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Common Sense of a Duke’s Daughter
Chapter 89: Okaa-sama’s Past
*Okaa-sama means “Mother”. This chapter is a dialogue between Iris and Mellice Armelia.
Oto-sama means “Father”. That is Louis Armelia. Also, this chapter heavily references to the prequel of this novel, “Common Sense of a Warrior”.
I elegantly sipped my tea in the salon. Normally, I would gaze at the decorative flowers, and calm my mind at the sight of their beauty…. But today, I couldn’t remain composed.
“Ah, Iris-chan, what happened? What’s with the long face?” Mother appeared with her luminous, gentle voice.
“You, over there, I would like the same drink as Iris-chan.” Mother sat down next to me after instructing the servant.
“Taking a break?”
“….. Mm, I’m just a little tired.”
“You can’t bet your life on your work. Ugh, you’re just like your father.” Okaa-sama’s “fufufu” chuckling was beautiful, as always. Even the lifting of her teacup to her lips was charming. Even though she was my mother, I felt bashful. “Truly? Only because you’re tired? Do you have anything else on your mind?”
Hearing Mother’s words, I tensed in surprise. Was someone like me actually that transparent?
“…. Iris-chan, would you like to take a walk outside? If you’re shut indoors all day, your thoughts will fixate on all the bad things.” As she spoke, Mother snatched my hand, pulled me up, and began walking.
Although she had a slender appearance, Mother was unexpectedly strong. She dragged me along her steps. I looked back, and the servants seemed confused and frantic. They didn’t know how to respond to her actions.
….. So I was dragged on for a few more minutes. Somehow, I ended up on a horse cart, and we wobbled forward for ten or so minutes.
We climbed up a long, daunting set of cobblestone stairs. Finally, I stood atop a high tower overlooking the Royal City.
“…. So pretty….” I sighed in appreciation of the view. We were close to the floating clouds, and warm sunlight enveloped my body. Under the sun’s brilliance, the Royal City looked even more captivating than usual.
“Mm, indeed, Iris-chan.”
“Okaa-sama, this is….”
“This place is the watchtower for the Royal City Guard. Right now, it should be under the army’s custody.”
“….. We were actually allowed in?” To put simply, this was the military’s property. Even as aristocrats, I was surprised that we could enter as citizens.
“With your grandfather’s name it was easy.” For Mother to talk about things like this so carelessly was really something to respect about her.
“…. When I was a child, I would come here if something happened to me. So naturally, I’m familiar with the guards.” Mother smiled gently.
“…. Okaa-sama, what would bother you back then?”
“Hehehe…. Like when I got into an argument with my father, or when I lost against him in a duel.” Mother looked very cheerful as she spoke. “Also, I would come here when one of my dreams fell apart.”
“Okaa-sama’s, dreams? ….. Okaa-sama, what kind….” Mother’s dreams… I couldn’t imagine them at all. This woman, dubbed the “Flower of Society”, was praised with honor and held the nation’s awe. I felt that no matter what she wanted, she would definitely obtain it. I couldn’t imagine a single dream Mother would have given up.
“Back then, I wanted to serve in the military.”
My pupils dilated as I heard the startling answer. “…. In the military?”
“Mm…. I trained in combat from a young age. That was because my mother’s life was taken by bandits.”
As I listened to this completely unknown story, I was bewildered again.
“My father’s grief at the time was truly something. The man who gained many victories and maintained the security of his kingdom…. would have never imagined he would be powerless to protect his wife; even less, that her life would be taken by the same citizens he protected.”
My chest hurt.
A glorious warrior…. The savior of the battlefield. My praised and respected grandfather wasn’t able to shield my grandmother from harm….
And, to imagine she was killed by a citizen of this kingdom….
“So, after my mother passed away…. I began studying combat. Father didn’t stop me. I didn’t learn manners or anything other aristocrat girls learned, I was just like any meat-headed boy.”
I didn’t know how to respond to this newfound knowledge. The conversation with my mother has honestly shocked me today.
Was this the Okaa-sama?
To think that Mother who was labelled the textbook aristocratic wife, never learned etiquette or courtesies when she was young.
“…. Was it because of Father’s instruction, or that I indeed had innate talent as he claimed? Forget about other kids my age, I never even lost to the adults older than my father. In my memory, he was the only one I lost to.” Mother smiled as she talked, but my mouth didn’t curve in the slightest. “…. I didn’t know when, but I decided to become a soldier to protect the country just as my father did.”
“…. However, the people who took Grandmother’s life were still the nation’s citizens. Why would….”
“Indeed…. Just as you said, I despised the bandits who murdered my mother, and didn’t understand why my father would continue protecting the country even after her death. Hatred or simply the desire to learn to protect myself? To be honest, I even I don’t know the reason why I trained in combat to this day.” A shadow fell on my mother’s smile. Under the sunlight, somehow I felt that Mother’s grin was counterfeit.
“So, that’s likely why I became like this…. When Father finally caught the bandits involved in that murder case, for a period of time, my heart felt extremely empty. Why was I studying combat? I lost my ambition…. At that time, I came here to brood a lot. Why did I seek the knowledge of battle? I ruminated, and ruminated some more…. Thanks to this dazzling panorama, my emotions cleared.”
“See….” Mother pointed to the amazing view. There were tides of people, as well as beautiful streets and avenues. “In each of these buildings, there are individual people…. Because they are ‘living’, they laugh, cry, and have their own everyday routines. I thought…. How beautiful, how precious!”
“Yes, there are those who become bandits and the like, but there are also many helpless citizens. To prevent something like my family’s tragedy from falling upon someone else, to prevent people from weeping in sorrow, to preserve the spectacle in front of us right now; I would protect all this even if it were to soak my hands in fresh blood.”
An abrupt jolt of understanding coursed through my heart.
“…. So, you’ve kept that mindset ever since childhood…?”
“Maybe it was because I lost my precious mother and didn’t want to lose anybody else that I had such a determined resolution.”
“However, reality is cruel. As for why I didn’t join, it’s because the military restricts recruitment of women. A man who lost to me in a duel reminded me of that, and I crashed into that iron wall. My dreams were shattered to bits.”
Those men were truly…. Cowardly. I knew it was all in the past, but I still felt a twinge of fury. If I felt this way as a third-party, how did my mother feel back then?
“Haven’t you thought of becoming a knight?” The knight’s position was open to some women. This was so female members of the royal family could be protected.
“I didn’t study combat to protect the royal family. And, to put it bluntly, female knights are only a decoration.”
It was true. I nodded.
Female knights didn’t require a lot of skill. They were kept far away from battle because if a woman were to appear in the front lines, she would be immediately targeted as a weakness.
“….At that time, I came here again. But, this time I was truly hopeless, since my newfound goal had faded into mist once again.”
Her desire for revenge had disappeared and her dream had died.
…. After listening to Mother’s past, I amended my thoughts of her permanently.
“Then, I met your old man here.”
“Mm. Back then, his father was still the Prime Minister. He also found this place and began visiting regularly.”
…. I suddenly thought, was this tower’s security really fine? Well, as long as there was nobody unfamiliar…. Right?
“I was crying right next to him, but your old man didn’t notice and kept staring at the view. It’s embarrassing to think of it now, but I opened a can of whoop-ass* on him since he was intruding upon the only place I enjoyed to being at.” Mother started to blush, still flustered by her first meeting with my father. “However, your old man educated me.”
*I know it’s unprofessional, but “opening a can of whoop-ass” sounds cooler.
“Yep. ‘If you’re going to give up now, that means your dream only amounted to this much after all.’”
To throw such rock-solid words at a crying lady did sound like Oto-sama’s style. And for Okaa-sama to talk about that memory so cheerfully lived up to her reputation.
“He asked me: ‘Why, did you train yourself in the art of combat? To gain honor within the army? Or to protect citizens? If it’s the first one, then cry all you want. But if it’s the latter, then is there really a reason to bawl?’ He said to me.”
“….. If it’s the latter, then is there really a reason to bawl?”
“Yes, indeed. Your old man probably meant to say, ‘You’ve been considering your methods and goals as the same.’”
So that was how it was, I understood now.
“Your old man told me this, “If protection is your goal, then you’ve only lost one method, and there are other means, more than you could possibly count, that can uphold the people’s lives. I myself do not wish to achieve this through warfare, rather with politics…. However though I say that, I still have distance to go to reach my father’s level.’ I felt a huge shock upon hearing those words…. And I felt reborn. Afterwards, I started dating your father, and gained a great amount of respect for him. I sank into the river of love with your father beside me, and eventually married…. Then, I walked into another battlefield.”
“Yes, indeed. Aristocracy is a completely different arena.” As she spoke, Mother smiled brightly, and looked very proud…. Her image was absolutely stunning.
Then, I started to laugh.
It’s an arena, indeed.
“…. Okaa-sama, I’m very grateful you brought me here today. Can I…. stay here for a little while longer?”
“Mm, of course.”