Chapter 4

***

 

As they walked across the vast hall, Filina spoke.

 

“Laura, please check how many days are left for the Swordsmanship Academy. I’m going to practice right away from tomorrow, so prepare a casual outfit and find out what the test subjects and acceptance criteria are.”

 

Nodding as she spoke, Laura, who had been following Filina, asked with a worried look on her face.

 

“Young lady, what on earth are you planning to do entering the military academy? If you go there, you will have to live in a camp, and since most of the students are men, I’m sure there are many inconveniences for a woman.”

 

“Of course it is. But it can’t be helped. Because the only way to formally learn swordsmanship is to enroll in a military academy.”

 

“Why would you want to learn swordsmanship? You have Lord Arnold. Is it because you don’t have enough guards?”

 

Enoch Arnold was an escort knight who had graduated from the Swordsmanship Academy and had officially received his knighthood and was escorting Filina in the Debussy family.

 

“Yes. I have Enoch.”

 

Filina paused in her walk to her room, turned to Laura and said.

 

“Could you tell Enoch to come to my room for a moment?”

 

“What? What’s going on all of a sudden?”

 

Laura stared at Filina with a look of incomprehension on her face, then Filina answered.

 

“Because he graduated from the military academy, so he knows a lot about the entrance exam. And he’s more reliable than anyone else because of his outstanding skills, even though he’s very young.”

 

Laura, who had been listening intently to Filina, asked with a frown.

 

“Are you serious, Young Lady?”

 

“Of course I am. Do you think I’m joking now?”

 

Laura shook her head at her indifferent reply.

 

“No, I’m afraid because I think you’re too serious. Young Lady doesn’t talk much usually.”

 

Filina said with a faint smile.

 

“You know me very well, don’t you?”

 

Unlike Filina’s relaxed face, Laura’s expression was dark.

 

“Young Lady, the military Academy is a very dangerous place for a woman to go. Please change your mind.”

 

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. I haven’t even taken the entrance exam yet.”

 

“But you are going to. Just the fact that you are taking the exam for the military academy will cause a lot of rumors. That will affect the reputation of the Duke’s residence.”

 

At Laura’s words, Filina spat out.

 

“The Debussy family’s image is not that good anyway. It’s not like you don’t know.”

 

Laura opened her eyes with a bewildered look on her face, as if she didn’t expect to hear the words disparaging her own family directly from the Young Lady’s mouth.

 

“Ha, but we’re one of the big families in the Alvar Empire! There are far more people who want to be close to our house, no matter how bad the reputation is!”

 

Laura tried somehow to say the good things about the Debussy family, but she couldn’t deny the bad reputation.

 

Filina, who had a small smile on her face at the sight of Laura, took her steps again.

 

Laura, who was hurrying after her, opened her mouth with a face that still hadn’t given up on persuasion. 

 

“Young lady, aren’t you old enough to be thinking about marriage? I’m sure Master will agree with me. Speaking of which, what does the Master say?”

 

“My father?”

 

Filina smiled, as if she had heard something interesting.

 

“He looked quite surprised.”

 

Laura ministered to her words in a louder voice.

 

“Of course he would be surprised! I was really surprised, too, when the name of the Swordsmanship Academy came out of the Young Lady’s mouth!”

 

Filina substituted her answer by appearing to smile faintly.

 

Gabriel was surprised, unfortunately, for a completely different reason than Laura had thought.

 

He had not the slightest idea that Filina knew his secret about Ariel, his illegitimate daughter.

 

Besides, no one would have thought that Filina would use this fact to blackmail him.

 

Perhaps sending Filina to military academy would be a better option for him.

 

Living away from her would be a good way to keep the peace in the family.

 

In the first place, the peace in the family was as good as broken when Gabriel impregnated the servant girl.

 

Filina listened to Laura’s petulant complaints in silence, and when she was calmer, Filina told her to call Enoch.

 

Laura, still staring at Filina with a dissatisfied look on her face, reluctantly nodded.

 

***

 

The spacious bedroom, where the calm air flows silently, reeks of fragrant flowers. It must be the scent of the beautiful flowers on the table.

 

Every morning, Laura never missed a day of taking the vase of flowers from the table and replacing it with a new one.

 

Filina brought her teacup to her mouth with a lazy gesture. It was chamomile tea that Laura had specially prepared for her since she was having trouble sleeping due to insomnia.

 

“Enoch.”

 

Filina called his name in a calm voice.

 

“I heard you were the youngest student to graduate from the Swordsmanship Academy, is that true?”

 

Enoch, who had been staring at her, nodded.

 

“I should have asked you long ago.”

 

Filina smiled slightly and swallowed her tea. The warmth flowed down her throat.

 

She looked up and spoke to Enoch, who stood at a distance.

 

“Are you afraid of me? Why are you always so distant?”

 

“…”

 

“Laura even prepared you a cup of tea, but in the end, I’m drinking by myself again.”

 

The air in the room seemed to subside calmly with her elegant voice.

 

Filina once again brought the white teacup to her mouth with a graceful gesture.

 

“People might think I’m punishing you.”

 

She sighed and set the cup down on the table.

 

Enoch was still only keeping his distance from her.

 

His eyes, however, seemed to be listening intently to what Filina was saying and followed her every move.

 

“Enoch.”

 

“…”

 

“Answer me.”

 

Enoch, who had been standing quietly, began to speak slowly.

 

“……… Yes, Lady Filina.”

 

“I wonder if you could tell me more about the Swordsmanship Academy, specifically the entrance exam there.”

 

Enoch’s expressionless face flickered suspiciously at her words. Filina graciously added a few words that seemed to clear up his mystery.

 

“I’m going to the Swordsmanship Academy.”

 

Even though she couldn’t guess the future, she was determined to get in.

 

Enoch’s eyes, which had never shown any emotion before, widened in surprise.

 

“So I need you to help me. Enoch Arnold.”

 

Filina rose from her seat and slowly approached Enoch.

 

As she closed the distance, the scent of roses seemed to waft thickly through the air.

 

Enoch bowed his head, properly poised. Filina, who was staring at him with a sour face, recited softly.

 

“You are ……always straight without an inch of sway. Enoch.”

 

For the past four lifetimes, he had always stood by Filina, even when she took the hands of the rebels in her third life.

 

Loyalty to the extreme.

 

At times, his loyalty was so overwhelming that she was ready to abandon Enoch.

 

Perhaps his life would be in danger because of her.

 

But Enoch quietly followed Filina to the end.

 

Foolishly, she couldn’t even remember Enoch’s last appearance properly. …….

 

“Swordsmanship Academy…”

 

Enoch opened his mouth slowly, keeping his gaze down.

 

“It is very dangerous for you, Lady Filina.”

 

Filina chuckled at Enoch’s words. Then his gaze lingered on Filina for just a moment.

 

Her calm voice echoed in the quiet bedroom.

 

“Enoch, do you know what is the best way to overcome danger?”

 

“…”

 

“Stand up and fight it.”

 

So far, she had been running to avoid it, this time she wanted to face it and fight it. Even if it would end with the same result, she wouldn’t have any regrets.

 

 “…….May I ask why?”

 

Filina smirked at Enoch’s cautious voice.

 

“I want to be strong.”

 

“…”

 

“I want to be stronger than the others, so that no one can hurt me.”

 

There were only two reasons why Filina chose the Swordsmanship Academy.

 

To survive.

 

And to punish those who ruined her life.

 

‘I will not die easily this time. I want to make sure that the people who sent me to my death feel the same pain.’

 

The only question was…..She did not know who killed her in her third lifetime.

 

The only thing she remembered was the sound of sharp metal and the fishy smell of blood, and the picture of a small crane engraved on the silver blade that pierced through her. 

 

Filina felt suffocated as she remembered that day.

 

She raised her head while frowning at the painful memory that came to mind. Then she saw Enoch biting his lower lip with his eyes down.

 

Filina tilted her head and asked with a curious look on her face.

 

“Enoch? What’s wrong with your expression?”

 

Enoch, who had been holding his breath for a moment at the sound of her voice, said in a low voice.

 

“Is it because I’m unreliable?”

 

It was completely unexpected.

 

Filina stared at him with a gasp. Enoch already looked like he was offended.

 

“No. That’s not what I meant, Enoch.”

 

“…If I’m not good enough, why don’t you pick another knight instead?”

 

“No. You’re enough.”

 

“Then why…?”

 

Enoch stopped mid-sentence and let out a heavy breath.

 

Filina looked confused.

 

Was there ever a day when Enoch expressed his emotions the way he did now?

 

This was the first time in all of her lives combined.

 

“Enoch.”

 

Filina tilted her head and tried to make eye contact with Enoch. But he studiously avoided Filina’s eyes. Forced to do so, her small hand carefully covered Enoch’s cheek. Enoch stared at Filina with a surprised face at the sudden skinship. Filina whispered in a soft voice.

 

“I want to live my life with dignity, without your help.”

 

“…”

 

“Women are less powerful than men, and they have wonderful knights like you to guard them, but sometimes I think I’d rather walk the land freely without anyone’s help.”

 

Filina’s warm hand lightly brushed Enoch’s cheek.

 

“So help me. So that I can live proudly.”

Notes

N/A

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