Damia’s feelings were very complicated when she found out her stepmother of many years was a formerly enslaved person.
Even though Neolla, no, Nora, in front of her was a middle-aged woman, she felt innocent, like a girl. In fact, she was so weak and vulnerable, as if she could never harm anyone.
The Countess of Primula, Neolla, had never been rude to even a single maid. Furthermore, she said that Damia was in charge of the family’s internal affairs and never complained, even though she was the hostess in name only.
‘No, in this case, maybe it wasn’t a concession.’
Since she grew up a slave, how can she handle the internal affairs of an aristocratic manor? Damia, who had thought cynically, suddenly spoke out of curiosity.
“Can you tell me where you learned your manners? We’ve dined together several times over the years, and I didn’t notice anything unusual.”
She wasn’t sarcastic; it was pure curiosity. But Nora didn’t respond, and her face flushed red.
After making plans to have her remarried, she spent several months learning manners. She had a fairly rigorous education, but Nora always lacked confidence in herself as a characteristic.
No matter how well she could imitate a noble, a slave was a slave. Even if she pretended to be a lady, she could not match Damia’s natural dignity and graceful aura, who had been raised with the confidence and refinement of a lofty aristocrat from birth.
So, when Nora faced Damia, she was utterly discouraged. She had been desperate not to let her young stepdaughter find out, but she didn’t have the courage to go to social gatherings.
‘It’s actually a miracle that she hasn’t been caught up until now.’
If Damia had harbored ill will towards her stepmother and found fault by observing her every move, she would have probably been caught. Nora had to reassure herself when she saw Damia, who seemed formidable and unforgiving due to her gorgeous looks.
However, after her remarriage, Damia, who lived with her, was unexpectedly blunt and candid. Since they had remarried, Damia thought she was already family with Nora. At least, she had thought so.
So she had no particular reason to find fault with Nora or belittle her. Because of that indifference, she said, she overlooked her nuanced manners.
“… … I—I’m really sorry. No, I was wrong. It’s all my fault, Miss Damia.”
Nora apologized, shedding tears. It wasn’t just an apology to escape the situation; her face and voice overflowed with guilt.
It was consistent with her demeanor, which came to the capital city on her own two feet.
‘I didn’t have to kidnap her. She simply followed him.’
As Heinrich put it, Nora gave up and divulged everything the moment she was discovered. She followed the one the Crown Prince sent and came to Damia right away.
It was evident that she was not evil by nature. Thanks to that, Damia was very troubled and in pain.
It would have been easier and clean-cut if Nora had been a vicious and ambitious woman who didn’t know her place and had no conscience. Then at least, she wouldn’t have to worry so much about her disposition.
Damia directly asked Nora, who was crying with her body crouched.
“Does my father know about this?”
Then more and more tears flowed from Nora’s scarlet eyes. She sobbed so severely that she couldn’t answer, but her reaction was like an answer.
Damia wondered if she had ever really loved her father. But now, what was the use of asking such a thing?
It was a question her father would ask her himself, not her. So Damia buried it in her chest and pushed the teacup towards her.
“Take a sip and calm down.”
It’s funny, but even now, knowing she lied, spied, and was a former temple slave, she still comforted her. So Damia realized that she didn’t hate “Neolla” as much as she thought.
Nora was equally perplexed by Damia’s not-so-hostile attitude. She carefully lifted the mug, wiping her wet face with a handkerchief.
The warm, fragrant tea was calming. Nora, whose weeping had died down thanks to this, looked at Damia with bright red eyes.
“I am not qualified to ask such a question, but… … Cesare, is he okay?”
Even at this moment, Nora could not abandon her child and asked with a sigh of shame. Damia thought about this and nodded her head.
Of course, he shouted and protested in the process of being suppressed, but that was reasonable compared to the crimes Cesare committed. He shoved a candlestick into Lessid’s shoulder and had a paladin pierce Akkard’s leg with a sword.
“If possible, I’ll let you two meet at least once before you leave the capital.”
However, that depends if Nora complies with this request, Damia thought as she looked into her face.
Fortunately, her face had nothing but resignation, fear, and guilt. So it didn’t seem like it would be hard to convince her.
“… … Well.”
At this time, Nora twisted the hem of her robe with both hands and opened her mouth with difficulty.
“I don’t know if I can ask you this, but…. maybe… … Have you ever met Cesare before?”