The three left like the wind as they did when they came. In the kitchen, there were all kinds of groceries that they went shopping for together; a bottle of milk that Martin bought, and a bucket of water that had been brought in with the help of Aunt Phenyl and Nella. While being swept away, Rietta’s kitchen was packed enough to stay without worrying about food for at least a week. It seemed that a storm had swept her kitchen.
After sending them back, Rietta was out of her mind. She sat down on a chair in front of the table. Her mind was blank. On the table was a door plate that Nella brought from her store and handed over as a gift.
Martin and Nella got up in a hurry, saying that they had left their store away for too long. Aunt Phenyl also promised to change shifts with her son soon. So, after promising to meet Rietta next time, she left with them.
Rietta looked blankly at her full kitchen. Milk and vegetables… She had to eat or make something out of them quickly before they went bad.
When she instinctively thought about that, Rietta noticed that it had been a long time since she thought about something like that. Her second thought was that she had to repay the people for their kindness.
Aunt Phenyl said she worked at a bakery in the central downtown area within the castle walls. Nella and Martin said they were partners in the general store business. General store, bakery, blacksmith, dry-goods store, greengrocer, well, marketplace… Rietta, who was quietly recalling the places she was guided to today, lowered her eyes and looked at the empty door plate.
Work for a living.
‘Oh my, Rietta! So, you’re a blessing caster?’
‘Oh my goodness. That’s great to hear! No one knows how to do that within the castle walls! We have to go all the way outside the castle wall to find them. Especially nowadays, when there are no priests going on pilgrimages, so finding someone with divine power is like asking for the moon!’
‘We will spread the word for you. Oh, hang the blessing caster sign in front of your door first!’
Rietta sat quietly, fiddling with the tip of her fingernail, and then stood up. Then, she brought down the thick chalk that she saw upstairs.
She quietly looked at the empty door plate and awkwardly wrote down ‘blessing caster’ with a slightly unsure attitude. Then, as she thought it was too small, she rubbed it off and wrote it again with a larger size. She picked up the door plate and looked at it awkwardly from all angles and finally got up.
Rietta opened the door and went outside. She looked at the bulges of the fence that was connected next to the door and hung the door plate in the right place. She looked around in case someone was looking at her, then she looked at the door plate again and fixed the angle.
…Why does this feel strange?
Once again, she discovered that the gates and fences in Axias were lower than those in Sevitas, and so were the ones on all the other houses.
Are there no thieves here? Is it because the security is good since this area is within the castle walls?
On her way back in, Rietta stopped her steps, she saw that there was also a small door plate to write names on next to the door. It was much smaller than the door plate Nella gave her, so she could not use it as a sign, but it was a place where the owner’s name could be written so that the mail carrier could see it.
After hesitating for a while, Rietta went inside and came out again with chalk. And again, after standing in front of the door plate for a long time, she finally picked up the chalk and wrote her name.
A week later, Rietta Tristi came to visit Killian.
“Master, Madam Tristi is here. Would you like to meet her?”
Killian, who was looking at documents that had been delayed for a long time due to his trip, looked at Erne silently and asked back.
“Madam Rietta Tristi.”
Killian, who finally remembered the woman whom he gave a house to belatedly, raised his head and looked at Erne.
“Are there any problems?”
He was asking if there was any reason for a matter that usually could be solved directly by Erne to come up to him. Erne answered concisely.
“She said she wants to meet you in person and give her greetings.”
Originally, he was not an easy person to meet. But Killian nodded without much thought because he thought Erne must have had his own judgment.
Erne stepped back and took a woman to his office a while later. He felt the woman who saw him bowing down and standing far away. Erne went outside and came back in with a trolley filled with equipment for a tea party.
Killian was still sitting at his office desk and skimmed through the documents he was looking at. Only when the tea began to be set on the tea table, he glanced at the table and got up from his seat.
He walked and sat down in the chair in front of the tea table, picked up the teacup, and only then his eyes turned to Rietta. The moment he saw Rietta, the first thing that caught his eyes was her pleated blonde hair. A trivial intuition flashed through his mind.
These days, he forgot about it because it rarely happened. But for a while, there was a time when Erne was so anxious when he saw a young woman with blonde hair that he would refuse to let Killian see the woman. Just because a couple of years ago the few women he used to meet happened to have blonde hair…
Killian had just sent Rietta out that day, and Killian knew that Erne lnew about it. After preparing the tea, Erne ignored Killian’s stares and left without any facial expressions. Killian smiled bitterly in spite of himself. He looked away from Erne, who was quietly stepping out of the room, and spoke to the woman with the intention to moderately deal with her and let her go.
“Okay. Are you comfortable with where you’re staying?”
Rietta answered with her head continually bowed down while standing far apart from him.
“Yes. I’m living comfortably thanks to the care of my neighbors and Milord’s consideration… Thank you.”
Killian stared at the top of her head and said.
“My face is here, not on the floor.”
Rietta managed to raise her head a little and look at him. Killian nodded his head toward the chair without saying anything more.
After hesitating for a while, Rietta quietly approached the table. Before sitting down, she bowed her head once more, putting her hand in front of her chest, and carefully sat only on the very edge of the chair in front of the table. She was really modest and polite. Killian could clearly see that she took a deep breath without a sound. Her face was stiff as she was quite nervous.
She still kept her distance even when I had almost seen her bare body with nothing on.
Killian looked at the woman who had a different attitude than before with a slightly strange feeling.
Back then, she did not look nervous at all when she should have been. What is there to be nervous about now?
Come to think of it, he had only seen her in a ritual outfit, slippers, and a dress. It was his first time seeing her in a plain casual outfit. It was rare for Killian Axias to meet privately with a woman in commoner’s attire. She came to visit him in a plain commoner’s attire.
Oh, does that mean she doesn’t have enough money?
Killian thought calmly and opened his mouth.
“You must have already decided what to do. If you told Erne the budget scale you need, he would have handled it for you. But seeing that you came in person to meet me, I guess it’s something that needs my permission?”
Rietta hesitated a little and lowered her gaze. Her fingertips trembled and nervously wriggled.
What is she going to request that is making her so reluctant?
Just before Killian thought she was frustrating, Rietta barely managed to move.
Rietta took a small box out of her pocket and put it on the table. She opened the box with a trembling hand and turned it in his direction. There was a necklace in the box. No, was it a ring? It was a simple necklace made with leather straps attached to a small ring.
Hearing Killian’s question, Rietta bowed her head and slightly moved her lips with a small voice.
“I blessed it…with my poor ability. I apologize for something so trivial, but it is the most valuable work I can do…”
Killian was speechless for a moment at her unexpected words. A calm stillness flowed where no one said anything. After a while, he broke the silence.
“A blessing caster?”
Rietta nodded and replied.
“Yes… It’s a poor ability but I know how to purify and cast blessings. So I don’t really need a business fund or land. I will work hard and pay back the house and settlement fund that you gave me.”
Her voice gradually became smaller and her head fell down.
“I mean… The monthly living expenses are excessive for me. Please pull back the order that you gave to the butler.”
Killian stared at the woman with her head down. She looked obstinate and pitiful with the way she held her skirt tightly as if she was very nervous.
…So, the main topic is that she doesn’t need the money. Is she the diligent type? Someone who can’t live while being indebted to others. Of course, there are also people who appeal their diligence to gain more.
“You certainly don’t need any budget.”
Killian drew the line and accepted her request to turn down his financial assistance.
“I’ll tell Erne. But you don’t have to pay back what I have already given you.”
Rietta suddenly raised her head.
“No. I can’t do…”
Killian cut Rietta’s sentence without any expression.
“Excessive politeness is also disrespectful. Do I look so poor to you that I have to get that money back?”
Rietta’s face turned red.
“My… My apologies.”
“And this necklace.”
Killian’s gaze turned to the table. He was about to say, ‘You don’t have to do this. I can get as many blessed items as I want from the temple.’, but he held his tongue when he saw that Rietta’s trembling hand, clasping her skirt, had turned white.
Someone who was afraid of him was no stranger to him, but he had shown her mercy. He thought that it was a little absurd. Killian leaned against the sofa and sat crookedly while looking at Rietta.
What did I ever do to her?
It was amusing for him to be treated like that even though he had done good deeds. But then again, it was not like him to pretend to be nice.
“…Thanks for the necklace.”
As if finally relieved, the woman let out a small sigh when she heard Killian’s reply. And she finally lifted her slightly watery eyes at him.
“Thank you…for accepting it.”
Killian looked at her silently, then looked away from Rietta and looked down at the necklace she gave him. There was nothing bad about having one more blessed item. It was a cruel season when a plague had swept the whole world after all.
After Rietta politely greeted him and took herself off, Killian lifted up the shabby ring in front of him and looked at it indifferently. It looked like old stuff with a lot of scratches. It was crude but it was definitely made of precious metal. For such a poor commoner, it must have been the best item she had.
The only new thing was the leather strap that turned it into a necklace. It was obviously a high-end product, one that would be quite expensive. It looked like she bought a new one to give him as a gift.
She must have bought a gift for me with the money I gave her.
A blessing caster. She said that she could even do purification. That was an expensive skill. Especially in times like these days.
A blessing was the ability to consecrate people or objects with divine power to prevent disease or a demon’s attack and pray for their luck. Although it was the most basic divine magic, divine power itself was rare in the first place, and so it was a power that was treated well.
Usually, a blessing was done by priests with divine powers, but in rare cases, among people who could not be priests, there were some who had divine powers. Most of them grew up in monasteries from an early age. They received their education there but failed to become priests and returned to the secular world. Most of them were people who did not become priests because either their abilities were manifested late or even after they manifested their ability, they were disqualified. So there were many cases where their abilities fell short of that of the priests.
Though they were called blessing casters, they were treated one notch lower than officially recognized blessing priests. This was because, aside from their ambiguous status, their abilities were not as guaranteed as those of a priest’s. Usually, they were hired by people who were not in a good enough situation to go to the temple or those who were not rich enough to call priests.
However, on the contrary, a qualified blessing caster who took root in one land was treated as a professional and was loved by many people. In particular, the exceptional ones would often establish themselves as influential figures in the village and were sometimes respected more than priests.
Like in the present days, when a plague lasts for a long period of time, the average priest will take a low profile while naming a high cost to call them, the cost of hiring a blessing caster will also skyrocket with the cost being up to the blessing caster. So a blessing caster was truly a blessed profession. Not to mention those with purification, exorcism, and healing abilities that were treated at a higher level than a blessing.
Her ability may not be at a very high level, but he met her at the right time. With him bringing her in and allowing her to settle down within the castle walls, she would basically have no difficulty in gaining trust from people. The blessing caster would have no problem settling down in this land.
By the way, I can’t believe they tried to bury a blessing caster alive. Wasn’t that something that would damage the land, considering they were facing the plague? At such an important time, I managed to save such a person from a crisis and brought her to my territory.
Aren’t I so competent?
“Your Grace, would you like to spar?”
Killian’s faithful right hand and an excellent knight, Leonard, asked.
“Well, what should I do?”
Killian buried himself in the chair and smiled at him.
“It will be difficult if I become more competent than this.”
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