A Grudge that Defies Death
The woman in front of me was the very same one who had me framed and murdered.
She gazed at me with a smile that was as bright as the sun.
That kind looks of hers seemed full of affection. But, if you truly looked into those eyes, they told a different story.
“Oh dear, oh my… Whatever is the problem? My adorable Maria.”
The woman said that and reached her hand out to me, the young girl in front of her.
“When your mother calls, you really ought to come to her at once. Since you are my daughter, could you please refrain from this sort of foolish behaviour?”
(Mother? …You? Mine?)
Even though those were the thoughts that ran through my mind, I still smiled back innocently at her.
“Yes. I’m sorry, mother.”
I ran over to the woman who called herself my mother and hugged her tightly. As I did, it felt like the embers of hatred in my heart were being stoked into an inferno.
(…I will never forgive you…)
I can never forget what this woman did to me.
…Never. I won’t forgive you, ever! Never never never! Not just this woman, but everyone involved from back then…!
(Lilith. I will take my revenge.)
Surely, that was the reason why God gave me a second chance at life, as this woman’s daughter.
“Maria, Nina, come here at once… Although I shall be taking over your care from henceforth, I will warn you not to make any trouble for me.”
I could still remember the voice of the father I had in my previous life.
As that mansion loomed large in front of us, when that luxurious carriage we traveled in pulled up, he stood in front of the large retinue of servants that had been arranged to receive us.
Surrounded by things completely alien to the sort of life we had lived up until that point, my sister and I tensed up in front of our father.
“I will tell you now, but my wife has no patience for foolish girls. Your mother was always very lackadaisical… Well, that is to be expected of such low blood. She was fun at the time, but she truly has caused me a headache by up and dying like this.”
“Come along, quickly. I will not stand for hysterics from either of you.”
As he said that, I in that previous life desperately followed after him, holding the hand of my younger sister. Back then, I told myself that crying wouldn’t solve a thing.
“The Mistress of Duke Wenschlee has passed away”
I heard about those rumours floating through the city, even though I was only eleven at the time.
The Mistress of Duke Wenschlee, that was the name that people gave my mother when they spoke of her in hushed whispers.
I didn’t truly understand what that meant, all I knew was that my mother’s death had caused a stir. When they saw us in tears after it had happened, the people nearby often took pity and gave us bread. ‘Your poor things’, ‘To leave such pretty daughters behind’, those were the kinds of things they would say as we cried.
“Is the Duke not going to take either of you in?”
“I heard that the madam of that household is very hard-headed, it’s unthinkable that she would accept him taking in the daughters of his mistress.”
As that kind of gossip swirled, that ‘father’ of ours who we had not seen for years suddenly appeared before us.
“Let’s go home”, father had said in a booming voice, with the intent of letting everyone around hear it.
“Maria, Nina. My wife also wishes to welcome you into our home with open arms. We already have a ten-year-old daughter of our own, but our household could only become happier if she had some more sisters to play with.”
With those words, my younger sister Nina and I were whisked away in that gilded carriage.
The servants that were lined up studied Nina and me intensely with their eyes. We had never met the man our father called his ‘wife’ before, but it didn’t seem like she had come to meet us. That suffocating atmosphere clamped like a vice around our hearts.
Just then, a young girl who looked like a fairy ran down the garden path from the mansion.
Just like Nina and I, her hair was golden blonde, the colour of honey. That girl with fluffy hair and sparkling eyes looked at us with a shining and warm expression the moment we caught her eye.
“So these are my new sisters, Mary and Nina!? Wow, it’s so good to meet you…!”
“Now, now, Lilith.”
Despite her father’s chiding, the girl wrapped the two of us in an embrace. She didn’t hide her joy as she cried out happily.
“I’ve wanted to meet you two for such a long time! Big sister Maria, please teach me lots of new ways to play, okay!? Nina, your big sister Lilith will read you lots of picture books too. I hope we can get along and play together lots from now on!”
I couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment as that fairy showed us a beautiful warm smile. My sister Nina’s face had turned a bright shade of red, but she still nodded happily.
(Even in a place like this… There’s at least one person who will really welcome us…?)
The girl I used to be in my previous life stupidly believed something as naïve as that.
As sisters… I thought that both Nina and I might be able to survive this cold and foreboding place if we had someone like Lilith by our side, who was as bright as a sun.
What a terrible mistake that was.