Miss Emily's Maid Path
—Why did it come to this?
She carefully took a step so that the hem of her long skirt didn’t get bent out of shape. The minimum requirement for that was to make sure the bottom of her shoes touched the floor without making any noise.
The sensation of the carpet she felt through her shoes was soft and there was no way she would make any noise unless something unexpected happened. Even so, she had habitually taken a step that held both nervousness and anxiety.
As someone who had been constantly scolded for such trivial things, it made sense for her to feel nervous.
“Lia, Lia. Are you sure it’s fine? Your hands look unstable since you’re too focused on your feet.”
“…Puck, please. I’m concentrating reaaally hard right now, so please don’t talk to me.”
His voice didn’t travel through the air but went directly to her mind from the warmth on her chest. She’d have normally replied to him in a similar way using telepathy. However, the girl concentrating on her hands and feet hadn’t noticed it and replied with a voice that sounded like a silver bell.
Her beautiful long silver hair was as beautiful as the dew of the moon, her white skin was as pure as untrodden virgin snow, and her amethyst eyes looked like precious jewels.
She was the manifestation of beauty that would make the greatest artists of all time give up—someone who radiated a bewitching charm that was worthy of such praise.
But then, her skin that was as white as a field of snow was pale with nervousness, her amethyst eyes were shimmering with a great deal of anxiety, her long silver hair was woven gently into a braid, and the clothes covering her limbs was a maid outfit that lacked elegance. A maid was there.
“Emily! Emily!” A high-pitched voice suddenly resonated through the corridor, making the girl immediately lift her head.
And right after that—
The angle of the tray in her arm titled too far, and the dishes that were barely balanced to begin with knocked into each other, making a high-pitched sound, and—
The final death throes of the teaware echoed down the hallway as they fell one after another.
—Why did it come to this?
“Would you please not stare at me so much? The sight of a noble such as myself may surprise you, but I will not stand for a display of such disrespect.”
“I-I’m sorry…” Emilia apologized, becoming timid due to the unforgiving words of the girl sitting in front of her.
Emilia felt faint vibrations coming from the seat as the scenery outside the window slowly drifted by. Her curiosity got piqued by the sight she was seeing for the first time, but she opted to show good manners by staying put.
Though the interior of the dragon carriage wasn’t congested at all, it wasn’t so large that she couldn’t see the other passengers. Inevitably, if she looked up, she would see the face of the person sitting across from her. She was left at a loss for words by the fact that she was being blamed for this situation.
“It’s a strange coincidence that you happened to have the same destination as us. A blessing in disguise. A rare occurrence.”
The voice of the person speaking to Emilia as she looked down was that of a man. There was a young man sitting next to the girl in front of her—a handsome man with his blue hair carefully arranged, smiling gently, and wearing a monocle over one eye.
The young man, whose slender body was covered by a butler’s outfit, spoke considerately to Emilia, whose eyes were downcast. “Don’t take my Lady’s words too seriously. She sounds harsh, but she’s grateful. That’s also the reason why she allowed you to travel with us. It’s a strange turn of fate.”
“Clind! Can you not say unnecessary things? Firstly, what is your purpose in telling her to not listen to me? I am your master, you know,” said the girl next to the young man after raising her eyebrows at his words.
He gave a wry smile in response to her anger. “Yes, I am well aware of that. It is for that reason that I am lending my assistance to the lady who is but a beginner at dealing with you so that she won’t take your words the wrong way. Consideration.”
“I haven’t asked for such a thing! You did it without my permission…and for that, know that a severe punishment awaits you once we return to the mansion.”
“A severe punishment…yes, gladly. Extreme please,” the young man said, smiling ecstatically at her.
“Can you not be happy!?” the girl screamed, hugging her body with disgust on her face.
Emilia almost laughed as she watched them exchange such words.
“My, my, how truly unmannered you are by eavesdropping on our conversation. Clind, say something to her.”
“You become extremely attractive when you smile. Lovely.”
“Can you take your master’s intention into consideration a little!?”
The girl clicked her tongue in irritation at the young man’s words and then glared at Emilia. Looking at her gaze, Emilia vaguely thought that she was a very precocious little lady.
Her deep indigo hair was braided and arranged on top of her head in a weird hairstyle. She was trying hard to make her eyes look intimidating, but the corners were lowered, which made them look more soft than anything. She was wearing a simple dress with a few accessories, and it matched the girl’s aura well. Her somewhat mature way of speaking was lovely since it seemed like she was trying hard to seem older than she was.
“Cease gazing upon me whilst grinning at once! Are you being insolent even while knowing that I am Annerose Miload, the heir to the House Miload!?”
It was a young aristocratic girl, who was no more than ten years old, who swung her arms with her lovely face red in anger.
“What should I do with Uncle Roswaal? I wonder how many more he is going to have?”
“Roswaal is your uncle? He didn’t look old enough to be called an uncle though… Was he trying to look young?”
“I’m nine years old and Uncle Roswaal is almost thirty, so he is an uncle to me. That’s how it is on the relative side of our family tree. We are really distant relatives… I am from a sub-branch of the family while he is from the main branch, but we are still related by blood.”
Emilia and Annerose were having an interaction in the slightly shaky dragon carriage, an interaction which would be a bit of a misnomer to be called a conversation.
The road was quite rough, but the reason why bad roads didn’t affect the dragon carriage was due to the divine protection that the earth dragon that was pulling the carriage had.
The divine protection of the earth dragon that protected them from outside influences such as wind and vibrations was essential for long distance travel in a dragon carriage. This was the first time that Emilia had realized that.
“You are looking around nonstop again…is the dragon carriage that rare?”
“Yes, that’s right. I’ve been in the forest all my life, so I never had the chance to ride on a dragon carriage, although I have seen one before. So it’s reaaally rare to me.”
“…Is that so. Then you are in for a disappointment next time if you think all dragon carriages are like this. There are very few dragon carriages like those of House Mathers or House Miload—you are truly fortunate to experience something like this.”
“I see… I’ll remember that. Thank you for telling me. I’m going to enjoy this to the fullest.”
Emilia gave her honest thanks and enjoyed the interior of the dragon carriage and the softness of the seat.
The earth dragon pulling this carriage might be wearing something fancy, and the exterior of the carriage itself might have an elaborate design too. I’m looking forward to looking at them later.
While Emilia was indulging her curiosity, she heard a voice:
“My lady, if you want to say something, then I think you need to put it into words. Conveying feelings.” The young man in the butler’s outfit—Clind—suddenly broke the silence and spoke.
Emilia looked his way, and her eyes met with Annerose’s, who was flustered and biting her lip. “What happened?” Emilia asked. “Did you get a stomachache by any chance?”
“Anyone would be like this if someone can’t take their sarcasm properly! Aren’t you a bit too vulnerable as a grown woman?”
“Too vulnerable… No, it isn’t like that. I’m on my guard properly. If something weird happens, I’ll protect you, so don’t worry.”
“Uuugh!” Annerose groaned, grabbing her skirt, and hit Clind’s shoulder with her other hand.
Clind seemed somewhat happy after getting hit. “Aah, my lady, please stop…! Violence.”
“Listen here? You had your guard down when you approached us to begin with. I’ve heard that a common tactic that bandits use…is to get their dragon carriage stuck somewhere, wait for people with goodwill to approach, and then assault them. What would you have done if we had assaulted you?”
“Were you going to assault me?”
“What! Would you! Have done! If we had! Assaulted you!”
As Annerose expressed her anger while breaking her sentence up, Emilia worried whether she would get a headache due to getting angry like that.
Anyway, if I had to respond, then…
“But I couldn’t just abandon you there, right? In reality, it seemed like you were in trouble, Annerose, and I was able to pull the wheel out of the ditch using the dragon carriage I was in. You guys were saved, and I didn’t get assaulted either. See, everyone is happy.”
“…I’m baffled.” Annerose dropped her shoulders as if she had lost energy when Emilia responded with a smile.
And then she rubbed her forehead with a tired face and glared at Emilia, who was tilting her head, with mature eyes and then held up one finger. “Lady Annerose.”
“It’s Lady Annerose. I can’t give you special treatment when it comes to that, even if you saved us during our travels. You were referring to Uncle without using honorifics, correct? That isn’t right. Master Roswaal, Lady Annerose. Please know your place.”
Emilia got bewildered by Annerose’s sudden remarks. The hasty girl raised her eyebrows at how slow Emilia was at understanding things. But before the girl could start cussing in her high-pitched voice, Clind’s helping hand reached her faster as he coughed.
“Miss, did you receive a sealed message from Lord Roswaal? Letter.”
“Sealed message…you mean a letter?”
“Yes, that’s right. The dragon carriage you were on belongs to House Mathers. And if its destination is Miload Manor, then there is only one reason that I can think of. I’m positive that Lord Roswaal gave you a sealed message that has his intentions written in it. Speculation.”
Emilia clapped her hands since she had an idea of what Clind was talking about in his polite explanation. She reached into her pocket and took out a letter that was sealed with wax and said:
“It’s probably this. Roswaal told me to give it to you when I reach the mansion.”
“I will be taking a loo…My lady? Astonishing.”
As soon as she was about to give it to Clind, a hand reached out from the side and snatched it away. Clind and Emilia focused their gazes on the culprit: Annerose.
The girl waved the letter between her fingers, showing it off to them, while pouting her lips in displeasure. “It’s Master Roswaal. Don’t make me repeat things.”
She didn’t like the fact that she had said Roswaal’s name without honorifics again. She spoke to her in a scolding way and then tucked the letter away in her pocket.
Seeing that, Clind squinted his eyes in reproach. “My lady. That’s a sealed letter from Lord Roswaal. It would indeed be unethical to leave it like that without reading it. Ingratitude.”
“Uncle’s letters always look like they were stamped on. They only slightly differ in content. It’s probably just a bunch of long philanthropic excuses as usual. The truth is that he just wants to get away with his weird doctrine,” Annerose muttered somewhat dismissively as she looked away.
It was not clear what Clind thought after hearing his master, but he did not continue further despite having objected previously.
Instead, it was Emilia, who had been left confused, who couldn’t keep up with the conversation. “Hey…so, what’s going to happen to the letter?”
“You need not worry about the letter. We will still take you under our wing. However, you will have to do as you are ordered.”
“Lady Annerose.” Annerose said it slowly, as if she was teaching something, when Emilia tilted her head.
“Do not stammer! And do not doubt it!”
“Well done,” she said, nodding her head in satisfaction as she sunk into the seat.
The girl was pleased, but she didn’t answer Emilia’s questions for now. As if sensing her anxiety, Annerose gave a small wave.
“You need not worry, there are many girls in our family who are in the same position as you. Clind and Frederica will take care of you. Your confusion won’t last long.”
It was a calm and caring remark, a complete change from her stern attitude from before.
The girl had a face that could make people feel relaxed when she smiled.
“In reality, you are a reaaally nice child.”
“I am strict towards the servants that forget to use formal language with their employer!”
—That expression on her face disappeared immediately, and Emilia really regretted her words.
Emilia reflexively straightened her back at the intimidating aura of the person standing in front of her.
“Welcome. My name is Frederica, and I am the head servant in this household. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
The one who politely bent her back and said that was a woman in a maid outfit with long, shimmering blonde hair.
She was slightly taller than Emilia and had a feminine figure with lots of curves. She had white skin with beautiful blonde hair and her mesmerizing deep emerald eyes were attractive.
The most distinctive feature of hers were the sharp fangs capable of ripping off flesh that peeked out from her smiling mouth.
The maid who introduced herself as Frederica had a well-trained physique for a woman. She was tall and very intimidating, which naturally made Emilia’s body tense. It was highly unlikely, but Emilia felt like she would die if she were to suddenly punch her.
Contrary to her neat and tidy appearance that gave off the impression of a maid, she exuded the aura of a warrior.
Emilia couldn’t hide her quiet shivers. However, Annerose, who was next to Emilia, who had straightened her back and was stiff, seemed unaffected even though she was welcomed in a similar manner.
“I have returned, Frederica. This girl was sent here due to Uncle’s bad habit. Teach and explain things to her.”
“Welcome back, Lady Annerose. I was worried since you were late. —I have understood Master’s instructions. I will be guiding her. And…”
As Annerose made to enter the mansion by passing through the entrance with a lordly air, Frederica grabbed her shoulder from behind. Emilia heard Annerose clicking her tongue.
“Lady Annerose. Don’t you think that hearing a lady click her tongue is unpleasant?”
“If you think so, then unhand me this instant, Frederica. Do you not know who I am?”
“Isn’t it you who doesn’t know that, Lady Annerose?”
The victory of the polite exchange of words went to Frederica as Annerose relaxed, looking like she had given up.
Clind, who was watching next to Emilia, let out a short chuckle.
“It’s their usual thing. You’ll get used to it eventually, so there’s no need to worry. Tradition.”
“Clind, I can hear you. It brings shame upon the title of House Steward…that you allowed Lady Annerose to do whatever she pleased even though you were by her side. It’s no surprise that I was called back after being told that we were short-staffed.”
“It’s not the title of House Steward that is crying in shame, it’s the maid outfit you are wearing that is crying. How can you so profane the four letters, maid, which is the symbol of prettiness and glamour? No matter how good you are at your job and how well you stack up against your pupils, I can’t help but be disappointed. Pity.”
Frederica and Clind stared at each other silently. The atmosphere of the entrance hall began to grow tense due to the two of them, who seemed like they didn’t get along well.
“He-Hey! Miss Frederica, can I ask a question?”
Unable to bear the atmosphere, Emilia raised her hand and stepped in between them. As soon as she did, the tense air that had been there before dissipated.
Frederica relaxed her lips while looking down at Emilia, and she gave a slightly violent, gentle smile. “My apologies for having shown you something shameful like that. Once again, welcome to our family. This family will welcome you if you have been introduced by Master. There are many people here who are in the same position as you—and I am one of them.”
“The same position as you means…”
“What I mean is, the ones that are discriminated against due to being of demi-human descent.”
Emilia gasped at Frederica’s straightforward statement.
The term she used—demi-human discrimination—she could recall several events that fell under that. She had experience with humans keeping her at arm’s length and being demonized by them due to her origin.
So, it means that there are people living in this mansion who are in the same situation.
“Master does not like discriminating against others due to a difference in race. Rather, he actively welcomes many of them into his family who are generally shunned. Talkative people say that he has a taste for demi-humans.”
“It’s a nuisance for House Miload as the branch family because the head of the main family, House Mathers, my uncle, is like that. People speak behind our backs saying that we’ve been infected by Uncle’s hobby.”
As Frederica’s explanation drew to a close, Annerose let out a little sneer. But Emilia was so shocked that her infantile ill remark fell on deaf ears.
Arrangements were made to keep demi-humans free of discrimination and malice. It was a situation that she had never thought of, even if it was only in a limited space.
She had never thought that humans and demi-humans could get along like that.
“You seem surprised, but I can’t blame you for that. You must have had an even harder time as an elf,” Frederica said while looking at Emilia’s ears that were a bit longer than a human’s.
Elves were a race of demi-humans that mainly lived in forests and were known for their longevity and beauty. Due to the war between humans and demi-humans in the past, this kingdom had a somewhat harsh attitude towards demi-humans, and the treatment of elves was especially harsh. That was because…
“No. I’m not an elf, but… Well, I’m a half-elf.”
“───” Frederica widened her eyes in surprise at Emilia after she repeatedly denied things and told her the truth. She knew that Annerose and Clind behind her were similarly surprised.
The word ‘half-elf’ and Emilia’s appearance—when you combined the two, there was a name that came to mind. That was the reason why elves were subjected to harsher discrimination compared to other demi-human races. Facing the silent gaze, Emilia scoffed at herself for having the slightest expectation.
She held a little bit of hope when she was told that this was a place where demi-humans weren’t discriminated against, but her origins were different from other demi-human races, and she was the target of a deeper discrimination.
It was too naïve of me to hope for that while knowing that.
“So, you are a half-elf…” Frederica said, trailing off.
As Emilia looked down, it was Annerose who broke the silence as she stepped forward. The young girl looked up at Emilia, scrutinizing her, and produced crisp sounds as she walked around her in circles. And when she stopped behind her…
“Don’t arch your back!” she yelled, spanking Emilia, whose gaze was downcast.
Emilia yelped. “Eek!” At the sudden turn of events, her face turned red, and she turned around to look at Annerose, who then put her finger in her face.
“Listen here. I am not going to give you any special treatment, whether you are a half-elf or not, and neither will this family. You shall start from the simplest of chores, and I shall teach you all the manners and give you lessons on how to be a good servant! Is that clear?”
Emilia’s eyes rolled in astonishment as Annerose spoke sharply. She slowly repeated the girl’s words in her head, separated it into bits, and absorbed them into her mind and understood it, and the conclusion she came up with was…
“—As I thought, you reaaally are a nice child.”
“Frederica! Make her change quickly and make her taste the pain of the chores!” Annerose ordered Frederica after suddenly becoming bitter.
Clind smiled wryly, and Frederica bowed reverently. Emilia tried to follow Frederica’s beckoning hand without knowing which part of her sentence had made Annerose bitter.
“Oh yes, wait. I haven’t heard your name yet. You, what’s your name?”
She stopped Emilia as she was about to leave and belatedly asked her that question.
Emilia hesitated for a moment on how to respond to that and…
“Oh… My name is Emili…”
“I see, so it is Emily. A fine name indeed. I wish you good luck, Emily.”
The hasty young girl came to a conclusion before Emilia could finish saying her name.
She had never been called by that name before. Before Emilia could even stammer out a response, Annerose left the entrance hall quickly, taking Clind with her. She was like a whirlwind from the very moment they’d met.
“Lady Annerose is harsh with words, but she is a pleasant person.”
“Yeah. I understood that veeery well.”
Emilia nodded at Frederica’s supportive comment and then followed her to the back of the mansion—where she got led onto the floor used by servants.
“If you do not know how to put the uniform on, then do call for me, as I shall be right outside in the hallway.”
After a quick check of her clothing size, Frederica handed Emilia the clothes and left the changing room. It was by Frederica’s consideration that she was allowed to be alone for a while. She thanked the large woman for that, took off her clothes, and sighed in relief. She was thinking of going on a simple trip after leaving the forest, but things kept changing rapidly after she found a dragon carriage on the road. She felt a bit tired and touched the green crystal on her chest.
“By the way, things have taken a strange turn.”
The voice that had suddenly struck Emilia’s earlobes was neither masculine nor feminine but seemed genderless.
She scrunched up her pretty eyebrows and pouted at the voice as if she were grumpy. “You were silent the whole time, so why did you suddenly decide to come out now of all times? I was in trouble and reaaally needed help.”
“If I had carelessly gotten involved, it would have caused further confusion. I’m an adorable and caring gentleman, you see.”
The one with the lively voice that was laced with laughter gradually began materializing.
There was a green crystal stone hanging from Emilia’s chest like a pendant. Its surface started emitting a pale light, which gradually began to take shape, eventually materializing a cat into the world. It was a small palm-sized cat with grey fur.
It appeared on top of Emilia’s shoulder and rubbed its cheek against her long silver hair, and said:
“I had a hard time just sitting back and watching my pretty Lia get into trouble, but there is a certain order to things. It tore my heart to pieces, but I was waiting until you were really uncomfortable.”
“There you go again. I’m not going to let you fool me again so easily, Puck.”
She felt ticklish at the cat’s—Puck’s—expression of love, and while feeling it, she had no choice but to forgive the only family she had as he sat on her shoulder. Her contracted spirit, Puck, was always with her, and was like an immediate family member to her who always stayed by her side.
“Leaving that aside, there seems to be a problem with the current situation. I feel like there’s a discrepancy between what Roswaal and what that girl, Annerose, said. I think you should confirm things properly. Oh, I think it can be unbuttoned over there.”
While listening to Puck, Emilia began to put the uniform she had received on. A long black skirt and a white apron dress. Feeling like it was the same type of uniform that Frederica was wearing, she felt a little self-conscious.
“It’s a cute outfit but…is it ok for someone like me to wear it?”
“You are the prettiest girl in the world, so this makes you look extra glamorous, Lia. I couldn’t get a maid outfit in the forest, so I really want to see it too! I really do. I want to see, I want to see.”
“You always exaggerate things, Puck. Don’t get so excited,” Emilia chided as she nonchalantly changed into the complex uniform.
Her lack of hesitation made it seem like it wasn’t her first time wearing it, and the reason behind it was due to the content of the contract she had made with Puck. She pulled on the hem of the skirt to stretch out any wrinkles and wrapped the apron around her body tightly. Once Emilia put the hair ornament on top of her silver hair, her transformation into a maid would be complete.
“How is it? Is it weird?”
“It’s perfectly cute! Woah, it’s nice and feels new. But if it’s this attire then…” Puck was flying around Emilia, clapping his hands in admiration. And then, Emilia’s long hair got caught by the wind and floated up. “Something inside me is whispering. That shouldn’t this Lia’s hair be braided?”
“I am fine either way, but don’t make it painful.”
Having gotten Emilia’s permission, Puck became happy and spun around. Her floating hair fluttered in the wind, and it dexterously began to gather and turn into a braid. Just a dozen seconds later, her long silver hair had been formed into a single braid.
“So this is Lia’s perfect form as a maid. Not to praise myself or anything, but I feel like I did a good job.”
“Don’t be silly… But now I’m worried about the job. I wonder if I’ll be able to do it.”
After she’d finished getting ready, she became worried about the maid work that awaited her.
She’d felt like something was off since she first arrived at the mansion. According to Roswaal, Emilia was supposed to relax there until he was done with his work.
“It seems a bit late already since you are done changing but, should we go confirm things?”
“No, it isn’t that, Puck. I think it’s something like this… Roswaal might have said that, but I think he is actually testing me.”
“…Lia?” Puck’s eyes narrowed with worry at Emilia’s relaxed demeanor.
“Yeah, Roswaal is definitely testing me to see whether I’m a hardworking person or a lazy person. I think he wanted to catch me off guard until I reached the mansion and then surprise me with this kind of offer.”
“What would Roswaal gain by doing something like this?”
“There’s probably a lot of things. Since I am going to work hard from now on for everyone in this country and the forest with Roswaal’s help. He is testing me to see whether I’m a girl who slacks off after being told to rest a little…”
The more she thought about it, the more she felt like that was the case.
I don’t know that much about Roswaal yet, but he is a man that wears white makeup and talks in a silly manner.
But the words he uttered often kept hitting Emilia where it hurt. It was like he could read her mind. And, more importantly, he got what she wanted the most right.
So, as if she’d been drawn in by Roswaal’s words, Emilia left the forest with a resolve to step onto a big stage that she had never imagined being on.
Just like how Emilia imagined Roswaal’s personality, Roswaal would definitely want to know Emilia’s worth, too. Thus, she concluded that this was a test for that.
“I’m sure that I need to work as a maid to become a queen.”
“I wonder if that’s the case. I think you’re overthinking it. It’s better if you talk about it properly…” Puck wasn’t quite convinced by Emilia, who clenched her fists enthusiastically.
However, before they could exchange views, they heard a knock at the door.
“Emily, are you done changing? May I come in?”
“Oh…yes! I am done changing. It’s fine,” she replied to Frederica’s question and nodded at Puck.
The cat shrugged, turned into particles of light, and went back into the crystal on Emilia’s chest again.
Frederica entered the room as soon as Puck had disappeared and found Emilia in her changed clothes. “Oh my, you were able to get changed properly. I thought it would be a bit confusing to put on since it’s your first time.”
“It was fine. This isn’t the first time I’ve been made to wear clothes like this.”
“To be made to wear…? Have you served somewhere else previously?”
“Umm, no? Not really, but…”
The reason why Emilia was accustomed to wearing clothes like this was due to her contracted spirit Puck’s tastes. In a contract between a spirit and a spirit arts user, the spirit had the right to decide the terms. There were multiple contracts between Emilia and Puck. One of them was that Puck had the right to decide Emilia’s outfit and hairstyle each day. One of them was that Puck had the right to decide Emilia’s outfit and hairstyle each day. When they were living in the forest, it was Emilia’s routine to fulfill that right of his by donning the various outfits he brought her. One such outfit was a frilly dress, which wasn’t as complex as a maid outfit.
When Emilia replied like so, Frederica widened her eyes as if she had realized something, then gently embraced her like she was some poor thing. “You have been through tough times. You don’t have to worry about such things here. Everything will be fine.”
“Well…thank you…?” Emilia replied, tilting her head since she didn’t know what her sympathy was for.
After that, Frederica avoided the conversation about the outfit and extended her hand out of the room. “Well then, I will be showing you around the mansion. I am sure you are worn out due to the trip, so I will make the work easy for you today. I don’t think you are used to it, but let’s work hard starting from tomorrow.”
“Yes, I’ll work hard. Reaaally hard. Please guide me well!” Emilia exclaimed, using formal language she wasn’t used to using, showing Frederica how determined she was.
Frederica looked surprised for a moment at that, and then…
“Sure, let’s work well together.”
She opened her mouth with its prominent fangs and accepted her with a fierce smile.
From that day onward, Emilia’s struggles were something beyond description. She thought that her role as a maid would have a great impact on her future, so she worked extremely hard to complete every chore.
Emilia didn’t get much work that a typical maid would be given, but she did her best no matter how trivial the chore was and threw herself into her work earnestly in order to get something out of it.
As a result, she was unanimously evaluated as unsuitable by the master and the fellow servants of the mansion.
“I thought you would at least be able to serve tea, but I suppose it was too early for you.”
“…I am sorry,” Emilia replied, bowing her head as she cleaned up the shattered pieces of the teaware.
It had been two days since she began working as a maid—and so far, the number of jobs that she could do properly was a big fat zero.
Emilia didn’t have any experience living in a human village to begin with. Before acquiring her skills as a servant, it was her first time living with other people in a big group, so she was bewildered by everything. As a result, she was confused by the difference in norms of the forest and humans, so she kept failing at everything she did.
“Someone of this level hasn’t been here since Ram… A girl worthy of teaching has come before I return to the main residence… Though I worry I might give up before then.”
“Umm, are you going to go somewhere, Frederica?”
“Yes. I am currently on loan to House Miload. All of the servants have been transferred to the other mansion, so I have been helping out since they are short-staffed here. I’ll be going back to the main residence where my master is in a month or so. So, I will only be able to teach you until then.”
“…I see. I think that’s reaaally sad.”
Frederica looked down slightly when Emilia honestly expressed her sorrow at parting with her.
Emilia cleaned up the shards during that and awaited further instructions as Frederica smiled gently at her, covering her mouth. “Emily, you don’t have to do any other chores, so go to Lady Annerose’s room.”
“To Lady Annerose’s, room? Does she want me to do something?”
“That’s what I was told to tell you. I don’t know since she is a whimsical person. I will carry the tea, so you can go on your way.”
Emilia felt anxious as she walked, but the gaze watching over her gave her courage, and she headed towards Annerose’s room in a corner of the third floor—she hadn’t met Annerose in two days, since she came to this mansion. However, it would be optimistic to say that the lady of the manor, Annerose, had yet to hear about the new maid’s ineptitude.
“Oh, Emily. Lady Annerose’s room is up ahead. You’ve been summoned, I presume.”
“Oh, Mister Clind.”
She met Clind as he was descending the stairs when she was on her way up. His posture was straight, and his manner was somewhat aloof yet refined. She had heard that he was one of the oldest servants in the mansion like Frederica, and that he had the authority to give orders to other servants, including Emilia.
“I’ve seen you around a few times, but I’ve never had the chance to talk to you. That uniform suits you well. Beautiful.”
“Tha-Thank you very much. But the uniform itself completely outclasses my skills…”
“Well, it’s because Frederica is being hasty. Your circumstances were quite harsh. So you need to be taught with more of an open mind. Parental love.”
“My circumstances…?” Emilia widened her eyes at the words she couldn’t ignore, and Clind shook his head.
He fixed the angle of his monocle. “Excuse me,” he said, prefacing his statement while doing so. “I don’t mean to pry. But I can feel that your soul…that seems to retain a childlike glow…hasn’t grown enough to be worthy of its vessel. Innocent.”
“───” Clind’s statement had somewhat described Emilia’s true nature, making her choke up. She wasn’t sure what his eyes had noticed. Her amethyst eyes quivering, she was about to fearfully ask what he had meant, and then…
“Emily! What is taking you so long!? I have summoned you!”
The voice of the girl who had lost her patience echoed, and with the sound of her footsteps, Annerose appeared. She looked at Emilia and Clind, who were facing each other in front of the stairs, and raised her eyebrows sharply. “Oh my! You ignored my summons and are standing here talking? The servants these days have no respect!”
Emilia tried to open her mouth to make an excuse at once to the mad Annerose, but Clind stepped in front of her. He bowed and said:
“My lady. Please don’t blame Emily too much. I was the one who held her back. Stopped.”
“I know that. Since you have a suspicious glint in your eyes when you look at Emily. I’m sure you’re eyeing her for the same reason you are eyeing me, aren’t you? But Emily is so tall and has large breasts, so what do you mean she’s young? You pervert!”
“Thank you very much. Ecstasy.”
“I am not complimenting you though!?”
Emilia couldn’t keep up with the exchange between the servant and the master that didn’t make sense.
Leaving Emilia in her confusion, Annerose pointed her finger at Clind with an irritated expression. “This man is a pervert that feels love towards a girl that’s way younger than him. That is also the reason why he has pledged his loyalty to me. I don’t know why he feels the same way about you, Emily.”
“It’s a misunderstanding. What I revere is the young soul’s glow. It just so happens that it’s often possessed by young boys and girls. In fact, there are some people like Emily who grow to adulthood but still retain a young soul. Miracle.”
“My ears will rot if I listen to you. If you weren’t so capable, I would have immediately fired you… Anyway! I was the one who summoned Emily! Begone, Clind!”
Annerose screamed and Clind gave her a kind look, bowed, and disappeared downstairs. She looked at him disappear with animal-like eyes and then glared at Emilia.
“You are also to blame. You often leave your guard down, don’t you? This mansion’s servants are mostly women due to Uncle’s tastes, but there are also men including Clind. Someone as good-looking as you will become good prey to them, Emily. Men are all wolves!”
“Oh no, that’s scary… I need to be careful not to get bitten…”
Emilia became pale and nodded at Annerose’s words. She had heard this from Puck many times, but she thought he was just messing around with her. However, when she heard Annerose say it too, it convinced her that it was a well-known fact.
Men are wolves. Emilia properly engraved that in her mind.
“I’m still somewhat worried about you… Are you sure you understand?”
But it seemed like Emilia’s seriousness didn’t get conveyed to Annerose. Being looked at with doubtful eyes, Emilia clenched her fists to show that she had understood.
“It-It’s fine. I understood you perfectly. You mean that boys are reaaally dangerous, right?”
“Your formal language being all over the place tells me you’re just pretending to understand, but it is quite rare for something to be this unconvincing, so I suppose it can’t be helped. Follow me.”
She jerked her chin up and started walking in a way that was unbefitting of a noblewoman. Emilia followed her in a confused manner, and then she opened the door of the library that was some distance away.
“This isn’t your room right, Lady Annerose?”
“You can tell by looking at it, yes? Keep quiet and follow me. You will understand soon.”
Annerose headed towards the back of the library after closing the door carefully so as to not make a sound.
“Emily. Can you bring me one of the chairs over there?”
“Chair? Is this fine?”
She pulled one of the chairs from under the desk and carried it over to Annerose.
Annerose placed the chair in front of the window and jumped on it. “Come here, Emily. You will be able to see it right now.”
She felt uncomfortable with the idea of putting her dirty shoes on the chair, so she took them off and got up next to Annerose. The chair had just enough space for the two girls to stand on it together, and Emilia somehow balanced herself and looked at Annerose.
The girl put her finger on her lips and said, “Be quiet and look out the window.”
“…?” She closed her mouth as instructed and looked where she was pointing at out the window. At first, she didn’t know what to look at, but her eyes soon widened in surprise. “—That’s.”
“Yes, a couple’s secret meetup. They should be working right now for Dragon’s sake.”
A corner of the mansion’s backyard could be looked down upon from the window of the library. From there, they could see a man and woman in servant’s outfits leaning against each other in a small space that was in a blind spot that couldn’t be seen from within the garden or other windows. They gazed into each other’s eyes and slowly brought their faces closer while exchanging words, and then—
“—!” Emilia’s face turned red at the shocking sight.
“Look, they kissed, they kissed!” Annerose shouted excitedly next to her and started slapping her on the back.
It hurts a lot. “A-Anne, you’re making too much noise. They’ll spot us.”
“It’s their fault since they’re doing bold things thinking that no one can see them. Well, this is enough.”
Annerose stepped down from the chair in a satisfied manner, and Emilia followed her lead and stepped down to the library’s floor as well. Noticing that her heart was beating fast, she sat down and took a deep breath.
I feel like I’ve seen something very wrong. I don’t know what those two were doing, but I sort of know that I saw something that people shouldn’t see without getting permission.
“Emily. That was a kiss. And the reason why men are called wolves.”
“Me-Men are called wolves because of that? What does that mean?”
“You don’t know about it even though you are an adult, Emily? You really are ignorant…”
The two whispered with their faces still red. Annerose shrugged her shoulders, as if Emilia’s question had baffled her. Then she looked around and then quietly brought her mouth closer to her ear. “That is called a kiss… If a man and a woman kiss, then they have a baby.”
“…!? Babies are made when a man and a woman kiss…!?”
“Correct. Emily, you were also born because your mother and father had kissed. It does not work if men kiss other men or women kiss other women, but if a man and a woman kiss, then a baby is made.”
“I see… I had no idea…”
The mystery of humanity. Emilia could not hide her restlessness at such a shocking revelation. This means that right now, under the window, a baby has just been conceived inside a woman’s body. What a fateful scene I have stumbled upon.
“Those two are always kissing there.”
“Always kissing!? So they have lots of babies!?”
“Of course not, Emily. Until the baby is born, the next baby will have to wait for its turn in the mother’s belly. If you have too many, your belly will explode.”
“Oh, I see… That’s good. I feel reaaally relieved now,” Emilia replied, patting her chest in relief.
“Anyway,” Annerose said as she looked away from Emilia while crossing her arms. “You are beautiful yet full of vulnerabilities, Emily, which makes you a piece of fine meat for the wolves. Do be careful since they will try to kiss you if they get the chance.”
“Alright. I’ll be careful. I think that it’s too soon for me to be a mother…”
Due to various reasons, Emilia was well aware of how lacking she was. Babies were cute, but she was positive she wouldn’t be able to take proper care of them as she was now.
Besides, my own baby will probably be born with long ears. When that happens, the world will not necessarily be kind to him or her. At the very least, I want it to be kind, and I want to do my best to make it so.
“That’s why I need to work really hard.”
“But I heard rumors that you are completely useless, Emily. I heard you spilled the tea I ordered to be brought to my room four times before you even arrived.”
“Ah, uh, mh…yeah, that’s right. I’m sorry…” Emilia replied, arching her back.
“Don’t be timid!” Annerose shouted at her to get her to cheer up.
After Emilia got yelled at, she straightened her back, and Annerose nodded in satisfaction. “Alright. I have a new job for you then. If you can do it, it will boost your confidence,” she said with a devious smile.
—Hazy and weak light particles concentrated on her trembling palm.
It was mana—something that usually filled the atmosphere without a form—that was now concentrated enough to be seen.
Mana was spread throughout the atmosphere and involved in the circulation of life—the human body tapped into that huge flow and absorbed it through its gate, harnessed it, and then released it outside the body, manifesting in the world in a totally different form.
That was the general principle of magic, so in that sense, turning mana into a visible form could be referred to as performing magic. However, her magic dissipated before it could have any further influence on the world.
“Haaa.” As the light particles dissipated and disappeared from her palm, the girl let out a big sigh.
Annerose breathed heavily with sweat appearing on her forehead. Emilia gently wiped away the sweat from the frustrated girl’s face with the towel she was holding.
They were on the third floor of the mansion in Annerose’s room. It was too spacious to be a young girl’s private room. She had a large bed behind her, and they were sitting while facing each other in the middle of the carpeted room.
“…I don’t want you to comfort me. As you could see, it was unsightly.”
“That’s not how I see it. You are young, but you are working really hard.”
She wasn’t comforting her, it was her honest opinion. You couldn’t expect Annerose to be able to use magic properly at her age. Just the fact that she had mastered the art of interfering with mana was wonderful in itself.
“But I heard that Uncle could use the four basic elements of magic when he was my age. And he mastered the other two in a few years’ time.”
“Are you comparing yourself to Roswaal…Master Roswaal?”
“It’s not that I am doing the comparing, it’s that I’m the one being compared,” Annerose answered Emilia’s question, shaking her head with a wry smile that someone her age shouldn’t have.
The relationship between House Mathers and House Miload was something that Emilia had heard about multiple times in the past two days. House Mathers was the main house and House Miload was the sub-branch of one large House. The role of House Miload was to support House Mathers, which had continued for generations. Roswaal’s selfish decision to accept demi-humans as servants was only possible since House Miload was there to take them in.
“The main house, Mathers, currently only consists of my uncle for some odd reason. And with Uncle like that, it is not so easy for him to get married. If something happens to him, then I am the closest in line to be the legitimate successor.”
That was the reason why Annerose’s relatives had high expectations of her. House Mathers was a house of magic users. What would be desired in the case of House Miload taking over would be her having the qualities befitting of a Chosen Magic User so she would be worthy of the Mathers name.
“Why did you tell me something like that? I’m only a new maid who came here two days ago.”
“…Because you called yourself a maid,” the girl replied to Emilia’s question with a faint voice. She opened her blue eyes, held back her tears, and looked at Emilia. “Elves are famous since they are excellent at magic even among demi-humans. I have heard that long-lived elves are familiar with magic-related matters. So…”
“Oh, I see, so that’s why it was me…but I must apologize. I don’t think I’ll live up to your expectations, Lady Annerose.”
Emilia put her hand on her chest and was pained by the frustration that she couldn’t be a help to a girl who was working so hard. The things Annerose was expecting from Emilia—skill and knowledge regarding magic—were both things she was lacking in. Since…
“I am a spirit arts user, not a magic user. The way I use magic is a bit different than magic users. That’s why I don’t know if it can be of any assistance.”
“You are a…spirit arts user?”
“Yes, a spirit arts user. And I know you were expecting a long-lived and knowledgeable elf, but well…I’m long-lived, but I haven’t aged that properly.”
“I kind of knew that. Since you don’t have the dignity of an adult at all, Emily.”
It was mean but also something Emilia couldn’t deny, so she made a sad face. It looked so weak that Annerose wasn’t able to hold back and burst into laughter.
“Such a pathetic face. Emily, you are looking more and more like a child.”
“I-I’m much older than you, so if you keep saying cocky things, I’ll punish you.”
“Do you think you would be forgiven for the insolent act of punishing your own employer?”
“Even if I can’t do it, my reliable bodyguard can.”
Annerose opened her eyes with surprise at her words. Emilia thought the young girl’s face was pleasant to look at when it was like that.
Emilia stretched out her arms, turning her outstretched palms upward.
“Is it ok?”
“It’s ok,” Emilia replied with a smile to the telepathy, and a green light began to gather on her palm.
The green light turned into a cat’s silhouette and started to cut its existence into the world.
Annerose gasped in surprise and clapped her hands. “Oh my!”
After the girl’s surprise was directed at it, the green glow further dyed the room, which was followed by the materialization of a cat spirit.
“I’m Puck. I govern Fire Mana, and I am one of the four Great Spirits…hameow!”
“Wow, a talking kitten, how rare! Quite a cute bodyguard you have!”
In an attempt to live up to her expectations, Puck tried to make a solemn appearance, but it was easily foiled by Annerose since she was excited to see a spirit for the first time.
She immediately reached out and snatched the tiny Puck out of the air and played with him in her palm.
“Meowww! Meowww! Stopppp!” Puck screamed, but it was futile against a child’s curiosity.
Emilia, who was his last straw of hope, was looking at Annerose as she played with Puck with kind eyes, and it seemed like she had no intention of rescuing her family from his difficult predicament.
“So, this is a spirit… It is a bit rude to ask, but can you really depend on him?”
“I know it might worry you since he just looks cute, but he is quite helpful despite that. Right, Puck? …Puck, what happened? You look reaaally unhappy.”
After letting Annerose play with him for a while, Emilia boasted about his abilities, but Puck was on her shoulder, covering his face and crying. “I’m currently heartbroken since I got played with like some toy. I can’t marry into my wife’s family anymore…”
“If that’s the case, then I will get a cat that comes from a good bloodline from somewhere and give her to you.”
“A surprising suggestion just got made! Lia, are you fine with your mother being a cat!?”
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to respond since my father is a cat…” I feel like I could make it work with familial love even if a cat who can’t even talk became my mom.
While she was taking what Puck said too literally, she suddenly noticed that Annerose was looking at her in surprise.
“Is your father that spirit?” Annerose asked.
“It’s that he’s like a father to me. It isn’t like he was married to my mother. Puck, you haven’t kissed my mother, right?”
“No, I haven’t. And about that kissing thing…never mind, it’s embarrassing, so I’ll pass.” Puck had heard the conversation between the two girls in the library but opted to not tell her the truth about it since it would be embarrassing for him as her father.
As a result, they weren’t able to clear up the misunderstanding, and it remained overlooked. Anyway…
“Emily, do you use that spirit’s power to use magic since you are a spirit arts user?”
“I guess it’s a little different. Even with spirits, there are proper spirits like Puck, and then there are lesser spirits who have weak consciousnesses. In my case, when I use magic, I use the power of the lesser spirits.”
“And as for me, I manifest upon being called by Lia, but I can use magic freely. The lesser spirits can’t do anything without her orders, so she orders them and uses magic through them… That’s sort of like how magic is used.”
Annerose closed her eyes and pondered on both of their explanations.
Looking at that, Emilia reflected upon the lack of a proper explanation. Explaining things in a convoluted manner to a nine-year-old was not very considerate. It was only natural that she thought of giving a more concise explanation, but…
“So, in short, the kitten spirit…Puck uses real magic, right? So, can’t he teach that to me?”
“Oh my. This child is really smart. She’s still small, but she’s amazing.” Puck clapped his hands, surprising Emilia.
“Never underestimate a lady. So, what do you think?” Annerose puffed her chest in front of them and asked Puck whether her suggestion was going to be accepted or not.
“Ummm.” Puck touched his whiskers and groaned. “I want to help you out, but it’s a shame that I can’t since my magic is a bit different from normal magic. That’s why I don’t think you can learn from me.”
“…What if I were to try to become a spirit arts user?” Annerose asked, bracing for what was coming.
“Lia, saying things clearly is an act of kindness too, you know.” Puck softly interrupted Emilia’s attempt to dodge answering the question with a few words.
The spirit shook his head at the girl who was looking straight at him. “It’s too bad, but it takes more talent to become a spirit arts user than it does to become a magic user, and I’m sorry to say this, but you don’t have what it takes to be a spirt arts user. And…”
“Even if you become a spirit arts user, it would not be the same as the power you are seeking. It’s great that you are working so hard for your family, but don’t get your priorities wrong. This isn’t the kind of power you desire, and it isn’t something you can obtain.”
“───” Annerose took in Puck’s seemingly ruthless assertion, closed her eyes, and looked up. Emilia grabbed the hem of her skirt, thinking about the sorrow inside the girl’s small chest.
“I feel better since you said things clearly,” Annerose said with a bright expression, surprising Emilia.
“Huh?” Emilia replied, her eyes widened in surprise, and…
“What are you so surprised about?” Annerose said while putting her hand on her waist. “Things aren’t that convenient in this world. Nothing good will come from cheating, either. I have been pushing forward on the path to become a magic user, but to waver at the slightest hint of a shortcut is proof that my feelings are weak. I have been reflecting on it.”
“Yo-You can change your feelings that easily? I thought Puck had said something really awful and was thinking about pulling his tail later as punishment.”
“Whaa,” Puck exclaimed after hearing Emilia say something he didn’t seem to like, but she ignored him.
However, Annerose boldly laughed after hearing Emilia’s words with a look that was not typical of a nine-year-old. “I was close to seeing another path, but in the end, there was only one. I know which path I must take. It does not have any shortcuts or side paths. I believe I have gained something from our conversation.”
“You…are really amazing, Anne.”
“Indeed, I am amazing. I am a noble. I am eminent.”
Eminent. Noble. Such words came out of Annerose’s mouth, and it made Emilia ponder. About what she needed to do from now on, what it meant, and how important it was. About becoming the ruler of this kingdom and the path leading to that—and if she had mapped her path out as clearly as that girl.
“Emily, is there something you are worried about?”
“…Yeah, that’s right. There’s something I need to do. But it’s reaaally reaaally big and difficult and I know that the current me is really lacking. But, even so, I need to do it…”
“But it’s something you have to do, right?”
“—Yes. It’s something, I have to do.” That’s the one thing I’m certain of.
Emilia lifted her face up. Annerose let out a deep sigh in front of her, making her frown, and then stuck her palm out at her.
“Would you be willing to join your palm with mine?”
“Huh? Li-Like this?” Emilia placed her left palm on the right palm being presented to her.
Emilia could immediately feel that the girl’s palm was far smaller than her own when she felt her palm against hers. It was so much smaller than hers, yet her spirit dwarfed her own.
“Emily, I am also in the middle of challenging something big like that that I need to do. So let us make a promise and compete.”
“A promise and, compete?”
“Yes, that’s right. That we won’t run away from our goals. And compete to see who will achieve theirs first.”
The smiling Annerose probably didn’t know just how much a Promise meant to a spirit arts user. Even if she wasn’t aware of it, however, the girl would never break her promise. Emilia just knew due to how sincere Annerose had been with her, and she trusted her.
“Yeah, a promise. Anne and I won’t run away from our goals.”
“And we will definitely achieve them. I will be angry if you run away.”
The girls exchanged laughter and gently separated their palms. Clenching her palm as if to trap the little remaining warmth in it, Emilia silently engraved the important promise in her heart.
It happened right after they’d had such a heartwarming exchange.
“Speaking of which. You have been calling me Anne for a while now, haven’t you?”
“Oh… I’m sorry. Should I not have?”
She wasn’t doing it on purpose, she was calling her that without thinking about it.
Not Annerose, but Anne. I think it’s a cute nickname.
“Only my family and close friends call me that. I don’t remember allowing you to call me that.”
“…Yeah, I’m sorry.” Emilia drooped her head dejectedly at Annerose’s words.
“But…it’s fine. You can call me that too, Emily.”
“…Is it fine?”
Annerose shrugged, as if she couldn’t stand looking at Emilia with downcast eyes. “Since,” the girl continued. “Emily, you are like a younger sister to me, and I can’t take my eyes off you.”
“Yeah, a younger sister. You are so naive and vulnerable… I cannot help but worry.”
Emilia was being looked at with compassionate eyes, and as she was pondering, she looked up. And then…
“I-I am definitely the older sister! Anne, you idiot!”
“Gosh! How dare you speak to your employer like that! I hate you!”
The girls turned red and began arguing. They did so, even though they had completely different heights and were from completely different races.
“Oh my. You guys are fighting like sisters,” Puck muttered while watching over them, but he didn’t state who the older sister was.
—A few hours later, Roswaal arrived at Miload Manor and cleared up the misunderstanding regarding Emilia’s position.
“We are very sorry for the trouble we caused. It was an unforgivable mistake on our part.”
The two who said that with a bow were Frederica and Clind, who were there to see Emilia off. The other servants had gathered behind them, and it was a big apology session with everyone bowing their heads.
“No, you guys don’t need to worry about it. I’m the one who didn’t explain things properly and was convinced in a weird way… I am sorry for confusing all of you.”
“No, it is my fault for not checking Lord Roswaal’s secret message properly. I don’t have any excuse that I can make to you, Lady Emilia. The blunder of a lifetime. Gaffe.” Clind put his hand on his chest and apologized with a docile face.
Emilia felt a momentary sadness pass through her chest for not being called Emily, but she shook her head. “It’s fine,” she said. “It was a fun experience. I couldn’t be of any help at all though, and that’s all I feel bad about. Next time I come here, I’ll be able to serve tea and clean.”
“Lady Emilia. Unfortunately, we dooon’t have time to study suuuch things, now do we?”
Emilia was getting excited, but the tall man standing behind her put a damper on it.
It was an eccentric man with long, indigo hair and clownish makeup—Roswaal himself.
When he had finished his business and joined them at the mansion, what he saw was that the important guest he had sent there to be welcomed was dressed as a servant for some reason and was busy with chores.
Even Roswaal was appalled by the sight, and he couldn’t give his usual wry smile.
“Frooom now on, you will be spending your time in the main Mather’s residence. I’m sorry, but I don’t thiiink you’ll get an opportunity to utilize the skills you’ve acquired here, Lady Emilia.”
“I see…that’s unfortunate, but I guess it can’t be helped.”
Even so, these past two days were unforgettable to Emilia. It was a time where she experienced things she’d never have been able to do by spending her time aimlessly, and most importantly, she made a promise.
The two had parted with few words and no warmth in their exchange.
Just when Emilia was thinking about her, the voice of the person in her mind shook her eardrums. Annerose wearing a dress appeared pushing the door of the mansion’s entrance. The girl came forward with a neat gesture, passed through the line of servants, and went in front of Emilia.
“Uncle Roswaal, it has been a while. My apologies for my family’s terrible rudeness.”
“Roswaal, it isn’t Anne’s fault. So don’t be angry or…”
“If you, the victim, are not saying anything, then scolding Annerose now would only maaaake me look like a villain, so I won’t do it. I would never dooo such a thing.”
Facing the gaze of the two girls, Roswaal shrugged with an uncomfortable expression. He then stepped back and gave the stage to the two girls who were now looking at each other in front of him.
“Emily…no, that is not right. Lady Emilia, please forgive my insolence.”
“I have repeatedly been unforgivably rude to my uncle’s guest. My deepest apologies. I will surely pay for this rudeness in due time.”
Emilia was shocked by Annerose treating her like a stranger. However, this was the original distance between Emilia and Annerose that they should have had. Considering the path they were going to take, it was inevitable to talk like this and part like this.
The dragon carriage noisily arrived in front of the mansion, and a peach-haired coachwoman awaited Emilia with a clear gaze—Emilia looked at the dragon carriage that Roswaal was entering first, and when she went to step into the carriage—
“───” Emilia turned around when someone called her name. After looking at who it was, she widened her eyes in surprise. The thing reflecting in her amethyst eyes was a little palm being pointed at her.
“—Anne.” Emilia called out that name in a friendly way, and placed her palm on Annerose’s. It was a brief touch, and no words were exchanged, but that much was enough for them. Their hands separated, and Emilia entered the dragon carriage this time. Inside the carriage alone with Roswaal, she took the last seat and then touched her chest. “Puck.”
“You are a handful, my daughter.”
In response to the quick call, Puck appeared with a wry smile. He lifted his arms towards the sky. “Three, go.” He wielded his power with a listless voice.
“—This is.” Roswaal sensed the movement of mana as he was looking at them silently and looked up above the carriage’s window. Emilia also saw it while sitting on the seat.
—Scenery where white snow fell silently from the sky.
“There’s nooo way that it would snow in Lugunica at this time of year. Lady Emilia, diiid you make some kind of promise with Annerose?”
“She didn’t tell me to make it snow. This is like my declaration.”
Roswaal narrowed his heterochromatic eyes, but Emilia did not intend to answer any more questions no matter what he asked. It was Emilia and Annerose’s important secret.
“Even though it’s only affecting a limited area, it’s something thaaaat affects the climate, so what kind of an excuse can I make…no, it’s just going to get blameeed on me since it’s happening in my domain.”
“Then I’ll go with that. Please take care of it, Roswaal.”
“Ooooh my, now that’s what I like to hear. You’ve chaaanged a lot in just two days, Lady Emilia.”
The dragon carriage started flying down the highway. Under the snowy sky, Emilia wondered what kind of face the girl looking up at the snowy sky had. She thought about the only person she had made it snow for just so she could see it. Just imagining that made her heart warm up.
“Roswaal, I’ll definitely become the ruler. I’ve decided that I have to be.”
“Thaaat’s really reassuring.”
Roswaal didn’t seem like he was going to mock Emilia’s determination.
Roswaal had Roswaal’s agenda. Emilia had Emilia’s goals. It was a relationship that formed for their mutual benefit. Still, there were things that could get conveyed.
Resolve and earnestness. Those were the things that could be felt by the two of them, who were serious about this.
‘There are many things that you need to learn and know. Lady Emilia… You do know it may be a more laborious path than you imagined, yes?”
“Yes, but I’ll overcome it…since I don’t want to be a promise breaker.”
She could still feel that warmth on her palm. As long as I don’t forget this, I will be able to carry out my intentions.
Roswaal silently looked over Emilia, who was solidifying a strong resolve inside herself. He muttered under his breath. “—A month to go until the royal family perishes from an illness. Weeell, it all starts frooom there.”
The words he murmured didn’t reach anyone, drowned out by the shaking of the dragon carriage, and disappeared.
—The snow fell silently, piling up as if it was embracing the world.