Chapter 9

Translator: Alice

Editor: starrie

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Huge thanks to Curufin san for the kofis! (3/10)

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The remnants of Irdel’s body had arrived at Ventiark Castle in early November.

Irdel’s head, which had been embalmed and carefully stored as Slarhan had insisted on holding a funeral after finding the rest of his body, was finally able to rest in a coffin. 

The fact that the rest of his body underneath the neck was also embalmed, made the Imperial Family’s excuse that the body could not be found unbelievable. 

A body abandoned in the Southwestern mountains where conflict was rife in summer would not have been in such a perfect condition.

‘It’s unbelievable. No matter what, they are still half-brothers, and yet he still…’

Killing an innocent person just because he is more talented and popular, as well as the uncertainty of when he’ll turn into a traitor. 

Ellier was once again reminded that the father of her previous life and the Emperor of this large Empire, was a tyrant with a strong sense of inferiority.

Slarhan’s amber eyes that looked down at his father’s corpse seemed indifferent, but deep and dark sorrow could be felt from his strong back. 

Although he was well aware of the identity of his enemy that killed his father, he couldn’t even pledge to get revenge openly. 

As the opponent was the Emperor, the moment he declared to get revenge, he would become a traitor, which is exactly what the Emperor wants…

“Tariq. Make preparations for a funeral right away.” 

“Yes, My Lord.”

Although Tariq gave EIlier looks of dissatisfaction often, he was quite loyal to Slarhan.

Slarhan also trusted him, and entrusted to Tariq the recently retrieved body of Irdel. 

The funeral was held according to Ventiark’s custom of withholding elaborate formalities, in a simple and solemn atmosphere.

“Ellune, creator of the universe and everything within, here lies an old and weary soul returning back to Ellune’s bosom. Irdel Ventiark has always cared for those lower than him, treating his family with love and treating himself strictly. He has did his best as a child of Ellune, may Ellune be merciful to him so that he may attain eternal peace.”

 

As the priest from Ventiark Territory’s temple prayed with a sorrowful face, she saw many wiping the corners of their eyes, not only from the servants working in the Ventiark Castle, but also from amongst the residents of the Ventiark territories that gathered.

Therefore, the words of the priest that said the deceased Irdel took care of those belonging to the lower class were not untrue.

While the priest was praying for the eternal peace of the deceased for a long period of time, Ellier glanced at Slarhan standing expressionlessly beside the priest.

No one cried out aloud, and Slarhan also remained at his position silently, but Ellier found this image extremely sorrowful.

If it was the Emperor’s younger brother, it wouldn’t be unusual for him to live strutting about for his entire life.

However, what caused Irdel’s death was unclear, his body was only returned reluctantly, and the funeral was being held without any members from the Imperial Family present.

Wasn’t the person that brought Irdel’s body over was here on the Emperor’s behalf?

‘If I had known that it was like this, I would have offered my condolences as well.’

The Emperor said, “The Duke of Ventiark had originally wanted a modest funeral, so don’t go over for nothing or send something that’ll increase the work of those grieving people.”

So, in her previous life, Lilliette had only been aware of that and didn’t send anything.

When they had met later in the Imperial Palace, she seemed to have offered her brief condolences, but if she had known that he came from such a funeral, she wouldn’t have spoken so lightly.

‘Come to think of it, the Imperial Family would also have the atmosphere of a funeral house not long later.’

It wouldn’t be long after that the Emperor would gather the Empress and Imperial concubines together and inform them about what he was going to announce during the Spring Banquet.

Then the Empress and Imperial concubines will find out about the Emperor’s infertility, and they will realize that the Emperor wants his children and nieces and nephews to fight each other to death.

Therefore, the atmospheres within the Palaces of the Empress and Imperial concubines would become gloomier than this funeral hall, as if it could never turn bright again. 

In any case, even if something like this happened, the Emperor, who was full of selfishness, wouldn’t ever feel affection for his younger brothers or their children. 

He didn’t even apologize for Irdel’s death. 

So, when Slarhan first came to the Imperial Palace, Lilliette hoped to see something like rebelliousness or resentment from his face.

But his expression had always been calm. It was just like a deep lake with a calm surface.

So she had thought of him as someone that felt little emotion. 

Then, she found him hard to contend with, but now she seemed to understand. It wasn’t that he was emotionless, but someone that was familiar with suppressing such emotions.

“Now, let us all pray for Irdel Ventiark, who is on his final journey.”

At the assistant priest’s loud cry, Ellier, who was blankly reminiscing about Slarhan from her previous life, refocused to the present and straightened her posture.

Just then, freezing rain started to pour lightly. 

Those who were about to pray also paused, and looked towards the sky with a remorseful gaze for a moment.

Perhaps everyone thought that the rain was tears shed by Irdel’s soul.

After standing in silent tribute briefly, the loyal vassals of the Ventiark family and the retainers that worked in the castle for a long time bade farewell by throwing wildflowers on the coffin.

“I’m glad we’re still in the flowering season.”

“Yeah. If the funeral had taken place in the middle of winter, we might have had to break the branches of fir trees and throw them in. That’s… that would’ve been so sad.”

Some of the territory’s residents held one or two shabby wildflowers, whispered while sniffling.

Those who threw the flowers down tapped Slarhan’s shoulder as if to encourage him, who was standing in front silently, or bowed their heads to offer their condolences.

Slarhan’s expression was hardened, as if there weren’t any wounds in his heart. But anyone that noticed his gaze staying on Irdel’s coffin the entire time would have noticed his sorrow. 

After a brief period of consolation, the pit soon began to be covered with soil. The rain was starting to pour heavily, so they had to finish it quickly.

The sound of wet soil dropping onto the coffin echoed clearly in Ellier’s ears as well.

Everyone kept their silence as they watched the pit that was gradually being filled.

Then she heard a rustling sound from behind.

“Hm?”

Sharp tension ran down Ellier’s spine. This is because she thought that the Imperial Family might have sent soldiers or assassins during Irdel’s funeral.

But as she held her breath and remained still, it quietened again.

‘I’d definitely heard something.’

As Ellier looked around, she was eventually able to find the main source of the sound.

“Was it you?”

The head of a small black cat peeked out of a nearby bush.

Although it looked really pretty, it was soaked with rainwater and shivering.

“Come here, little kitty.”

There weren’t just one or two animals that froze to death during winter, but dogs and cats that wandered around the street were more vulnerable to the cold.

It might have been because Irdel’s funeral was being held, but Ellier somehow didn’t want to think about another’s death anymore.

Even if it’s just a cat.

She honestly didn’t think the cat would approach.

But as if the black cat had understood Ellier’s words, it ran quickly and jumped up into her squatting lap.

Then it sat down while hiding its legs under its body, and continued to tremble while purring.

The soles of the cat were surprisingly cold.

‘By his willingness to follow people, it definitely has an owner.’

It would be nice to find it’s owner, but the cat didn’t have any signs that would help to identify it’s owner.

Just in time, the bell signifying the end of the funeral began to ring.

“Hey, you! What do you think you’re doing there!”

Even before the bell finished ringing, one of the servants started to yell at EIlier.

The rumors about the odd slave under the Duke of Ventiark’s protection seems to have already spread throughout the Castle of Ventiark.

It must have been rather annoying for the servants to see a girl from the Empire’s lowly slave trading location Rubelfast, to occupy a room within the Castle, eating good food while training physically.  

It was obvious what they thought without even hearing them aloud, but no matter what to them, Ellier was only a ‘person from a different hometown’ and a ‘stone that rolled over here’.

Since there wasn’t any engraving of slavery on her, so they must have thought that she was planning to escape.

It wasn’t entirely wrong, though.

“As there’s a cat here.”

“So what?” 

“It seemed as though it was about to freeze to death, so I wanted to give the little kitty a hug.” 

“You’re a slave, and yet you think that you can wander about as you please? Will you come to your senses after being beaten?”

The sound of rain falling to the ground was increasing in volume, but the servant’s voice still spread far and wide.

Perhaps he had raised his voice in hopes that Tariq would notice.

He wanted to punish the slave who just entered the Castle yet is able to enjoy better treatment than him does.

At that, Ellier hesitated for a moment.

“Should I just flop down after getting beaten a few times? Or should I let the kitty go and bow down?’

However, her worries paled in comparison as Slarhan, who had quickly noticed the disturbance and approached.

“You. What’s all this racket about?”

The servant also stammered in surprise, not expecting Slarhan to come over in person. 

“Ah, that, that’s… This slave left without, without permission…”

Ellier had only moved three or four steps away from the procession.

The procession was so disorganized that it barely maintained the shape of a procession.

Nevertheless, seeing how the servant had to use the provocative phrase ‘without permission’, it seems like he had waited for a long time to have the opportunity to harm her. 

Despite the servant’s complaint, Slarhan didn’t change his expression at all and turned to look at Ellier. 

Until then, the small black cat was still seated on Ellier’s lap, as it was hard to remove a cat that was shivering while seated in the shape of a loaf of bread. 

“…A cat?”

“This cat was wandering nearby… I was afraid that it would freeze to death due to the cold…”

Slarhan glanced at the cat for a brief moment, before turning towards Ellier’s face again.

Ellier, who was oddly feeling nervous, started to make gibberish sounding excuses.

“The cat seemed to have also come to participate in the funeral, but even the former Duke wouldn’t want this small cat to freeze to death. As the funeral was almost over, I tried to hug it for a moment. Seeing that it listens to people well, it seems to be a cat that someone had raised. So I was planning to find the owner…”

“No one raises a black cat in Ventiark.”

“What?”

“Because black cats are thought to be unlucky.” 

“What? It’s only the colour of its hair that’s black, but what’s that…?”

“That’s true.”

Ellier couldn’t decide what to do with the cat.

So, while her eyeballs were turning around, Slarhan made a completely unexpected suggestion.

“So, why don’t you take it back and raise it?”

Ellier couldn’t help but widen her eyes and stared at him with both surprise and happiness in her gaze.

“Can… Can I really do that?”

“Instead, you’ll have to settle the cat’s meals yourself.”

“Yes! I’ll– I’ll do that!”

It was an unexpected gain.

Originally, the same things repeated daily, so the days passed by were filled with boredom. As other than the Mrs. Adler, no one spoke to her first, so as a slave, it was hard for her to start a conversation with others.

However, if she was raising a cat, the days passing as a slave in Ventiark would become much more enjoyable.

At that, Ellier felt a little grateful for the servant who tried to make it difficult for her.

Now that she has seen it, the feeling of watching his expression twist as if he had chewed on poop was the best.

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Notes

N/A

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