SV – 27

Thank you for the Ko-fi kuroneko_chan! (2/2)

「“For the past 20 years the rampant criminal activities of Plum have now reached their zenith. In the past, ‘Plum,’ was only known to abduct children and experiment on them. Now collaborating evidence has found that they are leaving children’s bodies at gates to become fodder for monsters. Not much is known about their experiments, but recent eyewitness accounts suggest that there maybe common traces found among the victims.”」

Dahlia meticulously scrutinized every word from the most recent articles in today’s newspapers to the stories published during the Founding of the Empire celebration a year ago.

She felt dizzy with the brutal content and plentiful information she had never encountered before in the County of Von Klose. A criminal syndicate called Plum was committing robbery, kidnapping, torture and murder with ease and did not even bother with the dignity of the dead.

Most of the victims were babies, children or pregnant women. But nowhere was it written as to why they were perpetrating such heinous crimes.

Do they not know or do they not want to let them know?

It was Reynon von Leonardo, the Crown Prince of the Empire, who erected the angel statue and the memorial in the central square of Aberdio. The Second Sun of the Empire and the Grand Master of the Order of the Sentinel Knighthood.

The Crown Prince, along with Archduke Edelred, was being revered as a hero who declared war on Plum.

Dahlia remembered the man she had met in front of the angel statue and bit the tip of her pen with her teeth. Perhaps the rude man was related to a victim, perhaps he had  lost a child or wife to Plum.

With that thought in mind, she could understand why the man was so venomous.

Intermittently, Freesia and Hansen would come to check up on her.

“Are you really going to skip out on dinner like this? I worry about you, miss.”

Even though she never made it to the dining table, Freesia brought her easily digestible omelette on a tray.

Dahlia picked her fork, but never took her eyes off the newspaper.

“This is plenty of food for me today.”

“Really, you’re acting strange. By the way, an invitation arrived at the mansion a while ago. Tomorrow, there is an evening celebration held at the Imperial Palace. Probably because of the Sentinel promotion test.”

Freesia buried her body in an armchair opposite to her, pulled out her sewing thread and watched her.

Dahlia nodded her head roughly, taking a large, fluffy omelet into her mouth.

“I have never been to an imperial banquet. Do I have to attend?”

“As soon as the invitation arrived, I saw that the Countess contacted the dressing room… . Shouldn’t you be attending?”

“But I haven’t even made my debut?”

“That is different, miss. By the way, when are you going to sleep?”

Tears welled up in Freesia’s eyes as she yawned loudly.

“Go to bed first. I still have so much work to do. If the capital’s newspaper had been disseminated in Tezeba from the beginning, this would not have happened.”

“If that happens, all the rural newspapers will starve to death. Everyone will only read newspapers from the capital.”

“Indeed.”

She looked at Freesia with a new expression on her face. Her father was a famous candle maker in Tezeba. Presumably, 99% of the fief would use the candles made by Freesia’s father, and she remembered how proud she was.

Wasn’t it so? Freesia was quick-witted and well-versed in the market economy. So Chad, a fellow servant of Blenheim House, would secretly call Freesia to help with the Count’s bookkeeping and accounting.

Of course, Dahlia knew about it, but didn’t take issue with it. In the end, it was her father who checked the books again, and it was her who helped review them.

“Freesia, don’t doze off here and go in.”

She was falling asleep with heavy eyelids and her neck in an uncomfortable position, bending to the side. Since it was her first day in the capital, she was very exhausted too.

“Then I’ll go first, miss. If you need anything, pull the line. Alright?”

“Yes.”

After Dahlia had sent her off to her bedroom, she lay down on her sofa with the newspaper she was peering into. But before he could read a few words, the sleepiness she had endured poured out.

She was starting to see doubles of Jurgen Axel Edelred’s name printed in the newspaper. A weariness made it too heavy to hold the newspaper up anymore. Her sight glimpsed the colorful ceiling and her eyelids closed.

The breath through her nose became slow and steady.

***

“Sister.”

Her body shook. Everything interrupting her sleep irritated her.

“You should sleep in the bedroom.”

It was Gerald’s voice. Even in her sleep, she could clearly tell.

When Dahlia couldn’t wake up, he embraced her without her hesitation. Her face was buried deep in his chest, still donning his Sentinel Academy uniform without having a chance to take it off.

Awake she was smart and prudent but asleep she was a defenseless heavy slumberer. So much so, she didn’t wake up when she was carried.

Unlike the Blenheim House, he passed a hallway with intersecting wooden tiles and climbed the stairs. The sound of his footsteps in the quiet hallway stopped in front of her bedroom.

“Gerald… , what happened?”

Just as he was about to open the door, Dahlia, who was in his arms, mumbled. Gerald smiled with her weary face and opened the door to her bedroom and entered.

“Tomorrow is my test, so I overtrained.”

Her body was buried in the soft bed. Dahlia hugged her pillow as she groaned in happiness. Gerald unbuttoned a couple of his buttons on his uniform that went up to his neck. Then he smiled sweetly as he gently stroked her hair out of her face.

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