3 – 7
Unfortunately, everyone has their limits.
“I have to stay in a place like this!?”
It was the second day of their stay in Einst.
Camilla, who was intending to leave to go along with the consolation visits, yelled that at the servant who was blocking her from exiting through the door.
Alois and his retinue had already departed. Apparently, they had to leave beforehand in order to hold talks or an inspection, something along those lines.
When leaving, she remembered Alois giving her a look she found suspicious. ‘I am going ahead, please don’t do anything rash’ was what he had said to her. Looking back, she realized Alois must have been aware.
Don’t get angry, stay calm and think rationally. If something happens, send a messenger. If there are any strange fluctuations in the miasma, leave the town at once and head towards the forest… That was all well and good for him to say. Alois’ advice before he departed must have predicted Camilla’s current state.
– If you knew that this was going to happen, then why not just take me with you!?
At the very least, if he had warned her properly, she might have been ready to cope with it. Was Alois, one who often kept a wall around himself, still keeping her at a distance? As if he didn’t trust her with his true thoughts?
But right now, Alois wasn’t the real target of her anger. The two male servants and the older woman standing front and center before her were the bigger nuisances in her mind.
“I came here for a consolatory visit! If I have to stay cooped up here, then what was the point in me even coming!?”
“The people of this town you’ve come to visit don’t know anything about you.”
The old woman spoke firmly. She may be leaning heavily on that cane with a hunched back, but it seemed like her mind was still strong. Her wrinkled face looked stern and her grey hair was tightly braided behind her head.
She was one of the most influential people in this town. Her name was Martha ans she was the chief advisor to the mayor. As the younger sister-in-law of the current head of the Meyerheim family,she was also an aunt to Vilmer, the head butler back at the Montchat estate.
“If this was Grenze, then perhaps the people might recognize you. However, this is your first visit to the town of Einst. If a woman who they had never seen before suddenly appeared, the townsfolk may be confused.”
“Are you upset because I went to Grenze first!?”
It was utterly unreasonable and narrow-minded. Camilla glared at the old woman as she thought so, but Martha’s expression didn’t change at all.
“No, not at all, I am merely telling you the facts about how the people in this town feel.”
Martha’s tone wasn’t harsh, but she spoke with an air of indifference. The two manservants flanking her didn’t react at all to the conversation, as if they were dolls.
Because of that disquieting attitude, Camilla’s anger only grew.
“This town doesn’t know you as a person at all. All we know are your circumstances, such as how you were exiled from the capital of the kingdom. Even if the villain who interfered with the love story between Prince Julian and Lady Liselotte came for a consolatory visit, the townsfolk would only distrust you.”
“…What did you say?”
“I am trying to explain to you just how you will be seen by the people in this town. That doesn’t mean those are my personal feelings. However, the townsfolk here undoubtedly see you as a villainess of sorts. A woman full of base cunning who tormented Lady Liselotte and was exiled from the capital, now using her evil wiles to take advantage of Lord Alois who is still inexperienced around women.”
Camilla was at a loss for words. As the absolutely undisguised barrage of insults struck her head on, Camilla’s shoulders trembled. She had come to this town prepared for some level of unpleasantry, but to not get angry about something like this was beyond her. Blood rose to her head and only curses swam through her mind.
How boorish!? How dense!? How impertinent!? How utterly unbelievable…!?
“…You rude old woman!”
Before Camilla could shout out, a high pitched voice cut through the air. Nicole jumped out from behind Camilla and screamed that at Martha. As she stepped forward, it looked like she was about to reach out and grab Martha’s collar.
“How dare you say something like that to the Lady of the Montchat family…!”
But, her hand was grabbed by both the manservants that flanked Martha. As they gripped her arm with excessive amounts of strength, Nicole’s grimaced in pain as she cried out.
“Please refrain from such barbaric behaviour in this town.”
“Let Nicole go at once!”
“As you wish.”
At Camilla’s demanded with a yell, the two manservants obeyed. Releasing Nicole’s arm without a moment of hesitation, they returned to where they stood. Compared to their calm and cool behaviour, Camilla was beginning to see red as the heat gathered in her head.
As Nicole staggered backwards and Camilla caught her in an embrace, she raised her voice.
“Just what makes you people think that you will get away with this!?”
The rigid and wizened old woman, Martha, bent over her cane. The servants on her left and right, of which you could see their strong muscles underneath their coats. Martha’s hair had completely greyed, butthe two manservants still had the same shade of brown hair that was unique to the Meyerheim family. They stood expressionless as well. The man on the right was slightly taller than his fellow and the only on the left had a beauty spot under his eye. Their skin was so white and smooth that she could have mistaken it for a mask.
Camilla committed all of their faces to her mind. By all means, she was going to tell Alois everything about this. Camilla wasn’t one to forget a grudge, after all.
“You ought to hope that Lord Alois’ trip today never ends! Because once he gets back, all of you will be disposed of!”
“Shall you be taking my head then?”
Martha said that plainly in response to Camilla’s angry shout, causing her to frown at the suddenly severe words.
Martha looked into Camilla’s eyes as she leaned on her cane.
“Although I was only telling you how the people in this town felt, if you feel insulted, then it cannot be helped. This old woman will offer you her head. Yes, all I did was convey the feelings of the town, but even though it wasn’t my intention, I’ve clearly committed an unforgivable crime.”
You are the narrow-minded one. Martha didn’t say it, but that was the clear intent behind her words. It was an indirect thrust against Camilla, who thought that way of Einst herself. Feeling the very depths of that ill-will, Camilla felt a shiver run up her spine.
“After you take off my head, the townsfolk will only fear you more. But if I didn’t say a word, that wouldn’t change how people in this town saw you either. Everyone working in this mansion feels the same way.”
Martha raised her head and indicated their surroundings with her chin. Looking behind her, Camilla could sense that the scene in the entrance hall was being watched by a myriad of eyes.
From the corridor, on the other sides of doors and behind the pillars. The servants held their breath, closely watching the confrontation between Martha and Camilla.
None of them said a word. None of them moved a muscle. It was as if they were acting as a monolith under some unseen commander. The way they stared at Camilla wasn’t with a look full of curiosity, yet it wasn’t a glare of naked hostility either. They simply observed her with that very same sense of indifference.
She felt a chill.
– It really is strange…!
“If you really are the awful person like in the rumours, then you should have no issues with having me disposed of. That way, I wouldn’t be able to oppose you going on your consolation visit, after all. Please feel free to shake hands with the townsfolk, whilst yours are covered in blood.”
The conversation had suddenly gone to a disturbing place. If anything, it had become dangerous and it was moving faster than she could keep up.
But, Camilla knew that even if she denounced this old woman, it would be utterly meaningless.
If Martha was gone, someone else would just take her place. The servants in this mansion… Rather, perhaps all the people in this town were like trained soldiers. They didn’t know fear and would stand in her way on command.
It was an eerie and uncomfortable thought. Yet even if it sickened her, she couldn’t think of a way to win in this situation. No matter what Camilla did, even if she had shouted or threatened this woman as much as she could, even if she for some reason had this woman’s head taken off… It wouldn’t change a thing.
The words that came from Martha’s lips wouldn’t disappear even if she died, that intrinsic threat against Camilla.
“…I shall be returning to my room.”
Camilla gripped her hands into fists and chewed her lip in resentment as she quietly said that.
“I deeply appreciate your understanding.”
Martha spoke emotionlessly as she nodded her head. The men on her left and right didn’t change their facial expression at all.
“I will show you back to your room.”
One of the maids who had been watching the affair unfold emerged from the shadows to lead Camilla.
Camilla felt a deep sense of aggravation as she followed along behind her.
Edited by: ApoPie