window, and let the faint sunlight shine in.
It’s a little before dawn.
As the moon and sun changed places, the reddish tinged sunrise that only lasted for a short time each morning was the most beautiful time of day, is what he thought.
He kept watching the sky until it turned completely blue. His mind which was still groggy until then, finally began functioning.
When he remembered the face of the person that had taught him the beauty of sunrises, he felt a pain in his chest. She was a sister in training from the church that had been out on patrol. He only knew her for a short time, but, that’s exactly why he remembered her eye color, as clear blue as the sky, so clearly.
It was almost time to get up, so he turned away from the window, got out of bed, and knocked on the wood and iron knocker installed in the middle of the barracks. The loud knocking finally interrupted that annoying snoring, and hauled the sordid men out of their dreams.
“It’s morning, get up, you middle-aged men.”
“……Oh, ohh. Morn’in, Ratoka.”
“All of you, would never wake up at all if I went easy on you, every morning……”
He’s already been here for two weeks. Whoever wakes up first in the morning is supposed to wake everyone else up with the knocker, but ever since he’s come here, he’s been the only person that’s ever woke everyone else up.
This morning as well, the adult soldiers blew him away, and after falling down ten times, Ratoka reached his physical limits.
Although this always happened, the uncouth soldiers would always stick around watching him, ridiculing him and laughing at him every time his sword got knocked out of his hand. Even more humiliating, today the soldiers didn’t even give him time to catch his breath as they hooted at him.
The jeers today were,
“Oi oi, how pathetic! Even Charlie was better than this when she was five years old!”
“If you can’t even beat a five year old little girl, all you’re gonna be good for is harvesting wheat!”
“That’s why, young master Ratoka is an ‘ojou-san,’ I say!”
That’s what was being said.
Ratoka had been forced to the barracks by the earl, and the earl had told the soldiers to “give Ratoka the same training that Viscountess Kaldia went through,” so of course the soldiers would compare him to that girl at everything, and since Ratoka wasn’t as good as her, everyone called him “ojou-san.”
Ratoka already had a complex about his rather girlish looking face, so calling him an “ojou-san,” meaning lady, only increased his humiliation.
“Shut up! I’m not the same as that Charlie bastard, this is my first time learning swordsmanship!!”
Ratoka was so irritated that he shouted out at the soldiers, and they fell silent for a moment. Just as Ratoka finally thought he would get some quiet, the soldiers started laughing even louder than before.
“Charlie you say, hahaha, she’s never even touched a sword before she came here to train with us!”
At that retort, even Ratoka was unable to find a comeback. “Damn you all!!” He couldn’t find anything to say, so all he could do was curse at everyone in foul language.
Nobles learn the sword starting from a young age. The young sister that had stayed in Cyril village several years ago had definitely said that to him.
At first, he had thought that he should go through with and endure this sword training, but now he can’t take all the jeering anymore. Now that he’s discovered his skill level, his already battered pride is in shreds.
More than anything else, he hates the person he’s being compared to. This girl they’re calling Charlie, the daughter of the noble Ratoka hates more than anything – or more accurately speaking, the current domain lord.
Seeing Ratoka’s face distort as he was unable to even express his anger and frustration properly, even the soldiers realized that they may have gone a little overboard, and they stopped laughing. That laughter that was so annoying had finally stopped, and it’s quiet now, but Ratoka was too angry to care anymore.
“-Well, um, what is it. You shouldn’t hate our lord so much.”
Someone among the soldiers mumbled that, and some of the other soldiers also mumbled in agreement, and they scattered, as the atmosphere had gotten cooler.
“-What is all this!!”
Ratoka made a fist with his right hand and hit the ground in frustration, then he heard a voice colder than any he’d ever heard before.
“You wake up so early, you damned brat. If you’re still that energetic, why don’t you practice some more with me for another five rounds?”
At the same moment, Ratoka’s wooden sword that had been knocked out of his hand came flying down again and hit his stomach, causing him to moan.
Even though he was only eight years old, Ratoka recklessly glared at his opponent Gunther. Gunther who had his foot on top of Ratoka’s head as he laid down on the ground, defeated, returned a sharp gaze back at him.
Although Ratoka reluctantly apologized, Gunther’s gaze didn’t change at all. Gunther finally pulled his leg back a bit, and Ratoka hurriedly jumped up and retrieved his sword.
He felt like Gunther was about to kick him, and he was right.
Ratoka barely managed to dodge Gunther’s foot by a hair’s breadth, and Gunther tut tutted.
“Come on, don’t laze around, let’s start already!”
Ratoka nodded, and Gunther started attacking him again.
……It only took two attacks, before Ratoka was knocked over on the ground again.
In the afternoon, he has to go forage for his own dinner. That’s the rule of this domain’s army.
His physical strength was pushed to its limits to the point where he was throwing up, so of course it was impossible for him to do any hunting in his state of extreme fatigue. At least, that’s what Ratoka thought.
He’s used to feeling hungry anyway. Sulking and telling himself that he was doing it out of defiance, Ratoka had never once gone out to forage for dinner.
“Ah, you’ve come today as well?” (Elise) (Translator note: going to use parentheses to show who is speaking for this section to reduce confusion, as Ratoka goes by ‘Elise’ as well when in the mansion.)
Still caring about what others thought of him… he basically dragged his body through the shadows, as he glared at Eliza’s mansion, a symbol of the former domain lord he hated so much. Then, from a section of the garden’s complicated layout, he heard a soft voice from a window above him.
When Ratoka looked up, he saw a girl meet his eyes, perched with her elbows on the windowsill from her room on the second floor. She looked delighted to see him, and laughed happily and elegantly.
“Hehehe…… How funny. You’re also ‘Elise-sama,’ aren’t you?” (Elise)
Although he still felt slightly bitter at being called that, he swallowed it down and smiled back at the girl. More importantly to Ratoka, he’s happy that Elise seems healthy and energetic again today.
“Elise-sama, what shall we talk about today?” (Elise)
“Anything. ……But anyway, Elise-sama, I…… when you address me, you really don’t have to add -sama.” (Ratoka)
Ratoka mumbled a bit, and finally uttered a tiny wish of his. Although he comes here and says that every time, Elise would always smile happily and say “sorry,” but she never once nodded and agreed to his request.
Well, his true wish is to actually have Elise call him by his real name, “Ratoka,” but he’s strictly forbidden from telling Elise his real name.
That’s why, at the very least, he hoped that Elise could address him more familiarly.
Talking with a noble girl, he’s scared to ask her for anything more than that – and he’s also confused, because Elise doesn’t fit his mental image of how a “noble” should be at all.
He’s always believed that nobles were arrogant spendthrifts that never thought about commoners at all, that didn’t know how to do anything other than look pretty and make idle chatter. Although it was just the sister in training that had told him that, he’s never heard anything else about nobles, nor does he want to hear.
Unfortunately, the now former lord of this domain, was even worse than the nobles she talked about, is what he had thought.
However, Elise who always smiled gently at him, he couldn’t think of her as a typical noble at all.
He felt himself idolizing Elise, believing her to be special, and Ratoka viewed her as sacred.
However, the difference between nobles has him even more irritated. Every single day, when he’s in the barracks, he has to hear her name over and over again, that name he associates with everything bad about nobles, – the girl that the soldiers also call Charlie, Eliza. He hates everything about her, that damned Kaldia daughter.
What’s “Charlie” even supposed to mean, Ratoka had asked the soldiers this morning.
Charlie. A name passed down in the ancient language of the Jugfena region. From even before St. Ahar created the Ar Xia Kingdom a millenium ago, he’s now a story told at bedtime about a legendary king that had ruled over the entire Jugfena region.
What’s “Charlie” supposed to be.
While he smiled at Elise, once again in the back of his mind, Ratoka spat at Eliza.