The Vampire Empress.
“You didn’t hear anything at all!” I screamed before Felice let out a very soft and warm giggle, sitting down on a sofa together with Leo and Iona as I pouted before turning towards Leo, “Anyhow, have you told the other knights about the plan?”
“You mean the one where we’d be shoveling with our swords, my lady? If so, then yes,” he replied with a bitter smile as I nodded in satisfaction, “They all agreed with a bit of brute force.”
Well—I am most likely the only person in this kingdom to throw one of the kingdom’s strongest knights to plow through the land with a sword, but you can’t blame me for that since we are lacking resources and the only way we can save is to use the free resources that idiot ruler gave me.
“Anyhow, have you decided on who will head to the capital? I need three people that we can trust the most to go and send the letter since we can’t afford to have the letter be tampered with or not delivered at all,” I looked at them and asked.
“Well, we were initially planning on having me and Iona head to the capital with another person while leaving Leo behind, but it seems like that would serve as a problem itself since Leo himself isn’t that good at paperwork,” Felice smiled bitterly, “And if we were to theoretically throw Leo to the capital, the brigade would lose a major powerhouse until he returns which is not viable.”
“H-how about I head there alone instead?” Iona volunteered as I shook my head.
“A shy girl like you heading to the capital alone is like us throwing away the letter, we also don’t know who among the knights is associated with a noble that might be against me who is from another world. You can only imagine how many enemies I made after being thrown that title of a Duchess,” I looked out in the distance with a wry smile.
There are many people who wish to go after me simply because I am someone who could theoretically earn the title of a Duchess which is a title that many families would wish to have. It was just like my life back then but unlike before, I had no allies to trust on nor do I have anyone to lean my back towards. It was a lonely battle for me.
“How about transmitting the letter through either of our houses, my lady?” Leo suggested, “While it is indeed unsafe, but it is a more trustworthy method of passing down a letter to the royal family since either of our houses are established houses.”
“Hmm—but there still is the issue of how to pass the letter to the third party since we do not have any knights that we can trust unless you are planning on passing the letter alone, Leo?” I looked at him in the eye as he nodded.
Even if we are able to pass the letter to his family, without verification that it came from someone like Leo then the letter wouldn’t even pass through which means we either have to make Leo or either Felice and Iona deliver the letter to their families and in my eyes, Leo is the best option since the temporary loss of a powerhouse can be alleviated with me here.
“Okay then, Leo will pass on three different letters. The destination of each letter is to the royal family, the central bank, and the trade guild, the letters will be marked to make it easy to distinguish which is for which,” I said before turning towards Iona who was a bit sleepy, “Iona, can you fetch me some empty letters and parchments around here?”
“A-as you wish, my lady!” Iona immediately stood and ran towards the desks and cabinets nearby as I turned my attention back to Felice who was anticipating my order.
“Felice will stay on the town and take over Leo’s commanding role temporarily, you will oversee the suspicious activities that are reported by the knights and will handle them as you see fit, if ever something requires my intervention, do not hesitate to come towards me, do you understand?” I said before she stood up and saluted.
Now that most of that issue is settled, we will need to find some food for the next few days which may require us to hunt starting tomorrow, if my strength is the same as a few hours ago then beating up a few dozens of boars or any edible monsters shouldn’t be a problem.
“I will also take around five knights with me to go hunting for food tomorrow morning, for now, we will endure the hunger. My plans involve finding a total of sixty boars tomorrow which shouldn’t be that difficult to find since there is a literal forest a little bit from here,” I said while patting Ayaka’s hair who looked me as if curious to what we were talking about.
“Are you sure five knights will be enough for you, my lady?” Felice inquired as I nodded.
“There is no need to use more than five knights since that would become excessive. The remaining knights will stay here to protect the town since I also cannot trust the guards stationed on the town anymore, either their loyalty is in the corrupt or in the hands of another,” I frowned, “As long as their loyalty is not with me then I will not trust them.”
“Mama… angry?” Ayaka looked at me with childish eyes as I shook my head.
“I am not angry, but cautious,” I replied with a smile, “You should know the difference between anger and cautious, Ayaka. Cautious is born from suspicion, anger is born from grudges and hatred, though similar they are both different. One sees the other as a neutral, the other sees the other as an enemy.”
“Huh…?” she looked at me confused but I simply smiled as I picked her up from the sofa and looked at the others, “We will retire for the night. All the knights should have their own staying place right?”
“Yes, your high—my lady! We have stationed a few temporary camps in the meantime while we gather resources to build our own huts tomorrow,” Felice answered as I nodded with satisfaction.
“The three of you are free to sleep in any room here if you like, I will be sleeping with Ayaka since I don’t feel good with her sleeping outside of my view. Tell the knights who will be accompanying me tomorrow to be prepared within eight in the morning, make sure one of them is a female who knows how to take care of children,” I said before all of them stood up and saluted as I walked upstairs carrying Ayaka.
All around me was a bit dusty which kind of annoyed me a bit as Ayaka sneezed from the dust, forcing me to utilize a bit of customized magic, combining both wind and water magic in a sequential process, I formed a tiny magic circle that engulfed the entire house before all the dust vanished, leaving only a sparkling house.
“Is this fine for you?” I looked at her with a warm smile before she nodded with sparkling eyes, “Was it your first time seeing magic?”
“Magic!” she said with excitement, “Wanna learn!”
My empty heart felt like it was being flooded with warmth by being with her which surprised me inside, not even Teil could fill this empty heart of mine yet a single little girl somehow managed to break through my tough defenses within a few hours, how amusing.
“Then, I will teach you how to use magic in the bath,” I smiled.
I wonder if I should call this transmigration a blessing in disguise for me, to meet someone who could warm my cold world is something I never expected. Anyhow, I do understand all of this will soon vanish once her true parents will start looking for her—but I should at the very least enjoy this warmth even a little bit.
“Yay!” she said with excitement as we entered one of the rooms where all my baggage which were mainly gifts that were sent from the royal family and some nobles were located. The baggage consisted of dresses, jewelry, and some other stuff that were mainly for pleasantries.
I could definitely sell a lot of the jewelry and use them to fund the resurrection of the town but that will be in the worst-case scenario, we will have to wait until the royal family responds since I want to use this jewelry as a last resort.
After unpacking the baggage a bit and taking out two towels, I soon walked towards the bath and summoned water through the mana inside of me, heating it up with a little bit of fire magic before walking back to the room where I undressed Ayaka and myself as the two of us took a quick wash before bathing.
“Hmm—where should I start?” I mumbled while looking at Ayaka whose eyes were sparkling from anticipation. Explaining how magic works is indeed complicated, even though I mastered a lot of the teachings from the book, teaching it to someone else is harder than I thought, “Do you really want to learn magic, Ayaka?”
“Mhm!” she nodded without hesitation as I sighed.
Turning her around, I placed my hand on her back before inserting a few strands of mana onto her as I asked, “Can you feel the mana inside you? It should feel like a warm ball of sheep fur.”
“Mhm!” she answered without hesitation.
“How about imagining anything you want with the texture of the water like the one you are in?” I asked before she turned her head towards me a bit confused but nodded anyway as she frowned her eyebrows hard, holding her head with both of her hands which looked super adorable.
After a few minutes, the water on the bath soon started to rise before condensing into a single object that was none other than a mini statue of me. After condensing, the object landed on her hand as she turned around towards me with a bright smile, “It’s Mama!”
I was a bit surprised—not just because of the object she imagined but because of her quick comprehension of magic which far surpassed me who only took an hour, she took less than ten minutes to comprehend magic and cast one! Indeed, she may be one giant chess piece that will be on my side in the future.
“You did well, Ayaka!” I hugged her with a smile, “How about we do something fun, like for example, summoning bubbles around us?”
After saying that, I flicked my finger while imagining bubbles around the bathroom before water soon started to rise, turning themselves into thousands of bubbles that floated around us which made her eyes sparkle even more as she tried catching one.
The sight of her happily playing around with the bubbles made me smile unconsciously, someone like me who would hate being around people somehow smiling because of one person—how weird, but it isn’t a bad feeling.
“It should be okay for someone like me who has no ambition in life to take care of someone once in a while, shouldn’t it be?” I mumbled to myself while standing up from the bath as I covered myself in a towel before picking up Ayaka who wanted to play more but it was enough for playtime.
After that little bath session, the two of us dressed ourselves in our own clothing—or rather the ones from mine, I had to cut and stitch several of mine for hers since it seems to have gone above my head about the fact that she didn’t have any other clothes.
“Goodnight, Mama…” she looked at me with a bright smile, hugging me tightly as I smiled back.