Chapter 3

***

 

About ten days later, late at night, they arrived at the Axias estate.

 

Killian came out after melting away the fatigue of his journey in a warm bath, and on his way into his bedroom, he was flabbergasted.

 

The beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed woman he had brought from the Sevitas territory, wearing only a white, transparent slip, sat on his bed, then stood up and bowed her head.

 

Needless to say, it was déjà vu; he had seen this scene a few days ago.

 

The location changed to his bedroom, and this time she didn’t look quite lost. The woman was as expressionless as ever. The neat, deep eyes dropped its gaze wistfully.

 

This was the woman whose presence was almost imperceptible for the past few days. 

 

Despite the long journey, the woman remained expressionless.

 

“Did the ride make you a little nauseous at first?”

 

The woman didn’t say anything.

 

“You’re not talking much today, are you?”

 

“…….”

 

Killian spat as he walked to the table.

 

“Do you remember what you said in Sevitas?”

 

“…….”

 

A step later, the answer came back.

 

“Yes, I remember.”

 

The words Rietta said that day were repeatedly brainwashed by the head maid of the Sevitas mansion.

 

The strong tranquility of the sedative had put her out of her mind, but she still had occasional memories.

 

“Grand Duke Axias saved your life. Don’t forget that you have to serve him well. What you do will determine whether you die or live. Do not dishonor the Sevitas family. Don’t tarnish the reputation of the Sevitas family. If you don’t do it right, you’ll be dragged back and killed!”

 

Honor…

 

Even in the midst of confusion, Rietta laughed at the word.

 

At Rietta’s appearance, the maid raised her hand as if she was frustrated, but she could not leave an ugly mark on the body of a woman who would soon be devoted to the Grand Duke, so she clenched her fist and hit her chest.

 

Rietta sat there in a daze, only blinking, besides laughing once at that. 

 

‘Why does she still look like she’s out of her mind? How much alucino did that ignorant maid feed her?’

 

“Repeat after me. ‘Your Highness, Grand Duke Axias’. Repeat after me! ‘Grand Duke Axias. Thank you for saving me. I’ll serve you with all my heart.’”

 

A stout hand grasped Rietta and shook her.

 

“Repeat after me!”

 

Rietta vaguely recalled that night. The Grand Duke dismissed her as drunk and insane with Alucino.

 

The fact that he had sent her away did not interest her in the slightest. 

 

She would just be taken away and die. 

 

It didn’t matter. 

 

It was neither alive nor dead.

 

But perhaps the head maid’s words were false, for it was not death that awaited Rietta.

 

Rietta was beautifully dressed and handed over to the Grand Duke of Axias like a precious piece of baggage.

 

Did he stop by her home for her to take something with her? 

 

She picked up a few things in a daze, but she didn’t feel anything about that either. 

 

And the long journey that followed.

 

She had never taken such a long carriage trip in her life.

 

She wasn’t interested in where she was going, or what would happen to her.

 

She didn’t care who she belonged to or when she was going to die. 

 

And so Rietta’s spirit drifted throughout.

 

The words that Grand Duke Axias threw in a harsh tone brought Rietta to reality.

 

“Please kill me. What, you don’t even say that?”

 

She didn’t seem to understand the meaning of the words and didn’t answer right away.

 

Killian took out a bottle of wine from the tray cart and poured it into a glass as he continued speaking.

 

“If you’re going to look like that, it might be fun to say something like that.”

 

Fun….

 

It was what her body, her life, meant to them.

 

Rietta smiled helplessly. 

 

The smile barely made an appearance on her face.

 

What can you say to the villagers when everything already depends on the will of the Grand Duke? Do as you wish.

 

Killian stared at her. He approached her with a glass of wine.

 

She didn’t care anymore. Or so she thought. 

 

Rietta closed her eyes to avoid his hand, to keep her from panicking.

 

Killian, however, passed her by, leaving her where she was.

 

Rietta opened her eyes and blinked blankly, then she heard a dry voice behind her.

 

“Have you never heard any rumors about me?”

 

‘What kind of question is this?’

 

There were more than one or two rumors about him, and Rietta did not know what rumors he was talking about. Was he talking about the rumor that he would kill the woman if he was not satisfied with her?

 

It was meaningless to her anyway.

 

Should she tremble in horror?

 

Would he enjoy seeing such things?

 

Rietta just murmured calmly.

 

“Do as you please. Kill me or save me….”

 

The languid voice continued.

 

“Sure.”

 

Killian placed the wine glass on the side table by the bed and took off his cloak.

 

“Get dressed. I will call the butler.”

 

Rietta, who had been standing in a daze, took a step back and asked.

 

“…… What?”

 

Killian said, not even looking at her.

 

“I don’t need you in my room. I’ll give you a room. You can go there and sleep.”

 

Rietta was at a loss to understand what he was saying, but only after a long time did she ask again

 

“Why ……?”

 

‘It’s good that she has come to her senses, but she makes me say many things. Did she say her name was Rietta?’

 

Killian unsheathed his sword and glanced at her face.

 

“I’m sorry if you wanted to be held, but your look isn’t that seductive. With a face like that, a confession of love sounds like a family obituary.”

 

Dressed a little more comfortable, Killian brought the glass he had set down to his mouth.

 

Rietta dropped her head as she heard the same thing as before. 

 

It took her quite a while to answer again.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

Same response.

 

It was nothing new. 

 

Killian lost interest.

 

“Get dressed. Don’t make me say it three times.”

 

No matter how beautiful she was, he had no intention of holding a woman with a face like that.

 

Rietta put on her gown, rustling it over her slip.

 

After a moment, Killian set down his empty glass and rang the bell.

 

Soon there was a knock at the door, and an old man’s voice sounded.

 

“Did you call, master?”

 

“Come in.”

 

The old butler with the neat gray hair walked in and bowed his head.

 

Killian pointed with his chin at Rietta.

 

“Show her the room where she’ll rest. Make sure she’s comfortable. And find a house on the estate where she’ll be staying.”

 

Rietta looked at Killian with a bemused expression. 

 

The butler bowed his head.

 

“I understand.”

 

An indifferent glance went to Rietta.

 

“Go to the guided room and sleep today. I’ll give you a house in the territory and you’ll live there from tomorrow.”

 

Rietta didn’t say anything.

 

Killian had already averted his gaze.

 

Even the old butler didn’t seem to care that she couldn’t answer, and quietly led her out of the room.

 

 

 

****

 

The next day, Rietta followed the old butler, Ern, out of the castle.

 

Axias, a land still untouched by the plague, was peaceful and vibrant.

 

She gazed out the carriage window at the busiest street she had seen in a long time.

 

The weather was nice. People’s faces were bright, everyone was busy, and the streets were full of life.

 

There was a time like this for her at Sevitas.

 

A time when her husband and her daughter were by her side…….

 

“We have arrived.”

 

Ern’s voice suddenly woke Rietta from her thoughts. The carriage they were riding in stood in front of a beautiful two-story house with a front yard and garden.

 

Rietta stared at the house with her mouth opened. None of her neighbors in Sevitas had a house this nice.

 

“What do you think?”

 

Rietta stared at him for a moment, unable to answer, then replied in dismay.

 

“It’s beautiful……. It’s a very nice house.”

 

“Is it?”

 

Ern chuckled, opened the carriage door, and got out first. Then he held out his hand to escort Rietta.

 

This was the first time she had received such kindness, except when her husband was playing a trick on her, so she awkwardly declined and grabbed the handle and got down herself. 

 

Rietta’s sense of reality slowly began to return because of the house in front of her.

 

‘That’s right. He gave me a place to live and even a place to work. I am grateful for that. Is this the house where I will be living while working as a housekeeper?’

 

She was worried because the house looked a little small for a nobleman to live in, let alone have a maid. 

 

Was there a separate room for the maidservant to stay? Even though it was small, the house was clean and beautiful, it looked flawless.

 

A clean house is easy to work in. With a house like this, she thought, even if she had to live in a storage room, it would be okay.

 

“It’s a brand new house, less than half a year old. It’s not big, but it’s in a good location in a reserved area, so it’s not bad for living in.”

 

“Oh, yes. ……”

 

Ern led Rietta closer to the house and began to explain about the location and lighting.

 

“Axias has a dry climate, but we get a lot of rain in the summer. It is good that we have frequent ventilation in the summer. I don’t think there’s much you need to take care of except to make sure the wood on the window frames doesn’t get damaged by frequent exposure to rainwater.”

 

Rietta listened carefully. But the important part, the master of the house, had not yet been mentioned. 

 

Ern went on to explain the location of the market and stores where they could get what they needed nearby. Then Ern held out his hand politely and asked, 

 

“We have most of the furniture and things we need to buy right now. How do you like the house? Would you like to take a look inside?”

 

There was something strange about it. What did he mean to look inside? And it was equipped with necessary furniture and supplies?

 

Rietta, who had been in denial of reality, finally asked back as she stood in front of the house.

 

“What about the people who live in this house?”

 

Ern replied with a slight bow.

 

“Are you asking if anyone lived in the house? No one has passed through this house yet. If Miss Tristy chose it, you would be the first tenant.”

 

Rietta gave Ern a puzzled look, thinking that this couldn’t be right.

 

“I’ll live in this house alone? Is that what you’re saying?”

 

Ern smiled, tilting his head slightly.

 

“Do you have anyone with you? Even an acquaintance in Axias, please……..”

 

Rietta replied, waving her hand hurriedly.

 

“No, no, I don’t. I’m asking because…..are you saying that you’ll give me this house? Was that why you asked if I liked it..?”

 

Seeing Rietta’s confusion, the butler paused for a moment, as if to check if there was anything wrong with his words. Then he answered quickly and carefully.

 

“Yes.”

 

Rietta covered her mouth in surprise and embarrassment. 

 

So that was what the Grand Duke meant when asked Ern to get a house? 

 

She was not going to be a maid, but the master of this house?

 

Rietta shook her head and replied.

 

“It’s too big ………. It’s too much.”

 

Ern smiled serenely and answered, 

 

“This is the house Master sent. It can’t get any worse than this.”

 

Ern took out the key, opened the door and let Rietta in. 

 

“Take a look inside.”

 

Ern held the door and waited for Rietta. Rietta couldn’t be stubborn and followed him in.

 

Once inside, she was more and more convinced that the house was too big for a single person to live in.

 

The house was fully furnished with everything from dining tables and sofas to closets. It was brand new with no signs of use. It was strange to be in a new house that had furniture but had never been used .

 

Rietta finally spoke up, standing awkwardly, unable to move as if she shouldn’t be there.

 

“Does this happen often?”

 

She thought it was a house where she would work as a servant. But it was her house.

 

She hadn’t even gone with the butler to look for a house. 

 

The butler came here with her in a carriage and opened the door with a key. It was as if the house had been prepared in advance for just such an occasion.

 

Ern smiled and replied, confirming Rietta’s suspicions.

 

“Master would give a place for the person he brought home, it’s quite common. There is no need to feel burdened. Would you like to see more of the other houses?”

 

Rietta shook her head in a panic.

 

“No….no.”

 

Was the butler trying to test how much shame she has? 

 

Rietta asked cautiously.

 

“It’s not that I don’t like this house, but is there a smaller one?”

 

Ern replied.

 

“Most of them are similar in size, but there are larger ones available if you wish. Would you like to go see?”

 

Rietta stopped her complicated thoughts at the old butler’s answer. There was no need to bother him more. She just gave up in trepidation.

 

“Then, I’m afraid this will be the house……”

 

“Will you? Alright, then I will instruct the servants to bring your belongings this evening.”

 

Erun said, and asked Rietta to give him her hand.

 

After a moment, Rietta held out her hand and Ern took out a bag of gold coins in his pocket and placed it on her hand.

 

The sound of clattering, heavy weights and metal clashing echoed through the air.

 

The open pocket opened slightly to reveal the gold coins inside.

 

Rietta’s eyes widened in surprise.

 

But Ern just continued speaking. 

 

“This is a settlement grant. You can use it to pay for your living expenses for a month.”

 

Rietta was dumbfounded as she saw Ern offer her an amount of money that she had never had in her life as living expenses for a month. 

 

Before the words “too much” could come out of her mouth, the old butler calmly continued, as if he had already anticipated that Rietta would say something like that.

 

“It’s your first time living alone, so you’ll need a lot of money. Prices in Axias are higher than in Sevitas. I will come and give you half of this amount every month for the next year.”

 

Rietta asked back with a blurry face.

 

“You’re going to give me money every month?”

 

“Yes. The reason I don’t give it to you all at once is that it could be stolen or lost. Please take your time to explore your future livelihood, and if you find it difficult, or if you are not quite sure what to do, feel free to come and ask.”

 

Rietta was so flustered that she was speechless. But that wasn’t the end of Ern’s  words.

 

“If you want to open a store or buy a piece of land, you can always come and tell me. If it’s a big business, you will have to come up with a business plan, but Master will look into it and approve it.”

 

‘He’s giving me permission to run a business? Even allow me to buy land?’

 

Rietta, who had not been able to come to her senses, suddenly realized why he was being so generous and shut her mouth as if she had been hit by cold water.

 

This was the flower stand. (*she meant this is the house of the concubine.)

 

There was no shame in feeling contempt for the position.

 

She stood there in silence, fidgeting cautiously so as not to appear rude, and returned the bag of gold coins to Ern.

 

“I have some money that I brought with me from Sevitas. That will be enough.”

 

The old butler replied without any trouble.

 

“Please don’t hesitate. It is my duty.”

 

Rietta thought that Ern spoke gracefully.

 

Without raising her hand, she pursed her lips and bowed her head.

 

“…. His Highness the Grand Duke did not hold me. I can’t accept this money.”

 

Ern replied nonchalantly.

 

“I know.”

 

“What?”

 

Killian wouldn’t send the woman he wanted out in the middle of the night. Instead of explaining every word, Ern bowed his head to Rietta, whose eyes became surprised because she didn’t know such a thing.

 

“What I said was misleading, I apologize for that. I did not mean anything else. Since my master brought you here, Miss Tristy is his people, his person.”

 

Rietta stared at Ern with a confused look on her face.

 

After a while, she opened her mouth and the words came out unintentionally stupid.

 

“Sir……since I spent some time with him, that’s why…you’re kind to me too?”

 

The old butler smiled.

 

“I am merely being polite to the Master’s person.”

 

***

 

After Ern left, Rietta was left alone in the house and sat on her bed in a daze.

 

‘What did I just talk to the old butler about?’

 

It was all so unreal.

 

Before she was bewildered by the fact that she suddenly had an overstocked house and a scary sum of money, she was left on her own.

 

Not long ago, she was trapped in her house and lived waiting for the day when she would be buried in Cassarius’ grave.

 

‘I’m sure there are still guards outside to make sure I don’t escape.’

 

The chirping of the birds outside was so peaceful that Rietta’s shoulders shook.

 

It was as if she finally woke up from the alucino she drank two weeks ago.

Notes

N/A

DISCUSSION

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

guest
2 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

You might also like