Chapter 1. Harsh season (1)
*The last few chapters are sponsored by Curufin. Thank you 💖.
After finishing their meal, the knights tapped their bellies, sang loudly and retired in a unique way, “I love you, Grand Duke!”
Killian and Rietta, without moving to the parlor, sat quietly and began to drink tea.
Come to think of it, when they faced each other the other day, it was not in the parlor, but in the office. Thinking that she was just a commoner and therefore wouldn’t dare to use the parlor, I felt less burdened instead.
“I see the meal was to your taste.”
Rietta’s face turned red at the words Killian spoke.
‘Did he see how I ate?’
“Yes, it was a very tasty meal, thank you.”
Rietta didn’t dare to look Killian straight in the eyes, but since she was ordered to do so, she knew she had to look at his face to speak, so she answered while looking at his neck.
‘He could see that I had eaten a lot, too.’
Rietta’s face flushed as she thought about the fact that she had eaten a full meal, even though it was served for her lord.
‘I haven’t eaten that much lately. I couldn’t believe I’d eaten so comfortably myself.’
Killian chuckled and quickly got to the point.
“I called you here today to see how you’re doing living in Axias.”
Rietta replied succinctly in a lean manner.
“Yes, thanks to your grace, my lord.”
Killian glanced at Rietta and leaned back in his chair.
He wondered why she was staring so intently at only at his neck, but he decided to tolerate it, since just being able to talk to her face instead of the top of her head was a great development.
He knew that there were many places that prevented commoners from looking directly at the faces of nobles. Sevitas seemed to be no different.
The chef came in and left the newly prepared tea and refreshments. It was beautiful and smelled delicious, but Killian didn’t touch it and neither could Rietta.
Without delicately noticing it, Killian continued speaking.
“It seems you’re settling in nicely as a mage. You’ve never worked as a mage in Sevitas, have you?”
A question briefly drifted through Rietta’s mind, “How did he know?” but of course she had a feeling he might have. It wasn’t really a secret, so Rietta answered quickly.
“No, my lord.”
“Why is that?”
“Not far from my house was a retired priest, who usually gave blessings and healed people, so I didn’t have to do it. Compared to him, I didn’t have the talent to do it for money, so I only used it at home.”
Killian frowned and asked back.
“Even after the plague had spread?”
The plague had swept through the empire, disrupting the pilgrimages of the priests and holding the seers to high ransom. In addition, Sevitas began to run into plagues in recent years, and there must have been a high demand for sacred abilities.
It was a wonder that the commoners had never used their abilities to do business.
Rieta replied with a nonchalant bow of her head.
“It wasn’t long before the plague spread to Sevitas, so I never had a chance to use my meager ability.”
Killian was convinced, remembering later what had happened to her.
It was not three months after Rietta’s husband’s death, just as spring was arriving, that the plague cases began to appear in Sevitas, starting with Cassarius.
At that time, Rietta was locked in a house guarded by guards, waiting for her death.
Even though she was a commoner, no matter how much her status was above the law, she would not have taken it so lightly if her husband was still alive.
Killian asked as he silently touched his chin.
“Did your husband die from the plague?”
“Yes. ……. I’ve never seen it before. The older man who saw the body said it was the plague………. It was confirmed that way.”
Rietta replied nonchalantly, but when Killian saw the vaguely darkening face, instead of offering careless comfort, he simply switched to the part of her words that needed attention.
“Can you see the evil?”
Rietta gave a small nod.
“Yes. But I don’t have enough ability, so it’s not very useful.”
Killian didn’t know much about sacred abilities, but he did know that it was rare for a mage to have the spiritual eye to see evils.
The divine ability to enlighten people through blessings, purification, exorcism and healing was a part of the development that could be gradually developed through training and effort.
However, the ability to see evil was the realm of innate talent that could not be helped by effort.
If Rietta had the quality to see evil with her eyes, she could have become a priest. Her ability might be manifested later if she practiced it diligently.
When the quality of seeing the devil is combined with divine ability beyond the ability of the exorcism, it naturally creates a high synergy effect.
Some high-boundary sacred magics have magical means to allow you to temporarily see demons with your eyes, but they are not very cost-effective.
Once the imperial priests said that people who see demons naturally, without much effort, have a much greater advantage in that aspect.
Including the high priests and high priests of certain temples, and even the emperor’s direct priests if they are lucky. It was not unlikely that one could rise to a high position.
Killian was intrigued by Rietta’s talent.
“Did your ability manifest itself after you came of age?”
“No, it was before.”
“At the monastery?”
Killian tilted his head gently. He wondered.
‘Why didn’t she become a priest?’
If she developed her divine abilities before she became an adult, wouldn’t she be able to become a priest in a short time?
If she was from a monastery and an orphan. Priest was the best profession for a commoner orphan to choose.
Even a nobleman can’t do it recklessly. A commoner from a monastery could become a priest if she wanted.
In addition, if she had a spiritual eye and developed her divine abilities earlier, she would have been able to train steadily and become a priest of high rank.
Then she would not have been subjected to Cassarius.
“How old were you when you started?”
“You said you were capable of purification. What about it?”
“Started at 17….”
‘Um… Is it normal?’
Even though the sacred abilities blossomed through training, most of them were high enough in potential to manifest at a very young age.
Although Killian was older, he didn’t know much about priests and divine abilities, so he didn’t know the level of divine abilities that manifested at the age of fifteen.
Among the emperor’s most elite priests that he had shared his childhood with, there were countless geniuses who had manifested their divine abilities before they were even ten years old.
The only priests Killian knew well enough to have had a dialogue with were the Emperor’s priests and Abbot of Axias, who were close to him when he was a child.
Anyway, wasn’t she old enough to be a priest?
Even if she wasn’t able to heal or cast blessings, but she could purify, so she could have become a priest.
But why didn’t she?
The question Killian was going to ask lightly did not come out, as if a strange intuition had grabbed him by the ankles.
Most of the people who have the ability to bless as a sacred ability who couldn’t become a priest have graduated from a monastery and manifested after adulthood, or even if they manifested early, they couldn’t become a priest due to major doctrinal disqualifications.
It was unlikely that Rietta would have such a disqualification.
She may have had an accident earlier, but …….
The thought of maybe dragged his words down.
It was believable.
Did Rietta have an accident? Or something bad happened to her?
Seeing Rietta’s face added persuasion.
For a noble priest, marriage and pregnancy could not be prevented, but for a commoner priest, it was a great enough wound to be a catastrophe.
Because of the hereditary nature of sacred ability, it was a devious attempt by the nobility to maintain the privilege of sacred ability.
When he thought about it, the fact that Rietta was a townswoman and also beautiful, and Killian felt it was quite convincing.
‘Did you have an accident? Did something happen to you?’
But no matter how high Killian’s status was, he didn’t want to ask such a question to a woman.
But then again, he wasn’t thoughtful and considerate enough to let it go unanswered.
Killian asked as he stirred the cold tea.
“There’s no brand of dismemberment, and seeing that you married early, it’s not like you were a priest and you were dismembered.”
It was a question about why she didn’t become a priest after all, although Killian said it in a reasonably roundabout way.
Rietta replied without much expression on her face.
“Yes. I gave up on becoming a priest after I failed the exam.”
Killian was unconsciously relieved. He remembered hearing about it in passing.
The Sevitas monastery had its own graduation exam that was created at some point. It was replaced by an exam to become a priest.
It was supposed to be a written exam. Was it difficult?
At the monastery, they taught all the children the theory of spellings, purification, exorcism, and healing, but very few of them actually developed even the most rudimentary blessing ability.
Furthermore, the further one went into those abilities, the more drastically the number of people who could use those abilities decreased.
It was a real shame for the employees who missed out on people with that kind of ability, since the plague was going around in such a big way and the ability to bless was in dire need.
So why did they create a test that made no sense?
“It would be a foolish employee to lose someone with the ability to bless and even purify.”
Rietta replied nonchalantly.
“I wasn’t good enough.”
Killian could see no hint of anything in her expression.
It didn’t seem to be a matter of purity.
It could have been a lie, but he couldn’t imagine Rietta lying to him with a face like that, so he just believed her. Even if it was a lie, there was no reason not to believe her. It wasn’t that important.
The truth was that Rietta was not a noblewoman for whom such things were important, and there were times when he wondered what it was like if she had actually caused an accident.
It would make him uncomfortable if her precious talent was buried in a doctrine where people couldn’t even see her face because she was a commoner, and where such standards were vague.
If they had done something terrible to her and made her that way, he would be angry with them as a human being.
He didn’t want you to feel sorry for the woman even though it was a miserable life.
The two of them engaged in a dialogue for a while.
Rietta, true to her earlier resolve, wasted no time in answering Killian’s questions.
Killian found her concise, quick and to the point answers to be comforting and not suffocating like before. She seemed like someone who would stay with him for a long time, like Ern or Leonard, and listen to his moods.
It was a moment when the survival instincts of a commoner who had lived her entire life under the thumb of the aristocracy was successfully demonstrated.
Killian couldn’t have known that Rietta had made a policy of keeping her wits about her and answering quickly and succinctly to the point.
For Killian, he just felt relieved that Rietta’s hesitation and overly politeness disappeared and the answer came out immediately, and now he felt like he could communicate with her, so he thought if he fed her and she would talk.
Seeing that Killian didn’t seem as grumpy as before, but said with a subtly different demeanor, Rietta was relieved that she didn’t seem to be treating her lord wrong. At least she didn’t think it was terrible.
Unbeknownst to Rietta herself, she had lost control of her fear and nervousness towards Killian as she ate. She even had time to think about other things.
As Rietta answered Killian’s question, she was inwardly saddened that he hadn’t used the necklace she had given him. Her heart felt a little empty.
It was a memento of her daughter.
When pushed to the most desperate situation of her life, she squeezed everything out of herself and casted a fierce blessing.
It had been a long accumulation of selfless prayers and a steady breeze, and when Rietta became aware of it, it had become an almost semi-permanent construction.
It was an objectively rare thing. It was good to say that she would never be able to make something like that again in her lifetime.
It was almost the only item she could ever repay him for being her benefactor…. ….
Killian needed it more than herself, who was somewhat resistant to bad luck anyway… ….
It took so much burying in front of her daughter’s plaque, asking for forgiveness, praying with tears, and aching in her heart to make up her mind to offer it to His Highness the Grand Duke.
However, she knew that it was a shabby thing for Grand Duke Axias, so she swallowed her inner disappointment.
It was an item that had already left her hands.
Killian continued asking a lot of questions.
“I see. What did you do in the East Annex?”
“I blessed the rooms and the belongings for the ladies.”
I tried giving a hint, but the lord didn’t seem to associate the necklace with her.
Because of their previous conversation, which was called rude, she couldn’t say that she would return the money. He didn’t even use the necklace she had given him.
Rietta knew she had to do her best to repay him somehow in some other way. She only received it from this man, and there was nothing to repay him.
For a moment, Rietta’s mind reminded her of a way she could be slightly useful to him.
‘Why didn’t I think of that earlier?’
After the conversation had stopped for a while, Rietta quickly said with a brightened face.
“Shall I bless Your Highness’s bedroom as well?”
Killian’s eyebrows twitched upward.
“Oh, my lord! That’s not what I meant!”
Rietta quickly corrected her words, biting the tip of her tongue.
But that wasn’t what Killian thought. It hadn’t even occurred to him to correct her.
He had expected Rietta to be quite bold in her seduction.
It wasn’t just seductive, as she seemed to be unconscious, to the point where she stuck her tongue out and bit it and blushed.
His heart was instantly moved.
He had never seen her smile before. But it was the brightest expression he had seen.
He was only going to ask Rietta about her ability. But he thought it was because she answered well in the way he preferred, like his long-standing hands and feet.….
She had white blonde hair that resembled moonlight on a clear day.
Pale, sky-blue eyes.
A neat and beautiful face and a calm voice that gave a relaxed feeling.
Indeed, Rietta was a beauty to his liking.
He was not sure what he was thinking, but Killian’s hand involuntarily went to his lips while looking at Rietta’s lips the whole time…..
It was a little awkward and strange.
He figured it was because Leonard was talking nonsense earlier.