Settling the Affairs of an Atrocious Noble - 9
Settling the Affairs of an Atrocious Noble
Three days had passed since the assassination attempt. I was silently working to release the hostages, but when I came here, some unforeseen anomaly was bothering me.
No, it wasn’t an anomaly, or a health condition, or a physical condition. To put it simply, I was stressed out! I was in such a state.
I knew I shouldn’t act like a spoiled brat, but this villainous lord business was quite difficult. I thought that I had a strong mind as I was a corporate slave in my previous world, but the position I was in right now had a different level of responsibility. One mistake in my instructions could cause a person’s head to physically fly off, so I couldn’t let myself lose heart.
Thanks to that, my stomach was making strange noises, and I was grateful that Karl had brewed herbal tea that was easy on the stomach; but the fact that guy could sense it, was what I was afraid of.
I placed the fountain pen back to its holder and let out a deep sigh. I had been living my days going back and forth between my bedroom and my office for a long while now… I didn’t want to waste any more time as much as possible, but there was no helping it. If I fell through, everything would come to nothing, so I decided to go for a change of pace.
I rang the bell. Karl came right away, and I told him my plans.
“I’m going out for a walk. I won’t be back for a while, so you can put the tea away.”
“Understood. It will be a bit cold today, so I will bring you your coat.”
As usual, with a short response, Karl did all his work perfectly. …Well, it was too perfect though. When Karl came back, he had a familiar iron whip in addition to my coat. Heinreid always had this with him for self-defense when he goes outside… Come to think of it, even in the novel, Heinreid’s weapon was an iron whip.
I had no intention of using it, but it would be unnatural to refuse, so I had no choice but to accept it.
When I had finished getting ready, I had Karl open the door of the office. Craig, who must have heard about me going out from Karl, was already standing by too. He looked at me and bowed his head.
“Where are you headed today?”
“I won’t go down to town. Let’s see… Maybe I’ll take a walk in the garden.”
If I went down to the town, the danger of assassination would go up. I wouldn’t die as long as Craig was around, but it wasn’t something I could cover up like I did with Carlos for more than several times. In order to protect the others, I had to protect myself first.
Although I couldn’t say it was absolute, it would still be safer on the premises of the estate.
“Understood, I will accompany you.”
“Okay. Then, Karl, take care of the rest.”
“Yes. Have a good time.”
And so, I went out into the garden with Craig. The sky was covered with gray clouds, and it was a bit unpleasantly chilly just as Karl had said.
I leisurely walked among the garden shrubs and trimmed hedges, doing nothing at all. I guessed it wasn’t showing its true brilliance due to the lack of direct sunlight, but even as someone formerly poor, with my sensibilities, I could tell that the details were well taken care of.
…However, even this was born of Heinreid’s atrocity. There was no room for failure, and even the slightest defect could lead directly to death. It was a gardener’s work of art, tormented by such fears. Heinreid seemed to be so pleased to see it that he sneered at it and said, ‘Even fear can produce art.’ …But, I felt a bit depressed to see this perfection now, as if I was being condemned for it. Even though I knew I wasn’t qualified to say that.
Just when I was about to go back because I felt that I was already falling even more rather than feeling a change of pace, a strong wind blew unexpectedly and carried a single, fluttering red petal.
I turned my head to follow the wind as I stroked my disheveled hair, and beyond that was a section lined with rose hedges. They were demonic red in full bloom.
…I stepped towards it as if I were enticed to do so.
Once we reached a place surrounded by roses, I took a deep breath. The faint scent of roses filled my lungs.
…I knew this fragrance well.
Long ago. When I was living as Kashimiya Tsukasa and not Heinreid, even longer still, when I was barely in my mid-teens. I was once cornered like I am right now.
At that time, my father left us with a large amount of debt and ran off alone one night, and my mother, my younger sister and I had just been driven out of the house we used to live in. Fortunately, we were soon able to rent an old apartment but life during those days was never easy. My mother worked from morning till night and was basically never home; so my job was to deliver newspapers, do all the housework and take care of my younger sister, who was still very little.
It was hard to live like that with no days off, but I loved my family and thought that it was nothing compared to my mother. However, the stress seemed to have built up before I knew it. By the time I realized it, my spirit had long since gone over the edge and I often sneaked out of the house at night. Well, after I made excuses that I would be staying at a friend’s house, I would really just hang out at the park, so it might have been misleading to say that I sneaked out.
It was at that time when I met that person.
—Hey, if a kid is wandering outside at night like this, they’re going to be taken into custody, you know?
An adult woman who called out to me in that manner. The scent of perfume carried by the night breeze. Just right beside the park was a sports car that was disproportionate for a woman to ride in.
—If you don’t have anywhere else to go, would you like to take a drive with this elder sister?
If I was in my right mind, I would’ve refused, but I couldn’t resist at the time. I got into the car just as she asked me to, and… well, just like that.
Although it was a mistake of youth, I was still too rash, and it was terribly aching to call it my first love.
Still, at that time, when I couldn’t expose my heart to anyone, the closed world that she gave me was a place of salvation.
I see. That perfume had the scent of roses.
Nostalgia struck my head and I unconsciously reached out for the rose. For some reason, I felt like touching it would take me back to those days.
However. The rose hurt me with its thorns, as if rejecting the fingers that I had wrapped around it.
It seemed to have stabbed them quite deeply. Red blood swelled up from my fingertips like beads and overflowed quickly, running through my wrist and falling to the ground. Several distorted circles were drawn on the stone pavement.
The tingling pain came after me, and the illusions of the past had vanished.
“Are you hurt…?! Please let me see it!”
Craig, who had been following me silently until now, ran up to me as if he had been struck. He took my injured hand and a dark blue handkerchief from his pocket, pressing down on the affected area.
I felt like he was overreacting, but I stared absentmindedly at my fingertips covered with the handkerchief.
“My blood was red, wasn’t it.”
What I thought came out of my mouth. I was often compared to a demon or a deadliest poison, so I was under the delusion that maybe even the color of my blood had more of a… hideous color.
Craig was quite perplexed, partly because I was injured, but he eventually gave me an honest and obvious answer.
“That… would be so. You’re human, after all.”
A human… huh.
A self-deprecating laugh escaped from me.
Was Heinreid, who took supreme pleasure in the pain of others, really a human being?
I turned my attention to the stains drawn on the ground again. However, when my blood fell on the stone pavement and had changed its color to dark red… it appeared awfully dirty.
“…Let’s go back, my lord. We have to treat it properly.”
Craig had me take his handkerchief and began to return to the mansion.
The clouds covering the sky were getting thicker and it was about to rain soon.
If it rains… my blood that fell on the stone pavement would also be washed away cleanly.