“Her Excellency the Earl, you know.”
After she had ceased her tears, Zia Batsand started off like that.
“Her Excellency, is.”
She stopped talking.
“My teacher is, uhm······ Her Excellency and my teacher are······.”
I let out a sigh and stopped Zia.
“When you don’t know what to say, just don’t open your mouth.”
“······.” The female knight, who was most likely unable to choose her king or her teacher, nodded her head. “All right.”
“Sii. Are you okay?”
I asked Sii a question. Sii, who was groaning in pain, turned towards me and,
“That’s Miss Sii, to you!”
Ehehe, while arduously laughing, she said those words.
“Miss Sii. Are you all right?”
“Yup~~! I’m just a bit, tired······.”
There was a lot of sweat gathered on the temple of Sii who had uttered that. She was desperately holding onto her consciousness. As an older male, and as someone who had experience in being whipped a countless number of times by Chanmi and her maids with a riding crop, even I almost had my consciousness sent flying. Even less than that, for a girl who was younger than me and for Sii whose skin was weak because she was an albino.
“What about, Yujin? ······Are, you fine, Yujin······?”
“I’m all right. Zia, you guys have something like magic medicine, right? Bring it here.”
Zia ran out. Sii and I, for a moment, gazed at each other like that.
That wasn’t an accurate expression. I was looking at Sii, while Sii was doing her best to look at me as she panted with dim eyes.
My chest that was lashed by the whip, and my chest that wasn’t lashed as well.
It hurt enough to make me feel as if I’d die, to make me want to die.
I organized the current situation.
I didn’t want to organize it. But, but, even if I didn’t, I had to organize it. I had to become cool-headed. I had to become calm.
It won’t end with me alone.
A second ago, she harmed Sii as well.
She made Zia cry.
I had to find my composure.
Since, my head is good.
······, ······, ············, ······, ·····················, ······, ··················, ······.
I had returned to this world after going back to Earth for 2 days and 1 night.
Within that time-frame, Sii’s arm was cut off.
Saying that her crime was theft, other maids had stepped forward as witnesses.
The one to have executed the punishment was Zia’s teacher, Yudia Batsand.
I finished sorting out the situation.
She must have lost consciousness for a second as Sii had abruptly regained her senses. However, it wasn’t long before her eyes grew dim again.
There was no time for me to pick out my words.
“You didn’t do it, right?”
For a moment, Sii looked at me while not understanding what I had meant by that question. And then,
“Miss Sii, Miss Sii. I apologize. I wasn’t doubting you. It was just for the sake of sorting out the situation.”
I hugged the Sii who had become red with anger and a sense of betrayal. The struggling Sii soon settled down. Trying to maintain this girl’s composure by patting her small body⎯⎯⎯her body that had become physically smaller because of the loss of one of her arms, was a difficult thing to do.
Furthermore, it was required.
“Most likely,” I told her the theory that I had thought of. “The Earl knows that as well.”
If she knows, then why did she sever Sii’s arm?
The Silver Lion Earl had mentioned Occam’s razor.
“She was aiming for it.”
“Aimed······ for it······?”
Sii lifted her head while in my arms.
“I’m saying that the very act of cutting off Miss Sii’s arm was her goal.”
Sii seemed to have been unable to understand those words for a moment. A second later, Sii blinked her eyes.
“But······ Huh? But⎯⎯⎯ the maids······ those girls······ said I stole······ put me in a trap······ that’s why⎯⎯⎯.”
“That’s nothing more than an excuse.”
“I thought about it as well. Though I say that I thought about it, I actually did it only a moment ago. I had provoked that maid called Mari. The fellow called Mari felt anger towards me. Therefore, with the other maids, she aimed for the time when I wasn’t here. They then put Miss Sii into a trap. It’s not ridiculous to think along those lines. However, there’s one thing. It was too,”
“It was too, fast.”
Much too fast.
“The Earl is aware that I go around sticking next to Miss Sii. Even on the day of the exam, I was wearing Miss Sii’s maid uniform. However, Miss Sii’s arm was severed while I wasn’t here. Even though she could have waited until after I had returned. Even though she could have carried out an investigation as much as Miss Sii was able to claim that you didn’t do it. Regardless, she went out of her way, as if she were in a hurry, to cut off Miss Sii’s arm.”
A person’s arm, much too easily.
The Earl had cut it, and I explained.
“She had to, cut it.”
“Had to······ cut it······ what are you······.”
“This is something that you can guess at if you consider a single fact. Regardless of who had fabricated the incident. Regardless of who had made the accusation. Regardless of who had testified. In the first place, don’t you think that the risk is too big? In all ages and countries, deceiving one’s lord is something that’s punishable by death. Moreover, it’s a crime where you won’t be executed in a graceful manner.”
“Deceiving······one’s lord······? Yujin······ what those words mean······ I······ don’t······.”
“If the Silver Lion Earl finds out that it was fabricated, that the accusation was false, and that the testimonies were a work of fiction, then what sort of Hell would be awaiting them afterwards⎯⎯⎯there’s no way that the other maids, who have been working here in this castle, would be unable to imagine it. And yet, they carried it out.”
“Because they were that upset? No, if that were the case, then they would have acted immediately after. Then was it because they despised Miss Sii that much? That’s right, if that was the case, then they could have made a plan. If hatred was the source, then them waiting for the moment when I had returned to Korea would have been possible. However, this is absurd as well.”
“How is it absurd? For starters, how would they know about my return to Korea? Whether I had returned to Korea or whether I had just gone off to someplace where they couldn’t see me for a while, how would they know? Using the opportunity that lasted for only a single night, the fact that the maids, who had no method of knowing whether that opportunity would actually appear or not, had acted while moving in perfect order, this is considered cheating even in mystery novels and is impossible in reality. If that’s the case, then what was it?”
Because⎯⎯⎯there was one answer.
“The Silver Lion Earl, wanted to cut off Miss Sii’s arm.”
To be exact.
“The Silver Lion Earl wanted to punish Miss Sii. She was searching for a fault to pick at. That’s why, while riding on the opportunity that was presented to her during my trip back to Korea, she more than gladly created something to pick at and used that to sever Miss Sii’s arm.”
“Yujin······ I······ don’t······ understand······ what you’re saying······ I······.”
Sii closed her eyes. After confirming that her breathing was stabilizing, I stroked Sii’s head and went into deep thought.
Until now, I’ve been overlooking a single fact.
The reason why Sii was being bullied by the other maids.
Because she was an albino? Because she was the adopted daughter of a community leader? Those can be motives. However, Sii was a kind girl. Although she was suppressed, contorted, and twisted, Sii was a kind girl. She had two personalities, she was timid, and she was a dark and shady sadist, but despite that, Sii Garno Mikatni was a kind girl.
The fact that someone was kind meant that they were dutiful. The fact that someone was dutiful meant that they didn’t resist against authority.
Was she not like that in real life as well?
Strong to the weak to an extent.
Weak to the strong to an extent.
Someone who could never make me mad.
A servile, human.
If there’s something that I was wrong about, then it was the fact that she had the courage to suppress that servility. This factor was a merit and not a demerit.
There was no reason for her to be bullied. Even if there was, there was no reason for it to have been prolonged for this long. Even if it were prolonged, there was no reason for her to be treated like this by everyone.
There was one reason that I could think of.
A scenario where she had become the target of the highest predator in a group.
Like when Joo Chanmi had marked me.
The Silver Lion Earl who pleasantly exchanged greetings with the maids, the Silver Lion Earl who had come to visit me while drinking alcohol when it was exposed that a maid she doted on had resorted to thievery, the Silver Lion Earl who felt affection towards her subordinates and citizens in her own way. I should have realized this when I noticed that the Silver Lion Earl wouldn’t glimpse at Sii and would only call her by ‘adopted daughter of Mikatni’.
The Silver Lion Earl.
Harbored evident malice towards Sii Garno Mikatni herself.
“Her Excellency the Silver Lion Earl had a half-sibling.”
Zia spoke as she entered the office with some medicine in her hands.
“A child that was conceived when the lustful Earl of the previous generation had spent a single night together with a city harlot. Not only was there a problem in the social status of the city harlot, but at that time, an esteemed daughter had already been born in the Earl’s House. Because it was a vague situation, recognition was impossible. However, the previous Earl adored that city harlot and the child that harlot had given birth to. Even the wife of the previous Earl who was a lesbian adored that city harlot. Due to that, the city harlot was able to obtain the surname ‘Garno’.”
Sii Garno Mikatni.
The girl who possessed 2 surnames despite being a maid.
“Her Excellency the Silver Lion Earl, Her Excellency at that time was a bright individual. The fact that she had a half-sibling, she was aware that she most likely had even more of them. I’m not sure if the reason why she didn’t voice her interest towards her half-sibling was because she thought that it was undignified or because she thought that it was disrespectable, but you can’t blame her for having hope towards her half-siblings existing when the only friends she could rely on was the child of her nanny who was destined to be her knight and a being that she had summoned from another world.”
Zia passed the medicine to me. This medicine was essential. It wasn’t solely because magic existed in this world. After Sii displayed this much movement even though only a single day had passed since she had lost her arm, it was essential.
It was an applied medicine. I rubbed it on the back of the unconscious Sii.
“This was something that happened at the end of a certain month.”
Zia uttered while gazing at me.
“A letter had arrived before Her Excellency who was sulking at the time because she had had an argument with the friend she had summoned from another world. ‘To Big Sister’ was written on that letter. ‘I want to meet you, big sister’, was written on the letter below that. Instead of summoning the owner of the letter, Her Excellency, who had already used up all 12 of her summons that month, packed up a bag. She threw on her backpack, left the castle in secret, stuck her tongue out at the castle, and walked off proudly. She had run away from home. In order to meet her half-sister, the illegitimate child of her father, the child of a concubine and her father. However, the thing that was waiting for Her Excellency was.”
The 7th branch manager of the Mage Tower at that time and the Second Sky Wizard of the Twelve Sky Wizards.
“Her Excellency was kidnapped and confined. I heard that she was full of confidence at first. I heard that she believed she could flip everything around once her proofs of summoning had been restored at the start of the next month. That her situation would be like filming a single action scene and nothing more. Like the animations that her otherworld friend had shown to her until then. Like a drama. Like a manga. A happening that could be sorted out within a single episode. An incident that could be concluded. I heard that she believed her situation was something to that extent. There’s most likely no one who can blame Her Excellency. At the very least, I can’t. The moment I heard that Her Excellency had been kidnapped, I thought so as well.”
Zia grasped her head. That sight appeared as if she were trying to dig into her skull and squeeze her brain.
“A good⎯⎯⎯she was a good person.”
Zia Batsand uttered.
“Her Excellency, was a good person.”
Zia Batsand uttered.
“I won’t kill anyone! She was someone who would say things like that. You’ll be injured slightly, so be cautious at your own discretion! She was someone who would say things like that. Ah hah ha, this is good enough, I’ll believe that you all have reflected on your mistakes. She was someone who spoke like that as if it were natural.”
After going silent with a face that appeared as if she had peered into Hell, she spoke.
“She was that kind of person.”
As if she were empty.
Sii’s back quickly healed.
“All places do not heal.”
Zia took the medicine from my hand. I wordlessly allowed Zia, this girl, the Silver Lion Earl’s sword, and my sword, to apply the medicine on my chest.
“The incident occurred and the wound healed. But as if it were there from the very beginning, a scar remained.”
A hot, painful, and ticklish feeling came from this otherworld magical medicine.
“The esteemed wife and husband of the House of the Earl had passed away. During that time, the city harlot, who had received the surname ‘Garno’, had also died. Her Excellency, who had become an orphan, became the Silver Lion Earl. Similarly, the illegitimate child, who had also become an orphan, was picked up by Mercè Mikatni, the best blacksmith in the City of Confinement and one of the community leaders.”
The reason why Zia was concerned about Sii.
The reason why Zia, who was a knight of the Silver Lion Royal Guard, was friendly towards Sii who was nothing more than a maid.
Regardless of that, the reason why she couldn’t help Sii directly.
“As a community leader of the city, Mercè Mikatni was closely associated with the previous Earl. Although all of the community leaders were like cousins of in-laws, they also belonged within the range of being considered distant relatives by marriage. They had enough moral obligations and fidelity to take care of the people related to the previous Earl by blood. But if you look back at it now, you can say that that fidelity was too excessive. Mikatni felt sympathy towards Her Excellency the Silver Lion Earl who had undergone all sorts of terrible happenings at a young age and had lost her parents, relatives, and friend. Mercè Mikatni thought that the bloodied girl who had tortured a condemned convict to death was pitiable.”
“Even if the wombs to have given birth to them were different, if Her Excellency had a sister there. If she had another vassal like the child of her nanny who stood by her side as a knight and protected her. Rather than some utter stranger, wouldn’t she be able to support the Earl? Mikatni, who was thinking along those lines, sent the child he had adopted, the illegitimate child of the previous Earl, to the castle as a maid. For Her Excellency the Earl. Moreover, for the illegitimate child of the previous Earl as well.”
Similar to what the man who was the homeroom teacher of Miyeong’s class had done.
“Because he hoped that they would both be happy, they both ended up unhappy.”
If malice was the only thing that could give birth to wicked results, then how much more comfortable would it be to live in this world?
“Her Excellency, disliked Sii, her half-sibling.”
The issued authorization. As it was absolute and overwhelming, the albino maid girl was tossed outside the border by an unprecedented dictator.
“The residents of the castle ended up disliking Sii as well.”
Be it Korea or this world, neither place was a paradise where things like maladies disappeared if someone of a high status said something about it. On the contrary, they were places where the exact opposite occurred all the time.
“It’s not like no one had tried to help Sii. However, Her Excellency was not pleased by that. Her Excellency got sick and tired of everything that was related to Sii, and the people, no one wanted to lose favor with Her Excellency the Earl.”
The fact that the Silver Lion Earl harbored ill-will towards Sii, to be exact, I had vaguely noticed it. However, I thought that the cause of it was in the word ‘Mikatni’. The community leader of the city who had a bad relationship with the lord. I thought that was the reason why Sii, who was his adopted daughter, was receiving glares. As expected, when the Silver Lion Earl’s behavior became sharp after she heard that Abria Mikatni was visiting, that attitude had backed up that false idea of mine.
But it was actually the opposite. Sii didn’t lose favor with the Earl because of the House of Mikatni, but the House of Mikatni had lost favor with the Earl because of Sii.
Even the simplest of truths cannot be seen if the angle is changed.
“Her Excellency the Earl.”
‘Your existence in itself is a threat to me.’ Abria Mikatni had said that to Sii. ‘He has no political sense’. She judged her own father as such because he had taken in Sii. If she were simply talking about her seat to become the successor and that alone, then there was no reason for her to do so. Abria Mikatni was able to figure out that the Earl was keeping a respectful distance from the House of Mikatni because of Sii.
The Silver Lion Earl had said that I was occasionally weirdly slow-witted. I recalled Yudia Batsand who seemed to be delighted after having severed Sii’s arm. The faces of people who I have never even seen before, although I behaved like a solutionist while also acting as if I had seen through the minds of the people who I didn’t even know for a long time, in times like this, I came to the realization that I was nothing more than a normal human being, and that my field of vision was limited.
“Her Excellency may have turned the responsibility for her life being ruined towards Sii. If perhaps, a letter hadn’t arrived from Sii on that day. If perhaps, she didn’t go to meet Sii at that time. Ahh, perhaps.”
Of course, that wasn’t a reasonable expression.
It’s not, but.
“Nevertheless, I never imagined that she would do something like this······.”
Zia didn’t finish her sentence. She groaned as if her throat was boiling and she lowered her head.
“I’m sorry, Sii. I can’t face the Earl of the previous generation anymore.”
The unconscious Sii was unable to react to that Zia’s self-reproach.
I changed into another shirt. After pressing my shirt down on top of my wound that was still throbbing slightly, I looked down at Sii and spoke.
“The conversation we had just now, how much does Sii herself know about it?”
“A rough outline. However, I don’t know how much she knows exactly. Confirming that isn’t my duty. I······.”
I cut her off.
“That’s not right, Zia. It’s because of that misunderstanding of yours that your days feeling ashamed towards the previous generation, towards the Earl, and towards your teacher, will continue on.”
“What do you······ mean?”
“I still don’t know how many vassals there are in this Earl’s House. There are probably several other people besides you here. Like that, you guys are most likely supporting both the House and the city. However, the only person the Earl trusts, and the only person who believes in the Earl is you. If you truly wish to assist your king, then you must be thorough. If you lose your king, then at that time, only lament and regret will leave your mouth.”
While recalling the backseat fellow who I had met back in Korea, I continued.
“The fact that you’re not in a situation which you can back out of, the fact that if you don’t move while thinking about each and every little thing, then nothing will work out. You need to realize these things soon.”
“I don’t have a head that’s capable······.”
“You have a head that was capable of deceiving the Earl, Miss Ex-Spy of the Mage Tower.”
Zia gulped down her breath. I lifted up the fallen Sii in my arms.
“If a person shuts up, then they can do anything. You carry out, transfer, and teach the things you know, and you figure out, confirm, and learn the things that you don’t know.”
Zia closed her lips with her hands pressed against her chest. After grabbing those hands, pulling them, and making her stick them both out forward, I passed Sii onto her.
While adjusting my glasses, I spoke.
“In regard to medicine, Zia. Is there a medicine that can fix her arm?”
“If the severed arm is completely intact. However, it’s incredibly expensive and⎯⎯⎯.”
“Yudia.” I turned towards Yudia. “Where did you leave Sii’s severed arm?”
Yudia, who was playing Angry Birds the entire time we were conversing, looked at me with wide eyes.
“Surely! Stop, Yujin! It’s too late. There’s no way Her Excellency would keep watch over······.”
“She’ll watch over this. I plan to go and negotiate with the Earl right now. Yudia, where did you leave the arm?”
“Negotiation? Currently, Her Excellency towards you······ towards Sii, like you are right now······ Moreover, to ask my teacher that⎯⎯⎯ I told you that my teacher is a terrifying person······.”
Although I fully understood that, I couldn’t back down now. I looked straight at Yudia.
I spoke clearly.
“You said yourself that you aren’t a sadist. If that’s right, then you most likely won’t give needless pain to others. Although I’m uncertain whether you believed that that needless pain would be able to drag out Sii’s hatred or not, you immediately said that Sii wasn’t a serviceable subject matter. If that’s the case, then you should have cut her arm off in an instant and you wouldn’t have touched it afterward. That arm, where did you leave it?”
The edges of Yudia Batsand’s lips became twisted as he looked down at me with eyes that appeared like a pair of poisonous swamps.
After laughing⎯⎯⎯Yudia Batsand spoke.
“How marvelous. This is why hatred makes people stronger.”
“It’s not hatred.”
“Is that so?”
I silently gazed at Yudia. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Calm yourself. Your assumption is correct. And if it’s the answer to that question, then⎯⎯⎯shouldn’t there be a place that’s already on your mind?”
“Well, there is.”
Additionally, I had an idea of where the Silver Lion Earl’s current location was.
I packed up an iPhone, an iPad, and an Andromeda Tab. I also took with me any other tool that seemed as if they’d be required. I took off my glasses, cleaned it, and put them back on. I took some deep breaths. Around the time when I had taken my second breath, Zia clenched her teeth.
“I’ll go as well.”
“That’s right. This time, I’ll make sure that I’m able to help in changing Her Excellency’s mind. I’ll lead Her Excellency down the correct path. If that’s difficult, then.”
After saying that, Zia then glanced down at Sii who was in her arms.
“At the very least, I can be your shield.”
If that’s the decision you’ve arrived at.
“I said it earlier, but there’s no need for you to degrade yourself. Even without saying something like ‘this time’, you’ve already changed the Earl’s mind once before.”
On the fourth day after having been summoned here.
“If you weren’t there, then my head would have flown off.”
Zia Batsand. The Silver Lion Earl’s sword. Yudia Batsand’s disciple.
And above all else⎯⎯⎯my sword.
“But for now, look after Sii for a bit. Should I call it an infirmary? Take her somewhere like that and nurse her for a while and follow me down after some time. The time······one second.” I took out the iPhone and tossed it to her. “Come down once this starts ringing. Okay?”
“······Will you be fine by yourself until then?”
“I won’t do something that I can’t do.”
I pushed up my glasses and left the office.
I walked through the halls, went down the stairs, crossed the courtyard, and went down into the basement.
The more I descended the stairs, the darker and stuffier my surroundings became. Although it was already night, it wasn’t that sort of darkness, and although there were no windows, it wasn’t that sort of stuffiness either. It was a darkness that felt as if a dark red color was being painted over my surroundings each step I descended the stairs, and it was a stuffiness that felt as if my lungs were being pressured by a compressor one level at a time. The scenery that was revealed to me after I had reached around half-way down the stairs and my eyes had adjusted to the darkness gave me the reason behind this sensation I was having, but that was a reason which I was already aware of.
Dried blood splotches.
Flesh and fat that were rotting away on top of the steps.
Located at the end of that⎯⎯⎯a bright red rusted steel door.
I descended the rest of the steps.
I held onto my beads tightly.
I opened the door to the torture chamber.
TL note: Thanks for reading. I finished this chapter a lot sooner than I had expected. It was a bit difficult to translate since he went into full on explanation mode, but I somehow got through it.
Anyway, I’m really surprised by the number of people who seem to be so desensitized to things. It’s like they want a completely dead character who doesn’t react to things. Yujin, to an extent, is still very much human. He’s just dull to the things that happen to him, but not to the things that happen to the people he considers to be friends.