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Chapter 30

Carynne had fun making a scene out of showing Tom’s severe wounds. As she recalled the events of the previous day, she inwardly felt a little better.

“Look at this.”

“Bleurgh.”

Isella retched.

Resisting the urge to giggle, Carynne continued her little theater play, forcibly opening Tom’s mouth.

“…This was done by the villagers.”

“That’s a bit…”

“Harsh.”

“This is nothing. From head to toe, there’s nothing left unscathed.”

Carynne showed the sores in his mouth and his palms, then the wounds on his back. Tom wanted to scream, but he had no choice but to endure it all because he knew that no one here was on his side. Even if Carynne went as far as taking off his clothes, no one here would sympathize with him.

“Ah.”

No one here who would protect him.

He was quick to pick up on things like these, and realizing this fact, Tom was filled with despair. No one felt sorry for him. The feelings directed toward him were limited to a slight revulsion, anger, and curiosity. In a position like this, he couldn’t even garner any pity.

Pressing hard against Tom’s twitching open mouth, Carynne looked at the fief lord.

“Father, I wish to show generosity not as the Fief Lord’s daughter, but as the victim of the incident. I hope for a better future with forgiveness.”

At Carynne’s appeal, the fief lord snorted.

“Stop that. Just let him be treated and send him back.”

“This child is an orphan. In the end, it’s either the parish who’ll take the child or Father should. Why don’t you take action?”

Verdic sided with the lord.

“Miss Hare, there were no documents received. Let the parish take him in. Again, I must tell you that it wouldn’t bode well to keep your enemies so close to you.”

“An enemy? A child who doesn’t even know how to fill out the papers? Who else would help this nine-year-old child that’s been left alone? Look at his condition. It’s only been a few days, but he’s already become like this.”

Shut it. Stay still. Carynne held Tom’s quivering shoulder. Tom opened his mouth a few times, but the only thing he could utter were groans and ‘hah’.

“Will he be able to speak again?”

At Carynne’s question, Tom looked towards Dullan with a pleading gaze. Reverend, please find out. Please, take a look. Please, at least say that I can speak again.

But Dullan didn’t even glance at Tom.

“…Impossible. Not fo…r the rest of his life.”

“Thank you.”

Tom was anguished.

Carynne was satisfied.

* * *

It’s quite charming to have a companion who couldn’t talk. He was illiterate so he couldn’t write. He couldn’t speak either, and he had a short lifespan. This was the best.

Carynne liked it because it seemed like she made a pretty good choice. Even when his body was in such a state, a boy was a boy, so he couldn’t play the role of a maid. However, since he was still young, it was easy to have him accompany her everywhere, and it was also easy to handle him because he was ill.

Then, a few days later, the body was gone. Carynne was not surprised. This time, it was Tom’s role to be surprised.

“Well look at this. As expected, right?”

The corpse disappeared again. Carynne pointed to the empty fireplace.

“Certainly, Thomas and Miss or Mister A, whose name we don’t know, were both here. Ah, I can guess who it is.”

It’s only been a day. Two corpses that had been here all day yesterday had vanished. Carynne left the door slightly ajar on purpose for this. However, there was no one at all talking about any dead bodies. Whoever did it, they were keeping it all hush-hush.

“Oh my god!”

Clack, she clapped once.

“The corpse is gone!”

Are you telling me to laugh? Tom tried to pull the corners of his lips up against his will.

“Ah…”

Tom opened his mouth but his expression soon distorted in pain. There were holes in the roof of his mouth and his tongue. The most severe of his injuries was the swelling of his throat because of an infection. His breath was horrible because of the pus, so when Tom opened his mouth, Carynne covered her nose to block the stench.

“Don’t talk. Just nod or shake your head.”

Tom nodded. The corpse of his dead father, which had already disappeared, was not important to him. All Tom could do was move his head, but even a reaction this small was enough made Carynne delighted. Just so her ‘self’ would not collapse, she needed someone to talk to.

As she kept thinking about her plans to murder, she slowly felt that she was reaching her limit. There was only so much she could think while only repeating her thoughts to herself. She was talking to herself too much. There were many things to organize while she’d talk about it, and for that, she needed a listener.

Even this was still close to just talking to herself, but having someone actively responding in front of her was helping her a lot with sorting her thoughts.

Carynne quite liked this boy who listened to her.

“This is what I think.”

Carynne picked up a piece of charred wood and drew on the floor.

“Well, it’s just a guess. Mmh… I might be wrong.”

She felt her ears turning bright red. What if she got it all wrong? Having someone listen to her made her feel self-conscious and tense. But still, it was fun to play detective.

“Look here. The house is L-shaped, so the longer side that faces the south is the main wing, and from the fourth floor, it’s composed entirely of bedrooms. The guest rooms are over here. Isella’s room is here, too.”

Even though her own room was on the same floor, her room was separated like this. Carynne shifted her gaze and focused on something that’s far away. A large mansion lined with similar rooms was scary enough in itself, but since the incident with Nancy, Isella had never experienced anything horrendous before. That’s why it’s unlikely that she hallucinated that night. Her testimony about seeing Nancy must be true.

“My room is a little far from here, and then the maids’ quarters are in the west wing… The third room in the west wing is the servants’ quarters, and your room will probably be there. Mister Dane, the horseman, lives there, too. Anyway, it’s quite far away. So, after I killed Nancy… What are you so surprised about?”

With his eyes wide open Tom made weird sounds again. In order to shut him up, Carynne had to raise the wooden poker.

“I have a bit of experience killing people. Mm, anyway, I brought her to this room over here to surprise Isella. After I gave her some paralyzing medicine, I strangled her.”

Tom’s body trembled. If his mouth hadn’t been riddled with burns—if he could have been able to communicate with anyone at all—Carynne might have already nonchalantly killed him. At first, Tom thought that Carynne didn’t kill him because of sympathy, but within a few days of knowing her, he realized just how naïve he was.

This noble lady was crazy. Through and through.

Carynne pleasantly recounted the murder she had committed step by step. Tom tried to pull himself back together so that he could concentrate on her words.

“I left Nancy in that room around four in the afternoon. It was about ten in the evening, on the dot, when Isella discovered the corpse. There’s plenty of time for someone to come in and cut off the head from its body… But the person who could have done that should know what time the maids’ break time is. The only time that hallway’s completely empty is about half an hour. I already used up that time. That means, after that time, the servants would continuously be coming and going that hallway.”

She grabbed another piece of wood and drew a string of people with it. Then, she drew a line over the hallway diagram.

“At around midnight, I heard Isella running through the hallway, so I was waiting for her and went out. And didn’t we go to the room together? Though she did change her stained clothes first. That was about ten minutes—in total. It’s impossible for anyone to clean up the corpse and avoid the eyes of the passing servants.”

Carynne was having fun.

Tom watched Carynne’s sparkling eyes. She looked so thrilled and delighted. A smile lingered on her lips and her voice was light, so he thought that he should also smile. That’s why he did. Because he thought that it would be less frightening.

His smile didn’t look natural, but that didn’t matter. Whatever expression Tom had on his face, Carynne continued to smile just as she did.

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