Same Kind (3)

Translator: Alice

Editor: Claire

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Same Kind (3)

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“It’s not difficult at all to repay you.”

 

She didn’t mean to be humble at all, so why did she say that?

 

It was not until a beat later that she was able to grasp reason. She was in a position to make herself look good to him. Ian also cared about Layla, so this could be a good opportunity for him to do her a favor.

 

“Wipe.”

 

Just like that.

 

Looking at his handkerchief, she asked, even though she knew.

 

“What’s this?”

 

“You sweat a lot.”

 

Eyes containing various emotions poured over her. But none of them were as bizarre as Ian Kerner’s. With an expression that she could not read, he tilted his head.

 

In his hand were the chains that were released from her wrists earlier.

 

“The Imperial Army always repays the price of a life. Even if you’re a prisoner heading to the island of Monte…”

 

Ian took a step closer. He meant that he was going to pay her back properly, but was making sure of another fact at the same time.

 

That she was still a prisoner.

 

She looked into his eyes and answered with the most elegant smile she could muster.

 

“Okay, thanks.”

 

Doing one good thing didn’t absolve a prisoner. It was easy to commit a crime, but it was difficult to pay for it. Even if it was a sin that they did not commit. She bowed her head and meekly held out her wrists. She didn’t even consider that she could be free just by doing something like this.

 

But this could be a chance.

 

Her head began to spin at a fast speed. She molded her expression to be like that of a child looking at their angry mother. No matter how hard she tried, he did not change his expression in a meaningful way, but hope still filled her heart.

 

‘Look, there are always opportunities.’

 

She asked excitedly.

 

“Are you really going to let me wash up?”

 

“Yes. But your hands will still be tied.”

 

“D*mn, how do I wash up then? Will I only be able to soak my body in water like a vegetable?”

 

“I’ll put people around you.”

 

“I’ll make them wash me, like a princess.”

 

While she was being sarcastic, Ian quietly did what he had to do. Cold shackles wrapped around her wrists, and the lock was fastened between them. Contrary to her heart, her arms, which had become accustomed to restraint, welcomed the shackles. Were her muscles stiffened in the shape of submission now?

 

She should have moved her arms a little more while she was free. It would have been nice to stretch in many ways. When she wriggled her fingers belatedly with regret, Ian grabbed her arm tightly and stopped her useless movements.

 

“I told you not to try, Haworth.”

 

At that moment, someone blocked Ian from touching Rosen. It was the old gentleman she saw earlier, the Captain of the Vehes. He looked much older than he did from a distance. He gently held Layla’s arm in one hand and swung his cane, smacking Ian’s hand off of her.

 

“… Ian Kerner! What a rude fellow you are. Did I teach you to act like this? You want Layla’s savior to be chained like this?”

 

“Captain.”

 

Ian informally saluted him and stepped back. Ian was a former commander, and the old man was a captain. It was a gathering of great people.

 

Was a captain higher than a commander on a ship? Was he powerful enough to wield a cane at a war hero? The relationship between the upper and lower ranks was a mysterious thing that she didn’t know anything about. An old man of a reverent age knelt in front of a newborn to pay respect, and a patient who couldn’t lift his limbs sat at the helm of the Empire.

 

She observed their scuffle quietly.

 

“Set the Lady free, even if it’s for a moment. After all, where will she go? The sea?”

 

“It’s not possible.”

 

“Why not?!”

 

“Under the Imperial Law-“

 

“The laws of the land don’t apply to the sea! I’m the law! At least on the Vehes!”

 

It was decades ago that the era of absolute monarchy(1) was ended by revolutionary forces. The heads of the revolutionary army selected the Royal Family to suit their tastes, established them as scarecrow emperors, and started a republican government that advocated a constitutional monarchy(2).

[(1)E/N: a form of monarchy in which the monarch is the only one to decide and therefore rules on their own.]

[(2)E/N: a monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution.]

 

The kingdom had become an Empire, and classes had officially disappeared… But, according to the old man she met in prison, nothing had really changed. In the first place, the leaders who led the revolution were aristocrats. Only the name of their positions disappeared, and being a ‘citizen’ meant being of the upper class, with a certain level of culture and property.

 

In addition, they were obsessed with the old families who eliminated themselves from power and became counts or viscounts. High society still considered their bloodlines important, so they only married and socialized among themselves.

 

Rosen was born after the beginning of the revolution, so she had nothing to say about it. She didn’t know much about thorny issues like politics or society.

 

It was just that, in her eyes, the Captain and Ian Kerner were not entangled in such complex social hierarchies… They seemed to be close friends, just like father and son. 

 

“Don’t you have the tiniest amount of flexibility? What are you doing to Layla’s savior? At least release her shackles while I say thanks. With them on, how can I face the Lady?”

 

“She is a prisoner.”

 

“She is a savior now.”

 

The old man looked at his granddaughter in his arms.

 

There were tears in his eyes. Even Rosen, a newcomer, was able to see his affectionate love for her.

 

“She was a prisoner before she was a savior.”

 

“You never surrender the last word.”

 

“I am a soldier on duty under orders from the military, and there should be no exceptions to the law.”

 

The captain ignored Ian and smiled at Rosen.

 

“Lady Haworth. Please forgive this young man for his disrespect and accept this old man’s thanks.”

 

Rosen immediately noticed that the captain had lived as a soldier for a very long time. Over the years, he frowned more than he laughed, and his wrinkles created an aura of authority and dignity.

 

“Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. Excuse me, my Lady. I’m retired now, but I was once an admiral of the Navy. I’m ashamed to brag, but I’m sure the Lady has heard of Alex Reville.”

 

There was no one who hadn’t heard the name. If the hero of this war was Ian Kerner, the hero of the last war was Alex Reville. Even she, who didn’t attend school, was able to sing ‘Hymn to Victory’ and ‘Brave Navy’ from beginning to end. Alex Reville was mentioned in both songs.

 

‘He’s a famous man, cr*p!’

 

Henry Reville was so rude and Layla Reville was so cute that she didn’t really think much about the name ‘Reville’.

 

She knew it sounded familiar. They were the Reville family, who had no interest in the way of high-ranking people.

 

“…I am neither a Lady nor a Haworth. My name is Rosen Walker.”

 

It took a little courage to reject the disgusting title of Lady Haworth. She was originally someone who didn’t respond well to authority, and it was still a bit like that now. It was strange, but it was true. This was the result of her struggle to live.

 

“Then may I call you Miss Walker?”

 

“Do whatever you please. I don’t know the etiquette of the upper class.”

 

She tried to answer without trembling. The captain seemed to be trying to create a harmless armosphere in his own way, but she still felt like she was facing the Emperor. Henry Reville and Ian Kerner treated her like sh*t, so hearing such polite words from such a great man gave her a headache.

 

“Layla is my only granddaughter. If it had not been for Miss Walker, she would have died today.”

 

“Yes… ”

 

She lowered her eyes and flinched.

 

“Did you say you wanted to wash up and eat?”

 

“I’d appreciate it if you could send supplies to my cell. It’d be nice to have meat. As you know, it’s hard for prisoners to get nutrition.”

 

“No, I can’t do that. Repaying you in that way cannot happen. Our old Reville honor does not allow it.”

 

She tried to refuse, but he was the only person who could only put food in her mouth, regardless of honor. It would be a dinner with high-ranking people, dressed in outrageous ways, eating with a fork and knife. Just thinking about it made her feel tired.

 

“I believe you can eat even if your hands are tied. If you don’t have plans for tomorrow evening, I’d like to invite Miss Walker to dine in the captain’s quarters… ”

 

That’s when Ian Kerner intervened.

 

“That’s too much. You shouldn’t do that. Captain, this one-“

 

Without realizing it, she turned to look at his handsome side profile. She knew exactly what he was going to say. 

 

-This woman is a murderer, a witch, a lowly woman, below our league, filthy, dangerous…

 

It was all correct.

 

[I treat everyone equally.]

 

But she didn’t want to hear those words from Ian Kerner’s mouth, in the reliable voice that had comforted her. With the same voice she had listened to throughout the war… It felt as if whatever he said would become the truth.

 

[I hope that my squadron can better protect the weak, the poor, the unfortunate, the shunned, and the neglected.]

 

“…She is a murderer.”

 

“Thank you, Captain. It’s an honor. I’m always hungry, and just because my hands are tied doesn’t mean I can’t eat. You eat with your mouth, not your hands.”

 

Ian’s and her voice overlapped. They looked at each other. Well, to be precise, he looked down at her with a puzzled expression, and she stared at him with sincerity.

 

“Besides, there is a risk of her escaping-”

 

“I can’t run away. Sir Kerner told me quite a few things about the beings under this sea.”

 

-Did you pick up a flyer again, Rosen?

 

-It was just floating by…

 

She hated to admit it, but she had unreasonably high expectations for him. Every time she confirmed that Ian was different from her fantasies, she was angry and couldn’t stand it.

 

It would have been better if she hadn’t met Ian Kerner. No, they shouldn’t have met as jailer and prisoner. He should have remained in her fantasy. 

 

“Isn’t that right? Sir Kerner?”

 

“…”

 

But what could she do? Life always swept her in an unwanted direction. She swam all the way here with no fins or gills, flailing her hands and feet. 

 

She couldn’t afford to waste her emotions on a weak fantasy.

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