this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
After giving his commands, Ain looked out the window as he watched Rottier leave.
He suddenly recalled the dark bruise that was on the wrist of the young child.
A clear sign of abuse.
There must’ve clearly not been a single ally the child had within the Barony.
A child who was suddenly brought into the world into a place with only enemies.
It was natural for her to be wary of her surroundings. Ain nodded slowly.
But what could possibly warrant for her to go outside with that weak body of hers?
Ain suddenly approached the window out of curiosity.
Was she close enough to be seen from the mansion’s window?
He, who possessed sharp eyesight, gazed off into the distance.
It was then.
“Your Grace, it’s Knight Serrat.”
Another guest had come to his office. It was a different knight this time.
Ain knocked on his windowsill a few times without even pulling the bell rope. His subordinate, who had good hearing, quickly entered the room silently in response.
Ain von Ether was someone who hated being disturbed.
Although the somewhat sharp reaction made Knight Serrat rather nervous, fortunately, the news he had brought was of interest to the Duke.
“A message has arrived from the Lebouire Barony.”
Those who wore iron masks on their faces.
Ain turned his cool gaze toward Serrat.
“What did they say?”
Serrat pondered for a moment whether he should report the news that he knew would anger his already furious master.
However, his worries were short-lived.
Since it was troublesome for a subordinate to judge the value of the information they were reporting.
“…They came to ask about when they should consolidate the marriage vows.”
At those words, the windowsill that Ain’s hand was touching cumbled with a harsh sound.
pls do not share this anywhere or the transmigration gods will transport u into boku no pico !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.wordpress.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
The Sea of Fog that surrounded the Ether Duchy in the south was terrible. It moved according to the seasons, from place to place within the Duchy territory, but never disappeared.
Hence, this was the period when the fog was more heavily concentrated around the ‘Sea of Fog’.
In other words, it could be considered as good news for the knights from the Lebouire Barony who had come to find the Duke once again. Thanks to this, the knights of Baron Lebouire who had come from the mainland, never encountered any of the fog.
“What did the Duke say?”
When Serrat, who had gone to deliver their message, returned to the drawing room, Baron Lebouire’s knight’s face was flushed red.
Even if the two families were now connected by marriage, they couldn’t afford to relax their guard within the realm of Duke Ether, who was rumoured to be able to cut down any creature that emerged from the fog as the guardian of the sea without even lifting an eyebrow.
Instead of answering, Serrat, the knight who had just entered the room, stepped back from the door and remained silent.
Then, from behind him, emerged the Duke of Ether.
Baron Lebouire’s knight jumped up in surprise. Despite the sudden movement, Duke Ether didn’t even spare him a glance.
“It’s something to do with our household, so it’d only be right for me to give you an answer in person.”
Ain glanced at the Baron’s knight once.
Just as he had said, if they were talking about courtesy, then the person who was originally involved, the Baron’s eldest daughter, Asily de Lebouire, should’ve been the one to come here.
However, they didn’t even show up.
The corners of his lips rose.
“So, you said you wanted to know how the marriage vows were going to be handled?”
In response to his question, Baron Lebouire’s knight nodded, thinking that this was going smoother than he thought it would.
“Yes, the Baron sent me to consult you on what we should do. I’m the Commander of the Lebouire Barony’s knights, Carron.”
Commander? In all honesty however, the Lebouire Barony didn’t even have more than 30 knights though.
Ain immediately erased the name which was not worth remembering from his mind.
“It seems that the knights who were here before didn’t report the news back properly.”
“Oh, they didn’t make it back.”
They didn’t make it back? Ain, whose eyebrows twitched slightly at those words, immediately understood the situation that had occurred.
Shortly after the Baron’s knights had left the Ether Duchy, several unrecognizable corpses had been found in the forest.
It was probably them.
Those guys who couldn’t even defeat the weakest of monsters with the forest were knights?
Duke Ether gave a short laugh.
He spoke in a dull voice to the Knights’ Commander who seemed to be totally unaware of anything.
“Nassia has already become a member of the Ether household.”
At those words, the Commander’s eyes widened.
“What are you talking about when the marriage vows haven’t even been finalised yet?”
Ain didn’t even bother to sit at the table to greet his guest.
He walked around the sofa at a leisurely pace and stopped in front of the Knights’ Commander, Carron.
His cold gaze fell on Carron.
“I don’t know where you heard of such an absurd idea. The fact that I would’ve been willing to welcome a five year old child as a bride. I wonder, to the extent that makes me want to pay a visit to the Baron.”
An aristocrat always needed the permission of the fief lord to enter the territory of another noble family, no matter the difference in status.
In that sense, Ain’s words could be considered as a declaration of war.
Although Baron Lebouire wouldn’t be able to deny him entry since he had called it a visit, he couldn’t comprehend it any other way when he heard it said in such a cruel voice.
“I’ll just go according to whatever Lebouire wants. As my daughter, Nassia will never leave this family again. Not until the day that child decides to throw away the Ether name.”
At those words, Carron, the Knights’ Commander, opened his eyes wide in shock.
“Then please, I hope that you’ll deliver this news safely to the Baron.”
Then in a particularly low voice, he said.
“That is, if you can get back in one piece, of course.”
At those words, Carron’s face turned blue.
Ain left the drawing room without even listening to his greetings.
Then, there was only silence, leaving Carron alone in the drawing room.
It took some time to calm the heart that was painfully complaining about the shock. I let out a strained breath.
The sight in front of my eyes was more beautiful than I expected, and I was able to regain my composure since contrary to what I had expected, nothing else had happened.
“Is this the inside of the clamshell?”
At first, I thought there was only pitch-black darkness that blocked everything ahead from sight.
But at that moment, a faint light gradually emerged from within the shell.
As if it were hung from the ceiling of the room, a scarlet light lit up the inside of the clamshell.
Seeing the adductor muscle desk I had seen earlier in the misty fog looking like this exuded a different sort of atmosphere. It almost felt like I was in the secret cottage of a mage, deep within the woods.
However, there didn’t seem to be any sign of people here as I looked from here to there.
Even as I studied the light with my eyes that were sensitive to mana, it didn’t seem as if it had been made by a person.
Although I didn’t know the fundamentals of how it worked, it was still obvious to me that it had been created naturally.
“Great, I’ll make this place my hangout then!”
It was extremely to my liking.
Although I had been slightly shocked when the shell had suddenly closed, if I was able to leave again, then I thought that there’d be no better place as a hideout than here. I touched my heart with a hand.
It still seemed to be alright.
“If my condition’s like this, then using some simple magic that uses materials should be alright, right?”
As I sat on my knees, it felt as if I was sitting on top of a soft carpet instead of the floor.
Seems like the inside isn’t as hard as I thought.
The feeling felt nice for some reason, so I let out a laugh.
Like a child playing with dirt, I filled my hands with white sand. There wasn’t much sand that could be held in that small hand which could barely grasp an adult’s index finger fully.
Still, this much should still be enough!
As the sand touched the floor, a strange echoing sounded, like an instrument. I drew a magic circle with the sand while listening to the pleasant sound.
As soon as the mage finished drawing the magic circle, it responded immediately.
As the mana fog around it was extremely thick, it was obvious that it had absorbed the mana from its surroundings.
As the bright light that seemed to appear blue flashed by, the inside of the shell returned to its scarlet colour once again.
“This should be enough to know if someone else comes here.”
The magic I had used was magic that drew a boundary.
Magic that prevented all others from any access at all was risky since there was a chance that they would be able to sense it.
Since I had no intention of revealing that I’m a mage yet, then this much should be adequate.
Although it’s a place that I’d like to make my base, I still had to check, just in case. Whether or not people really didn’t come here.
This magic would help me with that.
Clap clap. I shook the sand off my hands and crept back toward the adductor muscle desk.
The elevated part of the white desk was wider than I thought, so much so that I would be able to be enveloped by the shadow of the muscle adductor if I just crouched down.
I saw my teddy bear slippers peeking out from underneath the hem of my dress as I entered into the shadow.
Was I so short that I couldn’t even reach the top of the clam’s shell?
I sneaked out from underneath the desk and reached a hand toward the top of the clamshell.
The scarlet light seemed to almost reach my hand, floating up and out of reach.
It was such a gently swaying movement, and for some reason, it made me want to go towards it.
It was when I had for some reason, wanted to hold onto it in my hand and jumped up high, using my arm to push against the muscle adductor desk next to me.
At an unexpected moment, the clamshell suddenly burst open.
In an instant, the lights suddenly went out and the mana fog covered my vision.
No, rather, to be precise, the black shadows of people beyond the mana fog were surrounding the clam I had been in.
“—We have to break open the shell, oh, Young Miss!”
Are these the monsters from the Sea of Fog that I’ve only ever heard of?
Before I could even be surprised, Azelta suddenly popped out from within the shadows.
What’s going on? I didn’t know that my wide eyes could get any wider.
Truthfully speaking, I was much more surprised than when the clamshell had suddenly closed.
My shoulders trembled along with the squeezing pain in my heart.
Hiccups seemed to be too big of an activity for this tiny body.
My whole body shook violently.
She seemed to be extremely shocked. I was brought back to the mansion half-conscious.
“You don’t know how shocked I was when I found out that you disappeared. Especially that clam…”
Azelta hugged me and placed me on the bed. Even then, my shoulders were still shaking with hiccups.
“That clam became abnormally large after absorbing that strange fog. It’d be better off for you not to go near those things.”
Fog… That seemed to be referring to the mana fog.
It seems like you don’t know that it’s a mana fog, seeing as how you dared to call it a strange fog.
Azelta, who was always smiling, looked at me with a serious expression on her face.
As if she was genuinely relieved, Azelta sighed, her eyebrows no longer furrowed.
“I immediately informed His Grace as soon as I discovered you were missing. Do you know just how much I was worried about you, Young Miss?”
Her sighing seemed to be filled with real concern.
I looked up at Azelta’s face. There was not a single smile on her face, which normally always had one.
It was a kindness that I had never received from the Tower of my previous life, which I had dedicated my whole life to.
On the contrary, rather, although I constantly tried to protect the people of the Tower, not one single person ever tried to protect me.
It wasn’t just that they had no intention to do so, rather there was no such goodwill to do so either.
Looking back, even before I had died by being stabbed in the back, that life had simply been a continuous cycle of weak acts as a pushover. Since I had been the only one to take on missions to dangerous locations without receiving any compensation in return.
Everyone had pushed me to the brink of my limit, simply because I had been the strongest in the Tower.
‘It’s fine, right?’
‘Since you’re the strongest out of all of us.’
All while praising me to the skies with those words on your lips.
However, Azelta was different to those guys.
Azelta didn’t even know I was a mage, let alone an archmage. This was a kindness and goodwill that was offered to me, even though there was nothing that could be gained from doing so.
It was an unfamiliar and ticklish feeling. Just why in the world?
Anyway, the only thing that guaranteed my status and identity was Duke Ain Ether’s [I acknowledge her as my adopted daughter] that he had said.
Even so, you’re still running around like this just for me?
Hearing the sound of my slightly rough breathing, I unconsciously called out for Azelta.
“Yes, Young Miss.”
Azelta, who had been called, answered in a clear voice. I looked at that face which was stained with nothing but worry still.
Why are you working so hard, just for me?
However, if I phrased it like this, I’d be found out as being someone who is far past the age of five.
Having a new understanding of my situation again, I swallowed back my words with difficulty and asked.
“Do you like me?”
Even though I had asked like this, Azelta still seemed to understand what I was trying to say.
Her eyes widened, and her usual bright smile appeared immediately.
“Of course, since you gave me this.”
She pulled something out of the large front pocket of her maid uniform that was beautifully wrapped in paper.
I had already somehow gotten used to seeing that pizza shape. That…
Azelta nodded her head at my words.
“Yes. Since you gave me such a precious thing, I have no choice but to serve you with all my heart.”
When I heard that, I widened my eyes and burst into laughter.
“Is this a candy friendship?”
As expected, I conveyed the meaning well!
I winked involuntarily. Azelta also winked, as expected and accepted it.
However, I didn’t miss the hidden shadow behind Azelta’s happy face.
It must’ve been because of some other reason. However, it didn’t seem to be the time to ask now.
Who did I end up giving all the candy to?
I thought as I watched Azelta put the candy back into the pocket of her uniform.
To make a rough guess, since they had probably been the people who came to my room that day, then I had probably given it to a few maids, Azelta… oh, and a few knights that had passed by my door.
So I had given it to eight people.
I never thought that there would be a day when the people who had received the eight pieces of candy would one day later be collectively called under the name, ‘The Order of Eight Candy Pieces’.
god ain looks so fine in that illustration. ALSO YES HEALING NASSIA’S TRAUMA I WANT TO SOB