< — Damian — > (2)
A jet-black carriage hurried across the streets of Roam.
Taking a closer look at the little black wooden carriage, one could find the motif of a black lion drawn on it.
The black carriage was so fascinating that people stopped what they were doing to look at it when it first appeared.
The black wood used as the main material of the carriage was as strong as steel, and is said to have been used by the military in the past.
And because many people withered to death from the sickness gotten from the natural habitat of the black wood, the price of the black wood had now surpassed that of gold.
Hugo had made this carriage of black wood for the safety of his wife, so Lucia often went out in a carriage that was fit for a King.
At this point, people already knew who was inside whenever the black carriage passed by.
Most people would never get to see the faces of the ones inside such a carriage in their lifetime because the ones inside were in such a high position.
And so, when the carriage appeared, they just watched it till it was out of their sight.
When the carriage crossed the bridge and entered the gates, the sound of a horn was heard. The black horse carriage carrying Lucia continued to run and stopped in front of the deepest inner tower in the Roam Castle.
The servants were all outside to greet the Lady. When Lucia returned from her horse riding, just as usual, she took a bath then sat in the receiving room, drinking the fragrant tea that Jerome served.
“Did you enjoy your outing, Milady?” (Jerome)
“I enjoyed it. Emily is a really kind child, she followed my clumsy instructions very well.”
Her favorite horse, Emily was a nice and well-trained mare that Hugo had given to her.
Lucia didn’t really know much about horses but when she looked at its glossy appearance she could guess it was a good horse.
Whenever Lucia heard compliments about its loveliness, she just shrugged her shoulders.
“Who said such a thing? Even if you had 10 horses, you can’t replace Emily. She is a very expensive horse.”
“Yes. It seems that way.”
As it was not polite to discuss the price of his master’s gift, Jerome did not say the details. Lucia didn’t ask either, but she was thankful that Hugo thought about her and gave her precious horse as a gift.
‘I miss him…’
“When is he coming back?”
“Yes? Ah… I don’t know exactly, but it can be long. I think it will be about a month.”
“A month…? What exactly is going on? I know it’s work in the fief…”
Before, she was not interested in what he was doing, but now she wanted to know more about it.
“Some parts are about the fief, others are not. It is something Master goes to do annually.”
Jerome tried to emphasize that his master’s suddenly departure was only for work reasons and definitely not for a private reason. He did not know about the dramatic reconciliation of the couple.
“Milady already knows that the northern border is close to the barbarians. They is no central tribe so from time to time, they cross the border to plunder. Master subdues them once a year to keep them in check.”
“Then, every year, he leaves at this time of the year?”
“This year is earlier than other years. He usually leaves early in the winter. I heard that an order to dispatch arrived. It seems that the barbarians haven’t been payed much attention to after the war, so their plundering became more frequent.”
“It must be hard for the Northern people who continuously get anxious because of this.”
“If they do not live close to the border, I do not think they would be anxious. Things are quite different when you looks at it from afar.”
Lucia nodded her head, sipping a little tea then suddenly exclaimed.
“Oh my goodness! How could I forget? Isn’t today his birthday Jerome?”
The birthday date that Jerome had reminded her of before, was exactly today. She had kept it in her mind but had forgotten about it because they were fighting.
“I should have told him before he left. It’s his birthday but he won’t receive any congratulation, he’ll just be fighting barbarians.”
She felt so sad for him that her heart hurt.
“Mmm… Milady, Master had never taken care of his birthday separately.”
“I expected that. Who would take care of his birthday like that? Only the people around him can.”
“That…he doesn’t like being reminded of it.”
“I don’t really know much. However I often get the feeling that not only about his birthday, Master also dislikes being reminded of his childhood.”
Jerome never spoke of anything he was unsure of or carelessly speak his mind but because she looked very sad, he gave a sincere reply.
‘So he doesn’t have any memories he wants to remember from his childhood…’
That was a sad thing.
Lucia lived a difficult life and there was a moment in her life where her memory was perfect. She was happy until she was twelve years old. The times when she lived with her mother as a child were happy times.
The story of the Duke’s tragedy in the west tower once again rose to the forefront of Jerome’s mind. It was a terrible thing at the time and he shouldn’t think of it nor speak of it so he tried to forget it.
However the thought always arose whenever he laid eyes on the west tower, and as time went on, he grew more interested in the background story than the murder itself.
The dead Duke had abandoned one of his sons to stop misfortune and left him to his own fate. As he did something no parent should ever do, he brought it upon himself.
“Jerome, you said you’ve never met the late Duke before, right?”
“Yes. I have served master ever since he became a knight.”
“This may just be my prejudice but I think he was a very heartless man.”
Jerome hesitated for a moment before speaking.
“From the little fragments that I have gathered, I don’t think my thoughts differ very much from Milady’s.”