Chapter 3
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The next four years pass in much the same way. I only ever see my family on my birthday, and only ever for an hour or two. I keep training my body, doing everything I can think of to make it more difficult. It gets easier as I get older, but even a five year old shouldn't be able to do what I can.

I can actually talk now, without seeming like I'm some super genius. I don't think Zruna ever told anyone about what happened when I was one, but that's reasonable. They would never believe her, even if I confirmed her story. She has been acting like it never happened, even when alone with me, so I guess she decided it isn't important.

It took until I was three to learn why I never see my family. That is around when I decided to start asking questions, and one of the first I asked was, 'when can I see Rendun?' I was told that he would return as soon as possible, and that he was very busy, so he couldn't see me often. I was told the same thing when I asked about Rumore, and my parents.

It took me a while to get them to tell me why, but I eventually found out that they are fighting a war against a neighboring kingdom. My brothers are on the frontline, leading a small army, along with many other nobles, and my parents are managing supply chains. This war must be really important, if they can barely spare an hour of their time per year.

I still haven't been able to leave the manor, but I can go anywhere within it, including the inner courtyard. I have learned that my parents are currently living in the capital, apparently they can be more efficient that way. I'm the only noble living in the manor, all the other people I see are servants of some type.

I've found many interesting things around the manor, and I'm still finding more every once in a while. There is a large forest behind the manor, and a simple dirt road in front. The road leads through a few hills, before I can no longer see it from the windows.

It is almost winter, and most of the trees have no leaves remaining on their branches. I haven't seen an evergreen yet, but they should exist somewhere in this world. I will probably see one the first time I travel somewhere, but I have no idea how long that might take.

A large wall surrounds the manor, giving it an enclosed yard. The wall is made of stone blocks, thick enough to have a walkway on top. It forms a simple square around the manor, always staying at least ten meters from the actual building. There are guards regularly patrolling the wall and yard, but I have never seen them within the manor.

I spend most of my time training, or reading. I found a large library in the northeast corner of the mansion. It has four floors, and I like to look at the forest through the large windows in the northern wall. I can easily see over the walls from the fourth floor, and there are many tables and chairs around the library.

The floor of the library is covered with a thick carpet, and the walls are made with large stone bricks. The carpet is soft, and has a pale cream color to it. The stone of the walls is dark grey, with smooth edges, and I've found strange symbols etched into some of the bricks.

The entire library is very open, with each floor being twelve feet above the last. I can see the bottom floor from the fourth, by looking over the railing of a large balcony. The railing surrounds a large circular hole in the center of the floor, with a nearly forty foot drop to the ground.

There are about fifteen feet of open space, before the other side of the hole, and the railing itself is made of polished wood. There are more strange symbols on the railing, spaced evenly apart at about three feet away from each other.

The bookshelves go from floor to ceiling, and are densely packed with books. There are probably more than fifty thousand books in this library, and I can spend hours reading through them.

Today I'm reading about the different monster and beast species known to the civilized races. There are over thirty volumes of this particular series, and I'm still reading the second one. Each book is almost two foot long, and half a foot thick, with each page being about one specific creature.

Beasts are rare or powerful creatures, like a griffin or a dragon. Things like giant spiders, and magical animals also count as beasts. I think anything that is stronger than a bear, but not a monster, counts as a beast. I'm not sure though, but I should be right.

Monsters are usually humanoid creatures that are both hostile towards the civilized races, and less intelligent than them. Things like goblins and giants are considered monsters. Vampires are also considered monsters, even though they are intelligent and can be reasoned with.

Then there are things like slimes and intelligent plants. Slimes aren't hostile towards the civilized races, they just try to eat everything they touch. They are still considered monsters though, because they will continue growing in size as they eat, and eventually become too large to reasonably handle. Apparently an entire kingdom got destroyed by a slime larger than its capital city, a few hundred years ago. I don't know what happened to the slime, as the book doesn't say, but I assume it got killed somehow.

Intelligent, and sometimes sentient, plants can be considered both beasts and monsters, depending on the individual. They are considered monsters if they attack everything that comes close to them, and beasts if they don't. It's a bit more specific than that, but the book doesn't elaborate any further.

The civilized races are the humans, elves, dwarves, and any other sentient humanoid that is capable of being peaceful. Orcs count as civilized, but they used to be considered monsters. I'm not sure why vampires are monsters, but there's probably some reason.

Beastkin are a collective of beast like humanoids. Things like werewolves and beastmen are considered beastkin. From what I get out of the books I've read so far, a beastman is just a human with the ears and tail of some animal. They are thought of as simple beasts by some people, and a civilized race by others. Wars have been fought over the rights of beastmen, but no one has ever really changed anything.

Beastmen are excepted as people in some kingdoms, and considered tools to be used and discarded by others. I'm not sure about the views of the kingdom I live in, I don't even know it's name yet, but I hope beastmen are excepted here. Unless they really are just beasts, but I highly doubt that.

Werewolves are either considered monsters, or cursed individuals, by most people. They are technically monsters though, as they have no control over their own body when they are transformed. They just attack anything that breathes, or shows some other indication of life. People have been trying to find a way to let werewolves keep their reasoning while in their 'monster' form since before recorded history.

The picture in the book shows me a vicious looking humanoid wolf, above the werewolf description. I think they are the same creatures I remember from Earth, but I can't be sure without seeing one for myself. I'd rather not though, I don't think they would be very peaceful.

I'm having a lot of fun learning about this world, and I'm actually excited to be able to travel it myself. That's if I'm ever able to even leave my house, though. I'm starting to think women aren't allowed to leave their place of birth in this world, but that is just a stupid notion. Right?

I look up from my position, laying on the sill of a window, as I hear footsteps approaching. I leave my legs hanging off the edge of the windowsill, as I look up. I can't see whoever it is, but it sounds like Ruza.

My senses have been getting better and better. I'm nearly positive this isn't natural now, even on this world. I hear everything before the people around me, the same with scents. I smell everything first, hear everything first, react to everything first. I can see farther than everyone around me, and my eyes adjust to different lighting faster. I'm not sure why, but it seems I'm different. I'm just going to keep blaming magic. Until I'm proven wrong, anyway.

It takes about thirty seconds for Ruza to step around the closest bookshelf. She immediately notices me and starts walking over. I'm laying in the same spot I usually am at this time, so it's to be expected that she knows exactly where to find me.

"Zuren, I have good news!" She is forcing herself to be quiet as she says this, and the smile on her face couldn't get any wider. I'm not sure what has her so excited, but it's apparently good news.

"The duke has finally decided to stop hiding your existence from the public." She says, a bit more calmly, as she steps up to the window. He was hiding my existence from the public? Why? Is that why I can't go outside?

"Father was hiding me?" I ask, confused. I'm still trying to sound like a young child when I speak, but I'm not sure how good I'm doing. I look up at Ruza, waiting for a response, as I close the book I'm holding.

"Yes, he didn't want people to know he had another child while he's dealing with the war." Ruza says, offhandedly, before continuing. "He's been thinking about it since you turned five, but he only decided it was safe today. We just received a letter from him a few minutes ago."

So, he didn't want people to know I exist while he's helping with the war. Probably so I wasn't assassinated or kidnapped while he can't protect me. Does that mean the war is ending soon? I can't think of any other reason why he would suddenly think it's safe. If the war is ending, then the risk of someone taking advantage of my father's distraction is much lower. It's still a possibility though, that's probably why it took him a month to decide.

"Why is this good news?" I ask, still acting confused. A five year old wouldn't understand the implications of what she just told me, so this question is necessary. I sit up on the windowsill, setting the book next to me, as I look at Ruza questioningly.

"Because now you can go outside, Zuren. You have been wanting to go outside for a while now, Right?" Ruza responds happily, with a slight questioning tone in her voice. She seems happy for me, something that causes me to smile.

I just nod I response, as I slide off the windowsill. Ruza gestures for me to follow her, as she turns and starts walking back the way she came. She leads me through the bookshelves, walking with a slight spring in her step, as we head towards the stairs. The stairs are located at the northwestern corner of the tower, and they are simple in structure. One straight flight down to the third floor, then another under it, leading to the second floor. It's the same to get down to the first floor, where we then make our way to the southwestern corner of the library. There we find the large double doors that are the library's entrance.

We step through the door, and into the northern hallway. The northern hallway is large, with a green carpet, and dark wooden walls. Ruza follows it to the left for a few feet, then turns right, into the eastern hallway.

The northern, eastern, southern, and western hallways are nearly identical. They enclose the inner courtyard, and form a large square. There are many doors along both sides of each hallway, leading into other halls and some of the more important rooms. There are two floors to each of the hallways, with both being identical, except for the southern hall. The southern hall's second floor is identical to the other three halls, but it's first floor is connected to the entrance hall.

The entrance hall is probably the largest room in the manor. It extends from the main entrance to the southern hall. It cuts through the center of the entrance wing, a large square shaped portion of the manor that holds the entrance hall, and the main dining room. The main dining room is more formally known as the banquet hall, but no one ever calls it that.

I'm not sure if we have a great hall, as I've never heard someone mention it, but I don't really think we need one. The entrance wing also holds most of the guest rooms, and many offices. It connects directly to the southern wall of the southern hall, and is probably as far as most guests will ever enter.

Me and Ruza step into the entrance hall, after walking down the eastern and southern halls. The entrance hall is three times wider than the four cardinal halls, and it combines the two floors into one. There are two large, curving stairs on both sides of this end of the entrance hall. The two stairs connect to one landing, directly over the entrance to the southern hall. That landing connects to two balconies, which run down both sides of the entrance hall.

The balconies end about halfway to the center of the entrance hall. From the balconies, you can enter the second floor of the entrance wing, and the southern hall. The entrance hall has the same green carpet as the cardinal halls, and the ceiling is just one large skylight. There are many decorations around the entrance hall, potted plants, armor suits, paintings, and a few types of wall mounts. The wall mounts include things like the heads of hunted beasts, and pegs for holding weapons.

I follow Ruza to the front entrance, two large wooden doors. The doors are made from the same dark wood as most of the rest of the manor is, and they have a detailed carving of two rose vines climbing up the sides of them. The two vines meet at the top of the doors, twining around each other and forming a circle. Within that circle is a depiction of two phoenixes in flight. They are facing each other, with their tailfeathers curving around the bottom of the circle, and their backs pressed against it's sides.

I've seen this image a lot, two phoenixes encircled in a ring of roses. I think it's my family's crest, but I've never bothered to ask. I don't really have a reason to anyway, it's not like it could be something else.

Ruza walks up to the doors, which are about eight feet high, pulling them open with the two large metal rings shaped like the family crest. Beyond the door is a cobblestone path, the path leads straight to the front gates, which are ten meters ahead of us.

The gate looks to be made of iron, and is as tall as the walls on either side of it. I can see the road through the gate, bit I still can't see where it leads to. The phoenix crest is built into the center of the gate, with the rest of it just being straight iron bars. The iron bars are tipped with thin spikes, looking kind of like fancy spearheads. The bars get longer as they move towards the center of the gate, with each spearhead being half it's length higher than the one before it.

Ruza stops walking halfway to the gate, then turns to face me. I stop walking, and stand two steps from her, waiting for her to explain. I have no idea what she's doing at the moment, just that I finally get to leave the manor.

"I need to go help Zruna and Gen, but I trust you can stay safe by yourself. Feel free to explore the area Zuren, come get us if you need anything." She says, as she starts walking past me, back towards the manor.

I expected to be told some sort of rules before she left, but I guess it's better this way. I just shrug as I watch her leave, then turn back towards the gate. I walk up to the gate, and notice that it's unlocked. That seems strange, but I guess there's not really a reason to lock it.

I push on the gates lightly, and they silently swing open. I make it past the gates unhindered, then close them behind me. I immediately turn to the left, and start following the wall. It takes a few minutes to reach the southeastern corner, where I turn again, heading towards the forest.

I reach the trees about ten minutes after I closed the gates, and step into the treeline. I slowly walk through the forest, until I cannot see the manor walls anymore. The moment I'm clear, I start sprinting. I'm extremely excited to finally be out of the manor, and it shows on my face in the form of a large grin.

The forest isn't very dense in this area, with each tree being around three or four meters from the next. The ground is covered in dry leaves that crunch with every step I take, and a cold wind blows through the trees.

I'm not wearing any shoes, as I didn't have any while in the manor. I wouldn't keep them on anyway, so there would be no point in even attempting to wear them. I find shoes to be the exact opposite of practical. They restrict the movement of your feet, both messing with your balance and making it harder to adjust your stance. They also make it much harder to walk quietly, and stop you from being able to feel the ground you're standing on.

I just find wearing them tedious, so I don't. I'm still fine wearing a dress for now, as all the dresses I own are loose fitting, and don't restrict my movement. I hope it stays that way, but I'm not to expectant. The fancy and formal stuff is always the most restricting.

I sprint through the forest, moving faster than most humans ever will. I can't really call it sprinting, as it feels very casual, but I'm easily moving at sprinting speed. The tree's fly past me, though I can see them all clearly as they do, and soon I'm getting to a denser part of the forest.

I slow down to avoid hitting a tree, and continue running. After a few minutes I come to a stop at the top of a hill. I stand on a flat rock, looking around as I pant lightly. I just ran about four kilometers, in twenty minutes. The forest terrain was quite difficult to traverse at that speed, and I'm definitely going to start using it as a new training method.

For now though, I need to find something to train my strength. I'm standing on a large rock, but I doubt it's heavy enough. There is a steep hill ahead of me, the crest of which is slightly higher then the one I'm on. The area around me has many steep hills and valleys, making it much harder to traverse.

This is exactly the kind of place I'm looking for. I smile as I slide down the incline in front of me, remaining standing until I reach the bottom. As I stop sliding I jump forwards slightly, then start running up the next hill.

I keep running through the forest, until I find a fallen tree. The moment I do, I run up to it, shoving my hands under the trunk. I lift the tree into the air, holding it above my head. My body is already starting to strain, and I've only been holding it for a few seconds. This is something that hasn't happened since I found a full wine barrel in the basement.

I have to drop the tree after about three minutes. I decide to climb one of the still living trees, as I let my body rest. If climbing a tree can be considered resting, anyway.

It is quite easy to climb the tree, but not so easy to stand in it. Balancing on the branches of a tree should be good practice, and I'll probably alternate between this and lifting the heaviest object I can find. I'll have to find something else to do though, I need more variety than this.

After a while I start jumping from branch to branch. The way the branches bend under my weight, and the sudden change in direction caused by wind, makes doing this an actual challenge. Its not hard enough that I'm at risk of falling, but it's not easy.

I haven't had this much fun since I was first allowed to explore the manor alone. I start laughing lightly, as I continue jumping through the trees. Eventually I drop back down to the ground, returning to the fallen tree.

I spend another three minutes holding it in the air, then return to the trees. I keep alternating between the two, smiling and laughing the entire time. I can tell this is going to be a fun winter, and I can't wait for the chance to practice on ice.

I spend a the rest of the day in the forest, training my body. The cold wind blowing through the trees is really hard to deal with, seeing as I've never been out of the heated manor, but I should be fine after a few months of this. My body's resistance to things like weather and injury is very low, but still higher than I expected it to be. I guess I've gained more defense due to how often I damage my muscles, and I also produce a lot of heat while training.

I only return to the manor once it starts getting dark. I didn't see any search parties on my way back, so I assume no one's worried yet. The guards on the walls definitely notice me, but they just continue standing there. It seems they don't care about my absence, so they probably expected me to be gone this long.

Then again, maybe my maids didn't think I would actually leave through the gate, and they don't even know I ever did. There's a good chance they think I've been playing in the yard all day, but I believe they know I left.

Those guards are really bad at their jobs, if they don't, and I don't want to think that my home is protected by incompetent people. I'm going to assume everyone knows I left, until proven otherwise.

I pass the gates, then walk across the cobblestones. I push against the two double doors, and they open smoothly. They're much lighter than I expected, but still quite heavy. A normal five year old should be able to get them open, but it would probably be really hard.

I walk through the manor, heading towards my room. I need a bath, as I've been sweating in a forest for half the day. My room is on the third floor of the manor, above the western hallway. The third floor of the manor is less organized and open, but that just makes it look like a normal house. My room is near the northwestern tower, along with many storage rooms and kitchens. There are also rooms like the changing rooms, and the dining room all my birthday visits have been held in.

I can't really call them a party, but I don't mind that. My simple birthday parties have been quite enjoyable so far, and I hope they remain that way. This life is quite peaceful, and I enjoy that, but I doubt it will stay this way for long. The war will probably be over soon though, so I hope to have a few years at least.

My maids hate when I bathe myself, but I don't feel like finding them at the moment. I have a personal bathing room on the first floor of the western hallway, and that's exactly where I go. It's a large, luxurious room, probably one of the few extravagant places in the manor. I guess my parents really like being clean, as this is the only type of room in the manor that can really be considered 'grand', unless you count the entrance hall.

I spend thirty minutes cleaning myself, then head to my room. I was given a proper bed when I turned three, but other than that my room hasn't changed much. My bed is set in the corner if the room that my crib used to be in, and that probably won't ever change.

I climb into my bed, unable to stop thinking about tomorrow. I spend a while thinking about all the different ways I can train now, and about how fun it will be. Eventually I manage to fall asleep, still smiling happily.