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Chapter 54

“How… How dare… someone like you…!”

Carynne’s cheek was stinging. This life was truly difficult, gosh. Carynne sighed as she rubbed her cheek.

“I hold a higher post than you, Isella Evans.”

“You… Someone like you… What’s so, good, about you?”

If it wasn’t her social standing, then.

“…My face?”

“W-What?”

Ah, it’d be best to hold it in. However, Carynne was actually annoyed at Isella this time because she interrupted her train of thought with such a trivial matter.

“It’s not good to be so loud like this, Miss Isella. Are you trying to stain your father’s reputation?”

“This beggar-like…”

“Stop it now, Isella.”

Raymond caught Isella’s hand.

“How dare that, that girl say such…!”

“Isella Evans.”

Raymond’s tone of voice was icy.

“Please be rational.”

The resounding clack that was brought on by Isella’s energetic hand was so loud that most of the people inside the hall looked this way, all astonished and curious. Carynne wondered if it’s a praiseworthy thing to have this kind of talent—a clownish temperament that did not fail to draw everyone’s attention with just a single gesture.

“It’s alright.”

Because it’s so fun.

Isella cried out.

“Lord Raymond!”

Carynne smiled at Isella, who didn’t even care when Carynne said that she was fine.

“It’s alright, Miss Isella.”

Isella, again, didn’t listen and instead leaned on Raymond as she cried. Even so, what a pity that no tears came out. At the very least, Isella collapsed with the accompanying sound of wailing.

Raymond awkwardly caught her.

“I feel so wronged, Lord Raymond…!”

“Miss Isella Evans. There’s a lot of eyes on you right now, so it wouldn’t be good to cry like this.”

Raymond handed her a handkerchief.

With a grim expression, Verdic strode up to them. He acknowledged Raymond and Carynne with a nod, then grabbed his daughter by the shoulder.

“I apologize, Miss Hare, Sir Raymond.”

“It’s alright, Mister Verdic.”

Verdic towed Isella out. She continued to cling to Raymond, but Verdic was stronger than her. While fighting back, she kept crying with only her mouth, but she eventually let go.

“……”

“…There they go.”

“…Seems like it.”

As Verdic and Isella lumbered away, Raymond glanced over at Carynne and clack, clack, he clapped his hands together.

“You were incredible.”

“Watch your fiancée better.”

Carynne grumbled at Raymond.

“Her personality is something she acts on by herself. Why are you asking me to supervise her?”

“That’s right, too. But you know, while you were looking at me earlier, Sir Raymond, if only you hadn’t missed the chance to stop Isella at that moment, then I wouldn’t have gotten slapped.”

Of course he wouldn’t. But even if he knew this, so what? Then it would be just like that. It’s an insignificant matter anyway. The important thing here was that Carynne got hit by Isella. And Raymond disliked that fact.

Raymond wavered for a moment, but he soon bowed his head.

“I apologize, Miss Carynne Hare.”

And Carynne was annoyed by how he would draw near her like this.

“Please stop meddling in my business from now on. It’s already… hard enough for me.”

So don’t come any closer. I don’t need you in this life.

As she looked forward to unveiling the truth through one more corpse, Carynne turned her back on Raymond.

And Raymond did not come after her.

* * *

In the dead of the night, Carynne was building a mountain. She took out practically all the books in the study.

“It’d be nice to find something special, like Mother’s diary.”

How did she live her life? How did she escape the shackles of her life? Carynne was terribly curious.

The fief lord’s study, which was like a personal library, had only one door leading from the hallway, but the expansive space within was divided. Carynne used the ladder inside the study so that she could go through more reference materials. The smell of the old books entered her senses.

“How could people of the olden times put up with quills?”

As she flipped through the writings of the past century, Carynne searched for a more personal record.

Creeeak.

“Didn’t Mother leave behind a diary or something?”

The fief lord entered the study right then, looking haggard. He had to stay behind at the dining hall much later than Carynne. She gestured to Tom, wordlessly telling him to close the door.

“I… don’t know.”

Did you really love her?

Carynne looked away. She didn’t know what kind of face she had if she were to look at the fief lord.

But, sure enough, that wasn’t much help.

“Father, you said that you believed Mother, but it seems like you don’t even know much about her.”

“Even if I don’t, I loved her very much.”

In the fief lord’s hands was a long piece of rope, and he was tying it into a noose.

“Would you like some help? I’ve done it a few times, so I’m confident in my skills.”

Carynne offered as she recalled her suicide attempts from the past. However, the fief lord only continued to tie the knot tightly by himself, then he looked at his daughter.

“No need. …There should be no indication that someone else tied it.”

“Ah.”

Though it didn’t really matter whether she’d be implicated with a crime or not. Carynne wondered if she should be impressed by the care he was displaying here.

“But you went too far with what you said at dinner earlier, you know,” Carynne noted. “It’s like you’re advertising that you’re about to kill yourself.”

She was referring to how the fief lord basically asked Verdic and Lady Elva to take care of Carynne. She wanted to go to the capital, but he wasn’t feeling well, so he would like to ask them a favor—this was what he said. Verdic grudgingly said yes, and Lady Elva gladly became witness of this.

“Wouldn’t that be better though?”

“I guess so.”

“Right.”

“Well then… Um… Should I go out?”

“…Yes.”

Carynne went out along with Tom, then she rested one ear onto the door to listen in.

“Hey Tom.”

“……”

The boy looked up.

“Maybe your wish will come true. If I lose my father and fall victim to adversity on top of being an orphan, wouldn’t that be considered revenge for you?”

“……”

Tom opened his mouth, but no words came out. Carynne stopped trying to read his mind through his facial expressions.

“If not that.”

Then, Carynne waited.

For that rattling sound.

For a while now.

Even as the angle of the moonlight had changed, there was still no indication of that sound.

Perhaps.

Creak.

She opened the door. There, the fief lord was seen to be shedding tears as the noose was tied around his neck. However, his feet were still on the chair.

Ah.

So it’s like that.

“You’re scared, aren’t you?”

“…No, no I’m not.”

But that’s not what his face was saying.

“You’re afraid of dying.”

Carynne walked closer to the fief lord. She understood him well enough. Even when she’s already used to it, she still dreaded that same feeling when it’s close— the anticipation of pain, the surging despair, the final thought.

She’d think, what if this was really the end?

As her breathing stopped, she’d come to the conclusion that all the value and meaning that she had built during her lifetime was meaningless. That she was nothing but a pebble on the side of the street. That, even if she did not exist, the world would continue to turn, and after a million years, just one person was worth nothing at all. As though she was overcome by a huge wave, she’d be crushed by this fear.

However, Carynne conquered that fear.

If you were to die a hundred times over, then you’d be forced to overcome it. You’d have no other choice but to accept it.

Right now, what Carynne feared during the moments before her imminent end was not the fear of death. It was the fear of life. It was a fear that would invade her senses until her final breath.

If she’d live again this time, what would she do.

So, she was feeling lonely. After all, the fief lord would never be able to understand her. The only person who could have sympathized with her had already died long ago. She did not even have one single memory of her. Carynne couldn’t remember Catherine.

“It’s alright.”

And yet, even when the fief lord couldn’t understand her, Carynne could understand the fief lord. He didn’t know, but she remembered. She could remember that frightening past.

It’s been such a long time, but she still remembered.

Her first death. That fear.

“Haa…”

That’s why she could understand what the fief lord was feeling as he shed those tears—it was that sense of shame.

Although faced with despair so painful that it felt like the entire world was collapsing, even greater was the pain of the longing for life.

Besides grieving over life’s separation, there would be the undeniable sense of not wanting to die.

Instinctive fear and denial.

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