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I Reincarnated As A Noble Girl Villainess But Why Did It Turn Out This Way? – 243
Part 4 “Appropriation” – Introduction
Episode 21 Back to Square One
The firewood made a satisfying cracking sound as I split it open. After quickly setting up the next piece of firewood, I swung the hatchet down again. By first making the hatchet bite into the firewood and then swinging it down a second time, the firewood was easily split in two.
This was a simple task, but it didn’t bore me at all, and in fact, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
However, come to think of it, that might have been my first time chopping wood in the royal capital.
Three days had passed since Claudia’s visit, and I had completely recovered from my fever.
I was glad to have recovered, but the work that was sent from the domain after that had been clearly reduced.
I didn’t know what to do in my spare time, so when I went out to the garden, I found firewood and a hatchet, and before I realized, I was chopping wood so casually.
I used to chop wood in my spare time back in the domain, but my days in the royal capital have been quite hectic. I was bound to do both what needed to be done here, and what needed to be done for the domain.
However, the work for the domain seemed to have subsided for the time being.
Needless to say, that had been Claudia’s doing.
Apparently, the residents of Ilju village, who had asked for work several times, were quietly drawn into the territory management.
As long as there was capable manpower to take care of it, Oscar’s work could be properly entrusted to that manpower. Since that was the case, Oscar could in turn handle the work that had been assigned to me.
It wasn’t an unusual amount of work for Oscar, but neither he nor his wife seemed to have any complaints about it, so I didn’t press the matter any further.
In short, I was no longer busy, so there was no longer any excuse for me to escape from that beauty pageant.
I couldn’t remember much about the particulars in the game anymore.
However, as a child of a nobleman who attended the House of Lords and was the head of the family on top of that, I naturally knew what kind of event it was.
The Shanaku Priestess.
At the Advent Festival, she would play the part of the Goddess Misorua, performing dances and songs in front of the most influential people of the country, including His Majesty the King, and handing the crown to the prince.
Regarding the day of worship of Kusha Femma’s descent upon this world, Shanaku, who was said to have brought the priestess Kusha Femma, would be treated as the most important being, so the priestess to represent her would be selected going by a very specific structure.
The appointed person changed every year, but that person would be especially prominent if she were to be nominated by both the queen and the chief priest of the Shanaku Shrine.
After all, the priestess would be chosen as a representative of female students from all over the country, in other words, she would be treated as a role model for the next generation of the nation.
Specifically, she would be treated as someone graced by both the queen and the Shanaku Shrine.
Since it will be a competition between second and third graders, the third graders would usually have the upper hand, and with that, they would have the right to transfer to a more advanced academy, being adopted into the family of a powerful nobleman, or have their marriage arranged after their graduation.
The academies themselves would be selecting 10 students from each grade for entry, taking into consideration their family backgrounds and grades.
Emilia’s nomination… must have been due to the influence of the higher-ups.
I still don’t know how they would eventually deal with her. The idea of the “Imperial Court”, centered on the expulsion of Albert and the case of Alfred’s investiture of the Crown Prince, was beyond my understanding.
In other words, I don’t have enough information, nothing I could use to begin to form an understanding of it.
Of course, I wasn’t willing to know the secrets of the backbone of our nation. I already had my hands full with being Emilia’s escort. I really wanted to stay away from any further trouble.
After graduating from the academy, I wanted to concentrate on developing the domain.
I didn’t want to be separated from the land of Kaldia because of the circumstances of the royal palace.
My life was for the redemption of the people of Kaldia.
I planned to sacrifice myself following Earl Terejia’s teachings, I would even become a cogwheel of the state, but even as such. I didn’t want to be refitted elsewhere.
“Lady Eliza, we should get ready to depart soon.”
“Ah, you’re right, Reka.”
Nodding to Reka, who had suddenly appeared, I finally lowered my hatchet. I had split quite a lot of firewood already. With Reka’s help, we quickly cleaned up the area, and then, after wiping off the sweat from my body, I changed into the outfit that Ratoka had prepared for me, and arranged my hair.
Priest Faris had expressly said to ask Earl Terejia. I couldn’t help but do as he said.
For that reason, I made up my mind to quickly get my convalescent body going.
I didn’t really visit the Earl’s residence very often.
However, with each visit, I noticed that the number of people in the house had been gradually decreasing.
“It’s nice to see you. It might strike you as a bit abrupt, but I’ve left my post at the royal palace. I’m going to settle my property, but there are some things I want Oscar to inherit. Is that okay?”
Earl Terejia greeted me in his bed, which was straddled over with a custom-made desk that was covered with a pile of documents.
I was so awestruck that I forgot to even say hello. Earl Terejia was trying to start talking by doing away with greetings and such to begin with, but such things as saying a simple hello had disappeared from my head anyway.
No matter how relaxed and dignified he had shown himself to be up until now, the earl, who had always arranged himself as much as he could, clearly did not look like was in any shape to be meeting with people.
Don’t tell me… It’s already that–?
The Earl’s inquisitive voice snapped me back to reality, but I still couldn’t hide my confusion. He was unimaginably different from the man he was when I visited him last time.
“Earl Terejia… I haven’t received any word that you weren’t feeling well…”
“Well, that’s obvious. Because I have no reason to send such a word out.”
“I have officially left my job and am now retired. I think it’s okay to dress comfortably because the only people who come to this house are relatives who don’t have to worry about appearances anymore.”
As he said that while flipping through the documents on his desk, Earl Terejia was a completely retired man.
Did the air around him really change that much just by quitting his job? He used to have remnants of a tense aura around him, but now they were almost nonexistent.
If I were to speak badly of him, I’d say he seemed quite flat and lifeless… But let’s not do that.
For the first time ever, I was looking at a completely relaxed version of him.
“…I have the utmost respect for you, for all your long years of service. At any rate, congratulations on your retirement.”
When I finally recovered from the shock, all I could do was squeeze out a boring, standard compliment, to which the earl replied with a “Hmph!” as if he had been shocked by it. I’m sorry for being such an unworthy ward.
“So, you were saying something about the inheritance of your property?”
Earl Terejia nodded as I returned to the main topic.
“I was thinking of leaving half of my property to inheritance. The other half will go to the head family.”
“Understood. I’ll have Oscar take care of it.”
“Thanks. Also… You seem to have gotten yourself caught into another unsettling situation, haven’t you?”
It was as if the earl had said “What a hopeless person”, to which I shrugged my shoulders. The whole deal with Melchior had been quite unexpected even to me, and it was impossible for me to avoid it.
It was a shame that Priest Faris had to go out of his way to deal with him.
“The election of the Shanaku Priestess is more of a concern at the moment for me.”
After briefly explaining the situation with Melchior, and speaking my mind frankly about the true state of affairs, Earl Terejia nodded as he let out a “Hmm.”
“There’s only so much a single person can have on their plate.”
“Certainly. I haven’t been attending the lady’s classes, which is the basis for selecting the priestess.”
That in itself was a big problem.
In other words, I had no idea what exactly what kind of tasks a candidate needed to do in order to have a chance at becoming the next priestess. No measures had been taken against Emilia’s election as the priestess, who was by now almost a certainty.
The earl, who had omitted most of my ladies’ education, made a sour face for an instant before returning to his usual “great guardian” face, and with a cool and collected nod, he said “Let’s cooperate as much as possible.”