3 – 4
In the territory of Mohnton, there were five major cities, including the capital.
The capital was located in the southern reaches of the Duchy. In the east, there was Falsch. Blume lay in the west. To the north, Grenze. And finally, almost dead in the centre of the territory, there was the town of Einst. Of course, there were smaller towns, hamlets and villages spread out between these major towns.
Each of the noble founding families had varying degrees of influence in these major towns.
Of course, the Montchat family held the most sway in the capital.
Falsch, a prosperous mountain town that thrives on magical research and technology development, was the power base of the Ende family.
Blume was under the protection of the House of Lörrich. Known in the territory for its relatively agreeable climate, its main exports sprang from the very profitable perfume business ran there.
In the past, Grenze was under the control of the Brandt family, but that’s no longer the case. Due to its manastone mining and new trading opportunities, it had grown into one of the biggest towns in Mohnton over the past ten years.
Before Grenze’s rise, Einst was the largest town behind the capital. Equally famous for manastone mining, this town under the control of the Meyerheim family still continues the mining operations.
Did Alois study so hard that he could just imagine a completed map of this land in his mind?
For Camilla, meanwhile, she felt like she had studied more over the past month than she had in a lifetime.
Was it Gerda that had called Alois diligent before? It’s aggravating to agree with her, but she can’t help but concede that point. If anything, Alois is too diligent. It was as if he was hopelessly in love with studying.
If only he devoted some of that passion to improving his appearance a little more instead.
But the dispirited Camilla could only think about that begrudging remark, as she suffered through another study session with Alois.
A chilly wind whistled through the open window.
In the Montchat residence where winter had well and truly arrived, taking a morning or afternoon meal out in the courtyard was something more akin to a punishment. So, the two took them in Alois’ private room instead, whilst they had their study session.
From the very founding of the Mohnton territory all the way until the present day. Alois’ lectures seemed to go on forever. Judging by the history lessons, it doesn’t seem there had been too much advancement in Mohnton until recent years. Alois tried to get Camilla engaged and interested by sometimes striking up conversations about the topics he was talking about with her, but she was struggling to wrap her head around the huge amount of information he was presenting.
How on earth have you memorized all this? As Camilla spat that out in complaint, Alois laughed with a troubled-looking smile.
“My parents always wanted me to become a proper lord.”
So to that end, he set out to learn everything there was to know about the territory of Mohnton.
Alois’ parents had long since passed away. So in a sense, he was following something like their last wishes, though he was a little embarrassed to admit it.
What’s more, during their study sessions, Alois was so passionate about teaching Camilla that he usually forgot to eat anything. In a roundabout way, all of this fit perfectly into Camilla’s plans to reduce Alois’ diet and make him into a more handsome man.
– Well, one could say that.
Deceiving herself into thinking that this was her plan for these miserable study sessions all along, that cold wind tickled her face as it peeled through the room.
She thought that the numbness she felt on her skin afterwards was due to the chill, but the sensation was oddly different. The tingling on her cheeks felt similar to a slight burn on her skin.
“…The miasma in the air has become even stronger.”
Camilla said that quietly, as she touched a hand to her numbed cheek.
She heard that it was the fault of a bout of bad weather, but over the past several months there hadn’t been any sign of the miasma weakening at all. If anything, even Camilla who had no real magical power to speak of was beginning to feel the effects of the miasma more vigorously than before.
And whilst obviously the incidences of Nicole breaking things due to being unable to control her magical power were on the rise, she had noticed that other servants with some magical power were beginning to suffer from the same as well.
For Camilla, though, the main issue was the effect on her skin. Since Camilla wasn’t acclimatized to the weather of Mohnton, she seemed to suffer more compared to others around her level of magical power. The cream she had been using was becoming less and less effective in keeping her skin from drying out and becoming rough, so it was becoming a real headache for her.
At the moment, she didn’t even have time to worry about Alois’ skin condition. She had to put herself first.
How can she possibly convince Alois to look after himself if she was in such a state? That was Camilla’s line of thought. For now, her number one priority was to find a way to find some sort of makeup or cream that could stop the looming disaster threatening her skin.
Meanwhile, Alois had no idea about Camilla’s inner turmoil.
“You’re right about that. I thought that it wouldn’t last long, but it really doesn’t seem to show any signs of stopping.”
Whilst Camilla had spoken quietly, Alois, in contrast, had a grim expression. Unlike Camilla, his worry had nothing at all to do with skin care troubles.
“Something could potentially happen at one of the mines. I’ve already sent word to Grenze and Einst to cease mining operations there and keep everyone away from the manastone veins. It might be necessary to evacuate soon, not to mention all the other smaller mining towns.”
The manastone veins. When she heard that, Camilla remembered the two foremost mines in Mohnton that had been drilled into her head during the study sessions.
The first was Grenze. The manastone vein in Grenze was located in the depths of a swamp. Since the manastone are simply extracted out of the single marsh, it’s easy to understand exactly where the vein flowed.
The other was the manastone vein at Einst. Just like Grenze, it was located in the deepest part of the swamps. However, unlike Grenze, Einst had mined swamps dry in their desire for manastones in the past. It wasn’t possible to easily judge exactly where the original vein was anymore. They would have to make a rough estimate based on the swamp that was currently being excavated as well as the positions of the previous ones in the records.
“When new manastones are mined, it increases the amount of miasma released into the air. It’s a commonly held belief that the miasma that escapes into the air once a manastone is excavated is actually the remains of spirits that couldn’t crystallize into the stone. That miasma can have terrible effects on people with high magical powers as well people like that may completely lose control if they carelessly came into contact with it.”
Camilla had heard from Alois that in times gone by, many people died in accidents as a result of manastone mining.
Wherever there are manastones, there is inevitably a high degree of magical energy. When those magical energies clashed together, the results could prove fatal. The magical power of the manastones, the magical miasma in the air and the magical power of the human beings themselves. Deadly accidents when these forces came into violent clashes with each other in the past were too numerous to list off.
The miasma spouting from the manastone excavation sites wasn’t as powerful as it was in the distant past, however, and identification of manastone veins had advanced. When it comes to the mining operations themselves, accidents had sharply decreased due to a practice of keeping someone skilled in magic with the miners, in order to watch for spikes in magical energy that could lead to an accident. Still, though, the danger couldn’t be eliminated entirely.
“Manastones may be useful, but they’re also dangerous at the same time… I really hope that I’m just worried about nothing.”
Alois breathed those words out gloomily, as he looked towards the open window.
The dark clouds that covered the miasma filled sky stretched out far beyond the horizon of that swampy land.