After leaving the store, we boarded the carriage and started our return trip to the Rosenberg estate in the capital, but the we were suddenly stopped mid-way.
At this unexpected event I kept vigilant, and asked the driver through the window for a report. They responded with an apology and said that some children had suddenly jumped out in front of the vehicle.
“…some children? My lady, please wait here just in case.”
“Cyril, what are you going to do?”
“I’m just going to check out the situation. Don’t get off of the carriage until I say it’s safe.”
Just because they were kids didn’t mean I should grow careless. While staying wary of the surroundings, I jumped off of the carriage.
As I was told, there were two young children crouching in front of the carriage. They looked like commoners, ones from the slums at that.
Although they looked malnourished, there didn’t seem to be any visible injuries.
Having confirmed that there wasn’t any immediate danger, I turned my eyes to scan the surroundings. This craftsman’s street didn’t have many pedestrians– but I detected some presences from a nearby alley.
I didn’t feel any hostility from them, but they seemed to be watching us.
The children had stopped the carriage and I had been lured out. If they were going to attack, then they would’ve already done so by now, meaning that their target was–
“Hey, are you two alright?”
When I tried talking to them, the kids shuddered. Shaking as they held each other, they were a boy and girl around ten years of age. If they weren’t acting, then they must be considerably frightened of something.
“Can you understand my words?”
“A-are you our enemy?”
“At the very least, I don’t remember being one.”
“T-then, you’re different from those people who were following us?”
“Yes, let’s go with that.”
With those words, the presence of those who were watching over the situation started to disappear. There were still some there, but at least it didn’t look like they were going to charge out at us.
If their aim was the children, they must’ve wanted to avoid the risks of getting involved with the nobility.
“So there’s some people chasing you, why?”
The story they then told me was unfortunate– but nothing special.
They had parents, but they lived in the slums and were poor. Therefore, it seems that their parents sold the younger sister to start doing night jobs.
The buyer was probably the master of the dark guild, Unnamed. He was a man involved with the ‘darkness’ mentioned in the game’s title of Espressivo of Light and Darkness.
Having caught wind of this, the older brother decided to run away with his sister before it was too late.
The game version of Cyril had connections to the dark guild. Even if this didn’t have an official event, this meeting here might’ve been preordained.
If that is the case, then I should be careful about my response here.
“I’m begging you! I don’t care what happens to me, but please help my sister!”
“W-what are you saying?! I don’t want to be saved by myself!”
Their sibling love was beautiful, and I felt sympathetic for them, but it wasn’t uncommon for children to be sold in this world. If taking my lady’s safety into consideration, the ‘right answer’ here didn’t matter.
“…Cyril, what’s going on? What happened with the kids?”
Maybe she was getting impatient, but my lady stuck her head through the carriage’s window. Seeing that, I told the children, “Please wait one moment.”
“–if we do so, will you help my sister?”
“It’s my lady who will decide that. If you want even the chance of her assistance, then please wait. I can guarantee your safety in the meantime, but if you can’t even do something as simple as that, then it’d be better if you just left already.”
The boy took a glance at his sibling, and then nodded while saying, “Okay, we’ll wait just like you said, so please get that person to save my sister.”
To understand his priorities even in a situation like this, this child had potential.
After confirming the boy had calmed down, I turned to my lady at the window and explained to her their circumstances of running away after one of them was sold.
“Oh my… for the parents to have sold their own child, that’s horrible.”
“…yes, it is.”
Judging that it was too soon for my lady to know the truth, I smoothed over my facial expression. I was confident that my intentions couldn’t be read, but it looks like she was still able to see through me.
“Cyril, you’re hiding something. If something’s wrong, then tell me. I… I don’t want to be a child that’s protected by you forever.”
Being only twelve, it was still too early for me to teach my lady about the darkness of this country. However, she seems to have decided for herself that it was something she should know.
I thought it was okay for her to act her age a bit more, but if this is what she wanted, then I would grant that wish. In any case, as long as my lady was the daughter of a Marquis, it was something that she would have to face eventually.
That’s why– I opened my mouth to speak.
“Your opinion isn’t wrong, but the truth changes with different perspectives as well. The parents only sold one of the children, can you imagine why?”
If they were just going to sell their daughter, why did they raise her until now? Why did they sell only one of the two siblings? The answer was simple and could be easily explained.
Its because they loved them. They didn’t sell them until now because they didn’t want to. Probably backed into a corner, to save at least one of them, they made the excruciating decision to pawn off the other.
Of course, this was just conjecture.
But it was the truth that these stories were a dime a dozen.
“If they didn’t sell their child, they wouldn’t have been able to live. Can such a world really exist?”
“…no matter the world, this will always be the truth. My lady, if you’re going to live your life as the daughter of a Marquis, then this is a reality you must learn to accept.”
Even aristocrats used their children as tools for political marriages to protect their status. In order to save the majority, the lord must be willing to force misfortunes upon the few.
Because if they don’t, then only an even greater misfortune will be waiting for them.
“In other words, what’s wrong is the country itself?”
“You can’t say that, my lady.”
Those words could be taken as criticism against the crown.
While some people like the commoners may commend such thinking, at the very least, the current royal family doesn’t see any need to fix the slums.
“A kind-hearted saint can’t rule over others.”
“…so you’re saying we should just abandon them, Cyril?”
“Their story is unfortunate, but this kind of thing is happening throughout the country at all times. Saving these two kids won’t save the rest of them. Its hypocrisy to advocate these ideals while only helping those in front of you. Don’t you think so?”
If you help one person, the rest will gather to you in hopes of salvation, but if you try to save them all, everything you’ve built is bound to collapse, saving no one. Even now, dozens of ordinary people were being thrust into hell with us unaware of them.
So to only save those in front of you was nothing but complacent.
“Please, I’m begging you! Can that lady not help us?! I don’t care what happens to me, but at least save my sister! Please!”
Even if they couldn’t hear our conversation, they could still detect the negative air surrounding us. When the sorrowful cry of the boy called out to her, Lady Sophia pursed her lips in thought for a moment, and then opened them.
“Cyril, help them.”
“…are you sure?”
“Just as you said, my actions are both hypocritical and conceited, but I think it’s far worse to look away from saving those within my reach.”
Lady Sophia made her resolution, but her pupils were shaking as if to say, “Is my way of thinking wrong?”
At that moment, emotions that I couldn’t describe welled up inside of me.
She was far too sweet to be the daughter of a Marquis. However– as an individual, her attitude of caring for the children from the slums was admirable. I was thoroughly impressed with the wisdom she displayed while still only twelve years old.
Above all else, I didn’t hate such a judgement, the will behind her words deeply moved me.
“If I were to give my personal opinion, I would say the way you are now is truly lovely, my lady.”
“Now then, if you have made your decision, please give me your orders.”
“Oh, o-of course. Then… Cyril. Save them. This is my will.”
“As you wish, my lady.”
After reverently bowing, I turned back towards the children. At the same time, I started formulating a plan in my head to fulfill my lady’s wish.
Even slums had rules. If the parents sold their child, then that means a financial transaction was made. It would be necessary to follow up with the dark guild after this.
However, let’s put that aside for now.
First I needed to decide how to rescue these two.
There’s no point if we just helped them escape from this place. This world wasn’t friendly enough that two children from the slums could survive by themselves.
Therefore, it was necessary to arrange jobs for them as well… but there ween’t many places other than the dark guild that would be willing to hire ten year old slum children.
In other words, the only way for us to truly save them would be to hire them at the Rosenberg house.
But we couldn’t just employ uneducated children without justification. Doing so would frustrate the other servants, and there’s no doubt the master wouldn’t approve either.
Luckily, there was a good reason for us to use.
–this idea came to mind when I first heard their story.
My lady needed a servant of the same age that could also serve as a bodyguard. She needed a child that she could trust to never betray her.
And with her now having saved these two kids, the groundwork has been made.
“Listen up you two. My lady has decided that she’s going to help you. However, if you’re going to accept her protection, that means you must swear to serve her.”
“That’s fine! I’ll do anything if it’ll save my sister!”
“That includes her, she’ll have to work as well.”
The girl shuddered, and the boy stepped forward to protect her. This was different from what I told them a little while ago, so they were now watching me with wary eyes.
–but that was fine.
If they didn’t understand how dangerous their current situation was, then they wouldn’t be thankful to my lady for reaching out to them. It was precisely because they understood this, that their gratitude became valuable.
Those feelings built up here would eventually transform into loyalty for her.
“Don’t worry, you’ll just be working as normal servants.”
“So you’ll help us if we become servants?”
“Yes, I swear. However, the way you speak, the way you behave, everything. You’ll need to go through strict training so you can carry yourselves appropriately for your new station, do you understand?”
“If it means that you’ll help us, it doesn’t matter!”
“Okay then. I promise to protect you in the name of my lady, Sophia Rosenberg herself.”
◆ ◆ ◆
There were several buildings built specifically for clubs on the school grounds, where the rooms in each of them were individually rented out. Though rather than a place for extracurricular activities, they were more like bases for the various factions and people of influence.
There was a boy with chestnut brown hair in one of such rooms. He had a sleek body and well-featured looks, but the atmosphere around him was one of somebody constantly making calculations.
His name was Libert. He was the son of the Lacourt Company’s president, and the leader of one of the school’s major groups that united the lower-class, the commoner faction.
He was also one of the capture targets in Espressivo of Light and Darkness.
While he was still in deep thought, a boy suddenly barged into the room with hurried steps.
With hair darker than Libert’s, and dark eyes to match, the youth with a somewhat mischievous look was Nicola. He was Libert’s right-hand man, and a friend who has followed him every step of the way since the beginning.
“Nicola, you’re making a disturbance. Next time, try knocking.”
“That’s my bad, sorry, but it’s because I have an interesting story for you, Libert!”
“Oh? Let me guess, another tale about some domineering noble son coming onto Anessa again? Every year, idiots spouting unreasonable demands appear around this time.”
Anessa was the name of a girl who belonged to his faction. Her family also ran the most famous clothing store in the capital, with her being the manager’s daughter.
Her family’s store was the most popular one to commission school uniforms from, so it was perpetually buried in reservations. Despite this, there were always aristocrats who made absurd requests of them every year.
“No, that happens all the time. I’m talking about how there’s an interesting person enrolling this year.”
“…oh? Are they likely to become our ally?”
“That’s still being confirmed. They’re such a big-shot that it’s hard to tell. Have you heard of Sophia?”
“…Sophia? Oh, you mean Sophia Rosenberg. True, she’s definitely high-profile, but what about her?”
“That’s it! Listen to this!”
His eyes brightening, Nicola began talking about Sophia’s actions that were seen and heard at the clothing store. Having finished listening, Libert sighed.
“Did you forget to follow-up on the noble that was supposedly brandishing their power? When I first heard rumours about a saint who had fallen into high-society, I thought it was too good to be true…”
“Those might not be exaggerated after all. On her return trip, she helped out some slum kids that had jumped in front of her carriage. I wasn’t able to get the details of the conversation, but it seems like she’s brought them back to her estate.”
“Slum children in a mansion…”
Libert’s gaze seemed to lose focus when he heard that. His brown eyes were staring into empty space.
“What is it? Does something about that bother you? Even among commoners, let alone aristocrats, I don’t think there’s many out there who would lend a helping hand to children from the slums, right?”
“Exactly. It’s too much. This is precisely why we need to stay wary of her.”
Recently, aristocrats with strong feelings of elitism have expanded their influence in the school. They had formed a faction of nobles who were willing to abuse the common people.
They were still a group of students, but once they grew up and spread their power into high-society, they’d bring innumerable troubles with them. To keep them under control, it was of the utmost importance to gain allies among the nobility themselves as well.
Meanwhile, rumours about a saint falling into high-society had suddenly appeared at the same time.
The daughter of a Marquis who possessed both intelligence and beauty unprecedented of a twelve year old, in addition to a charitable heart that would even reach out to children from the slums.
If this was true, then she could become a symbol they could use against the noble faction, but it was just too convenient. She was so perfect that it was as if she was artificially made by someone.
The commoner faction would rally around her in hope– and then she would stab them in the back.
“…is this a trap?”
“It might be, but we should still try to befriend her on the off chance it’s true.”
“Yes, that sounds good. For that purpose, it’s crucial that we get in contact with her and confirm how genuine these claims are.”
“That’s easy to say, but won’t it be hard without raising suspicion? How are we going to meet with her?”
Classes were segregated to provide courses depending on one’s status. Commoners in the commoner class, and nobles in the noble class. In other words, even if one was in the same grade, there were very few opportunities for civilians to get in contact with the aristocrats.
“…in the junior high section, there’s a party held to welcome the new admissions that had arrived from the outside. We should have the chance to meet her there.”
“I see, so you’re going to casually greet her at the party to determine if she’s a friend or foe?”
“Exactly, so for now let’s just assign some people to keep an eye on her. It would be nice to find out that she’s an ally of the commoners, because if she isn’t…”
Libert’s well-featured face twisted into a scowl.
The noble faction was becoming a threat to the common people. If the daughter of a Marquis was added to them, then the factional dispute might spread to their parents as well, and if that happened, who knows how this would affect his friends.
Even though Libert was darkly ruminating about the bleak future ahead, Nicola burst into laughter and gave him a wry grin.
“Stop making that face already. Don’t worry, just like how I promised you on that day, I’ll follow you no matter what happens.”
“…thanks. Now then, in preparation for when that time comes, we need to start moving.”
Written by Scarlet Rain (緋色の雨)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com