Chapter 45 - Element of Effort (2)

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There have been numerous stories about black cats for a long time.

Some said that the devil released them into the world to help witches, and some said that hearing the cries of a black cat would cause misfortune.

Of course, all of that was a myth, but it’s true that people still believe black cats are bad omens.

In that sense, Lulu can be someone who was different from the prejudices that humans had.

A black cat that can talk to humans, and a sorcerer with a strange personality.

Everything Lulu was, was a combination of negative and false beliefs.

“There are a lot of bad stories.”

It was the same with the servant who talked about Lulu.

He looked around once more and then began to speak in a quiet voice about the black cat.

Rumors that the sorcerers guild ‘Oracle’ in the eastern part of the continent was shattered as soon as the cat joined.

The story of the death of the Jackal Lord’s second son, who trusted the cat due to an unfortunate accident.

As soon as the cat entered Balbany in the southeastern region, she led to its downfall, and it was even said that the men inside it split into seven factions due to internal conflicts.

Every rumor about Lulu was bad.

“Are you sure?”

“Everything is the truth from Oracle falling apart to Balbany going bankrupt and the Jackal estate too. Other stories are floating around…”

“What’s Lulu’s involvement in those events?”

“To be honest, I don’t know. Just that she was involved.”

“Then…”

“Young lord.”

Marcus interrupted him.

He knew it was disrespectful to cut off his master’s words, but he thought this was the time to speak out.

“I know, sir. That it might not be true. That the black cat is a superstition and the stories might have been intertwined, and there may be some unfounded rumors floating around. That innocent sorcerer might not have any connection to what happened too.”

“…”

“But, there is no need for us to take risks.”

The room turned quiet.

Hearing the words from Marcus, Airn fell silent, and Marcus, who looked at Airn’s expression, looked sad.

He knew. For Airn Pareira, who was nothing more than a loner in the past, the cat has been a pretty good friend.

‘Still… keeping a distance will be right. A black cat, a sorcerer with too many bad rumors.’

It’s okay to keep your distance.

Nodding his head, he asked Airn to slowly distance himself from Lulu.

He hoped that they would naturally become distant.

Airn didn’t answer.

Marcus sighed softly, making sure that Airn didn’t hear, and asked.

“The second thing, about the upcoming subjugation war.”

There will be a monster subjugation in a few weeks, and a meeting was supposed to be held.

Perhaps, in a few days, the lord would come up with a story if Airn didn’t want to attend.

The servant spoke those words very slowly.

Actually, this was more important than the cat., but Airn wasn’t in the mood for a discussion.

With an apologetic expression, Marcus said.

“I apologize for making you uncomfortable. I’ll just leave.”

Lock.

The door closed. Heavier air descended.

But it wasn’t for long.

Airn gradually gathered his thoughts and carefully opened his mouth.

“I told you last time. I have no intention of meddling in my sister’s affairs, but if I can give her…”

“I’m not the kind to be swept away by those things. I will tell her about how I feel about you and what I saw you doing. It isn’t going to be taking a bribe and feeding her good words about you. And…”

Words in an empty room.

However, it didn’t feel that way. The boy’s words weren’t ones he was rehearsing. It was as if he was speaking to someone.

And he went on.

“I don’t think you have a personality that harms others.”

“…”

“You’re more unusual than others, a little different from humans, and sometimes it’s annoying, and you sound absurd, but that’s about it. There are so many good things about you. At least, that’s what I think. So… that’s what I think. I will let my sister know the same. Regardless of those rumors.”

“…. But, what if something happens to you or Kirill?”

Indeed there was someone.

Airn nodded at Lulu’s voice coming from under the bed.

She knew that something like this would happen.

So the cat thought of telling him the truth without delaying it.

“Let me ask you one thing.”

“Yes.”

“What Marcus just told me, was it true?”

“… yes.”

“All those things happened because of you?”

“Not that! I was just having fun, fun, and it just happened! In the Oracle, two bad-tempered old men were fighting, and then the kids at higher levels began to fight for the top position, and in the Jackal estate…”

A series of accidental misfortunes.

Or the lies of a black cat.

The latter one was dangerous, and the former seemed alright.

There was no guarantee that this wouldn’t be passed on to the younger sister.

However,

“I’m fine.”

“Huh?”

“Ah, I’m fine. Even if I stay too close to you.”

“… but, I am a black cat which brings bad luck?”

“You’re the one who came here in the first place. Why are you backing down?”

“That… sorry. I was in the wrong.”

A little lower voice than before.

Airn smiled at that.

It was the first time he saw the confident Lulu be so depressed, so it felt fun to him.

Of course, he wasn’t the kind to enjoy others’ misfortune.

So Airn spoke.

“It’s okay. Even I have bad rumors around me.”

“Huh?”

“I’m the same as you.”

Airn recalled the past he didn’t want to think about.

The pours of sympathy, compassion, the pity on a child who lost his mother.

However, the short time that the boy spent in his room increased, and his feelings plummeted day by day.

Weak boy, stupid boy, lazy prince, deadbeat noble.

All bad rumors.

All malicious rumors without any basis, but once they started, they became huge like a rolling snowball, and stopping them became difficult for his family.

Maybe if he didn’t get help from the dreams, if he hadn’t had new experiences at Krono… he would still be living trapped in his room with rumors going around.

That could be right.

“As I said before, I will judge what I see and feel.”

“…”

“And if you’re worried about the superstitions, for now, let’s meet secretly. And if nothing happens, then it was all a simple mistake, so you can go out and hang out with other people too, and even if something bad happens, it will be just me…”

“No! That will never happen! It was all a coincidence! I never did anything wrong! I’m not unlucky, not unlucky!”

She was the one who said, ‘I’m a black cat which brings bad luck’, so why was she shouting?

It was confusing, but Airn didn’t feel bad.

With a smile, he responded.

“Right. I think so too. But other people have misunderstood you, so we’ll have to change it little by little.”

“…”

“Until then, why don’t we meet in my room, like now?”

“… I will give you this.”

Catch, the cat’s paw popped out from under the bed and then disappeared.

A huge black pearl appeared.

Airn was shocked and was about to ask, but Lulu spoke quickly.

“This is an expensive one! This is more pricey than the chatoyancy stone! Take this and say that I’m not a bad one!”

“…”

“Then, I’m leaving!”

Suu!

A little noise, followed by stillness.

Airn, with a puzzled expression, got down from the bed and looked under.

After confirming that Lulu really left, he turned to the black pearl.

‘Really big!’

It was so big that it couldn’t be held in one hand.

It was just as the cat said. With that size and quality, it was bound to be more expensive than the chatoyancy stone.

However, it wasn’t because of the black pearl that Airn had a smile on his face.

‘This was from Lulu’s treasure collection.’

One of the treasures that the cat said that she would never exchange with anyone.

He remembered that the cat said the pearl smelled like the sea.

So the boy picked it up and put it to his nose.

‘I don’t smell anything.’

It was something that a human nose couldn’t smell.

But still, he could feel Lulu’s emotions a little.

Airn, who cherished the black pearl, threw himself onto the bed with a smile.


The next morning.

Normally, it was practice time, but Airn wasn’t in the training grounds but in the Lord’s room.

It was because there was a call from his father regarding the message that Marcus relayed.

And he spoke.

“Do you know what the subjugation war is?”

“Yes, I know.”

The subjugation war.

It was a task to reduce the number of monsters by building up an elite group of forces before the monsters began to push out of the forest and attack humans.

It was a task that took place every May, and the six southern families joined in, but if there were no prior arrangements, then the Lords and the oldest children had to participate.

Nobles are respected not because of their blood, but because of their loyalty towards their duties.

Which was why the children set foot into the subjugation from the young age of 12 or 13.

In fact, most of the work was done by knights and soldiers, so there was nothing dangerous for the nobles.

Of course, this wasn’t the case for Airn. He hadn’t shown his face anywhere until last year, when he turned 15.

However,

“I will participate this time.”

Said Airn with a serious face.

Harun Pareira, who watched his son, asked.

“Will you be fine?”

“I’ll try.”

Airn said again with the same voice.

It didn’t matter if he could or not.

This was something he thought of when he came back to his family and met with Aaron Gairn.

He wasn’t going to run anymore. He was going to stand up for what he had to do and never avoid anything anymore.

Of course, it was burdensome and difficult. Especially the psychological part and not the physical part.

But now, he knew that he couldn’t keep putting things off.

To his son, who was in thought, the father spoke.

“The subjugation isn’t a place to fight monsters.”

“…”

“It’s a place where the families fight.”

Of course, that didn’t mean that they would point their swords and spill blood.

It was a much more gloomy and fierce battle of spirit. He wanted his son to be aware of that.

The tongue was a lot sharper than blades and deadly poison.

Would his delicate son be able to withstand such pressure?

“I will do my best.”

“… Yes.”

The father got up from his chair and patted his son on his back. Airn felt the touch.

And a week after that.

“Haha, nice to meet you. Oh! Oh! Airn Pareira… you grew up so much in the time I haven’t seen you!”

It was viscount Phill Gairn.

With him in the lead, the six southern families of the Hale Kingdom had gathered in the Pareira estate.

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