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Chapter 43

“There was once a time when I wondered if there was a secret to my own birth.”

“It’s not something like being the Emperor’s illegitimate child, is it?”

“You catch on quick.”

The uninteresting joke quickly softened the mood and was a good way to let go of the previous topic of the conversation.

Raymond wasn’t the only one who’s talented in that aspect. Carynne smiled and brought up the engagement.

“After hearing that the Countess is coming, I feel a bit nervous.”

“I know what you mean.”

Carynne contemplated, tapping her foot against the suitcase there. It’s not just her birth. Raymond was handsome, cheeky and bothersome with the way he constantly butted into Carynne’s business—still as ever, still as ever.

Carynne brooded over those words. From what she could recall, the engagement had never progressed this fast. This development had been slower before. And the presence of the countess in this engagement ceremony was no different than a stamp on that marriage already.

“I was aiming for you, Sir Raymond, but what a shame.”

“Haha, it’s a pity.”

“It’s a young girl’s dream, so don’t take what I said seriously, alright?”

Dreams were meant to be broken. Just as water in a glass was meant to be downed.

Raymond was not a huge presence in Carynne’s life right now. But Carynne felt a creeping displeasure.

Here she was, floundering in a sea of chaos in her own head as she had just shot someone to death, yet Raymond and Isella were having it easy with the oh so sweet worries of whether this marriage was something they really wanted or whether this would turn out to be nothing but a marriage of convenience.

Then would Raymond marry Isella? Somehow, Carynne’s insides felt all twisted up. Clearly, it wasn’t because she was jealous of how another woman had bagged a good man for herself.

If it was true that all this in the end was just a product of her madness, then she would need to plan for a bleak future ahead—whether she’d die or whether she’d go straight to jail.

And yet, they would just live happily ever after.

This was what she couldn’t bear to envy. Carynne chewed the inside of her cheek. Seeing as how she loathed to genuinely bless the couple, she must be the villain then. With a bit of a screw loose.

* * *

Unexpectedly, Borwen led Carynne to the study—she thought she’d be incarcerated immediately. The gun was confiscated though, but that didn’t seem like enough of a punishment.

“The only order given to me is to protect you unconditionally.”

“So, how much are you being paid?”

“You’ll be shocked when you hear it. The money being spent to protect you and support your endeavors is no joke.”

And she was wondering where the budget leak was going towards, yet it was for this after all. Carynne was bewildered, but she soon pulled out the drawers in the study and looked through them.

“But why are you doing such crazy things?” Carynne asked.

“…That’s what I’d like to ask myself. Though it’s because of the money.”

“Tell me what happened with Nancy. How was it possible that you brutally dealt with the body? And why didn’t you lock the door?”

Carynne revisited her questions from when they were in the carriage earlier. After being asked, Borwen looked at Carynne with a sour look on his face, scratching the back of his head for a moment. Then, he answered.

“Well, personally, I disliked that woman a little.”

Borwen looked around the study for a moment, then headed for the door again.

“This here is properly locked, yes? I was in a hurry to clean up back then, but that room didn’t have any locks.”

So that’s what it was. Carynne recalled the story that Missus Deere told her about, when Carynne had locked Dullan up in a room and the others had needed to let out the hounds for that. That’s why ever since then, that room had never been locked. As always, once you knew the truth, it was all very trifling.

“That room is the room from back then, huh. Make sure to fix that properly from now on. Now, leave.”

Borwen nervously peeked, but Carynne no longer cared about him. A servant was a servant. There’s no point to a person who did not know their place well. Carynne walked into the room. There was a person in there who knew more, and it was 「 Carynne 」’s father.

There weren’t many things inside the room that seemed very useful. Paper, paper, and more paper. Most of the documents were trial records or budget allocations.

Carynne turned to look at the old bookshelves. This study was the fief lord’s private study, so Carynne didn’t have much access to it. In the past when she had snuck in—if Carynne’s past was indeed not just a mere delusion—she hadn’t been able to read much.

And, in between the books was an ostensibly huge portrait of Catherine being shown off.

The atmosphere this gave off was similar to that of Missus Deere’s house. Obsession for a dead person. Catherine was already dead, and yet she continued to affect many people. And during all those years, they would see that woman’s face like a specter behind Carynne’s.

“Isn’t she beautiful?”

“…Yes.”

It was a bit creepy.

Carynne turned to the side. Her father, the fief lord, slowly entered the room.

“Quite so. Yes, she’s beautiful.”

Catherine’s portrait here was much larger than the portrait in Deere’s house. Hanging high in this study was a portrait larger than a real person, easily overwhelming anyone who’d walk into this room. But unlike Deere, the man who owned this portrait was the husband, so it was not so strange to see.

“She really was beautiful. My wife.”

Carryne studied the fief lord’s wrinkled face. With his features, he looked to be quite dashing in his youth. But now, he was nothing but a daft middle-aged man. And yet, behind that face was a man who used his power to aid and support his daughter’s murders. He was a man difficult for Carynne to judge.

“She’s also none other than your mother.”

Even though he’s her father, Carynne knew very little about the fief lord in front of her. He was not an important character. Carynne chewed on her lower lip. An 「 important character 」, huh. Perhaps this description would fit him now. And apart from that, what’s ‘important’ right now was something else.

“You’ve already heard about it, but right now, I’m terribly… confused, Father.”

Her voice trembled a little. She cleared her throat. Truthfully, she wanted to grab her father’s throat right now and yell at him to spit out the truth. But she held it in. She had waited a long time before this. If she could do that much before, then she could compose herself and do it again.

“Right… Missus Deere is dead,” he said.

“Yes.”

Carynne’s heart was about to burst out of her chest. The fief lord didn’t seem to be shocked by this. What was he thinking, she wondered. How far would he condone her. Who was she.

“Right, yes of course. I’ll have to contribute to her funeral expenses.”

The fief lord rubbed the wrinkles around his eyes. Carynne saw sweat glistening from his hands. The temperature around them was much too cool for him to start sweating like that, so she could guess how he was feeling right now.

“I know you’ve already heard from Borwen.”

“……”

“Stop changing the subject. I’m the one who killed her.”

For a moment, the bewildered fief lord opened and closed his mouth.

“…Why did you kill her?”

“I was in a bad mood.”

Though insincere, she answered truthfully. Even if she tried to give a long drawn out reason, in the end, the root of the matter was simple—she killed someone because that person made her mood sour, and that woman wasn’t even a good opponent to kill.

If Borwen hadn’t appeared and helped at that moment, then it would have been really difficult to deal with the aftermath.

“That’s why I killed her.”

And in this very instant, Deere was nothing but a stepping stone—a key character.

Carynne wondered what the fief lord would say after this. Hearing his daughter’s answer, the fief lord quietly answered.

“…She was a tremendously meddlesome person, yes. She must have irritated you a lot.”

What a poor excuse for her actions.

Carynne did not respond. Was he still somehow trying to protect her? Even now, right in front of her very eyes. She did not expect this kind of answer.

“It’ll be alright.”

The fief lord placed his hand over his daughter’s shoulder and gripped heavily. Rather than encouraging Carynne, it seemed as if he was trying to comfort himself.

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