this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
Duke Ether was looking accurately my way.
What? Can you really see me?
I stopped moving involuntarily. I’m definitely using invisibility magic though?
When I raised my hand to check, I could only feel the movement of the mana fog surrounding my body.
You can see me?
Of course, those who reached the very pinnacle of swordsmanship would sometimes be able to grasp the movement of those using invisibility magic.
According to their words, their figure wouldn’t be completely visible, but rather, the air around them would seem as if it were pulsating.
However, Duke Ether was looking very clearly at me. To the point where we even made eye contact.
If you really could see me, then that meant that he was a monster among monsters.
It wasn’t that there weren’t any other monsters in this land, but rather, that Duke Ether himself was a monster.
I slowly made my way towards the large clam where Duke Ether was. And as expected, Duke Ether was indeed following me with his eyes.
He can really see me.
Duke Ether nodded slightly at my voice.
He was sitting, leaning against the adductor muscle table inside the clam.
I grabbed the bottom shell of the clam and struggled to get over the railing.
After getting across, I looked over at the Duke and saw him retracting his hand.
…What? Were you trying to help me over?
No, if you wanted to help me, then you should’ve helped me instead of being so awkward.
A silence more awkward than the Duke’s hand which had been withdrawn with a tremble passed between the two of us.
The Duke opened his mouth.
“…Is this your space?”
I think it was our first time talking while standing so close to each other, ever since we first met.
I shook my head tremblingly.
To say it’s not my space wouldn’t exactly be right… Of course, I did try to use it as a hideout at one point, but I can only use it as a hideout if no one else knows about the place.
Now that the knights and even Duke Ether knows about this place, there was no way it could be used as a hideout anymore.
I shook my head.
It didn’t seem to be wrong since it was still in the Duke’s territory. I said in a small voice.
It was because that low-pitched voice had sounded rather cold for some reason.
Most of all, it felt as if I had been stabbed.
When I looked toward Duke Ether’s feet, I could see the magic circle I had drawn with white sand that he had stepped on.
It was the magic circle barrier that I had put in place in order to know when an intruder had entered.
As expected, it had been Duke Ether who had torn the barrier and entered.
If the barrier I had made was a stronger barrier than prevented others from intruding, and if it had been that one that was torn, then I might have experienced a mana backlash in the mansion and already left for the afterlife.
Cold sweat ran down my temple. It was only natural since my neck had nearly been lost before I could even YOLO or anything.
‘Did the Duke notice that I was a mage?’
There’s no way you couldn’t have noticed it after seeing the magic circle… No, if it’s been a long time since magic has been banned, then you may not even know what magic is like.
Furthermore, there was a knight with obvious magic eyes roaming around in the mansion, so perhaps…
Then the Duke opened his mouth.
“—I just came to a place I knew.”
For something that was said after a bout of silence, it sounded rather bitter.
I lifted my gaze slightly and looked up at Duke Ether.
Duke Ether wasn’t looking at me, nor the inside of the clam shell, rather, he seemed to be gazing far off into the distance.
When I turned my head to follow his gaze, I saw something strange.
I couldn’t exactly see it.
What was there originally?
Although there was rather dense fog when I first came, now, however, it was so thick that it was hard to determine what was there or not.
It was only when I lowered my gaze and looked from up close that I could barely make out that the sea was hidden by the fog.
Thanks to the thick fog, even the boundary between the sky and the horizon was rather unclear.
Even if something suddenly appeared from there, I didn’t think I would even realise until I heard a sound.
Somehow, I got goosebumps all the way up to my neck.
“Why did you bring sand here?”
I hesitated and looked up at the Duke again.
If anyone else was watching this, they’d also think I was being interrogated right now.
However, unlike his firm tone, there wasn’t anything bad about the expression on his face.
Are you just asking because you’re curious?
“It’s white and pretty, so…”
I couldn’t say that it was sand containing mana and that I had brought it because I was greedy.
Duke Ether tilted his slightly and turned his gaze toward the elixir herbs next to him. His gaze seemed to roughly ask why I had brought it too.
My voice slipped out quietly.
Since the elixir herbs had dried up and didn’t look pretty at all, even to me.
But of course, elixir herbs are meant to be dried up and ground like that.
Fortunately, Duke Ether seemed to believe me without any doubt.
It was clear that he didn’t have any prejudice towards the aesthetic standards of others.
I found it awkward to look at his face, so I turned my gaze to the sand.
I intended to erase the magic circle by pretending to collect the sand.
It was when I was sweeping the soft clam shell floor like a carpet for some reason.
The sand, which had already lost its magic power, slipped effortlessly from my hands into a white heap.
“If you want to have this place as your space, you can have it.”
I paused. There was no mention of magic at all.
I could feel his gaze on me. A cool gaze.
It was a strong energy that seemed to be able to stop the surrounding atmosphere in its tracks with just its force.
It was too powerful for my weak body to withstand. Taking a deep breath, I listened to what his next words were.
“But not for a while.”
Did I end up getting caught as expected?
The hand that gripped the white sand suddenly lost its strength. White sand trickled down between my tiny fingers.
Am I getting executed? Then what should I be reborn as in my next life?
If possible, I’d like to be reborn as the healthy daughter of a wealthy family… no, actually, I just want to be reborn as a house cat!
Where is that place? The place where I’ll be hanged?
When I looked at the place the Duke was pointing to, it happened to be toward the sea’s side.
“Monsters will soon come flocking out of there. The Sea of Fog is much closer than it seems. If you just listen, then…”
He shut his mouth for a moment.
As he quieted down, even our surroundings seemed to get eerily quieter.
As soon as the sound of sand falling from my hand ceased, I then really heard something in between the silence.
It was the sound of the waves. My eyes widened.
“—You’ll be able to hear the sea. The monsters of the Sea of Fog will emerge from there.”
Duke Ether looked down at me. Our eyes met.
He didn’t seem angry, nor did his eyes look like they were looking at a death row prisoner who would soon enter the gates of death either.
Instead, it was just as usual.
Did you not notice the magic…?
“Is it really dangerous?”
Isn’t it your job to block the monsters from this town?
People who carry swords, or even those who possess magic eyes, would be able to live without worrying about this sort of mana fog, so what are you worried about?
Duke Ether nodded his head at my question.
“Those monsters are cunning, unlike the monsters just on the mainland.”
He listened to the sound of the sea for a while before continuing.
“I’m not sure how much you know about monsters, but they probably aren’t what you think they are.”
He said as he got up from his adductor muscle desk.
“These monsters will appear right beside you without you even realising it, and will approach you in a more familiar form than you think.”
It was an eerily calm and creepy warning.
He took a step forward.
He circled around where I had collected the sand and got out of the shell. Then, he looked up at the ceiling, and said.
“So it’d be better for you not to come here too often.”
Having said that, he turned away.
“Lastly, I’m sorry for intruding into your space without permission.”
I really couldn’t sense any emotion in his calm voice.
I brushed off the sand and got up. I really couldn’t make sense of it, even after I had gotten up and looked at him.
He was the duke who held the strongest power in the country.
Well befitting his reputation and title as the ‘Sea Guardian’, this sea of fog, as well as the land surrounding the sea, all belonged to him.
In fact, this land was pretty much nothing less of his own little kingdom.
I couldn’t even imagine what this sort of person was trying to gain from saying sorry to me.
Mages are forbidden in this world anyway, right?
You wouldn’t use a mage who’d face the death penalty if they were caught, right? Perhaps it would even damage the reputation of the Ether household.
Moreover, my status was now a princess of the Ether Duchy. If it was the Princess who was a mage, then even the entirety of the Ether Duchy could be implicated too.
Since being a mage was equal to death.
So then why in the world did you take me in? Just what are you going to use me for?
Although according to etiquette, I should’ve called him ‘Your Grace’ instead, my habits from my previous life kept jumping out.
Duke Ether, who was walking, paused in his steps.
Originally, I wasn’t intending on asking him directly. However, in the end, I thought it’d be for the best if I just said it to him straight.
I was really confused, so I needed at least a clue or something to slip out.
“Why… did you accept me as your family?”
It wasn’t a question that a normal five year old would ask. However, I had no choice but to ask.
There was no way to find out, no clues, and above all…
‘If you’re just going to use me like how I was used in my previous life, then I wish you’d just hit me with it quicker.’
Just get hit on the back of my head, stumble, then shake it off and get up.
As long as I don’t have to die in this life. Wasn’t that the case?
I looked at his back with complicated thoughts.
Soon after, Duke Ether turned his head to me.
The brief moment he looked back at me seemed like an eternity.
The expression on Duke Ether’s face looked complicated.
However, his face showed no intention of taking advantage of me.
He was looking right into my eyes. Then, he turned around and came back to me.
To be precise, he was sitting on the rim of the large clam shell.
He started talking like that, without entering the calm fully.
“When I was a kid, I called this place the clam house.”
I widened my eyes at those words.
If this place even had a name to it, then that means you already knew about it, right?
Then was this place actually famous? Was it a tourist destination?
“If I’m being honest with you, I actually don’t know if you’ll understand,” he said. “The reason I came to this clam house as a kid was because I didn’t have a single ally to turn to in the mansion.”
He paused for a while, before looking into my eyes and saying.
“Just like you when you were in the Barony.”
A brief exclamation was bound to come after those words.
Thanks to the fact that I was still young, my skin quickly recovered, the blue bruises on my arms and neck now only yellow traces. It would all disappear soon.
“When I was little, I wanted someone to be on my side. Whether it was a maid that was just going down the hallway, or a knight guarding my room, it didn’t matter who it was. But there was no one like that. I was the bastard, the illegitimate, and of course my older brother, who seemed to be the next duke, hated me and naturally rejected me too.”
He tilted his head slightly, as if lost in thought. Upon hearing it, I realised it was an extremely dark childhood, but there didn’t seem to be any other emotion on his face.
“Then, when I turned twelve years old, I stopped looking for someone to be on my side. To be more exact, it was the very day I was trapped in this clam house because of my older brother.”
Duke Ether pointed to the adductor muscle desk.
Oh, so that’s what it was.
It seemed that somehow, every time I touched the desk, the clamshell would appear to shut.
“Ever since then, I felt as if I had lost something. I focused only on developing my own strength. After that, my father chose me as the next duke, and my brother had to leave the mansion. Then, I fully established myself as Duke Ether, and then… I met you.”
His gaze brushed past my wrist for a moment and then fell away from it.
“I don’t know whether it was greed or impulse. To you, who seemed almost identical to me when I was a child. I thought I could give you what I couldn’t have when I was a child.”
Duke Ether rose from his seat.
“It seemed like a pretty good deal to me. You would have the opportunity to get away from the Barony, and even get revenge if you really wanted to, and I thought I might be able to gain something I’d lost as a child through you.”
That low voice had the power to captivate the attention of others.
I had forgotten to collect the sand, and before I knew it, I was hooked on his story.
Hey, excuse me, but is this something you can even say to a five year old child?
No, although you’re free to do so, a normal five year old would ask what you meant.
However, I wasn’t in the mood to ask.
The lips of Duke Ether, who continued to speak, curved into a smooth arc.
“Did that answer your question?”
The Duke who was talking, shook his head slightly.
“No, even if it’s much later, if you still have questions you want to ask, then please do so. I can give you an answer whenever you want.”
He seemed to belatedly realise that he had said something that was too difficult for a child to comprehend.
Hell, it seemed like he really didn’t know how to treat a child, just judging by that huge shield of a candy.
Was it because he had lost his childish innocence when he was young, just as he had said?
“Then, don’t stay for too long.”
He got up once again. Then, he walked away again.
He seriously didn’t even say a single word about the magic circle.
He didn’t seem to have noticed.
Well, to be fair, this was a world where magic had already disappeared a long time ago, and furthermore, a lot of strange occurrences that happened around here were thanks to the mana fog. So he wouldn’t have noticed.
Breathing in a sigh of relief, I looked at his back profile.
‘I can give you an answer whenever you want.’
Perhaps it was because the voice of Duke Ether, who had said so, was more tender than I expected. His words seemed to linger in my mind.
He didn’t seem to be as cold-hearted as the rumors said he was.
Moreover, everything he had said was too realistic to have been made to deceive a five year old child.
I muttered as I watched him disappear into the fog.
Although I knew I shouldn’t trust people too easily, I felt somewhat relieved. It was a strange feeling of relief, the first time I’d felt such a thing ever since coming to the Ether Duchy.
pls do not share this anywhere or the transmigration gods will transport u into boku no pico !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
At some point on the way back, the knight, Sir Rottier, started following me.
As soon as I left the clam house, he suddenly appeared from who knows where, and escorted me by my side.
Did Duke Ether call you?
I almost used magic without realising he was there.
“I’ll escort you to the mansion,” he said in a low voice.
“Alright. Let’s go together!”
There weren’t many opportunities to see those pretty magic eyes from up close.
In addition, when I saw Duke Ether’s reaction earlier, it seemed as if he didn’t know what magic itself was.
This was a world where you wouldn’t even notice magic, even after encountering it and seeing it firsthand yourself.
So even if he could see the mana in my heart, he wouldn’t think it was strange.
So if that was the case, then…? Then it means that I can enjoy looking at these pretty magic eyes with peace of mind!
It was the moment I reached out to him.
“Then, please excuse me for a moment.”
Rottier held me and lifted me up.
At first, I thought he was just going to escort me back, but it seemed as if he meant that he’d lift me up and carry me to my bed.
I was able to fully appreciate his scarlet eyes as I lay in his arms.
They were clear eyes that really seemed to sparkle like jewels. I had never seen such clear magic eyes, even in my previous life before.
All of them had possessed magic eyes which had turned cloudy with greed.
He didn’t even seem to mind that my white sandy hands left white handprints all over his black uniform.
Rottier, who had been walking like that for a while already, glanced down at me.
He kept walking and didn’t meet my eyes, but then sneaked a peek down at me once again.
“Do you have something to say to me?”
Rottier spoke in a slightly awkward voice when I finally asked him.
“You’re overexerting yourself, even though your body hasn’t fully recovered yet.”
That’s… true, but there was an urgent situation here!
It was when I was about to leave more white handprints on his clothes.
He spoke suddenly.
“Rather than going to secretly climb a tree, please call for me instead.”
I blinked and suddenly recalled the tree in front of my window.
Indeed, if you think about it with common sense and don’t know what levitation magic is, it’s only natural to think that I climbed down the tree instead. Though the problem is…
“…Then, will you help me every time?”
It was the fact that there was no way this stiff, rule-abiding knight would be able to help me out.
Sure enough, Rottier stiffened at my words.
No, I didn’t want you to stop on our way back just to answer me.
As I blinked and looked up at him, Rottier looked down at me with a serious expression on his face.
And then he said to me, with a face that seemed to have a lifetime’s worth of determination.
“Yes, I will help you.”
It was an extremely serious face! And it was a calm voice too!
That was undoubtedly sincere. No, but why is this knight suddenly like this?
“Really? You aren’t going to tell anyone?”
When I asked with twinkling eyes, Rottier paused. Then he said cautiously.
“…No, I must report it to the Duke after the matter’s been completed, no, after we’ve set out.”
That’s doing it secretly? Secretly? Despite it not being funny, I burst into a fit of laughter.
Sir Rottier, you really are incapable of lying!
It seemed like you had to be of that level to possess such clear magic eyes.
If you’re only going to report to the Duke, isn’t that pretty much spilling everything?
“But I can keep it a secret from everyone else. For example,” he paused a bit and said. “Like from Delphiro.”
That was a rather tempting proposition. I nodded.
“Okay. Promise. You have to sneak me out secretly next time!”
I held out my pinky finger. Then, I realized that he couldn’t hook his pinky with mine since he was holding me with both hands.
It was when I was about to lower my pinky awkwardly. He lowered his head and placed his forehead lightly against my pinky.
He said to me, who was still surprised.
“It’s a knight’s pledge to keep his promise.”
Silver hair that gently touches my pinky. It was when I widened my eyes slightly.
“Then I’ll hurry back so you can rest.”
He started walking again, as if nothing had happened.
For this knight, who couldn’t lie, offering to help me sneak out was a deviation from his normal character.
Why are you helping me?
Of course, nothing came to mind, even after I had contemplated over it for a while.
AHHHHHHH i love that we’re fleshing out on ain and nassia’s relationship and him opening up to her about his troubled childhood is slowly allowing her to put her trust in him !!!
i rlly like how everyone in the ether mansion is working hard to lower nassia’s wall that she builds around herself due to her trauma (both from her previous and current life) and i’m really excited for when she finally decides to trust them!
on the other hand though, i think i’ve mentioned this so much already but i love love LOVE the fact that we can see nassia’s thought process despite her being in a child’s body, but then we can also see the people around her and their perspective on why they think such a young child has a mature personality hehehe
the fact that she considers the fact that what ain is telling her is too complex for a five year old to comprehend and that they would normally ask questions but she’s too lazy to ask shows that her thought process is extremely meticulous and complex and you can just tell that she is hellbent on surviving and protecting herself in her unfortunate circumstance.
AHHHHHH ugh i love this novel SO FUCKING MUCH HSDFLKFSDJ.