“Ahh, if only that girl was around, I could have her do that work for me as well today.”
“There’s no use, that kid is too much of a handful right now. No matter how awful that person is, there would be a real fuss if she ended up getting hurt, you know.”
“Her magical power is really that unstable? Hmph… Well, there’s no point in letting it get all pent up. She should be able to use it as she likes… So, how about we do this?”
About a month had passed.
Just as Alois said, Nicole hadn’t visited Camilla even once since then. Now a different maid would come in to attend to Camilla every day, barely hiding their disgust as they did so.
Meanwhile, the problems Nicole was causing in the mansion were only increasing. Her remarkable magical energy was growing ever more rampant, thus breaking more and more things around the manor, so the maids had their hands full just trying to keep Nicole doing as little work as possible.
Her magic power usually rampaged the worst when she was alone. Usually, it would only be ceramics like vases and plates that would be destroyed, but sometimes it would also shatter wood and glass as well.
-She might end up hurting somebody soon.
Alois had even told Camilla that Gerda and the other senior maids, worried about something like that happening, were deciding on whether or not to have her on a long break.
The reason she was thinking about Nicole now was that she had overheard some young maids gossiping about her. As she was passing by, those whispered words broken up by giggles had reached her ears.
She heard all kinds of things when she listened in on the gossiping of maids. There were the typical nasty words about Camilla herself, but there were also talks about how scary Gerda was, how all the senior maids were useless and whether or not the chef in the kitchen was a handsome guy.
There was also a bit of talk about how Alois had gotten thinner recently, but Camilla herself couldn’t really see any change.
Maybe one of his excess chins had become slightly less meaty?
“Recently, her flow of magical energy has become unstable. I understand what she’s going through, having that kind of magical power myself.”
When Camilla asked about what had been happening with Nicole at the daily morning tea they had together, Alois shook his head sadly. He told her all about Nicole’s current circumstances but also went further.
“Going by the reports I’m getting from the mining sites, it seems like the miasma is getting thicker than ever. You can’t separate that miasma from the magical energy within it. It’s causing a lot of instability with the manastones lately, apparently, a lot of magical tools are breaking because of it.”
Alois leaned back in his chair as he looked lost in thought.
“Even though we aren’t near any mines here, the miasma in the air has been so thick lately. There’s always some of it considering the weather around here, but for there to be this much…”
As if to lend weight to Alois’ words, a strong wind tickled at Camilla’s cheeks.
It was too warm for a brisk autumn wind, the miasma it carried leaving her face feeling numb. Until now, there had always been a slight tingle in the wind, but that was nothing to how it felt now. It almost felt like the air back in Grenze.
The sky is overcast, with grey clouds running between the north and south horizons.
Because of the bad weather outside, they were taking tea in Alois’ private room today, instead of out in the garden. The wind had come through the open window.
“When the miasma is unstable, it can cause magical energies to begin to leak out. It can happen if you feel tense, angered or even depressed. At times like this, it’s important to use up some magical energy periodically, instead of letting it build up too much.”
If you use up all your magical energy, it can hardly run rampant. By using magic more often one can reduce their overall magical levels for a time, reducing the risk.
‘It’s a pain,’ Alois seemed to say with his grimace, as Camilla nodded.
Camilla may not be a user, but she knew just how inconvenient magic could be.
Camilla had very little magical power. The only time she had ever used it was when she was taught at a young age. But, Camilla never had any talent for it.
Still, Camilla did know various things about magic.
Prince Julian had, after all, been known for his strong magic.
-His Highness also struggled with his magical power a lot.
A power that had been strong for one person alone that many feared.
That was the existence of the Second Prince of the Kingdom of Sonnenlicht, Prince Julian. His enormous magical power had stood out from a young age.
As a young boy, he couldn’t contain the power that was manifested in his eyes, so his mother – the second Queen – had kept him away from the world.
His magic had the power to steal people’s hearts. His magical eyes enraptured people, as they were charmed completely against their own will. In fear of just what havoc could create, the Queen had the Prince locked away in a tower on the grounds of the royal palace until her death.
Prince Julian had very little to do with the rest of his family, such as the King and his elder brother. It was even said that he feuded with the First Prince, Eckhart.
Of course, Prince Julian had learned to control his magical powers eventually. His bright red eyes remained, but they never overflowed with out of control magic like they had in the past. It was his beautiful face and elegant demeanour that now stole people’s hearts instead. Many people had complained that he was soft and lacked a man’s spirit, but Camilla had never been concerned with that.
To her, those gentle movements and intangible charms were lovely simply because they were Prince Julian’s own. That’s all there was to it.
A very different body from the gentle and charming one in her thoughts swayed in front of her now.
“Is something wrong? You were staring into space.”
As he leaned across the table, Alois’ big face filled her vision. Perhaps it was because of the miasma, but his skin was even rougher than usual. Similarly, other servants with higher than average levels of magical energy were beginning to show signs of rashes and irritated skin.
In his hands, he held a butter cake that was cut into slices on a big round plate. It was topped with an excessive amount of cream and looked sweet enough that you could feel heartburn just looking at it.
But, that was all. Even though there would usually be plenty more where that came from, that was the only sweet thing served with morning tea today.
No, not just today. This had been going on for a while. His meals had even been reduced again, this time to six. Although that was still double the amount of a normal person, it was a significant change for Alois.
-He really is going to lose weight.
As happy as she should be about that, there was a sense of unease as well.
Is it really going to work out so easily? Considering just who this man was, won’t he inevitably relapse?
-If he really loses weight, then won’t we really be married as well?
That was another thing.
Camilla truly did want to slim Alois down and turn him into a proper man.
She still held that conviction tightly. She would return to the capital arm in arm with a completely new and handsome Alois to confront Liselotte, as well as Therese and Prince Julian. As for the newspapers that had painted Camilla as a villain, she would show them all as well.
‘What do you think of the people you made light of now?’ She would say. And so she would laugh heartily at the regret and frustration of everyone who had wronged her.
But, after all that laughter…
She can’t imagine what happens next.
If Camilla married Alois… What exactly would her future hold?