Chapter 1. Who are... all of you?
“That’s right. Lady isn’t even healthy yet, but because of things like that… Were you surprised?”
“N-No! I’m absolutely fine. It’s all because you’re worried about me. I understand.”
“Of course! Ah, that… What happened to the knights?”
“If you’re talking about knights, are you referring to the knights who tried to move the child to the clinic outside but couldn’t disobey the lady’s order?”
As Elusiana murmured, Trisha asked, “Why does Lady look so discouraged? Why? Are you worried about them?”
“A… little bit? Haha. Did they… get disciplined?”
Elusiana’s eyes widened like a rabbit’s and flinched at Trisha’s resolute answer.
“Really? Even though I was the one who misunderstood and embarrassed them in the first place?”
“Because the Lady got hurt. It’s obviously a big mistake not protecting Lady. Disciplinary action is natural to get.”
“I-It’s my fault though.”
Trisha smiled softly, raised the corners of her eyes, and made eye contact with her through the mirror.
“As expected, my Lady is kind.”
“…what do you mean kind? I just abused my power.”
“Yes? What did you say?”
Trisha grinned at the cute look on Elusiana’s face, who was watching her sneakily. She hated the child who had hurt her, but the lady’s heart for the wounded child was so lovely and pretty. Besides, the lady looked at her with such a cute face. If she got carried away by her emotion, the lady’s tender heart would get hurt.
Trisha asked, sweeping down Elusiana’s wavy hair, “But why do you care so much about that child?”
“Although the child’s situation is pitiful, Lady has only seen him briefly. It’s kind of weird that Lady cares so deeply.”
Elusiana, who blurred the end of her words, smiled sadly.
“I promised. I will protect him.”
From the first moment she met him.
“I wanted to protect him.”
“…Lady, although you have lost your memory, your personality remains the same.”
“What do you mean remains the same?”
Trisha, who had already softened to the fullest, braided Elusiana’s hair into one, then said, “You can’t just ignore the pitiful things.”
Trisha continued softly while Elusiana fumbled.
“Lady looks just like Madam.”
Trisha smiled broadly as she tucked hairpins studded with red gemstones between her hair. At that moment, for some reason, one side of Elusiana’s chest tingles.
‘My mother and I look alike?’
Mother. She had never seen Elusiana’s mother, but a warmth came from the corner of her heart as she rolled the word ‘mother’ into her mouth. It was soothing her wounds.
Trisha dressed Elusiana, and asked cautiously, “Are you that worried about him?”
“Do you want to see him?”
‘Do I want to see him? Yes, I do.’
In fact, that child resembled her in the past. Just like when she was left alone, she suffered from all kinds of persecution when she was a child. Resembling how pitiful she was when she desperately needed help but didn’t get saved.
‘That’s why I keep thinking of him.’
Because when that child became happy, the ‘her’ in the past could be saved.
Elusiana nodded slowly.
“Yes, I want to see him.”
As if Trisha couldn’t help, she softly grabbed the lady’s shoulder.
“Then, promise me.”
“It’s a secret to the Viscount.”
Since that child made the Viscount’s precious daughter’s face look like this, it was difficult for the Viscount to treat him better, no matter how kind he was.
Elusiana asked excitedly, “Is that all I have to promise?”
Trisha, waving her second finger from side to side, added, “No. I’m coming with you.”
“…Trisha is coming with me?”
Trisha, who nodded, patted her hand and straightened her posture.
“Do you not like it?”
“It’s not like that. Let’s go together.”
At the end of Elusiana’s reply, she put a thin shawl over her shoulders, which Elusiana didn’t know when Trisha had brought it.
“Hurry. Up. We have to go quickly before Viscount comes.”
At Trisha’s urging, Elusiana followed her.
* * *
When the door opened, the sour smell of herbs pierced her nose. Elusiana paused for a moment, then followed Trisha into the room.
“Should I turn on the light?”
He might look unconscious, but it could be that he just couldn’t move his body yet. How annoying would it be if he woke up from the light when he barely got any rest? She couldn’t make Astein uncomfortable with her stubbornness when she came.
“But you can’t see anything in here.”
It was just like Trisha said. Because of the thick blackout curtains, the interior was like a dark abyss.
Elusiana carefully moved to what was believed to be a window.
“It will be fine if we pull up the curtains.”
“Just turn on the light— Oh my, I will walk there.”
“No, I will do it. It’s right in front of me.”
Elusiana, who whispered in a low voice, carefully pulled up the cloth she was holding in her hand.
The midday sun shone like golden crumbs through the curtains, which had been pulled up very slightly. Elusiana, who was right in front of it, frowned slightly at the light that touched her.
After blinking her eyes a few times, the dim interior came into view. A skinny, unsightly child lying on the bed.
‘But he’s better than the first time I saw him.’
Elusiana, who frowned, tilted her head.
‘Why, there’s no wound at all?’
Trisha asked with a serious expression on her face, “Lady, what’s wrong?”
Elusiana, who was about to add her words, closed her mouth again.
‘Did I see it wrong? Or— Is this normal?’
This world wasn’t the world she used to live in. Ordinary humans and a race called ‘heterogenous’ lived together here.
‘There are priests who borrowed God’s power. Then wizards who used mana as their power.’
So it wouldn’t be strange for wounds to heal in a short time. If you were a troll-like race with great regenerative power… it would be possible. However,
‘Isn’t that kid a human being?’
Trisha looked at her with worried eyes. Lady’s pale face looked as if she was startled by something.
‘I thought it would be okay because it was the child she saved.’
It was the first time the lady looked so closely at a child who must have come from the slum. Looking at him properly, she must have been shocked.
“Let’s get going back, Lady.”
“You promised to see him for a moment.”
Elusiana shook her head.
“No, let’s stay a little longer. That’s what I want.”
“Will you be alright?”
Trisha nodded reluctantly.
Elusiana sat down on the chair next to the bed. Then she took a closer look at Astein. Was it because his wounds disappeared? Or was it because the blood stains were washed clean?
‘He’s a boy, but he looks so pretty.’
His skin, as white as milk, seemed to glow even in the dark. It was funny to think of a skinny child like him, but if he gained a little bit of weight, his face could be considered beautiful.
‘How did such a pretty child fall down like that?’
Elusiana stared at Astein’s unconscious face. A face that looked peaceful in sleep. However, his protruding cheekbones, thin body, curved back, and shrunken shoulders clearly showed that he had been exposed to frequent violence and abuse.
“Why are you staring at him like that?” asked Trisha with a face full of complaints.
‘Does she think my interest in Astein is excessive?’
In this world, society was divided into nobles, commoners, and the poor. Trisha thought the lady’s feelings for that child must be compassion for a poor person.
Grinning, Elusiana said, “Because he’s pretty.”
Trisha, who shook her head as if it was nonsense, looked at Astein. How did she see this child’s face back then?
Astein was skinny, but he had the beauty that could never be called ugly. His uncommon black hair made his white skin stand out even more.
Tricia murmured softly, “It’s not like I can’t see it.”
“Fufu, right? By the way…”
Elusiana, who was laughing quietly, narrowed her brow slightly.
“His wounds seem to have healed, but why won’t he wake up?”
Trisha smiled bitterly at her words.
“Even if he looks fine on the outside, he’s not on the inside.”
“He’s… not feeling well? Why?”
“That’s the medicine… Oh my, what am I saying in front of the Lady?”
“Don’t be cautious. Just say it, Trisha. So what about the medicine?”
Trisha replied with a low sigh as if she had no choice but to answer with Elusiana’s determined eyes looking at her.
“I don’t really know either. However, if you take the antidote, you usually get better over time. Still, if you take it for a long time, the antidote won’t work well either.”
“…what happens if the antidote doesn’t work.”
“Of course his life will—”
Trisha, who was continuing her words, shook her head when she was Elusiana’s stiff expression.
“Lady, he’s not like that. He has such a good complexion that he can’t be addicted.”
“Really? Then he’ll wake up soon?”
Embarrassed, Trisha stammered in response. Elusiana, who wasn’t doubting her, looked at the child silently.
‘He certainly looks better than the first time. Then… shall we wait for a little more?’
Elusiana, who seemed to be deep in thought, eventually sent Trisha back first. Then she thought carefully about what Trisha had said.
‘There were times when the ‘antidote’ didn’t work. I’m glad… he wasn’t the case.