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    Translated by alyalia
    Edited by 5uyash


     

    As soon as Cersinia got home, she immediately buried herself in the sofa. It was an old cabin located in a sparsely wooded area, quite far from the village. This place, which was difficult to find unless you’ve been there, was Cersinia’s house. Looking up you could figure that the old, worn-out cabin was all made out of wood.

    The ceiling was so old that the holes, which mice gnawed, were everywhere. When it rained, water leaked through the holes. And on days when it rained cats and dogs, the inside of the cabin often flooded. Cersinia tried to change the old ceiling with the money she got from the gambling house. She felt the heat rise again in her body. As promised, she would burn it down if she didn’t receive her money within a week.

    “I…”

    Cersinia turned her head to a small sound similar to an ant crawling.

    ‘Ah, right. I brought him as collateral.’

    The boy stood in the corner, hesitating. I completely forgot about him because I was thinking about what happened at the gambling house.

    “Why?”

    “Th-The reason you brought me here…”

    “Because you’re the collateral.”

    That was right. Cersinia couldn’t say she had no sympathy, but almost 90% of it was because of the money.

    “Yes…”

    He bowed his head to hide his disappointed look. She felt guilty due to his pitiful appearance, but she couldn’t help it. She herself needed money. Cersinia slowly looked at the boy, wriggling his hands and biting his nails. His jet-black overgrown hair was stiff. It was so poorly cared for that her comb was likely to break once she brushed it. Beneath it, she could see sickly parched skin and dark red blood spots near the corners of his mouth.

    ‘Huu…’ Cersinia sighed inwardly, seeing his constantly abused look. It’s a serious crime to hit a child now and then. She pulled her body up from the sofa to do something she needed to do.

    ‘I should at least apply some medicine on him.’

    The wound would heal to some extent if she continued to apply medicine on it while he was living with her. With every step that Cersinia took, the wooden floor, which wouldn’t be strange if it collapsed right away, squeaked. There was no decent spot in her house.

    ‘Let’s just move out,’ if she gets paid, she’d rather move than pay to live in a house like this. Not a house made of worn-out wood, but a house built of strong, brilliant marble. Arriving by the door, she opened a small drawer next to it.

    There was a box of medicine containing medicine and disinfectant she had prepared a while ago in the drawer. Having returned with a heavy box, Cersinia sat on the bed. The boy shuddered at the slightest movement of her. Just by looking at his sensitive reaction, she could guess what kind of life he had been living so far.

    “I’ll treat you,” Cersinia took a little bit of cotton that had stuck to clump and rolled it up to form a shape.

    “I-I’m fine…”

    She tapped him, ignoring his trembling voice.

    “This way.”

    But the boy was frozen like a statue and didn’t even move. He was more stubborn than she thought.

    “I’m going to count until three.”

    The boy’s face turned pale at Cersinia’s tough tone. But she didn’t care and started counting.

    “One.”

    The boy wriggled his hands. He seemed to be thinking about what to do.

    “Two.”

    The boy’s hand was already attached to his mouth before he knew it. He bit his thumbnail with his teeth because he was nervous.

    “Three.”

    It was not long before the last number came out of her lips without mercy.

    *Dash*

    On the count of three, the boy stood and approached her. He stood with his hands neatly clasped as if being punished by her. Cersinia crumpled her face because she didn’t like it. She didn’t mean to scold him, but his behavior being frightened was annoying.

    “Sit next to me.”

    “T-This is comfortable.”

    “Sit down.”

    “Yes…”

    With her low voice, the boy quickly sat with his hips on the bed. He was sitting on the edge to the point with a slight push he would fall, but she just pretended not to know. She didn’t want to see him flinch no matter what she said. Cersinia took out the disinfectant and smeared it on the cotton. The boy rolled his eyes sideways as if he was nervous. Without saying much, she rubbed the cotton soaked in disinfectant on his wounded face. The boy frowned as if it stung. However, there was no other response. He didn’t even make a small moan. As if he couldn’t make a sound, the boy closed his eyes tightly and bit his lips with his teeth, holding his breath.

    She speeded up the treatment while feeling pity. Fortunately, there were only light bruises on his legs and body, but there were no major wounds, so there was no need to apply for medicine separately.

    “T-Thank you…” the boy said with a breath that he had held back.

    She organized disinfectant and medicine. When she put the box back in place, a question came from behind her, “What should I call you…”

    She turned and stared at the boy.

    “Cersinia.”

    “Cersinia?”

    “That’s right, what’s your name?” at her question, the boy shrugged his shoulders and groaned.

    ‘What is it?’ Cersinia just thought about what she had done wrong. But she has done nothing wrong even when she is reflecting on it. ‘No, what’s wrong with him?’

    The child was moving his toes in silence. When her temper came up with frustration, his voice, who sat down calmly, touched Cersinia’s heart.

    “I don’t have. Name…”

    ‘Yes, it’s my fault,’ Cersinia was very embarrassed by the unexpected response. She felt guilty for asking something she shouldn’t have asked. But on the other hand, she wondered what kind of character that boy was in the novel to the point he didn’t have a name. Maybe he was not given a name because he was just an extra to explain the setting of slavery.

    It was a reasonable inference since the novel began with a story of the heroine becoming a slave because of her gambling father. Cersinia opened her mouth, looking pitifully at the boy.

    “How old are you?” actually, when she asked that, her voice trembled a little in fear of the unexpected answers.

    “I’m 19 years old.”

    “You? Ah, I’m sorry…” she just spits the words out of her mouth without thinking. Cersinia immediately apologized and shut up. 

    No matter how she looked at the boy, he looked about 16 years old from his height. He was a little over her shoulders, and his skinny arms seemed as if they would break just by a slap. And the most important was his voice. How could he be 19 years old when he hadn’t even hit puberty yet? The area around his chin was as smooth as porcelain as if he had never had a beard.

    “Yes… I’m 19 years old.”

    “Huh…” she moaned briefly. He is only one year younger than her. She was shocked, but that feeling quickly turned into pity.

    ‘How many times have you been starving yourself…’ she felt as if she had actually seen a poor neighbor, whom she had only seen on television. She wanted to help him with anything. She wanted him to gain some weight on his body that had nothing but skin while living together. She just remembered the soup she had made in the morning. She thought he’d feel better if she gave it to him.

    “Are you hungry?”

    He shook his head.

    Grrrr.

    His stomach grumbling in a quiet room with good timing.

    “Ah, so… this…” perhaps he was embarrassed. He said the word gibberish and blushed like a red apple. Cersinia burst into laughter.

    “There’s soup left. At least eat that.”

    She turned toward the kitchen. Cersinia didn’t have money right now, so she had to fulfill her need with what she had now. But it’s a relief that there’s still food left for about a week.

    “I-I’m really okay!” in an urgent voice, he stopped in front of Cersinia and stretched his arms out.

    “I’m really not hungry. I’m telling you!”

    “If you don’t eat it by today, the soup will be spoiled. So help me,” Cersinia said casually. Of course, it was a lie. If she didn’t say it, it seemed like he would insist on not eating until the end.

    Cersinia gently pushed him away without hurting him. His body, as light as a piece of paper, was easily pushed aside. Seeing that he didn’t make any other noises, he didn’t seem to reject it.  She opened the cover of the brazier on one side of the kitchen. The firewood left in the morning had been scorched by the fire and turned into gray ash. Cersinia put some firewood piled up next to the brazier and put it in it. She also added the dry branches she had prepared.

    ‘He wouldn’t care about little tricks, would he?’

    Of course, there were no matches in Cersnia’s house, who could handle fire. She always used magic when she needed fire. She was a little worried as she had never used magic in front of anyone.

    ‘But it’s only a small flame, so it’ll be fine.’

    She reached into the brazier, condensing the heat on her fingertips. Not long after she was reincarnated, she was a little clumsy at making fire. Fortunately, she made a flame at once today.

    Fwoosh.

    Flames in her hand flew into the furnace and quickly set the leaves on fire. A few seconds later, the firewood distributed fire to each other and quickly covered the brazier with heat.

    Crackle.

    She closed the cover of the brazier, leaving behind the soothing sound of firewood burning. Cersinia raised her bent body. Then she saw him with his mouth wide open and his eyes glistening.

    “Wow… Are you a witch?”

    “Well, sort of,” she replied nonchalantly. But inside, she was so embarrassed that she didn’t know where to hide her body. It was her first time using magic in front of others, so she was a little shy. Covering her embarrassment with a cough, Cersinia took a seat on a chair. It took some time for the pot on the brazier to boil.

    “That’s cool! I’ve never seen a witch before.”

    He followed along and stood beside her. Before, he didn’t even come when she told him to come. Now, his eyes were full of interest.

    “Yeah, I’m the only one in this Empire. Don’t spread the word.”

    “Yes, of course. There’s no one to talk to…”

    Cersinia nodded and looked over the window. Leaves were falling from the trees swaying in the wind. The cool breeze now held quite a heat. Summer was approaching.

    “You…”

    Her gaze shifted to his slightly pouty lips.

    “Don’t you feel lonely being all alone?”

    Cersinia’s head tilted at his question.


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