Lucia - Chapter 10

Lucia Ch 10


Northern Territory (1)


Some time after Hugo departed, Lucia woke up because she needed to use the bathroom. She hoisted herself up and pulled on a rope to call the maids. She was suffering from heartburn due to the heavy alcohol consumption yesterday. As if the maids were on standby right outside the room, they appeared a second later.


“Your Grace, good morning.”


“I wish to use the washroom, aid me up.”


Leaning on the maids, Lucia managed to get out of bed. When she tried to support herself on her own feet, an ache shot up through her body, causing her to grimace.


“Are you feeling unwell? Shall we call for the doctor?”


Lucia momentarily observed the maids’ expressions. The maids observed the highest form of respect while they spoke, but she couldn’t help feeling like they were telling her ‘We know where and why you are in pain.’


Maybe it was her own inferiority complex, as the maids’ expressions never changed. It was a relief she had the old maids to attend to her. If some of the younger maids in their twenties were attending to her, she would have been very uncomfortable due to her embarrassment.


Lucia understood every part of a maid’s life and habits. In front of their Lords, they would behave with courtesy, as they are educated to keep a blank expression at all times. However, they only kept to that practice when they were in front of the masters. Behind their master’s back, they would laugh and jeer like any other normal human being.


Maids often boarded in the same mansion as their masters, and were limited in their own freedom. Therefore, their interest and source of entertainment would naturally be directed toward their master’s family affairs. Their lives were a repeat of paying attention to their master’s words and habits. In their mundane existence, those moments felt like events to them.


Back when Lucia worked as a maid(1), she had stuck to concentrating on her tasks. She had been a quiet and sincere maid. Eventually, she had become her master’s favored servant and had often attended to her master during grand social events. When Lucia had become her master’s favorite, the other maids had looked at her with disdain and had ostracized her.


Had Lucia’s personality been more lively, she would have asked her master to punish the other servants and gone about with her head held high. However, all she had cared about was doing her job to the best of her abilities.


One would think that they would be grateful to her for that, but it was not so. They had treated her like a bug. Even so, Lucia hadn’t felt hurt seeing their behavior. If one were to listen to their words carefully, they didn’t hold any elegant conversations. That was especially true the mornings after their masters came out of the same bedroom. The maids’ gossips would become especially bad. Lucia would only sigh listening to what the other maids were laughing over.


These were the Duke’s maids, but they would be no different. However, if the maids weren’t seen talking that way, there was no way she could do anything to punish them.


It was just a little stressful, because she knew all the dark and dirty secrets that would happen behind the scenes.


“…No need. It will be fine if you assist me for a bit. That’s right, yesterday I broke a cup.”


“We have already cleaned it up. But please be sure to wear your slippers as a precaution.”


She had slept like a log all those hours, without knowing that the maids were entering and leaving the room. It was possible that she had fainted. Lucia was taking slow steps returning to the bedroom, when she stopped in front of the window. The maids, who were supporting her, also stopped and waited for her quietly.


She could see the grand garden just outside the balcony. The place was humongous, she mumbled to herself when she discovered something running toward the mansion at a fast pace.


‘Roy Krotin…?’


He was running like a wild boar that was being hunted. Had something happened this morning? In one look, she could tell it was something important.


“Where is His Grace now?”


“He has already gone to the Northern territory early this morning.”


“…He’s not here?”


“Concerning this, Madam, the head butler is waiting to inform you of the contents right now.”


“You should have let him into the room then.”


“He is not allowed to enter this place…”


“Ah…”


As long as her husband wasn’t with her, other than females, nobody was allowed to enter her bedroom. Xenon was very flexible when it came to laws on adultery, but it was extremely taboo to let a random male inside the master’s bedroom chambers.


They wouldn’t be able to deny a request for divorce without the slightest compensation. It would be alright outside in the gardens, but it was forbidden inside the bedroom chambers. It was a laughable custom since the old times.


There was a different country before the war, who pointed their finger at Xenon, claiming that Xenon was in disorder. Xenon had sent a letter saying they were insulting the country’s royal family, and had managed to receive an apology… But still, Lucia didn’t doubt their words.


“What about the plans to depart this morning?”


“His Grace has ordered for everything to be pushed for tomorrow.”


“Then it must not be anything too urgent. I will talk with the butler later. I wish to rest awhile longer.”


Lucia requested for a cup of honey water and went back to sleep. Roy’s desperate expression from a while ago kept glimmering in Lucia’s thoughts. The Duke had already left early in the morning, so what did Roy need? Thinking about that was too troublesome, so she fell asleep.


***


“How could this happen? How?”


Roy was fuming in anger under the shining morning sun. His red hair looked like burning flames at that moment. It was a common sight and nobody seemed interested to watch.


“What about the Crown Prince? Why are you here?”


“Who cares? I didn’t agree to do it!” (Roy)


The Crown Prince had agreed to let Hugo leave the capital as long as he left an assuring guard here; Roy being the selected candidate for the deal. It was impossible to predict in which direction Roy would go, but there wasn’t anyone who could beat Roy when it came to skill. The only person who could beat Roy into a pulp was Hugo.


Nobody cared about Roy’s opinions. Hugo had commanded in his usual style, ‘because I said so’, while ignoring any of Roy’s objections. Two nights ago, Roy had thrown a tantrum, refusing to become Kwiz’ guard, and Hugo had given him a bad beating, turning his face black and blue and forcing him into the job.


This morning, the Duke had sent a message to Kwiz by post. Roy had also read the letter while looking over the Crown Prince’s shoulder. It was a brief letter explaining that something had happened in the North, so he would be departing to his Northern territories. The moment Roy read the letter, he had run to the mansion as fast as he could, but the Duke was already gone.


“The Lord has already given you your task. It will be better for you to return, it’s not good to leave your post empty.”


“Ain’t nobody got time for that! Things are going bad in the North! How can he leave me out of something so fun?” Dean looked at Roy like he was pathetic.


“You call that something fun?”


“It’s a hundred times more fun than being stuck next to the Crown Prince like a statue! I’m going to follow him.”


“Yeah, right. Give it your best shot. The Lord will kill you on sight.”


Despite Dean’s merciless prediction, Roy locked arms with Dean.


“Hmph, the Lord might beat me to the brink of death, but he’ll never kill me.”


“…You’re so proud of the oddest things. As you said, you won’t die, but you’ll probably lose an arm or a leg. No, wait. He won’t break any of your bones, but he’ll beat you up so bad, you won’t be able to move for about three or four days.”


Roy glared at him with annoyed eyes, but slumped his shoulders in the end. Roy admired his Lord very much, but from time to time, that personality of his was really one of a kind. But other than Roy, the Duke didn’t bother beating up the other knights.


The only person who dared to annoy the Duke was Roy. In another sense, it was quite admirable that he would continue to defy the Duke while suffering such horible beatings.


“Yes, it’s quite painful. Actually, why are you here? How come you didn’t follow the Lord?” (Roy)


“I’m in charge of escorting Her Grace until we reach the North.” (Dean)


“Ah…His Grace is married now.” (Roy)


Roy mumbled in a flat tone. Others had gaped in shock when they heard about the Duke’s marriage, but Roy had taken the news as it was, without much of a reaction. Roy’s mentality was a bit different than that of the normal population.


“Mm, who has become the Lady of the House? I’ve heard she was a princess.” (Roy)


‘Although I already know about this.’


Roy wasn’t stupid enough to release the Duke’s private information so lightly. Roy would randomly snicker whenever he thought of the day The Duke and the Princess had met.


The Princess had thrown a straight jab at the Duke, ‘I’ve come to propose a marriage.’ At that moment, the Duke had been in total shock. It was so refreshing to see such a petite young miss throw a punch at the Duke.


“I’m a little worried. I’m not used to escorting… nobles.” (Dean)


“You’ll probably be fine.” (Roy)


“Hmm? Have you met the Lady of the House yet?” (Dean)


Roy scratched his head.


“No, but rather… Anyway you’ll probably be fine. It’s my gut feeling.”


Dean burst out laughing.


“Okay. I’ll believe that beastly instinct of yours. Anyway, quit while you’re ahead and return to your duties. If the butler catches sight of you, he’s going to give you an earful.”


“Ugh… Jerome… scares me.”


Sometimes he was much scarier than the Lord.


“Well, I’m thankful for that.”


Roy’s face paled upon the voice that resonated from behind them. Jerome had appeared behind them some time ago, and was glaring at them like a hungry savage beast. Roy screamed as if the God of Death was at his door.


***


When she woke up from her sleep, the midday sun was shining brightly. She could open her eyes, but she couldn’t move her body as she wished. It felt like her body had turned into a giant rock and had become attached to the bed. She felt greater fatigue than she had felt in the morning.


‘It hurts…’


Her muscle ache was getting worse as time passed. She would be able to calm down if her pain had been subsiding after a long time of rest, but it was not so. It was like he had said, the trip to the North would’ve been impossible in her current state. The maids attending to her could tell her condition was getting worse, and they looked restless.


“Your Grace, are you feeling very ill?”


“…Would you be so kind as to bring me a light meal? I would like something I’ll be able to eat in bed with ease.”


Lucia grimaced with pain as she spoke. This morning, her throat had felt only a little dry, but now it felt scratchy and painful.


“Ah, yes. Madam, I’ll have it prepared for you right away.”


In a short moment, the maids brought in trays of food filled with a variety of little dishes. A warm glass of milk, fruit covered with honey and nuts, a small platter of tiny crackers, bread that was still warm to the touch, along with a variety of other snacks. She got up with the aid of others and ate the dishes one bite at a time. As she filled her stomach, she could feel energy forming inside of her.


She finished her meal and took a bath. After that, she went back to rest awhile longer until the late afternoon. Then she went to the receiving room to talk with Jerome. Although only a single day had passed, Lucia’s lively condition had changed to one where she had one foot in the grave. Jerome looked over her with great concern.


“Our Lord has ordered for a doctor upon your request, Your Grace.”


“I don’t need a doctor. I heard he has gone ahead to the North already.”


“Yes, he received an urgent message from the Taran Duchy and left immediately.”


Jerome had been feeling restless over whether the Lady of the House would throw a fit of anger due to that. The Duke had left on urgent business, but the couple had gotten married only yesterday. He had left without a single word of goodbye, and to make it worse, there was no telling when the two would be able to meet again.


Lucia had understood from the beginning that her marriage was settled informally due to urgent business in his Duchy. She wasn’t upset about it at all.


“When will we leave?”


“Ah, yes. It is scheduled for tomorrow, but the Lord has said there is no need to rush. It will be fine to leave when you feel ready.”


“Since everything has been scheduled for tomorrow, let’s leave tomorrow.”


“Yes, Madam. I wish to discuss a quick briefing of the trip. When would be a good time?”


“As long as everything is prepared, I would like to listen to it now.”


“Yes, Madam. We will depart from the capital to the Taran Duchy in Roam. Roam is the city name as well as the name of the Duke of Taran’s castle. The distance we will need to travel is very far, but we will travel by gate, which will shorten our trip to four days. Have you ever used the gate before?”


“Never.”


Xenon was able to remain as one of the powerhouse nations due their magical device referred to as ‘the gate’. No matter from which border, the latest the Emperor could ever receive a message was one week. Whether there was a revolt or an invasion, he was able to relay commands in an efficient manner. Many countries had discovered such ‘gates’. However, Xenon owned the most gates among all the nations.


In the far distant past, there had been a time when magic was commonplace. But one day, magic had suddenly become near nonexistent. Up to this day, historians were still doing research to figure out the cause of that phenomenon.


When the kingdom of magic had vanished from the world, the mage profession and all their research had disappeared as well. However, magical artifacts remained throughout the world, and were considered treasured antiques. Magical artifacts were usually stored in the national treasury. Among those magical artifacts, there were ones that were embedded into the earth, allowing one to teleport; those magic artifacts were called ‘gates.’


“To reach the nearest gate, it will take about half a day by carriage. We will then teleport to the Northern territories and continue to Roam, which will take another four days”


“The Duke’s castle is four days away from the gate? That’s quite far; don’t people usually build closer to the gate?”


“There are only five gates in the North. The gate positioned nearest to Roam is surrounded by many rocks and boulders, which will make traveling by carriage very troublesome.”


“There are only five? Although the Northern territory is so wide?”


“Yes, there are only five.”


For this reason, the nobles of the North didn’t frequent the capital. It was too difficult to travel back and forth.


“But, Jerome, not anyone is allowed to freely… access the gate. I understand only government officials are allowed to use the gate. Will it be alright even though we’re traveling for personal reasons.”


“Strictly speaking, Madam is correct. The gate is allowed for only government purposes. However, the capital’s main gate allows its use as long as expenses are paid. Additionally, the Duke has stated that he would like to use the gate. Would there be anyone brave enough to question his request?”


“…I see.”


Her husband was an important figure. But that fact hadn’t completely sunk in. The status of a noblewoman was based on her husband or father. Even if one became an Empress, she wouldn’t automatically be recognized by high society. There had never been a case where an unknown low-ranked noblewoman would randomly climb to the top of the social ladder.


Females considered everything belonging to their father and husband as their own property as well. If the Duchess were to display her influence, the baroness would need to cater to the commands of the Duchess. It was not written in law. However, everyone accepted that system.


Inside her dream, she was a Countess. Count Matin possessed territories and held a lot of influence over others due to the Matin Family’s long history in the capital. As such, there were many females of lower status than Lucia.


Even so, Lucia had never stepped over those around herself to feed her own pride. In the first place, Lucia had never felt a sense of proprietorship over Count Matin’s assets.


Therefore, Lucia couldn’t grasp a concrete sense of her place in the social ladder. If she used her husband’s social position to control others like other women, would she end up enjoying it? At the moment, she felt she was only a parasitic existence to the Duke.


“I will introduce you to those who will escort us to the North tomorrow. Do you have any other questions?”


“Is there anything I should be careful of during the trip?”


“If I think of anything, I will inform you tomorrow.”


She spent the day relaxing in bed. The next morning, Lucia felt much more energetic.


But there was a different problem. Following the first night with him, the blood flowing from her body wouldn’t stop. The bleeding wasn’t too intense, but the maids attending to her couldn’t help but take notice.


“Madam, as a precaution, let us call for a doctor.”


The next day, instead of departing as planned, a female doctor was called.


All the experienced female doctors they had found out were nervously waiting. There were not many female doctors around. It was rare for a woman to be accepted into a formal medical school. Even if one were to become a formal doctor, she would always be compared to her male counterparts.


When a female gave a diagnosis, nobody would accept it as a true and final diagnosis. A noblewoman’s bedroom was off limits to men, but male doctors were exempt from that rule. There was no reason for nobles to go out of their way to find a female doctor. The demand for female doctors was low, and the numerous well-known male doctors could be found left and right. Thus, the women who worked in the medical field could barely make a living.


Most of the time, a doctor’s wife would be an assistant for many years, then later formally start her education to become a doctor. It was useful when a husband and wife were both doctors. All the female doctors who were found today were of similar circumstances.


But the female doctor called over today was a widow.


It was very rare for a prestigious noble family to request for a female family doctor. She followed the maid to the Lady of the House’s bedroom. When she spotted a petite woman waiting while laying in bed, much of her nerves relaxed. She had imagined an overbearing noblewoman, but the patient in front of her looked like a young girl.


“Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere?”


The noblewoman’s face was flushed cherry red and could not answer immediately. The woman hesitated and looked to her maid for help. The maid took notice and asked, “Shall I explain in your stead, Madam?” When permission was given, she explained in a quiet but steady voice.


The female doctor, who was listening to the maid’s explanation with great concentration, gradually relaxed. She peeked at her patient in bed and swallowed back her laughter. The newlywed bride appeared to be very adorable.


“Your Grace, do you feel pain anywhere?”


“…Just a little when I move…”


“Do you think it’s possible that you are menstruating?”


“No.”


“Every virgin has different reactions following their consummation. They may bleed a lot or not at all. Sometimes, there are cases where they will bleed for many days. As long as there’s no heavy blood flow like when you are menstruating or pain while remaining still, there will be nothing you need to worry about. Your body will fix itself with time. Please do not overwork your body and rest for about another four days, and you will regain your health.”


As Lucia listened to the doctor, her face grew increasingly hot. She would’ve been fine just resting; she needlessly requested for a doctor. It felt like she was announcing to the world the events from last night, and she could not lift her head up from embarrassment.


“Ah, but please do not consummate until you don’t feel any pain while moving. A female’s reproductive organs are more delicate than they appear. If you’re not careful, you might experience bad side effects.”


“In any case…”


In any case, what? He wasn’t here right now, so there was no way to consummate? Did that mean she would do something if he was here? Lucia asked questions to herself while answering them, feeling increasingly embarrassed.


“Ah… Anyway, I understand. Your job is done so be on your way. Thank you for stopping by.”


“You do not require further medication, but I shall prescribe body strengthening medications for you to assist the recovery process.”


After the completion of the prescription, Jerome called the doctor to a separate room.


“Did you think about our offer?”


Once the Duke requested for a talented female doctor, Jerome had searched for one very quickly. There were a handful of talented female doctors in the capital, but it would be difficult to find one back in Roam.


He wouldn’t let any orders by his Lord pass by without action. He thoroughly thought of the hidden meanings and fulfilled his duties. It was many times more troublesome to carry out his job in that way, but the job of a butler was his calling in life and he had never in his life thought it was a tiresome job.


He didn’t simply find a female doctor for Her Grace. The Duke’s family doctor was Philip, a male doctor. It appeared the Duke was not fond of Philip looking out for Her Grace’s health. His instincts were usually correct.


Jerome offered for Anna to become Her Grace’s personal family doctor. Yesterday, Jerome had asked Anna to stop by the mansion, and when he asked if she could look over a patient for him, she had agreed.


“You told me that I do not need to leave the capital for good.”


“Yes, after a few years, you may return to the capital.”


“I will accept your offer.”


Anna didn’t want to leave this place full of many memories, but she lived by herself and it was difficult to find such a stable job with a prestigious noble family. Jerome laughed with a polite smile.


“I welcome you into the Duke of Taran’s family, Anna.”


(end)


Foot notes:


(1) Back when (Lucia) worked as a maid – In Lucia’s dream, she worked as a maid following her divorce with Count Matin.