It was a carriage that Riley had never seen.
Riley tilted his head to the sides and went straight to the new carriage as soon as he got off from the one he was riding on.
“Who could it be?”
He wondered if it was someone he thought it might be, so he quietly went next to the carriage to check its side.
“Is it from the Solia’s Holy Temple? No. It does not appear to be the case.”
Having confirmed the crest on the side of the carriage, Riley mumbled.
Instead of the Holy Temple, it appeared that someone from a nobility family came to visit.
Its overall red color was eye catching, but black color mixed in here and there gave the carriage a flashy look. Even at a glance, it looked like an expensive carriage.
“I parked the carriage.”
While Riley was checking out the carriage’s crest, Nainiae went to tie the carriage to where it should be and returned.
“I have never seen this carriage.”
“Have you heard anything from Sera?”
Riley still couldn’t figure out what this was all about, so he asked Nainiae.
Nainiae took a quick glance at the carriage, shook her head and said she didn’t know about it.
“Well, I’ll get to know what’s going on soon enough.”
Riley gave up on trying to figure it out and started to walk toward inside of the mansion.
There was an old butler already standing there and waiting for Riley.
Having discovered Riley walking into the mansion, the old butler flinched his shoulder and rushed to Riley like a pet that missed his owner.
It was Ian. Riley was not sure if he should act like he is happy or sad for the first face he ran into right after entering the mansion. For now, Riley gave the old butler a hug.
“You came back.”
“Ian, it’s not good to age backward. Shouldn’t you act your age?”
“Kuhup. It’s not a bad thing for a servant to worry about the master he serves.”
Ian was still hugging Riley, but his gaze ran into Nainiae’s.
Ian immediately made a violent face and started pouting.
‘…Nothing in particular happened I hope?’
Ian said to Nainiae using ventriloquism. Seeing this, Nainiae also pursed her lips and carefully nodded.
Although something did happen, Nainiae was sure that nobody would let her off easy, whether it was Ian, Riley or even Andal. [TL: I’m not sure why the author said ‘ventriloquism,’ but he did. Won’t Riley also hear what Ian said?]
“Did Nainiae make things uncomfortable for you in any way?”
Ian, the one who just threatened Nainiae through ventriloquism, released Riley from hug and asked if she did well or not.
“What’s this? Were you hoping I was uncomfortable?”
“Ah, not at all! There’s no way I would hope for such…”
When Riley slowly tilted his head to the side and asked, Ian denied and said it was absolutely not what he was thinking.
“Is that so?”
Riley definitely felt that Ian’s words and facial expressions were different from Ian’s actual thoughts. Riley started to smile with the corners of his mouth wiggling.
Looking at Riley’s smile, Ian started to act like he was paying attention to something else.
“Anyway, what’s that carriage about?”
Riley decided to make fun of Ian later. Instead, Riley flipped up his thumb and pointed it over his shoulder to the back toward the red carriage to make inquiries.
“It’s from Mogared family.”
“Yes. A daughter from Mogared family is currently visiting here.”
Riley tilted his head to the sides. In a tone of voice that indicated he was not sure what was happening, he asked,
“A daughter? Why?”
“Have you forgotten?”
“There was an engagement ceremony two years ago. It’s that family.” [TL: As usual, the author did not specify the subject of the sentence. It is not explained who is engaged to whom just yet. This is revealed a few paragraphs later.]
Having heard the words ‘engagement ceremony,’ Nainiae, who was standing in the back, had her face twisted into a strange look and then turned into a stone.
“…About lady Orelly, that is most unfortunate. I’m sorry to hear that.”
Inside Ryan’s personal office, there was a woman wearing a dress full of lace enjoying a tea made for a guest.
“My mother brought it onto herself. It’s just that, I don’t think my mother is a horrible person. Afterall, she is my mother who gave birth to me.”
The person sitting in front of the woman was the eldest son of the Iphelleta House, Ryan. He was the one that people believed will most likely be the successor of the family.
“You intend to bring her back?”
“Yes. Once I win the successorship, I intend to bring my mother back to the mansion, although I’ll have to convince my father first.”
By the woman’s question, Ryan nodded with a saddened face.
“About Tes merchant company, the news don’t sound so good, so I’m worried, but it will be all right. That person is tenacious.”
“I have been trying to find out in any way I can. I’m sure there will be a good news soon.”
“Thank you. Thanks to you… I feel a little bit at ease.”
Ryan had a sad look on his face, but he tried hard and smiled gently. He held the woman’s hand.
Feeling the warmth of his hand, the woman blushed.
The ring on her finger was identical to the one on Ryan’s finger.
“…Young Master Ryan’s fiancée?”
Sera and Nainiae’s job for the day was washing bed blankets.
Sera was doing both the daily task and maid lessons for Nainiae. When Nainiae asked the question, Sera started to explain about Mogared’s daughter.
“That’s right. The daughter from Mogared family that visited us today is… Utcha! [TL: Sera made a grunting noise because she is working and lifting things.] the Young Master Ryan’s fiancée. They had their engagement ceremony two years ago.”
Sera hung a large blanket on the laundry string. She quickly turned her head toward Nainiae and looked at her.
Nainiae was just standing there with a blank stare and a blanket in her arms.
Although Sera called her, Nainiae was not answering. She was just standing there with a vacant look on her face.
The look on her face wasn’t giving any clues on what she was thinking.
“…Yes? Ah, yes!”
Nainiae finally opened her ears after being called twice. She tumbled and answered.
By how surprised she looked, it seemed that she really didn’t hear Sera.
“Just what were you thinking so hard about?”
“No. It’s nothing. It’s just…”
She said it was nothing, and Nainiae started to hang the blanket she held in her arms on the laundry string.
Based on how Nainiae was giving a blank stare, Sera was certain that something was up. Sera narrowed her eyes mischievously and asked.
“What is it? Did something happen with young master?”
Nainiae was still somehow looking rather absent minded, but suddenly, her eye focused.
It was like a fish that bit the bait.
Nainiae turned her head to Sera after hearing Sera’s question. As if she didn’t quite hear the question, Nainiae had a question mark floating above her head and she was blinking her eyes.
“You are acting strange, so it’s odd, you know? You had that blank look on your face ever since you went to Iffa village with young master yesterday.”
Having heard Sera’s question, Nainiae lowered her head and bit her lower lip.
She thought about what transpired in Iffa village.
‘You are my servant. Are you his servant?’
Nainiae was thinking about how Riley gently patted her on top of her head and how he said she was his servant. She was thinking about his hand gesture and voice.
“…No. Nothing happened.”
Nainiae slowly shook her head and got rid of futile thoughts in her head.
Meanwhile, she was still biting her lower lip.
‘It’s so foolish…’
She was still biting her lower lip because of something else.
It was she was thinking, ‘I’m feeling relieved…’
Her heart sunk for a moment when she heard Ian mention the fiancée. She felt relieved when she learned that it was actually Young Master Ryan’s fiancée.
Nainiae was feeling guilty for feeling that way.
‘I’m going to die soon, so how dare I…’
Even if it lasted, it was going to be only until the autumn.
Also, there was a stark difference in class.
‘That is not all, isn’t it?’
The right side of her face was horrid, and she was missing two fingers.
She thought that having such feelings were a sin.
“Ms Sera, what’s the schedule after washing the blankets?”
“Have you forgotten what I told you yesterday?”
“Yesterday… Ah, right. That starts today, right?”
“Haha. So, something did happen, didn’t it? Something happened, right?”
“No! Absolutely nothing happened!”
Sera asked with a suppressed laughter, and Nainiae shook her head in denial.
“Um. All right. I won’t pry anymore.”
Sera hung the very last blanket on the string.
She roughly wiped off the water on her hands in the apron and turned back to look at Nainiae.
“Have you ever held a wooden sword at least?”
“No. Not even once…”
In response to Sera’s question about a wooden sword, Nainiae shook her head again.
Sera laughed as if she thought it could not be helped.
“Well. I can understand that. Actually, I got to hold a sword for the first time after coming to the mansion.”
Sera promised Nainiae that she would teach her sword if they finished the day’s schedule early.
It was something Nainiae asked first, but also, it was because there wasn’t any servant in Iphelleta that didn’t know how to use a sword.
“By the way… Are you right handed, Nainiae?”
Sera remembered that Nainiae’s middle and ring fingers were not all right, so she carefully asked.
As a woman just like herself, she figured Nainiae would not like being asked that question.
With a bitter expression on her face, Nainiae said she use to be.
Having lost her fingers, she had no choice but to become left-handed after the experiments in the Magic Tower. It was because her fingers were still alright on her left hand.
“I can still use my right hand to some extent, but if it is about holding a sword…”
Nainiae murmured as she looked down at her right hand.
Because her right hand was missing two fingers, it looked like it didn’t belong to a human being.
It was certain that it could not be called a pretty looking hand.
“Left hand would be better, right?”
Nainiae forced a smile as she asked.
Sera also had a bitter expression on her face just like how Nainiae was until a moment ago. Sera nodded and said,
“Yes. Left hand would be better.”
Missing two fingers was a big difference for a person holding a sword in comparison to having them.
It was a woman’s hand, and on top of that, the missing fingers were not the pinky, but the middle and ring fingers. Explaining it any further was only going to hurt her lips.
“We will be stared at by other servants if we went straight to the training arena, so let’s try practicing the form while holding a wooden sword. Wait for me and stretch your wrists. I’ll go get a light one.”
Sera went into the storage room to find a wooden training sword, and Nainiae was left alone in the corridor.
“A sword huh…”
Nainiae thought about swords with a blank look on her face, and she started to think about Riley.
He was the youngest young master of the Iphelleta House that she met for the first time in Solia.
How they met was definitely not under good circumstances, but there were many things that happened there after.
‘His skills were incredible.’
Once, when she saw him slicing through her magic attacks, and once again but to a greater extent, when she saw him defeating Astroa by throwing a sword at him, all she could think of was the word, ‘incredible.’
‘Despite all that, he hides his true power from the people in the mansion. Why is he doing that?’
Nainiae thought Riley’s humbleness was as deep and wide as the sea. It was making her head to lower on its own.
‘As I thought, young master is…’
Before Nainiae could finish her thought, Sera came out of the storage room while holding two wooden swords.
Sera gave a wooden sword to Nainiae.
It was relatively small and light. It was a wooden sword designed for a beginner.
‘It feels strange. I wonder if young master feels like this when he holds a sword?’
Nainiae tried closing and opening the fingers of her left hand that was holding the sword.
It felt awkward.
To explain how she was feeling, it was like that.
“Now, then, shall we start with the basic form?”
“Do I need to just follow what you are doing?”
“Yes. I’ll be starting with the easier one.”
With her maid lessons concluded for the day, Sera’s sword lessons started.
“In this pose, put strength in your shoulder! Your gaze should be toward the front!”
“L-Like this? Is this right?”
It seemed like Sera was determined to teach her properly now that she was the one teaching her. There was Sera who became a fierce teacher like a tiger, and there was Nainiae who was still sloppy at using a sword but trying hard to learn.
And there was someone hiding in a corner of the corridor and watching them.