Episode 94

The Plague-Contaminated City Of Seville (2)
1 week ago
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“Seville always seems the same whenever I come.”

“It’s a place that never changes.”

We arrived at Seville Castle on horseback.

“Where have you come from… you’re back again.”

“Yes.”

“Did someone else come with you?”

“No. It’s just me, Grey Gibraltar, again. Pass that message along.”

“Understood. Have a safe hunt.”

The guards scrutinized us for a bit and then let us through.

One of the guards glanced at Robert and then left towards the lord’s castle, with not a single person there to greet us.

“It’s always something I feel, but doesn’t it seem like there’s even less interest each time I come? Sir Robert of Seville.”

“I’m not even from the Seville family, so what does the castle mean to me, Dame Mente?”

“But you have a surname.”

“It’s not a surname; it’s a brand. Heh.”

Surname.

A name used to denote the nobility of one’s lineage.

In the kingdom, only nobles were allowed to use surnames, and for commoners to do so was a challenge to the social order and an act of overreach.

Yet, Robert had a surname.

And that surname was from this city, “Seville.”

“I’m always sorry, young master.”

“What’s there to be sorry about? Even on my second visit, that esteemed Baron of Seville openly ignored me.”

“That, that is…”

“Now, even when I’ve sent word of my arrival, not a single servant shows up, knowing full well that a knight has come with me.”

Knights were usually nobles.

And nobles usually had a ‘surname.’

But not all knights were nobles.

“Really. I wonder if this happens to other knights as well.”

Mostly, such issues occurred because of an exception.

“A knight who has given his surname coming here, and even if he visits once a month, can they afford to treat him so dismissively?”

For instance, a commoner who awakened mana and showed talent in swordsmanship and became a knight.

“Sir Robert.”

Like how the kings of Nostrum had historically selected heroes from among commoners, a commoner could become a knight—a noble.

“For you.”

What kind of person was Robert Seville?

“What does the surname ‘Seville’ mean to you?”

He was not of noble birth.

However, he possessed a surname, and that surname was identical in spelling to that of the Baron of Seville.

“Cough. For me, the surname ‘Seville’ is a mark, a trace.”

Robert took pride in his homeland but had never boasted much about the Seville surname.

“As someone from this region, instead of serving as a knight for another family, it’s a certification that I belong to the people of the Seville family.”

The empire clearly marked the origin of livestock.

As a means to accurately reveal one’s origin, it served as a kind of quality assurance.

While knights were not livestock, a common-born knight was a ‘product’ that the family could proudly present in the market.

“Have you ever thought about changing your surname?”

“There have been many times I’ve wished to, but that would require paying a lot of money to the Seville family, wouldn’t it?”

“Whether it’s a penalty or a dowry, you could just find a lady from a family able to pay that money and marry her.”

“You know as well as I do that’s not easy, and it’s meaningless.”

Someday, if he married a noblewoman, to remove the Seville surname and adopt that family’s name, he would have to pay a considerable sum to Seville.

Penalty?

Dowry?

Purchase price?

There’s no exact term to precisely describe this situation.

Each family faced different circumstances, and perhaps knowing it’s shameful to engage in such dealings, no precise term had been coined.

“For me, it’s as if something that didn’t exist before has come into being, so it doesn’t matter whether it exists or not. It’s a surname that makes me proud of my hometown. The problem is…”

“Every time I come here, I never receive any consideration or support from the Baron of Seville.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not something you need to apologize for.”

We arrived at the center of the Baron of Seville’s territory.

The city wasn’t particularly large, but it had everything necessary, though it lacked the cultural facilities one might expect in an earl’s territory.

“It’s my fault for having tied Sir Grey Gibraltar to this line.”

The lodging was no different.

Usually, when people from other regions, especially knights from Gibraltar, came visiting, that family would send someone to greet them.

“Fortunately, every time I come, I get to feel this again. Being snubbed like this means that even the noble family sees me as a son whose ties have been cut.”

“Young master…”

“Being stuck to a person like that as an escort probably doesn’t sit well with the Baron’s family from their perspective.”

I understood.

To have sent a knight to the Gibraltar family, only for him not to cling to Noir but to keep associating with someone like Grey.

“It’s okay. At least the inn doesn’t overcharge me.”

“That’s because you’ve been here a few times. The first time, they overcharged you a lot. I was so embarrassed.”

“Wasn’t your face turning red more because of your family than the hotel?”

Robert frowned with displeasure.

“That’s…”

“It’s okay. At least they don’t say anything to my face.”

“But when I go home, my family gives me a hard time.”

“Consider it a fate you must endure as a knight following me.”

I handed Robert a pouch full of gold coins.

“Take this with you.”

“Young master.”

“Why? Is it too much?”

“It’s not just that it’s a lot, but it feels wasteful.”

“Even if it’s for your family?”

“Even if I give them this, my family will just speak ill of you without knowing the full story.”

“Still, if I give them this, maybe they’ll speak less ill.”

I patted Robert’s back.

“The Whites will prepare the necessities for hunting in the contaminated zone, so go and spend time with your family.”

“Excuse me for a moment.”

Robert took the gold coins and left.

He was supposed to rejoin in the afternoon, but his steps were very slow, as if he didn’t want to go.

“Dame Mente, let’s have a meal at the lodging together. You guys…”

“Us, we…”

“…go eat somewhere else if you want. It would probably be uncomfortable for you to eat with me anyway.”

“…….”

Whisk.

I threw a pouch of gold coins to number 36, who, wearing a badge on her left shoulder, swiftly caught it and bowed her head.

“I’ll be back, master.”

Ssssh.

Six people quickly left the room.

In the end, only Dame Mente and I remained.

“Do you realize that starting such conversations already makes it uncomfortable?”

“But thanks to that, the effect isn’t bad, is it?”

I subtly signaled with my eyes towards the gazes staring at us from all over the street.

“What did that noble do to his servants usually, to leave behind just one little kid and everyone else leaves?”

“…….”

“No matter how many times I come here, there are many who still don’t know that Dame Mente is a senior knight. That’s the public’s perception.”

Just like they considered Dame Mente a child, they’re used to seeing me as something to be discarded.

“Isn’t it lucky, though? The hotel manager knows you’re the young master of Gibraltar and a knight.”

“If that weren’t the case, I really would have been angry.”

“It’s fortunate. At least they don’t look at us differently.”

“Differently? What kind of look?”

“Well, you might guess.”

“An older brother and his youngest sister?”

“…….”

People ultimately judge others based on appearances, rumors, or the brief impressions they have.

“Whether it looks like a mother and son, or even if, giving the benefit of the doubt a hundred times, they want to appear like lovers.”

I kept carrying the image of being discarded, but Dame Mente did not.

“If you become a master, you’ll grow tall and strong, so let’s go to the hotel.”

I headed to the hotel with Dame Mente.


Robert Seville knew very well what kind of person Grey Gibraltar was.

Grey, at 10 years old, was mature for his age yet still on the cusp of childhood. However, after ‘that day’, Grey Gibraltar emerged as a prepared Margrave.

“How long will you cling to that rotten lifeline?”

Being here, right now, was unbearably uncomfortable for him.

“If you’re going to escort someone, you should have been escorting Noir Gibraltar, who is directly learning the sword from the Margrave, tsk tsk.”

“What brings you here, Baron?”

Robert scanned his own home.

A rare two-story mansion within the domain.

His elderly parents were merely glancing around in the kitchen, and his sister stood as if she were a maid.

“Do I have no right to come here? You brat. Do you think I let your family burn through more than a billion for nothing?”

The unwanted guest was the Baron of Seville, Flamvell, with his hunched back.

“I thought you were doing well in Gibraltar, but you’re just cleaning up after a fool…tsk tsk.”

“It’s Gibraltar.”

“So what? What does it matter if it’s a Gibraltar who couldn’t become a Margrave?”

“I regularly report to Margrave Crimson Gibraltar.”

“…….”

He disliked using someone else’s authority to oppress the person in front of him.

“Would it be alright if I conveyed your current words to the Margrave?”

“Ha, haha. What a deadly joke this person is making.”

But surely, Margrave Crimson wouldn’t tolerate his son, especially Grey, being ridiculed like this.

“Young Master Grey will do great things someday. Wouldn’t it be better to show some respect now?”

Robert straightened up a bit as he spoke.

“This person comes here every month to stay for about a week, spending nearly ten million gold as living expenses.”

“Adults and six kids playing on an expedition and wasting ten million like it’s nothing.”

“Thanks to that expedition play, someone is filling their pockets.”

“Ha. So I’ve become one of Gibraltar’s people now. Are you saying I filled my back pocket with the by-products of hunting? Hmph…!”

Baron Seville stood up abruptly, grinding his teeth.

“Don’t forget! No matter where you go in the kingdom, the fact that you’ve made a soul contract with me doesn’t change! You may work in Gibraltar but…!”

“If you’re done speaking, please leave now.”

“You…!”

“I’ll inform Young Master Grey to burn all the prey beforehand.”

“Tsk…!”

The baron left in irritation, not receiving any farewell and kicking the door on his way out. Robert looked up at the ceiling for a moment.

“I’ll just have lunch before I go. And.”

Though he was dressed better and ate better food than a family of four living in a ‘house’ smaller than this living room.

“…I’ll try to see if I can earn enough money to buy the right to move to Gibraltar.”

Today, the clothes his family wore felt to Robert almost like prison uniforms.


Night.

The time when the sun set and darkness descended upon the world.

Humans, not accustomed to darkness, could not see well without light, but animals were different.

Some animals slept during the day and hunted at night; for hunters, darkness was a good weapon.
And for us-

“It seems everyone is ready.”

A good opportunity.

“We move quietly towards the contaminated zone.”

Starting with me, Dame Mente, the Whites, and Sir Robert, who joined us late, all of us were wrapped in gray that clung to our bodies.

The reason it’s gray, not black, was simply my preference.

The clothes might look like they’re wrapped in bandages, but they’re actually leather armor painted gray.

“The robe?”

“It’s all prepared.”

“Good. Put it on.”

I received a slightly darker gray robe from number 36 and wrapped it around my body.

“Don’t forget to turn on the warmth magic.”

“Isn’t that making it easier for us to be hunted?”

“That too.”

The gray robe had no design, but inside, intricate magic circles were drawn.

“I’d rather be attacked by beasts than have thieves show up like last time.”

The magic stone on the front button of the robe twinkled very slightly, activating the warmth magic.

“Sir Robert, did you know? Some say that snakes can distinguish temperatures even in the dark.”

It’s actually a bit different.

‘Was it something like an organ?’

Some snakes possessed a separate organ-like structure for sensing body temperature, but the details would require flipping through the Empire’s Flora and Fauna Encyclopedia again.

Suddenly, I remembered.

-Hahaha! Snakes can distinguish temperatures with their eyes? Did you have a snake among your ancestors?

-Are you suggesting to look with the eyes of a snake? How can you see the temperature? Really, this is why you’re from the Empire.

An exchange student from the Empire was humiliated by the kingdom’s nobles after presenting a report on snakes.

“In a world entirely gray, only the parts with high temperatures appear red.”

“Then we’ll be immediately visible to snakes?”

“Exactly. So catch them immediately if they come flying.”

While making small talk and walking, we arrived at a densely forested area shrouded in shadows.

“Young master, I have something to tell you.”

“What is it?”

Robert’s atmosphere was particularly cold.

“If we succeed in hunting this time, do you plan to hand over all the remains to the Baron of Seville again?”

“First off?”

I pointed at the oversized wagon brought down by the Whites.

“If it can be loaded onto that, we should take everything.”

“The Baron of Seville will be pleased. Again, Grey Gibraltar doesn’t know the value of these expensive items and leaves them behind.”

“Not knowing what’s truly valuable is being taken away.”

I slightly lifted the flap of an empty bag attached inside my robe.

“Why? Was there an issue?”

“Uh…”

“You need to speak up about the issue so I can know about it, and if it’s a problem, I can solve it. I can’t know if you don’t tell me.”

Based on my extensive experience before regression, I know this issue better than anyone.

“Speak up. Just talking about it might help.”

“I went home to greet my family, and Baron Seville was there.”

“…Hmm.”

“Just as you were worried, he asked me to switch allegiance to Noir. I didn’t feel good about it, so I sent him off brusquely…”

“Did the baron by any chance call you an insolent brat?”

“Almost, it was about to come out.”

As expected.

“Is that so? Well, you’ll understand.”

“…….”

“Don’t pay too much attention to the venomous words of a dying man.”

“…Pardon?”

It was just a bit of a spoiler to comfort Robert.

“Wait, are you saying… you’re going to kill Baron Seville because of me…?”

“…Does it sound like that?”

It seems I had been seriously misunderstood.

“Sir. Does Baron Seville have a son?”

“Yes. He used to be my friend…”

“What’s the name of that friend?”

“Gamose. Gamose Seville.”

“I see.”

A familiar name.

“I won’t do something like assassination. Not amongst the nobles of Nostrum.”

Especially since he was a man who fled to Gibraltar without taking care of his citizens when the plague spread through his domain.

“I won’t assassinate. Assassination is not on the table.”

Gamose Seville had been the baron of this Seville domain even before I became the Margrave, around the time I entered the academy.

“There’s no need for that.”

In short.

“Don’t bother about the delusional rants of a soon-to-die old man.”

The current Baron of Seville was destined to die soon.

“There’s none.”

After all, he’s going to die.

“There’s no order to go, nor is there a set time.”

Growl.

“If you really wish for it.”

I drew my sword at something rustling in the bushes ahead.

“It wouldn’t be bad to send him off early.”

Kyaaㅡㅡㅡㅡang!

Thump.

“Giving a present that makes you so happy you might drop your heart from shock, I’m quite good at that.”

The beast’s heart stopped.

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