Chapter 02: The Convoy Carriage was a Shared One
As I swayed in the rattling carriage, I… Miltia, let out a small sigh.
A seedy-thin body, along with short, light green hair that had since long lost its shine. Rough, calloused fingers due to working in the kitchen. Dressed in a simple outfit like a mere servant with one small bag that could be easily carried by one woman. The only saving grace was this small, rustic necklace adorning my neck.
My appearance didn’t fit my status as someone from a count family.
Let alone a young noble girl from a count family, I didn’t even look like an average villager. There was no doubt that people would mistake me as someone from a poor family judging from how I looked.
…….I wish I could just throw away my status and live on as a commoner… No, but… Even if I did become a commoner, my green hair, which I inherited from my real father, would make me look conspicuous.
Those who were born with green hair and eyes held tremendous amounts of magic power but on the other hand, they could easily attract demons to them and you’d need to spend a hefty amount of money to attend top-notch magic school. They said it would be dangerous if someone tried to learn magic without being taught properly. Naturally, my family couldn’t afford to pay for such an expensive education.
Just like a green-haired children from a commoner family, they bestowed『sealing magic』to me at an early age and I had lived my whole life without touching anything related to magic. Naturally, I was seen as a parasite and treated no better than a servant.
This green hair would be highly welcomed if you were to come from a high-ranking noble house or a famous family that was renowned for having a great talent in magic. Basically those who could afford to bring the best education money could buy to their children. This green hair was practically useless for poor noble houses and commoners. Rather, they would be treated as someone creepy and be shunned upon instead.
“We can’t marry her off when her hair is all damaged with split ends like this.”
My sister pointed that out and so they cut my hair short like a boy. My hair was now barely reaching my collar.
………And yet, they left my bangs as it was even though my bangs had grown long enough to cover my eyes. This treatment was a true testament to what kind of relationship I had with my family.
“Ahahahaha! Big sister! Short hair suits you very well! You look like Saint Jeanne who had cut her own hair off before she was executed in a guillotine!!”
Even I, who had never received any lady education, knew that sending a 『short haired』bride from a count family to a duke family was going too far, even as a joke. My sister… She must’ve wanted to cut my hair as either just to harass me or to give me a warning.
In the end, they didn’t even provide me with a private carriage, let alone a betrothal money or a wedding dress… As I expected, the outfit I wore from my house was far too worn-out. This outfit was a second-hand gift I had received from the head maid.
From the start, I was never allowed to have any proper food, let alone my family’s leftovers. I was able to stave off my hunger by scavenging strange things in the nearby ocean and wild plants in between my cooking and laundry break.
This kind of bullying was a common thing for me but… If a 『good for nothing』woman were to come as a bride, no matter how cursed the duke was, he wouldn’t want to marry her. In fact, I felt bad for the duke even.
But I couldn’t run away even if I wanted to. There were two soldiers guarding me. They were sitting beside me, standing guard while keeping a low profile… No, they were actually voicing their dissatisfaction pretty blatantly.
“Why do we… Have to go to the dukedom to deliver that woman?”
“It can’t be helped! That failure… No. I mean, look, that thing… That woman… Erm… Anyway, we need to bring back the contract to prove we’ve delivered her for marriage so the count could get a new financing. If we couldn’t bring the contract back with us, we wouldn’t get paid.”
“But still, it’s that cursed duke, right? What if the curse spreads to us?”
“I-It will be alright! We have our good-luck charm from Lady Sistana, right?!”
“But you see, I heard that the duke’s curse is so contagious that all the assistants and servants ended up running away, you know?”
“T-that’s… It’s just a rumour! A rumour!”
Rather than guarding me… They were more like an escort to make sure I, the sacrifice, wouldn’t run away.
As I ignored all of their chatter, I was fiddling with the only gift I had received from the count family. A pretty crude looking 『necklace』. The necklace made a clunking sound as I fiddled with it.
This was one of the count’s most prized possessions, a 『magic tool』… However, this 『magic tool』 was 『cursed』.
No matter even if that person was a cursed duke, if the duke were to divorce me, it would ruin the count’s family honour. And so this necklace had a curse placed upon it. 『A curse that will kill you if you do or talk about anything that will tarnish the count’s family』
For example, if I were to be kicked out of the duchal house or ran away out of my own volition or spoke ill about my family, the curse would be activated immediately.
My stepmother must’ve wanted me to die. She only wanted to have someone from her family to 『be married with a duke』.
I don’t want…. To die. To be precise, I can’t admit that I actually want to die because I’d feel bad toward my real parents who had already died. After all, even if I’m alive… The same thing will only keep on happening today, tomorrow and even the day after tomorrow.
And then, I could hear my stomach grumbling a little.
At the very least, I want to eat until I’m full. Then after I’m satisfied, I want to die a painless death…
When that kind of thought crossed my mind, a self-deprecating smile almost appeared on my face.
What do you mean by ‘at least’? Aren’t you being too greedy, dear myself?
When I lifted my gaze from my feet, I could see the scenery from within the shaking carriage. The edible wild plants were getting even further and further away from me…. Suddenly, I felt pain springing from my chest and on the back of my nose.