Ratoka was finally mastering the basics of the rapier.
Ratoka is a boy. As a typical young villager boy, he likes martial arts well enough.
What’s more, he was even proud of himself, for being able to learn the rapier which ordinary commoners would never have the opportunity to do.
Summer was ending, so the heat and humidity were subsiding, when Ratoka heard something that made him go “why is that” involuntarily.
“Why was everything decided like this in the first place?”
The person sitting across from Ratoka, Bellway, had just told him something without an explanation like he always did.
“Your rapier training is going to end, and you’re going to start learning the spear instead today. Your teacher will be Claudia-sama, you’ll be learning at the training grounds, and your name with her will be Ratoka, not Elise. Also, any time that you speak with any of Earl Terejia’s private troops, please call yourself Ratoka. Because I’m in charge of you, please don’t give me any unnecessary trouble.”
Bellway finished what he had to say, and quickly stood up and left without giving Ratoka any answers.
Even though he was allowed to use his real name for once with these people, Ratoka still felt some heavy feelings.
Why was he supposed to start learning the spear, after he had finally begun to master the rapier after all that trouble. He couldn’t help but wonder about things over and over again with a heavy feeling in his heart, but couldn’t come up with any answers.
In the first place, why was he even studying lessons for the nobles. Remembering that he had once thrown a stone at Eliza, Ratoka was becoming even more and more confused at her expectations for him.
She would have him executed, she said. But instead, on the day of his supposed execution, she merely had him locked up, and cut off a small lock of his hair instead.
He was provided with plain but a very ample amount of food, and was even allowed to go outside regularly. Every day, a towel to clean his body with and a hot bath was also prepared. Thanks to all this, compared to when he was in Cyril village, the skinny, grubby child that he used to be had completely disappeared, with his hair looking cleaner and healthier, his complexion looking much better, giving him a neat appearance.
If the villagers saw him now, there’s no way any of them would recognize him. Everyone thought that he had been executed in that fake execution, and they had very little contact with him in the first place.
All they might remember is the color of his hair and eyes. After all, because he looked so similar to the previous domain lord, everyone avoided him even after the previous lord had died.
However, even though his appearance has changed so much, Ratoka couldn’t tell himself it was “great.”
He couldn’t abandon parts of his appearance or his name that his mother had given him.
Even if his mother had gone insane. Even if his mother had hurt him.
– The girl’s name Ratoka, the long hair that his mother had him keep like a girl’s, both of those were proof to him of his mother’s love.
Even though his hair used to be dirty and unhealthy, just changing it on him without his permission, and forcing him to use a different name for someone else’s convenience, stealing his original name from him, of course Ratoka would feel resentment inside at all of this.
However, he was beginning to understand a little bit that this was all in order for allowing him to live on.
– Nobles are the executors of the law. The previous domain lord that had tortured his citizens was an exception, if there had been a real noble, any lawbreakers would have been the ones punished instead.
Protecting and upholding the law doesn’t mean using it to one’s own advantage, it applies to everyone, from commoners, to nobles and even the royalty.
That domain lord’s daughter, Eliza, must have known that. Even while knowing that, she had gone around the law and allowed Ratoka to live.
He should have been executed according to the law, but even so, Eliza had broken the law and allowed him to live, this is such a serious matter.
What’s more, Ratoka had been caught throwing a rock at Eliza, and had even told her he wanted her dead. Breaking the law to keep Ratoka alive, she gains nothing from it, and it could even be detrimental to her.
People like Ratoka that resent the previous lord’s only surviving family member, Eliza, aren’t rare at all. What if someone else throws a rock just like Ratoka did, is she going to spare them just like him, he wondered.
When he thought about all this, even though he still hates her, he saw a glimpse of a truly heavy burden on her tiny shoulders.
Bellway took Ratoka to the training grounds that he hasn’t visited for a long time, and he saw some soldiers he didn’t know around the place. They weren’t wearing old battered leather armor like the domain’s army, but were wearing metal armor instead.
“Bellway-sama, who’s this kid……?”
“He’s an orphan that’s going to become a soldier in training for the Kaldia army starting next spring. He’s going to begin learning the spear here. I was worried that he might get lost, so I guided him here.”
“I see, but surely Bellway-sama didn’t have to go to all the trouble of bringing him here yourself……?”
“Everyone else in the mansion just happened to be busy at the moment. It couldn’t be helped.”
The soldiers that he didn’t recognize came over to talk to Bellway. All these soldiers that Ratoka didn’t recognize, and on top of that Bellway was lying to them right in front of him, Ratoka felt something very shady was going on.
“Since his instructor will be arriving soon, please prepare a section of the training grounds for his usage.”
Before he realized it, Bellway had already just about finished talking to the soldiers, and tapped him on the shoulder, causing Ratoka to shrug and turn around, looking at the direction he indicated.
He had seen Gunther and the other soldiers use practice wooden spears before, so he wound some cloth strips around a wooden spear to pass the time, until he heard a cool mature girl’s voice saying, “are you Ratorika?”
When he raised his head, he saw a beautiful blonde-haired girl. He’s seen her from afar a couple times before, it’s Claudia.
“Um…… It’s Ratoka.”
At Ratoka’s response, Claudia nodded to herself in self-satisfaction.
“So it’s Ratoka, sorry for getting it wrong. I’m Claudia. Pleased to be in your care.”
“I’ll be in your care as well.”
“Ahh. Then, let’s start training immediately. Let’s start with twenty laps around the training grounds.”
At Claudia’s words that she said instantly without hesitation, Ratoka’s wooden spear that he was holding slipped from his hands with a noisy clatter.
Twenty laps, that’s an amount that even the adult soldiers would have trouble with.
By the way, the most that Ratoka has ever managed up until now has been eight laps. And, she wants twenty?
“Alright, let’s start.”
Without paying attention to Ratoka’s reaction, Claudia was telling Ratoka to hurry up and start running. Even if he takes a light pace, Ratoka felt like twenty laps was still too unreasonable?
Even so, Ratoka went along with Claudia’s demand, and ran completely out of energy after fifteen laps and could run or train no more, and his first day of spear training concluded earlier than expected.