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Chapter 32: 05. Hunting season

05. Hunting season

Three days of ashes for atonement.

Four days of water for prosperity.

First day, penitence.

Second day, trespasses.

Third day, clemency.

The sin of the subconscious. The sin of the vulnerable. The sin of ignorance. These were all what needed to be atoned for, but the scale of the ritual varied depending on one’s income and status.

Those who have coveted their neighbor’s belongings, those who have defiled their offerings, those who have made false oaths—they must confess their sins, pay back the damages tenfold, offer blood sacrifices during the ancestral rites on the day of ash. This was in accordance with the divine law, which was separate from each domain’s governing law.

For those who have stolen, offer lamb.

For those who have committed adultery, offer three young cattle.

For those who have assaulted another, offer a young mare.

For those who have murdered,

—The rest of the page has been torn. Do request for a new copy of the regulatory guidelines.

* * *

Summer was here. Although the temperature shifted greatly in the Hare Fiefdom, the weather was still generally cool, so Carynne liked summer. Fresh summer foliage and summer breeze. The shining sun shone with passion, and sometimes the clouds brought heavy rain as well, so it was fun.

Throughout her life, human relationships had irritated and tortured Carynne, and so these landscapes alone provided comfort to her over time. That’s why she considered herself to be fortunate that this was the place where she was. It was neither a snow-covered terrain of the north, nor was it the burning land of the south.

However, it would have been better if there weren’t so many people barging in here to promote and bring in the city’s bustling atmosphere to the countryside. Carynne was already sick and tired of Isella, and she had to meet this city girl again today.

“You can’t ride a horse?”

“I always went to the hunting grounds by carriage. I’m actually not that good at horseback riding.”

“So there’s something that you can’t do, Carynne. I heard the hunting grounds aren’t that far away. And these days, it’s fundamental for a lady to know how to ride on horseback.”

“Thank you for the advice. I’ll learn next time, but I can’t do it today, Isella. I trust a skilled horseman more than the horseback riding skills of a beginner like me.”

Carynne didn’t want to deal with this. But she had to.

Lent was approaching.

With Verdic egging on the fief lord, this year’s Lent was going to be an unprecedentedly large festival. Even so, Carynne was indifferent to it because she’s been repeatedly told that it was ‘unprecedented’ for all of 100 years. After hearing the specific numbers and total budget, that’s what’s going to make someone freak out.

A bigger memorial service must be held, Verdic insisted. He said that there were various, overlapping things that needed to be prayed over, like the business deal they had and the incident that Carynne faced.

Thirty-seven sheep, seventy turkeys, seventy doves.

It wasn’t enough.

He even suggested that perhaps it would be better to make the types of burnt offerings match with the sacred number of seven, and the fief lord accepted this recommendation.

The one who needed to kill at least one creature of each offering type and throw the carcasses into the fire was Dullan, and he might just fall into an identity crisis of whether he was a priest or a butcher.

Really, why must such useless things be done.

It was revealed that Dullan, the supposed next lord of the domain, really was useless—and what’s worse, his weakness was right there. So after this, Verdic would look at Dullan as though he’d devour the younger man and discard him right then.

Annoyed, Dullan tended to leave first because he couldn’t stand such a gaze, however such a minor act of rebellion couldn’t stop Verdic’s tenacity.

While insisting that this wasn’t going to be a normal sacrifice, he called for more wild birds and deer to be caught. And so, Carynne had to prepare for a full-fledged hunt instead of a leisurely picnic.

It’s not that Carynne would personally join the hunt, it’s just that she’d be present in the hunting grounds. Still, it was so annoying. Carynne was the acting lady of the household, so this event was in the same line of responsibility as checking a maid’s work. She didn’t have to clean surfaces herself, but she still needed to supervise.

She had no will at all to do this, but she wanted to see her father. Carynne was so utterly annoyed by this situation. Goddamn social status. Goddamn authority. Son of a bitch responsibilities.

Aristocrats had so much work to do and so little time to themselves. Carynne had to wake up at ungodly hours to call Donna and dress up, deal with Isella later in the morning, arrange lunch at noon, work hard along with the head maid and butler to serve Evans’ entourage in the afternoon, then she had to review her own daily routine.

Considering all this, this was Carynne’s workload during the slower days. If the fief was in a much worse state, then it could only go downhill from here.

After Carynne started having doubts recently, she wanted to meet her father alone, but she had gotten distracted by her anger. It was so hard to wake up at dawn that she would punch her pillows and rip up documents.

Why didn’t her father remarry. Why did she already have so many things to do when she was only seventeen years old.

She had no outlet for these frustrations. She just wanted to find a reason or a way to die or live. Her daily life was so tedious.

As Carynne approached the carriage, Tom climbed down from the coachman’s seat. He was wearing a coachman’s uniform, which was shortened so that it would fit him. As though he was a doll, it suited him well.

Not bad. Tom was at the right age to be a carriage footman. However, Tom’s adorable face quite offended Isella Evans.

“Carynne, are you going to take that?”

“Yes. This is his job.”

“Then I’ll ride a horse instead of going into the carriage.”

“Isella.”

“The carriage is stuffy.”

Huu. Carynne sighed as she saw Tom bowing to hide his face. Even so, it wouldn’t be right for her to side with Tom here.

Carynne guided Isella to the stable. Tom still couldn’t lift his head.

“Oh my gosh… The horses are wonderful.”

With the white horses lined up in a row, Isella’s eyes suddenly sparkled. That unique animal stench was still there, however. No matter how well they were managed, it pervaded through the air.

‘The smell is going to stick to my clothes.’

It was unpleasant, but Isella didn’t seem to care. It was as though her nose wasn’t working.

Seeing her like that, Carynne figured that he was somewhere around. So, she followed Isella’s gaze, and just as she expected, Raymond was there.

“…How is it possible that he could be so handsome.”

“Yes, yes, I see.”

Carynne turned her gaze towards Raymond. The sunlight streaming down through the stable window made his blond hair glow. And as he was talking to the stableman about the horses, his voice could be heard clearly even as the horses made various sounds. Neighing, stomping, eating.

Look at this. Maybe he was better suited than Dullan at preaching. With his face, height, physique and voice as perfect as that—as though he was a well-disciplined actor—people might even mistake him as a mythical god walking on land.

This was why Carynne felt a little sorry for Isella. This uncontrollable passion and longing seemed to be more like veneration rather than love. And apart from that, she recalled how, in all one hundred years, Isella had never become the object of his affection.

“Really…”

Carynne watched as the other young woman couldn’t take her eyes off him. Yes, Raymond was handsome. However, it was more amusing to watch the face of a maiden who was staring at him.

She had already gotten so tired of looking at his face for decades upon end.

‘And I wonder. How will that face change.’

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