Lucia - Chapter 31
< — 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 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 employees 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 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 they haven’t been payed much attention to after the war so the plundering became more frequent.”
“It must be hard for the Northern people who continuously get anxious because of this.”
“If they doesn’t live close to the border, I don’t think they would be anxious. It’s a lot different when one 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’d kept it in her mind but she 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 dead Duke before, right?”
“Yes. I have served master ever since he became a knight.”
“I may just be my prejudice but I think he was a very heartless man.”
Jerome hesitated for a moment then spoke.
“From the little fragments of him that I have gathered, I don’t think my thoughts differ very much from Milady’s”
‘His past is very far from ordinary.’ (Lucia)
< — Damian — > (2)
Hugo did not know his mother’s face as she’d died not too long after delivery while his father abandoned one son after weighing the advantages and disadvantages.
It was only natural he grew to have such a cold and emotionless personality. Or rather, considering his past, he had grown quite excellently.
‘Abandoning a newborn baby? I just can’t understand why he would do that.’ (Lucia)
It wasn’t like any problems had cropped up but because a trouble might happen, he abandoned his newborn son.
It was genuinely Hugo’s luck that he was chosen to be the successor to the Duke.
‘If he was the one abandoned…he might have been the dead brother and murderer…’
Numerous noble families have constantly dealt with successor problems, whether in the past, present or future but there had been no case where it was solved in this way. When it became known, it was something that many people criticized.
‘He said offsprings were rare in the Taran family, right? If offsprings were rare then the twins should have been raised more preciously.’
It just didn’t add up.
‘In the case of Damian, sure, he is the precious son of a family with precious offsprings.’
Damian is the only son. He is the successor.
Even if one can say Damian was sent to boarding school in order to bring him up strictly, there was even no contact between them.
There was way too much indifference.
‘Was it because he didn’t receive much affection from his father when he was a child that he doesn’t know how to give it?’
The more she thought about it, the more things she found strange. As she constantly asked and answered questions in her mind, she fell into deep contemplation.
‘He’s had many women. It wouldn’t be strange if he had a few illegitimate children.’
But she hadn’t heard of him having any more children in her dreams.
‘Was it so hard to get a child that he had to make Damian the successor?’
Then, there should be no reason for him to be reluctant about Lucia getting pregnant. It would make more sense if he wanted make as many offsprings as possible.
The reason many nobles preferred fertility and competition between their children for succession was for the future of their family.
Having only one successor carried innumerable risks.
When she got into an argument with him, she was carried away by her emotions and was unable to analyze his words calmly so now she unhurriedly contemplated his words.
[I don’t need a child.]
[I don’t want to leave my mark.]
He didn’t say that because he was afraid of the conflict for succession.
The nuance of the expression contained an underlying repulsion.
‘Then what of Damian? Is it that he didn’t want it but the woman didn’t even tell him she was pregnant and gave birth?’
It was quite possible.
Rather than the forceful removal of a child, the aftereffects of giving birth was much easier on a woman’s body. Many illegitimate children were born this way. Lucia was born this way too.
‘If he didn’t really want a child, then he shouldn’t have been so negligent.’
She only wished to see the good side of the man that she loved but she had to acknowledge that he had a cold and cruel side to him.
He would have forced an abortion if he really did not want the child.
‘Merely abortion? He could do even worse.’
Her reasoning whispered to her but she ignored it. Anyways, she wanted to see as much as possible, the good side of the man she loved.
‘No. If you look at his age when Damian was born…he was at a young age so there could have been a gap… He is a person too, he can make mistakes.’
Perhaps because he had revealed his inner feelings for some time when they last fought, she could somewhat tell that Damian didn’t seem to be born from love.
‘Even if you don’t want to, the born child has done nothing wrong. It seems like he’s abandoned Damian. Usually, men felt deep affection for their flesh and blood but… as if Damian isn’t his real son…’
It was a random thought that appeared in her mind but she was suddenly overcome with intense suspicion.
“Milady, do I fill it with more tea?”
Jerome’s voice shook her out of her reverie and she looked down at her hand to find her cup empty.
Lucia’s heart drummed as she watched the teacup fill up.
“Jerome…have you ever seen the little lord?”
Jerome flinched and began to study Lucia. ‘Is she starting again?’ his expression read as he grew nervous.
“Does he…resemble him a lot?”
“…Yes. They look very similar, to a very shocking extent.”
‘I guess my leap in logic was too much….well, of course, it’s a ridiculous idea.’
Allowing someone that wasn’t his blood to inherit his name? Something like that wouldn’t happen.
She tried to get the foolish idea out of her mind but she still felt like something was missing.
“Did you see Damian when he was born? And how did he enter the Ducal House?”
Jerome made a troubled face. No matter how much he wanted to tell everything to her Grace, there was a limit to things.
“I apologize, Milady. I am unable to speak indiscreetly about anything concerning the young master. I think it would be better to ask master.”
Although it was a pity, she didn’t want to put Jerome in a difficult position.
Lucia thought about it for a long time, she felt like she’d caught onto something but at the same time, it felt like she hadn’t so although there was some suspicion, she couldn’t reach a definite conclusion.
In the evening on the same day, a maid brought medicine into her bedroom as she prepared to fall asleep.
Anna hadn’t been able to find a cure yet so she put Lucia on medicine that was beneficial to a woman’s womb.
As she took a sip, the uniquely unpalatable and slightly bitter taste of the medicine entered her mouth.
‘The taste of that drug was quite unique too.’
Although it was in her dreams, Lucia still remembered the taste of the medicine she had taken to treat the mugwort poisoning in her body because it had quite the unique taste.
‘The scent of vanilla… it tasted just like that.’
The next day, Lucia was taking a walk around the garden after a meal.
A maid ran up to her full of urgency, her expression looking quite flustered.
“What is it?”
“The…the little lord…he’s here.”
As Jerome looked at the red-eyed and dark-haired boy that looked very similar to his master, he held back his confusion from showing and when the little lord wasn’t paying attention, he gave Ashin a fierce glare.
Ashin was startled and furtively avoided his gaze.
“It’s been a long time, young master. Has all been well?”
As usual, Damian had nothing to criticize in the Jerome that greeted him politely. But.
Damian thought to himself as he watched Jerome’s absentminded manner. More accurately speaking, Jerome’s perfect expression and attitude did not reveal anything.
However, even if Jerome didn’t do anything, the employees had all lined up nearby to receive him when he’d arrived at the castle but all of them, including the guarding knights, had the same expression that read:
‘What are you doing here?’
“It’s been a while.” (Damian)
“I take it you are tired from your long journey. Have you had your lunch?” (Jerome)
“Not yet but I’ll have it later. The carriage kept wobbling so my stomach is uncomfortable.”
“I understand, young master. Then I shall escort you to your bedroom so you may rest…”
Jerome suddenly stopped talking and the surroundings fell into a strange silence. Damian expected that someone had appeared and he could take a guess as to who it was.
Damian then turned his head in the direction of everyone else’s gaze.
The woman that entered through the half-open door of the receiving room must have been running for her shoulders were moving up and down.
The brown-haired woman looked younger and smaller than he’d expected and appeared breathless and tense.
The Lady of the House of Taran. The Duchess and Damian’s stepmother.
Once she heard the maid say that Damian had come, Lucia had run out. The moment she saw him, she had to stop to admire.
‘How could they been so similar?’
Jerome’s words were not exaggerated at all. With his red eyes and black hair, his features were as though someone took the Duke and reduced him to a smaller size. Could anyone even raise any doubt that he wasn’t the Duke’s son?
‘Then that would be ridiculous. But surely… it isn’t that he doesn’t know the fact that he’s been announced as successor…?”
Damian sighed a little as he looked at the Duchess that was watching him with wide eyes.
She’d just gotten married, but can only be at loss for words as her husband already has an illegitimate child.
Either she stiffens in shock, gives him a piercing glare, gets angry and storms away, looks at him like a disgusting worm or surprises him by slapping his cheeks.
These were the weakest plans. He wouldn’t have to worry about the Duchess that showed these type of reactions.
If she stayed composed, masked her feelings while smiling and treating him like a son, it would be the wisest plan.
But it wouldn’t be very good for him if the Duchess faced him this way.