“July-sama, are you in?”
“Yes, I’m here.”
At that, I leaned against the door with my shoulders, pushing open a gap enough to allow the cart and myself to enter.
There in the middle of the room seated on the large desk was my half-brother.
“Rina-neesan, what is ‘acar’?”
“Do you mean acre?”
My younger brother.. wrong. My half-brother raised my head to look at me then back to the documents placed on the table. He used the butt of the ink pen to scratch his golden hair.
He was without a doubt, struggling with the paperwork. The completion pile was fortunately taller than the starting pile.
“Please take a break July-sama,” I pulled out a small box from the lower compartment of the cart. Opening the lid, the smell of tea lifted into the air.
“I can’t tell if there is an accident on his part or does acar mean something..” the movement of his pen on his hair grew more violent.
“Where?” I leaned over to have a look.
Crystalline agar from winter slimes.
He wanted to rub his eyes, but I held his wrist to prevent that. “What are you..”
“You’re going to get ink on your hands.”
He paused to look at his hand. There were black splotches here and there.
I took a silk handkerchief from my pocket, and passed it to him. “Use this.”
“Thanks..” he sighed, using the handkerchief to rub his red eyes, he leaned back against the headrest.
I went back to the cup and started preparing tea. July-sama, my younger half-brother. He prefers that his tea be made on site. It was an unusual request, but I can only attribute it to some fetish, a siscon. It’s really annoying to go through the process of making a new batch of tea when there’s already a fresh pot of tea ready to go.
I should complain.
“Here is your tea.”
“Thank you very much, Rin-neesan.”
But hearing his praise made me refrain.
“How are you? There seems to be a lot of work left to complete?”
“And my father expects me to do more too.. grr.. its so tiring, being a lord is so tiring. Why would people want such a role, I don’t understand..”
I smiled faintly. I understood his sentiments to a degree.. somewhat.. maybe.
I, Rinlanashina Bougainvillea, yes, quite a difficult name to pronounce, was working as a maid for the Margrave. Some would refer to him as my father, but I would liken our relationship more to a boss and employer.
I never got to experience this fatherly love people speak of.
My birth was an accident. I heard that my mother was a prostitute, her current whereabouts were unknown.. that was a lie. I knew she had been killed by the very hands currently feeding me.
By some stroke of luck, I was still alive. Was it because he thought of me as his daughter? Or by some whim he found me useful as a maid?
In spite of it all, I was glad-- even though life had not been easy.
Growing up, having to learn the ways of the house at the age of 9. I was scolded frequently for my misdeeds. Things like reading, writing, proper etiquette when it came to serving the Margrave household-- worst was cleaning the toilet.
I was glad that the Margrave decided to hire a specialist nowadays. I do not wish to experience those days ever again. I hold high respect for toilet plumbers.
I cried a lot back in the days, it was hard, I found it unfair. I wanted to live with my mother, it didn’t matter if she earned a living through indecent work, money was money.
The me now, barely received any money-- I had no salary, under the excuse that I was the Margrave’s daughter-- their spendings accounted for my spendings. Any pocket money I got either came from my kind step-brother or the head-maid. Both which I respect very much.
“Finally, tomorrow is my free day. I better finish up this work before I go to bed later-- anywhere you wish to go tomorrow Rin-neesan?”
“No. I don’t have anywhere in particular that I’d like to visit.”
“I was thinking of picking gifts for the bride and groom of the upcoming wedding.”
“Then perhaps a pair of matching jewelry or some premium food products?”
I had been told of the marriage between Baron Ifrit’s first daughter and Earl Harriot. Curiously, the rumor was love sprouted unexpectedly from an arranged marriage-- riddled with conspiracies--
That was a joke. I’m glad they were able to marry for the sake of love-- unlike the future of the Margrave’s first daughter. She and I didn’t have a good relationship, bitter enemies till the end--
Her position had forced her to take a stance against this fate that awaited her. She was a capable lady, much more so in comparison to my step-brother.
It wasn’t that I didn't support her aim to become the next heir-- heir of the Margrave household for the sake of her future. She had been fighting this lonely battle against fate ever since I knew of her.
Nevertheless, she didn’t matter-- shouldn’t matter. I didn’t have the energy to mind her antics. It was her fight, if she wanted help, she should fix the way she treats those around her, me included.
“Jewelry.. that’s outdated. I’m certain many other nobles would gift that. Something flashy--”
Also, my younger step-brother-- though I call him so, was only a year younger than I was, 15 years old. The Margrave’s first daughter was 17. I was sandwiched between the two at 16 years old, a nice number, wasn’t it?
“How about some handicrafts? I saw some good wooden puzzles displayed in the woodwork shop last time. And I heard the two share a passion for projects that require teamwork? Maybe?”
“The wheel of ferris perhaps?”
This was a gift July-sama had gotten during his previous birthday. It was a three-dimensional puzzle set of a wheel of ferris-- something from the heroes’ world.
“Or maybe the bird in the cage?”
“No, that would give a negative impression.”
“What’s so negative about that? It’s just a bird? If they wished, they could decided to abandon the construction of the cage.”
“That is a joke right?”
“I need to get to work,” He grumbled.
“Then I’ll take my leave here? Sorry for the interruption.”
“No, thank you for the tea.”
Hopefully that took his mind off the work-- even for a bit. He had been sitting in the study since the morning. Normally, his schedule would be a mix of swordsmanship and study of history, but both had been canceled to deal with this mess of paperwork.
I nodded and left him with my silk handkerchief.
I had no obligation to visit him at this sort of time-- I just thought to stop by to see how he was doing. That was all there was to it-- by no means I’m a brocon, please refrain from such a delusion--
“Yes head maid?”
I pushed the cart to the kitchen-- wiping it down with a warm wet cloth.
“The lord wishes to meet you.”
“Yes. He had personally called upon me to deliver this message to you. Please proceed to his office right this instant, he’s waiting.”
I dropped what I was doing and followed the head maid-- of course, I made sure to use the toilet and had a drink of water to p-prepare myself.
Two clear knocks.
“Milord,” the head maid called out.
I felt the world turn silent, the clear thumping of my heart.
Why? Why all of a sudden? It has been months since the last time he called-- was it to discuss my arranged marriage? Perhaps he wanted me to abandon my house name and leave?
“Rinlanashina, enter. Head maid, you may leave.”
“Understood milord,” the head maid bowed respectfully as she held the door for me to enter.
“Good evening father..” I did my best to suppress the quivering voice in my voice.
Ugh.. this is so nauseating.. it’s hard to breathe. P-Please don't stare at me like that..
The head maid left, I stood close to the door, not a clue as to what I should do.
S-should I take a seat? The last time I did, the Margrave said I was disrespectful? T-then I should stand close to the couch but not..
“Why aren’t you taking a seat?”
“I was deep in thought, father..”
“Shut up and take a seat.”
I responded with a cold tone of my own.
“Do you understand your position?”
“Yes father, I am grateful for being able to work in this house.”
He leaned against his office chair. With a gaze void of interest, he ruffled through a compartment in the desk. He pulled out an envelope--
“You go on my behalf.”
-- and threw it on the floor.
“Promise me one thing.”
He then gave me a proding look.
“What is it father?”
“In exchange for your freedom, kill the person called Noel Bougainvillea. Find him, drag him out by any means and kill him.”
Kill? Noel Bougainvillea? Who is this Noel Bougainvillea? Don’t tell he’s a-another product of his accidents just like me..
“F-father how could you..”
“Don’t you wish to run? To abandon everything and spread your wings? You do, don’t you? You don’t even look at up to me like as your father.”
“N-No father I can’t..”
“I have eyes and ears everywhere, Rinlanashina, you can’t fool me. I know what you think of me. You should take a good look at yourself, a disgrace to this household.”
Why.. Was I a disgrace? What had I done to sully this family?
“You’re fortunate my wife let you off this time-- I don’t know for how long she will continue to bear with your existence. The longer you remain, the more likely your death.”
His fierce eyes bore down on me.
“Or maybe you would prefer to accompany him in the grave?”
-- The one who was also born out of an accident just like me.
I’m not worth anything.
I’m a dishonor to the family.
I shouldn’t have been born.
I should’ve died.
I should’ve killed myself.
Mom.. why did I hold onto your words? You said there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? That good things come to those that persevere? Why mom.. I’ve been holding onto those words for so long.. so long..
“Rinlanashina, you have only this chance. Do what I say, and I promise to set you free, and your life will be spared. You will have nothing to do with this family ever again.”
My skirt wrinkled at the force of my hands, tears dotted the fabric.
“It won’t be too difficult, I’ll be sending my entourage to assist you. All you need to do is to complete the final act. Do you understand? Rinlanashina?”
“Take the letter and get out. Send my regards to the bride and groom.”
I picked up the letter and walked out of his office in silence.
I wanted.. I really wanted to die.
But I can’t. I just know I can’t.
I held my head, the boiling rage seething out of my body--
I took in a sharp breath, trying to suppress this urge. The pain continued to build, I couldn’t contain my tears.
I can’t possibly let them find out--
Just a little more.. bear a little longer Rin.. I’ll get out of here.. whatever the means..
And then find another demon lord.
Dotturndot would like to greet everyone with welcome everyone to Volume 7. And from the short prologue-- you can expect what to happen next.
Thank you for reading and special thanks to @Alex and @Parsatag for being my patron!!